Source: Magharebia

The Continent

Poll ranks Adesina among 100 most reputable persons on Earth

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has been rated one of the 100 most reputable personalities in the world on the 2017 Most Reputable People on Earth list released by South Africa-based Reputation Poll. Reputation Poll described the ranking as “a list of individuals across the globe that have amassed high reputation for themselves through their work and achievements.” The list features individuals from diverse sectors, including policy, entertainment, leadership, education and business. “Our model for measuring reputation is distinct and also very credible for the public to rely on,” the firm said, noting that its polls are conducted with an average of 20,000 respondents who take part in nominations, research and voting.

Other notable personalities on the list include actress Angelina Jolie; António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Barack and Michelle Obama; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel; Bill and Melinda Gates; Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Christiane Amanpour, TV host, CNN; soccer stars Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; Desmond Tutu, retired Anglican Bishop; Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, former Nigerian Finance Minister; Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon; singers Jennifer Lopez and John Legend; Pope Francis; Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group; Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief, Forbes magazine; Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google; and Tim Cook, CEO, Apple.

Source: African Development Bank Group

Dar among top 5 fastest growing economies

Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is tipped to grow by 7.2 per cent to become the world fourth fastest economy in this year. According to World Economic Prospect June report the country economy forecasted to grow at per with India GDP. The report showed that the fastest growing economy in the world this year is Ethiopian at 8.3 per cent and the fifth globally is Djibouti at 7.0 per cent. The three non-resource intensive economies, the only from Africa in top five, expected to grow well above the Sub Sahara Africa average growth of 2.6 per cent in this year.

“Growth in SSA is forecast to pick up to 2.6 per cent in 2017, and average 3.4 per cent in 2018-19, slightly above population growth. “Growth in non-resource intensive countries is expected to remain solid, supported by domestic demand,” the report said. The recovery was predicated on moderately rising commodity prices and reforms to tackle macroeconomic imbalances. However the down size risks are there such as weaker-than-forecast commodity prices, worsening drought conditions, and cut backs to US and official development assistance pose significant downside risks to the regional outlook. “A key domestic risk is the lack of implementation of re forms that are needed to maintain durable macroeconomic stability and sustain growth,” the report indicated.

The other two world fastest economic growing states which are above Tanzania but below Ethiopia are Uzbekistan at 7.6 per cent and Nepal 7.5 per cent. In Africa, however, most of the rebound will come from Angola and Nigeria–the largest oil exporters. On other hand investment was expected to recover only very gradually, reflecting still tight foreign exchange liquidity conditions in oil exporters and low investor confidence in South Africa. Fiscal consolidation will slow the pace of recovery in metals exporters. The two leading economies in SSA, South Africa and Nigeria were projected to recover from 0.6 per cent in 2017 to 1.5 per cent in 2018-19 and from 1.2 per cent in 2017 to 2.5 per cent in 2018-19.

Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Germany touts Africa investment as signature issue at G-20 meeting

A new approach to foreign investment and aid in Africa by the world’s richest nations is being called for by Germany’s chancellor, before she hosts a meeting of the world’s 20 wealthiest nations next month. The so-called “Merkel plan” calls for more investment in Africa, as a way of stemming African migration to Europe. This week, German Foreign Minister Gerd Muller said he fears 100 million African refugees might come to Germany if nothing is done. So, Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to invest some $335 million to attract foreign investors to Africa, and will try to convince the other 19 nations attending the G-20 summit to show greater commitment to the continent’s struggling economies.

Germany has identified four countries as its focus: Ivory Coast, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia, but has also had discussions with other African leaders. Talitha Bertelsmann-Scott heads the Economic Diplomacy Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs, and says Germany has worked hard to overcome its violent African colonial past and emerge as a business leader. “Germany has given so much, has been very inspiring in terms of how it emerged after the Second World War as this leading manufacturing powerhouse,” she said. “And Africa is really looking towards ways they can industrialize. And Germany does give leadership here.” But she said she has some reservations about the plan outlined by Germany’s Finance Ministry, which she says did not involve consultation with African nations.

German business: all in the family

Marc Zander leads business consultancy Africon, a German-based company that focuses on helping businesses set up in sub-Saharan Africa. He says German companies are looking to make serious, long-term investments and more are looking each day. “A lot of German companies are still family-owned so their approach to the African region might be on the one side be very cautious, but on the other side, a lot of German companies do properly work on the the strategies and also think-long term,” he said from Stuttgart, Germany.

Christoph Kannengiesser, CEO of the Berlin-based German-African Business Association says 600 German companies are already working on the continent and he expects that number to grow. The continent’s booming population and growing consumer base make it an attractive business destination, he says. “The new German approach to Africa is first of all to accept and to take into consideration much more that Africa is a political and economic factor, and that Germany should strengthen the ties to Africa and build up more and more intensive relations to Africa in general and to important African countries,” he said. “And I think the second aspect is that we recognize Africa as a continent of economic opportunities and that we should engage as well.” The two-day summit will be held July 7 and 8 meet in Hamburg.

