MonitorsPublished on Jan 11, 2017
Africa Monitor | Volume VI: Issue XXVII |


Indian firms express interest in agricultural investment in Zimbabawe

Several Indian companies are interested in investing in Zimbabwe's agricultural and medical sectors, India Ambassador to Zimbabwe Rungsung Masakui said on January 4.  Mr Masakui said this after paying a courtesy call on Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa offices. The Indian envoy was seeking agricultural land for the potential investors from his country, as well as briefing the Acting President on other business developments. The ambassador's proposal comes as Government has introduced a raft of measures to improve food security and reduce grain imports. Among the measures is the Targeted Command Agriculture scheme whereby Government supported farmers with irrigation equipment, inputs, chemicals and mechanised equipment to produce over two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares. In an interview after the meeting, Ambassador Masakui said Acting President Mnangagwa had assured him that Zimbabwe was open to investors in various sectors of the economy. "This is just (a courtesy call) to renew and a follow up discussion of the meeting we had last time," he said. "There has been some advancement in that discussion and also that in agriculture sector, we are looking for some piece of land, around 10 000 to 15 000 hectares to start with, for cultivation of sugar cane." Source: The Herald

Dlamini-Zuma lambasts cruel African leaders

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has criticised some governments and leaders in the continent for causing suffering of their people. She singled out South Sudan where violent atrocities are committed against civilians as the aftermath of a fallout between President Salvar Kiir and his then deputy, Riek Machar, in 2013. Some 500 000 people have been killed and about 2 million displaced in the world's newest country. Delivering her New Year message in Addis Ababa on January 3, Dlamini-Zuma blamed the country's leaders. She pointed out other countries such as Burundi, Central African Republic and The Gambia were also besieged by crises caused mainly by the countries' governments. "Our governments and leadership are there to protect the vulnerable, to serve the people, not to be the cause of the people's suffering and retrogression," she said. "Enough is enough. Africans deserve better, and we must all work towards better days, and towards peace, stability and development." Dlamini-Zuma said the crises overshadowed several successful elections held in some AU member states. She urged aggrieved parties to respect the will of the people, abide by their national and international obligations as well as resort to all non-violent and legal means in resolving electoral disputes. Source: cajnews


Burundi environment minister shot dead

Police have arrested a woman in connection with the assassination of a government minister, authorities said. Burundi has witnessed a period of political violence that has left 500 people dead and 300,000 others displaced. Minutes after midnight, a gunman shot and killed Burundi's Environment Minister Emmanuel Niyokuru, police said in a statement on January 1. "Minister of water and environment killed by a criminal with a gun on his way home to Rohero, around 00:45," said police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye in a tweet. Nkurikiye added that authorities arrested a woman linked to the "assassination." The East African nation has witnessed a spate of political violence since Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term despite a constitutional two-term limit. Nkurunziza effectively won a third term in office in 2015, escalating tensions across the nation. The international community criticized the elections, citing widespread irregularities. At least 500 people have been killed and 300,000 people displaced due to political violence, the majority of deaths caused by police and armed opposition groups. The president took to Twitter to offer his condolences "to the family and all Burundians" for the assassination of the environment minister, vowing that the assailant will be brought to justice. Niyokuru's assassination marks the first high-profile assassination of a government minister since the president won a third term. In November, Burundian presidential adviser Willy Nyamitwe survived an attempt on his life. However, he was injured during the attack. Source: Deutsche Walle

Floods leave 10,000 homeless in Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 10,000 people were left homeless in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo following flash floods in a river, killing dozens and damaging towns and villages. In Boma, one of the worst-hit towns, residents told Al Jazeera they watched in despair as their loved ones were swept away by surging waters. Makiadi Mvubu, who lost one of his daughters to the floods, told Al Jazeera: "I was trying to get into the house but just before I could it collapsed.  "We saved everyone but our daughter. We found her body four kilometres away." Torrential rains caused the Kalamu river, which flows through Boma, some 470km southwest of the capital Kinshasa, to overflow last month, causing waters to hit a peak of two metres above their average level. Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller, reporting from Boma, said some family members were still searching for bodies that may be buried in the mud. "The force of the flood water washed away a bridge," she said. "It was so strong that some bodies were swept 35km into neighbouring Angola." So far, 50 people have been confirmed dead. Anger has surged in the last few days at the government's alleged slow response to the disaster. "I am very disappointed because there is no help," Vundula Mwaka, a Boma resident who has lost his home twice in one year to flooding, told Al Jazeera. "We have lost everything. I got injured and I still haven't been treated until now, not even a painkiller." Emergency services have been accused of being poorly equipped to deal with natural disasters, especially with towns and cities typically built up in a haphazard fashion. Despite its vast mineral wealth, the DRC is classed among the world's poorest countries and two thirds of its 70 million inhabitants get by on less than $1.25 a day. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)


