- Africa Weekly
- Feb 05 2018
UN chief warns world hunger is on the rise
United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has warned that hunger is on the rise the world over with Africa registering the highest rates. He was speaking during an event organized on the margins of the African Union Summit under the theme "Renewed Partnership to End Hunger in African by 2025 - Five Years Later: Taking Stock of Progress and Lessons in Light of the Sustainable Development Goals." The Secretary General said agricultural and livestock productivity in Africa was under threat largely due to conflict and climate change. He added, "climatic shocks, environmental degradation, crop and livestock price collapse and conflict are all interlinked".
Against this backdrop, Guterres urged governments to adopt national agricultural policies and investment plans that focus not only on agricultural sector development but on poverty, hunger, and resilience to climate change. "Climate change adaptation should be promoted as an integral part of conflict prevention, with special attention to sustainable agriculture and pastoralist and semi-pastoralist livelihoods. It is important to highlight that the majority of undernourished people in Africa live in countries affected by conflict," he said.
The UN Chief stated that sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth was vital to achieve both SDG1 on poverty and SDG2 on hunger and that it also influences many other goals. In the same light, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, "Hunger-fighting initiatives in Africa need to be deepened and broadened to put the continent back on track to eliminating the scourge of undernutrition." "Achieving zero hunger in our lifetime is still possible," he added, noting however that this will require a redoubling of current efforts and a push for political commitment and timely concrete actions.
In his remarks, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said his government has made significant progress in fighting hunger. The PM stated, among other things, that; "In recent years we have managed to overcome food security challenges by increasing our domestic purchasing power" and that their use of "indigenous approaches" will continue until goal of zero hunger is achieved. The event was jointly organised by Ethiopia's Ministry of Agriculture and the African Union Commission, with support from FAO and the ECA.
Other participants included President Alpha Condé of Guinea; former heads of state; African Ministers of Agriculture; leaders of civil society organizations and the private sector.
African countries to scale up employment generation, infrastructure
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has called on African countries to scale up employment generation, infrastructure development, innovation and industrialisation. The Ministry Spokesperson, Tope Elias-Fatile, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on January 27 in Abuja
Onyeama, has underscored the need for Africa to scale up employment generation (especially for the youth), Social Investment Programmes, Youth and Women empowerment, Good governance, Infrastructure development, Science, Technology, Innovation and industrialization. He quoted Onyeama as saying this while reacting to the Report of the AU Ministerial Follow up Committee on the implementation of Agenda 2063.
Onyeama was speaking at the ongoing 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He said Nigeria strongly believes that through the accelerated implementation of Agenda 2063 - "The Africa We Want," the African development landscape will change for the better.
"To this end, Nigeria is committed to four (4) strategic vehicles of implementing Agenda 2063, which are: orientation; ensuring efficiency; financing; and accountability." He informed the Council that in its effort to align and deliver on Agenda 2063 and its first ten-year implementation, Nigeria has mainstreamed the Agenda along with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into her national planning process. He explained that this was reflected in the Nigerian Economic Recovery and Growth Plan launched in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Onyeama assured that Nigeria would continue to play an active role in the implementation of the flagship projects under the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (2014-2023). He stressed that this in particular particularly include the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area; free movement of persons; silencing the guns in Africa by year 2020; and establishment of the single African Air Transport Market.
Kids used in Cameroon suicide bomb blasts
The Boko Haram sect has used children to carry out at least 60 suicide bomb attacks in Cameroon over the past year. The children are believed to be among thousands the terror group from Nigeria has kidnapped in a violent campaign to establish as Islamic state. The latest revelations by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) collaborate recent findings by the organisation that in Nigeria, the use of minors in such attacks had increased five times from 2016 Nigeria.
In 2017, at least 135 children were forced to strike targets with explosives fastened to their bodies, underscoring the level of violence, abuse and violations children, and civilians in general, struggle with in the conflict zones. Cameroon's Far North region suffered around 60 such attacks in 2017, 16 of which were in Kolofata town.
Owing to security concerns, the authorities have decided to relocate around 12 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kolofata to a site in the town's outskirts. This has sparked a major humanitarian crisis. "There are concerns for the relocated people's welfare as the new site lacks necessities, notably water and sanitation," said a UNOCHA spokesperson.
Persistent insecurity and hostilities continue to drive displacements. Some 1 400 people have been forced to flee their villages in north-eastern Nigeria to a transit camp for displaced people near the border with Cameroon. Military counter-offensives and armed attacks have also recently displaced more than 6 000 people in several localities of Borno State. Separately, around 4,000 Nigerian refugees are expected to return from Cameroon in the coming months.
Graft trial in Portugal 'offends' Angola
Tensions are mounting between Angola and Portugal over the indictment for corruption of former Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente. Experts believe Portugal will cave in to Angolan efforts to nix the trial.
The case goes back to when Manuel Vicente (pictured above) was head of the state oil company Sonangol, before being appointed vice president in 2012. The year before, he was charged in Lisbon on suspicion of having paid a Portuguese state prosecutor almost €770,000 ($942,000) to have two cases of money laundering dismissed. The scandal kept him from running for the presidency in 2017, although he had been handpicked by then head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos to succeed him in office.
The trial against Vicente opened in Lisbon on January 22, despite efforts by the Angolan government to have it transferred to Luanda. The government of President Joao Lourenco argues that an agreement with the former colonial power allows for such a transfer. True, says jurist, author and legal consultant Rui Verde. "The problem is Angola's amnesty law. If the file is transferred to Angola, no justice will be applied," Verde told DW.
