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A legacy like no other: Winnie Mandela 1936 to 2018
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

South Africa’s anti-Apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died. Winnie who was the face of the blacks’ struggle against the ruthless white regime in pre-independent South Africa succumbed to a long illness at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg aged 81.

Victor Dlamini, the Madikizela family spokesman said Winnie who was affectionately known as the ‘Mother of the Nation’, “succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones” following a long illness, which had seen her go in and out of hospital since the start of the year.

Anti-Apartheid Activist- Before 1994

In 1936 in the small town of Bizana in Transkei (Eastern Cape), a girl by the name of Winnie Madikizela was born. Unbeknown to many at the time, Winnie was going to be the face of the struggle against white minority rule. When she reached the age of 22 in 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, a lawyer who was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid. The two romantic flirtations grew quickly and they married a year later.

Their union was however cut short by the government as Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. Left alone, Winnie was left with a daunting task, not just to look after the family but to champion for his husband’s release and to spearhead the campaign against Apartheid. For any other woman, this would have been a task too much to handle but not for the feisty Winnie. She took her newly found responsibilities with gusto.

Leading the struggle against white rule from the front, Winnie organised rallies and protests. Her action made her an enemy of the white government. She was ultimately arrested in 1976 and spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement. In 1976, she was banished to a small town where she lived in solitary confinement.

The government thought they were going to break Winnie by putting her in solitary confinement. Instead, their actions only hardened the resolve of Winnie, she came out of prison more determined to fight her oppressors. In her own words after leaving prison, Winnie said, “ The years of imprisonment hardened me … Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life when that pain becomes a way of life … there is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.”

Start of the controversy

Winnie just like all other humans was not flawless, she was subjected to some criticism in her life. The first controversial moment came soon after her release from prison. While addressing thousands of Anti-Apartheid supporters in Soweto, she boldly stated that “Together, hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” This was in reference to necklacing, a painful method used by the ANC to eliminate those accused of treason amongst its ranks by inserting a petrol-filled burning tyre around the neck of a ‘sell-out’.

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela

Winnie also had a team of personal bodyguards known as the Mandela United Football Team (MUFC). In 1989, Winnie’s MUFC was accused of killing a 14-year-old boy, Stompie Seipei. The case attracted wide media coverage but Winnie herself was found not guilty of murdering the young boy by the courts but was found guilty of a lesser crime, kidnapping. For her role, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison but did not serve the term as it was suspended for a fine.

Winnie had to face massive criticism for her role in the murder of Stompie Seipei but she vehemently denied any involvement. Perhaps the most severe criticisms came from revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu after South Africa had gained its independence in 1994 during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. Tutu begged Winnie to apologise for Stompie’s death but she refused. Since that day, Winnie said she hasn’t forgiven Tutu for forcing her to apologise for an act she knew nothing about. Until her time of death, Winnie had not forgiven Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Winnie was however exonerated of any wrongdoing or involvement in Stompie’s death when Jerry Richardson, the team coach for Winnie’s MUFC confessed to murdering Stompie. Stompie and Richardson were allegedly police informers who also worked for Winnie. Richardson stated that he killed Stompie after he had threatened to expose him to Winnie. Richardson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison but died in prison in 2009.

Winnie also had confrontations with the law later on in post-independent South Africa with the standout coming in 2005 when she was alleged to have defrauded a bank and involved in corrupt practises. She never faced jail time.

The last of Winnie’s feisty nature was seen during the xenophobic attacks of 2008 when foreigners in South Africa were subjected to torture. Winnie stood on the side of foreigners against the perpetrators of xenophobic violence.

Relationship with Nelson Mandela

Winnie and Nelson were married for 38 years but they spent much of that time separate as Nelson spent 27 years behind bars. The two divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson became South Africa’s first black president. The real reasons behind the divorce were never divulged but it’s suggested in some quarters that Winnie had become too radical for the reformed Nelson Mandela and that she was involved in an affair during the time Nelson was in jail. Winnie kept Nelson’s surname after the divorce and they both kept close contact with her visiting Nelson almost on a daily basis before his death in 2013.

The family of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is yet to release burial details.

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President Xi hails Mugabe’s successor as ‘old friend of China’
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Ben Dooley*

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 3, 2018 (AFP Photo/Greg BAKER)

President Xi Jinping greeted Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa as an “old friend” of China on Tuesday as the African leader visited Beijing, which previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, was met with a military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People on his first state visit outside of Africa.

