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American rapper, Ludacris and family get Gabonese citizenship
January 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Ludacris and family pose with Gabonese official brandishing their passports
Ludacris and family pose with Gabonese official brandishing their passports

American rapper, Christopher Brian Bridges known by his stage name, Ludacris is now a Gabonese citizen alongside his family after saying “yes” during the holiday season as they went down to Africa.

Gabon is his wife’s home country and located on the western coast of central Africa.

Ludacris, rapper/actor with three Grammy Awards to his name, twenty awards including three Grammys, two Billboard, three BET, four MTV among others shared a video on Instagram of himself receiving dual citizenship.

“Starting My New Year off with Dual Citizenship!” he wrote in the video’s caption. “AFRICA IM OFFICIAL!! Momma & Kids Too. The Best Gift of the Decade.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I just became an official citizen of Gabon,” he said in a clip. “Of Africa! I am a loyal citizen of Zamunda! I mean, Gabon…this is the greatest day of my life! And Wakanda. All of that”, he added making known his intentions to get to work immediately.

News reports hold that they American based star is aiming to invest heavily in the country, now his second home. American actor; Samuel L Jackson, also holds a Gabonese passport while British actor, Idris Elba got his dual citizenship with Sierra Leone.

Ever since last year when Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo launched the year of return wherein he urged African diaspora to return home and help fuel development in the continent.

The program continues to gain momentum and has seen several Africans in the diaspora “going back” to African including World hip-hop billionaire Jay-Z and wife Beyonce and several other influential Africans in the diaspora. 

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PRESIDENT BUHARI RECEIVES EMBALO, GUINEA-BISSAU PRESIDENT-ELECT; STRESSES COMMITMENT TO WEST AFRICAN STABILITY
January 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Buhari with Guinea Bissau President Elect

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday reiterated his desire for stability, peace, progress and prosperity in the entire West African sub-region.

Responding to Umaro Muhktar Sissoco Embalo, the President-elect of Guinea Bissau, who came to Nigeria on a “thank you visit” and to express his “good wishes” following his emergence as winner in the keenly contested, just-concluded elections in his country, President Buhari said, “Without stability, there can be no development. We will do whatever it will take to stabilize the sub-region.”

President Buhari commended the out-going President, José Mário Vaz, himself a candidate in the elections for supporting the emergence of Embalo in the second round of balloting “in the interest of peace and stability.”

He said history will remember President Mario Vaz for putting National interest above his own, emphasizing that he cared for peace within the region.

The Nigerian President expressed his desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples and reiterated his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in West Africa.

President-elect Embalo, a businessman-turned politician, was Prime Minister of Guinea Bissau under incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz between 2016 and 2018.

He was a member of the ruling African Party of Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) when he founded the Movement for Democratic Alternative (MADEM-G15) on which platform he won the elections.

He praised President Buhari for his support leading to his emergence as winner in the elections and expressed his appreciation for the warm and friendly disposition of Nigeria towards him and the people of his country.

He informed the Nigerian leader of his selection as the Guest of Honour at the Presidential inauguration coming up next month and for which he received assurances from President Buhari that he will make the best efforts to be present.

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Rays of Hope From Guinea Bissau
January 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan*

It has been easy to overlook the recent election cycle in Guinea-Bissau. The initial round occurred on November 24th 2019. The results determined that a runoff would be needed and then incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz who finished in fourth would not participate.

This meant that the potential of a peaceful transition would take place in a country where most transfers were the results of coups.  The runoff on December 29th 2019 would be a contest among the opposition parties. The contenders for the second round were former prime ministers as well. One was Umaro Sissoco Embalo of the Madem G15 party and Domingos Simoes Pereira of PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde).

The results from the runoff would show that the next President of Guinea-Bissau will be Umaro Sissoco Embalo. Although it appears that the results may be contested the fact remains that Jose Mario Vaz will be the first President of the West African Nation to fully complete a full term of office and transfer the position to a successor without involving Bloodshed. This is a feat in the history of the country which gained Independence from Portugal in 1974.

Some of the comments made by voters stated that it was time to “move the country forward”. This is a term that has been used often in elections where there has been change that one segment of the population has sought.

