MonitorsPublished on Dec 13, 2016
EU has reaffirmed its commitment to a renewed co-operation with African nations beyond 2020, with focus on eradicating poverty & other roundups from Africa
Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue XXV |


European Union renews partnership deal with African countries

The European Union has reaffirmed its commitment to a renewed co-operation with the African nations beyond 2020, with the focus on eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, taming high unemployment rates, achieving peace and stability and managing the migrant crisis. The renewed partnership under the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement seeks to strengthen political ties and consolidate existing trade agreements among member states. Klaus Rudischhauser, European Commission's director-general for International Co-operation and Development told reporters during the Second High Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation in Nairobi last week. "We came to Nairobi with an agreed position on how we intend to move forward with our partners. The new agreement will define a new relationship and how we move forward," Mr Rudischhauser said. Mr Rudischhauser said EU's future relations would link up ACP countries and neighbouring countries that are not part of the current CPA but that play a key role in achieving EU's objectives such as South Sudan. The ACP-EU partnership ties the EU to 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, most of them former colonies, making it one of the largest global partnerships. The existing ACP-EU Partnership Agreement was signed in Cotonou in Benin's on June 23 2000 and runs for a period of 20 years to 2020. Source: The East African

Zimbabwe 'has the strongest currency in Africa': State media

"This is a fact: Zimbabwe has the strongest currency in Africa". Sounds unbelievable - but that's what the official Herald newspaper claimed on December 7, hours after President Robert Mugabe resolutely avoided the vexed topic of bond notes in his State of the Nation Address (SONA). In its lead editorial, the pro-Mugabe paper said Zimbabweans "have full confidence in" their currency, ignoring the fact that photos of a broken bond coin are causing widespread alarm on social media. Ten million US worth of bond notes were introduced on December 5 along with two million US worth of bond coins. The central bank insists this surrogate currency is backed by a 200 million US dollar loan from Afrexim Bank. But many fear the notes will drag Zimbabwe back to the dark days of hyperinflation that reached a peak around 2006-2008. Long bank queues have not improved since the notes were introduced. That is partly to do with the fact that teachers have just been paid and are having to queue repeatedly because of capped daily bank withdrawals. The Herald claimed that Mugabe's speech to parliament showed the economy was on the "recovery path". Tweeted former education minister David Coltart: "Cd someone plse show me where that path is becos all I can see is bond notes?" Source: news24WIRE

Tanzania, Malawi plan meeting to strengthen ties

Tanzania and Malawi expect to hold a meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation early next year in a deliberate move to cement relationship between the two neighbouring nations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation said in a statement in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the envisaged conference will bring together experts from two sides to deliberate on various issues of cooperation. The gathering, according to the statement, will also allow experts to deliberate on the challenges facing the bilateral cooperation as well as ponder on the new areas that the two countries seek to forge cooperation for mutual benefits. "The experts will also come up with new areas of cooperation and set strategies of implementing joint projects that will be agreed upon," said the ministry, noting that participants attending the meeting will as well discuss joint cooperation in business and investment, transport, energy, tourism and security. Meanwhile, the ministry has trashed media reports suggesting that the border dispute between Tanzania and Malawi over Lake Nyasa were presently under the handling of international arbitrators. A section of media had reported that Tanzania-Malawi border dispute over the lake has recently landed at the United Nations (UN). The government through the statement clarified that the dispute was at the time being handled by the panel of retired leaders from Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC). The panel of mediators is led by former president of Mozambique Joachim Chisano with assistance from former presidents of Botswana and South Africa, Mr Festus Mogae and Thabo Mbeki, respectively. The panel formed by the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government was tasked to examine various evidences that Tanzania and Malawi had submitted over the disputed Africa's third biggest lake. The ministry noted further in its statement that the panel had already met the two sides in Mozambique for preliminary consultation, adding that despite the pending dispute, diplomatic relationship between Tanzania and Malawi remain intact. "Diplomatic relations between the two nations have been getting deeper day by day in all spheres of life -economic, political and social," the ministry said, advising the media houses, public and other stakeholders to seek information from reliable sources instead of disseminating false, malicious and halfcooked news. Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar Es Salaam)