The two leaders oversaw the signing of six documents, including a letter on economic and development cooperation and another on emergency food assistance, as Mnanangwa seeks help from a major ally with historic ties to Zimbabwe.

“I heartily welcome President Mnangagwa on his visit to Beijing,” Xi said as the two sat down for talks.

“You are an old friend of China and I appreciate your efforts to develop relations in all areas,” he said.

Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady Grace Mugabe, leading to a military intervention that culminated with the veteran president’s ousting and Mnangagwa taking office.

The country’s then-army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, had visited Beijing shortly before the military action, leading to questions about whether China had any role in the power transfer.

Chiwenga was named vice president in December. China denied it played any part in the transition.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.

“Last November Zimbabwe achieved a peaceful, smooth transfer of power that was broadly recognised by the international community,” Xi said.

“I am willing to work with Mr. president (Mnangagwa) to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples.”

Mnangagwa, wearing a scarf in the the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag, told Xi he appreciated China’s “political support and goodwill” following the “peaceful political transition in Zimbabwe”.

– ‘Socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics’ –

Mnangagwa has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor Mugabe’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.

He was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation during Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources. It has recently built its first overseas military base in Djibouti.

Relations between China and Zimbabwe date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders including Mnangagwa.

Before his arrival on Monday, Mnangagwa told China’s official Xinhua news agency that his trip was aimed at thanking Xi and the Chinese people for supporting his country “during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us”.

He said he would seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment and take part in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.

Zimbabwe was China’s largest foreign supplier of tobacco, with some 40 percent of the product imported by the Asian country coming from the African nation.

China also set up a joint venture with Zimbabwe in a diamond mining company, but Mugabe announced the nationalisation of the nation’s diamond mines in 2016.

Chinese companies have also been involved in projects to install a cellular phone network, expand a hydropower station and build a coal-fired power plant.

Mnangagwa will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, then visit the eastern provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang before his visit ends on Friday.

The Zimbabwean leader gave a nod to his host’s political philosophy, “Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

“I will take this mantra to Zimbabwe and hope to develop some socialism in Zimbabwe with Zimbabwean characteristics,” he said.

*AFP

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Why mining execs don’t care if Congo hikes up its profit tax
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

Thanks to clever accounting methods, mining companies tend to run at a loss so avoiding paying it anyway.

Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: USAID.

Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: USAID.

On 9 March, just two days after a six-hour meeting with some of the world’s most important mining executives, President Joseph Kabila signed into law a new mining code. Through this new legislation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hopes to reap greater rewards from its huge resource wealth. A number of important fiscal changes have been reported, including a profit tax and royalties increase, including a 10% royalty tax on “strategic substances” and a 50% “super-profits” tax.

The intention behind these changes is that they will increase the mining sector’s contribution to state revenue. This makes sense. So far, government income from the industry has been well below its potential.

According to one study from 2010-11, for example, the average tax rate across the sector in the Congo was just 13%, well below the 46% considered reasonable by the World Bank. A more recent study by GIZ calculated that taxes collected from mining in 2011-14 amounted to just 6% of total mining revenue. Even the former IMF Head of Mission, Norbet Toé, argued that the Congo’s previous mining code was “too generous, so much so that the state captures very little in the end”.

From this perspective, the new mining code represents a welcome correction. It is part of a current trend across Africa whereby states are beginning to reassert themselves following generations of World Bank-led neoliberal restructuring.

However, while mainstream media coverage has focused on the various tax increases and resultant stand-off between President Kabila and mining executives, a wider issue has been generally overlooked – one that could mean the new mining code actually makes very little difference.

Profits, what profits?

It is well-known that huge sums of money from Congo’s mining sector end up being misappropriated. As has been highlighted in countless academic and advocacy reportspublications and warnings, much of this is skimmed off by corrupt state officials.

However, as researchers Stefan Marysse and Claudine Tshimanga have noted, this is not the “most important black hole” when it comes to low state revenues. The quantitatively bigger problem is corporate tax evasion and avoidance practiced by multinational mining companies (MNCs).