The Country has had its down points. A former head of the Military was indicted by the United States for Drug Trafficking, Several Cartels from South America used the country as a transit point in shipping narcotics to Europe and other parts of Africa and at one point was seen as being under the thumb of former Gambian President Yaya Jammeh.

The UN Representative for West Africa also commended the people of Guinea-Bissau for the role in the voting but also took the time to highlight the activities of the Political Candidates for their rhetoric and allowing for the process at play to move forward in a positive manner.

Having both candidates with experience as Prime Minister did help some (even though both were fired by the outgoing President.) One can wonder just how much of a role the tug of war between President and Prime Minister had in this election as a whole and is the potential power struggle between these two positions could lead to future crisis situations within the

Country.

* *The Author is President Red Eagle Enterprises, a firm with the dual Mission of Supporting African Business Development, and also Providing Analysis of African Intelligence, and assistance in relations with the United States Government .He sits on the Round tables for the Advocacy Network for Africa, and the International Religious Freedom Caucus in Washington ,DC.The views are his.

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Staying Off Social Media Will Not Kill You
January 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jojo Amiegbe *

Ever find yourself constantly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, purely out of boredom? 

If you took the time to analyze the situation, you realize you spend a ‘good chunk’ of your day scrolling past feeds that you honestly could have gone about your day not knowing or seeing. I’m not here to judge anyone who is very active or interactive on social media. 

Granted, it’s a place to stay engaged with people, catch up on what’s trending, even see first hand what your favorite celebrity/public figure said, wore, bought, went, ate, and so on. But there’s a reason why the saying goes, ‘too much of a good thing, ain’t good’

Social media (depending on how you use it) can make one feel insecure and unaccomplished. You see your peers, or just any random famous face put up a post of an expensive ride they got, a new house they just acquired, maybe your friend from school got engaged, or they’re letting you in on how they’re spending their vacation. And you’re there with your phone, sipping on your pure water, fanning yourself because ‘down NEPA’, thinking ‘ah, these people are living the life o, chai…’, but deep down, you wish your life was half as glamorous as they have depicted theirs to be, maybe you end up dealing with a pang of envy, ready to say something spiteful when you come across someone with whom you can gossip with about what you read/saw.

They say ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’, and instead of spending most of my time looking down at my phone every 5 seconds to catch just about everything that’s going on on social media, I’d rather ‘face my front’ and set my sights on achieving the goals I have set for myself while watching/reading content online that brings me closer to greatness.

Do you spend your time trolling or responding in just about every comment section available, how much you hate what someone said/did, wishing them the worst thing imaginable? Are you one of those who have social media accounts, just so you can stalk and troll (maybe anonymously), or write the most hurtful things to a person, forgetting they are people too, with actual feelings?

Someone once said, ‘social media is where we put up the best version of ourselves’

Let’s say you have specific skills you want the world to know. Do your accounts show off your work, how have you used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the other platforms to ‘sell yourself’?

Basically, what exactly are you gaining from social media? Are you better or worse off because of it? Why are you there in the 1st place?

That FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’) mentality can keep one glued to the computer/phone screen for hours when that time could be allocated to more meaningful and productive work away from the refresh button.

Social media does not have to be the 1st thing you see when you wake up in the morning, or last thing before you go to bed. 

I would honestly recommend you consider logging out if you can afford to, or at least take a critical look at how you engage on social media and see if it has affected your time management towards the productive pursuit of other endeavors, as well as overall peace of mind.

*Josephine Odion Amiegbe or Jojo as she is simply called by everyone is from Esan South East local government area Edo State but was born and bred in Lagos State.Currently a radio personality at The Beat 97.9 FM Ibadan, hosting the Morning Rush weekdays from 6 am to 11 am. Josephine loves to write and her work as a contributive writer has been featured in the Dining Out section of Ibadan City Info magazine. She also has several articles published in some online blogs and presently contributes to Opera News Hub as a Health & Fitness writer.

CONNECT WITH JOJO:TWITTER/INSTAGRAM: @jojoamiegbe, email: hello@jojoamiegbe.com

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Cameroon:Barrister Ajong Stanislaus Appointed Chairman/ Country Co-ordinator of the African Bar Association
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Barrister Ajong has been tasked with co-ordinating all the activities of the African Bar Association in Cameroon, mobilize and recruit members of the Afba and effectively bring information to, and from the association

Renowned Human Rights Lawyer Barrister Ajong Stanislaus, who has over twenty years of experience in the law profession, has been appointed as the Chairman/country Co-ordinator of the prestigious African Bar Association.

