MonitorsPublished on Mar 31, 2018
The latest developments from Africa.
Africa Monitor | Volume VII; Issue XLIX

The Continent

27 African states sign pact for free movement of people

Kenya is among 27 countries that have just signed a protocol allowing for free movement of people and the right to live and own land anywhere in Africa. It means Kenyans can live across Africa and enjoy the same status as if they were back home, opening doors for employment. The countries on 21 March signed the protocol to the treaty establishing the African economic community dubbed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) in Kigali, Rwanda. "The promise of free trade and free movement is prosperity for all Africans because we are prioritising the production of value-added goods and services that are made in Africa," Rwandan President Paul Kagame who is also the African Union chairman said. President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the 27 heads of state who signed the treaty. However, Burundi, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau and Eritrea did not sign the protocol. AfCTA targets to create the world's largest single market of 1.2 billion people and GDP of $3.4 trillion (Sh340 trillion). For businesses, it commits governments to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods produced within the continent and phase out the rest over time. Another 17 countries said they would ratify AfCTA partially without allowing for free trade but not movement and residency of people from other countries. Countries now have to ratify the CFTA agreement at national level within six months, that is, by September this year. Those that did not sign can also do so within the same period. Source: Daily Nation

Ethiopia, 43 countries sign African continental free trade agreement

Ethiopia and 43 other African countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in Kigali, Rwanda on 22 March. The agreement, which was signed during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly on AfCFTA, will set up a massive free trade area to improve regional integration and boost economic growth across the continent. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Ethiopia is among the 44 countries that signed the agreement. The agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, with 10 percent of "sensitive items" to be phased in later. It will also liberalise trade in services and might in the future include free movement of people and a single currency, it was learned. AfCFTA will have to be ratified by individual countries to boost intra-Africa trade, which stands at around 10 percent of all trade across the continent, by creating free trade zone. The agreement brings together 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over 2 trillion USD. Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Robots pose big threat to jobs in Africa, warn researchers

It could soon be cheaper to operate a factory of robots in the United States than employing manual labour in Africa. That’s the stark conclusion of a report from a London-based research institute, which warns that automation could have a devastating effect on developing economies unless governments invest urgently in digitalisation and skills training. The rhythmic sounds of the factory floor. At this textile plant in Rwanda, hundreds of workers sit side-by-side at sewing machines, churning out clothes that will be sold in stores across the world. Outsourcing production by using cheap labour in the developing world has been a hallmark of the global economy for decades. But technology could be about to turn that on its head. Research from the Overseas Development Institute focused on the example of furniture manufacturing in Africa. Karishma Banga co-authored the report. "In the next 15 to 20 years, robots in the US are actually going to become much cheaper than Kenyan labour. Particularly in the furniture manufacturing industry. So this means that around 2033, American companies will find it much more profitable to reshore production back. Which means essentially get all the jobs and production back from the developing countries to the US. And that obviously can have very significantly negative effects for jobs in Africa."

Outsourcing production by using cheap labour in the developing world has been a hallmark of the global economy for decades. But technology could be about to turn that on its head.

As robots are getting cheaper, she says, people are getting more expensive. "So the cost of a robot or the cost of a 3D printer, they’re declining at similar levels, around 6 percent annually. So that’s a significant decline. Whereas wages in developing countries are rising." There’s no doubting the challenges posed by automation to manual labour in developing countries — but some are fighting back. The Funkidz furniture factory in Kenya breaks with the traditional mold of production. Automated saws cut perfect templates using computer-aided designs, overseen by skilled programmers and operators. The investment is paying off, with rapid growth and expansion into Uganda and Rwanda. But Kenyan CEO Ciiru Waweru Waithaka says she can’t find the right employees. "We have machines that sit idle because we don't have skilled people. There are many people who need jobs, yes, we agree, but if they have no skills… I would love to employ you, but you need a skill, otherwise you cannot operate our machines. So we are urging all institutions, government, please let us take this skills gap as a crisis." That call is echoed by the ODI report authors — who urge African governments to use the current window of opportunity to build industrial capabilities and digital skills — before the jobs crunch hits. Source: Voice of America