Source: Voice of America

Belgian Envoy – good governance can solve political conflicts

To end political conflicts in the African Great Lakes region, leaders should prioritise good governance and the rule of law, Belgium’s special envoy to the region that comprises Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, has said. Ambassador Renier Nijskens noted in an interview with The Observer at his office in Brussels, Belgium on May 23 that although the region has made good progress in communication, education and economic growth, it is still held back by ethnic and political conflicts. “The challenges that remain are of governance. It is really a big problem. More participation of people in the political atmosphere would make a big difference,” he said.

Nijskens added that governments must be accountable to the public, ensure “justice always finds its way” through punishing all criminals without favour and that citizens benefit from the country’s wealth. “In many parts of the world, as governance improves, stability improves. The political climate is more peaceful and citizens recognise themselves as belonging to a government, so there are no questions,” he said. The Great Lakes region has been affected by both ethnic and political instability in the past and present ranging from wars in the eastern parts of the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Uganda and South Sudan.

Source: The Observer (Kampala)

Central Africa

Angolan journalist indicted once again FOR exposing government corruption

The Office of the Attorney General in Angola indicted award-winning investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais for “outrage to a body of sovereignty and injury against public authority,” under the Law on Crimes against the State Security. In an article published on his anti-corruption watchdog website, Maka Angola, Mr. Marques exposed the illegality of Angola’s Attorney General (AG) to act as a property and real estate developer in addition to his legal duties. Mentioning documentary evidence of the land purchase, Mr. Marques contends that the act is in violation of the “Principle of Exclusive Dedication” clause in the Constitution. The article, published on November 3, 2016, also questioned the tolerance of the president, José Eduardo dos Santos, towards his subordinates who openly disobey the constitution.

Mr. Marques was indicted upon his return from Washington, DC, where he was honored, along with four other anti-corruption activists, with the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2017 Democracy Award.   “Rafael Marques’ relentless efforts to expose corruption in Angola despite constant harassment and legal and physical threats to himself are exactly why the Endowment chose to honor him,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “We will be following this case closely, and I am sure many others in the media and international community who know and respect Rafael’s important work also be paying close attention,” said Gershman.

Without providing much reasoning, the indictment states that as the publisher of Maka Angola, Mr. Marques is responsible for crimes against the State Security. In addition to the public charges cited above, Mr. Marques is also facing a civil suit from the Attorney General for abuse of freedom of the press, defamation, and injury.  Mr. Marques was previously imprisoned for his work in 1999, for calling President Dos Santos a dictator in an article titled The Lipstick of Dictatorship, and released after international advocacy efforts on his behalf.

For more than two decades, Mr. Marques has been a staunch human rights defender as a journalist focused on investigating government corruption and abuses in the diamond industry. In addition to the NED award, which was presented to him in the United States Congress on June 7 by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), Mr. Marques has earned multiple international awards for his anti-corruption investigative work. This includes the Integrity Award from Transparency International (Germany, 2013), Gerald Loeb Award for International Reporting, UCLA Anderson School of Management (co-winner with Kerry A. Dolan, Forbes, New York, 2014) and the Allard Prize for Integrity from the British Columbia University (Canada, 2015).

Source:  National Endowment for Democracy (Washington  D C)

In North Kivu, DRC, civilians bear the brunt of fresh fighting

Ouimana Buiko Zawadi is desperate to get her story out. She sits with her four children and her brothers on the floor of a bare room in a camp for displaced people in Goma city – the capital of North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At night they sleep on a tattered mat in a corner of one of the two rooms that they share with 40 other people who recently fled ongoing violence in Tongo, about 80km northwest of Goma. They have escaped conflict between the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Nyatura rebels.

It is hard to interrupt her when she starts talking. “We lived well back home, farmed and fed our children, then different rebel groups started fighting over our territory,” Ouimana says. The eastern part of DRC is home to a number of armed groups, including FDLR, Nyatura and Mai Mai rebel groups.

“They started stealing from us, taxing us. If you refused to pay up they would kill you. They raped women,” the 35-year-old says. “At night they would come and burn people’s houses. Even the forest where we would flee to was not safe. There were men with arms.”South Sudan’s She laments the lack of government security forces. “So I decided to bring my children here. I think I’d rather they die of hunger than in the hands of a machete-wielding rebel,” she says.

South Sudan’s Military operation

The ongoing military operation has significantly weakened the armed group, which is wanted by neighbouring Rwanda. Reports indicate that only a few thousand remain and pose little threat to either Rwanda or DRC. But, their presence, no matter how small, does not sit comfortably with either country. Thousands of former rebels have been disarmed and rehabilitated as part of a UN and Congolese government amnesty programme, but many more are still in the jungle.

In May this year, the South Sudan’s government launched Sokola 2, an offensive to push out armed groups who have divided territories inside the Virunga National Park, and are said to be trading in charcoal and wildlife. Colonel Bazil Kanuma from the DRC military, who is leading the operation, said his troops will stay in Nyamilima – the military headquarters of the operation – until the job is done. “I ask the people we are pursuing and who are Congolese, to surrender and get help. If they don’t, then they will feel our wrath,” he said.

The first target is Mai-Mai, a Congolese armed group and the government’s biggest threat today. Mai-Mai was formed to protect their communities against rival armed groups – largely because there’s little government presence in many of the remote areas. The group has since splintered into many factions. That’s what makes it dangerous and difficult to defeat. The fighters can also easily move around villages; they know the forest well and are mostly protected by communities.