Based on an analysis of mining company financial reports, Marysse and Tshimanga concluded that “international companies in joint ventures with [state-owned] Gécamines try to pay the least possible”. They found corporations “resorting to juridical-accounting techniques…to shift their profits to countries where they pay less tax”.

Mining companies do this through “transfer pricing”, a practice by which companies set up multiple subsidiaries and trade between them. Through this method, MNCs can artificially manipulate the prices of goods and services entering and leaving a country in order to shift profits to low- or no-tax jurisdictions.

A multinational could, for example, set up a subsidiary in the Congo that extracts copper and then sells it at a loss to a subsidiary in Switzerland. This second subsidiary could then sell it on for a profit. The balance sheet of the multinational that owns both these companies would much look the same, but the Congolese subsidiary would record major losses – meaning it wouldn’t pay any profit taxes – while the Swiss one would enjoy the big windfall.

This is, in fact, exactly what research indicates is happening. A 2014 study of Swiss-based Glencore, for instance, found that its Congolese subsidiary Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) ran at a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars each year from 2009 to 2013. At the same time, its Canadian-registered subsidiary Katanga Mining Limited ran at a net profit of over $400 million. This resulted in a loss of revenue to the Congolese state of more than $150 million. Recent KCC financials show a gross debt of $8.9 billion and a capital deficit of $3.9 billion.

Five mining company case studies conducted by Congolese civil society between 2015 and 2017 found similar practices. They concluded that “profit tax payments to the Congolese state are minimized by mining companies, and thus…this very important flow often remains hypothetical, or even almost zero”. As MP Alain Lubamba reflected recently, “there is this contradiction that emerges each time…when the miners declare losses [in the DRC] when their mother company is only enjoying success”.

Shining a light on financial practices

Given these practices, an improved fiscal regime and better state management of government revenue will do little to address the state’s low capture of mining revenue in the first place. Various tax increases and new super-profits tax are rendered impotent.

A first step to addressing this problem in the DRC must be to push subsidiary financial reports into the public domain, in the same way that MNCs registered on the New York or Toronto stock exchanges must publish their financial reports. This would bolster domestic and international efforts to address the issue.

Currently, subsidiary financials are jealously guarded by both companies and government officials, and with good reason. Once made public, the game will be up, and MNC misappropriation of government revenue might begin to spark a similar level of debate and scrutiny as there is around state misappropriation. Whisper it quietly, but it might even come to be seen as of greater importance.

 

*Source African Arguments.   Ben Radley is a PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. He focuses on the political economy of mining, multinationals and development in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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Veteran Egypt goalkeeper El-Hadary eyes World Cup history
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tarek Talaat

Egypt's Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary, 45, would become the oldest man to play at a World Cup if he features at Russia 2018

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at 45 could become the oldest man to play at a World Cup, says he hopes his story inspires others to follow their dreams.

El-Hadary is desperate to make Egypt’s squad for Russia where he hopes to make his World Cup debut.

“I’m very happy to play at the World Cup, and that is a message to all footballers and others around the world, that you should believe in your dreams and fight to make them come true,” El-Hadary told BBC Sport.

“My age is 45 years old, but for me, this is just a number on paper.

“I train hard every day, I don’t know what the word ‘impossible’ means. I will keep fighting until the World Cup to have the chance to play and defend my homeland colours,” he added.

Faryd Mondragon of Colombia became the oldest man to play at the World Cup when he featured against Japan in Brazil in 2014 aged 43 years and 3 days.

El-Hadary, who currently plays for Al-Taawoun FC in the Saudi Professional League, says his late father’s memory is pushing him to break that record.

“My father who passed away told me that his dream is to watch me playing at a World Cup and I want to make my dad proud.

“I’ve won many titles, but I have not played at a World Cup and this is the dream I want to make true, that is my main objective.”

Egypt team
Essam El-Hadary was part of the Egypt side which beat Congo Brazzaville 2-1 to qualify for the Russia World Cup.

Egypt qualified for the World Cup thanks to a 95th minute penalty from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in a 2-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville.

El-Hadary says Salah’s phenomenal season has motivated the whole Egyptian side.

“I’m so proud of what Mohamed Salah keeps doing – he’s started a new era for Egyptian players.

“He changed the way that Egyptian players think and now many players have decided to search for clubs in Europe – even small clubs.

“They want to follow in Salah’s steps because what he’s done will make many clubs around the world trust in Egyptian players.”

Egypt have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup where they will face hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

“All the teams in our group are very strong. Saudi Arabia is an Arabic team and our matches with them will be very interesting, so it will not be easy.

“Russia will play in front of their fans and in their grounds, and when you talk about Uruguay you talk about an amazing team and big names like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, so it will not be easy at all.”

*BBC

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s work still resonates across Africa
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*
In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

In this undated photo supplied by the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. on display at the embassy in Pretoria South Africa. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa on streets, schools, even a bridge in Burkina Faso. It is a measure of the influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad. (Chris Marais/US Embassy South Africa via AP)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Streets. Schools. A bridge in Burkina Faso. The name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found across Africa, a measure of the global influence of the American civil rights leader who was shot dead 50 years ago after speaking out against injustices at home and abroad.

A school for poor children that is named after King in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, took as its motto, “Have a Dream,” borrowing a line from one of King’s most famous speeches.

“Martin Luther King stood for human rights and equality, so we wanted a way of inspiring and motivating our students,” said Robert Mpala, the school’s founder.

In rural Liberia, a West African nation founded by freed American slaves, one official spoke proudly of a privately owned Martin Luther King School. “Martin Luther King was a great man. We still follow his dream,” said J. Maxime Bleetahn, director of communications at the Ministry of Education.

Africa’s push for independence from colonialism, which mirrored King’s own movement for racial equality in America, attracted the civil rights leader’s attention and support.

King first set foot on the continent in March 1957 to attend celebrations marking the West African nation of Ghana’s independence from Britain.

After he returned to Africa in November 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nigeria’s first president, King said African leaders had told him “in no uncertain terms that racism and colonialism must go, for they see the two as based on the same principle.”

The parallels between King’s efforts and Africans’ quest for independence were perhaps strongest in apartheid-era South Africa, where racist laws oppressed the majority black community for decades.

In December 1965 King delivered a speech in New York denouncing South Africa’s white rulers as “spectacular savages and brutes” and called on the U.S. and Europe to boycott the nation, a strategy the West eventually embraced and that helped end white rule.

King was unable to visit South Africa after being denied a visa. But years later a bust of King was slipped secretly — by diplomatic pouch — into a South Africa still in the grip of apartheid.

American sculptor Zenos Frudakis said the U.S. government approached him about creating a bust of King that would be installed in South Africa for “political impact.” As it was barred by South Africa’s government from being displayed in a public space, the sculpture was dedicated in 1989 at the U.S. Embassy, visible to people outside the embassy fence.

People who were part of the struggle against apartheid spoke at the sculpture’s dedication, and Frudakis said he was impressed “as they were risking their lives to bring equality and freedom to everyone in South Africa.”

Today, the bust of King remains on display in a vastly different South Africa, which was transformed after anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and elected the country’s first black president four years later.

Mandela was keenly aware of King’s contribution to equal rights and mentioned him when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize along with South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993.

“Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war,” Mandela said. The Nelson Mandela Foundation plans to mark the anniversary of King’s assassination.

King’s inspirational speeches on love and justice, as well as his insistence on non-violent resistance, continue to resonate among some intellectuals and political activists in Africa, where many countries are now ruled by strongmen or democracy is in decline.

The civil rights leader was frequently cited by Ugandan activists last year as lawmakers moved to pass a bill that could keep the longtime president in power for many years more.

“We as a nation must recognize what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the ‘the fierce urgency of now,'” one opposition activist, Mugisha Muntu, said at the time. “We too must make our voices heard.”

*AP

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African Migrants in Israel Will Be Deported to Western Countries Instead of Africa. Where Will They Go?
April 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Maza*

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government's policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

African migrants and Israelis demonstrate in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 24, 2018, against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda.
JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Israel has scrapped a controversial plan to forcibly deport African migrants back to Africa— and struck an agreement with the United Nations to send the asylum seekers to Western countries instead.

The news comes after African refugees and human rights defenders staged weeks of protests, arguing that migrants sent back to Africa could face violence or other abuses.  The agreement announced Monday will send 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that there are around 38,000 African asylum seekers currently in Israel, the majority of whom are from Eritrea and Sudan. Asylum seekers who are not relocated to Western countries will be permitted to stay in Israel for the next five years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The announcement is a significant departure from the policies Netanyahu had touted just a month ago. Israel had told thousands of African migrants in February that they had to leave the country by April or they would be sent to prison. Israeli officials had said they would give migrants around $3,500 each to leave, either to their home country or to a third country in Africa like Uganda or Rwanda.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government had also dubbed the migrants “infiltrators” and argued that they were economic migrants seeking better opportunities instead of genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

Some experts say that Netanyahu was pressured by far-right elements in his coalition government to expel the migrants in order to maintain the Jewish character of Israel. Demographics have been a point of contention in Israel since its founding, and some extremist elements advocate for non-Jews to be expelled from the country.

Human rights groups, however, challenged the government’s deportation plans in court. On March 15, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary ban on the deportation plan. Experts say that Monday’s announcement proves that civil society can make a difference when it comes to shifting public policy.

“Policy shifts like this can be surprising when they happen, but they underscore a key lesson. Pressure from civil society can make a difference,” Martin Edwards, a diplomacy expert at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, told Newsweek. “Elected governments want to avoid looking bad as much as possible, and the optics of this were not favorable for the Netanyahu government. It’s a good lesson for activists around the world to learn: pressure can make a difference.”

*Newsweek

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Ethiopia installs new PM amid hopes he can stop protests
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By ELIAS MESERET*

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country's Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Abiy Ahmed, the newly elected chair of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Young and outspoken Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in Monday as Ethiopia’s prime minister, amid hopes he will be able to quell the sustained anti-government protests that have rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s parliament, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in mid-February as a result of widespread protests that have taken the lives of several hundred people, mainly in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions.

“This is a historic moment,” said Abiy in his inaugural address to Ethiopian lawmakers. “This is high time for us to learn from our past mistakes and make up for all the wrongs done in the past . we understand there are a lots of problems that need to be solved with great urgency.”

Abiy apologized for the deaths of civilians in the violent protests. He said his administration will strive to solve grievances by discussion rather than by force, provide more space for opposition parties, fight corruption and focus on respect for rule of law.

The new leader said he aims to open up a fresh dialogue with arch-foe Eritrea and called upon Ethiopia’s diaspora to more actively take part in the country’s affairs.

Abiy is the first Oromo politician to become Ethiopia’s prime minister since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991. It is hoped he will be able to bring an end to the protests that have been raging since late 2015 to press for wider political freedoms and the release of opposition figures. The Oromo people, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, have long felt marginalized both politically and economically.

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the army and head of Ethiopia’s Science and Technology ministry, Abiy, 42, has a reputation as an effective orator and reformer.

Many welcomed the new leader.

“I think this is a very important step toward the overall democratization and stability of the country,” said Kiya Tsegaye, a lawyer and political analyst. “But he needs the support of the people around him, especially top party officials to implement his reform measures.”

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene) The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia's legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa's second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
The outgoing prime minister, Haileamariam Dessalegn, right, who resigned from his post hugs to Abiy Ahmed, left, Monday, April 2, 2018. Ethiopia’s legislature has elected young and outspoken Abiy Amhed as prime minister, amid hopes that he will be able to quell sustained anti-government protests in Africa’s second most populous nation. (AP photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Prominent opposition leader Merara Gudina expressed cautious optimism over Abiy’s election, saying the future of Ethiopia’s peace and stability depends on the policies of the incoming leader and his party.

“What he aims to achieve depends on what his party allows him to do,” Merara said, adding that Abiy was elected by Ethiopia’s ruling party and not directly by the population through a general election. “But still it goes without saying that a change in personalities within the leadership may bring changes in terms of bringing better ideas that may ultimately lead to national reconciliation.”

Ethiopia’s Olympic gold medalist runner, Haile Gebrselassie, said the peaceful transfer of power is a win-win situation for all Ethiopians.

“The new leader’s election has answered many Ethiopians’ questions,” Haile told The Associated Press, saying that Abiy should implement his pledges without delay. “His inaugural address today has the ability to bring together not only Ethiopians, but countries in the region as well.”

Abiy will be Ethiopia’s third prime minister since the former military junta, the Derg, was overthrown in 1991.

Ethiopia in February declared its second state of emergency in two years amid the ongoing protests that effectively crippled transportation networks and forced the closure of businesses. On Saturday, Ethiopian officials said that more than 1,000 people have been detained since the latest emergency rule was put in place.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital, Addis Ababa, commended the peaceful transfer of power, saying it is the first time a living leader has handed over power in Ethiopia’s recent history.

“We stand ready to support the government’s rapid implementation of democratic and economic reforms and look forward to the lifting of the state of emergency,” the U.S. embassy said in an email sent to The Associated Press.

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‘A new South Africa on the horizon?’
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s now 24 years since South Africa, ‘the rainbow nation’ as its affectionately known gained independence in 1994. At the end of Apartheid, the new democratic South Africa was the beacon of hope for not just South Africans in particular and also Africans in general.

To some extent, the country has managed to live to the early hype, it’s one of Africa’s strongest economies and its democracy is an envy of many. However, this side of South Africa is the one that the country uses in marketing itself and surprisingly, it’s this side that is most loved and covered by international media.  There is another side to the coin, however, that is shunned by the media. This side exposes the plight of South Africa’s poor which is increasing year on year due to the rising gap between the haves and the have-nots.

While it’s always hard to live on the other side largely because without exposure, on your own you cannot really influence much on the national level, it seems South Africa’s poor might have a reason to smile again. A ray of light in the form of the newly elected South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa is promising to bring solace and comfort to the weeping many.

Ramaphosa may well not be popular among many poor South Africans but if we are to take anything from his inauguration speech and promises in his first days in office, then poor South Africans ought to celebrate his ascendancy to power.

Unlike Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a populist but rather a reformist and if there is anything the world has taught us, it’s to respect a reformist. While a populist has the charisma, appeal and sweet mouth to lure supporters, his/her rhetoric often times ends only in words while the reformist stresses more on doing than talking.

In light of this, let’s look at the promises that the reformist Cyril Ramaphosa has promised the people of South Africa especially the man, woman, and child in the most impoverished towns/cities of South Africa.

Fight against corruption

Cyril Ramaphosa took office the following day after a morning raid on the Gupta family, a family that epitomises corruption in South Africa. As corruption in the name of State Capture is the most important element that led to the demise of Jacob Zuma, it was clear from the word go that whoever succeeded Zuma would have to take on corruption if s/he was to gain traction. That is exactly what Ramaphosa did by promising to fight corruption.

While it’s those at the top that enjoy the benefits of corruption such as unscrupulously winning government tenders, it’s those at the bottom that Face the brunt of corruption. Corruption results in a job/task/project being handed to an incompetent person or body. The results, therefore, are below par and of poor quality mostly service provision which affects the middle class and the poor. By tackling corruption, Ramaphosa will open the environment for more people to challenge for opportunities that would otherwise be reserved for a select few. If the fight against corruption is successful, then there is reason for South Africans to celebrate.

Economic growth

Ramaphosa says his priority in government is to revitalise South Africa’s economy and his two main areas of focus are a digital revolution and fixing the mining sector. The world is becoming digital by the way and therein lays opportunities and challenges for South Africa’s growth. The first step that Ramaphosa is set to undertake is to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission tasked which consists of the private sector, civil society, and the government. It is Ramaphosa’s hope that the Commission will unlock opportunities that will go a long way in aiding economic development.

On the same front, experts state that the telecoms sector in South Africa is stagnant due to two telecoms ministries fighting each other for supremacy. The new president needs to merge the two ministries and remove duplicate roles to ensure more sustained growth in the telecoms field.

Ironically, Ramaphosa has promised to spearhead the fixing of the mining sector, the one sector he has come under immense pressure in owing to the Marikana massacres. It’s not clear what Ramaphosa’s strategy is going to be but it surely it must have a special focus on the workers’ working conditions and remuneration.

Social grants

Ramaphosa has also made reference to social grants in his first weeks in office. For a country that is seeing its unemployment levels rise up year on year, it’s crucial that its social welfare structure is robust and that is exactly what Ramaphosa wants to see. Ramaphosa has stressed that there should be the efficient delivery of social grants. In the past, especially towards Zuma’s last days in office, the body tasked with administering social grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has had to delay releasing the funds. There are seven types of grants in South Africa which include Child Support, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant.

Worker Rights

In a bid to address the plight of the poor who find themselves in some unfavourable working conditions, Ramaphosa has also that he wants to see worker’s living and working conditions improve under his tenure. He said that the first step is to implement a national minimum wage at par with the Poverty Datum Line that is going to give workers a better standard of living.

Being reformist, Ramaphosa is more likely to fulfil his promises, however, this is just an assertion that needs Ramaphosa’s will and determination in pursuing these promises for them to become reality. As such, it’s every South African’s hope that indeed Ramaphosa will stay true to his word and fulfil these promises that will ultimately make the life of South Africans better.

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Across Africa With Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan
April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

-US-Africa Relations Bigger than personalities Officials says

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Ambassadors Don Yamamoto and Stephanie Sullivan with Journalists at the State Department

Relations with Africa and the USA go beyond any one leader or official, Senior State Department Officials told Journalists in Washington, DC, recently in a media briefing. Speaking at the State Department to Journalists  from Pan African Visions, the Washington Post,Allo Africa News, and Reuters, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan , Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs ,discussed US-African relations under the Trump Administration, and shared perspectives on a number of developments across the continent.

Giving an over view of the recent African tour of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador Sullivan who was part of the delegation, said much of the focus was on strengthening trade and development relationships, strengthening regional security, including counter-terrorism cooperation, a focus on good governance and democratic values, and the relationship on economic developments and building resilience in communities to avoid the extremist ideology.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was the first stop of the tour, Secretary Tillerson and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki reaffirmed the commitment to the shared goal of a stable and prosperous Africa. Secretary Tillerson held talks with Ethiopian government officials on human rights, the need to open political space, and the ongoing political transition, Ambassador Sullivan said.

In Djibouti, there were discussion on the situation at the container port, investment climate, and security issues. In Kenya, Secretary Tillerson congratulated President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on the statesmanship on display as they seek to move the country forward. There were discussions on hot spots like South Sudan and Somalia with Kenyan government officials. A highlight of the Kenya lap of the trip was the meeting with survivors of the 1998 Embassy bombing, and laying of a wreath at the site of the former Embassy where the bombing took place, Ambassador Sullivan disclosed. Secretary Tillerson also had meetings with President Buhari in Nigeria, and Idriss Derby in Chad to round up the tour.

On what the trip did in restoring confidence on US-Africa ties after controversial statements attributed to President Trump, a few months before the trip, the State Department Officials said AU Chairperson Moussa Faki summed it best when he said the focus was on the future and not the past. U.S -African relations are very unique in their own way the Officials said. The departure of Secretary Tillerson will be no effect to engagements taken, Ambassador Sullivan added.

Both Officials fielded questions on immigration, China in Africa, engagement with the African diaspora, the political situation in Cameroon, South Sudan, Guinea and Zimbabwe amongst others.

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Masisi to Lead Botswana as Khama Steps Down After a Decade
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • Reducing diamond dependence among new president’s challenges
  • Masisi is ‘safe pair of hands,’ economist Jefferis says
 
 
Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, left, shakes hands with Mokgweetsi Masisi. Phoographer: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Khama, a former army general who’s led Botswana for the past decade, will step down on Sunday, leaving his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi in charge of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer until next year’s elections.

 While Masisi, 55, will inherit one of Africa’s wealthiest and best-governed nations, he’ll still have his hands full reducing the economy’s dependence on diamonds, creating jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed and wooing more foreign investment. Aside from gems the country has little other than tourism to generate foreign exchange.
 “A safe pair of hands” is how economist Keith Jefferis, a former deputy central bank governor, describes Masisi. He expects him to push changes the economy needs, including doing more to integrate it into regional and global markets.
 “It will be essential to re-establish much better public-finance discipline,” Jefferis said. “The quality of public financial management has deteriorated over many years, with poor spending decisions and an increasing level of waste and inefficiency.”
 Trained Teacher

Masisi trained as a teacher and worked as an education project officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund for eight years before quitting in 2003 to enter politics. He was appointed assistant minister for presidential affairs and public administration after being elected as a lawmaker in October 2009 and given the same ministerial portfolio in 2011. Khama named Masisi minister of education and skills development in 2014, a portfolio he retained when he became vice president that year.

“He is a jack-of-all-trades and is experienced in numerous areas,” said Leonard Sesa, a political scientist at the University of Botswana. “He will be the type of president who assigns someone something, then monitors them very closely because he knows exactly what the output should be.”

Botswana law restricts the president to serving two five-year terms, and provides for the vice president to automatically fill the post should it become vacant. The National Assembly will elect a new president after elections scheduled for October next year. Khama also took office a year before elections in 2009.

Lack of Jobs

The Botswana Democratic Party, which has ruled since the southern African nation gained independence from the U.K in 1966, is likely to name Masisi as its presidential candidate. While the party’s share of the vote slid to the lowest level since it took power in the last elections in 2014 amid voter disenchantment over the quality of state services and a lack of jobs, it’s still expected to retain its majority.

The son of Botswana’s first post-independence president, Khama, 65, angered several of his fellow African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, when he publicly berated them for overstaying their welcome.

His administration has also sniped at U.S. President Donald Trump for making derogatory remarks about African nations and the UN Security Council for not doing enough to end the war in Syria.

Read more about Botswana’s unorthodox approach toward diplomacy.

Khama is likely to continue wielding influence after he steps down, according to Sesa.

“Khama appointed Masisi his deputy and trusts him completely,” Sesa said. “They both have made statements indicating that there has been joint planning for Khama’s retirement. I expect to see Masisi award Khama some type of national assignment once he is retired. There’s clearly mutual understanding there about working together.”

*Bloomberg

 
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Six African referees chosen for 2018 World Cup
March 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Bakary Papa Gassama from Gambia will officiate at the world cup in Russia

Fifa has chosen six African officials for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it was revealed on Thursday.

In addition there will also be 10 assistant referees from Africa.

The referees and the assistants make up a total of 99 officials selected for the tournament.

The world governing body also announced that video assistant referees (VAR) will be chosen from the pool of officials.

VAR, which has caused controversy in Europe, will be used for the first time at a World Cup when the tournament starts on 14 June.

The officials, chosen from 46 countries, will attend a two-week seminar at the Italian Football Association’s base in Coverciano next month.

The African referees are: Mehdi Abid Charef from Algeria, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Bakary Papa Gassama from The Gambia, Gehad Grisha from Egypt, Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, and Ethiopian Bamlak Tessema Weyesa.

Europe will be represented by referees from Germany, Turkey, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and France.

Asia will have six as will north and South America and two from Oceania.

 *BBC
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MINING INDUSTRY SUBMITS MINING CODE PROPOSAL TO DRC GOVERNMENT
March 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Congo's Kabila

Congo’s Kabila

Kinshasa, DRC, 29 March 2018  –  Mining industry representatives* in the Democratic Republic of Congo have submitted a formal proposal to the country’s Ministry of Mines that is designed to address concerns about the recently revised mining code as well as the government’s revenue needs.

Among other things, it proposes linking a sliding scale of royalty rates to the prices of the key commodities, which industry representatives believe would be a more effective mechanism than the windfall tax introduced in the new code and at current prices would immediately give the government a higher share of revenues than what is provided in the new code.  It also deals with stability arrangements, state guarantees and mining conventions.

Along with the stability afforded to convention holders, enshrined in the 2002 mining code is a 10 year stability clause which provides that the holders of mining and exploration titles will continue to be governed by the terms of the 2002 mining code for such period in the event of the implementation of any new law.

Article 276:
“The State guarantees that the provisions of the present Code can only be modified if, and only if, this Code itself is the subject of a legislative amendment adopted by Parliament.

The rights attached to or deriving from an exploration licence or mining exploitation licence granted and valid on the date of the enactment of such a legislative modification, as well as the rights relating to or deriving from the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of such an exploration licence, including among others, the tax, customs and exchange regimes set forth in this Code, remain acquired and inviolable for a ten-year period from the date of:

  1. the entry into force of the legislative modification for the valid exploitation licences existing as of that date;
  2. the granting of the exploitation licence subsequently granted by virtue of a valid exploration licence existing on the date of entry into force of the legislative modification.”

However, the proposal accepts 76% of the articles in the 2018 code and suggests changes to the rest only to ensure the effectiveness and legality of the code.  The mining industry representatives believe these changes will resolve issues with the code and contractual relationships while giving the DRC and its people increased participation in the proceeds of mining.

* Issued on behalf of members of the DRC mining industry representing more than 85% of the DRC’s copper, cobalt and gold production and most significant development projects: Randgold Resources, Glencore, Ivanhoe Mines, Gold Mountain International/ Zijin Mining Group, MMG Limited, Crystal River Global Ltd and China Molybdenum Co, Ltd (CMOC), AngloGold Ashanti.

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