MonitorsPublished on Mar 23, 2016
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue VI

< style="color: #0180b3">The Continent

UN holds first meeting of high-level group on economic empowerment of women

The High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment held its inaugural meeting on 15 March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is underway this month. Addressing a room of prominent leaders from government, business, academia and civil society, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the group can collectively lead the charge for women's economic empowerment.

"Women and girls deserve the same access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as men and boys," Mr. Ban said, noting this is both the global agenda and his own personal philosophy. Women and girls "must also enjoy the same employment, legal rights, leadership and decision-making opportunities," he added.

Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, the Panel is expected to provide recommendations linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on how to improve economic outcomes for women and promote their leadership in driving sustainable and inclusive, environmentally sensitive economic growth, according to UN Women.

The Panel, which is co-chaired by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and Simona Scarpaleggia, the CEO of IKEA Switzerland, will produce the first report this September, followed by a final report in March 2017. According to Mr. Ban, the Panel is strategically positions to demonstrate high-level leadership and commitment to realizing women's economic empowerment; to set priorities for accelerating women's economic empowerment, and to demonstrate how they are already being successfully carried out; and to serve as examples of how government, business, civil society and development partners can join forces for women's economic empowerment.

The Panel is backed by the UN Women, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with support for its work provided by the UK Department of International Development. Today's meeting took place on the second day of the CSW, the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The priority theme for the 60th session is women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development.

Source: UN News Service, March 15, 2016

Somalia ranked the happiest country in sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia is ranked the  happiest country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only Algerians and Libyans more happier than Somalis in Africa, according to the UN report. The report about happiness on Somalia has surprised many who believe there is nothing to be happy about for a citizen who live under civil war more than 25 years with absence of basic services.

Denmark is the happiest country in the world with Burundi sitting bottom of the 157-nation UN-sanctioned World Happiness Report 2016. The report, released on 16 March, ranks the countries on a variety of factors: People's health and access to medical care, family relations, job security and social factors, including political freedom and degree of government corruption places Burundi at bottom.

Denmark, the Scandinavian nation, with a population of 5.6 million, has topped the list twice before since the world body started measuring happiness around the world in 2012. Somalia emerged number 76 while Burundi and Syria are completing the table with over 150 countries.

Source: Dalshan Radio (Mogadishu), March 17, 2016


Economy — all growth, no prosperity

African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), an independent think-tank has ended a two- day conference tagged, African Transformation Forum (ATF) on 15 March 2016. The conference brought together leading thinkers, policy makers, business leaders, journalists, civil society and development partners to share ideas and collaborate in order to advance Africa's economic transformation.

It was a pensive looking Kagame that entered the hall of Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda last Tuesday morning, walking through the din of applause by 250 participants or thereabout that came from different parts of Africa and the rest of the world.

In his brooding demeanor, Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, cut the image of a leader who bears the burden not only of his 12 million people but also of the rest Africans. Clearly, the Kigali conference was not about Rwanda; it was rather about Africa and the future of its over 1 billion population. And such scope of discussion would give any Kagame a furrowed forehead. To start with, a 2016 World Bank report revealed that the number of Africans living in extreme poverty increased by more than 100 million between 1990 and 2012, despite the economic growth experienced by the continent within the decade. And as the African population continues to swell, the number of its poor people may also rise, the report stated. This does not have to happen though if African leaders prioritize economic transformation by creating better jobs for their citizens and widening the circle of shared prosperity, said the ACET President, Dr. Kingsley Amoako.

According to Amoako, "By 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa will have a larger and younger workforce than China or India. With the continent's abundant land and natural resources, that workforce can be a global competitive advantage and a great asset in driving economic transformation." A probable reality, that is. But the economic transformation will not take place, if the continent does not diversify its economies, boosts its competitiveness in world markets and increases its shares of manufacturing in GDP, using more sophisticated technology in production.

The African Transformation Report published in 2014 noted that African GDP indeed is growing, especially due to macroeconomic reforms, better business environment, and higher commodity prices. But growth is not enough. The continent must ensure that growth improves the living condition of all its citizens by providing more productive jobs and higher incomes.The ACET report describes this progress as "growth with DEPTH." "Our report's main premise is that African economies need more than growth - if they are to transform, they need growth with DEPTH. That is, they need to Diversify their production, make their Exports competitive, increase the Productivity of farms, firms, and government offices, and upgrade the Technology they use throughout the economy - all to improve Human well-being," Amoako, a former Chief Economist at the World Bank, wrote in the ACET report.

This kind of growth, according to Dr. Carlos Lopes, the UN Under- Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission For Africa (ECA), is achievable only by combining the reallocation of economic activity across the three broad sectors namely, agriculture, industry and services, with sustainability and inclusiveness. Lopes identified four countries that have demonstrated a successful implementation of economic transformation. They are Brazil, China, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

For example, Brazil, through its implementation of creative policies, has joined the league of industrial nations. China also has combined a variety of policies to develop both its agricultural and industrial sectors including the service sector. UAE succeeded in diversifying its formerly crude oil-based economy which accounted for about two-thirds of the GDP, to include manufacturing industries. As of 2010, manufacturing in the UAE accounted for around 10 percent of GDP, a significant jump from the 0.9 percent share in 1975. Malaysia went through three distinct phases of industrial expansion: Import substitution, 1957-1970; New Economic Policy 1970-1985 and the New Development Policy of 1986 which placed the country in the league of the East Asian Newly industrialized Economies.