The government has urged people to stop shielding rebels but the country’s leadership is so far removed from many who live in hard-to-access villages that trust is an issue. People Al Jazeera spoke to in the villages said that to end the cycle of violence in DRC the government needs to build a relationship with the people based on trust. They further say that for the rebel groups to be eliminated, there cannot be a leadership and security vacuum that creates an atmosphere for them to thrive.

As long as the war against rebels continues to victimise civilians, all that’s being done is an exercise in futility, villagers said. Some of the groups are said to be funded by influential individuals both in Congo and outside the country, sources told Al Jazeera. The military is ill-equipped and soldiers poorly paid. Ethnic divisions and politics make the job even harder. A failure to address underlying causes of the conflict only adds to the cyclical nature of one of the world’s most complicated conflicts.

Ouimana is not hopeful that her home will be safe enough for her to return any time soon. She looks at her children and wonders about their future. In the Mugunga camp, she joins people who have lived in dilapidated tents for nine years … and prays that she is not forced to stay here for years to come.

Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

North Africa

Morocco delivers foods to Qatar in line with Islamic teachings

Morocco said in a statement on June 12 that it will send planes loaded with food to Qatar, in line with the teachings of the Islamic religion, especially during the month of Ramadan. “The decision is in line with the teachings of the Islamic religion and what it requires in terms of solidarity between Muslim people, especially during the month of Ramadan,” the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement. The decision “has nothing to do with the political aspects of the current crisis between Qatar and other sister states,” it stressed.

On June 11, the ministry said in a separate statement that it is ready to mediate the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Gulf countries. Since the outbreak of the crisis, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has maintained close and permanent contact with the parties concerned, according to the statement.

Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing)

In Egypt, media blocked and threatened in dispute with Qatar

Arab countries engaged in a dispute with Qatar have shut down media outlets with links to or considered sympathetic to the Qatari government, Human Rights Watch said on June 14. The action is a violation of freedom of expression. The countries involved include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have also threatened criminal sanctions under existing laws against people who criticize the actions these governments have taken against Qatar and its citizens or who have expressed sympathy toward Qatar. “Individuals have a right to express a variety of perspectives on current events,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Governments don’t have the right to close down media outlets and criminalize speech to shut out criticism they find uncomfortable.”

On May 25, 2017, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates blocked Qatari media outlets, including Al Jazeera, after Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was quoted in state media attacking United States foreign policy, praising Iran, and vowing to withdraw its diplomatic representation from several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia. The Qatari government has since denied that al-Thani made the offending statements, alleging that their state media was hacked. Also on May 25, Egypt blocked the websites of 62 media outlets it accused of being favorable toward the Muslim Brotherhood, including Al Jazeera and at least four other Qatari government-linked outlets.

On June 7, Jordanian authorities closed Al Jazeera’s Amman bureau and stripped it of its operating license, stating that the decision was made to ensure regional stability, coordinate the policies of Arab countries, and “end the crises in our region.” The next day, Saudi authorities did the same to Al Jazeera’s Riyadh bureau, accusing it of promoting terrorist groups in Yemen and of sparking divisions in Saudi Arabia. On June 9, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage ordered hotels and other tourist facilities to block “all channels from the Al Jazeera Media Network” and replace them with other channels, threatening to punish violators with a fine of up to US$26,000.

In addition, on June 7 and 8, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates announced that any speech critical of their governments’ measures against Qatar or sympathetic to Qatar would be prosecuted as crimes. Citing existing laws that violate free speech, on June 7, the United Arab Emirates’ general prosecutor announced that people who express “sympathy” for Qatar or objections to the UAE government’s own actions could face up to 15 years in jail. On the same day a state-controlled Saudi Arabian media outlet stated that such expression could be considered a cybercrime offense in the kingdom. On June 8, the Bahraini Interior Ministry also threatened anyone who shows “sympathy or favouritism” to the Qatari authorities either on or off line or critiques Bahrain’s actions, with up to five years in prison and a fine under the Penal Code.

Authorities should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression. International law on freedom of speech prohibits the banning of peaceful criticism of governments, and crimes such as insulting the president or state authorities. “The media need protection from political interference, not official muzzling,” Whitson said. “The offending governments should demonstrate they understand and respect the role of media outlets, even those they don’t agree with.”

Source: Human Rights Watch (Washington D C)

Efforts under way to rescue African migrants held for ransom in Libya

The International Organization for Migration reports efforts are ongoing to rescue around 200 migrants, from Somalia and Ethiopia, who have been kidnapped in Libya and are being held for ransom. News of the kidnappings and illegal detentions in Libya first surfaced in a video, which appeared on Facebook on June 9. The International Organization for Migration says families of the missing men and women have received ransom demands based on short video clips depicting scenes of active torture.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman told VOA the source of the video is not known, but there is little doubt as to its veracity. He said the scenes of people, dozens to a room, are graphic. “We understand that there are cases of people being tortured by cement blocks, I think, being put on their chest or put on their back,” he said. “There are limbs broken. There are scars and cases of slack, listless men who appear to be emaciated. The witnesses themselves complain about not having been fed for quite some time.”