The amnesty for those convicted of minor crimes committed before 2016 and punishable with up to 12 years in prison was a parting gift by dos Santos when he stepped down from power last year. As a former vice president, Vicente also has immunity from prosecution. There is no doubt in either Portugal or Angola that a transferal of the judicial proceedings to Luanda would mean "that no trial will take place," the Portuguese professor of law said.
President Joao Lourenco, who took over last August after almost four decades of authoritarian rule by dos Santos, has promised the country a new start with a strong emphasis on the fight against corruption and money laundering. In the opinion of Rui Verde, a legal consultant for and collaborator with Maka Angola, an Angolan civil society initiative that is against graft and pro democracy, Lourenco's stance in the Vicente affair discredits his declared aims. "This looks bad because it's exactly the contrary of what he is saying. He is protecting a man who probably corrupted a prosecutor in Portugal and probably laundered money in Portugal through the acquisition of real estate," Verde said.
A 'love-hate' relationship
Relations between Angola and the former colonial power since independence were never easy and always fraught with emotion, says Chatham House researcher and head of the Africa Program, Alex Vines. He describes it as a "love-hate relationship." But the issue goes deeper: "At the tail end of the dos Santos leadership, the relationship was closer. There was a lot of Angolan investment in Portugal, including by members of the dos Santos family. The new president, Joao Lourenco, is not tied to Portugal in this way."
In his inaugural speech Lourenco didn't even mention Portugal as a strategic partner. "The signal from Lourenco is that he wants a diversification of international partners for Angola, including Germany," Vines told DW. This doesn't bode well for Portuguese interests in its former colony, the eighth biggest importer of goods from Portugal. Lisbon has gone out of its way to assure everyone that relations with Angola are "excellent," as the foreign ministry put it. Prime Minister Antonio Costa was set to meet with Lourenco on January 23 on the margins of the World Economic Forum currently taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The trial was certain to be one of the subjects broached.
Portugal's economic interests
The Angolan president has claimed he is "offended" by the refusal of the Portuguese state prosecutor to hand over judicial files. "We will not accept this treatment," Lourenco said in early January. On January 22, the Portuguese court moved to separate the case against Vicente from that of the other defendants. A legally correct move, says lawyer Rui Verde, but it could be a first step towards a compromise aimed at safeguarding Portuguese economic interests in Angola. "There are a lot of Portuguese companies and Portuguese workers in Angola and this has always been a justification for the Portuguese government to defer to the Angolan government," Verde pointed out.
Although Portuguese Justice Minister Francisca Van Dunem has said that the government "cannot and will not" interfere with judicial matters, Rui Verde is skeptical. "I believe that in the end some decision will be reached that will comply with the wishes of the political powers and with the wishes of Angola. I am pessimistic," he said.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Libyan Prime Minister calls on international cooperation to restore stability
Libyan UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj on January 22 called for cooperation and communication between the Libyan government and international organizations so as to restore social order quickly. Serraj made his remarks during a meeting in the capital Tripoli with Maria do Valle Ribeiro, the UN Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), who leads the efforts to ensure good coordination in the domestic political, humanitarian and development spheres. "The meeting discussed the political and economic situation in Libya and the role of the UN and its development program in helping Libyans to end the crisis and overcome difficulties in service sectors," the prime minister's media office said in a statement.
Serraj also expressed readiness to facilitate the work of the Mission in the various Libyan regions. The meeting discussed mechanisms of the UN Stability Fund and assistance provided to a number of Libyan cities, as well as necessary support for the return program for displaced civilians. The Libyan Stabilisation Fund is run by the Libyan Government in partnership with the UNSMIL and the UN Development Program. The fund aims to resolve issues facing Libyan cities and government institutions due to political division and military action. Libya has been suffering from political division and unrest since the uprising of 2011 which toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
Source: Angola Press Agency (Luanda)
Sudanese hostages released in Libya, four kidnappers arrested
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour confirmed on January 24 that a group of Sudanese nationals who were kidnapped and tortured by human trafficking gangs in Libya were released from their captors by Libyan authorities late last night. Minister Ghandour was speaking before the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly to answer a question regarding the Sudanese being subjected to torture in Libya by human trafficking gangs.
In his address to the meeting, Minister Ghandour confirmed the release of the hostages, and the arrest by Libyan authorities of four of the alleged kidnappers. He said the Sudanese government is still waiting for more information on what he called "criminals". The minister pointed out that there are currently and estimated 221,500 Sudanese nationals in Libya.
On January 23, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Libyan ambassador to Khartoum and asked him about the detention and torture of Sudanese in Libya and the demand of ransom from their families. On January 22, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Gariballah El Khidir said in a statement that the ministry had summoned the Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of Libya in Khartoum, Ali Muftah El Mahrouq, on the detention of a group of Sudanese citizens inside Libyan territory in harsh conditions, where some of them have been subjected to brutal treatment. He added that the Director General of the Consular Department, Ambassador Ahmed Mahjoub Shawar, informed him of the ministry's rejection of inhumane and immoral methods of treating the Sudanese citizens.
The Libyan Chargé d'Affaires in Khartoum expressed his deep sadness and apology on behalf of his country for this shameful matter and described it as "nothing like the values and morals of the Libyan people". Since January 20, graphic video footage of the hostages has been shown on social networking sites showing them being beaten and tortured with fire by their captors who forced them to contact their relatives to provide ransom in order to avoid elimination.