Cameroon Govt defends security forces' response to protests

The government of Cameroon says its security forces did not abuse protesters during clashes in two regions last month. Students and professionals in English-speaking parts of Cameroon were denouncing what they call the overbearing influence of the French language in the bilingual country. The United States has expressed deep concern about the situation. Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma says contrary to widespread media reports, the military did not abuse the rights of protesting teachers and lawyers in the English-speaking regions of the central African state. "The law enforcement officers handled demonstrations in Bamenda and Buea with respect and professionalism, in strict compliance with international norms and commitments of Cameroon in matters of human rights. Investigations are under way and in the event of proven misconduct, the government will take some corrective and disciplinary measures in compliance with the provisions laid down by the law," he said. Tchiroma said Cameroon will not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the country's hard-earned national unity, insisting that requests for Cameroon to return to a federal state, a political system scrapped in a 1972 referendum, cannot be granted. The spokesman said he was reacting to a statement issued November 28 by the U.S. State Department. That release expressed concern about the deaths, injuries and damage that resulted from protests which turned violent in Bamenda and Buea, the respective capitals of Cameroon's Northwestern and Southwestern regions. U.S. ambassador to Cameroon Michael Hoza has also expressed concerns over the violence. He met with Cameroon's president Paul Biya and explained his country's position on the protests that turned violent. "It is the American government's position that Cameroon has great strength and diversity, Cameroon has a wonderful history of tolerance and both President Biya and I agreed that dialogue is the future for Cameroon. We know that there are many discussions and we are certain that Cameroon's people will find solutions and they have to live together in tolerance as they have for many, many years," he said. The ongoing protests were called by English-speaking lawyers, followed by teachers and then university students protesting the dominance of French in Cameroon. The lawyers have complained that some judges posted to English-speaking areas are not fluent in the language. The U.S. has extended its deferral of all non-essential travel for U.S. embassy personnel to the Northwestern and Southwestern regions until December 6 due to the unrest Source: Voice of America

Angola and Morocco discuss cultural relations reinforcement

The reinforcement of cultural relations and exchange between Morocco and Angola were analyzed on December 7 during a meeting that the Culture Minister, Carolina Cerqueira, held with her Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Amine Sbihi. On the fringes of the Conference on Heritage and private sector in Marrakech, Minister Carolina Cerqueira announced the main lines of the Angolan government's cultural programme and highlighted the engagement of the national private sector in cultural development and preservation and conservation of the heritage. Carolina Cerqueira has identified the training of staff, exchange of experiences in the fields of cultural industries, handicrafts, folklore and traditional music as areas that may deserve attention in cultural cooperation, as well as cultural tourism and film festivals, taking into account the great projection of Morocco in these segments. The minister stressed the importance of Angola in the regional and international geopolitical context, especially in the defense and preservation of peace, so that it can contribute, through cultural dissemination, to unite peoples and strengthen relations with other nations. The host minister reiterated the willingness to create the necessary mechanisms to move forward with the legal instruments that could provide cooperation in the cultural and arts field, thus strengthening the existing good relations between the two countries. The Angolan Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Benigno Vieira Lopes, attended the meeting. Source: Angola Press