Millman said the criminal gangs demand that families pay ransoms of $8,000 or more for the release of their loved ones. He said the families sell their livestock and other assets to meet these demands. Women and children wait their turn to get on onboard the rescue vessel Golfo Azzurro by members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, after being rescued from a wooden boat sailing out of control in the Mediterranean Sea, about 18 miles north of Sabrath Libya, June 15, 2017.

There is nothing new about the slaving industry, he said, as it has been around throughout history. What is new, he added, is the ready availability of digital devices and of high speed communication, even to some of the poorest villages in the world “It gives criminals an opportunity to profit from the digital age,” he said. “There is no question that it is true that you can terrify a mother and father with a tweet or with an email or with a video you download onto a telephone in seconds. That kind of thing was not possible a generation ago and it is probably going to get worse.”

The IOM said it is working with partners to try to locate the migrants and its staff, in coordination with authorities in Libya, is trying to trace and potentially aid in the rescue of these victims. The politically-unstable country is a transit point for migrants seeking to head to Europe. The lack of a stable government makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Source: Voice of America

Southern Africa

Anxiety as Sir Ketumile remains in ICU in Botswana

The former President Sir Ketumile Masire remains in Intensive Care Unit at Bokamoso Private Hospital days after he underwent a surgery. Though his operation was said to have been successful, anxiety is building around his health following the cancellation of all events that he was to feature in this coming weekend. Sir Ketumile’s daughter Matshediso Masire said in a statement that: “The Board of Trustees of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation and the Masire family wish to inform all friends and supporters of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation of their decision to postpone the 2017 Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner and the 5th Annual Youth Lecture scheduled for the 24th and 25th of June due to his hospitalisation. We wish to express our gratitude to the public and well-wishers for their continued prayers and support for our father.”

Sir Ketumile is the co-founder of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which he together with the country’s founding president Sir Seretse Khama guided to elections victory in 1965. He succeeded Seretse in 1980 and ruled until 1998 when he left power voluntarily paving the way for Festus Mogae. Masire is credited with having led the country at the most difficult time first as Vice President and Minister of Finance and later as President, taking the country from the poorest in the continent to the fastest developing while at the same time facing off with a hostile Apartheid regime in the neighbouring South Africa. He is Botswana’s longest serving President by far and is credited with the introduction of two-term (five years each) presidential terms and automatic succession by the Vice President on the retirement of the President.

Source: The Patriot

In South Africa, Investors on high alert after public protector bombshell

Against a fresh wave of political and policy uncertainty which also triggered a heap of rating downgrades, the recent statements by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will not be taken lightly by markets and investors. This is the view expressed by Gina Schoeman, South Africa economist of global bank Citi, on June 20. She commented on a report Mkhwebane presented on June 19. Mkhwebane announced her findings after an investigation into SARB’s assistance to Bankorp – which Absa bought in 1992 – between 1985 and 1995. She wants Absa to repay R1.125bn, but the bank is adamant that it does not owe the SA government anything.

Mkhwebane also recommended that the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services change the Constitution to read “the primary object of the SARB is to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth in the Republic, while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected”. According to Schoeman this was an unexpected move by Mkhwebane to announce both her intention to oppose President Jacob Zuma’s review of the state capture report and her suggestion to re-word section 224 of the Constitution regarding the SARB’s mandate to protect the currency.

“While the former, on its own, would have placed the PP [Public Protector] in a favourable light of independence – given the popular assumption that Mkhwebane is part of the Zuma camp – the bombshell comment about dabbling with the Constitution – and thus with the SARB’s mandate – stole the show. The rand weakened in response,” Schoeman commented on June 20. She added, though, that to clear things up: the PP did not outrightly state that the SARB should not protect the currency, but rather, her suggested edit to the Constitution removes the explicit requirement that the SARB “protect the value of the currency”.

“The underlying objective of the PP’s suggestion is unclear, particularly as a near-impossible two-thirds majority vote in Parliament would be needed to action a change to the Constitution. However, public statements cannot be undone and it risks undue speculation‎ about political interference into the SARB’s policies,” cautioned Schoeman. On the night of June 19, SARB governor Lesetja Kganyago said the bank’s fundamental, constitutional mandate is to protect the value of the rand in the interests of balanced and sustainable growth. On this Schoeman commented that, while an interest rate cutting cycle is likely on the horizon, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the SARB would not want to cut rates prematurely against “such political noise”.

Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Escrow monster resurfaces in Tanzania

Businessmen Rugemalira and Singh Sethi appear in court, facing six counts, including economic sabotage

Arraongnment of the two alleged key players in the infamous 306bn/- Tegeta escrow account scandal at the Kisutu Resident Court June 19, resonates with eight of the resolutions reached by the National Assembly way back November 2014. The two, the Director of VIP Engineering and Marketing Mr James Rugemalira and Mr Harbinder Singh Sethi of Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP), appeared at the court on June 19 facing six counts of economic sabotage and occasioning a loss to the government of US $ 22.1 million dollars and 309bn/-.