His appointment is contained in a document signed by the President of the African Bar Association, Hannibal Uwaifo on December 27, 2019.

Holder of an LL.M in Human Rights Law from the University of Aberdeen- Scotland, Stanislaus Ajong is a Chevening Scholar and an International Human Rights Lawyer with wide experience in Cameroon, and Africa. Called to the Cameroon Bar in 1999, he founded and is presently Managing Partner of Security Law Firm situated in Tiko, South West Region of Cameroon.

According to the letter , a copy of which was seen by Pan African Visions, Barrister Ajong has been tasked with co-coordinating all the activities of the African Bar Association in Cameroon, mobilize and recruit members of the Afba and effectively bring information to, and from the association. He is equally called upon to represent Cameroon in the Governing and Executive Councils, and to solicit for funding support and resource persons for Afba.

Ajong Stanislaus has handled a number of Communications before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Republic of Cameroon and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on behalf of the people of Southern Cameroons in their quest for the respect of the right to self-determination.

A Lecturer of Human Rights and Development at graduate and undergraduate level in the Pan African Institute for Development in Africa – PAID-WA between 2010 -2013, he equally facilitated two legal clinics in Kenya on the right to Education and Employment in Africa.

He previously took the University of Buea to court to challenge the admission procedures which he considered unfavorable to Anglophone applicants.

He was President of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) — the Umbrella organization for Lawyers of the Cameroon Bar Association resident in Fako Division from 2010-2015. The Association partnered with other bodies during this time to fight for the respect of the rights of vulnerable persons, particularly, instituting proceedings on behalf of persons detained indefinitely awaiting trial and also for the decriminalization of journalistic offenses.

“I attended BGS Buea and I went through a bilingual system, and I know the strong points of the Anglophone system of education and know some in the Fancophone system of education and when I saw the admission procedures where Anglophones were denied the right to gain admission to the University of Buea because of lack of O-Level English and the fact that Francophones were given the opportunity to have an intensive English class for six weeks, and have direct admission to Buea, I cried foul; And at the time, admissions were not uniform,” He said in an interview with The Sun Newspaper in 2015. 

“… My action was dismissed but today the University of Buea has undergone some reformation. I have been in this for quite some time, and I was happy because it was no longer an individual fight but a collective one. We can count over 95% of Anglophone lawyers following this course and we think the plight of the English-speaking Cameroonian will no longer be the same again after May, 9, 2015.”

The renowned human rights lawyer who is equally an author had his secondary education in the Bilingual Grammar School, Molyko -Buea before proceeding to the University of Yaounde where he obtained the First Degree in Law. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) awarded him the highly prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2015.

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Botswana:Masisi Drunk on Power says Khama
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Former President of Botswana Ian Khama says his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi is drunk on power
Former President of Botswana Ian Khama says his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi is drunk on power

Former President of Botswana Ian Khama is lashing out at current President Mokgweetsi Masisi for been drunk on power. Khama spoke his mind during an interview with Peter Clottey of VOA’s Nightline Africa radio program.

During the interview, Khama was asked about the allegations of corruption that he is currently facing. He vehemently denied the claims saying that the allegations were all part of a plot by Masisi and his friends to silence him so that he does not voice his concerns about the direction the country is facing.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration alleges that Khama misappropriated billions in the local currency during his two terms as Botswana president. While no case has been opened as yet, rumours doing the rounds suggest that it’s only a matter of time before Khama is dragged before the courts. Khama during his interview said that he plans to take the matter to court himself to sue the government and clear his name and called the allegations ‘laughable’.

The ‘laughable’ false accusation according to Khama is simply a payback by members of the ruling party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for his decision to campaign against them in the recent presidential election. “The only reason that this was done was because a few months ago I resigned from the ruling party. Because they had abandoned our democratic credentials that we have had such a good reputation with up to this point in time.”

Khama went on to state that “They (Masisi administration) swore that they would ‘get at me and fix me’ in their own words for having done that (campaigning against the ruling party in the recent presidential election).”

Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime Jako Hubona recently accused Khama and two other former high ranking government officials of transferring state funds to personal bank accounts in Hong Kong and South Africa. At the moment, no charges have been pressed against Khama but Weleminah Maswabi, a former senior intelligence officer was formally charged.

Khama said Masisi was drunk on power as all he strives for is to reverse all the work that he put in place during his presidency. Khama used the reverse on the ban on trophy hunting of elephants to illustrate his point. Khama said though Masisi is bent on uprooting his legacy by destroying the policies that he put in place, he has not done anything to interfere. “A new administration is at liberty to introduce its own policies. So when he did it I just said, ‘Well that’s fine,’ … he’s the president today. If he wants to bring about those policy changes, he’s quite entitled to do so. I did the same thing. So who am I to try and challenge them.”

According to Khama, the only thing that he is worried about is the state of democracy in the country. He said Botswana has been sliding down on the democracy scale something which is exemplified by the fact that the ruling party postponed primary elections three times in the build up to the recent presidential election. All postponements came after reports of alleged vote buying. Speaking on Botswana’s democracy, Khama said “I would say it’s definitely in decline. If you’ve been following how our elections went, you would see that a number of petitions before the courts about allegations of rigging of the elections. Something certainly went wrong there that we’ve never, ever seen before.”

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US Recalls Ambassador to Zambia over Gay Rights Row with Host Government
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Daniel Foote served as the US Ambassador to Zambia for over two years
Daniel Foote served as the US Ambassador to Zambia for over two years

The US State Department recently recalled the US Ambassador to Zambia. The decision came after an exchange of words between the ambassador and the Zambian government mainly over the issue of gay rights.

Daniel Foote who served as the US Ambassador to Zambia for over two years made some critical remarks regarding a court decision which jailed two men for having consensual sexual intercourse. The Zambian High Court sentenced Steven Samba and Japhet Chataba to 15 years in jail; this came after the court heard that the two had booked into a lodge in 2017 and were seen having sex by a worker who peeped through an open window. Foote in a heavily worded letter said that the court’s decision undermined human rights.

The highly conservative Zambian government which criminalizes acts of homosexuality was not pleased at all with Foote’s remarks and quickly through the Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji issued a statement saying, “You (Foote) cannot ask a government to make a decision at gun point – ‘because we are giving you aid, we want you to do this’ – you can’t.”

The response by the Zambian government led Foote to defend himself saying his statement regarding the sentencing of the two men was simply his belief and that belief is that the sentence was harsh. Foote went further to state that the relationship between his country and Zambia was ‘decaying’ as the Zambian government only prefers to deal with diplomats “with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

Aside from the issue of the gay rights, Foote also weighed in on the issue of donor aid which has been misappropriated by the Zambian government. Zambia as stated by Foote is one of the largest per-capita recipients of US aid, getting about $500 million annually. However, despite the massive aid inflows the country receives, there is very little work on the ground that suggests that the aid is being put to good use. According to Foote, this is as a result of funds misappropriation by top government officials who channel the funds for their personal use.

The ‘direct’ words uttered by Foote in relation to the gay rights issue and the misappropriation of donor aid forced the Zambian President Edgar Lungu to speak out saying, “Even animals don’t do it, so why should we be forced to do it?…because we want to be seen to be smart, civilized and advanced and so on.” The Zambia President proceeded to send a protest letter to Washington over Foote’s remarks calling for the US Ambassador to be withdrawn stating his position is untenable.

Washington’s response was to recall Foote. Tibor Nagy, the Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs in a Tweet stated that “Dismayed by the Zambian government’s decision requiring our Ambassador Foote’s departure from the country.”

US embassy sources who spoke to the New York Post said that Washington’s decision was taken solely on the basis that it was difficult for the Ambassador to conduct his duties in a country that no longer wanted him. “Since Lungu says he does not want to work with Foote, there was no point of him remaining. Also don’t forget that there are security issues so Washington wants their man back.” “The US cannot be paying a salary to someone who cannot work because the hosts don’t want him,” another source said.