Drone to monitor crops in Northern Province in Rwanda

An aerial drone to monitor crops for Irish potato farmers in Northern Province was launched, yesterday, in Musanze District. The US Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth Project (PSDAG), is partnering with AgriLift to pilot the drone-based crop monitoring technology. It will serve 2,000 potato farmers affiliated with 20 potato cooperatives in the Imbaraga Cooperative Federation, located in Nyabihu, Burera and Musanze districts. With USAID support, the drone takes overhead images of growing crops at specific intervals. The images are then analysed with an open-source computer model of plant growth, which was specifically developed for potato farms. The drone technology can identify the optimal maturity of potato plants for farmers, and can also spot nutrient deficient or diseased crops. AgriLift's goal is to use 'the eye in the sky' to provide local farmers and agribusinesses with rapid information on their crops, allowing them to take corrective measures almost immediately. At the beginning of the September-January planting season, AgriLift conducted its first drone test flights in Musanze. To-date, 242 plots of farmland under four cooperatives have been registered for the technology. Speaking at the launch, USAID country mission director, Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe, said, "It's our hope that this aerial monitoring technology will directly increase the income of small-scale Rwandan farmers. USAID is proud to be a significant partner in this achievement." While AgriLift will continue to demonstrate the valuable use of advanced crop monitoring for small-scale farmers, the benefits won't stop there, the firm said. Officials noted that the real-time Irish potato crop data is also a powerful analytical tool for private sector buyers, agricultural equipment dealers and financial services providers. Matt Gantz, managing director of AgriLift, said the new technology would provide farmers with an innovative tool that can be used to better understand the challenges they face. He said the first step is demonstrating the value of the technology and ensuring that it can be useful to farmers and farmer associations and cooperatives. Rwanda, Gantz noted, is a primarily agrarian economy, and increasing yields not only benefits the farmers but the overall economy. "Drone technology can potentially reduce costs associated with constant crop monitoring and post-harvest losses and can be useful throughout the value chain, not only to farmers, but to processors, traders, input dealers, financial service providers and even government," said Gantz. "With AgriLift's technology, Imbaraga has access to advanced geo-spatial crop monitoring solutions that allow them to determine the best times to collect their harvest with an intuitive platform that makes understanding information easy," he said.  "There aren't many projects like this in East Africa. We hope that it will open the door for new apps and services that focus on the plot-level." The cost of the drone is about $2,300 with all of its flight components, he said. Officials and farmers welcomed the initiative, saying it was always hard to cultivate without scientific knowledge on the type and the state of the soil, the state of crops being cultivated, as well as the quality and quantity of fertilisers to apply on a given plot. "This technology will help us improve our farming practices, unlike previously, we will be able to get informed about the state of the soil we cultivate on as well as updates on which seeds to plant and which fertilisers to apply," said Perpetue Usekeyemariya, a farmer from Nyange Sector, Musanze District. "As the government embarked on the Crop Intensification Programme (CIP) where land is consolidated and improved seeds are used, the new technology was long overdue as it brings ICT in agriculture. We had challenges of not knowing the type and quality of soil as well as quality and quantity of fertilisers to apply," said Jean Claude Izamuhaye, head of Rwanda Agriculture Board in Northern Province. "What is needed is to provide all findings and share them with farmers as this will boost the yields at a farmer level as well as country level," he added Flight costs vary greatly depending on the service provided, client, total area analysed, topography and other factors, according to officials. The Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth programme is a five-year (2014-2019) project funded by USAID. Source: The New Times


Liberia and Libya resume diplomatic relationship after five years

The Government of the Republic of Liberia and the Government of National Accord of Libya have resumed diplomatic relations between their two countries. Liberia's intention to restore diplomatic relations with Libya is in the spirit of the Malabo Declaration of November 2016 and the cordial ties that existed between the two Governments over the years. The Liberian Government severed diplomatic relations with Libya on June 14, 2011. Meanwhile, the Liberian has introduced Mohamed Omar Mohamed Talbi, Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Libya and Special Envoy of the Government of National Accord of Libya to Ecobank as an "authorized representative" to discuss matters relating to accounts held by the Libyan Government with the ECOBANK Liberia. In a Diplomatic Note to his Liberian counterpart, Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara, the Minister of Foreign Minister of Libya, Mohamed El Taher Seyala, stated that Ambassador Talbi was sent to Liberia based on a conversation held with the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on the margins of the African Union Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Safety and Security and Development, that convened in Lomé, Togo, last October. Predicated on his discussion with the Liberian President, Foreign Minister Seyala is quoted as saying, in his communication to Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara, that "Special Envoy Talbi is authorized to conduct all necessary arrangements to reopen our embassy in Monrovia." Source: FPA (Front Page Africa)

Nigeria, Morocco to build gas pipeline link

Nigeria and Morocco are set to jointly promote a gas pipeline that will connect the two countries and some other African countries. This was one of the agreement reached during the three-day visit of Moroccan King President Mohammed VI. Speaking to State House Correspondents, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Geoffrey Onyema, said the gas pipeline project would also accelerate energy and electrification projects across the affected member countries. He said, "It is a great honour and privilege to read for you a communique which outlines the strategic visions that we both have for our two countries. "On the occasion of the visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to Nigeria, and following the discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari in Marrackeck, on the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-22), and also in Abuja , the Kingdom of Morocco and the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided to study and take concrete steps toward the promotion of a regional gas pipeline project that will connect Nigeria's gas resources, those of several West African countries and Morocco." According to him,the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders. He further said that Nigeria and Kingdom of Morocco also agreed to develop integrated industrial clusters in the sub-region in sectors such as manufacturing, Agro-business and fertilizers to attract foreign capital and improve export competitiveness. Source: Leadership (Abuja)