The African Union (AU) announced on January 21 that it will investigate recent videos showing Sudanese citizens being tortured in Libya. "The videos of Sudanese citizens being tortured in Libya are recent and an investigation has been opened" said AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira El Fadil.
The European Union is complicit in the torture of Sudanese migrants, according to Eva Berghmans, policy coordinator for Amnesty International, after the videos were aired in a news bulletin by the Flemish VRT channel this week. "These atrocious practices where ransom is extorted families in return for the stopping of torture of their kidnapped family members have been documented in many Amnesty reports", Eva Berghmans told VRT (in Dutch) this week.
"Despite our reports, the European Union continues to provide material, technical, and logistic support to the 'failed state' of Libya, the Libyan coast guard etc. The EU also does not control how its financial support is spent, even though it is known that people are tortured, and people are starving in the Libyan detention centres for refugees. Aid may be sent to Libya but it may not be unconditional. There must be controls in place that people are not tortured. A humane system of asylum must be put in place."
Source: Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)
Tunisia plans social reforms after wave of anti-austerity protests
The Tunisian government on January 13 announced a social reforms package aimed at improving care for the needy and increasing access to health care following a wave of anti-austerity protests. Social Affairs Minister Mohamed Trabelsi said the measures increase monthly benefits to low-income families from roughly €50 per month to €70 ($85). In total, the social reforms package, which requires parliamentary approval, will amount to an increase of 170 million dinars (€56 million/$69 million). "This will concern about 250,000 families," Trabelsi said. "It will help the poor and middle class."
The announcement comes after Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi met with labor unions, political parties and companies to discuss anti-austerity protests triggered by tax increases that kicked in January 1. "We discussed the general situation in the country and the reforms, especially socioeconomic, that must be adopted to overcome the current problems," said Wided Bouchamaoui, who heads the UTICA employers' federation.
The announcement comes the day before the seventh anniversary of anti-government protests that led to the ouster of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered the so-called Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations across North Africa and the Middle East. Protest organizers have called for mass demonstrations to mark the anniversary, saying the nine governments since then have failed to rectify their demands for economic liberty and social justice.
However, Tunisian authorities have been swift to quash anti-government protests. Interior Ministry spokesman Khlifa Chibani on January 13 said more than 800 people had been arrested on suspicion of engaging in violent acts during the week's protests, including rioting and looting. On January 12, police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of demonstrators protesting in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, considered the epicenter of the Arab Spring in 2011. In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, his family's sole breadwinner, set himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his fruit cart by police. The event triggered demonstrations across the country, which eventually spread to others in the Arab world.
Tunisians have held rallies across the country to protest the government's new austerity measures, aimed at minimizing the country's deficit. The Tunisian people have become increasingly angry since the government said it would increase the price of petrol, some goods, and taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items from January 1.
One protester died in unclear circumstances in Tebourba, a town 40 kilometers west of the capital Tunis. The Interior Ministry said that the 43-year old male was not killed due to police violence, but an autopsy would be carried out to determine the cause of death.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said 44 protesters were arrested for carrying weapons such as knives, setting government buildings on fire and robbing stores. "What happened had nothing to do with democracy and protests against price hikes ... On January 13 protesters burned down two police stations, they looted shops, banks and damaged property in many cities," Chibani said.
The leader of Tunisia's main opposition party Popular Front, Hamma Hammami, said they would step up protests until the government changed its "unjust" 2018 budget. "On January 14 we have a meeting with the opposition parties to coordinate our movements, but we will stay on the street and we will increase the pace of the protests until the unjust financial law will be dropped," Hammami said.
Tunisia's has been in economic crisis since 2011, when the Arab Spring uprising unseated the government. Two major militant attacks in 2015 also greatly damaged the country's tourism industry, which made up eight percent of gross domestic product. Many people face unemployment, with official figures put the unemployment rate at around 15 percent.
Source: Deutsche Welle
No immunity for Mugabes - Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the country's former ruler Robert Mugabe and his family are not immune from prosecution, dispelling reports that the former first family had been granted immunity. Mugabe, who had ruled the southern African nation for 37 years, stepped down from power last November following a de facto military coup.
Mnangagwa was speaking on his maiden trip to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos where he also rebuffed reports that government had paid Mugabe a $10 million exit package. "No we have not given anybody any immunity. What l have promised to my former president and the founding father of our nation former President Mugabe is that first we give him a package... a very lucrative package," Mnangagwa said.
Mugabe still receives his salary and enjoys benefits such as state funded security,travel by first- class and frequent medical check ups in Singapore. "We are not saying that if anybody commits a crime then their former status will stop the police dealing with that issue. My approach is zero tolerance to corruption and there are no sacred cows in dealing with that".
Since coming into office last November Mnangagwa has promised to stem corruption with a number of high profile graft cases involving former Ministers in Mugabe's government being hauled before the courts. Mnangagwa said elections would be held earlier than July insisting that his ZANU PF party will respect the outcome of the polls.
"We are very clear the purpose of an election is to have the electorate select a team or persons whom they think addresses their challenges and their needs. If we lose elections thats it whichever party wins the election will proceed to take the reigns of power because they will have appealed to the electorate perhaps with better policies and so on." Mnangagwa has extended an invitation to the European Union (EU) to come observe the polls.