The success stories of these countries are not perfect, but they signal hope even for Africa. With a strong political will, African states can replicate the success of other emerging economies, Lopes said. One African state that has been recording significant success in the area of economic transformation is Rwanda. According to Kagame, the progress Rwanda has made in the last 22 years after its bloody ethnic conflict is a testimony that economic transformation is possible if leaders of African states are prepared to set realistic targets and follow through with implementation.

"Making it happen is understandably going to be harder. However it can become a reality within our lifetimes," he said. His advice: "One, let's change how people think; and two, let's shape how resources are allocated and later on utilized." On changing mindsets, he told the audience: "this challenge is not technical. It is political and social because it's about people. It's about developing a mindset of urgency, ownership, responsibility and service as well as, quite frankly, the mindset of money-making and long-term investing." Citizens, he said, bear most of the risks - and gains - of transformation. "They have to be included in the decisions and understand the benefits of transformation - because success comes from what they do every day."

Reflecting on how Rwanda rose from the ashes of its bloody conflict that claimed the lives of over 800, 000 citizens, Kagame said: "We figured it out by doing it, because we had no choice. "Help took years to arrive or was not appropriate to our circumstances. We had to start with our own resources and ideas, and in fact, our desire to get out of the mess and chaos our country was in. This taught us some important things. You don't need to have all the answers or all the funds to get started. Constantly assess and correct course, but don't wait for perfection or rescue.

"As we began to turn our attention to economic transformation, these habits and lessons served Rwanda well. They have become part of who we are and how we approach challenges," Kagame said. Indeed, Rwandan story is the story of the resilient spirit of a people under the leadership of a committed visionary, said a participant at the ATF, Aliyu Ahmed-Hameed of Cardston Consulting. The country was rated last year by the World Bank as one of the fastest growing economies in the world alongside China, India, Ethiopia, and others. The economy grew 7.1 percent (year-on-year) according to a report published by World Bank Group in February 2015.

The poverty rate in Rwanda has dropped from 59 percent in 2001 to 45 percent in 2011 while inequality measured by the Gini coefficient reduced from 0.52 in 2006 to 0.49 in 2011. Between 2005 and 2013, life expectancy increased from 55.2 to 64.0, under-5 mortality decreased from 106.4 to 52.0 per 1,000 live births. Rwandan government in 2012 started to provide free education in state-run schools for 12 years: six years each in primary and secondary schools. Within the next four years, the country, according to the Finance Minister, Claver Gatete, aims to become what he described as a "knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with middle-income country status." That indeed is achievable, not only for Rwanda but for the rest of Africa.

Source: The Guardian, March 21, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Central Africa

Cameroon: Cameroon sentences 89 Boko Haram members to death

Cameroon has sentenced 89 members of the Boko Haram terrorist group to death over terror charges. In contrast, Nigeria where the deadly insurgency started and has recorded tens of thousands of deaths caused by the violent sect, has only convicted a handful of terrorists to prison terms. Rather than convicting terrorists, who have been caught and detained in special prison facilities in mainly northern Nigeria, the federal government has been expending huge resources on their rehabilitation.

According to a BBC report, a Cameroonian military court tried the insurgents over their roles in   several attacks in the northern part of the country which borders Nigeria. Since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its campaign of violence, Cameroon has been its next target after Nigeria. In January 2015, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the sect, threatened to attack Paul Biya, president of Cameroon, over his country's role in the regional force set up to fight insurgency. "Oh Paul Biya, if you don't stop this your evil plot, you will taste what has befallen Nigeria," Shekau had said in a video.

"If you do not repent, you will see the dire consequences. Your troops cannot do anything to us. I advise you to desist from following your constitution and democracy, which is un-Islamic. The only language of peace is to repent and follow Allah, but if you do not, then we will communicate it to you through the language of violence." On his part, Biya vowed to wipe out Boko Haram. About 850 members of the sect are currently in detention over alleged involvement in insurgency in Cameroon. This is the first time that people have been sentenced to death since a new anti-terror law was passed in 2014.

Nigeria, with an anti-terror law - the Terrorism (Prevention) Act - in place since 2011, has only managed to convict a handful of terrorists. In a related development, troops of the Central African country also killed 20 Boko Haram fighters on 16 March during a raid in northern Nigeria carried out by a multinational force tasked with stamping out the Islamist militants, military sources told Reuters on March 17.

Cameroon Commander General Jacob Kodji said the Islamist fighters were killed in the Nigerian town of Djibrila, which is about 10km (six miles) from the Cameroon border. A spokesman for Cameroon's Defence Ministry, Colonel Didier Badjeck, said 12 hostages were freed and munitions and armoured vehicles were seized during the operation.