Though the US government took the decision to recall its Ambassador, the statement issued by the State Department spokesperson clearly shows that Washington took the side of its Ambassador. “The United States firmly opposed abuses against LGBTI persons; Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”

Though Washington backed its man, some Americans were not pleased with the decision taken to recall the Ambassador. Writing for CNN, Jill Filipovic said the move taken by Washington was a cowardly move which aptly shows the Trump administration’s penchant for siding with shady actors over US interests. Jill Filipovic likened the decision to Trump administration’s decision to continue friendly relations with Saudi Arabia despite the country’s atrocious human rights record. Filipovic states that Foote said nothing but the truth in lambasting the Zambian government for its stance on gay rights and government corruption. “Foote’s claims were true…there is not a question that the country does indeed jail people for homosexuality. Various watchdog groups have repeatedly noted Zambia’s corruption, and an assortment of European governments suspended aid to the country in 2018 because of embezzlement schemes.”

Filipovic went on to state that Foote’s claims are in line with the American values, the values that ambassadors are supposed to promote abroad. As such, recalling a man who was upholding and promoting American values shows the errors with the Trump administration. The decision taken by the Trump administration according to Filipovic proves to the corrupt and bigoted world leaders that they have a friend in America. To Americans, the decision proves that they might not have a friend. Filipovic believes the government should have backed their ambassador, making clear that American diplomats will indeed have the space to voice American values – basic things like “don’t put gay people in jail” and “don’t steal aid money” – even when inconvenient for a host country.

Writing for the BBC, Kennedy Gondwe said the US Ambassador’s recall is a victory for the Zambian government as it is rare to hear of an African country forcing a superpower to recall its ambassador. Though this is the case, the big question is, will be victory last. America may retaliate by cutting aid especially after Foote’s remarks concerning the misappropriation of donor funds. If such happens, then Zambia might lose big time as it depends heavily on donor aid especially when it comes to combating diseases which include HIV/AIDS.  

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Namibia’s ‘Fishrot’ Scandal Rains On SWAPO’s Victory Parade
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Several figures close to Namibian President Hage Geingob were filmed discussing the laundering of political contributions
Several figures close to Namibian President Hage Geingob were filmed discussing the laundering of political contributions

Namibians went to the polls on 27 November to select the country’s next president and members of Parliament. As has become the tradition in this Southern African nation, the incumbent from the ruling party, SWAPO which has been in power since independence won the presidential race. The ruling party also won the highest number of votes in the House of Assembly.

Despite the recent electoral victory, SWAPO was not entirely impressed with the triumph. The election saw the party lose a significant amount of support. In the 2014 election, the president managed to win the vote with 87 percent but that figure plummeted to just 56.3 percent in the 2019 election. In the parliamentary vote, SWAPO in 2014 won the election with a commanding 80 percent of the vote but that too plummeted in the recent election as the party only managed to garner 65.5 percent of the vote.

SWAPO’s poor performance in the recent election did demonstrate one thing, that is, the party just like its revolutionary compatriots in South Africa (ANC), Mozambique (FRELIMO) and Zimbabwe (ZANU PF) faces a stern test of transformation if it is to stay relevant. If the party fails to transform itself, then the future is bleak and the 2019 election effectively spells the beginning of the end for SWAPO.

SWAPO does it a wholesome transformation and the first port of call will be for the party to change the rather dark image that has befallen it. SWAPO’s dark image has been brought about by different circumstances and events which include the Fishrot scandal, a scandal which to a larger extent contributed to SWAPO’s dismal performance (comparatively) in the recent election.

The Fishrot scandal relates to the corruption case unveiled by the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit in which several figures close to Namibian President Hage Geingob were filmed discussing the laundering of political contributions. Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit in a film titled Anatomy of a Bribe exposed the corruption in the fishing industry in Namibia. Part of the Al Jazeera investigation team posed as Chinese investors looking to acquire highly lucrative fishing quotas for a proposed joint venture with Omualu, a Namibian fishing company.

During the deliberations, Bernhard Esau, Namibia’s now former minister of fisheries and marine resources solicited for a ‘donation’ of $200 000 from the ‘Chinese investors’. The solicitation was premised on the ground that the ‘donation’ would go towards the SWAPO campaign as the country was gearing towards a general election.