Source: the source
Cannibal arrested in Tete
The Mozambican police in the western city of Tete have arrested a man accused of cannibalism, after local people found him in possession of the cooked flesh of a child, whose body he had dug up from a cemetery in the outlying Tete neighbourhood of Chimadzi. The grisly discovery infuriated the crowd who wanted to lynch the cannibal. He was rescued by the police.
The Tete provincial police spokesperson, Lurdes Ferreira, named the man as Rui Foia, and confirmed that both he and a local gravedigger, Joao Buino, have been arrested. Ferreia said the police found two saucepans containing cooked body parts of the exhumed child, including ribs, legs and arms. Foia was also in possession of clothing and photographs stolen from graves. “These are indications that may prove the involvement of Rui Foia in desecrating graves”, she said.
Foia is believed to suffere from mental illness, which some of his neighbours in Chimadzi blame on excessive consumption of cannabis (although there is no scientific evidence that this drug can cause mental illess). Others said he had refused to obey instructions from witchdoctors which would supposedly cure him of his illness. “We will have to contact the health authorities”, said Ferreira, “so that they can help us discover whether Foia really suffers from mental illness”.
Foia's grave-robbing was discovered two weeks after ten graves, nine of them of children and one of an adult, were vandalised in the Chimadzi cemetery. He was drinking pombe (a traditional alcoholic drink) in the house of a woman to whom he offered meat out of one of his saucepans. When the woman saw the hand and ribs of a child in the saucepan she was horrified and sought help to detain Foia. A crowd gathered and wanted to lynch him on the spot. The police aborted this attempt and took Fia to the police cells.
Human, wildlife conflict claims 40 in Zimbabwe
Wild animals killed 40 people and injured 30 in 2017, as human -wildlife conflict continues, especially in areas close to conservancies. Speaking at a pass out parade of rangers and dog handlers in Hwange recently, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said 95 animals were killed to save human life. "Human and wildlife issues are topical at the moment," she said. "In 2017, 40 people were killed and 30 injured due to conflict with wildlife. "At the same time, as a response measure, 95 wildlife species were killed in order to save human life."
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority received 346 cases of human-wildlife conflict, with 65 percent coming from Masvingo and Manicaland provinces. She said at least 316 of the cases were attended to despite the shortage of resources. Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said habitat loss for wildlife was among the major drivers of human-wildlife conflict. She urged people to desist from illegally settling in wildlife territories.
"Save Valley Conservancy is one such example where over 16 000 families have settled in wildlife corridors and wildlife areas," Muchinguri-Kashiri said. "In turn, our wildlife has responded by destroying crops, passing on diseases such as foot and mouth, killing livestock and at times people. "I want to appeal to illegal settlers to desist from settling in wildlife buffer zones, wildlife corridors and their habitat. "Only 13 percent of the total land in Zimbabwe is reserved for wildlife, the rest is for forestry and other human related activities. "I urge our leadership, especially the traditional institutions to respect this 13 percent."
Source: The Herald
Molefe must pay back pension millions, South African court orders
A court ordered Brian Molefe on January 25 to pay back all the pension payouts made to him. A full bench of judges found against Molefe and set aside the pension agreement. The former Eskom CEO was also ordered to pay costs. The ruling comes after trade union Solidarity approached the high court to declare Molefe's controversial pension award of about R30m, as well as more than R10m already paid out to him, unlawful.
According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity's Centre for Fair Labour Practices, Solidarity wanted justice on the matter and sought an order that obliged Molefe to pay back all pension payouts and benefits granted to him. Molefe briefly returned as CEO of Eskom on May 15 after the scandal around his pension emerged, but was removed again two weeks later when Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown ordered the board to reverse his reinstatement. Molefe later challenged this decision when he filed Labour Court papers against the board and Brown. Political parties and Solidarity then filed a consolidated court application to challenge Eskom's decision to reappoint Molefe as CEO as well as the approval of his R30m pension payout.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown also filed explanatory affidavits last year, but did not challenge the relief sought by the applicants. In the affidavit Brown said that a letter from former Eskom chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane regarding Molefe's retirement package never reached her. Molefe and other Eskom executives were grilled in Parliament at the inquiry into state capture at Eskom about Molefe's pension bonanza.When Eskom announced its annual results last year, it stated in the notes to its financial statements that the R30m Molefe received as an early retirement benefit would only be refunded to the company pursuant to a court order.
January disease kills 2 000 cattle in Zimbabwe
At least 2 000 cattle have died of January disease, also known as Theileriosis - a tick-borne disease common between December and March - with Government is urging farmers to intensify dipping of their livestock as a prevention measure. Government has also intensified awareness campaigns in affected areas that include Goromonzi, Bindura, Chegutu and Chivhu.
The disease is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick. Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement's Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services director Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday confirmed the deaths. He said the number deaths could be higher as some cases were not reported. Dr Nyika said his department was aware of the outbreak of the January disease and had deployed teams to assess the situation and educate farmers on preventive measures.
He said most farmers were not dipping their cattle, further worsening the situation. Dr Nyika said farmers, especially in Domboshava, preferred spraying cattle on their own, but were not following the correct procedures.
"The major challenges are irregular dipping," he said. "Most dip tanks are not on the recommended weekly dipping due to lack of dipping chemicals. There is also low turnout at dip tanks. Most farmers are not willing to take their cattle for dipping at the communal dip tanks. Some prefer conducting the operation themselves, but may do it in the wrong way and this is not effective in controlling ticks.