€900 million Algeria-AfDB loan agreement approved

The Council of Ministers has adopted on December 28 a loan agreement between Algeria and the African Development Bank (AfDB), according to which Algeria will receive a loan worth €900 million with advantageous conditions from this financial institution. The loan is accompanied by a moderate concessional interest rate repayable over 20 years including 5 years deferred, said the communiqué released after the meeting of the Council of Ministers. This loan is meant to finance the country's inclusive economic growth through reforms designed to improve the business environment and, the efficiency of the energy sector, and promote renewable energies, added the source. During his visit to Algeria in last April, President of the AfDB Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina committed to define a resource mobilization strategy to ensure the funding of growth in Algeria. In this regard, the AfDB expressed its readiness availability to accompany Algeria in its economic development under a reinforced partnership through diversified founding support and a contribution in expertise. Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers)

Moroccan forces crack down on protesters in occupied Al-Ayun

Moroccan occupation forces have violently repressed a peaceful Saharawi protest in al-Ayun, who were claiming Western Sahara people's right to self-determination and independence, a Saharawi judicial source said on January 1. The Saharawi protestors chanted slogans calling for an end to Moroccan occupation and respect of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. They also demanded that all political Saharawi prisoners in Moroccan jails be set free, the source added. Ahead of the trial of the Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik group, Moroccan authorities have deployed military forces in the occupied towns to suppress the peaceful demonstrators calling for Western Sahara people's right to self-determination. Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers)

In Egypt, senior Judge hangs himself in cell after corruption allegations

A senior Egyptian judge committed suicide on January 2, a day after police arrested him on corruption charges, state-run news outlet "al-Ahram" reported. Wael Shalabi, secretary general of the council of state, the umbrella organisation for Egypt's administrative court, had hanged himself in his cell, his lawyer told Reuters news. "My client hanged himself using a scarf he was wearing. He was going through a terrible psychological state during his questioning," Shalabi's lawyer Sayed Beheiry said. "It is very hard to be a big important judge and suddenly you lose everything and sit in front of an investigator being accused of taking a bribe," he added. After news of his death leaked, the public prosecutor's office on January 2 issued a gag order on local media reporting on details of the case. Prosecutors ordered his detention shortly after arresting Gamal el-Labban, the council's chief procurement officer, for alleged corruption. Local media reported that police found millions in Egyptian pounds, euros and dollars when they took Labban into custody. Labban's arrest last week prompted Shalabi to resign, which the council accepted on December 31. The arrests mark a rare probe into corruption within Egypt's judiciary. The anti-corruption Administrative Control Authority, which launched the investigation, witnessed its head Hisham Geneina sentenced to one year in prison earlier in June after leading a major anti-corruption campaign. Authorities charged him with disrupting public order. While the public prosecutor's office has ordered an autopsy of Shalabi's body after deeming his death suicide, it is common for law enforcement authorities to deflect responsibility for the deaths of detained individuals. In 2013, a French teacher had been found dead in his cell after being arrested in Cairo's upper-class district Zamalek the night before. Authorities claimed he had been beaten by his fellow inmates. During President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi's first 100 days in office, 35 people died in police custody, according to a report published by Egypt's non-government organization Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence. In 2014, the year el-Sissi assumed office, the justice ministry's forensic medical authority recorded a nearly 40 percent increase in deaths of individuals in custody. "The Egyptian authorities have appeared shockingly complacent in the face of so many detainee deaths," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa director, in a 2015 report on deaths in Egyptian jails. "They need to ensure that all such deaths, as well as abuse allegations, are independently investigated, and rapidly put in place and enforce effective safeguards to protect everyone in state custody," she added. Source: Deutsche Walle

Egypt's foreign debt increases 185 per cent in three months

Egypt's foreign debt jumped 185% from July to September 2016, according to the monthly report of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on January 5. The debt amount increased to USD 2.46 bn during the past fiscal year, from USD 863 bn in the previous fiscal year. The three months of July to September witnessed an increase of USD 60 bn from USD 56 bn at the same time of the previous year. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail earlier said that the foreign debt will not exceed 25% of the GDP after getting the approval of the IMF loan. In November 2016, the IMF approved a USD 12 bn loan to Egypt over three years. According to the CBE, foreign debt increased USD 7.7 bn during throughout the entire past fiscal year, making an increase of 16% compared to the same time in the previous fiscal year. Foreign reserves increased about USD 1.2 bn in December, following another increase in November up to USD 4 bn, according to CBE figures. Source: Aswat Masriya


