MonitorsPublished on Apr 25, 2018
Africa Monitor | Volume VII; Issue XLX

The Continent

Tunisia urges scaled-up inter-African cooperation in health risks prevention

Tunisian Minister of Health Imed Hammami called for increased inter-African cooperation on April 3 in Tunis of the African Training Conference on Communication about Public Health Risks. In addition to capacity-building, African countries need to exchange experiences and coordinate efforts, Hammami said. This much-needed cooperation can by no means yield its fruits unless approaches to preventing and dealing with health risks are harmonious and based on appropriate communication, he further said. Anticipating risks of epidemics and planning action to undertake as part of a pre-defined strategy and on the basis of agreed procedures is essential, the Minister was quoted as saying in a National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (French: ONMNE) press release. Tunisia is committed to fully playing its role,in line with the international Health Regulations, and sharing its expertise, Hammami highlighted. Director-General of ONMNE Nissaf Ben Alaya said Tunisia is aware of the need for cooperation and coordination with other countries and regional and international institutions. The African Union (AU) Commission selected Tunisia to play host to this training conference. The five-day event was jointly organised by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Tunisia's ONMNE. Works centre around scientific communication, case studies, media training, communication strategy and crisis management in an epidemic case. Participants - representatives from more than 25 countries, will see their conceptual knowledge and operational practice sharpened. Source: Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis)

African migrants in limbo after Israel nixes resettlement plan

Uncertainty reigns for African migrants in Israel a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abandoned a plan to resolve the country’s refugee crisis, just one day after announcing it. In the agreement with the United Nations’ refugee agency, half of Israel’s roughly 32,500 African migrants would have remained in the country as legal residents, while the other half would have resettled in Western countries, with U.N. help. African migrants and immigration activists saw the new deal as a major breakthrough. The deal replaced a plan announced earlier this year to deport all African migrants living in Israel to African countries. Moran Mekamel, head of the Negev Refugees Center in southern Israel, told VOA that Netanyahu’s decision last week to cancel the agreement left tens of thousands of asylum-seekers and refugees in limbo. “It is the declaration of the politicians that it’s very clear for many of us that they don’t want refugees here, and they’re doing everything they can to make those people go,” Mekamel said. Israel’s High Court has given the government until April 10 to provide an update on the plan or outline a new approach. A report on April 8 in The Times of Israel said the government plans to announce a deal with Uganda to accept thousands of immigrants. But Mekamel doubts a solution is near. She said the plan announced April 2, to give some African migrants temporary status in Israel and to transfer others to the West, was a “win-win” that would also benefit Israeli citizens in south Tel Aviv, where many of the asylum-seekers live. But the plan generated immediate political backlash. The head of the nationalist Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, objected that its approval “would cause generations of crying and generate a precedent in Israel granting residency for illegal infiltrators,” the Associated Press reported him as tweeting. Monin Haroon is an asylum-seeker who fled a genocide in Darfur, Sudan, in 2012. He spent 18 months in Israel’s Saharonim Prison, where, he said, he participated in a hunger strike to demand better treatment. Haroon spent another year in the Holot migrant detention center. He was released in 2015, but since then has lived without any paperwork or rights. “As you can hear, they call us a cancer. They call us infiltrators. Even the prime minister said we are more dangerous than the terrorists in Sinai,” Haroon told VOA. Haroon said he expected better treatment in Israel and rejected the insinuation that he is a terrorist or a danger to Israeli society. “Everybody in this world knows what is going on in Darfur. There is a genocide and ethnic cleansing going on there,” he said. “We fled our country for this reason. And the Israelis claim this is a democratic and liberal country? To treat us like this?” The treatment of African asylum-seekers in Israel has a racial component, he added. “For me, they’re just asking us to be white, because there is no other reason at all. This is completely racist, what is going on here,” Haroon said. VOA contacted Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Keyes, for comment. In a brief phone response, Keyes referred to the prime minister’s recent Facebook post on the issue. Netanyahu, after reconsidering his resettlement plan, wrote that he had “decided to strive for a new agreement” concerning the “infiltrators,” according to a Google translation of an April 2 Facebook post in Hebrew. He also described himself as “attentive,” especially to “the people of South Tel Aviv.” Immigration to Israel is based on religion and ethnicity. According to the Law of Return, all Jewish people may return to Israel and become citizens. That process, called “aliyah,” also can be undertaken by those with Jewish ancestors or spouses, provided they complete a formal conversion course. According to The Times of Israel, about 29,000 people legally immigrated to Israel last year, including 1,312 Ethiopians. About 14,000 of the immigrants came from Russia and Ukraine. Halefom Sultan is an Eritrean asylum-seeker who now resides in Tel Aviv. He also spent time in Holot detention center. He said many thousands of Europeans live in Israel illegally, but only African asylum-seekers and migrants become targets. “This is like a policy based on race, because in this country there are more than 90,000 people who don’t have legal papers that come from Eastern European countries and other countries,” Sultan said. “There are a lot of people forced to leave their countries.” Last November, The Times of Israel reported that tens of thousands of people from Eastern Europe have overstayed their tourist visas and remained in the country as refugees or asylum-seekers since 2016. Source: Voice of America

