MonitorsPublished on May 01, 2018
Africa Monitor | Volume VII; Issue XLXI

The Continent

In Africa, 59 million children stunted, 10 million overweight: WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says no fewer than 59 million children in Africa are stunted while another 10 million are overweight. The UN health agency also warned that Africa's attempts to achieve health for all by 2030 could be threatened unless the continent address the twin challenges of under-nutrition and obesity. Under-nutrition occurs when people do not get enough to eat, resulting in conditions such as wasting, which is when a child becomes dangerously thin. On the other hand, people who are obese have body fat levels that may impair their health. The WHO Regional Office for Africa called these two issues "the double burden of malnutrition". Together with diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, they are leading to "catastrophic costs" for citizens, communities and national healthcare systems across the continent. The health experts at a WHO meeting in Nairobi, therefore, pressed for action to address the 'double burden' of malnutrition in Africa. "A 2016 study showed an estimated 59 million children in Africa were stunted, which is when a child is too short for their height: another condition caused by under-nutrition. "Additionally, 14 million children suffered from wasting, which the WHO Office said is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. "Meanwhile, 10 million Africans were overweight, which is nearly double the number from 2000," WHO said. The UN agency noted the rising cases of malnutrition problem, compared to a 2014 report, which estimated that five per cent of men and 15 per cent of women over 18-years-old were obese. Dr Felicitas Zawaira, Director of the Family and Reproductive Health Cluster at the WHO Regional Office, stressed the need for healthy diets among African children. "Improving nutrition sustainably requires consideration of how to produce, deliver, and ensure access to healthy diets and essential nutrients, not just greater quantities of food," Zawaira said. In 2015, Heads of State adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which seek to bring about a more just and equitable world for all people and the planet by 2030. SDG 3, which focuses on good health and well-being, calls for achieving universal health coverage by this deadline, among other targets. "Tackling all forms of malnutrition for the achievement of universal health coverage and the health-related SDGs requires remedial actions from multiple sectors and on many fronts," Zawaira stated. Such measures include implementing policies and action to control the marketing and consumption of unhealthy foods, or to promote consumption of healthy foods through taxation and subsidies. Source: VANGUARD

Trevor Noah, Mnangagwa named among TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and South African comedian Trevor Noah have been featured on TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People. The magazine paired guest contributors to write about each of the 100 people on the list. A fantastic storyteller, Trevor has always been a defier of rules, which he broke simply by being born in his native country. At The Daily Show, which he has truly globalised, Trevor seeks out comedians of color in every possible venue, no matter how small. He is determined to find the best talent representing the most diverse viewpoints. Trevor, who grew up biracial in apartheid South Africa, has the unique ability to tell truths that bring us together. He is uncannily skilled at holding up a mirror to whatever room he is in. Trevor is always reaching out: across cultures, continents and boundaries. He makes us laugh with each other and brings us that much closer to under­standing one another. The elation that greeted the end of Robert Mugabe's 37-year reign naturally enough transformed into hopes for his successor. And in his first 100 days as President, after replacing 37-year regime of Robert Mugabe , Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa spoke of re-engaging, forgiveness, democracy and unity. But though words matter, so does the survival of a system that destroyed the hopes and dreams of generations. For four decades, Zimbabwe's new President was the protégé of the dictator he eventually deposed. Mnangagwa says very little of his own volition. He waits for you to speak and only responds when absolutely necessary. As Mugabe learned, he is extremely patient, choosing his moments of response or retaliation carefully. Mugabe described him as a man who does not forgive or forget very easily. Maybe that's why for years, Mnangagwa has kept his liberation war nickname, the Crocodile. The undeniable paradox of Zimbabwe's moment of healing is that the doctor was once the butcher. Source: allafrica

North Africa

House approves 3-month state of emergency across Egypt

The House of Representatives has approved a presidential decree to impose a three-month state of emergency across Egypt. The three months already started on April 14 at 1.00 a.m., according to the decree. The state of emergency is declared in light of hazardous security conditions in the country. The House approved the decree after reviewing a report by the general committee on April 15. Under the decree, the Armed Forces and police should take whatever measures they see necessary to counter the threat of terrorism, maintain security across Egypt and protect public and private property, as well as civilian lives. Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