Former political prisoners planning Robben Island reunion in South Africa

The Ex-Political Prisoner Association of South Africa (EPPA) will hold a reunion of apartheid political prisoners on Robben Island in April, its national deputy secretary, Mpho Masemola, said on January 4. The reunion and conference follows after a meeting with President Jacob Zuma in December, where some of the former political prisoners discussed a number of issues, and the assistance they required from various government departments. The conference would address the association's concerns over public criticism of Zuma and calls for him to step down, as well as how to galvanise support for a push towards agrarian and socio-economic reform. At the meeting on December 6 in Pretoria, the EPPA representatives questioned why veterans were not included on the SA National Defence Force's Military Veterans' database. They also called for the Presidency to honour those who had been arrested and had served time on the island during apartheid. They want a review of their funeral scheme and for a Robben Island Institute of Leadership to be established to "restore" the history of the island. Reunion delegates were expected to include freedom fighters from the South West African People's Organisation (Swapo) who operated in what is now independent Namibia, including Toivo Ya Toivo. Namibia was previously part of apartheid South Africa and a protracted war for independence was led by Swapo. The EPPA was formed by the late former president Nelson Mandela, who spent almost 30 years on the island. The cells that he and other political prisoners were locked in, have been preserved. 'Saving South Africa is a collective effort' Ferries are usually fully booked for days with tourists who want to make the pilgrimage to see the cells which held Mandela and other liberation leaders.The conference comes as political veterans and former Robben Island prisoners, such as Ahmed Kathrada, have criticised Zuma's refusal to heed calls for him to step down after the Constitutional Court's Nkandla judgment and "state capture" allegations. Other high profile anti-apartheid activists, like former finance minister Trevor Manuel and struggle stalwart Cheryl Carolus, have also been critical of the ruling party.Masemola said that "sporadic calls, by born again politicians, for regime change" were unwarranted, and that they were undermining the Constitution."It is surprising that these individuals and organisations have not spoken out on land, rising unemployment, monopoly capital, agrarian issues and the control of the means of production by a few foreigners," he said in a statement on the reunion."...Saving South Africa is a collective effort. Not the preserve of a self-congratulatory few who lack the moral superiority to pass judgement on our people and leadership."The Department of Arts and Culture would be assisting with the preparations for the reunion, said Masemola. Source: news24WIRE

Somerset West fires ravage 40 per cent of historic wine estate in South Africa

Large areas of vegetation and vineyards at Somerset West's historic and award-winning Vergelegen Estate have been destroyed by wildfires, farm manager Don Tooth said on January 4. "Of the 3 000 hectares of the farm, 40% has burned down this far," Tooth told News24.  "No buildings have thankfully burned down. All our hospitality areas are operating as normal." The fires have been burning in the Helderberg Mountains since January 3. According to Tooth, the wildfires could be brought under control by nightfall. "If the current weather conditions continue, and the wind doesn't pick up, we will have the fire under control by the end of the day." Teams were battling the flames on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains. According to the Vergelegen Estate's website, it was the three-time winner of the Great Wine Capitals Global Best of Wine Tourism Award. Meanwhile, the head of City of Cape Town's fire services, Ian Schnetler, told News24 that the fires were still out of control. "As you can see, the fire is picking up," Schnetler said from his bakkie at a firefighter meeting point along Sir Lowry's Pass. "We are concentrating on the N2 and the fires near Lourensford farm." The worst fires were near Lourensford, on the side of the Helderberg Mountains. Schnetler sat alongside the City of Cape Town's executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman. In his lap he had a baby buck that they had saved from the flames. On January 3 evening, volunteers evacuated several animals, including 18 horses, from the area. A News24 reader living in Rome Glen, Marz Socks, said railroad tracks next to the Boskloof residential estate had been rendered unusable due to the fires. "We discovered that the railway line is completely burnt out. Giant blue gum trees collapsed over the tracks. The sleeper wood is burnt out. The railway line is going to be unusable for a long time," Socks said. Source: news24WIRE

President Mugabe takes 'spending spree' to China

President Robert Mugabe has taken his globetrotting escapades on taxpayers' expense to China amid complaints by the opposition and ordinary Zimbabweans affected by a serious economic turmoil. The nonagenarian, who is on a month-long vacation, left Harare for Singapore last month with his entire family and a large entourage of security aides. Singapore is Mugabe's usual destination where he receives treatment for an eye cataract. Mugabe's deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said he tried to consult his superior on the hero status of a late former provincial governor Peter Chanetsa who passed on in Harare on New Year's Day, but his efforts were in vain. The acting president told mourners at Chanetsa's home located in Harare's leafy Borrowdale suburb that he had tried to contact Mugabe at his Singapore base but was advised that he was now in China. "We will pass on the message to our leader (Mugabe) who will give us guidance," said Mnangagwa. This, after the ruling Zanu PF party's Mashonaland leadership requested that Chanetsa's remains be interred at the national shrine in recognition of his contribution during the country's liberation war and the post-independence era. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the recently formed Zimbabwe People First led by former vice president Joice Mujuru have criticised Mugabe for going on holiday while the country is "burning". Mugabe's administration has not paid most of its employees their December salaries and annual bonuses while the economic situation continues to deteriorate with many Zimbabweans surviving on less than a dollar per day. Cash shortages in the southern Africa country's financial system have also compounded the crisis. Mugabe is expected to spend at least $6m during his month-long vacation. Closer to Mugabe's Harare base, authorities require less than a million dollars to contain a typhoid outbreak that has claimed at least one life in the capital. Source: news24WIRE