Central Africa

Fugitive arrested in Cameroon was on Rwanda's most wanted list

Prosecution has said that a Genocide fugitive who was arrested on April 5 in Yaoundé, Cameroon was one of the most wanted masterminds of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Media reports on April 5 indicated that Philippe Hategekimana, alias Biguma, has been living under the name Philippe Manier since his naturalisation as a French citizen. Speaking to The New Times on April 5, the Spokesperson of the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), Faustin Nkusi refuted claims in the media that the suspect was arrested on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by French authorities. "The suspect in Cameroun has been on Rwanda's prosecution most wanted key perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi. He was indicted by Rwanda," he said. "An international arrest warrant was issued on 25th July 2017. Since then he has been on our wanted list. His arrest therefore, is a result of Rwanda's arrest warrant". According to Nkusi, Hategekimana was born in Rukundo, former Prefecture of Gikongoro. He is charged with two counts: Genocide, and crimes against humanity. A deputy commander of Gendermerie (police) in the current Nyanza and he was instrumental in massacres in the former communes of Nyabisindu, Ntyazo and Rusatira all in the former Butare prefecture. He also participated in killings in Murama and Kigoma in the former Gitarama prefecture, according to the Prosecution. "In complicity with a one Captain Francois Xavier Birikunzira, they manned roadblocks near Mwima and Rukari (the Kings Palace), deployed militias to killing grounds, supervised killings and participated in killings in different areas in Busasamana Sector," said Nkusi. In a separate interview, Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana appealed to Cameroonian authorities to see to it that the suspected genocidaire is brought to book, especially given the charges of Genocide he faces. "Cameroon has a duty to extradite this man to face justice in Rwanda and Rwanda's Prosecution has a duty to present this man before court," Mutangana said. As the country begins the 24th commemoration for Genocide against the Tutsi today, he Mutangana calls upon countries where genocide suspects are still hiding to extradite them to Rwanda or hold them to account for the crimes they committed. Source: The New Times

Angola gets USD 500 million from HSBC account in London

Angola has recouped the USD 500 million illegally transferred from the National Reserve Bank of Angola (BNA) to HSBC account in London, Finance Ministry has said. Angolan authorities are working on recouping a further 24.85 million Euros transferred into an account held by Mais Financial Services, it said in its note delivered to Angop on April 9. Angolan government thanks the British authorities and all those who have contributed in some way to the recouping of these resources. The Attorney General's Office (PGR) is handling the issue, in the light of the Law, "reads the note. The source quotes Mais Financial Services, a company managed by a person close to Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of Angola's former president, as having proposed the start-up of a USD 35 billion strategic investment fund for state projects and another that would place USD 300 million weekly in the local currency market. All operations would have been brokered by Mais Financial Services, which allegedly had the support by a top international banking syndicate. According to Finance Ministry, the promoters presented as a preceding condition the capitalisation of USD 1.5 billion by the Angolan authorities, plus a payment of 33 million Euros to set up the financing structures. Between July and August 2017, 24.8 million Euros were paid to Mais Financial Services to set up the financing operation. In August of that year USD 500 million were transferred to PerfectBit's, contracted entity by the promoters of the operation, allegedly to hold the funds to be structured. The PerfectBit manager, Jorge Guadens Pontes, was appointed to the position days before the transfer of the referred amounts, according to the note. The HSBC was asked to freeze the funds held in the account after the Finance Ministry conducted a due-diligence exercise, under the guidance of the head of State. The due-diligence exercise help discover that the PerfectBit was a dormant company. Source: Angola Press

