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Farmers in Kenya embrace hybrid, BT cotton
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Gaitano Pessa*

Cotton farmer holds his harvest. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Cotton farmer holds his harvest. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Farmers in Busia County, almost 400km to the west of Nairobi City in Kenya have begun to embrace cotton farming with enthusiasm just four months after re-introduction of the crop in the region.

The county shares its borders with Uganda and is situated in western Kenya formerly known as Western Province.

Alongside the hybrid varieties that were given to over 4,000 farmers in five sub-counties of the expansive county namely Samia, Matayos, Teso North, Teso South and Nambale sub-counties, was the high yielding BT cotton – a genetically modified variety that produces an insecticide to kill bollworms and other pests.

Farmers abandoned cotton more than 20 years ago because of low yields, poor returns and quality was damaged by pests.

Worse still, the liberation of the domestic textile industry in the 1990s shrank the cotton market a move that pushed the farmers to oblivion.

Francis Okuku, a long time cotton farmer in Lwanya location, Matayos Sub county, has put at least two acres under hybrid and BT cotton.

He said many farmers have realised that the crop can fetch good money now that the government is reviving the textile industry with planned revival of major ginneries including Samia based Luanda ginnery that was allocated Sh30 million (USD3million) by the State.

Mr Okuku who is also the vice chair of Matayos Cooperative Farmers Society based in the area said so far his one-month old hybrid cotton has shown promising prospects compared to the conventional varieties that recorded poor germination rate.

“The demo plots in Alupe really impressed me to venture into cotton once again after years of low yields. The cotton in my farm looks like it has been here for over two months yet its half that period,” he said in his farm where he planted the C570 variety. He was referring to the first BT cotton that was planted at Alupe University College, a few kilometres from Busia Town.

He disclosed that he planted the two varieties separately to compare notes and so far there exists a very thin line to differentiate the two, urging Busia farmers to embrace the crop.

“If all goes well I expect my first harvest in November this year.”

Another farmer, Beatrice Akinyi from Nambale sub-county said the move by the government to provided farmers with certified seeds has changed their attitude towards cotton farming.

“Earlier, we depended on conventional varieties that grew tall, yielded few balls and were easily attacked by bollworms. However, the seeds we have been provided with by the government are better and attract high yields,” she said.

 She however, urged the government to improve cotton farming by also providing fertiliser and ensuring better market prices.

“We want the government to address the issue of collapsed ginneries like the one at Muluanda, Malakisi and Nambale that made farmers abandon cotton farming completely in the 1990s,” she added.

He said that the government should fast-track issuance of BT cotton seeds which are high yielding and don’t need intense spraying.

“With introduction of BT cotton, the industry will be revolutionised and more farmers will embrace cotton farming in the country,” she said.

Cotton trials in Busia County started in early March this year, with the launch of the first ever genetically modified BT variety in a move that propelled Kenya to join other six African nations that had already commercialised it.

Busia was the best choice for the launch because it’s among cluster of counties in the Lake Region that hold the most promising potential for cotton growing.

Four months down the line, the results on the ground are encouraging at Alupe Demo Farm with about 70% seed survival with each plant producing over 40 balls.

 With proper follow up of agronomic practices, a farmer can harvest between 1000-2,000 kilograms per acre.

At least 260 kgs of BT cotton seeds and 2,740 kgs of hybrid seeds were distributed free of charge to farmers in Busia by the Government with plans in place to distribute more.

At the moment there are five demo farms spread across the county in Teso North, Teso South, Nambale, Butula and Matayos sub counties with more expected to come up in the next planting season.

Farmers are encouraged to intercrop cotton with legumes to maximize on the use of their land.

The adoption of the BT cotton is expected to support the Government’s Big Four Agenda by aiding manufacturing pillar with farmers commercially earning more from the crop through increased production. 

Cotton being a major cash crop in Busia county, with a potential acreage of 4,000 hectares, there is need to adopt new technologies that will reduce the cost of production and hence increase incomes to farmers.

*gaitanoh@gmail.com

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OPEC-Gabon Talks Embodies Africa’s Strong Support for Market Stability
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Such a dialogue is key for compliance with the OPEC global production cuts deal of April, to which all of OPEC’s African member countries have agreed to.

The OPEC-Gabon Bilateral Meeting that took place on July 24th has sent yet another signal of the strong dialogue and cooperation between OPEC and African producing countries.