Diamond ring shame – Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe 'defies' court order

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly defied a High Court order to return three properties she seized from a Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed in a botched $1.35m diamond ring deal. According to News Day, Grace defied the court order and remained in occupation of the three houses in Harare's affluent Avondale suburb. President Robert Mugabe's wife allegedly seized the properties after Ahmed failed to repay the money that she had paid for the polished diamond ring. The ring had been meant to be Mugabe's wedding anniversary gift to Grace. The year 2016 marked the 20 th anniversary of the Mugabes' wedding. Grace allegedly made the payment through a local commercial bank, but declined to accept the ring on delivery before demanding that the refund be deposited in her private Dubai bank account. But, Ahmed, according to court papers, said it would take long to effect the refund, as he had used a third party for the transaction, to which Grace objected and proceeded to seize the properties.  Ahmed also said in the court documents: "I have been threatened with harm if I return and it is necessary that I get some of protection. Quoting Ahmed's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, the report said that Grace had "not yet removed her proxies from the properties, in defiance of an eviction order issued by High Court judge, Justice Clement Phiri on December 21 last year". Mtetwa said they had now approached the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court to evict Grace's proxies from the properties. Justice Phiri had given Grace's proxies 24 hours to vacate the premises, failure to which, the sheriff would be authorised to evict them and restore the properties to Ahmed. Source: news24WIRE


World Bank funds U.S. $ 100 million refugee project for Ethiopia

A new World Bank funded project promises improved living conditions for refugees camped across five states in Ethiopia. The Bank offered 100 million USD to implement "Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) in the Horn of Africa." Speaking at project launching event in Semera, Afar State, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Dr. Misrak Mekonnen said the projects are believed to increase the benefit of the community from socio-economic as well as infrastructural facilities. According to her , lack of infrastructure in many of the host states and the impact of increasing refugee population on the local community are main setbacks in the emerging refugee camps. As the effective implementation of the projects would raise the benefit enjoyed by locals,_ stakeholders need to work in close cooperation, she urged. Project Coordinator Abdu Suleiman for his part indicated that the implementation of the project would help expand social service providing centers, with plans to raise income of the community and promote environmental conservation activities. The implementation of "Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) In the Horn of Africa" would begin in 2017. Refugees sheltered in Afar, Tigray, Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz and Somali states, the five states hosting the refugees, and the host community would benefit from a range of development activities implemented by the funding. It was indicated that Ethiopia is home to over 733 thousand refugees originated from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. More than one million people would benefit from the project which would run for five years. Source: The Ethiopian Herald

Tanzanian President criticises raising of power charges

President John Magufuli has blasted officials of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) for arbitrarily raising electricity tariff by an average of 8.5 per cent. He has at the same time also revoked the appointment of TANESCO's Managing Director, engineer Felchesmi Mramba, and appointed Dr Tito Mwinuka, former lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, as TANESCO's Acting MD with immediate effect. Dr Magufuli's reaction comes a day after the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, wrote a letter (dated December 31, 2016) directing the EWURA Director General to stop implementation of the new tariffs (planned to start from January 1) until when the government has thoroughly scrutinised the formal report it would receive from the regulator. Speaking on January 1 during a Holy Mass at the Mater Misericordiae Cathedral in Bukoba Municipality, President Magufuli assured Tanzanians that the new tariffs would not come into effect despite EWURA's announcement. The president expressed bewilderment over the action by the officials to increase the power tariffs without consulting him, Vice-President Samia Suluhu or the Energy and Minerals Minister. "Just a few officials at EWURA decided to increase electricity tariffs even without consulting the Minister or Energy and Minerals. This is quite absurd. EWURA cannot increase electricity tariff while the government is working hard to ensure that most people, especially in rural areas, get electricity. "I'm grateful that the Energy and Minerals Minister ruled out the decision to increase power tariffs. Therefore, there is no power tariffs increase. The few greedy officials should be condemned," Dr Magufuli said amid applause from the well-attended mass. Dr Magufuli said it was illogical that as the government was promoting industrial revolution and supply of power to poor people in rural areas yet some people would be thinking about increasing the power tariffs. In his letter, Prof Muhongo tasked EWURA to inform all stakeholders of the decision (of revoking new power tariffs). According to the minister, he was not aware of the tariffs nor informed by EWURA on the matter, questioning the basis used by the regulator to increase the tariffs despite the fact that the general public had vehemently opposed the move during the public hearings. In the new tariffs, consumers were to pay 263.02/- per kilowatt hour (kWh) up from 242.34/- currently charged and the increase is set to generate 1.608 trillion/- for the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to "enable its finance operation costs and undertake capital investment programme". In its application in October, Tanesco had asked the regulator to approve an increase of 18.19 per cent to enable it raise 1.9tri/- as it seeks to expand electricity coverage to 75 per cent of the population by the year 2025. During public hearings conducted in Mwanza, Mbeya, Arusha, Dodoma and Dar es Salaam, members of the general public were of the view that circumstances which led to tariff decrease in April, 2016, are still the same to date and hence no justifiable grounds for the increase. Meanwhile, President Magufuli has assured Tanzanians that the Fifth Phase Government was keen to ensure that the majority poor get the best services. He, however, urged them to pray for him and his cabinet as the fight against corruption was enormous one. Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Kenya investigates airline after passenger flight mishaps

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority is investigating Jambojet after thousands of the domestic airline's passengers were booked on too large a plane that could not land at Ukunda Airstrip in Kwale County. The national carrier Kenya Airways-owned airline was faulted for diverting the plane to Moi International Airport, Mombasa, and transporting the passengers by road amid hectic activity of crossing Likoni Channel by ferry. KCCA Director-General Gilbert Macharia Kibe said the investigations will also cover overbooking, which had passengers stranded for days at airports. In a December 30, 2016 letter to Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) chairman Mohamed Hersi, Mr Kibe stated that KCCA will also investigate delays and cancellations of flights to Malindi and Lamu in North Coast and Ukunda in South Coast at the eleventh hour without properly informing the affected passengers. "We at the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority would like to assure you and all other stakeholders that we are investigating the matter and, if the airline is found culpable, we shall take the necessary action,"said Mr Kibe in a letter signed on his behalf by an Eng S Wesechere. There were widespread complaints by hoteliers dealt a major blow after thousands of domestic tourists failed to reach their destinations. Thousands of passengers flying to Lamu for the annual Maulid Festival had to cancel their trips as others arrived days late. Others opted to travel by public service vehicles plying between Mombasa and Lamu, a journey that takes almost nine hours due to security checkpoints mounted between Garsen in Tana River County and Mokowe in Lamu. Some of passengers who were to fly from Malindi to Nairobi were ferried by road to Mombasa to board flights at the Moi International. Mr Hersi had challenged KCAA to ensure airlines operated by the rules and regulations so as to ensure tourism and other sectors of the economy that depend on the aviation industry proceed uninterrupted. "To KCAA, we have 30,000-plus beds to fill, we have 100,000 Kenyans who earn both directly and indirectly from tourism at the Kenya Coast. As a regulator, why do you allow such sloppy service?" Mr Hersi asked. He added: "You're equal on matters of communication when you gave mobile telephone companies sleepless nights for dropped calls and other mundane stuff, while you guys sit pretty when holidays are messed up, connecting flight to international flights are all messed. You have a duty and a role to play. Take action," In an interview with the Nation, Mr Mr Hersi said it was not their wish for Jambojet operations to be suspended by KCAA. In a statement, Jambojet's customer service manager, Ms Mary Mwangi, said the carrier's smaller aircraft could not handle the high volume of bookings. "We apologise to all concerned for the unpleasant nature of this entire experience and assure all that we are doing our utmost to resolve the issue as soon as possible," said Ms Mwangi. Two months ago, Jambojet announced additional flights to all destinations within the country including Lamu ahead of the festive season. Jambojet Chief Executive Officer Willem Hondius said: "We are cognizant of the increased demand for flights during the festive season as people go on holiday or travel back home. Source: Daily Nation

Tabliq sect sues Government over mosque raids in Uganda

The leadership of the Jamu-iyyat Daawat Ssalafiyyah Muslim Community has dragged government to the High Court in Kampala, challenging the manner in which its security operatives raided Nakasero Mosque at dawn on December 27, 2016. Led by the Nakasero Mosque Publicity Secretary Habib Buwembo, the man behind the ongoing Rubaga South MP Kato Lubwama's election, they say the action of the security operatives was done without a search warrant, was unlawful, unjustifiable and should never be repeated. They state that at about 12:30 am or thereabouts on 27 December, 2016, without prior notice or warning, a combined team of security operatives suspected to have included members of the Uganda Police Force, Military division of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and an outfit known as the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force, forcefully broke into Nakasero Mosque. They accuse the forces of indiscriminately battering and arresting whoever was found inside the mosque's compound before ransacking, pillaging and vandalizing the mosque. They say the raid involved the destruction and defilement of the various sacred religious items dear to them as members of the Jamu-iyyat Daawat Ssalafiyyah Muslim community that conduct prayers at the mosque located on Plot 4 Snay bin Amin Street in Kampala. They contend that as a result of the raid, the state wounded their feelings by insulting their religion, and caused them to suffer less favorable treatment and stigmatization in law enforcement on grounds of their religion, unlawful deprivation of liberty, humiliation, loss of dignity and property. They add that they also suffered invasion of privacy, disturbance of religious assembly and worship, degradation of their religious faith, customs, traditions and beliefs and the violation of their right to presumption of innocence and protection of the law, especially the right to due process, among other injuries. Through their lawyers Centre for Legal Aid, the trio wants court to direct that the government unconditionally returns to the rightful owners at Nakasero Mosque any and all items including but not limited to the computers, mobile phones, motorcycles, money, documents and compact disks containing Islamic teachings that were confiscated during the raid. They say that having infringed on the protected rights of the Muslim Community; a permanent injunction should be issued against the Attorney General restraining him from using the confiscated items as evidence in the prosecution of any body. They also want compensation through the established leadership structure at Nakasero Mosque with general, aggravated and punitive damages during the raid as well as costs of the application.