Central Africa

Separatist conflict halts Cameroon-Nigeria business

Separatist violence in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon along the border with Nigeria have completely stalled trade between the two countries. Buses no longer ply the Bamenda-Enugu road corridor as attacks and kidnappings continue. About 70 men and women have assembled at Kandem, a village in southwestern Cameroon on the border with Nigeria to discuss what to do with their farm produce and how to get supplies from neighboring Nigeria. Five months ago, Kandem was a bustling market town along the $423-million African Development Bank-funded road linking Bamenda, Cameroon, with Enugu, Nigeria. Pierre Atemengue, who came from central Cameroon, opened a plantation in Kandem. He says constant conflict between Cameroon government troops and armed separatists fighting for the independence of the English speaking from the French speaking regions of Cameroon have paralysed business. He says 90 percent of the local farm produce has not been sold for the past five months. He says he has asked all men to store cocoa in their community warehouse, while the women make sure that perishable farm produce like plantains, fresh maize and vegetables are harvested only when buyers come to their villages. He says women have been asked to work in groups to be able to meet supply deadlines whenever demand will be high. Atemengue says goods imported from Nigeria are now difficult to come by, and when found are very expensive. VOA mounted a commercial motorcycle to visit abandoned businesses in the village. Rider Lionnel Mbung says the fighting has scared off the busloads of Nigerians that used to flood the village to buy farm produce and supply basic commodities, and that 80 percent of the youths in the village have fled the conflict. Lionnel says he braved the crisis and stayed, but is now out of business after the government of Cameroon banned motorcycles because armed separatists were using the bikes to attack the military and kidnap government workers.

Separatist violence in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon along the border with Nigeria have completely stalled trade between the two countries.

"Since the situation in Cameroon started, the bike business has dropped down, there is no way for us, things are not moving. They have passed orders that they do not want to see bikes, so we hide our bikes here, then we go to look for passengers because when we go there with our bikes, the police will catch us." Access to most villages along the border with Nigeria is by motorcycle. The ban on their use has also helped to paralyse business. Paul Atanga Nji, Cameroon minister of territorial administration who ordered the ban says the government will only reconsider its decision when peace returns and when an identification of the riders he has asked for is complete. "The population has complained time and again because most of them kidnap, kill, destroy. So we are asking them to put order in this profession," said Atanga Niji. Cameroon, with a population of about 23 million, depends on Nigeria for most basic commodities, and Nigeria's 160 million people count on Cameroon for rice, maize, tubers, plantain, cocoa and other farm produce. The unrest in Cameroon began in November, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the Northwest and Southwest regions, frustrated with having to work in French, took to the streets calling for reforms and greater autonomy. Over the past year, armed separatist groups have emerged demanding all-out independence for the two English-speaking regions. The government says at least 30 soldiers and police have been killed in recent clashes. Source: Voice of America

Cameroon military arrests Boko Haram fighters and accomplices

Cameroon's military has arrested several Boko Haram fighters and their 25 female accomplices who were attempting to supply food and weapons through Cameroon to the fighters in Nigeria. Most of the women say their husbands are fighters in Nigeria. Alban Toupo, commander of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, the Cameroon military unit fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the border town of Kolofata, said 31 people, including 25 women, were arrested while transporting ammunition, food, material to fabricate explosive devices, torches, drugs and medications to Nigeria in small quantities. The commander said the suspects at times involved their children in the smuggling, claiming that they were either going to visit relatives across the border in Nigeria or were simply going to sell food and buy basic commodities. He said after Cameroon military had killed fighters who were using force to transport food and military equipment through Cameroon villages to Nigeria, they could not believe women and children, at times accompanied by men, were carrying supplies to the terror group until they received a tip from the population. He said his troops had protected the women and children without knowing they were either fighters or accomplices. Alban said they were told the women recruited suicide bombers, planted landmines on border zones with Nigeria and served as informants for hostage takings between Cameroon border town of Kolofata and Nigeria. Kolofata has suffered from Boko Haram violence with frequent cross-border raids since fighting started four years ago. The town hosts several hundred Nigerian refugees as well as internally displaced persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to persistent fighting. Tchombai Ibrahi, the most senior Cameroon government official in Kolofata says the suspects have been helping the military in their investigations. He said they have embarked on a tour to educate the population not to collaborate and not to do business with the criminals who pretend to be farmers and business persons but end up terrorising villagers. Soldiers from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger, as part of the multi-national joint task force of the lake Chad Basin Commission, rolled back Boko Haram gains and announced the terrorist group was living its last moments last year, but the insurgency switched to terror attacks and remains a threat. The conflict that began in northeast Nigeria began eight years ago and has left at least 25,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Source: Voice of America

In Congo-Kinshasa, unresolved issues overshadow vital December poll

Jean-Pierre Kalamba waved his hand over a map of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African nation that has delayed elections for two years since the president, Joseph Kabila, refused to resign after his term ended in 2016. Kalamba, an election official, said the government is struggling to raise the $1.8 billion the electoral commission says it needs to run the next poll, set for December 23. The commission's budget goes through the legislature, controlled by Kabila's party — the same people the opposition accuses of delaying the elections. He added, mistrust between politicians is at fever pitch, nearly every step the commission takes is scrutinised and criticised. Kalamba said bogging down the process is that Congo is the size of Western Europe, has few paved roads, low literacy levels, and chronic insecurity. He said thousands of candidates are vying for a slice of power, and the 2011 ballot was 53 pages and weighed more than 300 grams. Anger against the current administration recently bubbled up in city streets, and the government's harsh response, which left at least six protesters dead, has further inflamed tensions. "We encourage the political process to be open to all and call for citizens to be allowed to assemble without fear of violence or arrest," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said earlier this year. But even with election officials saying they're confident they can hold the poll on time, it is likely to be complicated and contentious. Kabila won the 2011 poll, which was criticised by international observers for alleged rigging and violence. This time about eight million people are first-time voters. Young people have been a visible component of anti-Kabila protests, and in the capital, every young voter VOA encountered spoke of change. But Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy says it's confident of winning the youth vote. "It's a party that empowers youth, and it's a party that has a rather clear vision of the role youth should play in the development of our country," presidential aide Patrick Nkanga told VOA.