To ensure that the ‘donation’ reached its destination without raising eyebrows, Esau instructed Sacky Kadhila-Amoomo, Omualu’s managing director to receive the donation on behalf of the party under the guise of foreign investment in a real estate. Afterwards, the donation was to find its way to the trust account of Sisa Namandje, Hage Geingob’s personal lawyer. Thereafter, the funds would be channelled to SWAPO’s election campaign coffers.

The deliberations between the ‘Chinese investors’ and the government officials including Omualu top brass also resulted in a $500 000 bribe being solicited. During the deliberations, the ‘Chinese investors’ were asked to make a $500 000 payment and give a 20 percent share of the joint-venture to Mike Nghipunya, the CEO of the state-run fishing company Fishcor. For quenching the thirst of Fishcor, the state-run fishing company would in return provide preferential access to its fishing quotas. The fishing quotas are allocated by the minister of fisheries.

The Al Jazeera Investigative Unit decided to undertake the undercover operations following the release of Johannes Stefansson’s documents. Johannes Stefansson is a former employee of Samherji, an Icelandic fishing conglomerate believed to have colluded with senior business and political figures in Namibia to gain preferential access to the country’s lucrative fishing grounds. Stefansson released his documents to the whistleblowing group Wiki Leaks. In the leaked documents, Al Jazeera reports that from 2012 to the present day, Samherji made payments totalling more than $10m to Esau, as well as to companies owned by Shanghala, Esau’s son in law Tamson Hatuikulipi, and to his cousin James Hatuikulipi, Chairman of Fishcor; the payments were invoiced as consultancy fees.

In the wake of the Fishrot scandal, Namibia’s minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, the Chairman of Fiscor James Hatuikulipi, as well as the minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, resigned. The CEO of Samherji, Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson also stepped down pending an internal investigation by the company.

The Fishrot scandal denotes the huge scale of corruption in the Namibian public sector with top officials from the government (SWAPO) involved. In transforming the party, SWAPO does need to shed off this corrupt image otherwise, the beginning of the end that’s already in motion can exacerbate. Commendable transformation actions have been taken by the party in power with the Election Day arrests but more needs to be done. On the day of the election, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Sacky Shanghala and Bernhard Esau were arrested on corruption and fraud charges. All parties implicated in the fraud in Al Jazeera’s film deny any wrongdoing.  

The one main area in which the Fishrot scandal affects SWAPO pertains to the urban vote mostly the youth (fishing workers) and the working class. The heavy losses suffered by SWAPO in urban areas such as Windhoek and Walvis Bay bear testimony to this. The first direct consequence of the Fishrot scandal was the loss of employment in the fishing industry. Those who lost their jobs were mostly the youth, a large number of whom hail from urban centres. In the context of economic depression and mass unemployment, the Fishrot scandal came at the worst possible time for SWAPO. This is further compounded by the radical working-class group in Walvis Bay which since the 1971 general strike has demonstrated its ability to voice its anger whenever it senses injustice. The now unemployed fishing workers could be the spark that gets the working class into action and once this occurs, the future for SWAPO will definitely be bleak.

In as much as the recent electoral figures are ample proof of the damage done by the Fishrot scandal, the decision by SWAPO member Panduleni Itula to capitalize on a loophole in the Constitution that allows a card-carrying party member to contest as an independent in the presidential race does show the fissures that now exist in SWAPO. Such fissures resulting in the emergence of splinter parties as has been the case with other revolutionary parties in Southern Africa have the potential to split the revolutionary parties’ votes thereby rendering it weaker come election time.

Against this background, the ball is definitely in SWAPO’s hands. How SWAPO handles itself in the next five years will determine if the party will continue to be relevant in years to come or if the 2019 election indeed marked the beginning of the end. Many revolutionary parties in Southern Africa have failed to transform themselves; it’s now to be seen if SWAPO is going to be the first party to do so.    

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Zimbabwe: Can Mbeki Mend Fences Between President Mnangagwa and Opposition Challenger Chamisa?
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Former President Thabo Mbeki is trying to Break the Impasse between the Ruling Party and the Main Opposition Party  in Zimbabwe
Former President Thabo Mbeki is trying to Break the Impasse between the Ruling Party and the Main Opposition Party in Zimbabwe

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki recently made a visit to neighbouring Zimbabwe with the aim of easing the political tensions being experienced in the country. Mbeki’s visit saw him visit Zimbabwe’s top political leaders including the President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the leader of the main opposition party Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.