"The other challenge is that there are fake chemicals on the market and some farmers can not tell the difference as the packaging and labelling is the same. Some unscrupulous dealers are packaging tea and selling it as dip. Farmers should buy dipping chemicals from reputable retailers. There is also shortage of the drugs to treat the disease especially Burparvaquione," he said.
Farmers are supposed to pay a dipping fee of $2 per animal per year. Most farmers complain that the fee is too high and beyond their reach. Dr Nyika said farmers should consider the value of their animals and sacrifice to pay the dipping fees. "It costs around $60 to buy treatment of tick-borne disease and the medication can only administer three head of cattle,' he said. "This means a farmer will have to fork out $20 to treat one cow. It is cheaper to pay $2 per animal per year than buy treatment.
"We are carrying out education and awareness campaigns and we need cooperation from farmers, especially through bringing their cattle for dipping. We have distributed 22 500 pamphlets to farmers in affected areas. All farmers should ensure their cattle are taken for dipping to ensure ticks do not mature to the stage of transmitting diseases." Dr Nyika said farmers should ensure the animal was soaked when spraying.
An animal requires at least three to five litres of dip wash. It is important to have the correct dilution rate that is recommended by the manufacturer. "For the treatment chemical to be effective, farmers should combine the chemical with tick grease," said Dr Nyika. "The tick grease should be applied in the ear, under the tail and tail brush.
"Farmers can trim the tail brush. They should also seek assistance from local veterinary extension worker." Signs of an animal affected by January disease include swelling of the lymph nodes under the ears and on the shoulder, cloudiness of the eyes, difficulty in breathing with froth from the nose and mouth.
The affected animal collapses and dies within few days. January disease is a notifiable disease in Zimbabwe and when suspected farmers are compelled by the law to report to the Division of Veterinary Services.
Source: The Herald
Mnangagwa's government offers 99 years leases to remaining white farmers
Hundreds of white farmers who had been discriminated against while their black counterparts were getting 99 years long leases have a reason to celebrate as they have now been put in the same bracket. Initially, the white farmers had their leases limited to 5 years.
The decision to give the 99 years leases comes barely two months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his inauguration speech, announced that his government was going to compensate white farmers whose land was violently seized during the controversial land reform programme under former president Robert Mugabe.
In a statement to eight acting provincial resettlement officers throughout the country, the Lands Ministry said there should be no more restrictive five year leases to white farmers. "Please be informed that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement has directed that all remaining white farmers be issued 99 year leases instead of the 5 year leases as per the previous arrangement," said the statement on January 30.
The 99 year leases now being offered to all farmers, according to the Lands Ministry, are immediately bankable. The land reform programme, according to the then regime under Mugabe, was meant to correct historic injustices in the distribution of land in the country. But on the other hand, Mangangwa's compensation programme has not well been received in some sections of the society.
As recent as three days ago four villagers were arrested at a farm near Chinhoyi town for distributing material under the 'Freedom of Speech' banner questioning why the current government should compensate dispossessed white farmers who were "perpetrators" and "beneficiaries of genocide". Nearly two decades ago over 4000 white farmers were violently driven off their properties by War Veterans and landless villagers seizing farming equipment and crops with others being killed in cold blood.
Half of drought-hit Somalia needs aid in 2018 - UN
Somalia's 2011 famine killed 260,000 people, half of whom died before the official declaration of famine, caused by drought, war and lack of access for humanitarian aid. About 6.2 million people in Somalia - half the population - need emergency aid, such as food, water and shelter, due to unprecedented drought and ongoing conflict, the United Nations said on January 17, appealing for $1.6 billion. The drought - spanning four consecutive poor rainy seasons - has forced millions from their homes and left hundreds of thousands of children malnourished. One in four people in the Horn of Africa nation faces the risk of hunger.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said donors raised enough funds in 2017 to avert famine and stave off an outbreak of cholera, but the situation was set to worsen this year without sufficient aid. "We are likely to see sectors such as shelter being sub-funded, and then you will see people out in the open, with no adequate shelter - and having very little to conduct their lives with," said Peter de Clercq, head of OCHA in Somalia. "We will also see more children with acute malnutrition, and there will be less children in school," he said by video conference from Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Somalia's 2011 famine killed 260,000 people, half of whom died before the official declaration of famine, caused by drought, war and lack of access for humanitarian aid. The country has been mired in conflict since 1991. Its weak, Western-backed government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group al Shabaab - challenging the delivery of aid to the most needy.
Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre thanked the international community for the $1.3 billion raised last year, but warned there was no room for complacency.
"We face similar challenges and risks this year and the years to follow," said Hassan.
"Drought and conflict will continue to affect the lives of millions of Somalis. They will continue to displace thousands more. I request on behalf of the government and Somali people for continued support from international partners."
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Cattle destroy 600 acres of food crops in Moshi
OVER 600 acres of food crops in Chemchem village in Kilimanjaro Region's Moshi District have been destroyed by cattle. Chemchem Village Chairman Karibia Mmari said that for eight years now herdsmen from Simanjiro and Bomang'ombe in Hai District have been ruining the village as well as the nearby Mikocheni village at Arusha Chini ward.
"The cattle damaged farms with crops, including maize, vegetables, tomatoes and infrastructure ... we have now stopped cultivating rice because as soon as it starts growing, herdsmen rudely bring their herds to eat. The villagers have failed to hold village meetings and speak freely about their problems caused by the pastoral communities which surround and beat us at such the meetings," the chairman explained.