Boko Haram wants to establish an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria and has waged a seven-year campaign of violence to that end, killing thousands of people and displacing two million others. Boko Haram is thought to have killed around 15,000 people, according to U.S. military figures. Along with Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin, Cameroon has contributed troops to an 8,700-strong regional task force dedicated to fighting the group.

Source: This Day, March 18, 2016

Angola: Another Kenyan from Angola has yellow fever

Another yellow fever case has been confirmed on a Kenyan who arrived from Angola where he has been staying for more than 10 years. The man who was working as a shopkeeper in Angola arrived on 12 March through Ethiopia, but it was until 15 March when he developed symptoms and sought medical attention in Eastleigh. Acting Director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kiok told Capital FM News that samples sent to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) were confirmed on 17 March to contain the acute viral disease.

"It is indeed true that we have confirmed the second case of yellow fever on a man who had been living in Angola for more than 10 years," Dr Kioko said but assured that the patient was stable. "Even though it has been confirmed that he has yellow fever, his condition is stable and he will be fine," he said and urged medical personnel at all the entry points to remain on a high alert. This brings to two the number of confirmed yellow fever cases after a man who had also arrived from Angola died at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

Health workers were placed on high alert on 16 March for yellow fever, after the Kenyan who had also been living in Angola for a decade died at the Kenyatta National Hospital. Up to 250 people have died from yellow fever in Angola since late December 2015 when the first case was detected.

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, a viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and found in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America. Angolan authorities launched a mass vaccination campaign in February. Luanda remains the worst-hit area, with nine of every 10 deaths registered in the city over the last days.

We don't have the human resources to cope," Campos added. Dr Kioko said health workers at all the airports and other entry points had been placed on high alert to thoroughly screen all passengers arriving from Angola and other countries with yellow fever history.

"We are not taking any chances, and that is why we have advised health workers at the airports and other areas to thoroughly screen passengers and take travel history of anyone from Angola and other countries listed as having an active outbreak by the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he said. Health workers in all other facilities were directed to take precautions and isolate any patient suspected to have the disease before referring them to hospitals with a capacity to handle such cases.

Source: CapitalFM, March 17, 2016

Congo-Kinshasa: Former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba found guilty of war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has found Bemba guilty of committing atrocities against civilians in the Central African Republic. Bemba's troops raped, murdered and pillaged villages in the neighboring country. Judges at the ICC found Bemba guilty on all five counts of war crimes against humanity. Presiding judge Sylvia Steiner said the former leader was "criminally responsible" for letting troops belonging to the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rampage across the neighboring country.

MLC troops, commanded by Bemba, raped, murdered and pillaged in CAR from October 2002 to March 2003. The operation was conducted in support of Ange-Felix Patasse, the CAR's president at the time. Judges said the former Congolese leader failed to discipline his army despite knowing they were committing crimes, including the rape of girls as young as 10. "Mr. Bemba effectively acted as military commander and had effective command and control over the MLC forces," Steiner said.

"MLC soldiers by force knowingly and intentionally invaded the bodies of victims," Steiner read out from a judgment that graphically described the rapes carried out by Bemba's soldiers. The troops also pillaged villages to supplement their meager incomes, she added. The case against Bemba, the highest-ranked person to be convicted by the ICC so far, is the first in which the ICC has held a military commander directly responsible for the crimes of his subordinates. The trial is also the first to focus extensively on acts of sexual violence committed during war. The Congolese leader has denied all accusations and is expected to appeal his conviction. He is to be held in custody until the sentence is announced at a later date.

Source: Deutshche Walles, March 21, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">North Africa

Libya: UN-backed govt 'to move to Tripoli in days'

Libya's UN-backed unity government will move to Tripoli from neighbouring Tunisia "within a few days", its prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj has said in a TV interview. The government was formed under a UN-mediated peace deal in a bid to end the political chaos and conflict that has beset the country since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. It is supposed to replace the two rival administrations - one based in the capital Tripoli, the other in the eastern city of Tobruk - that have been battling each other for more than a year.

In a pre-recorded interview with Jordan-based Libya HD channel, Sarraj said on 17 March that a security plan agreed with police and military forces in Tripoli, as well as some armed groups, would allow the UN-backed Presidential Council and the government it nominated to move from Tunis to Tripoli. "We, the government of national accord, will be in the capital Tripoli soon ... within a few days," Sarraj, who also heads the Presidential Council, said. "The armed groups will remain in their camps until an agreement is found with them about whether their members will be integrated and young people absorbed within certain programmes according the security plan," he added.

Yet, the unity government has faced opposition from hardliners on both sides of Libya's political divide - and the prime minister of the government based in Tripoli this week warned it not to move there. "We say it has no place among us," Khalifa Ghweil said in a statement, adding that the unity government was "imposed from the outside" and his administration would never let in a leadership "installed" by the UN.

It remains unclear whether some of the many armed groups present in the capital will fight to prevent the unity government from operating there. The eastern parliament, which received international recognition, has repeatedly failed to vote to approve the unity government, though a majority of its members signed a statement of support last month.