Moroccan King heads to Zambia

King Mohammed VI of Morocco is expected in the country over the weekend on a State visit. The move is seen as part of Morocco trying to build its case among African countries for a return to the African Union fold where it has been absent since 1984. Morocco has written requesting re-admission to the African Union and the decision will require a two thirds majority of members to be re-admitted. Earlier in the year President Edgar Lungu attended a United Nations climate change summit in Morocco where King Mohammed re-emphasized the need for Morocco to be re-admitted to the African Union. On December 7, President Lungu will head to South Africa on a three-day State Visit in what seems to be a case of building Zambia's across continent profile. Source: Zambia Reports

Algeria at Africa-South Korea forum in Addis Ababa

The secretary general at the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hassane Rabehi, led on December 7, the Algerian delegation to the works of the fourth Africa-South Korea Forum, being held in Addis Ababa, the ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The forum, created in 2006 in Seoul, is hosted in Africa for the first time ever, which shows "African Union's commitment to stepping up cooperation with the rest of the world to the level of mutually beneficial partnerships," the statement stressed. The ministerial session opened December 7 was preceded by senior officials meeting on December 6, and which finalised "the draft Declaration of Addis Ababa, and its action plan 2017-2021." In an address at the forum, Rabehi said "Africa, which has made the irreversible choice of sustainable development, intends to make good use of its potentialities and own resources as well as the opportunities provided by partnerships with regional groups and some countries, including the Republic of Korea." Rabehi stressed that the "Korean partner's indisputable added value mainly lays in its ability to turn, in an effective and proactive manner, its cooperation with Africa towards key projects and priorities set by Africa itself, as part of its development agenda by 2063." Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers)

Intense exchanges on major issues between Algeria and Belgium

Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel said, on December 7 in Algiers, that he discussed with Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal major issues of common interest. "We have had intense exchanges on major issues of common interest for Algeria and Belgium with a view to building an intelligent partnership," the Belgium Prime minister told a press briefing held jointly with his Algerian counterpart. He underlined that "it was useful to work together to identify the different areas where we can strengthen our partnerships and give new impetus to cooperation between the two countries." Michel also highlighted "the numerous challenges faced by the two countries," and called for more actions to address the social concerns of citizens. The Belgian Premier stressed the importance of stability and security to achieve economic development, adding that Algeria "knows very well the fight against terrorism, as it has paid a heavy toll" during the black decade. He also underlined the "need for genuine counterterrorism cooperation," and said to be pleased to notice the willingness of Algerian officials to work together in the field. As regards the movement of persons, Michel said that "Belgium will continue to work with Algeria in the exchange of analyses on the issue." The Belgian Prime minister also announced that he had invited Sellal to visit Belgium to continue the work at a high political level. Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers)


2nd annual workshop on International Economic Negotiations kicks off in Johannesburg

The second Annual Workshop on International Economic Negotiations opened in Johannesburg on December 5 under the theme, "Building Africa's Negotiating Capacity for Improved Terms of Engagement with the Rest of the World." The event is part of activities led by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to promote policies and programmes that strengthen the process of African economic integration, as explained by Stephen Karingi, Director of ECA's Capacity Development Division (CDD): "We are basically assisting Member States in the development of common positions towards international negotiations as well as in enhancing the skills of African negotiators to get optimal deals for their countries and region from bilateral and international negotiations." During the five-day gathering, policy makers and experts on investment, taxation, natural resource contract negotiations and trade negotiations from over 40 African countries will exchange experiences, explore options and strategies for possible coordination of positions, and interact with globally leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of economic negotiations. African governments have consistently called upon continental institutions to provide capacity building assistance in the field of negotiation.  Also, the March 2015 Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows noted how Africa's natural resources sector is prone to the generation of illicit financial outflows through secret and poorly negotiated contracts. As part of its mandate on capacity development, ECA launched, in 2015, a series of annual workshops that respond to these calls by focusing on how member states can best protect their national interests from being undermined through international agreements. Melaku Desta, Head of ECA's Natural Resources and Sustainable Development section, expressed optimism about the outcome of the workshop. "We expect this workshop to provide participants with a better understanding of the dynamics in negotiation, increase the number of trained participants, and contribute to the improved negotiation skills of continental experts," said Mr. Desta. The first annual Workshop on International Economic Negotiations took place in Dakar, Senegal on December 1 - 4, 2015. Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa)