Darfur camp closes as Chadian refugees return home

The Mukjar refugee camp in Central Darfur is set to close as the last camp residents returned to their home country, Chad, assisted by the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted the last refugees - amounting to more than 500 Chadians - to Chad on April 6. Mukjar camp hosted Chadian refugees for more than 10 years. The returnees received return packages and transportation to a reception center in eastern Chad, where UNHCR and the Chadian government will provide further assistance for their reintegration. UNHCR released a press statement today saying that the agency and COR are making the final arrangements to hand over the land and camp facilities to local authorities and the host community. In February this year more than 4,000 Chadian refugees from Mukjar and Um Shalaya camps in Central Darfur also returned with the help of UNHCR as conditions have become favourable for return to Chad, according to the refugee commission's office in Darfur. "Throughout the time I lived in this refugee camp, I had never lost hope that one day I will be able to return home," Eissa Abakar, a 44-year-old Chadian refugee, told UNHCR. He fled to Sudan 12 years ago after conflict broke out in his country. "I feel privileged that I can finally be able to return home with my family." Mukjar camp was established in 2006, after refugees fled to the area following a surge of hostilities between the government and opposition in Chad in 2006 and 2007. UNHCR, COR and the Swedish Save the Children provided refugees of the conflict with basic services alongside the host community and displaced Sudanese people. The refugee agency and the governments of Sudan and Chad signed an agreement in May 2017 to provide a legal framework for the voluntary return of Chadian refugees in Darfur. In December 2017, UNHCR began assisting refugees to return to Chad, and has since supported the voluntary repatriation of nearly 4,000 refugees from Um Shalaya and Mukjar camps. "UNHCR extends its appreciation to the Government of Sudan and residents of Darfur for welcoming and hosting the Chadian refugees for more than a decade," said UNHCR Representative, Noriko Yoshida, in the statement. Over 8,300 Chadian refugees were living in Sudan prior to the start of the voluntary return at the end of 2017. UNHCR continues to assist the voluntary return of the remaining refugees. Source: Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)

North Africa

Unsurprising second term for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

It has come as no surprise to anyone that Egyptian President Sisi has won a second term, with 97% of vote. Only about 40% of the votership went to the polls, despite threats of fines and blatant bribes by the president's government as he scrambled to give legitimacy to the elections. In a widely expected result, Sisi, who ran against only one candidate', Mousa Mostafa Mousa, after several other candidates quit the race, won more than 21 million votes, according to Egypt's National Election Authority. President Sisi thanked voters in a televised address and promised to work for all Egyptians, saying, "Those who renewed their trust in me and gave me their votes are no different from those who did otherwise." "Egypt is large enough for all Egyptians, so long as our differences of opinion do not adversely affect the nation," said Sisi, who has often insisted that the country's stability must come before the expansion of political freedoms. Sole opponent Mousa, who allegedly handed in his bid 15 minutes to the deadline, has been accused of being a false candidate, sanctioned by the regime to give the election a veneer of legitimacy. Amidst these suspicions, Mousa claimed that although he was a supporter of Sisi before he decided to run, his election campaign was genuine. "It is not my fault," Sisi said in a TV interview. "I swear to God, I wished there could have been more candidates for people to choose who they want. But they were not ready yet; there is no shame in this." Genuine or not, without him the president would have run unchallenged, given that other serious contenders had been run off by Sisi's government through what the opposition claimed was a strategy of intimidation or coercion, which the president denies. Fact is, however, that more than 1 million Egyptians, who would not vote for him but were afraid of the repercussions of staying away from the polls, spoiled their ballots. This is nearly twice the number of voters who chose pseudo candidate Moussa. This presidential race was the third since former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in the Arab Spring protests of 2011, throwing the country into political turmoil. The first was in June 2012, when Mohammed Morsy, political prisoner and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, became Egypt's first democratically elected president. His reign was short lived as, a year later, after violent crackdowns on protesters, Morsy was ousted in a military coup led by Sisi, the chief of the army at the time. The election result and absence of any meaningful competition between the two candidates harkened back to the yes-or-no referendums held by Egypt's autocratic leaders in the decades before the 2011 uprising raised hopes of democratic change. Thousands of Sisi supporters took to the streets in Cairo and other cities soon after the results were announced to celebrate the outcome, waving flags and dancing to patriotic songs. Lasheen Ibrahim, the head of the election commission, who announced the official results, told voters, "You proved your love for Egypt and that you were and still are behind your country. Your participation was not in response to either promises or threats, but rather motived only by your love for Egypt." According to the Economist, the celebrations were not a spontaneous outpouring of patriotic fervor. Apparently some were recruited by wealthy businessmen who advertised the gigs on Facebook: 150 Egyptian pounds (US$9) for a day's work. People were also manipulated into joining these staged celebrations by the efforts of such government officials as the governor of Beheira province in the Nile Delta, who promised to fix water and sewage systems in the districts that had the highest post-election turnout. Source: This is Africa (Hilversum)

Egypt dispatches medical aid to Yemen

Egypt on April 5 made preparations to dispatch urgent humanitarian aid supplies to the war-torn Yemen under the directives of President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Abdel Fattah El Sisi. In line with the president's instructions, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Minister of Defense and Military Production Sedki Sobhi issued orders for sending ten tons of medicines and medical supplies to Yemen. The aid, provided in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Population, is to be sent aboard an EgyptAir plane. The move mirrors continuing Egyptian support to the brotherly Yemeni people in their plight. Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