300 Cleopatra era artefacts displayed for first time at Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo is hosting a temporary exhibition of 300 artifacts from the era of Queen Cleopatra. The display's inauguration on 8/4/2018 was attended by Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany. The antiquities were excavated by a Dominican archaeological mission who has been operating in Egypt for about 10 years in the Taposiris Magna area in Alexandria. Anany hailed the exhibition as "unprecedented and distinguished". One of the most important pieces of the exhibition is a unique painting inscribed with hieroglyphic and demotic writing, reminiscent of the gifts given by Ptolemy the Fifth to the priests of the Isis Temple, said the Director General of the Egyptian Museum Sabah Abdel Razek. Head of the Dominican mission Kathleen Martinez said Taposiris Magna was a vital location for Queen Cleopatra as it included statues of goddess Isis. Coins and paintings with many inscriptions dating back to the era of Cleopatra were found in the site, she said. The exhibition also includes some distinctive pieces, including a bronze piece in the form of a fly that was dedicated by the king of Ptolemy to a soldier due to his bravery and dedication in battle, and a number of bronze coins inscribed with Isis on the front, and Cleopatra's name on the back. Martinez said the discovered pieces so far are a reminder that there is still much to be discovered about the mystery of Cleopatra VII rule as well as the mystery surrounding the burial of many Ptolemaic rulers of her predecessors. The expedition also found during excavations a large cemetery outside the building of the temple dating back to the Greek Ptolemaic period. Mummies covered with gold were found in the coffins at the cemetery with their heads looking towards the temple as if an important person was buried in the temple. Martinez believes that Cleopatra and Mark Antonio were buried inside the temple of Isis and Osiris in the area of Taposiris Magna, about 45 km west of Alexandria, due to the religious and political importance of the temple. After the death of Alexander the Great, who invaded Egypt in 332 BC and founded the city of Alexandria, the Macedonian state in the Ptolemaic era was established, according to Martinez. Over the course of about 300 years of Ptolemaic rule of Egypt, Egypt flourished culturally and mixed ancient Egyptian and Greek art, religions and languages. Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

Cairo, Moscow discuss Syrian crisis, Palestinian-Israeli settlement

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov discussed with Egyptian Ambassador in Moscow Ehab Nasr the Syrian crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli settlement issues, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 18/4/2018. Bogdanov and Nasr also exchanged views on the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa taking into consideration the outcome of the latest Arab Summit held in Saudi Arabia, it added. Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

European nations urged to stop Libya's trafficking gangs

European countries need to do more to stop illegal trade in Libya in fuel and inflatable boats which is helping human traffickers with deadly results, according to a senior United Nations refugee agency official. Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said private boat operators with flags registered in Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) nations were illegally buying fuel from trafficking gangs. He said other countries were failing to enforce a European Union ruling from last year to limit the sale of inflatable boats into Libya, with these "products of death" bought from China and exported through several OSCE nations. Traffickers and smugglers have used overloaded, flimsy inflatable boats to ship refugees and migrants fleeing conflict in Africa and poverty in Asia across the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe with thousands dying on route. Cochetel said it was "criminal" that this illegal trade had increased in the past two or three years and the 57 member states of the OSCE were not doing more to stop this. "Private boats registered with OSCE countries are docking in Libya and buying illegal (fuel) from the same militias involved in the trafficking of human beings," Cochetel told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at an OSCE anti-trafficking event. "Countries can follow the money and stop this but no one is doing enough." Smuggling networks have flourished amid the political turmoil and armed conflict following Libya's 2011 uprising, with groups often profiting from multiple types of smuggling to Europe, from fuel and weapons to drugs and migrants. Libya is the main departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea, with more than 600,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy over four years and thousands dying. The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration (IOM) this month said 559 people had died so far this year as 18,575 migrants entered Europe by sea, compared to more than 1,000 deaths at the same time last year among nearly 44,000 migrants. Mark Micallef, a researcher from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, said Europe could do more to stop illegal activity by combining efforts and intelligence. "These syndicates have a finger in many different forms of smuggling and trafficking as for them it's one thing - money," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. "There is an organised crime problem in Libya - a weak state with weak law and order - and it makes no sense to compartmentalise these crimes and not address them together." He said action so far - including Italian prosecutions and U.S. sanctions - had not created a sufficient disincentive. Micallef said a European Union naval mission, Operation Sophia, deployed to combat smugglers in the Mediterranean should also be tasked to seize ships illegally smuggling oil products. The calls come after Libya's National Oil Corporation this month said it was considering using a chemical marking system to help trace smuggled oil products as up to 40 percent of fuel refined in Libya or imported is stolen or smuggled. Cochetel told the OSCE's 18th Alliance Against Trafficking in Persons conference that countries needed to stop playing politics and take action to stop the global trade in humans estimated to be worth $150 billion a year. "You can freeze their assets," he said. "Only then will you stop the activities of human traffickers." Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Southern Africa

South Africa #bus-strike - Taxis bracing for busy day as bus drivers go on strike