Mugabe says reforms paying off as he hints on possible civil service job cuts

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said reforms that the government is implementing to boost economic recovery and tackle poverty are beginning to bear fruit as he called on Zimbabweans to remain united and work hard for prosperity. Delivering the 2016 State of the Nation Address in Parliament largely inclined towards achievements of the 10 Point Plan and Zim Asset, President Mugabe lauded Zimbabweans for their resilience in enduring "all manner of economic hardships" in nearly two decades. "I wish to commend them for their resilience, and urge them to cherish the peace and tranquility that continues to be the envy of many," he said. "Let us continue to find national pride in our core values of unity, hard work and freedom." President Robert Mugabe said the country would pursue the social contract and resuscitate the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) for Government, labour and business with the primary focus on reducing cost of doing business and creating an investor friendly environment. "Time is ripe to pursue the social contract, investor friendly policies should be strengthened and good corporate governance as well as policy consistency should be vigorously pursued," he said. The TNF is a voluntary social dialogue platform, bringing together Government, business and labour to discuss socio-economic progress. In order to spearhead the 10-point plan and the ZimAsset economic blueprint, Government had introduced measures aimed at stimulating the economy and protect local production in local industry. "Economic sectors that have been the major focus of Government include the mining, agriculture construction and manufacturing. Our major objective is to increase local capacity and become a competitive supplier," he said. "Our major objective is to increase local capacity, create a skilled workforce and become a competitive supplier base," he said. Import restrictions government introduced recently on certain goods had assisted boost local production mainly in the plastic, packaging and food manufacturing industries as well as cut import dependence, President Mugabe said. "A number of companies that have seen immediate benefits of government measures include those in the packaging and plastic manufacturing namely Nampack, Tregers and Proplastics. Policy reform was also being accelerated to address corruption, improve performance of the agriculture sector, unlock investment and the potential of small and medium enterprises as well as to foster financial stability. "The reforms are meant to both rejuvenate the national economy and contribute to poverty reduction," he said. President Mugabe spoke of possible job losses as the government was "re-aligning and restructuring" the civil service structure to make it more effective through addressing duplications, abolishing redundant posts and overlaps among Ministries. "The resultant effect would be leaner and flatter structures that are economic and would thus enhance effective and quality service delivery," he said. He said a microfinance bank, capitalized to the tune of $10 million, was soon to be established to assist in financing small to medium enterprises and cooperatives, which had become critical players in the growth of the economy. The SMEs sector accounts for the bulk of employment in the country as the formal sector had largely shrinked over the years due to economic challenges. A Women's Micro-Finance Bank would also be established to empower women, he said. To boost agriculture production and assure the country's food security, President Mugabe said command agriculture programs had been introduced for maize and small grains production targeting a minimum of two million tonnes of maize. The country is currently importing grain to address food shortages being faced as a result of a devastating drought in the past seasons. Government has imported over 300 000 tonnes of maize while over 200 000 tonnes has been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) by local farmers. He said the private sector has also imported over 25 000 tonnes of maize while development partners have mobilized in excess of $360 mln for grain. President Mugabe said the mining sector will continue to contribute significantly towards export receipts particularly from gold, platinum, diamonds, ferrochrome and nickel. He said artisanal miners also continue to make significant growth in gold production. Tourism contribution is seen surpassing prior year levels. Source: Financial Gazette (Harare)

Teachers oppose 20% pass mark for maths in South Africa

A circular sent out by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) states that a learner in Grade 7, 8 or 9 who did not achieve 40% in mathematics, should be "condoned" if they achieve 20% or above. While the DBE has used the word "condone" instead of "pass", these learners will effectively pass to the next grade. "We are setting these children up for failure," a primary school teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told GroundUp. "Now we are sending children to the next grade, who didn't fully grasp the grade they were coming from." "Some of these children will drop out because they cannot cope with the pressure. It is not nice for a child to fail, but at least they get to grasp what they need before getting to the next grade. They will be condoned till grade 9, then, they will be stuck in grade 10 when they can no longer get condoned". GroundUp also spoke to two high school principals in Cape Town townships. One said, "It would be better if the department would provide people to help these kids and to work hand in hand with them." Another said that the instruction would only cause learners to struggle even more in the next grade. Even though he didn't agree with the instruction, because it came from the department, he would have to comply. He said he also worried that learners would be happy with being promoted to the next grade because to them this would mean that they passed, when in actual fact, they did not. Both principals felt that the circular came very late and they were already done with determining who passed. They said they heard about the issue only on December 5 and found it confusing. A DBE statement today said that the circular had been issued urgently after reports from across the country of poor results because of the compulsory requirement of learners to achieve 40% in maths. The DBE said the circular "should only be considered as an interim measure for 2016". Spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department Millicent Merton said it was "regrettable" that the DBE's decision was "communicated at such a late stage in the school year". She said the department would engage with the DBE "on the timing of such decisions". Equal Education Deputy General Secretary Ntuthuzo Ndzomo said: "The question should be, what is making it difficult for these children to obtain the 40% mark, instead of taking a quick solution which might not help in the long term." Source: Ground Up