Military plane crashes in Algeria leaving hundreds dead

An Algerian military plane carrying crashed on April 11 shortly after take off, according to local media. The Iliushin-type military aircraft crashed near an air base in Boufarik, located about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers, the state-run Algerie Presse Service reported. Algerian emergency services said 257 people onboard were killed. The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the cause of the crash was unclear and that an investigation had been opened. It did not give a casualty toll. The plane was reportedly heading to Bechar, in the southwest of the country near the border with Morocco. Ennahar newspaper reported that 26 of those killed were members of the Polisario Front, an armed political movement seeking independence for the Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. Algeria is the chief backer of the Polisario Front, which Morocco accuses of setting up military posts in a UN-monitored buffer zone in the Western Sahara near the border with Algeria. Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita last week said Rabat would take whatever action necessary to defend Western Sahara and blamed Algeria for the multi-year conflict. Source: Deutsche Welle

Southern Africa

Smithfield farm miners sue Grace Mugabe for defamation

Former First Lady Grace Mugabe who is entangled in a fight over mining claims at Smithfield Farm in Mazowe is to be sued for defamation of character by the artisanal miners whom she has accused of stealing computers at her orphanage home in the district. According to directors of Mondo 4 Mine Claims' at the farm, Philip Makanya and Shepherd Muzvigo, "the former First Lady last week made a false report at Mazowe police station implicating them in the theft of 31 computers." Makanya and Muzvigo told journalists during a press conference in Harare on April 3 that police investigations revealed only eight computers were missing and the suspects had already been taken to court long back claiming one of them is out on bail and the other has been convicted serving a jail sentence. Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu last week made a statement saying investigations done showed Grace had lied about invasions at the farm by the small scale miners. The miners also claim Grace Mugabe has been interfering with their mining operations resulting in them losing an unspecified amount of money since 2014 when her son Russell Goreraza invaded the farm for mining purposes. "We are legal miners at the Smithfield Farm. Our concern is that Grace Mugabe has invaded the farm through her son Russell Goreraza. We are saddened by her lies that we stole from her orphanage home and abused children at her school. "We are law abiding citizens. A court interdict in January 2018 barred her from interfering with our mining activities at the mine but, Grace has disregarded this court order. "Today we are suing her for defamation of character. As we speak, our lawyers are busy preparing the papers to serve her before end of day or tomorrow (April 4) morning," said Makanya. Papers seen by New Zimbabwe show certificate of registration under Mines and Minerals Act belonging to the artisanal miners as well as the interim relief granted by the High Court barring Grace from interfering with mining operations. Makanya alleges that Grace is mining in Smithfield farm using her daughter (Bona)'s company name called Confidence Mining Pvt Ltd but fronting Goreraza. The small scale miners said they were informed the farm had been taken by the former First Lady leading to them approaching the courts. Source:

In Zimbabwe, anger as ED blows $2m on luxury jet amidst doctors' strike over wages

Opposition parties have reacted angrily to President Emmerson Mnangagwa's visit to China which, according to media reports, gobbled over $2, 3 million in private plane hire. Mnangagwa, who is on his first State visit to the Asian country since he took over power from his predecessor ,Robert Mugabe in November last year, reportedly blew over $2,3 million to charter a private Swiss luxury jet to Beijing. According to media reports, the local airliner, Air Zimbabwe had offered to take the presidential delegation to China for $1, 9 million but government opted for a luxurious private jet owned by Switzerland -based aviation management company, Comlux at a cost of $2, 3 million. MDC-T spokesperson, Tabitha Khumalo said President Mnangagwa should be impeached for abusing public funds. "It is very clear that Mnangagwa's policies and tendencies are similar if not worse than Mugabe. Surely, how can the government spend over $2, 3 million on a hired plane while people are dying in hospitals because the government cannot afford to pay doctors? This is evil and we want the President to be impeached for abusing public funds," said Khumalo. The Bulawayo East legislator said the government should have hired the less expensive Air Zimbabwe. "You cannot say Zimbabwe is open for business when leaders continue to shun their facilities in preference of those outside the country," she said. Zapu spokesperson, Ipithule Maphosa also echoed Khumalo's sentiments. "It is ironic that Mnangagwa blows such a huge amount of money in a country that had its public doctors on strike for a month. Teachers are also threatening to embark on a similar strike yet the president pulls a delegation of over 80 on a joyride to China. As if that is not enough, he hires state of the art plane for maximum comfort using almost dried up state coffers," fumed the Zapu spokesperson. Maphosa also accused Mnangagwa of excluding outside Harare business people from his trip where the President is expected to call for investment. "We are also getting reports that his selection of business people to China was exclusionary as he only took with him those from Harare leaving other parts of the country. This was the same approach that was used by Mugabe. Today it is only Lacoste supporters who are benefitting from state business opportunities, just like what Mugabe used to do before November 2017," added Maphosa. Economic Reform Assembly (ERA) president, Amos Dangwa accused the government of prioritising trivial issues. "This country is facing numerous and serious challenges such as cash shortages, unemployment and an ailing health sector. For a government which is in such a deep crisis to spend more than $2, 3 million on hiring a jet to go and beg for investment is ridiculous. This simply shows that there is something wrong with our priorities as a country," said Dangwa. According to media reports, the aircraft includes a private bedroom with en suite bathroom, office, dining and living room. The plane also includes rooms for entourage and staff. Source:

They will regret reinstating these charges, says Zuma

"One day they will wish continued". These were the words former president Jacob Zuma spoke when he addressed a sea of supporters, dressed in the African National Congress colours of green, gold, and black, outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on April 6 morning after his brief appearance. The proceedings got under way at 09:30 but was over after about 10 minutes. The case was postponed to June 8. Zuma is facing 16 charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received in connection with the controversial arms deal. Speaking in isiZulu to a large crowd gathered outside the court, Zuma defended his name and said it had been dragged through the mud. He said the case had been reinstated for political reasons. Zuma also pointed out that 13 years have passed since he last appeared in court for the same charges and blamed opposition parties for the case's return to court. Opposition parties turned to the courts because they had failed in Parliament, he told the crowd. "They don't say: 'There are allegations against Zuma.' They only say: 'Zuma is corrupt.'" Zuma thanked the crowd for supporting him, as they had previously. He claimed he was innocent, even though he was being treated like a criminal. "Our country's Constitution states that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. However, there are some people, even people whom I trusted, who have judged me as guilty already. The truth will be revealed in time." "Your presence here shows that you understand the Constitution and law that well." Zuma belted out Umshini Wam (Bring me my machine gun) before he left the court. Source: news24WIRE

Uproar over planned mine at Rhino sanctuary in Namibia

The Swartbooi Traditional Authority at Fransfontein is up in arms over planned mining involving Chinese nationals in cahoots with Namibians who have been offered shares in a 'sensitive' area of the //Huab Conservancy, which teems with rhino, once the mine is operational. According to Deputy Kaptein Essegiel /Uirab of the Swartbooi Traditional Authority, Chinese nationals numbering between three and five have reportedly been spotted in a sensitive area that is zoned by //Huab Conservancy, which is exclusively for the protection of endangered rhinos. "This area is zoned for rhinos for their safety and such wildlife was moved to the area a few years ago. Tourists visit this area for that purpose and the conservancy does not allow disturbance either from mining or hunting," /Uirab said. New Era has withheld the name of the farm because of concern over the safety of the rhinos. /Uirab says due to the sensitivity of the area no heavy machinery and explosions from dynamite are allowed in the area. Chinese nationals have been visiting the area since late last year while their Namibian partners have even pitched some tents. "Rhinos are living there but devious things are happening, as one traditional authority member has even partnered with the Chinese and they are there," maintained /Uirab. He said one traditional authority signed some documents allowing him and his partners to mine an unknown mineral in the highly sensitive area that shelters rhinos. Once mining starts, the Chinese have reportedly offered five percent of profits to //Huab Conservancy, while the Swartbooi Traditional Authority will receive 10 percent. Source: New Era

Shock as bank issues 1000 ten cent coins in withdrawals in Zimbabwe

Scores of bank depositors were left stunned in Mvurwi last week when a local CBZ branch allowed them to withdraw a maximum $100 each in 10 cent coins. This comes as the country continues to grapple with a liquidity crunch which started back in 2015 when US denominated notes started disappeared from the formal system while being traded at a premium on the black market. To ease the crisis, government, through the central bank, moved to introduce bond notes but kept the highest denomination at $5 in attempts to discourage the trading of the local note on the streets. This was to no avail as the bond note also quickly disappeared, leaving banks to issue 50 cent and $1 coins. But it would seem the higher denominated coins were also disappearing, something that saw a Mvurwi branch turn to issuing 10 cent pieces which amounted to a thousand for each one of those who were lucky to get $100 each on the day. "At the CBZ Mvurwi branch, each one of us was getting $100 in 10 cent coins," said a depositor who preferred to be identified only as Cornelius. "Bank staff said they could not help the situation as they were also receiving the money in those denominations from the Reserve Bank." The account holder said three of his workmates also received their in 10 cent coins on the same day. There are fears that if the situation remained that way, farmers in the agriculture rich area could find themselves soon queuing for coins while trying to withdraw thousands of dollars in their farming proceeds. Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya could not be reached for comment while Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa simply promised to investigate the matter before cutting his phone. However, addressing MPs in parliament recently, Chinamasa said recurrent cash shortages in the country were a product of an inefficient circulation of money in the formal system. "Even if the central bank governor were to pump billions, whether of bond notes or of US dollars, that money is withdrawn and it is never re-deposited in the banks," Chinamasa said then. "... The circulation is inefficient and you cannot run the economy that way. Now, when we inquire into the reasons, it is actually boiling down to lack of trust and confidence." Since the onset of the cash crisis, ordinary Zimbabweans often spend nights sleeping on city pavements in front of banking halls in attempts to secure front positions when banks open the next morning. Most often find themselves being allowed to withdraw amounts as little as $20 a day while incurring huge costs in cumulative bank withdrawal charges. Those not so lucky returned home empty handed. Unscrupulous bank managers have often been accused of selling scarce cash to street money changers while inconveniencing depositors. Source:

Winnie memorial: Young and old come to honour 'Queen' of South Africa

Crowds streamed into Orlando Stadium on April 11 morning as the official national memorial service for fallen struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela got underway. Most were dressed in African National Congress regalia, while high school pupils and members of various political parties were also among the crowds. Madikizela Mandela died in hospital on April 2 after a long illness. Mookho Shongwe, 62, told News24 she had come to honour a fellow church member who had supported her and several other women when they lost their husbands as a result of violence between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party in 1992. Shongwe, a Soweto resident, described Madikizela-Mandela as a "strong woman" who helped them. She said she and other women could not have buried their husbands if it were not for Madikizela-Mandela's help. "My spirit is hurt. I feel there was so much more she could have done, were it not for a brutal system," said Shongwe. For Jennifer Steyn, who was decked in ANC colours and a doek, remembering Madikizela-Mandela was about honouring the "queen" of SA. She was accompanied by her friend, Phumla Shongwe. "For me, she was a strong and powerful woman. I still feel she could have been president, but today I am just here to honour her and pay my respects," said Steyn. Shongwe echoed her sentiments, saying Madikizela-Mandela had sacrificed her whole life so SA could experience liberation. Thabang Khoza, 19, told News24 he had decided to skip school to honour a woman he had never met but whom he had heard about from family members and at school. "I heard Mandela went to prison and she kept on fighting for us to be free," said Khoza. Nonhlanhla Mdluli from Rockville in Soweto stood out in her red Economic Freedom Fighters doek in a sea of green, black and gold. She said she wasn't able to attend the red berets' memorial in the Free State but felt it was important to pay her respects to the woman known as "Mama Winnie". "She really fought for our rights. I came to honour this woman who fought for black empowerment," said Mdluli. Matric pupils from Orlando West High school said the liberation hero used to cast her vote at their school, which is located in Madikizela-Mandela's Soweto neighbourhood. Moleboheng Motswone, 17, said it was important for her to witness this moment. "We all came to celebrate the life of Mama Winnie," said Motswone. "I'm always sad when people say she didn't belong to the generation born during the 2000s we love her. She was also our mother," she added. Her friend, 17-year-old Nolwazi Duma, said the struggle hero would always remain an inspiration. Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Focus on Ethiopian dam as Nile water talks resume

Ethiopia has accused unnamed parties in the region of attempting to undermine the cooperation between the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) states. The claim came as the tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed in Khartoum. The talks' main thrust is the Ethiopian Renaissance dam, which downstream states fear could fundamentally interfere with the flow of the River Nile. The tripartite talks resume after two years of suspension due to disagreements between Egypt and Ethiopia. Ethiopian Irrigation minister Sileshi Bekele, addressing the media in Khartoum on April 3, accused "unnamed parties" of intentionally undermining the cooperation between the NBI countries. Egypt suspended its NBI membership in 2000 to protest the Entebbe agreement on the new Nile water quotas. "This meeting is taking place at critical juncture when the eastern Nile cooperation was deepening. We can say that the Nile water basin is advancing in addressing our common interests and underscoring our common future," the Ethiopian minister said. "This is not to say there are no challenges, there are efforts by many that are striving to undermine basin Nile cooperation, advancing the winner takes all propositions," Mr Bekele pointed out without giving more details. Sudanese Irrigation and Electricity minister Mutaz Miss said that the Eastern Nile Basin countries had agreed to reach the maximum joint benefits of the water sharing. The South Sudanese Irrigation minister, Ms Sophia Pal, called on Egypt to review its suspension of the NBI membership. "I would like on this occasion to appeal to our sisterly country Egypt to end its freezing of participation without any conditions, this will allow for a healthy dialogue and for forward thinking within the NBI," she urged.  Egypt insists on no alteration to the 1959 Nile water-sharing agreement. Source: The East African

Survey identifies additional mineral deposits in Ethiopia

Nine places with alluvial gold deposits have been identified in the country in over the last six months, according to The Ethiopian Herald. Geological Survey of Ethiopia, Public Relation Director, Tamiru Mersha said that the places are located in Tigray and Benishangul States. "Extraction process has already started in Benishangul sites," he said. According to him, a gemstone mineral is also found in the southern part of Ethiopia while four metallic minerals have been discovered in Shire, Tigray State. "In the last year (2016/2017), the agency has identified 21 mineral deposit places and they were analyzed. After the processes, they were transferred to concerned bodies through the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas," he added. The Director also mentioned that all the exploration programs are aligned with the strategic policy of the government and its effort to transform the economy to industry during the second Growth and Transformation Plan. The Geological Survey of Ethiopia carries out geological mapping and investigations related to minerals resources, oil and natural gas, hydro-geology and engineering. Its works are supported with well equipped laboratories capable of undertaking Geo-chemical analysis of solid and liquid samples, physical property testing, and photographic and mineralogical studies, according to the Director. Source: The Ethiopian Herald

Somali security seizes nearly US $ 10 million from UAE plane

Somali security officials said they have seized a large cache of money that arrived on April 8 at Mogadishu airport from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Two senior security officials told VOA Somali three suitcases containing $9.6 million have been put In storage in the central bank of Somalia pending an investigation. Another security official said Ambassador Mohammed Ahmed Othman Al Hammadi, UAE envoy to Mogadishu, was at the airport to receive the money. The official said Al Hammadi’s entourage tried to take the money out of the airport but were instructed by security forces to have the bags scanned. “The ambassador refused, walked back to the plane with three bags, and counterterrorism units confiscated the three bags,” said the officer who requested anonymity. The Royal Jet plane has since been released. Al Hammadi told VOA Somali the money was not intended for the UAE embassy. “The money is for the ministry of defense. It’s for the salary of the Somali soldiers,” he told VOA. He said the government knew in advance that the money was coming for the troops. The UAE has been training Somali soldiers in Mogadishu, as well as about 1,000 maritime police in the Puntland region. Somali officials argue the money was not intended for the Somali army. “The salary for the army is less than $1 million. This is almost $10 million,” the official said. “I’m certain that they have been informed not to bring money. The onus is on us to respond,” the official said. He added that an investigation will determine whether the money was brought in to “destabilize” the country. Relations between Somalia and the UAE have been frosty since last year when the government of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resisted pressure to cut ties with Qatar and took a neutral position on a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Last month, the Somali government rejected an agreement between the UAE’s Dubai World, Somaliland and Ethiopia over Berbera port, saying the deal violates the territorial integrity of Somalia.” Somali officials said a foreign country believed to be Saudi Arabia has agreed to mediate between Somalia and UAE. It is unclear if there were direct talks between the two countries. According to Somali diplomatic sources, late last month the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Al Hammadi and explained its position on the port agreement, as well as a separate military agreement between Somaliland and UAE to build a military base in Berbera. Source: Voice of America

Tanzania ranked highly in investment report

A new report has ranked Tanzania as among highly attractive investment destinations in Africa. This is because an anti-corruption campaign raised its status two places in 2017 from number seven in the previous two years ago, Africa's Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has reported. The 2017 ranking shows top ten countries for investing in Africa being Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, in descending order. "Our performance has largely been contributed by the fifth regime's corruption crackdown efforts and facilitating corporate registrations and licensing, thanks to President John Magufuli," reads the report in part. "Recent reforms on corruption have made the investment environment favourable," economics professor Samuel Wangwe said. "Public servants now serve businesses equally, attracting further investment considering that before the private sector had little backing from the government. This will increase foreign direct investment inflows." "The government is fixated on boosting domestic productivity and actively reducing Tanzania's import dependence to attain middle income status, which would further enhance its investment appeal," the report explains. Meanwhile, the continued opening up of Tanzania's capital market (debt and equity) has paved the way for portfolio investment, particularly for East Africa Community investors. In addition, the new laws that have been enacted to increase the state's share of mining profits are likely to cap future capital flows into Tanzania's mining sector, according to report. The new mining laws, which were fast-tracked through parliament, raise royalties' tax for gold, copper, silver and platinum exports to six percent from four percent. They also give the government the right to tear up and renegotiate contracts for natural resources and remove the right to international arbitration. However, Repoa strategic research director Abel Kinyondo is cautious. He suggests that the tax burden to investors be reduced, regulatory bodies harmonised and public-private partnerships (PPPs) strengthened. "The tax burden scares away investors because they spend a lot on tax compared to their returns on investments." Dr Kinyondo called for the creation of a one stop shopping centre to avoid investors moving to more than 10 regulatory bodies for service. Meanwhile, PPP needs to be worked on because right now its effect has not been fully reflected in the country, said Dr Kinyondo. "Still, PPP is not fully working. Most of tenders are carried out by government bodies than the private sector." He cited construction tenders, saying they were mostly being carried out by the Tanzania Building Agency. Recently, President John Magufuli reassured businesses that PPPs would be promoted. "We are also willing to continue providing a conducive environment for investment to make Tanzania the best place to invest in Africa." Source: The Citizen

West Africa

Buhari approves US $ 1 billion for purchase of arms

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country. This was revealed on April 4 by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, while speaking with journalists at the end of a security meeting chaired by the president. "Of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1 billion," he said. Mr. Dan Ali also said the April 4 meeting was a normal meeting of security agencies in the country. "As usual, we discussed the current activities that affected most of the states in the federation like Taraba, Zamfara and other states," he said. The minister also said the recent deployments to Zamfara and other neighbouring states of Sokoto and Katsina is expected take care of the security challenges in the area. "Of course, the strength of security personnel has increased including the Air Force additional quick response group, they have added enough manpower in that area," Mr.Dan Ali said. On Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi school girl still in captivity with Boko Haram, Mr. Dan-Ali said, "Well, we are making all available efforts to see that the girl is returned safely". Source: Premium Times

Police recover 10 bodies in Nigeria

The Police in Benue State on April 6 confirmed the recovery of more bodies totaling 10 from communities which came under gunmen's attack in Gwer West Local Government Area of the state. At least four communities of Mbapupuu, Mbapa, Mbachhphon and Enger all in Agagbe District of the local government had come under attack in the early hours of April 5. The State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, had earlier confirmed two persons killed by suspected bandits believed to have fled Zamfara State and other neighbouring countries at the wake of security offensives against them. Owoseni however said on April 6 that eight bodies were found in the bush around Tse-Adudu and Enger villages in addition to the two that were earlier removed from the same area. He said "They were believed to be victims of armed bandits, suspected to be cross-border insurgents or cattle rustlers. The Mobile Police Force Unit deployed in Naka general area, had in the course of their patrols encountered the same Insurgents." According to him, security operations in the affected areas and other communities in the state have been stepped up with reinforcement of the Police Special Forces on Counter Insurgency to curb the criminal activities of the armed marauders. Source: Daily Trust

NPC puts Nigerian population at 198m, seventh largest in the world

The National Population Commission (NPC) has put Nigeria's current population at 198 million people with urban population growing at an average annual growth rate of about 6.5 percent. Chairman of NPC, Mr. Eze Duruiheoma, stated this in New York while delivering Nigeria's statement on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration at the 51st Session of the Commission on Population and Development. Duruiheoma said: "Nigeria remains the most populous in Africa, the seventh globally with an estimated population of over 198 million. "The recent World Population Prospects report predicts that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world. "Over the last 50 years, the Nigeria's urban population has grown at an average annual growth rate of more than 6.5 per cent without commensurate increase in social amenities and infrastructure. "It grew substantially from 17.3 per cent in 1967 to 49.4 per cent of the country's total population in 2017. In addition, the 2014 World Urbanisation Prospects report, predicts that by 2050, most Nigerians - 70 per cent - will be residing in cities. "The 2010 human mobility survey report revealed that 23 per cent of the sampled population were of more females than males." In terms of demographics, he noted that the class of the population mostly engaged in urbanisation and migration were young people, adolescent girls and boys, women of child bearing age and the working age population. He said existing urbanisation trends, coupled with internally displaced persons (IDPs) in cities, pose critical challenges to securing sustainability in Nigerian urban centres, including efforts to make them smart and responsive to the human influx. "The Displacement Tracking Matrix Round XXI of January 2018 identified an estimated 1.7 million IDPs in over 321,580 households across six states of North-east Nigeria with 40 per cent residing in camp-like settings in urban areas plus 1.4 million returnees. "The number of IDPs represented a 4.5 per cent increase compared to the 1,702,680 identified in Round XX (Dec. 2017)." Duruiheoma said like in other developing countries, Nigerian cities host wide spread poverty, under-employment and unemployment at an average of 18.4 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2017 report. The NPC boss bemoaned the insecurity in the country and inadequate and inequitable healthcare services for adolescents and women of childbearing age. "Nigeria continues to commit to solving the challenges of insurgents in the North-east, which has induced a high number of IDPs. "We acknowledge that women, children and particularly the girl-child are often the most vulnerable in these displacements, and in this regard, we remain focused on the wellbeing of these vulnerable parts of our population. "We are committed to providing adequate healthcare services, reducing maternal mortality, rebuilding safe schools and empowering our women, ensuring no one is left behind in terms of achieving sustainable development," he added. Duruiheoma acknowledged that these challenges have adversely impacted on the quality of life and standards of living of the urban populace. According to him, Nigeria stays committed to the twin goals of the Habitat Agenda - adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanising world. Source: This Day
This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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