State Attorney Paul Kadushi read the charges against them after which they were remanded since the lower court has no jurisdiction to prosecute such charges unless they get an approval from the Director of Public Prosecutions. Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi explained further that economic sabotage crimes can only be heard at the High Court but that the DPP can in some instances issue an approval for the lower court to hear the charges. The State Attorney informed the court that between October 18, 2011 and March 19, 2014, in Dar es Salaam, the duo conspired to commit offences in South Africa, Kenya, India and elsewhere.

During a session of parliament in November 2014, the august House had made eight resolutions one of which was for investigations and arrest of all people who were involved in the scandal. The resolution followed a report by a special committee of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was formed to probe the affair. The court heard on June 19 that between November 28 and 29, 2011 and on January 23, 2014 at the Stanbic Bank headquarters at Kinondoni and Mkombozi Bank, St Joseph Branch, the two businesspersons, through deceit, received the said amount from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

Before the arraignment of the duo on June 19, the Director General of Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Mr Valentino Mlowola, told a news conference that the agency had all along been investigating the scam which rocked the country in 2014. “The two will initially be brought before the Kisutu court before some judicial arrangements are made to transfer the case to the Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court,” Mr Mlowola explained to journalists.

The scandal involved the transfer of 309bn/- from an escrow account at the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), where it was jointly opened by Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) and IPTL pending legal wrangles over capacity charges between the parties before domestic and international courts. IPTL, which operates dieselfired turbines at Tegeta in Dar es Salaam, was initially founded through a joint venture between a Malaysia company, Mechmar (70 per cent) and Mr Rugemalira’s VIP Engineering and Marketing Limited (30 per cent).

It is still unclear how Mechmar sold off its shares to another company, PiperLink of British Virgin Island, which later allegedly sold its stake to Mr Sethi’s PAP. Billions of shillings were then paid to Mr Sethi from the account after he convinced officials that he had acquired a 70 per cent stake in IPTL. He then proceeded to acquire the 30 per cent stake which was owned by VIP Engineering and Marketing. To seal a deal with Mr Rugemalira’s company, it is said that Mr Sethi had to pay a whopping US $75 million dollars (about 165bn/-) to acquire the 30 per cent. As the scandal ravaged on with calls for actions from the parliament and subsequent investigations by PCCB and audits by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), several top government officials were sacked while others resigned.

Among those who resigned were the then Minister for En ergy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo and Attorney General Fredrick Werema, while Prof Anna Tibaijuka, then Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, was fired by former President Jakaya Kikwete. The former UN Habitat boss was fired after it emerged that she had been paid 1.6bn/- by Mr Rugemalira. The funds were suspected to be part of monies from the escrow account. The list of other individuals said to have pocketed some of the funds include former Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja and former Attorney General Andrew Chenge. President Kikwete also dropped the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Mr Eliakim Maswi.

Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Famine over, but situation remains dire in South Sudan: UN

UN aid agencies have downgraded the severity of famine that had been gripping parts of South Sudan. But there are still higher than ever levels of extreme hunger across the country. According to the official definition of famine, the situation in South Sudan would appear to have improved. “The accepted technical definition of famine no longer applies in former Unity State’s Leer and Mayanditcounties where famine was declared in February,” said a joint statement released on June 21 by the UN children’s agency UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Famine is defined according to UN criteria called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC scale. It is declared when a region has 20 percent of households facing a complete lack of food, 30 percent of the population is suffering from acute malnutrition and 1 person for every 5,000 dies each day. While the official famine may be over, the situation remains precarious. “The crisis is not over. We are merely keeping people alive but far too many face extreme hunger on the edge of a cliff,” said Dominique Burgeon, the FAO’s director of emergencies.

Source: Deutsche Welle.

Grand projects flag JPM coast visit in Tanzania

On his first leg of a three-day working tour of the Coast Region, President John Magufuli has outlined the ambitious projects, among them, plans to build a grand Stieglers Gorge hydroelectric project on southeastern Tanzania’s Rufiji River. The President yet again warned local and international investors as well as public officials who were stealing the country’s resources that he will deal with them squarely, in his self-declared war against them.

Addressing a mammoth rally at the Bwawani grounds in Kibaha on June 20, Dr Magufuli laid down plans for implementation of projects including the Ruvu dry port, health, energy, roads, water, railway projects among others. He said that although the government was currently working on the expansion of the Kinyerezi I, II and III projects, the Tanzanian government in collaboration with the Ethiopian counterpart was putting measures in place to implement the Stieglers Gorge hydroelectric project.

The project follows an agreement entered on March 31, 2017 between Dr Magufuli and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, when he came to Tanzania for a two-day State visit. The Ethiopian leader promised Dr Magufuli to bring dam experts to help the country in the implementation of the project, basing on the fact that Ethiopia had made a commendable step on the country’s power generation. “When I went to Addis Ababa, I had a tete-a-tete with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, and asked that he helps me to understand how he managed to put up dams that can produce megawatts two times more than what we are producing in Tanzania,” he stated.

According to the Head of State, on June 19 this week, through a telephone conversation, the Ethiopian leader said he would send a team of experts in the next few days, adding that it was high time to implement the Stieglers Gorge hydroelectric project which has been there since the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. In his speech beamed live by local television and radio stations, the President further said the government had allocated 30.2bn/- for electricity distribution in 204 villages of the Coast Region and other 127 villages come 2020, through the ongoing Rural Energy Agency (REA) Phase III.