In South Africa, Muthambi 'usurped' SABC Board's powers

Former SABC board member Vusi Mavuso has revealed that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi amended key legislation in the SABC's memorandum of incorporation that took powers away from the board. Mavuso was testifying under oath before Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board on December 8. He said Muthambi's amendments, made after Hlaudi Motsoeneng had been named permanent chief operating officer in July 2014, gave the chief executive officer (CEO), the chief financial officer (CFO) and the chief operating officer (COO) powers to appoint group executive members. The amendments needed the board's signature but only had Muthambi's, he said. "The power to appoint group executives went from the board to the group executives," he told the committee. "So the CEO, CFO and COO appointed executive positions, and could 'merely inform the board' of their decisions." Mavuso said he found it very problematic that the shareholder of the SABC, that is the minister, was taking responsibilities away from the board, therefore "usurping" its powers. "It was very clear there was a solid line of divide between board members, which led to some of them resigning prematurely. "Normally, it should have been done by the board. Whoever is coming into the next board, it will be an issue which has to be taken into account." Mavuso said the CEO, CFO and COO were the only positions that required the minister's approval. All the SABC's other group executives were appointed by the board according to the Broadcasting Act. He said the results of Muthambi's amendment were that the SABC's group executive appointments become like a game of ping pong or musical chairs. "What has been the practice is people have appointed from within. We never saw an advert. "It may have been internally , but never external." He said it required certain political muscle to resolve this issue. ANC MP Fezeka Loliwe was asked why he did not quit sooner during his three-year stay as a board member, given his seemingly principled character. "Honourable member, I'm not a quitter. I believe in fighting until sanity prevails. "But in this instance, I think I became insane as well. It reached a point where it was just too much." Mavuso resigned publicly from the board on October 5, along with Krish Naidoo, during a sitting of Parliament's portfolio committee on communications. The committee meanwhile will interview Naidoo, former acting GCEO Phill Molefe and former group executive for risk and governance Itani Tseisi on December 9. Source: news24WIRE 


In Kenya, talks to end doctors strike flops

Talks to end the ongoing doctors and nurses strike have failed to reach an agreement on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to the health workers to resume work. Representatives from both unions who had been meeting Health Ministry officials at Afya House were seen walking out in protest, while accusing the government of not being sincere. "Already the government has moved to court and we have information that it wants to arrest the union officials," Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Chairman Samuel Oroko told reporters when he led other union officials in a walk-out from a meeting at the Health Ministry. "And therefore, we have declared that we shall not negotiate until the government withdraws any court issues if they want to negotiate in good faith," he added. The talks collapsed hours after the President weighed in on the matter, while appealing to striking health workers to be considerate. "We are all ready to talk, and we are committed to dialogue and we are sure we will get a solution, let us have mercy for the lives of the people," President Kenyatta said. The Head of State was speaking when he visited Makindu Hospital, one of the public hospitals where doctors and nurses have abandoned work to demand a 300 per cent pay increase. "Why should we have lost close to twenty people already," President Kenyatta posed, speaking about the issue for the first time since December 5 when the strike started. The walk out was prompted by an order by the Labour Relations Court which directed the Kilimani Police chief serve officials of the Nurses and Doctors union with a court order issued last week suspending the ongoing strike. Lady Justice Helen Wasiliwa also ordered the officials to appear in court next December 13 to show cause why they should not be committed to civil jail for disobeying a court order. She said that if they fail to appear in court as required, she will not hesitate to issues warrants of arrest.  Failure to reach a consensus effectively means patients who rely on public hospitals will continue suffering, with new reports indicating that there were more deaths in various hospitals on December 7. The health workers are demanding a 300 per cent pay increase contained in a 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Source: CAPITALFM