Such a dialogue is key for compliance with the OPEC global production cuts deal of April, to which all of OPEC’s African member countries have agreed to. Gabon’s support to global market stability and energy cooperation is significant, and gives confidence to operators and future investors seeking to do business in Central Africa.

“OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo is an advocate for Africa and has always made it clear that the OPEC-Africa dialogue would be a priority to make Africa’s voice heard on the global energy stage,” Stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

“The Government of Gabon, and the country’s Ministry of Petroleum, Gas and Mines have always been strong participants in the global energy dialogue between Africa and institutions such as OPEC. Gabon has public officials committed to fight for their country, their people and economic prosperity. Such move makes our industry better for Africans and for investors,” he added.

Gabon’s ongoing 12th Offshore Licensing Round was launched in November 2018 and has already been met with significant success, resulting in the signing of a record number of PSCs in sub-Saharan Africa last year. In response to ongoing market conditions and the pandemic of Covid-19, the Ministry of Petroleum, Gas and Mines extended the submission deadline beyond April 30th, 2020. The extended round gives investors an opportunity to keep studying what is one of Africa’s hottest upstream frontier, with 35 blocks on offer.

The country’s new Hydrocarbons Code, Law No. 002/2019 of July 16th, 2019 now offers a more competitive upstream fiscal regime, provides an even better enabling environment for investors, and promotes the development of marginal fields by local players. Until the start of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent production cuts, Gabon had also successfully managed to reverse a historic decline in domestic oil production and had made new significant offshore discoveries.
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Zimbabwe’s meteorological services dept prepares to host SADC regional rainfall forecast for 2020/21 season
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD)  is preparing to host the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum expected to be held in August 2020 to discuss the 2020/2021 rainfall season forecast, according to a spokesperson.

  It is reported that the forum will provide a platform where the meteorological and hydrological agencies within the SADC region will come up with a regional rainfall season forecast for sharing with stakeholders in the climate-sensitive sectors.

  The SADC Secretariat through the Climate Services Centre (CSC), which coordinates the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) process, held the 23rd Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-23), in Windhoek, Namibia from
the 19th to 27th August 2019.

   A consensus regional seasonal forecast was issued during the SARCOF-23 and implications for the climate-sensitive sectors were also provided.

The Meteorological Services Department in Zimbabwe  on 4 September 2019 then held the National Climate Outlook Forum (NACOF) for the dissemination of the national seasonal outlook for the 2019/2020 rainfall season.

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Zimbabwe’s tourism sector in domestic tourism revival bid
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Winnie Muchanyuka
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Winnie Muchanyuka

The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) has held a Tourism Stakeholders Interface Webinar as part of their efforts to support and intensify resuscitation of the country’s domestic tourism, it has been revealed.

 It is reported that a cross section of  stakeholders from the tourism industry value chain together with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority(ZTA) joined the webinar to strategize on ways to revive the country’s domestic tourism in line with government’s post COVID-19 Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the web meeting, ZTA Domestic Tourism and Strategic Research Director,   Sophie Zirebwa said that the  country’s Tourism Board is delighted and encouraged by efforts being made by the tourism sector to develop and increase the prospects of domestic tourism in the country.

 “We are very thankful to have been part of the webinar organized by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe.  To us this is a positive development, seeing the industry is  eager to work with the Tourism Board in developing the domestic tourism. In particular, the much needed business improvement in the leisure side of domestic tourism,” she added.

 “There were quite candid discussions in the meeting with operators. They interrogated their business models and critical issues emerged on the pricing of  tourism products and services. The lack of domestic tourism packages and the general lack of information about what is available, for instance  the tourism attractions, activities  that can be accessed by  locals,” she cited.

Zirebwa said that ZTA is happy to observe that within the discussions, the tourism industry players were really proposing solutions and giving timelines to solve  challenges raised. “One of the proposals that came up was for players to cooperate and collaborate in terms of creating packages which are price sensitive for the local market,” she added.

“Another issue that also came through and important was the need for operators to come together and roll out an awareness campaign as they promote domestic tourism,” she said.

HAZ president Clive  Chinwada said that the meeting resolved that there was an immediate need to come up with a bundle of tourism value chain activities including transport, accommodation and activities in various destinations replicating what used to be the Flame Lily tours.

“These packages must suit every pocket and encourage tourism industry value chain players to work together for survival as well as to ensure the competitiveness of destination Zimbabwe,” he said.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Winnie Muchanyuka encouraged the sector to improve on collaboration. “We have been fragmented, we need to collaborate more. We need to continue working together as stakeholders in the sector. To be honest, ZTA has done it’s best to lead with messaging but we as players have been lagging behind on complimenting their efforts,” she said.

The Tourism Stakeholders Interface Webinar comes on the heels of a ZTA organized Service Excellence Training Webinar which is also a part of the preparations towards reviving the country’s domestic tourism. Preparations to launch the Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy are currently underway.

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Zimbabwe’s parliament suspends business
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe’s  Clerk of Parliament has today made an  announcement that its is is with a heavy heart that Parliament has  suspended most of its business due to exposure of some members and parliament to COVID-19.

 Its is reported that as of today, only two Members of Parliament had been confirmed positive.

 It is added that a driver from one of the service providers and a journalist who were part of the team also tested positive.

 “Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected and their families. The Members were part of a team that had been on field visits around the country. Everyone who was part of that team is now in self-quarantine in line with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare guidelines,” the Clerk said.

 It is reported that the measure has been taken to safeguard the health of Members of Parliament, staff and the public who interact with the institution.

  It is added that, tomorrow’s sitting for the National Assembly will be done with very limited numbers for the sole purpose of adjourning to a future date.

  It is added that this will allow for the deep-cleaning and disinfection of the Parliament building and contact tracing and testing of those who came into contact with the affected Members of Parliament.

“Parliament of Zimbabwe will continue to monitor the situation and Members of the public will be duly advised of the date of resumption of the business of Parliament,” the Clerk said.

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Kenya bans alcohol sale for 30 days
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyan government has banned the sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries for one month as part of measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

Speaking during the state of the nation address on Monday, the President said the bars remain closed until further notice.  

The Head of the State directed the Inspector of General Police (IG) Hillary Mutyambai to revoke permanently licences of bars, restaurants and eateries that will flout the regulations in place.

Kenyatta reiterated that socialising in areas serving alcohol hampers government’s efforts in fighting the disease.

At the same time, he reviewed closing hours for eateries and restaurants to 7pm from 8pm.

“That there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages in eateries and restaurants across the territory of the republic of Kenya effective midnight today for the next 30 days,” said Kenyatta.

The president further extended the nationwide dusk to dawn curfew by another 30 days. He ordered the IG not to spare any person who will breach safety measures given by the Ministry of Health.

“All measures will be for all Kenyans regardless of an individual’s status,” he directed.

Kenyans have been challenged to hold each other accountable adding that everybody is vulnerable to the disease.

“If someone enters your shop, and you own the business, if he has no mask, insist that they wear one. We are living in abnormal times. Let us not think that we are special. Please, let us not follow examples we have seen across the world,” said the president.

“We need to be realistic. None of us wants to mourn who would have survived if not for our actions. The power is in your hands. We are the ones who have the power to save,” he noted.

Since the president eased the Covid-19 restrictions on July 6, the country has witnessed a surge in the cases. The number of fatalities has also increased.

The President addressed the nation after meeting Governors in the State House in Nairobi.

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Between Hushpuppi and Hushpoliticians
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Chido Onumah*

Godswill Akpabio, with President Muhammadu Buhari in London, United Kingdom
Godswill Akpabio, with President Muhammadu Buhari in London, United Kingdom

The last one month has witnessed a celebration of crime and corruption in Nigeria, from Ramoni Olorunwa Abbas, aka Ray Hushpuppi, to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which the president supervises as Minister of Petroleum Resources, to the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, and the leadership of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and everything in between.

With each revelation, my mind would go to Mc Edo Pikin, the talented and creative comedian who has popularized skits that compare absurd topics and situations. I imagined Mc Edo Pikin working on the difference between Hushpuppi and what we shall call Hushpoliticians—the tribe of political and public officers who have mortgaged the estate called Nigeria. He did not do that. But he did not disappoint when he released the “Difference between NDDC and NCDC.” Nigeria is a nest of political Hushpuppies—from Dino Melaye, an ally of Hushpuppi, to Ayo Fayose, Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji, to Rochas Okorocha, the list is endless.  

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Director-General and CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission was right when she said—in response to the Hushpuppi affair—that the actions of Ramoni Olorunwa Abbas do not reflect who we are as a people. If in defence of our national pride we can afford to “deny” Mr. Abbas, I wonder what Abike Dabiri-Erewa makes of the putrid news of corruption by our Hushpoliticians oozing from every national orifice in the last one month. As a friend remarked when I used the term Hushpoliticians in a WhatsApp group recently, “When you think about it, Hushpuppi is better than these politicians. He is stealing other people’s money while our politicians are robbing our patrimony.”

Of course, there is nothing new about the activities of Hushpuppi and his clan, which includes the likes of Obinwanne George Okeke, aka Invictus Obi, and Olalekan Jacob Ponle, aka Woodberry. The rise of Hushpuppi and others like him must be viewed within the context of the new mode of expropriation and accumulation under capitalism. I am sure there are many young people in Nigeria who want to live the Hushpuppi dream; millions who may never have the benefit of education and opportunity to get a job no matter how hard they try; millions who are daily incubating new schemes while mired in the pain created by Hushpoliticians. Those who do not advance to become Hushpuppi will pray their way to becoming sidekicks and thugs of politicians and ultimately grow into Hushpoliticians.

But this piece is not about Hushpuppi—the young man whose ambition was to own a few commercial motorcycles and marry the daughter of a small-town restaurateur—who has managed to build global notoriety and a rap sheet as long as the Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, UAE. There will be another opportunity to explore the different dimensions of the Hushpuppi phenomenon. Just to say that Nigerian Hushpoliticians are enablers of Hushpuppi and company; the Hushpolitician is the father of Hushpuppi.

Stealing from Nigerians has been a favourite pastime of our Hushpoliticians since independence. But it does appear it has been given some veneer of legality in the last two decades. Let us use Mr. Godswill Akpabio, Nigeria’s Minister of Niger Delta, as a case study. Information available on Wikipedia.org notes that Akpabio has held political office since 2002 when he was appointed Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources in Akwa Ibom State. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as a Commissioner in three key ministries: Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Lands and Housing. He served as governor of the oil-rich state from 2007 to 2015 and senator from 2015 to 2019 when he was appointed a minister after his “uncommon defection” from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Of course, there is nothing progressive about Akpabio and his APC. After leaving office in 2015, Akpabio was the subject of investigation by the Counterterrorism and General Investigation Section of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations that he misappropriated more than N100bn. The allegations against Akpabio border on the award of bogus contracts to cronies who used the proceeds to buy several properties in Lagos and Abuja.

Three years ago, Mr. Akpabio and his colleagues in the “Former Governors Club” incurred the wrath of Nigerians when their allowances and other perquisites of office became public. In January 2017, a report in Vanguard newspaper noted that 47 former governors from 21 states in the country, drew as much as N37.4 billion from the public treasury. At the time of the report, there were 21 serving senators receiving pensions from government as ex-governors and deputy governors. There were also ministers receiving pensions as ex-governors.

As they prepared to leave office in May 2015, many of these Hushpoliticians hurriedly signed or amended existing laws to give themselves fantastic lifetime “retirement benefits.” This was the subject of a 2017 essay and later the title of a pamphlet—The Politics of State Robbery in Nigeria—published in 2018. I shall quote extensively from that essay to underscore the depth of the current crisis.

Akpabio stood out in this official sleaze. While leaving office as governor of Akwa Ibom State, he passed the Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law which entitles a former governor and spouse in the state up to N100 million a year, and a former deputy governor and spouse up to N30 million, for medical treatment. Of course, this is pocket money for Akpabio because he will be paid that money whether he and his wife receive medical treatment or not. With this allowance, there was no incentive for Akpabio to worry about the health infrastructure in his state if he could rob the state to take care of himself and his family indefinitely.

Akpabio’s law provides that as ex-governor, he and his deputy will receive pensions equivalent to 100% of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy (note: 100% of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor, emphasis mine), one house not below 5-bed maisonette in either Abuja or Akwa Ibom for the former governor and 500% annual basic for the deputy for accommodation. For transportation, he and his deputy will get one car and one utility car every four years. Add to this, a furniture allowance, every four years, that is 300% of annual basic salary. He will receive N5 million and his deputy gets N2.5 million for domestic staff. Akpabio was not done. He will get a car maintenance allowance that is 300% of annual basic salary, entertainment allowance, 100% of annual basic salary, utility: 100% of annual basic salary, and severance gratuity: 300% annual basic salary.

The Lagos State Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions Law of 2007 endorsed by ex-governor Babatunde Fashola, now Minister of Works and Housing, is even more lucrative. It provides that a former governor is entitled to six new vehicles (three cars, two back-up cars and one pilot car) every three years and a house in Lagos and another in Abuja, the country’s most expensive housing markets. His deputy gets five vehicles every three years. They and their family members—you only need to invoke the governor’s name to qualify as a family member—are entitled to unlimited free medical services. Their pension will be the equivalent of 100% of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy. There   is   a   furniture   allowance   for   these   former “excellencies” that comes to 300% of their annual basic salary every two years.

We can go on and on. There is no name for this other than robbery. That it is sanctioned by the state makes it no less grievous than armed robbery. I made these arguments three years ago. Since then, nothing has changed—the situation has gotten worse—except the fact that Akpabio has moved from the PDP to the APC. Of course, state robbery—or what the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called Authority Stealing—has no party affiliation. This robbery unites our political elite, no matter their party, religious or ethnic affiliations. Once they are in power, they use the instrumentality of the state to rob their people and the country at will, while using laws to cover their crimes.

This is the scenario currently playing out with the corruption scandal at the NDDC. As Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Akpabio has been accused of sundry acts of corruption by a former acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Joi Nunieh. Mr. Akpabio’s only defence for now is that Joi Nunieh had been married four times. You would think Mr. Akpabio works at a marriage registry not the Ministry of Niger Delta. Meanwhile, the man who ought to sanction Mr. Akpabio and rein in the banditry at the NDDC led by the fainthearted Prof Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei has gone AWOL. Of course, this Daniel is not likely to come to judgement.

While we criticize Mr. Akpabio, Prof Pondei, and others for their malfeasance, we should not lose sight of the bigger problem: the issue of restructuring Nigeria, as well as the current leadership void in the country. We also have Mr. Akpabio to thank for his uncommon insight on why the problem of corruption in the NDDC—and indeed across the country—persists. In an interview with Arise TV, he said the president was not aware of the situation. That is the gut-wrenching reality. We are saddled with an absentee president. No matter how hard Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, the president’s myrmidons, try to spin it, Nigeria is a ship without a captain.

To think we must endure another three years of Buhari’s House of Commotion.

Did I hear someone say #RevolutionNow!

*Onumah’s latest work, When is a Nation: Remaking Nigeria at 60 is due October 1, 2020. He can be reached via conumah@hotmail.com or @conumah

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Zimbabwean Politics Take Sides with Covid-19 outbreak As President Mnangagwa Introduces Curfew .
July 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu   

Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin’ono appears at the magistrates courts while handcuffed in Harare, Wednesday, July, 22, 2020.. Photo AP /Tsvangirayi Mukwazh

Zimbabwe is currently under difficult challenges as President Mnangagwa’s political tactics, strategies and antics hit a snag in his bid to solve a crisis looming. Three days ago activists who had planned the 31 July protests Hopewell Chin’ono a journalist and Jacob Ngarivhume faced an arrest which made President Mnangagwa to call for a curfew a day after their arrest.

In a statement live on broadcast 4 days ago President Mnangagwa asked the nation to take precautions Health measures so as to fight and eliminate Covid-19 a virus which has turned the World topsy-turvy. He also turned Law censorious to those breaching principles of the Public Health Act during this difficult time. This he added would be supported by a curfew meant to restrict and control movements.

‘’We have to be compliant with all the measures put in place so as to stay Health. We ha come out with several measures to make us alive in this difficult time. This is done for people’s Health during Covid-19 . The Law will serious bounce on those found failing to comply with rules. I therefore declare that for us to stay safe as a nation by 600 pm up to 6ooam the morrow day we are all in our homes.

‘’All business closes at 300 pm to pave way for safe ride home, stay away from crowded conditions. In a move to bring more safety, only workers are allowed to get in towns and cities, move around ad do business as usual. Only registered Small to Medium Enterprises do business. Soldiers and police are tightening road blocks throughout the country.’’

However, despite President Mnangagwa’s move to bring sanity and safety during this time, critics from within the Government, Civil Society, Corporate World and the United Nations have repeatedly taken nasty critical swipe on President’s political stance and behaviour meant to make people suffer. He has been criticised for abuse of human rights after the arrest of two activities Chin’ono and Ngarivhume who have been pushing for transitional changes in the country.

Is President Mnangagwa taking Advantage ..

Several critics from all political spheres are critically looking at President Mnangagwa with a twitching eye as curfew zooms during the looming time of covid-19 . President Mnangagwa is to blame for putting tough measures in line with politics linking corona outbreak as the Health challenge. On abuses they now take him for a swipe when he tighten screws on curfew talking Health issues yet they are political sides of the escalating story in the country.

A political Scientist who asked for anonymity had this to say to this on-line . The Professor of the University of Zimbabwe blames politics which he says is the source of Zimbabwe’s challenges since 1980.

‘’ Remember there is a political challenge in the country. People are suffering as we talk politics during covid-19 era . People are not free to move around because of covid-19 turning politics at a time we must be looking only at Public Health issues. There are top figures ready to stir opposition politics and most of them are in ZANU PF . Mind you the 31 July protest by several opposers to Mnangagwa’s rule are backed as well by those in ZANU PF , old political activities , invited MDC people and some opponents speaking tough about the President .’’

A Health Expert points out as well . Asking for anonymity he heavily blasts all political parties .

‘’All political parties are to blame, Why protests and demos yet people are yet to eliminate covid-19 . Our big challenge is covid-19 turns to politics a harsh time snag to Zimbabwe with a bleeding Economy as we try to make ends meet. Politicians are taking advantage ‘’ , he concludes .

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Cameroon: The Government Should be Accountable in its Actions — Experts say
July 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Nkafu Policy Institute through its Governance and Democracy programme is creating avenues to encourage greater participation of the citizens in giving their views on how good governance can be achieved in Cameroon

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

To many non-partisan actors, the crisis which has been on for four years today is symptomatic of poor governance that have not been able to usher in socioeconomic developments to make the population lead better lives. The consequences of these conflicts are so devastating that it appears there is urgency to debate and propose solid measures that will promote good governance and development.

The event that was held July 17, 2020, was organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation in partnership with the National Empowerment for Democracy.

During the event presentations were centered on the following key thematic: Overview of the Governance in Cameroon, The link between governance practices and conflicts in Cameroon, Accountability as the fundamental requirement of Good Governance, and A path to good governance in Cameroon, and the restoration of lasting peace and security.

Speaking on accountability and what can be done to encourage it in Cameroon Rene Momene Otte, Expert in International cooperation said good governance is transparent, open and honesty, while it is also responsive. He added that good governance makes it possible for corrupt officials to be punished.

“Accountability means answerability. If a government is answerable then it is accountable. Government should be willing to acknowledge errors, mistakes, and that is what governance is,” He said.

Asked on what is the best method of promoting good governance Mr Momene said the diaspora at the moment is already doing its part, posing a lot of questions. “The government needs to be humble and accept the realities on the ground. We need to be advocating for better services, better treatment of the population, advocating for the right to live.

“Good governance is the solution to the numerous problems we have in our country today. Peace and security challenges are a result of bad governance,” Beng Primus, Instructor of International relations and conflict resolution, University of Buea said. “We have to avoid imported constitution. For good governance to hold, Cameroon needs to create its own constitution independent of France and take in to cognizance there are diverse communities in Cameroon and it should be reflected in our constitution.”

“The second aspect is to understand resource governance in Cameroon. The government has to take the responsibility that where the resources are coming from the areas that produce the resources need to be taken care of.” “The peace building process has to encompass electoral assistance, judicial reforms, measures to strengthen health and education, job creation especially for the youths. These are some policies the government needs to put in place to restore lasting peace in Cameroon.

According to a concept note from the Nkafu Policy Institute, since independence, many pundits quickly criticize the quality of governance by the dominantly centralized governments as responsible for security and other development challenges. Ironically, the country is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, timber, and agricultural products. Despite this rich natural endowment, it would seem that the existing governance dispensation in the country since its independence from colonial rule has generated divisions, injustice, prejudice, growing inequalities among the citizenry based on ethnicity, language and other class principles.

Some ethnic groups seem to have been favoured over others regarding appointments and resource allocation. The theory of regional balance in resource allocation, and distribution of state resources as preached by the government is selective and discriminatory. This is possible because centralization gave the government of Cameroon tremendous authority over most aspects of politics and economic control.

This event like others seeks to provide Scholars, Youth Leaders and Citizens a platform to amplify their voices that would significantly contribute to good governance in Cameroon, especially through the promotion of a democracy that works. It is in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank (research center) of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, which is to carry out independent research and provide in-depth and insightful evidence based recommendations that advance the development of Cameroon and other sub-Saharan African countries.

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Cameroon: Chief Nkemayang Paul, Publisher of The Star Newspaper interred
July 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Chief Foanyi Nkemayang Paul was a household name in Cameroon Journalism

One of the leading campaigners for media rights in Cameroon and the Publisher of the Star Newspaper Chief Foanyi Nkemayang Paul, who died June 18, 2020, had been laid to rest. The burial of the journalist, traditional ruler took place July 25, 2020, in Limbe, South West Region of Cameroon.

The late traditional ruler died of a reported diabetic coma at the Presbyterian Health Centre in Down Beach Limbe. According to the wife, the late Chief Nkemayang Paul was rushed to the hospital and his vital signs were checked, revealing that his blood sugar level was above 500 which made him to go into a diabetic coma before his demise.

Scores of people, friends, family members, fellow journalists, and government officials (Minister Paul Tasong, Senator Mbella Moki Charles, Andrew Motanga Monjimba, Limbe City Mayor) turned out at the Catholic Church in Bonadikombo, Mile 4, Limbe to pay their last respect.

Chief Nkemayang Paul took his final breathe on June 18, 2020
Chief Nkemayang Paul took his final breathe on June 18, 2020

He founded The Star Newspaper in January 1991. The Knight of the National Order of Valour was pioneer President of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, CJA Cameroon cumulatively serving as Vice President of CJA Africa.

Chief Nkemayang Paul was a founding member of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, and a founding member of the National Communication Council. He was also technical adviser to the Cameroon Anglophone Newspaper Publishers Association, and a traditional ruler in his native Lebialem. He was crowned Osari Maribu in Manyu among other traditional titles he received.

Speaking to the mourners His Lordship Bishop Andrew Nkea of the Bamenda Metropolitan Archdiocese said, “We have lost a promoter of social justice, and an ambassador of truth.” “Chief Nkemayang was ready to give his all for his people and defend human rights.”

The Bishop went on to call on all to stay awake and for all to be ready as they do not know what tomorrow lies ahead. To him, everyone should be dress for action as one can just drop dead at any moment. “Always stand for truth and do not manipulate information for your advantage. Always have the duty for you to defend those who are being oppressed,” Bishop Andrew Nkea told journalists.

Chief Nkemayang dedicated his over three-decade journalism career fighting for a better society, improved working conditions for journalists and the abolition of obnoxious and archaic media laws. As a journalist he had no fewer than eight detentions without trial. He was never prosecuted, but was always persecuted. Chief Nkemayang’s courage and readiness to continue doing his work in truth won him several distinctions at home and abroad.

Chief Nkemayang Paul was posthumously decorated Commander of the National Order of Valour
Chief Nkemayang Paul was posthumously decorated Commander of the National Order of Valour

It was his advocacy of a free press and journalists’ rights for which Chief Foanyi will probably be most remembered. He was detained several times by the authorities but never prosecuted. He was prominent most recently in the campaign for justice for fellow Cameroonian journalist Samuel Wazizi, who died in suspicious circumstances while being detained by the military.

“A good journalist must be somebody who is courageous, one who speaks the truth without blinking, and one who writes without blemish,” Chief Foanyi Nkemayang Paul once said.

Samuel Wazizi had been accused of speaking critically on air about the authorities and their handling of the crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, where clashes between soldiers and separatists calling for independence or more autonomy have left many dead.  Many more thousands of people have been displaced.

In white, Wife and children of the late Chief Nkemayang Paul
In white, Wife and children of the late Chief Nkemayang Paul

The late Chief Nkemayang Paul was posthumously decorated Commander of the National Order of Valour, something the chief had been seeking before his demise. “… Today I feel like he is a happy man and I feel that what he wanted 9Commader of the National Order of Valour) the state has recognized him even at his dead,” Solomon Agborem, Editor of the Star Newspaper told PAV.

“… We are going to miss him but I can assure the Cameroonian people that we will continue dedicating service and truth as our motto of The Star Newspaper. The paper lives on, and they should expect to read from us as the bigger stories are right ahead.”     

Journalists from across paid their last respect to Chief Nkemayang Paul
Journalists from across paid their last respect to Chief Nkemayang Paul

“He was someone who not only fought for the rights of journalists but fought against all forms of gross human rights violations. It is a big loss not only to the media houses but for everyone in the North West and South West Regions. We hope the young journalists will follow in the chief’s footstep and leave a legacy for posterity,” Barrister Agbor Nkongho Felix said.

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Saudi Ministry of Media Inaugurates Hajj Virtual Press Office and Integrated Media Services Platform
July 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

Platform to provide international and local journalists with access to exclusive videos, photos and comments

It represents a paradigm shift in keeping with global digital transformation, whilst mitigating impact of current travel limitations

MAKKAH, July 25, 2020 — In the context of its exceptional coverage of Hajj 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Media has inaugurated an advanced digital service which meets all international and local media requirements, and ensures the best-in-class service to local and international media covering this year’s Hajj season. The service will allow journalists to receive key files, materials and comments, respond to media inquiries, interview officials and stakeholders and attend and participate in live press conferences.

The digital service, which will be available in Arabic and English under the name of Hajj Virtual Press Office will address the challenges of information acquisition and the international transmission of media materials.

Through the platform, local and international journalists will be able to request exclusive services, such as high-quality pictures or custom-made videos, in addition to remote access to all other available services, including hosting officials or stakeholders for exclusive interviews and obtaining comments and responses to inquiries, journalists as well as the general public will also be able to view media content intended for the wider public.

Hundreds of Saudi-based journalists, along with more than 2,500 international journalists registered with the Communication Agency’s database, will receive emails to register their names on the digital platform to benefit from the services of the Hajj Virtual Press Office, for which the Communication Agency has dedicated a team of media professionals and international media relations officers to ensure that journalists get the best-in-class services.

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Pilgrims start to arrive in Makkah in preparation for Hajj 2020
July 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

MAKKAH, July 25. 2020 – Pilgrims arrive in the holy city of Makkah July 25 in preparation for Hajj, which begins on July 28. The major Islamic pilgrimage will continue until August 2. This year marks an exception for the annual pilgrimage, with the Saudi authorities having to balance their responsibility as the host of the Muslim world’s biggest and most important religious gathering with the urgency to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Also shown in the photos are items in a special bag kit containing a face mask, Hajj ihram cloth garment, a prayer rug, ritual stones, as well as personal hygiene items such as shaving instruments, personal care tools, a guidebook for the pilgrimage and other amenities. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah – as part of its precautionary health measures – has provided each of the pilgrims with these kits.

As a precautionary measure, the pilgrims needed to undergo a weeklong home isolation (which ended on Saturday, July 25), before undergoing a mandatory quarantine for four days at designated hotels in the holy city before the start of the pilgrimage. This ought to be followed by another round of self-isolation post-pilgrimage. The Kingdom has also announced drastic curbs to numbers for pilgrims, allowing only citizens and residents – representing 160 nationalities – who meet certain criteria to perform Hajj, a religious journey which every Muslim should perform at least once in their lifetimes provided they are able physically and financially.  Pilgrims who managed to get a spot were randomly selected through an automated system. Health standards of individuals were the primary determinant factor for selecting pilgrims this year, according to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Other criteria stipulated that individuals should be between the ages of 20 and 50, free of chronic diseases and should produce a PCR-test result to prove that they are free of the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set up tents at Mount Arafat and made transport arrangements for pilgrims who will have to adhere to strict social-distancing norms. A group leader has been identified for each group of pilgrims, to make sure that the preventive measures and health messages are clearly communicated to them. This leader will facilitate communication with the pilgrims and inform them of developments first-hand.

As for the isolation procedures, the pilgrims must wear electronic bracelets to ensure that they are adhering to ‘domestic isolation’ procedures before they head to the holy places. They have to undergo the ‘institutional isolation’ from the 4th to the 8th of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah (Saturday July 25 to Tuesday July 28) in Makkah, according to Ministry of Hajj and Umrah officials.

*Ministry of Media

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