On water, Dr Magufuli said the government was implementing various water projects in the region, among them the Ruvu Juu water project which is funded by the Indian government, expressing confidence that it will increase access to water to Dar es Salaam, Kibaha and Bagamoyo. He also added that plans were afoot for the construction of the Kidunda water project that will equally increase water availability in the Coast region and its neighbours. In ensuring that people had access to health facilities, the President said about 3,680 hospital beds will be distributed to various health centres and other medical facilities, 920 maternity beds, 10,000 bed sheets and 5,000 mattresses will be availed in the region in the next fiscal year.

In another development, Dr Magufuli declared war against people who were squandering the country’s resources, saying he had launched the war that he does not expect to fail. “I will deal with all thieves decisively regardless of their nationality… be it a Tanzanian, European, or, coming from East, West, North or South, a thief shall remain to be treated as a thief,” he warned. Dr Magufuli also warned government officials who were engaging in signing shoddy contracts that were occasioning loss to the government, insisting that they had no room in the country anymore.

Earlier on, Coast Regional Commissioner (RC) Engineer Evarist Ndikilo said in implementing the President’s quest to transform the country into an industrial economy, his region had managed to establish many industries as well as allocating more areas for investors. “So far, my region has over 371 industries, out of which over 89 are large factories, while over 260 others are small and medium industries,” said the RC.

In another development, Former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo has congratulated President John Magufuli for being an exemplary African leader in defending the country’s interests from investments. According to a press statement issued on June 20 by the Directorate of Presidential Communications, the former Nigerian president said Magufuli also deserved praise for throwing his weight in properly supervising the country’s economy.

Obasanjo, one of Africa’s respected persons, issued his congratulatory message when he met and held talks with President Magufuli on June 20 at State House in Dar es Salaam. The former president hailed President Magufuli for his efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) by inviting investors and businesspersons from all corners of the world but with a strict sense of ensuring that both parties benefit. He said that it was sad to see African countries registering little benefits from investments with investors taking almost everything.

“I have visited several African countries, including Malawi and Mozambique and today I am in Tanzania. In all places I have visited my major topic has been on economy. We must ensure we benefit from investments,” the Nigerian statesman said. He added: “Tanzania’s economy is on the right track. President Magufuli’s efforts to ensure the country benefits from investments are highly commendable. He has shown a good example to be emulated by other African leaders.”

The former Nigeria president said African leaders should not accept to leave everything to investors. Meanwhile, President Magufuli has accepted the resignation of High Court Judge Mwendwa Judith Malecela. According to the statement issued on June 20 by the Directorate of Presidential Communications, President Magufuli accepted the resignation of the judge with effect from June 20. Malecela becomes the third judge to resign in less than two months. On May 15, Judge Aloysius Mujulizi and Lady Justice Upendo Msuya tendered their resignations to President Magufuli.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

Famine averted in Somalia, for now: UN

A senior United Nations official says famine has been averted in Somalia for now. He warns food shortages still loom and could result in a catastrophic situation if international support wanes. The United Nations reports Somalia, for now, has averted the worst but that the country remains fragile and famine continues to stalk its people. The World Food Program (WFP) country director in Somalia, Laurent Bukera, says 3.2 million people are in trouble. He says some 350,000 children are malnourished, including 70,000 severely malnourished. Bukera says 700,000 people have fled their homes in search of food and water, and hundreds of thousands of livestock have died for lack of water and grazing land. He says more than 600 people died of cholera because they were too weak from hunger to fight off the disease.

Better Outcome

Despite the bleak picture, Bukera says aid agencies have been able to prevent the worst. Unlike 2011, when 250,000 people died of famine, he says aid agencies, supported by the international community, have managed to avert a famine. “Today, we have jumped into the window of opportunity,” he said. “We have scaled up and not necessarily responded in a reactive manner. We have an ability to sustain and to maintain the assistance as a community, but the risk of halting this assistance is dreadful. The risk of halting this is bringing us directly where we started the year into a risk of catastrophe.”

Additional funding needed

Bukera tells VOA the U.N. needs funding to continue providing people with essential relief, which has, until now, succeeded in averting famine. “At the moment, we are in need of close to $300 million for the next six months,” he said. “Without that, we will have to drop the assistance to 2.5 million people and that includes close to one million children and pregnant and lactating women.” Bukera says aid will have to continue beyond this year as the drought shows no signs of letting up and instability caused by the ongoing conflict with al-Shabab terrorists remains a serious problem.

Source: Voice of America

West Africa

In Nigeria, Northern Group writes to Osinbajo, urges him to allow Biafra Republic

A coalition of northern groups has written to acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, urging him to take steps to facilitate the actualisation of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination, which the coalition described as an integral part of contemporary customary international law. In an open letter to the acting president signed by Ambassador Shettima Yerima, Joshua Viashman, Aminu Adam, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman and Nastura Ashir Sharif, they commended the peace efforts of Osinbajo towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis, but expressed reservations as to the efficacy of this approach in ensuring lasting solutions.

The group argued that their doubts were informed by the historical antecedents that had characterised the behaviour and conduct of the Igbo in Nigeria and previous efforts at containing them.  The group alleged that the Igbo had manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after independence when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crisis, which has profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history.

The coalition further argued that it was Ojukwu’s declaration of secession and the formation of the Republic of Biafra that resulted in a civil war that led to the tragic deaths of more than 2 million Nigerians. It noted that the unconditional surrender of Biafra on January 15, 1970, had rendered any talk about Biafra at any other time, a repudiation of the terms of that surrender signed by General Phillip Effiong and other Biafran leaders.

The northern group told the acting president that the resurrection of Biafra and the gruesome picture that the Biafran agitation represented was beyond a few people showcasing to him that the Igbo would eventually heed the call for peace and desist from their campaign against Nigeria. According to the group, “The seed of hate planted in the name of Biafra is evidently so deep that the ongoing interaction between you and the leaders from the South east cannot in our well informed opinion douse or address the underlying deep seated underlying problems”.

The coalition insisted that the principle of self-determination has, since world war II become a part of the United Nations Charter, which states in Article 1(2) that one of the purposes of the UN is “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. “We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member states; it implies that member states allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible.

This principle of self-determination has since been espoused in two additional treaties: The United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of both international documents promote and protect the right of a people to self-determination. State parties to these international documents are obliged to uphold the primacy and realization of this right as it cements the international legal philosophy that gives a people the right to self-determination. As the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions, we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

“Aware that the right of self-determination in international, law, is the legal right for a “people” that allows them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, we strongly demand for a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.

The Igbo from all over the country and in the Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region in the South-east for a plebiscite to be organised and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country. That government should at the end of the plebiscite implement whatever is agreed and resolved in order to finally put this matter to rest,” the group added. The coalition said it did not see the clamour for Biafra as an issue over which a single drop of blood should be shed, but added that the Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra and for them to vacate the North peacefully, so that Nigeria could enjoy lasting peace and stability.

Meanwhile, the Northern Youth Leaders Forum (NYLF) has condemned in strongest term the approach of some northern youths with the issuance of quit notice to Igbos to leave the North on or before October 1, 2017. The National Chairman of NYLF, Elliot Afiyo, disclosed this to journalists in Yola on June 19, noting that no nation or ethnic nationality can survive on its own without the support and the help of another. He said after serious investigations into the quit notice saga issued by the Coalition of Northern Youths to Igbos to leave the they viewed as ill-advised and uncalled for.

“We strongly believe that these groups of northern youth were sponsored by some a few individuals who felt cheated by both the federal government and state government controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC). These individual were used and dumped. Therefore, they are bent on destabilising the government.  “Another reason that also prompted the northern youths to accept this offer is the fact that our Igbo brothers for some years now have been frustrating, insulting and abusing other nationalities especially the northerners calling us cows and parasites despite our efforts in accommodating them” he said.  However, he said as far as the northerners need the Igbos, the Igbos need the Yorubas and the Yorubas need the Hausas. “No doubt we have our differences , we should use these differences to foster our unity in diversity,” he said.

Source: This Day.

In Nigeria: ‎2019 – 15 Parties form ‘Mega Coalition’ to dislodge APC, PDP, APGA

A Coalition of 15 Political Parties has formed an electoral alliance tagged “Mega Coalition” to adopt and field candidates at Governorship and Presidential elections in Nigeria. The electoral alliance which the parties said is not a merger would see the participating registered political parties fielding separate candidates for Councillorship, Local Government Chairmanship, House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senatorial elections, but collaborating at the gubernatorial and Presidential elections.

“At the governorship elections, the winning party shall form a Government of State Unity (GSU) while at the Presidential election the winning party shall form a Government of National Unity (NUG) with a view to accommodating participating parties in the coalition thereby reducing the winner takes all syndrome which does not allow smaller political parties to grow in Nigeria”. Some of the parties who signed the agreement document included the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria ACPN, Better Nigeria Progressive Party BNPP, Democratic Alternative DA, Democratic Peoples Congress DPC and Democratic Peoples Party DPP among others. For a start, the coalition would field candidates in the forthcoming governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, vowing to dislodge the ruling parties in those states.

According to the document which was made available to Vanguard in Abuja, “the Mega Coalition in response to the high divisiveness in Nigeria and lack of credible opposition party in Nigeria since after the 2015 general elections… .in 2019 general election no one single party can win at first ballot. It will be difficult to meet the constitutional two third states requirement. The only way to success in 2019 is for like-minded political parties to come together to select credible, capable and popular candidates who can win elections”.

The coalition has selected Chief Perry Opara to lead it and shall answer “Chancellor” of the Mega Coalition. The Chancellor, Chief Opara who is the National Chairman of National Unity Party, has however condemned the level of division in Nigeria and urged politicians and members of the non-governmental, faith based and socio-cultural organizations to be careful with their utterances and to preach peace, instead of hate and division. “The Mega Coalition urged Nigerian politicians who have something to hide to desist from parading themselves for elective offices, while credible men and women who are courageous are encouraged to start now to educate the masses on their blueprint for elections. “The Mega Coalition thanked INEC for announcing the February 2019 date for commencement of elections which puts politicians and political parties on notice ahead of time.