Mkapa's Inter-Burundi Dialogue resumes today

Warring parties in the bloody Burundi conflict start meeting here this morning for the third round of Inter-Burundi Dialogue which analysts are doubtful if it would be attended by some of the hardline opposition politicians who have fled the country. The Facilitator of the Dialogue former president Benjamin Mkapa was expected here last night for the reconciliation talks taking place for the first time at home at a time the strife-torn country has seen relative peace in sharp contrast with the clashes which claimed over 400 lives since April last year. Security has been tightened in Bujumbura's central business district and around the major hotels and public buildings ahead of the talks which are organized by the East African Community (EAC) with the support of an array of development partners. Also involved in the process is the International Conference of Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional body based here and which was established over a decade ago to address political conflicts in various flashpoints in the vast region where armed groups are fighting from forest hideouts. Until yesterday there was no official statement from the authorities on whether the opposition groups which fled Burundi at the height of turmoil last year would attend the talks. However, sources had it those based at home met to strategise on how to force the government bow down its hard line position on its political rivals.. Ordinary Burundis say the country has healed considerably from the mass protests and resultant clashes between the security forces and the protesters agitating for an end to President Nkurunziza's administration on ground his third term tenure was against the country's Constitution. The government has rubbished the claims. Residents of the sea-side Bujumbura city say they were now relieved to go about their business through out the day until late into the night. They are, however, still fearful of isolated attacks, targeting some individuals. The recent such attack on the city suburbs targeted Willy Nyamitwe, an aid to President Nkurunziza. That was as late as last week.He sustained gun wounds while one of his body guards was killed. Hundreds of people have lost lives due to what observers say were politically-motivated killings while over 270,000 have fled to Tanzania and Rwanda as refugees. Many opposition politicians are in exile within EA or abroad. Several senior military and pro-government officials have been eliminated that way as was the outspoken former Burundi member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) Ms Hafsa Mossi who was gunned down near the city centre on July 13th as the second phase of Inter-Burundi Dialogue was underway in Arusha. It could not be established if Mr. Mkapa would involve the former presidents of Burundi, Major General Pierre Buyoya, Domicien Ndaizeye and Sylvester Ntibantunganya, in the mediation process. They reside in the capital city and command some influence in the national affairs. Nine political parties, which took part in last year's controversial elections, took part in the May talks while the groups under a coalition known as CNARED boycotted. Reports had it that most of the coalition's leaders are operating from outside the country. The EAC Council of Ministers, the policy organ of the Community, recently requested all stakeholders in the Burundi conflict to take the on-going mediation efforts seriously so that peace, security and stability can be restored in the country "in the shortest possible time". Although statistics are not available, the development partners are reported to have scaled down their support to EAC over the Burundi crisis. One of them, France, early this week has called on all parties in the Inter-Burundi Dialogue to engage constructively and consensually in the forthcoming consultations starting today. "The only a political solution would enable Burundi to achieve a peaceful exit from the crisis."We reiterate our full support for the continuation of sessions on Inter-Burundi Dialogue, within the framework of the mandate given to it by the East African Community," said the French ambassador to Tanzania Ms Malika Berak in a statement on December 6. Mr Mkapa disclosed that a roadmap for the Burundi Dialogue process was developed and presented to the Mediator President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on December 2. Source: The Citizen

Magufuli to grace his first Uhuru Parade today in Tanzania

President John Magufuli and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is today scheduled to grace the 55th independence anniversary celebrations, the first since he came into power on November 5, 2015. Dr Magufuli cancelled fanfares for his first Independence Day in office last year, saving the 4bn/- budget, which he directed to the expansion of a Dar es Salaam road and instead dedicated the day to the countrywide cleanup campaign. The celebrations scheduled for this morning at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam will be coloured by various activities, including military parade, choirs and traditional dances. Special parade mounted by members of the defence forces, traditional dances from Mbeya, Coast, Lindi and Zanzibar as well as dances from Bongo Flavour artists, among others, will colour the event. Presidents and Heads of State from eight African countries are expected to attend the commemoration of the country's 55 years of independence. They are Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni from Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Piere Nkurunzinza and Edgar Lungu from Burundi and Zambia, respectively. Others are Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Dennis Sassou Nguesso (Republic of Congo). The Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone, in collaboration with other state defence and security organs, have beefed up security to ensure peaceful and harmonious celebrations of the great day. The Zone's Commander Simon Siro said yesterday that there would be patrols by all police units, around Uhuru Stadium and all over Dar es Salaam. Meanwhile, Dr Magufuli yesterday challenged South Sudanese to have a collective responsibility of restoring peace and security in their country, advising the conflicting parties to embrace an inclusive dialogue in the interest of the youngest nation. President Magufuli who also chairs the East African Community (EAC) bloc gave the advice at State House in Dar es Salaam when he hosted long servicing South Sudan politician and widow of the late founding farther, Ms Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior. The president said he was saddened with the political turmoil in South Sudan but insisted that the country's leaders and the general public had the responsibility of upholding peace and security. "I am concerned with the new developments in South Sudan ... but, I urge all the conflicting parties to clear their differences peacefully for sustainable development of South Sudan," he said. But the South Sudan Presidential advisor urged the regional chair and other heads of states to help in the restoration of peace and security in the country. She said she moved to Dar es Salaam to update the regional chair on the current trend of the humanitarian and political crisis in South Sudan. "We are happy to be here at the State House in Tanzania to appeal to Dr Magufuli as the regional chairman to help South Sudan to become peaceful ... we just want peace in our country ... this is what disturbs us for now," she told the president. Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)


In Ghana, December 7 election 'has been exceptionally successful'

The Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) has patted itself on the back describing the general elections, so far, as "exceptionally successful" after close of polls at 5:00pm on December 7. The elections were generally successful with only one case of postponement - in the Jaman North Constituency of the Brong Ahafo Region. Late start at some constituencies notably Afram Plains North Constituency resulted in extension of polls. At the end of the civic exercise on December 7, the Commission said: "Our reports have shown that the exercise has been exceptionally successful in all places except in very few instances where we had minor issues". Adequate measures have been taken to cater for areas where the "minor issues" were recorded. Most observers have been full of praise for the exercise. The National Peace Council, which set up an elections situation room in Accra to monitor the polls, rated the exercise B+, which is above average. The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Porter Jackson, asked Ghanaians to be proud of the outcome. Counting is underway at the various polling stations with officials figures expected to be announced late into the night on December 7. Source: Ghanastar

In Nigeria, Uber responds to threat by Lagos Govt. to clamp down on cabs

Uber, a U.S. online transportation company, has said the recent threat by the Lagos State government to clamp down on its cabs was due to the government's erroneous classification of the vehicles under its platform as taxis. Ebi Atawodi, General Manager of Uber West Africa, said on December 7 that the company operates Cab Hire Services; and not taxis which the Lagos State Traffic Law seeks to regulate. "A taxi driver negotiates fares off the road but a car hire service must be pre-booked," said Ms. Atawodi, responding to a PREMIUM TIMES question during a meeting with the media in Lagos. "This is a global definition across the world. So in normal cities, in London, in Dubai, New York, France, you always have taxi with what you call the sputnik, which is the light on the top, probably markings and the numbers and so on. And you will have your car hire service, in the UK and other places it's called mini-cab, where it's unmarked, you call you pre-book. "The fundamental difference is that you're pre-booking by app, as opposed to calling. A car hire service cannot go on the road and flag people down. Why is that? The pre-booked service shows that somebody has taken responsibility of checking certain requirements: this person is who they said they are, this is the licence plate number, this is the driver's phone number. Otherwise, people will just pick people off the road and you can imagine what will happen to them." The Lagos State government recently threatened to begin a crackdown on cabs under the Uber platform, accusing the drivers of failing to pay for taxi licences. Anofiu Elegushi, Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said Uber drivers were required to pay N100,000 per car for a franchise license, and an annual renewal fee of N30,000 per car. He said the company owed the state government about N600 million for not properly registering its business. "We have started clamping down on the vehicles that operate under the Uber app without registration," Mr. Elegushi had told CNNMoney last September. The Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015 passed the Road Traffic Regulations on Taxi Operations in Lagos State to regulate commercial transportation in the state. The regulations stipulate that in addition to meeting the provisions of Section 40 of the Road Traffic Law, all taxi operators must register their details with the Ministry of Transportation and be issued with a licence. Drivers must also have a third party insurance; hackney permit; and a vehicle not older than 12 years at the time of registration. "The objective of that bill was to sanitise the taxi industry and make sure you document who is who, so when you enter a taxi you can call someone and say this is the number of the taxi I got. There is actually somebody you can go to, it is not somebody who just painted his car yellow and black," Ms. Atawodi said. "When that bill first came out, the assumption was that it was a taxi bill to regulate taxis. And that's where the mismatch came in, because, actually, it wasn't very clear what taxi was being defined as because by the federal government basis, taxi is something picked off the road." Ms. Atawodi said Uber is "100 percent" behind government regulations and had begun an active engagement with several Lagos government ministries and parastatals. Source: Premium Times  This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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