Western powers have been pushing hard for the new government to start work, hoping that it will be able to tackle an expanding threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, both by drawing together Libyan armed factions and by requesting international help. Sarraj said the Council saw a need to take advantage of the "international momentum" around Libya, though it was up to Libyans to determine their needs. "If the international community provides assistance I do not think the Libyans would reject that, but within the rules and standards, and according to what Libyans want," he said. "Direct intervention is unacceptable, and we have sent that message clearly."

Source: Al Jazeera, March 18, 2016

Algeria, Vietnam examine means to strengthen relations

The head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and National Community of the council of the Nation (upper house of Parliament), Rachid Bougherbal on Thursday held discussions with members of a Vietnamese parliamentary delegation, said Thursday the Upper House in a statement. The discussions focused on bilateral relations in various fields, said the statement.

The two sides hoping that the economic and commercial relations will be enhanced up to a level commensurate with the "excellent" political and parliamentary relations, for the best interests of the two countries and two peoples, added the statement. They also agreed to "increase exchange of visits of parliamentary delegations."

The Vietnamese parliamentary delegation hailed Algeria's role at the regional and international levels, and requested Algeria's support for Vietnam to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2022, said the Upper House' statement. The two sides also agreed to "coordinate their positions" at the international political and parliamentary forums.

Source: Algerie Presse Service, March 18, 2016

Tunisia, Palestine sign MOU in social affairs

A memorandum of understanding was signed on 17 March 2016 in Tunis by Minister of Social Affairs Mahmoud Ben Romdhane and his Palestinian counterpart Ibrahim Al-Sha'er. Under this agreement, Tunisia makes its experience in administrative management of social service at central, regional and local levels available to Palestine.

The document also provides for sharing experiences between the two countries in terms of care for persons with disability, support to needy families and social integration of vulnerable children. The MoU also provides for the organisation of training sessions for Palestinian executives in the social field.

Minister of Social Affairs Mahmoud Ben Romdhane said the signing of the memorandum will help further boost co-operation between the two countries in the fight against poverty and care for poorest groups. The Palestinian minister said the MoU crowns the two countries' efforts to bolster bilateral co-operation in the social field. A joint technical committee responsible for monitoring the implementation of the memorandum of understanding was set up.

Source: Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis), March 17, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">Southern Africa

South Africa: Minister says Guptas invited him for dinner but he declined

Public service and administration minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi on Thursday confirmed that he was invited to a dinner with the Gupta family at their Saxonwold mansion but he declined. His spokesperson advocate Mahlodi Moufhe confirmed to News24 that the offer took place shortly after Ramatlhodi was appointed minister. Moufhe said: "He got the offer shortly after he was appointed minister but he declined. It was to have dinner with them at their home."

The revelations come a day after deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas admitted that he was offered former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's job before the latter was removed. On 16 March Jonas said: "Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of minister of finance to replace then-minister Nene. I rejected this out of hand. The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the President of the Republic appoints ministers."

Jonas said he hesitated to speak out publicly on the matter until recently. "I feel it is no longer possible to remain quiet. Of primary concern to me is that this issue has a real danger of diverting attention away from the real and urgent challenges we face as a country." The Gupta family accused Jonas of lying and challenged him to prove his claims. In a statement responding to Jonas a family spokesperson said, "We challenge Minister Jonas to provide a full account of the supposed meeting that took place, under oath, in a court of law.

"Minister Jonas is attempting to cover up and divert attention away from his own relationships and practices. We are confident questions about his own ethical standards will be exposed. "We will not provide any further running commentary on what is now just a politically-motivated campaign against us."

Source: News24, March 17, 2016

Malawi committed to ending child marriage, minister Kaliati tells UN conference

Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Minister Patricia Kaliati has underscored Malawi government's commitment towards ending child marriage which is currently at 50 percent in the country. Kaliati said this during an Every Woman, Every Child high level event at the ongoing 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, US.

The high level meeting, which was presided over by United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, was organised to discuss progress made and challenges faced on gender equality, and empowerment of women and girls across the globe. The minister informed the meeting that Malawi rescued a total of 600,000 girls in 2015 alone following implementation and application of various interventions to end child marriage.

The interventions included campaigns to end child marriage and enactment and enforcement of legal frameworks like the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act and the Gender Equality Act. She added that active involvement of traditional leaders had also borne fruit as they had enacted by-laws in their areas to end the practice. Kaliati further said the re-admission policy for girls who drop out of school and mobilisation of mothers groups were also helping to end child marriage and get girls back in school.

The Minister assured the meeting that Malawi was committed to the Every Woman, Every Child Movement which has an agenda of having no young people become parents before reaching adulthood. In his remarks the United Nations Secretary General said his position gave him a responsibility to improve the welfare of women and girls and he described violence against women and girls as an abomination and a threat to public health. He added that a 10 percent cut in child marriage cross the globe would result in the reduction of maternal mortality by two thirds.

Ban stated that he was strongly committed to improving the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents adding that the Every Woman, Every Child movement was one of the paths to success towards ensuring respect of human rights for women, children and adolescents in all member countries of the United Nations. The UN Secretary General further observed that there was a direct link between equality and well-being and therefore called upon world leaders and all people around the world to commit to the Every Woman, Every Child agenda and help transform the world for the better.