One of the villagers, Ms Saumu Paul whose two acres farm of tomatoes was destroyed, described how the herdsmen invaded the farm, ordering her to remain quiet as the animal consumed the crops. "I was there with my employee when they came with their sticks and swords ... they ordered us to keep quiet, I was afraid of the beatings and so I quietly watched as the herds ate my tomatoes. I ask the government to protect us because I have a loan that I have to repay," she lamented. One of the herdsmen, Sironga Nina, said the village have no boundaries demarcating lands for farmers and herdsmen, arguing that pastoralists use their farms to feed the animals.
Moshi District Executive Director (DED) Butamo Ndalahwa said the conflicts between pastoralists and framers have persisted for many years and that she was looking for a lasting solution. Acting Kilimanjaro Regional Police Commander (RPC) Koka Moita said 33 people have been arrested and will be taken to court, while the lasting solution to the crisis between farmers and pastoralists is being sought. Earlier, Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Anna Mghiwara, said 60 cattle were seized but currently there are only 24 of them, ordering the executives involved in the loss of livestock to ensure that farmers are compensated.
Kenya, Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war
Kenya and Uganda are aiding to prolong the four-year-old civil war in South Sudan by serving as conduits for arms to combatants, a United Nations official said on January 29. "The responsibility to prevent atrocities is regional and international," Adama Dieng, the UN special advisor for prevention of genocide, told VOA. "It is true that large quantities of weapons and ammunition are flowing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda."
Dieng said peace will be achieved in South Sudan only "if we have concerted regional and international efforts to leave no further options to the South Sudanese leaders to stop and start negotiating." "International partners have to start targeting the accomplices, intermediaries of the South Sudanese parties," Dieng said. "Welcoming refugees who are victims of a conflict they are de facto facilitating is not good enough," he added. Uganda is hosting more than one million refugees from South Sudan, while Kenya's Kakuma camp holds more than 100,000.
Dieng did not indicate whether the governments of Kenya and Uganda are directly involved in arms trafficking to South Sudan. He also did not say whether the weapons are intended for the country's military or rebel forces -- or possibly both. The UN panel of experts reported last November it had obtained documentary evidence of a cargo flight containing 31 tonnes of weapons that arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, in August. Kampala-based Bosasy Logistics was listed as consignee for the shipment which was said to have originated in Bulgaria. The arms were to be transferred to South Sudan, according to unnamed sources cited by the UN experts.
Dieng's contention that Kenya and Uganda are fuelling the war in South Sudan follows a comment by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley last week that "it is past time for the leaders of Uganda and Kenya to get involved and put pressure on President Kiir". Kenya and Uganda "are key players in the success of a true peace process," Haley said in a speech to the UN Security Council.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also recently warned South Sudan's neighbours against taking sides in the civil war. While not naming Kenya or Uganda, the UN chief told an African Union gathering in Addis Ababa on January 27 that it is essential to ensure that "any contradictions that might exist among the neighbours of South Sudan are not translated into an influence in the internal situation of South Sudan."
Source: The East African
Kenyan High Court orders state to restore signals for 3 TV stations
The High Court has ordered the government to immediately restore all TV transmissions for three private stations which were shut down on January 30 pending the hearing of a suit filed by activist Okiya Omtatah. Justice Chacha Mwita also issued temporary orders barring the government from interfering with all television transmissions until the case is heard on February 14. Other than seeking to restore transmission for NTV, KTNNews and Citizen TV, Omtatah wants the court to compel the government to compensate the media houses for the shutdown which started on January 30.
Omtatah moved to court seeking an order that the switch off of the TV stations is illegal and against the Constitution. The activist argued that the move by the State to shut down the TV stations is a violation of Article 33 and 34 of the Constitution. He also argued that the government was exposing the taxpayers to costs as a result of the shutdown. He wants the court to issue an order compelling the government to compensate the TV stations for monetary losses incurred during the switch off as well as general damages for violation of his rights as a consumer of the media content.
Omtatah argued that there is an immediate cause for concern over the constitutionality of the government’s action of switching off the television signals. “Without warning and without giving any reasons, on the morning of 30th January 2018, the respondents switched off free-to-air transmission [for] television channels owned by the 1st to 3rd interested parties,” he said in his petition. He argued that Article 33(1) guarantees every person the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas. Also, the public's right to information under Article 35 is directly affected since the switch off curtailed the public’s right of access to information broadcast by the three media houses.
Meanwhile, NTV’s Linus Kaikai, Larry Madowo and Ken Mijungu have moved to court seeking to bar their imminent arrest and prosecution by State. On January 31st evening, police officers surrounded Nation Centre, the headquarters of the Nation Media Group, as they sought to arrest the three. NMG Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi termed the government's move to shut down three private TV stations as "a sad moment for media freedom in Kenya." Mshindi spoke alongside leaders of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR), Amnesty International, the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, Article 19 and Katiba Institute.
Source: Daily Nation
Nigerian cocoa farmers threaten nationwide strike
Cocoa farmers have threatened to declare a nationwide strike over the sector's neglect. The aggrieved farmers gave the threat under the aegis of the National Executive Council of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN). In a communiqué after a meeting in Akure, they also alleged that government procured substandard agro inputs for the sector. They expressed concern that this was happening, despite the diversification policy of the Federal Government into agriculture.