Thousands of commuters will wake up on April 18 to the nationwide bus strike that is set to kick off at 05:30 while taxi and rail operators are bracing for crowds and long queues. Nationwide bus services such as MyCiTi in Cape Town, Putco, Rea Vaya and Gautrain bus service in Gauteng and Algoa Bus Company in the Port Elizabeth area are among those whose services will be suspended. Others include Greyhound, Buscor and Mphakathi in Mpumalanga, Bojanala in the North West, Mayibuye in East London, Go George in George, Areyeng in Tshwane and Lowveld Bus Company in Limpopo. Bus drivers are demanding better pay and working hours. The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) of SA, which has members in the bus sector, said they had rejected a 7% increase and were demanding 12%. Other demands included a subsistence allowance for drivers who did doing long distance travel, and were forced to sleep out. "Numsa wants to inform the public that the decision to embark on a strike was not taken lightly. In fact, we took this decision as a last resort," said the union's general secretary Irvin Jim. He urged bosses to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible for a quick settlement. "Obviously our taxi ranks are going to be packed," said Central Unity Taxi Association (CUTA) chairperson Ernest Stofile. While having no beef with the bus drivers' strike, CUTA is expecting April 18 to be very busy, and will start operations earlier than usual at 04:00. However, Stofile said taxi owners were bound by very strict route permits so they may not go off-route for commuters. Going off-route would lead to permits being revoked, so there are areas where they will not be able to operate. Taxis ask for bus lanes to be kept open for them For example, there is no direct legally permitted minibus taxi route between Table View, north of Cape Town, and the CBD, he said. This is due to agreements that set in place the Integrated Rapid Transport system which includes the MyCiTi bus, whose drivers will also be on strike. Instead, to travel to Cape Town CBD for work by minibus taxi, Table View residents will have to catch a taxi to the Joe Slovo taxi rank, and then change taxis to catch a taxi into the CBD. The return journey is done in reverse. Stofile said it would be a great help to taxi drivers if private vehicles kept the right-hand lane of the N2 open for them for ferrying commuters to work and back. This lane is usually reserved for buses and taxis during peak hour. JP Smith, member of the mayoral committee for safety and security and social services for the City of Cape Town, urged drivers of private vehicles to obey the law in this regard. "I have no clue how I am going to get into town tomorrow," said one student at the MyCiTi Civic Centre terminus in Cape Town. "There are no taxis in my area, so I will have to walk quite far to get to an area where there are taxis," he added. "I just don't know what I am going to do." A woman waiting for a bus at the Golden Arrow bus station in Cape Town, works in a tuck shop, and said that her boss told her "safety first" regarding the bus strike, and gave her the option of staying at home. "So I will probably stay at home," said the woman who was not sure if she would get her pay for the day of work she would probably miss. She does not live near a rail route, but Metrorail said it would monitor the situation and extend service times where possible. The vendors who rely on passing trade at the Golden Arrow bus station said they would probably also stay at home for the day as a precaution. A cellphone repairman said he would make the call on April 18 morning whether it would be safe for him to go into work next to the bus station. "I will just wake up and decide," he said. Meanwhile talks to resolve the bus drivers' pay dispute could start at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) as soon as April 19. "Unfortunately we were not able to stop the strike. But we hope to start at the CCMA on April 19," said Gary Wilson, secretary general of the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council on April 17 afternoon. Comment was not immediately available from the CCMA, but South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson Zanele Sabela said the union had just received the news that the CCMA would intervene. Source: news24WIRE