Opposition parties are gearing up to draw votes, but cynicism shines through their rhetoric.

About of half of Congo's population is Catholic, and the recent Church decision to throw its support behind anti-Kabila protests has ratcheted up tensions. The church has long provided services the state often fails to provide, like schools and medical care.Church leaders mediated a 2016 political agreement that called for Kabila's resignation and elections in late 2017. And so, Priest Come Tshamala said he is telling churchgoers Kabila needs to go. Parishioners have embraced the message. At Saint Francois de Sales parish, congregant Paul Buka says political leaders violated the people's trust by reneging on the church-mediated agreement, giving the faithful no recourse but to protest. But that has come at a price. At his parish, choir director Manu Bakutu said he watched as his friend, 24-year-old trainee nun Therese Kapangala, was shot by police and died on the street outside the church "in a pool of blood." Her death, he said, has turned her into a symbol of non-violent resistance. Opposition parties are gearing up to draw votes, but cynicism shines through their rhetoric. "We are the party of hope," Vital Kamerhe, leader of Union for the Congolese Nation told supporters at a Kinshasa rally. But he told VOA afterwards, that hope doesn't extend to faith that the poll will be fair.He noted the electoral commission's Korean-made electronic voting machines are plagued with malfunctions. Top opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi told VOA at his Kinshasa home, "The voting machines, for us, are cheating machines. These implements are designed to let the candidate who is chosen by Kabila or by the legislature to fabricate a fake majority like they did in 2011." Much of the drama also centers around Kabila's next move. Last month, the nation's communications minister told VOA's French service Kabila would not seek another term. Instead, Lambert Mende said Kabila will announce the name of his chosen successor in July. But it's that very style of top-down leadership the opposition says needs to end. Nkanga, the president's aide, says it won't play out like that. "The next president will be chosen by the people," he said."So we can't say who it might be, right now." But as Kalamba, the fatigued election official said, mistrust overshadows every step of the elections. When asked whether he thought Kabila might make an appearance on the 2018 ballot limits, Kalamba grew quiet and sighed. "No comment," he said. Source: Voice of America

Ellen DeGeneres to build Rwanda campus

Popular American TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is scheduled to visit Rwanda in June to kick off the building of a Gorilla research centre. The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, was a gift given to the TV host by her long-term partner, Portia De Rossi. The centre will be the permanent home in Rwanda for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The organisation has been extensively working to protect the endangered mountain gorillas for the past 50 years. During The Ellen DeGeneres Show, published on 23 March, the TV host said that she was looking forward to embarking on the project. "I am trying to build this campus in Rwanda to join the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. I can't wait. We are leaving in June and we are going to visit the site where we are going to build the campus and we are going see the gorillas. Just seeing them is going to make me very happy," DeGeneres said. During the show on 23 March, DeGeneres invited actress Sigourney Weaver, the actor of the award-winning movie Gorillas in the Mist. In the movie, Weaver played iconic conservationist Dian Fossey. She shared tips with DeGeneres who will visit the Gorillas during her stay in Rwanda. DeGeneres, who has been honoured for her work with animal conservation, said that she was in awe of conservationist Dian Fossey since she first saw her on the cover of the National Geographic. "I have been in love with animals since I was a little girl and especially the gorillas and all the animals in Africa that need protection but specifically, Dian Fossey for some reason touched me and I remember reading about her in the National Geographic," she said. Fossey was first on the cover of the National Geographic in January 1970. On her part, an emotional Weaver told DeGeneres that the foundation would make a significant difference not only to Rwanda but Africa as a whole. "This gift that Ellen is giving to Diana Fossey Foundation, to Africa, to Rwanda and the gorillas is going to be such a game changer. The brilliance and generosity of the gift absolutely overwhelms me," Weaver said. "Being with gorillas is the most exciting, transcending experience I have ever had. I have always loved animals but this is completely different. You are with your cousins; you are sort of with your family only that they are that much more wonderful. They don't make war, they make love, eat, play, they are just wonderful." Weaver won Best Actress in a drama for her work in the Gorillas in the Mist in 1988. Mirka Eikelschulte, a Dutch tourism enthusiast who has visited and made Rwanda her home told The New Times in an interview on 26 March that this is a big opportunity that would give the Dian Fossey Foundation the attention that it deserves. "I am very happy to hear this. Dian Fossey needs a more comprehensive approach in Rwanda. The activities around her are today too fragmented. There is a grave, there is a research centre and there is a hotel where she stayed. Those developing tourist packages should consider building some sort of theme day around all of this. Dian Fossey needs a storytelling approach so that tourists can follow her footsteps during the journey she took," Eikelschulte said. DeGeneres has won 30 Emmy's, 20 People's Choice Awards among other awards for her work and charitable efforts. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Source: The New Times

North Africa

Former French President still in police custody

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 21 March 2018 spent his second night in police custody after being picked up a day earlier for questioning over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Police are investigating alleged irregularities over the financing of Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign. French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine in November 2016 told the French news website Mediapart that between 2006 and 2007, he handed over three suitcases stuffed with 200 and 500 Euro bank notes to Sarkozy and Claude Guéant, his Chief of Staff. Police have questioned Sarkozy before, but denied any wrongdoing. Source: Cameroon Tribune

Credible, inclusive elections in Libya this year a top priority: UN

The United Nations' top official in Libya said holding credible and inclusive elections there by the end of this year is a top priority. "It is vital that before elections take place, we are certain they will be inclusive and their results accepted," Ghassan Salame told Security Council members on 21 March. "For this reason, I'm pleased the voter registration, which ended 10 days ago, proceeded with great success." Saleme said 1 million new voters have registered, raising the total of Libyans eligible to vote to 2.5 million. He said women and youth registered in large numbers, and he encouraged women, especially, to translate their numbers into more candidacies. "The Libyan people want their voices heard, and they want it through elections," said Saleme. But the fractured country is still struggling with several potential obstacles to credible presidential and parliamentary elections, including political rivalries, no permanent national constitution, a struggling economy, corruption, violence,and threats from the so-called Islamic State, al-Qaida and armed groups. "The political process must progress, as the status quo is untenable," said Saleme. Source: Voice of America

Ethiopia to export live animals to Egypt

Ethiopia has signed an agreement with an Egyptian company called Trust for Trading and Transport that will enable it export live animals to the North African country. The Ethiopian Live Animals' Exporters Association, Rimon General Trading PLC and Alfoz Private Limited Company signed the agreement with the Egyptian company. According to the agreement, 350,000 live animals will be exported to Egypt in a period of two years. Speaking on the occasion, Alebachew Nigussey, State Minister of Livestock and Fishery said the agreement is a step forward in enhancing trade ties between the two countries. He said the government will support companies engaged in this area, as it helps the country to properly utilise its huge resource.

Ethiopia has signed an agreement with an Egyptian company called Trust for Trading and Transport that will enable it export live animals to the North African country.

Speaking on the occasion the Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Abu Bakar Hefny said the accord is part of the agreement reached between the leaders of the two countries in Cairo earlier. He said agreement benefits both countries due to the fact that Egypt is a leading importer of live animals and Ethiopia has a huge livestock resource. Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Southern Africa

Rampant abuse in Zimbabwe tobacco farms, says Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Zimbabwean government to protect tobacco farmers and their families from abusive practices and child labour. HRW, ahead of the launch of its report on the malpractices, said tobacco growing families were vulnerable to nicotine poisoning and abuse despite them being major stakeholders in the production of the country's top foreign currency earner. "Zimbabwe is one of the top tobacco producers in the world; tobacco is the country's number one export commodity," said HRW in a statement last week. "Its production, however, is fraught with abusive practices such as hazardous child labour and the exposure of insufficiently informed tobacco farmers and workers to nicotine poisoning, a new Human Rights Watch report found. "Our research revealed an industry fuelled by impoverished small-scale farmers and vulnerable workers — including young child workers — who need greater protection from Zimbabwean authorities and tobacco companies. "Adults and kids who were interviewed for this report all reported symptoms consistent with nicotine poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. Almost no one we spoke to even knew what nicotine poisoning was, however." The report, authored by HRW researcher in the Children's Rights Division, Margaret Wurth, will be launched in Harare on 5 April. The international rights body claims labour rights violations were also common on commercial tobacco farms. "The report also found evidence of excessive working hours without overtime compensation on large-scale farms, and problems with wages, including having their wages withheld or delayed, and or being paid less than they were owed. Some of these farms supply big UK tobacco companies, among them BAT and Imperial," the statement read. The tobacco marketing season will be launched on 28 March and the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has revealed that it is expecting the sale of at least 200 million kilograms. Last year, the board revealed it sold about $550 million worth of tobacco. Source:

Zuma loses ANC support for looming corruption trial

The African National Congress (ANC) will not support former president Jacob Zuma in his upcoming corruption trial, but the party's members can — as long as they don't wear the party's regalia. This is a very different approach from Zuma's rape trial, as well as initial attempts to lay corruption charges against him, in which he received overwhelming support from ANC structures, with many calling the charges politically motivated. ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said the party noted the corruption charges against Zuma. Zuma is expected to be served with a summons this week to appear in the Durban high court on 6 April on the corruption charges. Addressing the media on 25 March evening, Magashule confirmed that Zuma attended the national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Cape Town this weekend as an ex-officio member for the first time. All former presidents of the party remain ex officio members. Magashule said several times during the briefing a person must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. "Allegations are allegations," he also said. "We are not protecting or defending anyone."

Zuma is expected to be served with a summons this week to appear in the Durban high court on 6 April on the corruption charges.

The meeting did however deal with corruption and state capture. "The NEC appreciates that, in the context of this campaign, some members and leaders of the movement may find themselves called to account by law-enforcement agencies, the legislatures and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry dealing with the matter of state of capture. "The ANC wishes to reiterate its principled approach that persons so implicated, should be presumed innocent until and unless proven otherwise," said Magashule. He noted that members of the ANC — in their individual capacity — and society have the right to express their sympathy and solidarity with anyone affected, and not through any structures of the movement including the ANC's leagues and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association. "Members involved in such actions are discouraged from displaying ANC's paraphernalia and thus creating the false impression that the ANC as organisation identifies with, or approve of, the misdemeanors of which any any member or leader maybe accused." He said the NEC welcomed the "concerted efforts" of the executive, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the legislatures, "to put the sad chapter of systemic corruption and state capture behind us." "We wish to emphasise that cadres of the movement, wherever they may be deployed, should see it as their responsibility to cooperate with these efforts; and not to seek to obstruct legitimate actions to eliminate these scourges." The NEC has already directed the ANC's national working committee to finalise terms of reference as well as setting up of the Integrity commission and to report to the next NEC meeting for finality. The meeting also discussed, among other things, the upcoming national elections and its provincial executive committees. Magashule denied the party discussed calling for early elections, but another source had suggested to News24 that Ramaphosa will call for elections to be held in May 2019. "The ANC is in the process of preparing its structures to participate fully in all aspects that lead to the success of the next general elections," he said. "The NEC also adopted the list of guidelines for selection of potential public representatives for the coming elections, and the branches will start nominations in due course." He said in order to avoid the internal competition accompanying the compilation of the lists, they plan to have their lists ready by September or October this year. "The NEC has resolved that a Special NEC shall be convened, following engagement with all provinces, to assess the feasibility of convening Regional and Provincial Conferences ahead of the forthcoming general elections." Magashule said the NEC noted the report of the task team led by Sbu Ndebele into matters relating to the 2017 Eastern Cape provincial conference, where violence broke out with members throwing chairs at each other. "A process of engagement with the province to find a political solution will be initiated and led by the SGO." Magashule said the party has its own internal mechanisms to deal with disputes, and they don't want these matters to end up in court. Source: News24WIRE

Gupta brothers get lifeline as Indian tax authorities grant extension

An accountant representing the Gupta brothers has secured a seven-day extension for them, after they failed to appear before Indian income tax authorities. The Indian publication Amar Ujala reported that the Guptas were handed the lifeline on 26 March after they failed to appear before Indian income tax (IT) authorities. The brothers were summonsed on charges of money laundering, fraudulently amassing properties and tax evasion. Satyanarayan Thakar, a deputy director at the IT authority, met with an unnamed Gupta accountant on 26 March. The accountant reportedly told officials he was ready to answer all their questions regarding the Guptas' tax affairs. But Thakar insisted that the brothers appear in person, necessitating the requested seven-day extension. he brothers are now expected to appear on 2 April. Requests made by the publication to both the Gupta brothers and their lawyers remained unanswered on 28 March. Earlier in March, the Times of India reported that Indian income tax (IT) authorities confiscated documents from several properties belonging to the family. The Guptas' used code names to hide the location of more than 120 properties purchased by the family since 2010. also reported that, in addition to the properties and documents, authorities also seized 300 blank cheques signed by the brothers, and bank accounts totalling about R1.7m. The cheques were in the possession of Anil Gupta, brother-in-law of the Gupta brothers. Another 12 individuals and entities linked to the Guptas were also under investigation. These included the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda, allegedly for transferring more than R98m to one of the Gupta brothers. Since the Hawks arrested several Gupta associates early in February, the brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh have apparently abandoned their business interests in South Africa. Their local affairs have been left in the hands of their lieutenants — Ronica Ragavan and Ashu Chawla. Both of them were among the accused that appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on 15 February. They and their co-accused are facing charges of fraud, theft, money laundering and corruption.

Another 12 individuals and entities linked to the Guptas were also under investigation. These included the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda, allegedly for transferring more than R98m to one of the Gupta brothers.

The whereabouts of the brothers are unknown. It is suspected that they are hiding in Dubai, after they previously informed Indian income tax authorities that they were out of the country. News24 previously reported that an affidavit by Atul Gupta was deposed in Dubai. At the same time, News24 reported that several of the Gupta family's local businesses had applied for business rescue. Earlier this week, the North Gauteng High Court heard argument that the business rescue practitioners acting on behalf of the companies should be removed. The applicant in the matter cited bias and a lack of independence by the rescue practitioners as the main thrust of its application. Source: News24WIRE

In Zambia, Nevers Mumba sentenced to three months imprisonment

Former Vice-President Nevers Mumba has been sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour for providing false information to a public officer. Mumba, a UPND sympathiser, has been acquitted on a charge of illegal trespass at ZNBC after he went to protest coverage of the post August 2016 elections. The former MMD president Nevers Mumba who still claims leadership of the former ruling party has been jailed three months for allegedly giving false information to a public officer at ZNBC. Magistrate David Simusamba found Mumba guilty and sentenced him to three months. Source: Zambia Reports

East Africa

Kenyatta-Odinga handshake shakes Kenya opposition unity

The mending of fences between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has exposed fissures within Kenya's opposition coalition — National Super Alliance. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Wiper Party, Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya, which came together to form Nasa before the August 2017 elections, have had internal rivalries based on grassroots support. This came to the fore last week when Nasa senators voted out Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula, as the minority leader. Efforts by Mr Odinga to persuade the senators to retain Mr. Wetangula failed. Instead, they initiated talks to thrash out the issue and report back to the principals in two weeks. Even as the Nasa parties fight, the memorandum of understanding between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta still remains secret. Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper, Musalia Mudavadi of ANC and Mr Wetang'ula seem to be feeling left out. According to ODM executive director Oduor Ongwen, the MoU was just a statement of intent and the details will come out once a special committee President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga formed finishes its work. "The initiative is a bold admission by our leaders that Kenyan nation is faced with a problem which, if not addressed, then prosperity, fairness and dignity shall remain illusory. The problem is political, fix it and all other things will fall in place," he said.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Wiper Party, Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya, which came together to form Nasa before the August 2017 elections, have had internal rivalries based on grassroots support.

Mr. Ongwen explained that the MoU is not about a coalition government between Nasa and Jubilee Party, but it is an initiative seeking to bring closure to the 2017 elections dispute after demands by Nasa for dialogue on electoral reforms and Jubilee's insistence that the only dialogue would be on development issues ended in a stalemate. Mr. Odinga's co-principals remain suspicious, terming the peace deal a betrayal. Mr. Wetang'ula has warned of a "messy" divorce, while Mr. Mudavadi said that the three remaining partners would consolidate and go it alone in Nasa if ODM joins government. After the handshake on 9 March, ODM has come out to show other partners that it is the bigger party and that it is ready to operate separately to regain its strength that it lost when it compromised some constituencies to accommodate the three partners. According to Mr. Mudavadi's spokesperson, Kibisu Kabatesi, ODM has moved out of Nasa and joined Jubilee. He said that Mr. Odinga's undertaking to work with the government is the same as recognising the presidency of President Kenyatta without the blessing of three other partners. "ODM should stop fooling Kenyans and admit that it is no longer in Nasa. It is time ODM became honest with Kenyans because you cannot work with government and want to remain in the opposition at the same time," said Mr. Kabatesi. Besides other parties accusing ODM of dominating National Assembly committee slots for the opposition, signs of a split came two weeks ago when some ODM MPs from the coast endorsed Deputy President William Ruto for the country's leadership in 2022. This was ground-breaking because Mr. Musyoka, Mr. Mudavadi and Mr. Wetangula are expecting Mr. Odinga to back any of them in the next elections. Mr. Kabatesi says that legally, Nasa can only be dissolved if three parties pull out. He maintained that Nasa will grow stronger because ODM was the impediment to the growth of the coalition because it was focusing on short- term gains other than the bigger picture set by the alliance. However, Otiende Amolo, one of the Nasa lawyers said that the alliance will remain intact because the principals who are the core of the "marriage" reiterated on 22 March that they will remain united. "You cannot talk about divorce when those in the marriage have said they will remain together," he said. Source: The East African

Car bombs explode in Mogadishu

Two car bombs in the Somali capital killed six people and injured at least five others on 25 March, witnesses said. One of the car bombs exploded at a key checkpoint in Mogadishu, killing four people and injuring at least four others, according to medical sources. Witnesses said the car, driven by a suicide bomber, rammed into the checkpoint at high speed after a soldier flagged it to stop. The soldier was killed immediately, according to witnesses. Three civilian bystanders were also killed, as well as the bomber. Ambulances rushed to the scene and evacuated the dead and wounded. The head of the Mogadishu ambulance service, Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Aden, confirmed the the number of casualties to VOA Somali. The explosion occurred in a heavily protected area of the city. The checkpoint leads to a number of key installations, including the Ministry of Interior, Parliament, and another checkpoint used by security forces to defend the presidential palace. Cars and motorbikes using the road were destroyed. The explosion also caused the destruction of several buildings at the Sayidka intersection. Earlier on 25 March, another car bomb exploded close to a security checkpoint outside Mogadishu, killing the bomber and injuring a police officer. Police said the car exploded during a chase. The 25 March explosions come just three days after another car bomb killed 17 people in Mogadishu and injured eight others on the city's busiest street. Source: Voice of America

Ugandan government suspends licenses of 23 radio stations for promoting witchcraft

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has suspended licenses of 23 radio stations for allegedly promoting witchcraft. According to the Commission's spokesperson, Ms Pamela Ankunda, the closed radio stations have been participating in promoting and advertising witchcraft content, aiding and abetting electronic fraud. The radio stations are: Metro FM, Nile FM, Kagadi Broadcasting Services, Emambya FM, Village Club FM, Radio Kitara, Packwach FM and Tropical FM. Others are Apex FM, Bamboo FM, Ssebo FM, Eastern Voice FM, Eye FM, Victoria FM, RFM, Kiira FM, Tiger FM, Greater African Radio, Dana FM, Gold FM, Hits FM, Dembe FM and Radio 5. Article 41 (1 a &b) of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013, mandates the commission to suspend and revoke operating license of any media house on the grounds of serious and repeated breach of the license conditions, and any fraud or intentional misrepresentation by the operator. Ms. Ankunda said the radio stations were warned before the closure that they were operating below the minimum broadcasting standards as set by the UCC. She said the radio stations will be allowed back on air only if they commit themselves against broadcasting any content linked to witchcraft or involve in any activity that in one way or the other aids and abets electronic fraud. Ms. Ankunda advised the radio stations to train their presenters some of the dos and don'ts of journalism so as to avoid the same fate in the future. Source: The Monitor

West Africa

In Nigeria, Dapchi girls arrive home, reunite with parents

The recently released schoolgirls are back in Dapchi to reunite with their family. The 105 schoolgirls arrived Dapchi at about 2:30 p.m. after leaving Abuja on the morning of 25 March. They met with President Muhammadu Buhari on 23 March after their release from captivity by Boko Haram last week. The girls are among the 111 girls kidnapped from their secondary school in Dapchi in February. The number of victims was first thought to be 110, but the information minister, Lai Mohammed, announced the revised figure in Lagos on 25 March. Six of the girls were not freed of which five are believed to have died, while a last one, Leah Sharibu, is still with the insurgents. The federal government has also initially said 104 schoolgirls were freed, but reversed it to 105 on 25 March. Upon arrival in Dapchi, Yobse State, on the afternoon of 25 March, they were taken to the assembly hall of their school, Government Girls Science and Technical college, Dapchi, where officials had to profile them before they are allowed to go home with their patents. One of the officials, Bashir Manzo, said the registration process was still going on at the time PREMIUM TIMES called. Source: Premium Times

Bill Gates' stance on Buhari's economic blueprint misunderstood: Minister

A Nigerian minister has claimed that the media misinterpreted what American billionaire and philanthropist, Bill Gates, said about Nigeria's economic plans during his visit to Nigeria. Mr Gates had at the special and expanded National Economic Council, held in Abuja on 22 March, said the present economic template being used by the Muhammadu Buhari government does not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians at present. The philanthropist and founder of Microsoft corporation said the Nigerian government's Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) identifies "investing in our people" as one of three "strategic objectives" but the "execution priorities" do not fully reflect people's needs, "prioritising physical capital over human capital." Mr Gates said the most important choice Nigerian leaders can make is "to maximise the country's greatest resource, which is the people." The investor also advised the Nigerian government to shifts its attention from oil to the agricultural sector so as to make it a steady and alternative means of revenue generation for the country. In response, the minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, in a statement on 23 March said the media misunderstood the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks and that he could not have faulted the Federal Government's ERGP. "It seems the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks was not well understood." A close reading of his statement shows that the point Mr. Gates was making was that the human capital development should have been explicitly indicated as part of the execution priorities of the ERGP. "This is not the same as saying that the ERGP does not address human capital development or that Mr. Gates faulted Nigeria's economic plans as some newspapers put it." Mr. Udoma said the ERGP prioritises human capital development, insisting that the priority areas of the ERGP have cross-cutting potentials which are all focused towards empowering the people and improving their general conditions. "The ERGP rests on the three pillars of restoring growth, investing in the Nigerian people and building a competitive economy." President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2017 unveiled a four-year ERGP (2017-2020) to help propel the country towards the path of development and growth. ERGP is an economic plan that builds on the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), a short term plan aimed at tackling corruption, improving security and rebuilding the nation's economy. ERGP seeks to build on the SIP by restoring growth, investing in people and build a global competitive economy. While some Nigerians remained optimistic that the plan will succeed, others said it is not comprehensive enough. Source: Premium Times

Over 80,000 'ghost officers' uncovered in Nigerian police force

The 371,800 figure often quoted as the number of members of the Nigeria Police Force in the country included no fewer than 80,115 'ghost officers', data obtained from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation by PREMIUM TIMES have uncovered. The data revealed that following the full integration of payrolls of the country's 42 police commands and formations into the federal government Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) last February, staff count stood at only 291,685, with gross salary of about N22.3 million. The extra number of officers, which the top hierarchy of the police failed to account for, have for several years been drawing billions in salaries and other benefits. At the meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Abuja on 21 March, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, presented an updated report on the implementation of the IPPIS. The minister confirmed that 511 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have been captured under the system, with staff count of about 607,843. Of this number, the minister said, 469 MDAs, with staff count of 316,158, and gross salary of N43.98 billion, were from MDAs whose payrolls have been captured under the IPPIS as at 20 March. Ms. Adeosun said this did not cover staff count of 291,685 from the 42 police commands and formations across the country captured on IPPIS platform as at February which accounted for a gross pay of over N22.3 billion. In addition, she said staff count of paramilitary agencies, namely Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Prison Service and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps under the IPPS to date stood at about 100,822, with a trial payroll cost of over N11.5 billion for the corresponding period. The figures, which the minister said have been sent for review and update against the April 2018 payroll involved a staff count almost the size of the extra ghost officers uncovered in the police payroll. The minister said government saved over N68 billion on personnel cost though the full deployment of the IPPS in the payrolls of MDAs in spite of increase in personnel, including the recent employment of fresh 10,000 officers by the Nigerian Police.

Until last February, the police authorities have always resisted government's proposal to bring its payroll under IPPIS, one of the public finance reform policies for personnel management and payroll system in support of manpower planning and budgeting.

Early last month, there were simultaneous protests in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Port Harcourt to kick against attempts to do this. The protesters had argued that the proposed integration of the police into the IPPIS system by government would work against the smooth operations of the Force, as the arrangement would delay the prompt payment of salaries of officers every month. But, government insisted on going ahead with its phased deployment of the scheme in all MDAs, which had the police, para-military agencies, military and federal tertiary institutions covered under Phase 3. Although the minister did not say how much government saved as a result of the removal of the over 80,000 additional names on the police payroll at the completion of the integration process in February, she however confirmed aggregate savings in personnel costs for all MDAs since 2007 was about N288 billion. She said with the completion of the exercise, the police payroll at the moment was not only efficient and accurate, police officers across the country now receive their salaries promptly on or before 20th of every month. PREMIUM TIMES is yet to confirm the minister's assertions. Prior to being brought under the IPPIS platform, PREMIUM TIMES learnt officers' have been complaining of unapproved deductions from their monthly pay, apart from the official tax obligations they have to bear along with contributions to other benefit schemes. PREMIUM TIMES was not able to independently confirm with the police authorities what the latest details were of their payrolls since being brought on the IPPIS platform. Police officers spoken with refused to comment as they referred the reporter to the Inspector-General of Police, who they said was the only official authorised to speak on such "sensitive issues." When contacted, police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood did not return calls or reply text messages sent to him. Source: Premium Times

Nigerian government reintroduces history in school curriculum

The federal government has ordered the reintroduction of history as an independent subject into the basic and junior secondary schools in the country. The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who gave the directive, at the launch of history curriculum and teacher's guide in Abuja, said it would allow students know the history of the country. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that history was buried under social studies curriculum, which had generated controversies among education stakeholders in the country. Adamu said the importance of history to nation building, national identity, patriotism and overall human development could not be overemphasised. According to him, one of the cardinal principles of the present administration is social and behavioural change, and history is key to its realisation. "The desire to realise this and national clamour for it to be back informed our decision to reintroduce the teaching of history in Nigeria's primary and junior secondary schools." The Federal Ministry of Education developed its strategic plan — Education for Change: A ministerial strategic plan (2016-2019) which contained several initiatives. This initiative was approved by the National Council on Education during its 61st ministerial session in September 2016. The minister added that following this development, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) was directed to carry out the disarticulation of history from social studies curriculum. He said the new history curriculum was designed to expose students to a body of knowledge that would enable them appreciate history as an instrument of national integration and nation building in the 21st century and beyond. He, however, was optimistic that the curriculum would equip the younger generations of Nigerians with the knowledge of the past and how the past relate to the present. In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, said a nation without history was a nation without a better future as it could not understand nor address the present situations. He said in order to move the nation forward and make it play its catalyst role as instrument for human and national development; there was need for the reintroduction of history in schools. Also, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, Executive Secretary, NERDC, said the drive for the reintroduction of history as a stand-alone subject at the basic education level was necessitated by the demand expressed by various stakeholders. Junaidu said the reintroduction would deepen positive understanding of our traditional values and identities as well as the similarities and differences between the various Nigerian people. Prof Junaidu added that it would also promote Nigerian and African history as a requisite for better understanding and appreciation of the challenges of globalisation. In a similar view, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) boss called for the full implementation of the content of the curriculum. Source: This Day
 This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.
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