The farmers vowed to stage a mega protest across the cocoa producing states in the country, including Abuja and Lagos. They indicted the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, alleging its neglect of the sector. According to them, they have made several demands especially in the area of procuring inputs for cocoa farmers, and accused the government of not carrying them along in its diversification programmes. The National President, Raimi Adeniji, the National Secretary, Adeola Adegoke and representatives of 14 states, signed the communiqué. They said the development negates the Federal Government vision to develop the cocoa sector.
The farmers condemned the manner of procuring fake and substandard inputs for cocoa farmers, which he said, serve as wastes and destroys the cocoa trees. "CFAN reiterated our earlier call on President to reorganise procurement process in the cocoa value chain to give room for our contribution. "Almost a quarter of Nigeria cocoa plantations were destroyed by fire during last year's dry season without any support from the Federal Government, despite our complaints," the statement said. They appealed to President Buhari to develop the cocoa industry as he promised during his campaigns. "CFAN appeals to Buhari to intervene urgently to save the livelihood and future of cocoa farmers, considering the diversification campaign of the present administration," the statement added.
Source: The Guardian
Lassa fever claims 21 lives, affects 10 health workers in Nigeria
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, National Coordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 21 deaths have been recorded from the 77 confirmed cases in the current outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria. Ihekweazu disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the National Executive Council meeting of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in Abuja on January 30. He said that of the 77 confirmed cases, 10 affected health workers.
The national coordinator quoted Dr Sylvanus Okogbeni, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo, as confirming that two of the health workers affected were discharged on January 29. He described the situation as sober, adding that it had resulted in serious emotional trauma, fear, anxiety and sometimes anger among stakeholders.
Ihekweazu said it was high time stakeholders came together and addressed the challenges of hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever. The national coordinator said NCDC has distributed more Ribavirin drugs used in the treatment of the disease to the affected states than it had ever done in the past. He said that government alone might not be able to supply the needed drugs to all the affected persons in the country.
Ihekweazu said the center had produced guidelines for the prevention and control of hemorrhagic fevers, adding that the NARD members should work with their hospitals' chief medical directors to address outbreaks. In his remarks, Prof Mike Ogrima, President, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), urged doctors in the country not to attend to patients if they did not have protective gears. "You have to get some level of immunity or protection before you provide services to such patients," he said.
Source: Daily Trust
World Bank's support to Nigeria, others hits U.S. $ 14 billion
The World Bank Group yesterday disclosed that its support to fragile states, including Nigeria through the International Development Association (IDA) has doubled to more than $14 billion. The bank's Country Director in Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, who made the disclosure at a conference with the theme: 'IdeasforAction Africa' which it hosted in collaboration with the African University of Science and Technology and the University of Lagos, stated that the focus of the programme was to provide opportunities for the youth to contribute to the shaping of Africa's 2030 Agenda as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Ideas for Action Africa, he noted, is a potent platform which gives young ones the opportunity to have a say in the international development debate and provide practical solutions to the world's most complex problems. According to Benmessaoud, to advance sustainable development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the bank's strategy was to invest more in people and pursue private sector solutions to maximise finance for development. He added that the bank's strategy also includes accelerating inclusive and sustainable economic growth through distribution of diversified economic opportunities across sectors and finally, fostering resilience to global shocks and threats.
Benmessaoud said: "The underlying challenge remains the need for countries to mobilise domestic revenues, for development to be sustainable. This is because ultimately the ability to implement and sustain these programmes depends on political will of the government." He pointed out that development has to be led by each country with emphasis on protecting its most vulnerable and benefitting its poor. "It is a moral responsibility on the part of everyone to do more to help people lift themselves out of both fragility and extreme poverty, to help stabilise the countries they live in, and to give them hope for the future. "Against this backdrop, allocation for fragile states under the International Development Association (IDA) has doubled to more than 14 billion dollars. "With this, we continue to find new and innovative ways to reach the poor and boost shared prosperity," he stressed, imploring young Nigerians to put forth their best ideas and be a part of the innovation which IdeasforAction encapsulates.
In his remarks, the President, African University of Science and Technology, Prof. Kingston Nyamapfene noted that African youths represent the engine of growth and positive change. University, students through the Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI) a programme supported by the World Bank had mathematical solutions for energy, water purification, sustainable building materials and healthcare challenges, he said.
Nyamapfene stated: "The concept is to bring the best minds all over Africa to do their Msc and PhDs and in doing so, we challenge them to solve problems in these areas. "We believe that young people can solve Africa's problems. Over the years, PAMI has come up with several excellent proposals. "However, we have another mile to go and that is to translate these research findings into visible products, goods and services to solve the infrastructure problems in Africa," he said
Source: This Day
Lagos makes history, sets up special courts for sexual offences, corruption
In a bid to ensure speedy dispensation of justice, Lagos State Government on February 1 inaugurated four special courts solely for the prosecution of sexual offences and corruption cases. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that two courts will adjudicate on special offences (economic and financial crimes), while the two others will try sexual offences. The Sexual Offences Court is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was among dignitaries who attended the inauguration. Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, while inaugurating the courts, lauded the Chief Justice of Nigeria for initiating it at the federal level. He noted that the establishment of the courts would facilitate expeditious hearing and trial of sexual and financial related crimes.
Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Oluranti Adebule, said Lagos was collaborating with the British Council under the Rule of Law Anti-Corruption Programme to provide technical support for the anti-corruption fight. "The state collaborates with such agencies charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences by providing an enabling environment in terms of responding to inquiries and providing information to anti-graft agencies. "I am particularly glad about the designation of two courts to handle sexual related offences as it complements our fight against sexual abuse. "These sexual offences courts will have trained and experienced prosecutors to interact with survivors, provide support and ensure timely prosecution of the cases," he said.