On the fateful day during the wee hours, the security operatives carried out the raid in which about eighteen Muslims from the mosque were arrested and taken to unknown locations. Habib Buwembo later addressed a news conference in which he told journalists that the security operatives carried away six computers, vital documents, $4800 and over sh5 million. Buwembo said that he believed the raid is connected to the proposed sh10 billion Ummah house project, a brain child of Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, the jailed leader of Jamu-iyyat Daawat Ssalafiyyah community in Uganda. However, during a press conference at the police head quarters ahead of the New Year celebrations, on Wednesday, December 28, 2016, the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kaihura denied Buwembo's claims saying that the raid was a search operation following information revealed by a Muslim suspect in connection to the killing of Maj Sheikh Kiggundu. Kayihura said the search was inevitable because the Muslims were turning places of worship into crime centers by planning criminal acts from there. Following the murder of Sheikh Major Muhammad Kiggundu several people including Muslim clerics have been arrested as police continues to search for the killers. Maj Kiggundu was shot dead together with his bodyguard by unidentified gunmen riding on two motorcycles at Masanafu trading center in Rubaga division, a Kampala suburb on November 26, 2016. Police picked up the acting Amir Ummah, Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje days later for interrogation into the killing. The arrest of Mwanje and his team came at a time the Amir Ummah Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoja and several leaders of Jamu-iyyat Daawat Ssalafiyyah are facing trial in the High Court International Crimes Division for the murder of several Muslim clerics. Kamoga and his group are accused of masterminding the killing of former Kibuli Muslim faction spokesman Sheikh Hassan Kirya, Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, the former Kampala District Amir and Doctor Abdul Qadir Muwaya, the top Shia cleric. The trio was gunned down at the different places and dates by gunmen riding on motorcycles. Court will at appropriate time set a date for the hearing. Source: The Independent (Kampala)

136 Nigerian policemen honoured in Somalia

A total of 136 policemen from Nigeria were awarded medals to mark the end of their duty tour in Somalia, a statement by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said. The policemen participated in a medal parade on January 3 to mark the end of their one year duty term in Somalia. "The officers were awarded medals at a ceremony presided over by the Deputy Special Police Commissioner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). "Somali Police Commissioner Gen Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Hamud was also present, with a delegation of Somali officials." It said that the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) in Somalia Lydia Wanyoto appreciated the Nigerian government for supporting the peace process in Somalia. She also expressed gratitude to the Somali Security Forces present at the ceremony for recognising the Nigerian contribution. "We are here because of Somalia, saying it yourself on behalf of the Somali government, make our work easy, it gives us morale and makes us to work even harder. "I want to thank you for the services you have provided, thank you for being here in Somalia, for volunteering to assist the people in Somalia," she said. The Somali Police Commissioner, Gen. Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Hamud, also commended the Nigerian police contingent for their contribution to the restoration of law and order in his country. "You have been good ambassadors. Somalia will not forget Nigeria standing side-by-side with Somali people and the Federal Government," Hamud said. The contingent is the fifth Formed Police Unit from Nigeria to serve in Somalia under AMISOM. They will be replaced by a new police contingent from Nigeria. Source: The Guardian (Lagos)

Kenyan officials, conservationists laud China's ivory ban

China's latest ban on processing and sale of ivory products marked a historic milestone in efforts to save African elephants from poaching, Kenyan wildlife officials said on January 3. Richard Leakey, chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), hailed the Chinese government's decision, saying it will revitalize global action on illegal trade in trophies. "I was pleased to learn about China's action that will sound a death knell to ivory trade. I hope other nations will follow China's example," Leakey told Xinhua. The Chinese government on Dec. 30 announced it will phase out processing and sale of ivory by the end of 2017. Beijing had previously imposed a three-year ban on ivory imports in a bid to strengthen global war against illegal trade in critical wildlife species. Leakey said China's landmark ban on trade in ivory products had inspired the international community at a time efforts had gathered steam to halt loss of African elephants due to poaching and climatic stresses. "The ban is a positive move that reinforces the urgency to save the remaining herd of elephants," said Leakey, adding that China's role was crucial to intensifying public awareness on elephant protection. Kenya and China are in partnership in wildlife protection through technology and skills transfer. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during his visit to Kenya in 2014, announced assistance to enhance protection of iconic wildlife species. Leakey said that China's stewardship was crucial to re-energize wildlife protection initiatives in Kenya and across the region. He said closure of the ivory market in many parts of the globe would deal a fatal blow to poaching of giant mammals. On their part, Kenyan conservationists welcomed China's decision to ban ivory trade, saying it injected fresh vitality in policy and legislative interventions to save elephants. Munira Bashir, the Kenya Program Director at The Nature Conservancy, described China's ban on ivory trade as a giant step towards elimination of wildlife crimes. "We would like China to sensitize everyone that illegal ivory trade is a threat to elephants," Bashir said. Peter Knights, Executive Director of WildAid, a U.S.-based conservation lobby, also applauded China for the ban. "This is probably the greatest single measure that could be taken to reduce poaching and help elephants," Knights said. Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing)

Oromia pardons 10,000 inmates in Ethiopia

Oromia State granted amnesty to 10,000 inmates who fulfilled requirement and regretted their wrongdoings. Inmates who served third and more than half of their term received the amnesty. State Chief Lemma Megerssa told journalists on January 4 that the Board of Amnesty evaluated each case in a transparent and participatory way. The aim of the pardon is to help fellow citizens build confidence and hope in their life thereby integrating them to the society, he said, adding the opportunity would enable them involve in the national development drive. State correction centers have been offering training to the inmates in various areas, he added. State Justice Bureau Head Berhanu Tsegaye said for his part screening included inmates demonstration of good behaviors while serving sentences. Those who convicted of homicide, human trafficking, rape and corruption were not included in the grant, he indicated. The head explained that those who served 13 years and more of their life sentence also joined their respective family It was learnt that the amnesty was granted as per article 57(3) (1) of state constitution. Source: The Ethiopian Herald


Yahya Jammeh calls Ecowas deployment in Gambia 'an act of war'

President Yahya Jammeh says the West African community's decision to send troops into The Gambia to force him to accept defeat in last month's presidential election, is "a declaration of war". Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, deployed troops to The Gambia on December 29 after Jammeh said he would not accept the results of December's election, in which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow. In a New Year's message broadcast on December 31, Jammeh said the "blatant and one-sided" approach of ECOWAS, "disqualified it from providing mediation services". "Let me make very clear, we are ready to defend this country against any aggression," Jammeh said, adding that if ECOWAS did not back down "the impasse will continue with the risk of escalation into a military confrontation". He added, "What we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in a free and fair election." After more than two decades in power, Jammeh, 51, lost a December 1 election to Barrow, a former real-estate agent. After initially accepting the result, Jammeh later rejected it, alleging irregularities, and filed a petition to the Supreme Court which is due to be reviewed on January 10. Barrow has insisted he will take office nine days later, as planned, with ECOWAS leaders set to attend the ceremony. Earlier this month, ECOWAS said it would stage a military intervention, led by neighbouring Senegal, if Jammeh failed to step down and set a deadline of January 19, the day of Barrow's planned inauguration. The UN Security Council has called on Jammeh to "fully respect" the election results and ensure Barrow's safety. The electoral commission said Barrow obtained 222,708 votes (43.3 percent) compared with Jammeh's 208,487 (39.6 percent). Jammeh has questioned the validity of the count after the electoral commission changed some results, even though it insists the outcome was not affected. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

In Nigeria, Mend makes U-Turn, accuses Buhari of 'grand deception'

The Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, a militant group that operates in the Nigerian oil-rich region, appears to have turned hostile against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari whom the group endorsed in the 2015 presidential election. In a statement through its shadowy spokesperson who signs off releases, Jomo Gbomo, MEND on January 1 passed a vote of no confidence on Mr. Buhari, accusing his government of insincerity and "grand deception" with regards to pledged commitment to the politics and economy of the Niger Delta. The volatile region has remained largely impoverished, despite decades of oil production that has provided much of the cash Nigeria uses. Trillions of naira in federal allocations to the region have not changed much. "Without prejudice to the pre-2015 presidential election endorsement freely and voluntarily given to President Muhammadu Buhari on January 6, 2015, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) hereby categorically and unequivocally pass a vote of no confidence on the government of President Buhari," said Mr. Gbomo. Before the commencement of an amnesty programme by the federal government under late Umaru Yar'Adua in 2010, MEND had spent years in violent protest of the environmental degradation and socio-economic underdevelopment of the region. It demanded greater share of the proceeds of the oil wealth to improve the region and lives of its people. Then, the group received global attention, having waged a devastating war on Nigeria's oil industry, which cut oil production. MEND was also notorious for abducting expatriates for ransom. Since it became estranged with former President Goodluck Jonathan, an indigene of the Niger Delta, following the arrest of the Okah brothers for alleged terrorism, the group supported Mr. Buhari and demanded dialogue between the government and its representatives as well as other agitators. But it appears the group now distrusts the president. "Prior to and after his reluctant meeting with the traditional rulers, opinion leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, under the auspices of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) on November 1, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carrying on arrogantly and making controversial, prejudicial, conflicting and contradictory statements about the politics and economy of the oil-rich region. "Prior to the inauguration of PANDEF, the several sessions of dialogue held between representatives of MEND, on the one hand; and those of the federal government, on the other hand; where concessions were secured for the release of the Okah Brothers and several other political detainees and prisoners of conscience was a grand deception on the part of the federal government," the group said. The group accused Mr. Buhari of "cunning, crafty and unstatesmanlike rhetoric" about the Niger Delta region, and asked him to stop; otherwise, the 'fragile' peace of the region would be in jeopardy." The statement came days after the president urged the military to end the "political madness" in the Niger Delta, South East and North East. MEND added that the Buhari government wanted to "truncate the on-going peace process in Nigeria, sabotage the legal options open to Henry Okah and simultaneously influence the on-going trial of Charles Okah and others, at the federal high court in Abuja, in favour of the federal government." Furthermore, the group demanded, "all Niger Delta Militant commanders and/or individuals who were tracked and arrested while observing a ceasefire ahead of talks with the FG should be treated well. "They should be allowed access to their lawyers, the International Red Cross and a delegation from PANDEF so as to ascertain their well-being and ensure they have not been tortured or killed, extra judicially." Mr. Buhari, in 2016, launched a programme to clean up Ogoniland devastated by years of oil spillage blamed on multinational Shell. A MEND hostility with the government may worsen Nigeria's economy which largely depends on oil if the group returns to violent methods as it did pre-amnesty programme. The country's production is already adversely affected by the activities of Niger Delta Avengers and other groups that commenced attacks on oil and gas installations a few months after Mr. Jonathan left power in 2015. Source: Premium Times

Ghana President Mahama says he is ready to hand over power

Ghana's outgoing President, John Dramani Mahama, has said he is prepared to pass on the mantle of governance come January 7, to President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. President Mahama said this on December 29 when he delivered his final State of the Nation Address to end the life of the sixth Parliament of the fourth Republic, which would officially be dissolved on the midnight of January 6. The address was in accordance with Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution which states in part that, "The president shall at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver a message on the state of the nation." President Mahama in his address touched on eight key areas; health, education, social protection, the economy, the power sector, road infrastructure, water and governance. On the economy, President Mahama said Ghana's economy was still the second largest in West Africa with a GDP of almost $39 billion. He told the legislators that Ghana had also moved up thirteen (13) places in the ease of doing business index and was currently considered number one on the World Bank index. He noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme that the country was implementing had resulted in an improved macro environment, which was seeing a steady decline in inflation and interest rates, adding that a new public debt management strategy was also seeing a steadily decline in Public sector debt, estimated to have dropped from nearly 72% to below 65%. President John Mahama urged the incoming administration to continue with Ghana's Extended Credit Facility arrangement with the IMF until the end of this year to ensure debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the Ghanaian economy. "We entered the IMF agreement with the best of intentions and it is important that we continue a diligent implementation of the IMF programme until the end of 2017," he told the legislators. Touching on the power sector, President Mahama mentioned that Ghana attained 80 per cent access to electricity under his administration with pending electrification programmes such as the China Water Comapny and the Hunan projects expected to connect more communities onto the national grid. Under education, President Mahama said Ghana had witnessed significant improvement in education with more children gaining access to education at the basic and secondary levels. "In excess of two thousand (2,000) dilapidated schools popularly referred to as "schools under trees" have been replaced. Teachers are more available and are more evenly distributed than in the past. Teacher absenteeism is down from 27% to below 9%. This has led to more engagement hours between teachers and students. The construction and population of forty-seven (47) newly built Community Day Senior High Schools means more students are able to continue their education beyond the basic level instead of dropping out," he said. Moving to his achievements in the health sector, the President mentioned the construction of new Polyclinics, health centers and Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds have helped to bring quality healthcare to the doorsteps of our people. President Mahama also touched on the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, the Kasoa overhead bridge, the Airport hills/Burma Camp network of roads and the 37- El Wak-Trade fair road as well the massive investments in cocoa roads. He described his stay in office as a "rare honour and privilege" and thanked God for his grace, the good people of Ghana for the opportunity to serve and urged Ghanaians to cheer the President-elect on as he runs his portion of this relay for Ghana Source: Government of Ghana (Accra) This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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