“Opara said that no party shall be excluded from participating in the Mega Coalition. Only good candidates who have programmes that can provide dividends of democracy can be voted into office by Nigerians. Opara said the Mega Coalition is ready to collaborate with any like-minded registered political party irrespective of its previous electoral fortune. “2019 election shall have emphasis on candidates and personalities rather than parties. Nigerians are now aware that most politicians promise “heaven on earth when they are seeking public offices only to renege on their campaign promises when they are elected. Nigerians are now aware and know better. We shall test the might of the Mega Coalition in the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States elections before the 2019 general elections. Future elections in Nigeria will no longer be about political parties or Godfatherlisim. It will be about the personality of the candidates and the issues being canvassed. “The Mega Coalition will reduce the inconviences INEC faces in conducting elections. It will make elections and candidates management easier”, the document stated.

Source: Vanguard

Gambian President Barrow launches U.S. $ 27 million clinic

President Adama Barrow, on June 19, laid the foundation stone of a clinic worth US$27 million in Senegambia, opposite Djembe Beach Hotel, Kololi. The clinic is an initiative of Professor James Ndow, a renowned Gambian surgeon, and it is being bankrolled by the African Development Bank, and Islamic Bank, among others. Speaking on the occasion, President Barrow said when completed, the clinic would improve the healthcare delivery of the country and it would usher in great benefit to the people of The Gambia both in services and employment opportunities. He said the initiative is part of the government’s private sector partnership policy to “radically improve the quality of health services, facilities and structures for patients as well as staff, both in the immediate future and years to come”.

The Gambian leader said formulating and creating the right policies and the enabling environment for private sector engagement is critical in transforming the country’s health system given the fact that the sector is grossly underfunded and greatly challenged by lack of investment. He noted that once Horizons Clinic is completed, there would be no cause to travel overseas from The Gambia for medical treatments. Prof. James Ndow, founder of Horizons, said the clinic is the first one purposely built in the Tourism Development Area to serve not only Gambians but tourists. Hamat Bah, the minister of tourism, said the importance of such international standard clinic in the tourism area cannot be over-emphasised. “The project will undoubtedly provide much needed jobs to hundreds of Gambians,” he said.

Source: The Point (Banjul)

In Liberia, thousands rally to CDC in Southeast

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has carried out a massive rally in the southeatern part of Liberia in continuation of its membership drive in preparation for the October elections. The CDC rally recently hit southeastern counties where thousand of citizens pledged their support and immediately obtained membership cards. As the CDC rally hit Grand Kru County, many of those who pledged their support distanced themselves from the recent endorsement of Vice President Boakai’s presidency by 19 Senators.

The citizens said the Senators who endorsed Boakai’s presidency were doing so for their own selfish interests, and not in the interest of the country. “These spontaneous actions by the citizens of rejecting the Senators’ action are not just roadblocks thrown in the way of the 19 Senators, but the huge public dissent backpedals their political moves, also exposing their weaknesses as residents rebelled and issued threats,” said Mr. Murlu on his Facebook page. “We struggled to dissuade and calm residents down as they threatened to ‘sit-in-wait’ to attack their Senators whenever they return to the county, an unwarranted reaction we cautioned against, calling on all to remain peaceful and law-abiding.”

“We couldn’t find a single person in these counties to stand with the 19 Senators’ endorsement of Boakai,” added Thomas Fallah, a member of the mobilization team. In their recruitment bid, the CDCians visited several parts of Grand Kru, including Barclayville, and several villages along the road from Sinoe. Harper, Maryland County was abuzz when the mobilization team hit the city with thousands of citizens from all walks of life leaving their duties to register once word started to spread that ‘George Weah’s people’ were in town. “In 2011 I voted for Ma Ellen with open heart but they let us down. I have come to join the CDC so that I can vote for George Weah, because he is one that will deliver this country,” said a market woman in Harper.

Southeastern CDC supporters in high gear1

“Whether in the bustling slum of Soniwein or the historic city of Harper, the power of the CDC still remains the same,” said a CDCian. In River Gee and Grand Gedeh counties, the recruitment team received overwhelming support from the mobilization team, which is commonly know as ‘the blue helmet,’ headed by Mulbah Morlu, when a mock football match between Boakai and Weah produced the obvious winner.

“This is the clear sign of defeat for the Unity Party and the Boakai team,” said one Moses who was standing by. “We’re penetrating the hinterland with a one-round message; and with the momentum, we are now also identifying and recruiting possible poll watchers in the villages even before the campaign season starts,” one of the mobilizers said.

The Coalition for Democratic Change (previously Congress for Democratic Change) is said to have more support in the southeast, as it was during 2005 and 2011 elections, owing to the momentum of their recruitment process. Most of the citizens said Goerge Weah is the solution for change, and someone they see as the only candidate that would build roads, schools and clinics and drop the price of rice.

“Frankly, it was a little unexpected when residents of Tiama (Putu), fully assembled at a mass meeting, declaring support as most were new members joining the coalition for the first time,” said Musa Konneh, mobilization chair. He said the turnout has been very high in Putu, with a similar experience taking place in Konobo. “In these constituencies, the popularity of the coalition and its illustrious leader, Sen. George Weah is high,” he said.

Source: Daily Observer.

This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi

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