Every Woman, Every Child is an initiative launched by the UN Secretary General in 2010 and calls upon governments, civil society and the private sector to deal with health challenges faced by women and girls around the world. Since its inception, the movement has contributed towards the saving of lives of millions of women and children across the globe.  In an earlier Ministerial Roundtable meeting on Financing Gender Equality and Women Empowerment on the same day, Kaliati stressed that financing for gender equality between 2016 and 2030 was a prerequisite for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The minister said the world was facing numerous challenges such as climate change, poverty, trafficking and migration that were negatively impacting on women, children and vulnerable groups. She therefore urged member states to match the agreements made at the meetings with resource allocation, targets and indicators. Kaliati added that gender has been mainstreamed in government departments in Malawi.

"The budgeting process has been institutionalised with clear gender budgeting guidelines. The Departments of Planning in all the Ministries were trained in Gender budgeting to track the budget performance for its adherence. A systematic mainstreaming process was instituted in Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Transport, Education, Finance and National AIDS Commission, with a costed gender, women, girls HIV and AIDS action plan," she said. The minister added that there has been a 3 percent increase in national gender budget allocation, and 7 percent increase off-budget support between 2014 and 2016 for gender equality and women.

The CSW is a body of intergovernmental organisations dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The 60th session of the commission is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York between March 14 and 24 2016.

Source: Nyasa Times, March 18, 2016

Zimbabwe: Gushungo bombing had ZNA backing, says accused

One of the suspects accused of attempting to petrol-bomb the First Family's Alpha Omega Dairy Farm maintained on 17 March that it was a military- sanctioned operation, and he had been tasked by his superiors from the Zimbabwe National Army to monitor and trap the culprit. Through his lawyer, Mr Exactly Mangezi, Borman Ngwenya (30) said he kept one Major Mashava informed of the activities.

He said Owen Kuchata, who has since been jailed for the offence, was their target in the operation. While cross-examining State witnesses, Mr Mangezi produced proof in the form of phone records showing communication between Ngwenya and Major Mashava. However, two police officers who arrested Ngwenya and his alleged accomplices,, said the phone records were irrelevant in the matter saying no one knew what he communicated with Major Mashava.

Detective Sergeant Zorodzai Chatikobo said Ngwenya as a soldier might have indeed communicated with Major Mashava discussing different issues not the one before the court. The officers maintained that Ngwenya had a case to answer since he was arrested at the scene during the night. "Your Worship, this is a mere phone record. Who knows what they were talking about? We cannot conclude that they were discussing the bombing operation. This is not a voice recording whereby we could listen to what they were discussing," he said. He added: "When I was called for briefing at Harare Central, I was told that there were four people who wanted to bomb Gushungo Dairy that we were supposed to ambush. I was not told that Ngwenya was on a military operation. I only got to know that he was a soldier after his arrest."

Det Sgt Chatikobo said upon his arrest, Ngwenya never mentioned being an undercover agent. Another cop from ZRP Support Unit department, Artwell Chimanga -who was part of the arresting team - said when the gang was arrested, they all had petrol bombs in their bags. "At first, they lied that they were going to Mazowe Mine, but later changed their statements and said they were headed to Alpha Omega Dairy Farm," he said. He narrated to the court how they ambushed and arrested the quartet after receiving information from CID Law and Order Section.

Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza also called two vendors from Mbare as witnesses. Shingai Ngilazi told the court that Ngwenya bought the bottles they used from him, while Tawanda Makambaire submitted that the fertiliser they used to make the bombs was purchased from his market store. Regional magistrate Ms Fadzai Mthombeni heard that on January 22, around 4pm, police received a tip-off that the four were planning to bomb Alpha Omega Dairy's processing plant and tuckshop during the night.

Acting on the tip-off, police proceeded to the farm and laid an ambush about 100 metres from the quartet's target. At around 10pm, the detectives saw the men approaching the dairy's processing plant and immediately arrested them.

Source:  The Herald, March 18, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">East Africa

East Africa: Mauritius and Madagascar deepen bilateral relations

Mauritius and the Republic of Madagascar will enter into a new era of cooperation and work in close collaboration in the fields of agriculture, textile, maritime, communication and technology, among others. This statement was made by the Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, this morning during a joint press statement with the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina, at the Treasury Building in Port Louis after the signing of three agreements namely: a Memorandum of Understanding on the Special Economic Zone, a General Framework for Cooperation and an agreement for the setting up of a Joint Commission between Mauritius and Madagascar.

According to the Prime Minister the signing of these agreements constitutes the first step towards the deepening of the bilateral relations, adding that the State Visit of the Malagasy President bears testimony to the excellent relations between the two countries which are founded on fundamental values such as friendship, trust and cooperation. He further outlined that both countries have always worked towards the promotion of democracy and added that this visit will enable to review the existing relations and identify new areas of cooperation in view of bringing these relations to new heights.

Sir Anerood Jugnauth pointed out that since the setting up of diplomatic relations between the two countries in August 1968, Mauritius and Madagascar have concluded several bilateral agreements in the fields of investment, culture, air services and small and medium enterprises. He elaborated on several projects agreed between both parties, namely the setting up of special economic zones, encouraging more investment between the two countries, the waiver for short stay visa in Madagascar and Mauritius respectively and also the expansion of economic and commercial exchanges.

Mauritius will import 500 tonnes of onions from Madagascar as from this year, and Madagascar proposes to open an investment and trade office in Mauritius, he added. For his part the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina, recalled the friendly and the strong bilateral ties that bond both countries which are being further reinforced with the signing of the three agreements on 11 March. Both Madagascar and Mauritius will work towards further deepening the existing links mainly in the areas of agriculture, renewable energy, the fight against terrorism and piracy, tourism, and political stability in the region amongst others.

Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina also announced the setting up of an office for trade and investment in Mauritius as well as the possibilities of mutual visa exemption between the two countries which are under negotiations. These initiatives he said, will further encourage more investments between the two countries both from the private and public sectors. He also expressed his gratitude towards the Mauritian Government for its unflinching support in helping Madagascar achieve political and economic stability. He underlined that the import of 500 tonnes of onions by Mauritius is a clear demonstration of the willingness of both countries to further consolidate and deepen existing ties.

Source: Government of Mauritius (Port Louis), March 11, 2016

Kenya: Gun owners lobby welcomes firearms licensing board

The National Gun Owners Association of Kenya has welcomed Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery's decision to form the Firearms Licensing Board, which they say will amicably address any disciplinary cases. The association's Secretary General Anthony Wahome says though there are only a few cases of people misusing their firearms, the board will ensure weapons are only used as per the set regulations.

Nkaissery appointed the Firearms Licensing Board after a court directed that Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho's gun drama can only be handled by such a body. The chairman of the board is Enoch Sasia while members include Lillian Kiamba, Stanley Omucheyi, Barnice Gachegu, Anthony Wahome, William Sing'oei, George Waiguru, James Ngului and Samuel Kimaru as the secretary. "In December 2014, the Security Amendment Bill which became an Act, also included amendments to certain parts of the Firearms Act," he pointed out during an interview with Capital FM News. "The board will now put the necessary mechanism to make sure that if there are laws that need to be looked into, they do that."

The board work will be to certify suitability of applicants and periodically assess proficiency of firearms holders and issue, cancel, terminate or vary any license or permit issued under the Act. The Firearms Act has been questioned with some security players calling for amendments in some of the clauses, which they say are outdated. The Firearms Act Section 5(7)(a) provides that the certificate can be revoked "if the licensing officer is satisfied that the holder is prohibited by or under this Act from possessing a firearm to which the firearm certificate relates, or is of intemperate habits or unsound mind, or is otherwise unfit to be entrusted with a firearm."

If the holder fails to surrender the firearm within 14 days according to the law from the date of the notice he/she shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1,000. "As an association, we have self regulatory mechanisms and that is over and above the provision of the Firearms Act as far as safe use of firearms is concerned," he said.The said regulations are in tandem with the Constitution."This is to make sure a membership that is responsible in the use and handling weapons. It involves training on what the law says is the justifiable use of the weapon," he said.

According to Wahome, there are about 9,000 firearm holders in the country whom he says compliment largely to the work of the police service in ensuring security prevails."We train our members on the use of the weapon so that it does not become a danger to them and those around." Nkaissery appointed the Firearms Licensing Board after a court directed that Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho's gun drama can only be handled by such a body.

The chairman of the board is Enoch Sasia while members include Lillian Kiamba, Stanley Omucheyi, Barnice Gachegu, Anthony Wahome, William Sing'oei, George Waiguru, James Ngului and Samuel Kimaru as the secretary. The move came a day after a court stopped the CS and police from confiscating Joho's guns or arresting him. Joho had stated that he will not surrender his licensed firearms as directed by the Firearms Chief Licensing Officer Samuel Kimaru. Joho stated that he legally acquired the guns and the government cannot repossess them without a valid reason, while insisting the move is politically motivated. He had stated that has not misused the firearm for the 20 years he has held it, since issuance by the government.

Source:  CapitalFM, March 17, 2016

Uganda: Hackers strike Bank of Uganda accounts, try to steal U.S. $ 24 million

Ugandan government officials and hackers have since last July attempted four times to siphon $24 million (Ush81 billion) through the Uganda central bank. However some monies of the money that had successfully been wired to Hong Kong and UAE was retrieved through inter-bank procedures, the latest being $8 million (Ushs27 billion) transferred on February 26, 2016.

The accounts targeted were those of the largest budget holders, among them the Defence, Energy and Agriculture ministries as well as the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). "The matter is the subject of an active investigation, so until that process ends we are not in a position to offer the details you are requesting for," said Bank of Uganda communications director Christine Alupo. "Yes, indeed all the funds were recovered from the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong and are back in the custody of the Bank of Uganda."

The first attempt aimed at the biggest amount happened in July 2015 and $12 million (Ush40 billion) was targeted. The plot was foiled, and the masterminds went below the radar, re-emerging in December 2015 to try to steal $2 million (Ush6.7 billion). A month later, in January 2016, they made another attempt to fork out Ushs8 billion but were detected in time before returning to compromise the system last month.

Although the Ministry of Finance first notified Uganda Police of the breaches 10 months ago, its detectives did not act immediately, prompting the military, whose budget was targeted, to swing into action and arrest three suspects who are in police custody. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga declined to comment when asked why the UPDF had taken over the sensitive inquiries amid allegations that police was compromised.

Ministry of Finance spokesman Jim Mugunga said: "This is an ongoing investigation and our expectation is that the security agencies involved are doing their work." He was non-committal on the reported past attempts, saying he believes investigators will unearth all breaches. Government officials are believed to have shared passwords with foreign-based tech-savvy individuals, profiled the accounts with huge credits to stage the theft.

All the Integrated Financial Management System transactions originated from the Ministry of Finance and processed through Bank of Uganda and the money was to be wired to fictitious companies in either Hong Kong or the United Arab Emirates. It is unclear how non-existent entities indicated in the documents held accounts, raising suspicion of possible collusion between host banks and the masterminds. The fraud comes three years after the government instituted new financial integrity measures to seal loopholes, following the 2012 scandal in which technocrats in the Office of the Prime Minister stole in excess of USh60 billion that development partners had pooled to rebuild war-scarred northern Uganda.

Source: The East African, March 17, 2016

< style="color: #0180b3">West Africa

Cote d'Ivoire terror attack: President says the nation was prepared for it

The Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, on 15 March said at a joint news conference with his counterparts from Togo and Benin, Presidents Faure Gnassingbe and Yayi Boni respectively, that his government was prepared for the 13 March attack on Grand Bassam, a beach town, about 41 kilometres from Abidjan, the capital city.

Responding to questions from THISDAY at the palace of the president, ¨if he saw the attacks coming in view of the recent attacks on Mali and Burkina Faso and the need for the regional cooperation to review strategy in taming the menace of terrorism, President Ouattara said the extent of the preparation of the nation's security forces was evident in the way they repelled the attacks and followed up.

The president, who spoke in French said confidently: ¨We were prepared in case an attack would happen and I think our reaction showed that we managed the situation quite well. We dismantled their attempts and we have also shown our ability to have good follow-up for such an event. But there is no zero risk in this kind of thing. We think what was important was to react very quickly and I use this opportunity to restate the pride of the security agencies in this regard.¨

On the need for ECOWAS to review regional strategy against terrorism, the Ivorian President said steps are already being taken in that regard, adding that there would start to be manifestations in that regard in the next few weeks as ECOWAS leaders are due to meet with its monitoring committee. "On regional matters, we have at the ECOWAS level several security meetings of security ministers, defence ministers and we've been planning in the next two weeks to have a meeting of the monitoring unit of the ministerial committee. So, the regional aspect is being well treated too,¨ the president said.

Speaking earlier, Presidents Gnassingbe and Boni commiserated with their Ivorian counterpart and condemned in very strong terms, such mindless killings of innocent lives in the name of terrorism or radicalism. The two presidents, who also spoke in French, however, declared support for President Ouattara in the collective war against terrorism and even promised to invest in Ivory Coast, dismissing the attack on March 13 as incapable of stifling development and investment in the country, let alone the region.

The two presidents of Togo and Benin immediately left for the scenes of the attacks in Grand Bassam, where they signed the condolence register opened for victims of the attack before leaving for their respective countries. Earlier in the day, President Ouattara had also received a French delegation, after an initial media briefing at the Palace of the President, led by the country's Foreign and Interior Ministers, both of whom also visited the site of the attacks in Grand Bassam. On March 16, in furtherance of the investigations and cleaning up of the mess of the attacks, a council of ministers is billed to be conducted round the scenes of the attacks, where another media briefing might be held.

Source: This Day, March 16, 2016

Liberian Senate pardons finance minister

Finance Minister Amara Konneh in an attempt to apologise over a long stalemate surrounding contempt charges brought down against him by the Liberia Senate on March 17 appeared before full plenary asking that body for an apology. "I greet you sincerely from my heart. Following my last appearance before you I come here today to express to you my regret over the content of my letter to ask you, to sincerely ask you for an apology," the Minister said.

The Finance Minister and the Liberian Senate have been on rigmarole over a letter written by his deputy Dr. James Kollie who gave the senate ultimatum to respond to a proposal to recast the National budget by eliminating some budget items in their budget and threatened that the Ministry will if they do not respond in time. The senate felt disrespected by the finance Minister Communication a letter Minister Konneh took responsibility for and maintained that the Ministry had done nothing wrong. The Minister at the time pledged never to apologize to the senate after he was threatened with Legislative contempt.

The situation got serious which led to the senate voting on a motion to send the Minister to 48 hours imprisonment but that decision was halted by a motion for reconsideration filed by Senator Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County. That motion was tried Thursday and accepted by the body. In remarks, Senator Dan Morias of Maryland County who claimed to represent the voices of majority of the senators who were in favor of a decision to send the Minister to 48-hours imprisonment said, their decision to tender justice with mercy was a result of Interventions from the council of churches, the Traditional council and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In a motion filed by senator Morias of Maryland County, he called on his colleagues to send Minister Konneh to 48 hours imprisonment on contempt charges for allegedly hindering the working of the legislature and for abrogating onto himself powers that does not belong to him but only the legislature. Senator Dan Morias said: "Honorable presiding and distinguished colleagues in keeping with article 44 of the Liberian constitution and in keeping with senate standing rules 60 to 61, which speak about contempt powers, I move that the witness be sent to prison for 48 hours for obstructing the function of the legislature."

Appearing earlier before the senate he promised not to apologize. "I will not apologize to other ministries and agencies because I did nothing wrong. All me and my colleagues were trying to do was to say because of the poor recovery from Ebola, because of the decline in the prices of the two major commodities driving the economy of Liberia there will be a deficit in revenue collection to the tune of seventy million and as a government we need to reduce expenditure so that we can live within our means that is the letter we sent so I have no apology to make to that effect." Days after the defiance posture shown by the Finance Minister FPA obtained a leaked letter where he (Konneh) secretly) wrote the senate apologizing for his action to that august body.

Source: Front Page Africa, March 18, 2016

Nigeria: US, UK governments knew whereabouts of kidnapped Chibok girls

Almost two years after more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, by the Boko Haram terror sect, it has been revealed that the surveillance carried out by the United States of America and the United Kingdom spotted around 80 of the abducted schoolgirls, but the governments of both countries did nothing about it as a rescue attempt was considered too "high risk". According to the British-based Sunday Times newspaper, videos accounts also have emerged showing that the girls were brutally raped regularly.

The terrorists stormed a secondary boarding school in the remote town of Chibok on April 14, 2014 and seized 276 girls who were preparing for end-of-year exams. Although 57 of the girls managed to escape, the rest have remained missing and have not been heard from or seen since, apart from in May that year, when 130 of them appeared in a Boko Haram video wearing hijabs and reciting the Koran.

Dr. Andrew Pocock, former British High Commissioner to Nigeria, has now revealed that a large group of the missing girls were spotted by British and American surveillance officials shortly after their disappearance, but experts felt nothing could be done. He told The Sunday Times that Western governments felt "powerless" to help as any rescue attempt would have been too high risk - with Boko Haram terrorists using the girls as human shields.

Pocock said: "A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment." He said the girls were there for at least four weeks but authorities were "powerless" to intervene - adding that the Nigerian government did not ask for help anyway. He said: "A land-based attack would have been seen coming miles away and the girls killed, an air-based rescue, such as flying in helicopters or Hercules, would have required large numbers and meant a significant risk to the rescuers and even more so to the girls." He added: "You might have rescued a few but many would have been killed. My personal fear was always about the girls not in that encampment -- 80 were there, but 250 were taken, so the bulk were not there. What would have happened to them? You were damned if you do and damned if you don't."

In an investigation for The Sunday Times Magazine, Pocock said the information was passed to the Nigerian authorities but they made no request for help. The magazine has also seen brutal rape videos which showed the schoolgirls were used as sex slaves by the terrorists. "They film schoolgirls being raped over and over again until their scream become silent," reported the magazine. Some of the girls who managed to escape said they were kept in "women's prisons" where they were taught about Islam. Boko Haram fighters would visit and pick their wives. The girls were powerless to resist as even then the men would be heavily armed. They were shown videos of people being raped, tortured and killed as a threat of what would happen to them if they tried to run away.

Dr. Stephen Davis, a former canon at Coventy Cathedral, who spent several years attempting to negotiate with the terror group, said Boko Haram "make Isis look like playtime" and said it is "beyond belief" that the authorities both in Nigeria and the West do not know where the schoolgirls are. He insisted that the locations of the camps where the girls are being kept are well known and can even be seen on Google maps. He added: "How many girls have to be raped and abducted before the West will do anything?"

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau previously claimed that all the girls, some of whom were Christian, had converted to Islam and been "married off". The mass abduction brought the brutality of the Islamist insurgency to worldwide attention and prompted the viral social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Boko Haram violence has left at least 17,000 dead and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes since 2009. The Global Terrorism Index ranks the group as the word's deadliest terror organisation.

The group, now officially allied to the Islamic State fighters who control swathes of Iraq and Syria, has responded with suicide bombings and hit and run attacks against civilians. In recent months, the insurgents have turned away from direct confrontation with the military in favour of suicide attacks, which are increasingly carried out by women and girls - raising fears that they are kidnap victims.

 Less than a week ago, two female suicide bombers killed at least 24 worshippers and wounded 18 in a dawn attack during prayers at a mosque on the outskirts of Maiduguri. One bomber detonated the bombs up inside the mosque and the second waited outside to detonate as survivors tried to escape, said coordinator Abba Aji of the civilian self-defense Vigilante Group. The mosque is on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the city that is the military command center of the war against Boko Haram. Several suicide bombers have exploded recently at roadblocks leading into the city, preventing attackers from reaching crowded areas.

Source: This Day, March 21, 2016

This edition of the Africa Monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

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