Zimbabwe Government fires all striking nurses

Government has, with immediate effect, fired all striking nurses after they refused to return to work even though the employer acceded to their demands and availed over $17 million. President Mnangagwa has endorsed the dismissal to ensure new people were immediately engaged to save the lives of patients. The Health Services Board (HSB) has been instructed to speedily employ jobless trained nurses. The HSB has also been directed to recall retired nurses. In a statement on April 17, Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), in his capacity as the supervisor of the Social Services Cluster, said the behaviour by the nurses was politically-motivated. "Against a background of a series of meetings involving Government, the Health Services Board and the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA), which were meant to resolve the industrial action by nursing staff in the public health sector and the subsequent decision by Government on April 17 to accede to the demands made by the striking nurses, Government regrets to note that the industrial action in this essential service sector has persisted," said VP Chiwenga. He added: "What makes the whole action (by nurses) both deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that as agreed yesterday (April 17), Government released and transferred a sum of $17 114 446 into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for on-payment to the striking nurses. "While this demonstrated good faith on the part of Government, the prompt transfers which have been effected against demonstrable economic challenges facing our nation has not, quite surprisingly, persuaded the striking nurses to go back to their work stations in the interest of saving lives and helping hapless patients placed under their care." VP Chiwenga said Government "now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated" and "as going beyond concerns of conditions of service and worker welfare". "Accordingly, Government has decided, in the interest of patients and of saving lives, to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect," he said. "Further, Government has instructed the Health Services Board to speedily engage, as appropriate, all unemployed, but trained nurses in the country. It has also authorised the board to recall retired nursing staff into service." The funds originally released to meet the demands of the striking nurses will now be re-directed and allocated towards meeting the costs of effecting the new directive and arrangement, which takes immediate effect. "In the meantime, Government pays tribute to all nurses who have loyally remained at work and to those from the ranks of the striking nurses who have heeded its call for them to return to work," said VP Chiwenga. "Their commitment to duty and patients, both pointing to a deep regard for life as required by their professional oath, is noted and much appreciated." Government has appealed to people visiting public health institutions to be patient while services are being restored. It has urged Zimbabweans to practise good hygiene at home and in public places in view of sporadic cases of cholera reported in parts of the country. The decision by Government to dismiss the striking nurses followed a series of meetings with them. On April 16, ZINA met the HSB and Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and matters were escalated as they met VP Chiwenga. It was at that meeting that an agreement was reached through the release of the $17 114 446 yesterday into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to take care of all the issues raised by ZINA. The agreement was that ZINA would get all its members back to work, but the nurses still did not report for duty. VP Chiwenga then called for a second meeting yesterday to find out what was happening. The meeting was attended by Minister Parirenyatwa, officials from the Ministry of Finance and the HSB. The officials from the Ministry of Finance confirmed that $17 114 446 had been transferred into the Ministry of Health and Child Care account and $4 million had by that time been transferred into the accounts of the striking nurses. Minister Parirenyatwa reported that the nurses had not reported back for work. It was after the update that it was realised the nurses were out for a showdown with the State. Three recommendations were then made - to dismiss all the striking nurses, recruit all qualified, but unemployed nurses and recall retired nurses. The recommendations were taken to President Mnangagwa, who met VP Chiwenga, Minister Parirenyatwa, the HSB and officials from the Ministry of Finance. Endorsing the recommendations, President Mnangagwa said: "Government has done everything to comply with the demands of the striking nurses and the striking nurses have done everything to defy the directive by Government. This leaves us with no option, but to dismiss them." Source: The Herald

ED declares row with Britain over

President Mnangagwa has declared over the more than two decades-long quarrel with the United Kingdom over, stressing his administration prefers dialogue with all nations in place of acrimony. He said his re-engagement policy thrust was succeeding as Zimbabwe had managed to attract investment commitments of nearly $11 billion in the past four months. President Mnangagwa said this yesterday while addressing Johane Masowe YeChishanu Vadzidzi VaJesu Church pilgrims from across Africa at their Madziva Shrine, Mashonaland Central Province. President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe could not continue living in isolation and had thus managed to thaw relations with most Western countries, adding the bilateral dispute with Britain was now over. "We have opened our doors to old and new friends. We cannot continue living in isolation. We need foreign investment, as well as those countries' technical expertise," President Mnangagwa said. "Our quarrel with Britain is over. It was hinged on the land reform. We distributed our own land here. The land did not belong to the British, but to us Zimbabweans. So far, I have received three envoys from Britain, while we have had delegations from Western countries paying courtesy calls on us," said President Mnangagwa. The Head of State and Government said it was now time to address economic challenges affecting the nation. The President commented on the recent industrial action by nurses at public health institutions which he said was callous as it risked patients' lives. He said the nurses were fired after they spurned Government's offer although they had now reapplied for re-engagement. "I think you are aware of the recent nurses' strike where they chose to sacrifice people's lives for selfish reasons. We engaged them in dialogue, but they opted to sleep at their respective homes," said the President. "We responded by firing them. The decision to fire them created 2 000 jobs for qualified nurses who were not employed. However, most of them have since reapplied and are now back at work. They should respect the sanctity of human life," President Mnangagwa said. He added: "Nyika nedunhu rimwe nerimwe rine vene varo, hazvirewi kuti vaendakupi. Hatingobvumi kuita vada vada. We should have dialogue in everything. I am a listening President and we will be there to address people's concerns and grievances and not to resort to uncalled for protests." President Mnangagwa said more countries, including investors, were warming up to Zimbabwe. "We have managed to attract foreign investment commitments worth about $11 billion as of yesterday (April 24) during the past four months. This is well above what we have been attracting over the past 18 years where we were viewed as a pariah State," the President said. "Companies are expanding, while new ones are opening. We need to address the mismatch between imports and exports as we are spending more money in bringing in imports into the country," he said. "Our nation should prosper, while our children attend school. We should continue with our programmes like Command Agriculture, which ensure enough food for the nation," he said. President Mnangagwa continued: "We want to continue harvesting water for agricultural purposes, while we urge you to venture into chicken-rearing projects. There is demand for our fruits and chickens in China and we should tap into that market to turn around our economic fortunes," he said. He pledged to avail a farm to the church to help it produce for its membership. "We will ensure a farm is available for you. We will also support you in building more schools. We will also ensure that all teachers employed in your schools are on the Government payroll. The legacy of your great church should live forever and ever," said President Mnangagwa. Source: The Herald

East Africa

In Tanzania, 15 killed as heavy rains wreak havoc across the country

At least 15 people have died in various parts of the country following heavy rains which entered their third day yesterday. At least 250 houses in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Arusha were destroyed in the downpours, and the number looked set to go up as authorities continued to carry out a countrywide assessment. The Tanzania Metrological Agency (TMA) forecast that rains would continue to pound Zanzibar and the Tanzania Mainland regions of Dar es Salaam, Coast, Tanga, Mtwara, Lindi and Morogoro until April 19.The rains, which TMA warned last week would be above-average, have also damaged roads and associated infrastructure in many areas across the country. In Dar es Salaam, police confirmed yesterday that at least nine people had died, while in Tabora the death toll stood at three. In Arusha, two people were killed, while one died in Manyara. "An assessment conducted using helicopters has established that there is serious damage to infrastructure. So far, nine people have died, while at least six have been injured after a wall fell on them," Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa said. He added that police were still working to establish the exact number of houses destroyed by floods and people rendered homeless. However, area councillor Eliasa Mtalawanje told The Citizen that ove r 100 families had fled their homes in Mtoni Kijichi alone since it started to rain continuously in the city on April 14 evening. Tabora Regional Police Commander Wilbrod Mutafungwa said at least three people, including two children aged four, died in Nzega Disrict when a wall collapsed on them as they slept on April 14. He also said that roads linking Kaliua and Kigoma and Tabora and Mpanda had been badly affected by flooding. In Arusha, at least two people died and 50 houses were damaged as heavy rains lashed the northern city for two consecutive days. The acting regional police boss, Mr Yusuf Ilembo, said police were still assessing the damage in various parts of the region. The Citizen witnessed serious damage to houses and roads in the city's Murieti, Unga Ltd, Sakina, Mushono and Mianzini areas.In Manyara Region, a women died after she was swept away by raging floodwaters. Her body was recovered yesterday morning. In Zanzibar, at least 120 houses were destroyed, and the Disaster Commission acting director, Mr Makame Khatib Makame, said the actual number could be much higher as they information they had was based on a preliminary assessment. He said the worst affected areas were Amani kwa Wazee, Daraja Bovu, Sebleni, Mwanakwerekwe, Fuoni and Kibonde Mzungu. The Fuoni and Mwanakwerekwe roads have been closed due to flooding. They are currently impassable and will be reopened only after we are satisfied that they are safe to be used," he said. Coast Regional Police Commander Jonathan Shana said no death had been reported in the region, but a section of the road linking Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam had been badly damaged.In Tanga, the regional police boss, Mr Edward Bukombe, also said no death had been reported so far. Source: The Citizen

Darfur rebels claim deadly attack on Sudanese army

The rebel forces led by Abdelwahid El Nur claimed the killing of 27 Sudanese soldiers in Jebel Marra on 18 April evening. The statement by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) announced that the clashes took place in Torong Tura. "After their defeat the government forces burned several villages, including Boli and Arua, on 19 April morning," the statement read. The rebels claim that the Sudanese army burned property of residents in the process, "causing the displacement of hundreds of them. They are living in the open in a difficult humanitarian situation." El Nur has refrained from joining informal talks about the resumption of peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and two of Sudan's main armed opposition groups, the SLM-MM and JEM. Last week, consultations about the continuation of the peace process between the parties started in the German capital. The informal talks collapsed, for which both sides have started to blame each other. End March and early April, government forces attacked the areas of Sawani, Rokona, and Libei in East Jebel Marra. The areas are the last strongholds of the SLM-AW. The area of Libei is now accommodating more than 50,000 displaced who have fled the military confrontations and militia attacks on their villages. Activists told this station earlier that the villagers are still living in the open or hiding in caves after their villages burned to the ground. Source: Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)

President Kenyatta says gay rights 'of no importance' in Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said gay rights is not a burning issue for Kenya at the moment. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, President Kenyatta reiterated country's stance on homosexuality saying that it goes against cultural beliefs of majority of Kenyans. The President said same-sex relations is not an issue of human rights, but rather of "our own base as a culture". "I won't engage in a subject that is of no importance to the people of Kenya. This is not an issue of human rights, this is an issue of our own base as a culture, as a people regardless of which community you come from," President Kenyatta said. Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya. Ms Amanpour pressed the President about his personal opinion on the issue. "This is not about Uhuru Kenyatta saying yes or no, this is an issue of the people of Kenya themselves who have bestowed upon themselves a Constitution after several years of clearly stating that this is not acceptable and is not a subject they are willing to engage in at this time and moment," he said. "This is a global issue. You don't think the idea of their privacy, equality and rights is important?," Ms Amanpour asked the President. Mr Kenyatta replied: "It is important to them where they are. It's not important to me as the leader of 49 million Kenyans. I represent that which our people desire us to believe. "In years to come, after I am done being President, maybe our society will reach a state where that is an issues that people are willing to openly discuss." This is not the first time that the President has dismissed gay rights as a non-issue in public. During a visit to Kenya in 2015, Barack Obama, the then US president, directly challenged Mr Kenyatta, on the need for equality for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, suggesting that "bad things happen" when countries do not accept their citizens' right to be homosexual. Mr Kenyatta bluntly shut down Mr Obama's discussion on gay rights terming it "a non-issue" and that Kenya is not keen on embracing homosexuality. "We share a lot of things but gay issues are not among them... We cannot impose on people what they don't accept," Mr Kenyatta said. At the moment, Mr Kenyatta said, Kenya has trained its eyes on boosting trade, health, democracy, security, women and youth empowerment, not gay rights. Source: Daily Nation

Trade war brews as Uganda, Tanzania restrict Kenyan products

A fresh round of trade wars is simmering in East Africa after Tanzania and Uganda imposed taxes on Kenya made confectionery products like chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and sweets citing use of imported industrial sugar in the goods. The two states have rejected certificates of origin issued by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and opted to levy 25 per cent import duty on Kenyan confectioneries. Acceptance of the certificate-- a document showing where a good has originated so as to determine the import duty chargeable -- guarantees Kenyan goods tax-free entry into Uganda and Tanzania. The East Africa Community common market is made up of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi allows free movement of locally manufactured goods within the bloc. Tanzania and Uganda revenue authorities have, however, accused the Kenyan manufacturers of tilting competition in their favour by using industrial sugar imported under a 10 per cent duty remission scheme. The region does not produce industrial sugar. Last week, Kenyan firms accused Uganda and Tanzania of using the customs taxes to restrict trade in East Africa. "This is an EAC-wide remission scheme that is available to all manufacturers in the region," said Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga. "We are not supposed to pay duty when we sell in the region because our competitors in the region also rely on industrial sugar imported under the same remission scheme." KRA has come to the defence of Kenyan firms saying confectionery products made of industrial sugar imported under the EAC duty remission scheme should not be subjected to customs taxes. KRA's officer in charge of exports Julius Kihara said the firms should be safe from taxes as long as the trade volume falls within the 20,000 metric regional quota. "We seek to clarify that upon records held by KRA, the products are not affected by legal notice No.4536 which applies to white sugar for home use." Mr Kihara says in an April 9th letter separately addressed Tanzania and Ugandan revenue bodies. Earlier, on March 28, Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo had written to his Tanzanian counterpart Prof Elisane Ole Gabriel seeking his intervention to fix the tax row. This is not the first time certificates of origin from Kenya are being rejected in the region. Last year, manufacturers of products like cement, edible oils, textiles and lubricants faced similar roadblocks in the region. Tanzania has been on the spot for defying the EAC rule of origin and imposing a higher local content requirement of 75 per cent of total input for tobacco. Source: The Citizen

Police hunt rapist gang operating in Nairobi streets

Detectives in Nairobi have launched a manhunt for a gang of street boys involved in rape. The latest incident was captured in a video showing a woman being raped by a suspected street boy on Mto Lane off River Road. The woman is seen resisting the beastly act but is subdued after threats of being killed and is only left to cover her face, as she resigns to fate. "Please don't kill me... " she is heard pleading to deaf ears. Central CID boss Samuel Kobina is now calling on the woman - as well as members of public who witnessed the incident - to come forward and assist with information that may assist in tracing the rapist gang. "Help us get them," he said, in an appeal to public and the victim. According to police, the rapist street boy was in the company of three others, believed to be his accomplices. Source: CapitalFM

West Africa

Health workers commence nationwide indefinite strike

The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) says it has commenced nationwide indefinite strike in earnest. Obisesan Oluwatuyi, General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on April 18 in Abuja. Mr Oluwatuyi said that they would not call off the strike until government meets their demands. He said: "The soldiers have been let loose, no retreat, no surrender until government does the needful." Members of the JOHESU had earlier threatened to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike beginning on April 17 midnight, due to alleged federal government's failure to meet their demands. The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) says it has commenced nationwide indefinite strike in earnest. Josiah Biobelemoye, president of the union, who issued the strike notice on April 16, attributed the industrial action to what he described as the "insensitivity and lackadaisical attitude of drivers of the health sector." He directed all JOHESU members in federal health institutions across the country to commence the strike at midnight of April 17. Mr Biobelemoye listed their demands to include upward adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) Salary Scale, arrears of skipping of CONHESS 10 and employment of additional health professionals. Other demands are implementation of court judgments and upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years. Mr Biobelemoye said that the union suspended its last nationwide strike on September 30, last year, after signing a Memorandum of Terms of Settlement (MOTS), with the federal government. According to him, the MOTS was supposed to be implemented within five weeks after the date of suspension of the strike. He, however, noted that six months after the suspension of the nationwide strike, the government was yet to do anything tangible over the pending issues. According to him, the union had on February 5 given a fresh 21 days ultimatum to enable government meet the agreement reached. The JOHESU president stated that the union gave an additional 30 working days effective from March 5, after the expiration of the earlier 21 days ultimatum. Mr Biobelemoye, who described the union members as peace lovers, emphasised that the 45 days was given simply because the union had the interest of the masses at heart. "It is disheartening to note that after six months of suspension of our last strike and still counting, the Federal Government has not done anything tangible over pending issues, especially on the flagship issue of CONHESS adjustment and payment of arrears of CONHESS 10 skipping. "JOHESU as a mature and responsible organisation gave 21 days notice on Feb. 5, this year, in the first instance to enable the Federal Government to do the needful. "At the expiration of the 21 days notice, the leadership of JOHESU reconvened to re-appraise the situation on ground and noted the lackadaisical attitude of the government toward the implementation of the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement signed on Sept. 30. "On April 5, 2018, the Minister of Labour and Employment invited the leadership of JOHESU for a meeting wherein we were told that our issues were still being looked into. This shows that government is taking JOHESU for a ride," he said. Mr Biobelemoye urged members at the states and local government health institutions on continuous sensitisation and mobilisation for possible solidarity strike, if government failed to attend to their demands. He also called on well-meaning Nigerians including traditional leaders, elder statesmen, opinion leaders and the general public to prevail on government to implement MOTS entered into with JOHESU on Sept. 30, 2017. Mr Biobelemoye said JOHESU members were not clamouring for equality with doctors but equity and justice, advising medical doctors and the Federal Ministry of Health to change their perception of the demands. NAN reports that JOHESU draws its membership from the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), and Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals. Others include Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals and Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutes. Source: Premium Times

In Mali, thousands flee as inter-communal violence heats up

A spike in inter-communal violence in central Mali has sent about 3,000 people fleeing to Burkina Faso over the past few weeks, the U.N. refugee agency reports. Since February, dozens of people have been killed and homes and other property destroyed as clashes between the Dogon and Peul communities have increased, according to the U.N. agency. "The new arrivals in Burkina Faso include 2,000 Malian citizens, as well as 1,000 Burkinabe who had been living in Mali for many years," said UNHCR spokesman William Spindler. "With many afraid to travel by road, for fear of kidnappings and murder, they arrived via unofficial border crossings, on foot or in light vehicles. The new displacement adds to the challenges faced by people of the region." Before this latest influx, Burkina Faso had been hosting some 24,000 Malian refugees since the start of Mali's conflict in 2012. The new arrivals are adding to the humanitarian needs of Burkina Faso, and to the strain of aid agencies trying to meet them. Spindler says food is in short supply and health facilities are overstretched. He says most of the new arrivals are living with friends or relatives in hard-to-reach areas. UNHCR is urging those new arrivals to move to a refugee camp farther from the border, where they could be registered. Spindler says the refugees would then have access to basic social services, and be better protected from rising banditry and violence in areas hosting Malian refugees. Source: Voice of America

Another Nigerian gets top UN appointment

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has confirmed the appointment of Bola Adesola of Nigeria to the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative. The appointment was announced in a statement issued in New York by the UN on April 20. A former Nigerian minister, Amina Mohammed, is currently the UN Deputy Secretary-General. Ms Adesola, who is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Nigeria and Paul Polman, of the Netherlands and Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, were appointed to serve as the two Vice-Chairs of the Board, the statement announced. "Ms. Adesola and Mr. Polman succeed out-going United Nations Global Compact Board Vice-Chair, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Former Chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies and of Anglo American plc. "The Secretary-General extends his great appreciation to Sir Mark for serving in the position for the past ten years and shepherding the United Nations Global Compact into a new era." It said both Ms. Adesola and Mr. Polman have served on the Board of the United Nations Global Compact previously, "and will bring to the position a wealth of experience in the private sector, in the corporate sustainability space and specifically with the United Nations Global Compact itself. "Ms. Adesola has served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd since 2011. She has over 25 years of banking experience, including at First Bank of Nigeria and at Citibank. Ms. Adesola holds degrees from Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School, as well as a law degree from the University of Buckingham. "Mr. Polman has served as Chief Executive Officer of Unilever since 2009. Prior to joining Unilever, he worked at Nestlé S.A., and at Proctor and Gamble, where he spent 26 years. Mr. Polman holds degrees from the University of Groningen and from the University of Cincinnati. "As Chair of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, the Secretary-General looks forward to working closely with Ms. Adesola and Mr. Polman, along with United Nations Global Compact Executive Director, Lise Kingo, as they lead the United Nations Global Compact, the entry point for business within the broader United Nations system," the statement concluded. Source: Premium Times

In Nigeria, scores killed in fresh attacks on Benue community

The Police in Benue State have confirmed gunmen attacks on a village on the outskirts of Daudu, but declined to give details of the attack and the number of casualties. Confirming the attack to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on April 25 in Makurdi, the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said people were killed by the gunmen who attacked the village. He, however, said the information on the incidence was still sketchy. The commissioner noted that some of the villagers disclosed that the attacker were herdsmen, who came at about 5 a.m. The incident came on the heels of the April 24 attack on another village in Gwer East Local Government where 16 worshipers including two catholic priests were killed. A cross section of the villagers confirmed the attack and said people were killed. According to Shaapera Nyon, the attackers came at about 5a.m. while most people were still enjoying the early morning sleep. He said the residents were awoken by gunshots and the cries of agony from gunshot victims. Source: Premium Times

Central Africa

UNHCR alarmed by continuing forced returns of Nigerians by Cameroon

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today expressing its alarm at continuing forced returns to Nigeria of refugees and asylum-seekers from Cameroon's Far North Region. Despite UNHCR's advocacy efforts and engagement with the authorities, 385 Nigerians have been forcibly returned from Cameroon since the beginning of 2018. The majority of them were returned during the last month. More specifically, on 10 April, 160 Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Nigeria's Borno state - an area whose residents continue to face risks. They had been seeking refuge in Cameroon's Waza district since 2014. On 17 April, an additional 118 asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Borno state. They had arrived in Cameroon only two days earlier, having fled violence by Boko Haram. The forced returns are in violation of the principle of no forced returns or non-refoulement. They are also a significant setback to progress previously achieved by Cameroon in granting asylum to Nigerian civilians fleeing Boko Haram violence in Borno State. UNHCR appeals once again to the authorities in Cameroon to refrain from further forced returns and to ensure protection to those fleeing insecurity and persecution in Nigeria, in accordance with Cameroon's national and international obligations. In total, UNHCR has registered some 87,600 Nigerian refugees in the country. While recognizing the legitimate national security concerns of States affected by the Boko Haram crisis, it is important that refugee protection and national security are not seen as being incompatible. Properly functioning screening, registration and asylum systems help safeguard host country security. UNHCR reiterates its support to the government of Cameroon to ensure that all those seeking international protection have access to efficient screening and registration procedures, as well as appropriate reception arrangements. Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

US spends USD 300 million on fight malaria in Angola

The United States spent USD 300 million on combat malaria in Angola from 2005 to date, said US ambassador to Angola, Nina Fite. The US diplomat released the information to the press in Soyo, northern Zaire province, stressing that the assistance helped reduce child mortality due to malaria. Nina Fite, who is on a 48-hour visit to the region, will attend the national event that mark the World Anti-Malaria Day (25 April). "We are very proud of our work across the country because we have been able to help reduce mortality, especially child mortality, through actions to combat malaria," she said at the end of a brief meeting with the governor of Zaire province, José Joanes Andre. Information available indicates that the US Government has international and national partners in the malaria control programme in Angola like USAID, Population Services International (PSI), Management Services for Health (MSH), Tropical Health, The MENTOR Initiative, Rede Mulher Angola and Tecno-saúde. According to the source of the disease control programme of the provincial department of health in Zaire in 2017, the region diagnosed 129, 848 new positive cases, against the 138, 891 cases in 2016. In this period, according to the same source, 54 people died as a result of this disease, mostly children under five years of age. Only in January of this year the local health units diagnosed more than 17,000 cases of malaria, with the death toll still to be determined. Source: Angola Press

Birds undermine air traffic in Cabinda

The aircraft taking-off and landing runway as well as the parking and maneuvering area of the aircraft at the Maria Mambo Café airport in the northern Cabinda province is being occupied by a flock of crows, pigeons and storks that threaten air traffic in the region. The birds occupy those spaces of the airport in search of foods like earthworms, larvae, lizards, insects, frogs, frogs, snakes and other species of vertebrates. The situation is a major concern due to the insecurity it has presented to aircraft for more than a year and a half. The reality is already the urgent intervention of law enforcement authorities in ways that prevent incidents that could cause harmful damage. The TAAG delegate in Cabinda, Sebastião Sousa, told ANGOP on April 24 that the situation is very embarrassing and requires even urgent attention from Enana to avoid any incidents that could cause unexpected damages. He said that the presence of the flock of birds on the runway of Cabinda airport has already deserved appeal and complaints, given the imminent danger it presents for the safety of aircraft carrying people. The air movement of Cabinda Luanda and vice versa reaches more than eight hundred people daily in addition to various cargoes. Source: Angola Press
 This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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