Ambode, who reeled out statistics of the sexual crimes handled by the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre in Lagos, announced that the state government had awarded a contract for the expansion of the DNA and Forensic Centre. "Between 2015 and now, the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre have handled over 400 cases of sexual offences while 376 cases are being prosecuted in the various courts. "With a dedicated court now in place to handle these cases, l am sure that these cases will get the attention they deserve. "We have awarded the contract for the expansion of the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre and Chemistry Section. "This will automatically place Lagos as one of the leading centres for forensics in Africa," Ambode said.
The wife of the Vice-President, Oludolapo Osinbajo, in her speech, commended the Lagos State Government for establishing the Sexual Offences Court. She said: 'The statistics quoted by the Chief Justice of Lagos is very frightening, it only speaks of half of the true picture. "Behind the figures are the faces of the affected women and girls as well as the men and boys." Giving examples of real life scenarios of sexual violence, Osinbajo said the victims of such offences should never be ignored. "We should not ignore the trauma and nightmare that sexual offences bring, let us not forget the girls not only in Nigeria but all over the world."
In an address of welcome, the Chief Judge of Lagos , Opeyemi Oke, recalled that the journey toward the establishment of the Special Courts started in June 2017. "In the speech marking the second anniversary of President Muhammad Buhari's administration, His Excellency, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo announced plans by the Federal Government to designate specific courts to handle corruption cases. "He said that the courts would be part of a general judicial reform to make the judiciary more efficient and to facilitate the determination of corruption and financial crime cases.
"Soon thereafter, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen during the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria to 29 senior lawyers in Abuja in September 2017, announced major reforms in the criminal justice system. "He said to effectively monitor and enforce the new policy, an Anti-corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee will be set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC). "The Chief Justice of Nigeria stated that the Committee would among other responsibilities, ensure that both the trial and appellate courts handling corruption and financial cases key into and abide by the renewing effort of ridding our country of the cankerworm," she said.
Oke said Onnoghen had directed that all Heads of Court should clampdown on lawyers who deploy delay tactics in criminal matters before them and soclicited the help of the public in the anti-corruption war. She said: "Presently, there are over 500 cases of financial crimes pending before the High Court, the bulk of which have now been assigned to the Special Offences Courts. "We are enthusiastic about the designation of the new courts as we see the development as a step in the right direction. "We therefore commend the Hon.Chief Justice of Nigeria's initiative in this regard.
"In the Lagos State Judiciary, we have commenced a campaign against corruption in our courts and among supporting staff. "All hands are on deck to see an end to this cankerworm that has eaten deeply into the fabric of our justice delivery system. "We believe strongly that the special courts shall fast track the trial of these types of cases and encourage the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant bodies to expedite the investigation and prosecution of such cases."
On sexual offences, Oke said the Senate had on May 23, 2017 passed a motion to investigate increased cases of rape and sexual assaults across the country. "They (the Senate) urged the judges and magistrates to revisit courts sentencing people in violent sexual offences to reflect the very serious nature of the crimes. "In 2014, Lagos State Government recognised the magnitude of the problems in respect of domestic and sexual violence and pioneered the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). "The DSVRT is to assist victims and survivors in need of financial and emotional support and empowerment."
Oke, citing an article entitled, "A Five Year Analysis of Police Record on Sexual Related Offences in Lagos State", by Gbemileke O. Oladipo, gave out statistics of sexual offences in Lagos from 1999 to 2014. "A total of 691 sexual offences were reported during the period, rape accounted for 40.1 percent of the offences, 44 percent of the crimes were committed at the perpetrators houses. "Virtually in all, 98.4 percent were female whose ages ranged from four to 56 years, 42 percent of victims were mostly neighbours to the perpetrators. "Most of the cases (76.6 percent) were withdrawn, 12.8 percent were under investigation while the status of 8.5 percent were unknown since 2004."
Source: Premium Times
UN slams Nigeria over Cameroon extradition
The UN refugee agency on February 1 criticised Nigeria for breaching international agreements after the leader of a Cameroonian anglophone separatist movement and his supporters were extradited at Yaounde's request. The UNHCR said it learned "with great concern" about the case of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, who was sent back to Cameroon this week with 46 others. They were arrested in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on January 5.
Cameroon has called the 47 "terrorists" and said they would "answer for their crimes", as tensions mount in the Southwest and Northwest Regions, home to most of the country's English-speakers. They have complained about decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority. Ayuk Tabe wants the two regions to separate from the French-speaking part of the country. On October 1 last year, his movement made a symbolic declaration of independence.
The UNHCR said most of the 47 sent back to Cameroon had submitted asylum claims in Nigeria. "Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law," it said in a statement. Non-refoulement, a French term, is the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum-seekers to go back to a country where they could be persecuted. "The returns were carried out despite UNHCR's efforts and engagement with the authorities," the agency said.
"UNHCR reminds Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and urges the Nigerian Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin." Human rights groups have called on Cameroon to ensure those detained get a fair trial and are well-treated. Cameroonian President Paul Biya strongly opposes secession and has flooded both regions with troops, imposed curfews, conducted raids and slapped restrictions on travel. An estimated 30,000 English-speakers have fled Cameroon to Nigeria.
This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi