MonitorsPublished on Aug 09, 2016
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue XVI


Panama Papers probe exposes new secret deals across Africa

International journalists' networks investigating the use of offshore bank accounts which enable wealthy clients to reduce the level of scrutiny of their dealings have published new revelations about businessmen in Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Egypt and Algeria. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) says the latest research on the Panama Papers — leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca — has exposed "fresh details about the misuse of corporate secrecy and hidden wealth in Africa."

The ICIJ has worked with the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting and a number of African news organisations — including AllAfrica content partners — in its latest investigations. The ICIJ says that businesses in 52 African countries used offshore companies created by Mossack Fonseca. It adds: "In 44 countries, offshore companies were used to assist oil, gas and mining deals and exports, concerning advocates and governments in a continent where many nations rely on revenue from natural resources." In total, the Panama Papers include more than 1400 companies whose names alone indicate activity in the extractive industries. Although many of these companies do legitimate business, ICIJ identified 37 companies within the Panama Papers that have been named in court actions or government investigations involving natural resources in Africa."

The naming of people and companies with offshore bank accounts does not necessarily mean they are corrupt, but anti-corruption groups — and, in Africa particularly, campaigners against illicit financial flows — say the secrecy of the accounts can facilitate tax evasion and avoidance. The ICIJ and Premium Times of Abuja have published details about Kolawole Aluko, a petroleum and aviation mogul who is one of four defendants accused of helping to cheat Nigeria out of nearly $1.8 billion owed to the government on massive sales of oil.

The news organisations note that "Mr. Aluko is part of a constellation of Nigerian oil executives, state governors, cabinet ministers, military officials and tribal chiefs within the Panama Papers. Mossack Fonseca... worked for three former Nigerian oil ministers who used companies to buy boats and homes in London..."

In Nairobi, the Daily Nation reports that "a company that was contracted to repair military equipment in Kenya was registered in a tax haven and had opened an offshore account explicitly to avoid paying tax."

From Cairo, Aswat Masriya reports that "the family of Egyptian business tycoon Salah Diab used a corporate network made of Egyptian and offshore companies to sign agreements and strike deals with the Egyptian government."

The Namibian says that two Namibian arms dealers are among those named as clients of Mossack Fonseca. One of them was a director of the government's military company and both were among recipients of commissions from South African arms deals. In addition, the ICIJ reports on its website that twelve of 17 companies under investigation by authorities in Italy in relation to a $10 billion oil and gas deal in Algeria were created by Mossack Fonseca. In a round-up of reaction to the latest revelations, the ICIJ adds that "advocacy groups said the... stories highlighted the serious impact offshore secrecy has on Africa."

Source: All Africa

India to open doors for Africa in health research

Medical students from African countries will soon be trained, offered fellowships and get a hands-on experience on the working of Indian hospitals strengthening India-Africa relations. As a part of the India-Africa Summit in 2015, the engagement of African countries in areas of health research is being planned. The programme is a joint effort of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Health and department of Science and Technology will be inaugurated in September.

A meeting was held on August 4 to discuss the forthcoming engagement of African countries in the areas of health research. Various ambassadors from more than 35 African countries attended the meeting and expressed their interest in the program. "The idea is to have a capacity building for all the medical students, experts and researchers. The programme is a collaboration of the countries in the field of health research. This is for the first time that four ministries have come together to work for a single program," Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, director general, ICMR told Mail Today.

"The meeting was quite productive. All the ambassadors came out with the areas where they want India to participate. Such collaborations are always helpful as they take the health research to another level," she added. Dr. Swaminathan added that the entire program will be planned soon and research fellowships to PhD students and other courses for medical students will be offered. "The idea is to have an impact in Africa. The health sector is extremely important and we are hoping to build up a large program on India-Africa health fund," she said.

According to the experts, India's expertise in healthcare and affordable medicines can offer new hope in the fight against many diseases; and give a newborn a better chance to survive. During his address at India-Africa Forum Summit last year, PM Modi outlined India's vision and desire to assist Africa with infrastructure building from "Cairo to Cape Town, Marrakesh to Mombassa". He had announced credit at concessional rates of $10 billion over five years, in addition to about $7.4 billion that India has already pledged since 2008.

Source: India Today 

New alliance to shore up food security launched in Africa

As over 20 million sub-Saharan Africans face a shortage of food because of drought and development issues, representatives of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Pan African Parliament (PAP) met in Johannesburg to forge a new parliamentary alliance focusing on food and nutritional security. The meeting on August 1 here came after years of planning that began on the sidelines of the Second International Conference on Nutrition organised by the FAO in late 2014.

Speaking at the end of the day-long workshop held at the offices of the PAP, its fourth vice president was upbeat about the programme and what she called the "positive energy" shown by attendees. "We have about 53 countries here in the PAP and the alliance is going to be big," she said. "At a continental level, once we have launched the alliance formally, we'll encourage regional parliaments so the whole of Africa will really come together." "This will be a very big voice," she said on the sidelines of the workshop.

FAO Rome Special Co-ordinator for parliamentary alliances, Caroline Rodrigues Birkett, said her role was to ensure that parliamentarians take up food security as a central theme. "The reason why we're doing this is because based on the evidence that we have in the FAO, is that once you have the laws and policies on food and nutrition security in place there is a positive correlation with the improvement of the indicators of both food and security of nutrition," she told IPS." Last year we facilitated the attendance of seven African parliamentarians to a Latin American and Caribbean meeting in Lima, and these seven requested us to have an interaction with parliamentarians of Africa," she said.

A small team of officials representing Latin America and the Caribbean had traveled to Johannesburg to provide some details of their own experience working alongside the FAO in an alliance which had focused on providing food security to the hungry in South America and the island nations of the Caribbean. These included Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador, who told the 20-odd PAP representatives that in her experience working alongside officials from the FAO had helped eradicate hunger in much of the region.

Caribbean representative Caesar Saboto of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was also forthright about the opportunities that existed in the developing world to deal with hunger alleviation. "It's the first time that I'm traveling to Africa," he said, "and it's not for a vacation. It's for a very important reason. I do not want to go back to the Caribbean and I'm certain that Maria Augusta Calle does not want to go back only to say that we came to give a speech."

Saboto delivered a short presentation where he outlined how a similar programme to the foundation envisaged by those attending the workshop had drastically reduced hunger in his country. "In 1995, 20 percent of my country of 110,000 people were undernourished," he said. "Over 22,000 were food vulnerable. But do you know what? Working with communities and within governments we managed to drive down that number to 5000 in 2012 or 4.9 percent of the population. And I'm pleased to announce here for the first time, that in 2016 we are looking at a number of 3,500 or 3.2 percent," he said to applause from the delegates.

PAP members present included representatives of sectors such as agriculture, gender, transport and justice as well as health. Questions from the floor included how well a small island nation's processes could be used in addressing the needs of vastly larger regions in Africa. "Any number can be divided," said Saboto. "First you have to start off with the political will, both government and opposition must buy into the idea. If you have 20 million people you could divide them into workable groups and assign structures for management accountability and transparency," he said.

African delegates queried the processes which the Latin American nations have used to set up structures in particular. Dr. Lahai wanted the Latin American delegates to assist the African parliament in planning the foundation. "Food security is not only a political issue but a developmental issue," she told IPS in an interview. "The first port of call when there are food security issues is normally the parliament. We should be at the forefront of moving towards what is known as Zero Hunger," she said.

But major challenges remain. After a meeting in October last year, the FAO had contracted the PAP with a view to targeting hunger in a new alliance. The PAP is a loose grouping of African nations and members pointed out that they were unable to get nation states to support an initiative without a high-level buy in of their political leadership.

Dr. Lahai was adamant that the workshop should begin addressing issues of structure. She stressed that co-ordination between the PAP, various countries and other groupings such as Ecowas (the Economic Community of West African States) and SADC (Southern African Development Community) should be considered. "We need a proper framework," she said. "It's important to engage our leaderships in this process. With that in mind, I would suggest that we learn a great deal from our visitors who've had a positive experience in tackling nutrition issues in Latin America."

In an earlier presentation, FAO representative for South Africa Lewis Hove had warned that a lack of access to food and nutrition had created a situation where children whose growth had been stunted by this reality actually were in the most danger of becoming obese later in life. The seeming contradiction was borne out by statistics presented to the group showing low and middle income countries could see their benefit cost ratio climb to 16-1.

Africa's Nutritional Scorecard published by NEPAD in late 2015 shows that around 58 million children in sub-Saharan regions under the age of five are too short for their age. A further 163 million women and children are anaemic because of a lack of nutrition.

The day ended with an appeal for further training and facilitation to be enabled by the FAO and PAP leadership. With that in mind, the upcoming meeting of Latin American and Caribbean states in Mexico was set as an initial deadline to begin the process of creating a new secretariat. It was hoped that this would prompt those involved in the PAP to push the process forward and it was agreed that a new Secretariat would be instituted to be headquartered at the PAP in South Africa. Dr. Lahai said delegates would now prepare a technical report which would then be signed off at the next round of the PAP set for Egypt later this year.

Source: IPS

Dangote transforming African economy

President of Togo Republic, Faure Gnassingbe, on August 2 lauded the investment drive of the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote across the African continent, describing him as a man with a mission to aggressively transform the African economy. Speaking during a tour of the Dangote refinery project in Lagos, Gnassingbe described Dangote as a worthy son of Africa who has chosen to buoy the economic activities of the continent with his investments. "Aliko Dangote is our pride in Africa and his aggressive investment drive towards developing the economies of the continent should be lauded," he said.

While welcoming the Togolese president to Lagos State and the Dangote refinery and fertiliser projects, governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, said the refinery and fertiliser projects would change the face of both Lagos State and Nigeria, once completed. While seeking collaboration with the Togolese government and investors, Ambode lauded Aliko Dangote and thanked him for his confidence in the Lagos economy.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, described Aliko Dangote as an African champion that was bent on developing not only Nigeria but Africa as a whole. He said both the refinery and fertiliser projects clearly demonstrate the partnership between the government and the private sector. While thanking the President of Togo for coming to see the progress of the projects, Dangote revealed that the projects would cost a minimum of $17 billion. According to him, the $12 billion refinery would have a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day. He assured that there would be market for the refined products because even in Africa, only three countries had effective functioning refinery with others importing from abroad.

Dangote named the countries with refineries as Egypt, South Africa and Cote d'Ivoire, saying, "Our refinery will be ready in the first quarter of 2019. Mechanical completion will be at the end of 2018, but we will start producing in 2019." When the projects fully take off in 2019, Dangote said it would help the country save $5 billion spent on the importation of oil into the country. The refinery, petrochemicals and fertiliser in one spot according to him, were the single largest stream in the world." This site is the biggest site in the world, the refinery is the biggest single refinery in the world, the petrochemicals is 13 times bigger than Eleme Petrochemicals, while the fertiliser plant will be 10 times bigger than former National Fertilizer Company," he added.

Source: Togonews


Protest in Burundi after UN decides to send police

Around 1000 people have marched through the streets of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, to protest against a UN decision to send a police contingent to monitor the security and human rights situation in the country. The July 30 demonstration came a day after the UN Security Council agreed to deploy up to 228 police personnel to Bujumbura, and throughout Burundi, for an initial period of a year.

More than 450 people have been killed since President Pierre Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term last year, a move his opponents say violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005. Tit-for-tat violence by rival sides has left both government officials and members of the opposition dead, with more than a quarter of a million people fleeing the violence.

Led by Freddy Mbonimpa, the mayor of Bujumbura, the protesters marched peacefully on July 30 to the French embassy, angry at France's drafting of the UN resolution to send the police squad. One demonstrator carried a banner saying that it was France that needed UN peacekeepers, making a reference to a lorry attack in the southern French city of Nice that killed 84 people.

French ambassador Gerrit van Rossum, who went out to address the crowd, said there was "a deep misunderstanding" about France's role at the UN Security Council. He said there was "no problem" at the demonstration. The crowd also protested outside the Rwandan embassy, accusing the neighbouring country of training Burundi rebels. Nkurunziza's government has previously said it would only accept up to 50 unarmed UN police and that its sovereignty must be fully respected. The UN needs approval from Burundi's government to send the police force. Four of the 15 council members abstained from July 29 vote. "Given an increase in violence and tension the Security Council must have eyes and ears on the ground to predict and ensure that the worst does not occur in Burundi," said Francois Delattre, the French UN ambassador. The violence has caused alarm in a region where memories of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are still vivid. Like Rwanda, Burundi has an ethnic Hutu majority and a Tutsi minority.

So far, the violence has largely followed political rather than ethnic lines. But the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said last month he feared increased violence and incitement could turn ethnic in nature. "This time we are not waiting for the worst to occur before taking action," Siti Hajjar Adnin, Malaysia's deputy ambassador, told the Council.

However, Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, said the July 29 resolution was not strong enough and that the UN police would simply be observers to Burundi's problems. She warned that the situation was "all but certain to deteriorate". "It is not at all clear to me that a council that says repeatedly that it has learned the lesson of Rwanda has in fact done so," Power said. "Police are not being deployed to protect civilians, even though civilians are in dire need of protection. That should embarrass us."

Al Jazeera's Daniel Lak, reporting from the UN headquarters, in New York, said: "The ability of 228 police officers who are basically monitoring human rights and helping build capacity and reporting back to headquarters - they're not really going to be able to do much to stop violence. But it is a symbolic move by the Security Council. "They'll be telling the world what's going on there, and that's the key — the international community is back in Burundi."

Council veto power China, along with Angola, Egypt and Venezuela, abstained from the vote. "On the question of sending United Nations police to Burundi, it is necessary to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Burundi," Liu Jieyi, China's UN ambassador, told the Council. He said the resolution did not reference these principles, which is why China abstained.

Source: Al Jazeera

Massive rally demands resignation of DRC President Kabila

Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans and waved flags as they marched down Kinshasa's streets on July 31, calling for Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to resign after his term ends in late December. Addressing tens of thousands of protesters, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi said the electoral commission needed to be convened by September 19, the "first red line, which must not be crossed."

"The electoral body must be convened for the presidential election. If it is not, high treason will be proved in the person of Mr. Kabila, who will take responsibility for the misery of the Congolese people," said the 83-year-old leader. Presidential polls are due to take place in November, but Kabila's government has said logistical problems may delay the vote. In May, Congo's Constitutional Court ruled Kabila could remain in office in caretaker capacity beyond the end of his mandate. The ruling sparked fears that Kabila could try to extend his rule by a third term.

Kabila, 45, took over as president of the country of 71 million people after his father was assassinated in 2001. He won a 2011 election against Tshisekedi, which critics say was marred by fraudulent practices. Earlier this week Tshisekedi returned from Europe, where he had been undergoing medical treatment for two years. An immensely popular figure, he rose to prominence in the 1980s as a strong critic of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Today, Tshesekedi is credited with uniting the voice of the opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tshisekedi has also demanded an end to "arbitrary judicial cases" against opposition leaders like Moise Katumbi, who was sentenced in absentia to three years in jail for property fraud, making him ineligible to contest the upcoming presidential poll.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Mauritanian President wants to improve relations with Angola

President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has expressed interest in strengthening cooperation relations with Angola.

Speaking to the press, the Mauritanian diplomat said that relations between the two countries are excellent, but they could be strengthened with the recent opening of the diplomatic mission of his country in Angola. He did not disclose the areas that both states are already cooperating.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb region of western North Africa and is the eleventh largest country in Africa and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Morocco and the remnants of Western Sahara in the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mali in the east and southeast, and Senegal in the southwest.

Source: Angola Press


US launches first airstrikes against 'IS' in Libya

The US military conducted airstrikes against so-called "Islamic State" (IS) targets in Libya in response to a request from the Government of National Accord (GNA), the Pentagon said on August 1. The raids were authorized by President Barack Obama, after being recommended by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Strikes were conducted against targets in and around the city of Sirte, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj said. "The first American airstrikes were carried out against precise positions of the Daesh (IS) organization were carried out today, causing severe losses to enemy ranks, " Seraj said in a statement on national television.

The Tripoli-based GNA launched an operation to retake the IS bastion of Sirte, the hometown of late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, in May. The Islamists have controlled the town since June of last year. "At the request of the Libyan Government of National Accord, the United States military conducted precision air strikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya, to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat ISIL in its primary stronghold in Libya," said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, using ISIL as an alternative name for IS. Cook added that the US strikes in Sirte would continue.

Some 280 pro-government troops have died in the battle for Sirte while more than 1,500 have been wounded, according to medical sources. However, the troops fighting for the GNA , mostly made up of militias from western Libya, have been making advances in and around Sirte, including a nearby port area.

Meanwhile, a militia that was set up to guard oil facilities has also been making gains against IS. The GNA was established as the result of a power sharing agreement that was brokered by the UN, but it has not yet been endorsed by Libya's elected parliament based in the east of the country.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Egypt's President speaks with British PM on resuming flights

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed the current suspension of UK flights to Sharm el-Sheikh with British Prime Minister Theresa May in a phone call on August 3. According to a British Embassy in Cairo press release, Sisi called Prime Minister Theresa May to wish her success in her new role and spoke with her about "opening a new chapter in bilateral relations" and strengthening co-operation across a range of areas.

Regarding the currently halted UK flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, May said she recognised the economic effects of the suspension, given the importance of the tourism industry to Egypt's economy and praised the Egyptian government's ongoing efforts to improve security at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport. Egypt's tourism industry is struggling to rebound after years of political turmoil and a series of incidents targeting the country's most vital source of foreign currency.

British and Russian governments banned their airlines from flying to Sharm al-Sheikh, a popular tourist destination, because of concerns about security at the local airport after a Russian passenger jet crashed in October 2015 over the Sinai killing all 224 people on board. Russia maintains that the crash was due to a "terrorist attack," while Egypt says that evidence is still lacking as to the cause of the crash.

Since the plane crash, Russia among other western countries have sent delegations to inspect security measures in Egyptian airports, which Egyptian officials continued to describe as in line with "international standards". Prime Minister May also noted that the UK is the largest foreign direct investor in Egypt and said the UK would do everything possible to support expansion of the Egyptian economy and further investment.

Egypt is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a loan request of $12 billion over three years to help plug a funding gap. Egypt has been scrambling to collect money as it faces a shortage in foreign currency due to pressures on its foreign reserves after years of political turmoil, triggered by the 2011 Uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, halved the country's foreign reserves and scared away tourists and investors.

Source: Aswat Masriya

Algeria, Indonesia sign MoU in industrial sector

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed on August 3 in Jakarta (Indonesia) between Minister of Industry and Mines Abdesselam Bouchouareb and his Indonesian counterpart Airlangga Hartarto, said a communiqué of the Ministry. This Memorandum covers the development of the bilateral relations in the industrial sector and defines the cooperation and partnership segments to be strengthened between the two countries, said the communiqué.

Textile, wood and furniture, mining industry and building materials, spare parts and components, transport and equipments, the agricultural machinery and equipments, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, steel and metal industry, food-processing industry, petrochemistry and fertilizers, energy industries and non-metal materials are among the defined sectors to promoted.

According to Bouchouareb, this memorandum of understanding aims at speeding up the development of the industrial sectors in which both countries have great benefits. The minister said that the purpose of the agreement is to prioritize the forms of cooperation to boost the public-private partnership and cooperation with the private sector to materialize the industrial partnerships and investments involving Algerian and Indonesian business companies.

The signed agreement is meant to develop the quality of infrastructures, identify projects and joint cooperation programmes, and establish permanent consultation chiefly on the positions to have within the international and regional organizations related to the industrial and technological development. It also intends to promote the exchange of technical expertise and information likely to help boost the development of facilities and investment as well as training programmes, added the communiqué. A bilateral working group will be set up for the follow-up of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Source: Algerie Press Service


Police violently break up anti-Mugabe protests in Zimbabwe

Police used batons and fired tear gas to break up an anti-government march in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, the latest protest against President Robert Mugabe's handling of the country's economic crisis and alleged corruption. Hundreds of activists gathered outside the finance minister's office on August 3 to demand that he abandons plans to introduce local bank notes that will be used alongside the US dollar, a hard currency that is in seriously short supply.

Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 following hyperinflation, adopting a multi-currency system dominated by the dollar. "We don't want bond notes because they will wipe out the few US dollars left. They have come to destroy the country. We do not want them," protester Wesley Chawada said.

Former Vice President Joice Mujuru on August 2 launched a Constitutional Court challenge against the planned introduction of the bond notes saying it was unconstitutional. Another group of protesters, calling themselves unemployed university graduates, marched to parliament wearing their graduation gowns. "We are saying hell no to you," said Howard Madya, an unemployed graduate, who took part in the protest. "It's time for you to resign. It's time for you to step down. We now need a new blood... We are now saying Mugabe and his corrupt ministers must go. It's time up," he said.

Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Harare, said the unemployed graduates are frustrated, and are "losing patience". "They say if the president can't deliver, then he must go," Mutasa said. Police reportedly used batons to beat protesters approaching the parliament building in Harare, and also also beat up several journalists covering the protests, smashing a video camera and attacking a journalist's car, breaking windows and taking a laptop. "Mugabe just quit, I will forgive you", read one placard held by a marcher, while another said "No to police state, you have failed Mr. Mugabe."

Mugabe, 92, has held power since the country's independence from Britain in 1980. He is increasingly under pressure from opponents, as well as his war veterans allies, who last month rebuked him as a manipulative dictator, and calling on him to step down. Street protests have become a near-daily occurrence in the southern African country, which also faces massive unemployment and accusations of corruption.

Mugabe last month said people unhappy with the situation in the country should pack up and leave. Demonstrators have denounced Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party, accusing it of failing to create up to 2.2 million jobs that it had promised when campaigning during the 2013 presidential vote, which Mugabe won amid opposition charges of rigging.

Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

President to intervene in university fee hike deadlock in Malawi

It's a move viewed by many as the best possible intervention in resolving the disputes between students and the university council. This follows a petition delivered to the president through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) by leaders of the students' representatives from the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (UNIMA), who requested for an audience with the president in his capacity as chancellor of UNIMA.

In a statement signed by the Presidential Secretary Mgeme Kalilani, it says the president has agreed to meet the student union leaders on August 4 at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe. Since the announcement by the university council of its decision to revise upwards contribution fees paid at the public universities, students have demonstrated against the decision. Running battles with the police have ensued which has seen some arrested, public property destroyed and the indefinite closure of one of UNIMA colleges, Chancellor College in Zomba.

The students want to meet the president to try and discuss a reasonable increase with of fees, according to the president of UMSU, Tionge Sikwese. On the other hand, the university council has stuck to its guns and they say they will go ahead to effect the new proposed fees. Before the students' union petitioned the president, the office of the president released a statement in which it expressed concerns with the developments that have followed the upward adjustment of fees in the public universities.

The statement said that as chancellor of the university, President Mutharika has engaged the university council to find the best way of attending to the concerns of the students, while at the same time seeking the right balance between provision of quality university education and ensuring access to tertiary education. "The President would like to assure students and parents that his government will do all it can to ensure that the Loans Board has enough resources so that all deserving students should access university education without fail," reads the statement.

In a related development, the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), an alliance of local and international organisations which advocate for the right to quality education in Malawi, together with the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) have issued a joint statement deploring the indefinite closure of the Chancellor College.

The two organisations say the closures of the college trigger a high degree of instability at the college and negatively affect the effectiveness of the institution. "While the closure might appear plausible under the prevailing situation of destruction of property, such a measure ought to be temporary because if not, it might violate the right to education if it is unduly prolonged," read the statement.

The university council announced new fees ranging from MK 400,000 to MK 600,000 which is an upward adjustment from MK 55,000/MK 275,000 per academic year. For mature students, the fees range from MK 900,000 to MK 1, 400, 000.00. This announcement gave birth to disagreements which have rumbled on for three weeks, and it is hoped that the meeting between President Mutharika and leaders of the students' union represents the best possible platform yet to bring these disagreements to an amicable end.

Source: The Daily Vox

South African local election results show a weakened ANC

South Africa's local elections have delivered a sharp setback to the African National Congress (ANC), as partial results showed falling support for the party that ended apartheid. With about 80 percent of the vote counted on August 4, the ANC was ahead nationwide but it recorded its worst electoral performance since white-minority rule fell 22 years ago. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) was on course to hold Cape Town and was just ahead in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

The capital Pretoria and the economic hub Johannesburg were a close fight between the DA and the ANC. "It looks like the ANC has been reduced and humbled in many ways," Somadoda Fikeni, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera. "It looks like the verdict coming from the urban areas is negative in such that many will start blaming the leader of the party because he has been limping from one particular negative story to the other since December when he fired the finance minister."

Fikeni explained that there had been debates within the ANC whether to use Zuma as the "face of the party or not". "The solid support he got from within party.. might not have worked well in urban centres where you have a high concentration of a highly-sophisticated middle class and an organised working class."

The ANC has won more than 60 percent of the vote at every election since the country's first multi-racial vote in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was sworn in as president. With about half of the vote counted, the ANC had 52 percent support nationwide, with the DA on 30 percent and the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on seven percent, according to official results. The count is seen as a marker ahead of the next general election due in 2019.

The poll is also a mid-term reflection on the performance of President Jacob Zuma, who has been plagued by economic woes and a series of scandals since taking office in 2009. The ANC has dominated the political landscape since the fall of white-minority rule, but a faltering economy, rampant corruption and soaring unemployment have eaten into the party's popularity.

A final Ipsos survey earlier this week placed the ANC and DA in a close battle. "I just voted DA for change," said Claire King, 30, in Port Elizabeth central business district. "I just think we now need change in our country. Let's give the DA a chance and see what happens." Both the ANC and DA may be forced to court smaller parties and independent candidates to cobble together outright municipal majorities. Even if the ANC maintains its hold on local power through party alliances, any overall drop in support would be a loss, said Silke.

Contesting its first local poll after bursting onto the scene in the 2014 general election, the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) may find itself playing kingmaker. The party, which won six percent of the vote in 2014, advocates land redistribution without compensation and the nationalisation of mines. A record 26.3 million people registered to choose mayors and other local representatives responsible for hot-button issues including water, sanitation and power supplies.

With most of the result due on August 4, a major collapse of support for the ANC could pile pressure on Zuma, 74, to step down before his second term ends in 2019. South Africa's electoral commission said late on August 3, voting had proceeded smoothly and without any major incidents.

Source: Al Jazeera


Budget fears in Tanzania as government vows to relocate base

The renewed urgency for government ministries and departments to shift to Dodoma has raised serious concerns over the looming budgetary crisis that could lead to misallocations and postponements of key development projects this financial year. Indications are that the new impetus for the shift to Dodoma has not been a result of a plan and a specific budget but because of a politically motivated statement by President John Magufuli last week as he accepted the chairmanship of the ruling party (CCM).

President Magufuli said he would ensure his government moves to Dodoma before the end of his first five-year term in 2020. Later, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa declared that he would to shift to Dodoma by September this year and wanted other ministries under his docket to follow suit.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries minister Charles Tizeba was the first to announce that his ministry would be completely settled in Dodoma within two weeks. The shift to Dodoma has serious cost implications, which analysts say, should not be taken for granted. The first has something to do with the cost involved in transferring employees and their families and pay them transfer allowances. "I'm not sure if this was budgeted for and that way, the government may opt to re-allocate some funding votes to finance transfer of the employees, prepare the necessary facilities and infrastructure," says Prof Honest Ngowi of Mzumbe University Dar es Salaam College.

In 1973, the National Executive Committee of the then ruling and only political party — the Tanzania African National Union — resolved that the country's capital, both for the government and the party, be moved from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. However, no legislation was passed on the relocation. The law would have pushed the government to shift. Only the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was established through a parliament act as the government's implementing agency for the shift.

CDA director general Paskasi Muragiri was recently quoted by the media as saying that they were ready to accommodate the government but its previous estimates indicated that Sh1.3 trillion was needed to prepare the necessary infrastructure. The government is now working on the proposed law that will facilitate the shift. Mr. Majaliwa recently said the government would table the bill in the September House sitting. "Beyond monetary costs, there will also be psychological cost among employees and that may affect their performance between now and after moving to Dodoma. Efficiency of work may also be affected by the fact that suppliers and even banks will still be located in Dar es Salaam," said economics Professor Ngowi.

"All in all, the shift to Dodoma needs a national debate to discuss whether the reasons that necessitated the move in 1973 are still relevant today. The nature of the regional economies and Tanzania's security challenges which partly might have influenced the decision to have Dodoma as the designated capital have completely changed with time and technology," he added.

Dodoma, being at the centre of the country, was regarded by the government as the ideal place for a capital because it would be easier for administrators to reach other parts of the country and for the people, especially from remote areas, to go to Dodoma to present their problems. Others think that the government needs to plan properly about transferring to Dodoma so that the process becomes smooth. Having waited for over 40 years before implementation, it is not something to rush for a month or two.

"Building on the statement of President himself that he intends to complete shifting before the end of his five-year term, government officials should have been reviewing where they failed and the kind of resources needed," said Professor Delphin Rwegasira of the University of Dar es Salaam's Economics Department. "For this to be smooth, the government needs to do three things. It needs to be part of the five-year development plan; set its budget in the next four years; and make sure that it does not compromise with government's development priorities." According to him, the most important question is about resources — financial, human and logistical resources — which must be fully addressed for smooth implementation.

Professor Samuel Wangwe, a seasoned economist, was optimistic that the government would smoothly move to Dodoma if it outlines a programme for shift in the next four years. "I am optimistic that the current leaders are sure of shifting and that is easy for the remaining four years if they arrange a programme for shift," said Professor Wangwe. The finance minister and the permanent secretary could not comment on the budget issue as their phones went unanswered.

Source: The Citizen

Brazil expresses willingness to promote stronger ties with EAC

Brazil has expressed willingness to promote stronger ties with the East African Community (EAC) especially in the areas of trade, investments and diplomacy. According to Owora Richard Othieno, head of corporate communications and public affairs department EAC Secretariat, Brazil's Ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, Carlos Alfonso Iglesias Puente, said the Brazilian business community already has a significant presence in Tanzania and Kenya especially in construction, energy and solid waste management sectors. Reading the statement, Puente said Brazil attaches great importance to regional integration initiatives across the globe. He added that his country was keen on strengthening its relations with the EAC and other regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa.

Puente made the remarks when he presented his credentials to the EAC secretary general, Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko on August 2 at the EAC headquarters in Arusha. He hailed EAC community as one of the fastest growing RECs in the world and said Brazil and the Southern American Common Market (MERCOSUR) of which Brazil as a member had a lot to learn from the EAC.

The envoy said that regional integration processes benefit both small and big economies. He disclosed that MERCOSUR was still trying to actualise its Customs Union before venturing into the Common Market, adding that it was a great achievement for the EAC to have put in place a Customs Union and Common Market.

Puente urged the European Union and North America to allow greater access by developing countries into their agriculture produce markets, saying that agriculture is where third world countries excel. He said the New Development Bank (formerly BRICS Development Bank) of which Brazil is a shareholder alongside Russia, India, China and South Africa would primarily focus on lending infrastructure projects in addition to promoting trade. The bank will have a regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa with the headquarters being in Shanghai, China.

Mfumukeko said the EAC had close working relationships with other RECs in Africa which are all geared towards promoting the African Union's vision of an African Economic Community. He informed the Brazilian Ambassador that the EAC had already made a lot of progress in the implementation of the Customs Union and Common Market.

"We are currently implementing the East African Monetary Union Protocol by putting in place the capital markets infrastructure, connecting our Central Banks, undertaking capacity building programmes and setting up the relevant institutions to make the monetary union a reality. We expect to have a single currency by the year 2024," said the Secretary General. Mfumukeko further disclosed that the EAC Secretariat would spearhead the drafting of a Constitution for a Confederation which was the model for a Political Federation that had been adopted by the Heads of State Summit.

Source: Rwanda Focus

South Sudan President fires four ministers allied to his partner Machar

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has further complicated the peace agreement by sacking four ministers and reshuffling the second in command belonging to his main partner, Dr. Riek Machar. While maintaining that he has been looking for ways to jump-start the stalled implementation process, President Kiir fired the four and reshuffled one other cabinet member of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO) contrary to the agreement. Two deputy ministers have also been sacked. The latest move, which comes a week after he replaced Dr. Machar with Taban Deng Gai, is against the provisions of the August 2015 agreement which states that any replacement must come from either of the three partners that signed the deal.

The unilateral reshuffle has also ignored the portfolio balance that had been agreed on by the three partners. In what the government termed as a republican decree, Mr Kiir moved the SPLM-IO second in command, Gen Alfred Ladu Gore, from the Minister of Interior to the Minister of Land, Housing, and Urban Development. He replaced Mr Gore with Michael Tiangjiek Mut.

Others include Dak Doth Bishok, the Minister of Petroleum who was replaced with Ezekiel Lul Gat, Peter Adwok Nyaba has been replaced with Yien Tut in the Ministry of Higher Education, Mabior Garang De Mabior, the former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation has been replaced with Sofia Gai, and Peter Marcello, the Minister of Labour, has been replaced with Gabriel Duop Lam.

The Deputy Minister of the Interior Duop Lam has been replaced with Rieu Gatliek Gai, while the Deputy Minister of Labour Elizabeth Achuei has been replaced with Natake Allan. The Minister for Information Michael Makuei, who is also the government spokesperson, on August 2,  threatened the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) that is overseeing the implementation with expulsion if the group fails to reopen their offices in Juba immediately.

JMEC, led by former Botswana President Festus Mogae, had evacuated its workers from Juba following the fighting that broke out on July 7. This comes as full-scale fighting continues in the forest around Yei-Juba Road and as the world awaits the deployment of a regional stabilisation force.

Source: The East African

Uganda training South Sudan, Somalia police recruits

The Uganda Police Force is training more than 100 police recruits from South Sudan and Somalia at Police Training School at Kabalye in Masindi District. According to a police source, at least 50 officers from each of the two war-torn countries have been undergoing a cadet course training for more than a year and they will be passed out early this month before they return to their home countries.

This is the biggest group of Somali and South Sudanese officers to be trained in Uganda since 2007. The source said the Uganda government is funding their training. The police director for human resource development, Mr. Andrew Felix Kaweesi, confirmed the training of the recruits saying it is in the spirit of regional security support. "It was resolved in the East African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) that member states who have the capacity in training should support members that are in the process of building capacity. It is in this spirit that we started training them," Mr. Kaweesi said on August 3.

Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan are part of EAPCCO, an organisation that ensures coordination of the region's security. Police spend more than Shs15m a year to train each officer in the initial policing basics. Although Uganda is also struggling to find money to train its officers, Mr. Kaweesi said training police forces in one way or the other helps Uganda to fight crime and terrorism.

On fears that some of the trained officers would return to their countries and join armed groups that have previously attacked Ugandan forces and citizens, Mr. Kaweesi said the respective governments send officers whom they trust to be trained. There are previous incidents where officers trained by African Union forces in Somalia have joined radical groups such as Al-shabaab. He said those in Somalia are now deployed in specialised units such as Very Important Person Protection Unit, Coast Guard and at police stations. The South Sudanese officers were deployed in operation and criminal investigations department in South Sudan.

Source: The Monitor


Boko Haram split in leadership crisis

An interview published on August 3 in an Arabic-language magazine said to be linked to IS introduced Nigerian militant Abu Musab al-Barnawi as Boko Haram's new leader. This prompted the group's elusive long time chief, Abubakar Shekau, to break his silence for the first time in months. He released an audio message on August 4 insisting he was still in charge. "We are still in the cause of Allah and will never depart in the struggle to establish an Islamic caliphate," Shekau said in the 10 minute recording. Experts have confirmed the voice is Shekau's. Sahara Reporters published a full translation of the message.

A split within the group has been developing for the past few months, says DW's northern Nigeria correspondent Muhammad Al Amin. But the interview with al-Banarwi and Shekau's audio message have brought the division out in the open. Unconfirmed local reports suggest that fighting has already broken out between militants loyal to al-Banarwi and those allied to Shekau, says Al Amin.

Shehu Umar, a security analyst from northern Nigeria, told DW that the leadership crisis could be a chance for the Nigerian government to further curtail the terrorist group. "This is a golden opportunity for Nigerian intelligence," he said. Counterterrorism operations, set in motion by President Muhamadu Buhari, have succeded in reducing the number of Boko Haram attacks in the country.

Shekau, who has led Boko Haram since 2009, declared the Nigerian militant group's allegiance to IS in March 2015. At that time, Shekau announced that Boko Haram should be known as the Islamic State's West Africa Province. South African security analyst Ryan Cummings told DW that co-operation between the jihadi groups could be purely nominal. "We have no evidence that Islamic State has been providing any form of logistical or operational patronage to Boko Haram," he said.

Shekau led the group in an insurgency that has left 20,000 people dead and forced 2.6 million people to flee their homes. A Nigerian security analyst told the news agency AFP on August 3 that Shekau was seen as disorganised and unreliable, and that IS's announcement of a new leader may be an attempt to clean up Boko Haram's reputation among jihadists.

The group's barbaric actions under Shekau's leadership sparked a breakaway faction, Ansaru. Al-Barnawi is said to be allied to Ansaru, which split from Boko Haram in 2012 because it disagrees with the indiscriminate killing of civilians, especially Muslims. In the interview on August 3, Al Barnawi said he would end attacks on mosques and markets used by ordinary Muslims, instead threatening to kill Christians and bomb churches.

That's no reassurance to people living in the areas affected by Boko Haram's insurgency, which has spread from Northern Nigeria to parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. "Even if they say they will not be attacking mosques, people are not going to believe it, because they know how dangerous this group is," says DW correspondent Al-Amin. But for many Nigerians, Boko Haram's leadership battle is not hugely worrying. The crackdown by the Nigerian government and military has made significant progress in weakening the group. Most citizens believe the group no longer has the power to attack on the same scale as it has in the past.

The Nigerian military, which has retaken most of the land captured by Boko Haram in 2014, told the Nigerian news agency NAP that the news of the group's new leader was just a cry for attention from a severely weakened organization."We are seeing a group that has lost a lot of territory, they have seen a number of their key figures arrested, they are also facing a more coordinated war effort against their positions," said analyst Cummings.

Still, the current developments are a reminder of the unpredictability of the jihadist group which has spread terror across West Africa in recent years. "With Boko Haram, even when the group appears to be on the decline, they have often just evolved in terms of the prevailing circumstances and shown that they are still able to provide quite a significant threat in the theatre in which they operate," Cummings said.

Source: Deutsche Welle

Mali Crisis: Panel allows armed groups to renew commitment to peace process

The Agreement Monitoring Committee, in charge of the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali, which held a meeting three days ago, allowed the armed groups to renew their commitment to the peace process, said in Beijing Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation Abdoulay Diop on July 30.

"We regret the resumption of clashes between the armed movements in the north of the country over the past days. We believe that calm must be restored now," Diop told APS, on the sidelines of the Coordinators' Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-African Cooperation, held on July 29 in Beijing.

"The Agreement Monitoring Committee's Meeting, held three days ago, (following clashes between armed groups in Northern Mali) allowed the armed groups to resume talks to renew their commitment to the peace process," he added. "We are deeply grateful to Algeria for its role in the appeasing the situation in Mali," said Diop.

"The most important now lies in the hands of Malians. The government of Mali is determined to implement the Peace and Reconciliation agreement, stemming for Algiers Process, and also concrete actions to that end," he added. Diop expressed satisfaction as regards the Coordinators' Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-African Cooperation, dubbing it "very important."

Source: Algerie Presse Service

Liberia, Ghana to cooperate in defence, security, power and fishery

Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and John Mahama of Ghana have agreed to cooperate in the areas of defense and security, power, and fisheries. According to a dispatch from Accra, this was disclosed by Ghanaian President John Mahama when they addressed reporters in Accra following bilateral meetings with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. President Mahama pointed out that Ghana is ready to provide technical expertise in developing transmission and distribution of electricity through Ghanaian private sector engagement and with support from the Volta River Authority.

The Ghanaian leader also indicated that Liberia could benefit from Ghanaian technical expertise in expanding electricity supply throughout the country. He said with the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro power facility, transmission and distribution is critical adding, "Ghana is ready to offer technical expertise to our Liberian counterparts."

President Mahama also announced that under an Agreement between the Ministries of Defense of Ghana and Liberia, training and capacity development for members of the Armed Forces of Liberia will be implemented at the facilities of the Ghana Armed Forces. The programme will include the training of officers and under that the Agreement, Liberian soldiers are to be granted access to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana. He also promised the full cooperation of the Government of Ghana in Liberia's fight against illegal fishing in its territorial waters.

Ghana has since submitted a report to Liberia following an investigation of allegation of illegal fishing by Ghanaian vessels with both countries committing to work together to address the problem. The two leaders also agreed to allow their intelligence and security agencies to cooperate in the exchange of information in the wake of the growing menace of terrorism in West Africa.

For her part, President Sirleaf welcomed Ghana's offer of cooperation in several areas. She said with the historic bonds between the two countries, such cooperation would be mutually beneficial. "With your country's experience in power generation and distribution, Ghanaian expertise would be helpful to Liberia's power expansion program", she pointed out. The Liberian leader said intra-regional cooperation in line with ECOWAS' integration policy will enhance economic growth and development.

President Sirleaf was accompanied on the visit to Ghana by Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, Youth & Sports Minister Saah N'tow and Dr. Augustine Jarrett, Economic Advisor to the President.

Source: Liberia News Agency

 This Monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

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