Thabo Mbeki’s visit surprised many as there had been no rumours of such a visit both in the state as well as private media. Before the visit, influential people in different circles, as well as the general public, were calling upon the church to spearhead negotiations between the president and the main opposition party citing that only negotiations were capable of easing the ever-rising political tensions in the country as well as the deteriorating economic conditions.

Since the last election conducted in July 2018, Zimbabwe has steadily deteriorated politically, economically and socially. On the political front, numerous cases of human rights abuses have been reported as well as recorded. Just after Election Day in 2018, several people were gunned down by security forces while many others were injured as they protested the outcome of the election. In January 2019, security forces heavily clamped down on protesters who were calling on the government to act on the bread price increase; a number of people were shot dead, others succumbed to injuries they sustained from beatings while many were left with permanent injuries. Over the course of the year in 2019, there were dozens of cases of abductions and torture mostly targeting the members of the opposition party, members of the civic society, as well as media personalities critical of the government.

On the economic front, Zimbabwe continued to slide towards hyperinflation. Prices of basic commodities have risen sharply. Basic commodities such as bread have become a luxury as only the rich are able to purchase bread on a daily basis. Other essential commodities such as fuel, electricity and medication have also risen sharply in the process making the life of the ordinary man difficult. This has been compounded by the fact that while prices of commodities have been rising, wages and salaries have remained constant thereby eroding purchasing power. To make matters worse, often wages and salaries are deposited into one’s bank account. Withdrawing one’s salary from the bank is a difficult thing to do owing to the current liquidity challenges. What this means is that one has to spend hours or in some instances spend the whole night in a bank queue just to withdraw a small portion of his/her salary. If one opts against spending much time in a bank queue and opt to use a bank card, s/he will have to part with a lot of money in the form of transaction fees (POS fees). Even more depressing is the fact that most merchants have different prices for the same commodity depending on the form of money one is using. When using cash, prices will be relatively cheaper than when using a bank card.

The economic situation has not only affected individuals in their homes but has also affected the industry as well. Production capacity in industries has decreased owing to inadequate electricity supplies which have seen some areas going for 18 hours a day without electricity. As this is not bad enough, industries have been finding it difficult to source foreign currency from the central bank hence resorting to the black market where they are charged exorbitant fees. The end result is that industries in the quest to remain in operation have placed the burden on the consumers.

On the social front, a silent genocide has been taking place in the country’s hospitals and clinics. The government has been failing in its mandate to stock all hospitals and clinics with essential medicines. On top of it all, the government has been involved in a ‘war’ with medical personnel including nurses and doctors. The war has seen nurses and doctors take turns to undertake industrial action. At one point, the country’s doctors went on strike for nearly 100 days! In their absence, patients suffering from basic conditions, unfortunately, could not receive any help and many subsequently died. While some doctors have returned to work, they are still faced with the challenge of a lack of medical equipment and supplies which makes their job difficult. Essentially, what this means is that even in their presence, patients still continue to die as there are no medicines in the hospitals. Only those who are fortunate to be rich and wealthy are guaranteed to receive the necessary medical help as they can visit private health institutions which charge in foreign currency. For the majority who do not have access to foreign currency, once they get sick, they will be very lucky if they do not add to the silent genocide statistics.

The above snippet illustrates the challenges that Zimbabwe faces today; as this is just a snippet, it, therefore, means that there are many more problems currently being faced by the ordinary man in Zimbabwe. As the challenges are numerous and they all affect man in every sphere of life be it on the political side, economic front or social front, in the home or otherwise, there is need to look for solutions to eradicate the challenges. The solution that has been cited by many is to address the differences that exist between the ruling party and the opposition party. Many believe that once these two parties come to a common ground and start working for the country, then things might change. Those who have been advocating for such a solution have been insisting on the church to spearhead the process of bringing the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition party to the negotiation table. However, this has been a difficult task as often; the church leaders chosen to be at the forefront of the process have been seen to align with one side or the other hence making it difficult for the other party to willfully and willingly come to the negotiation table.

The emergence of Thabo Mbeki, therefore, can be seen as a welcome development. However, it ought to be noted at the same time that Mbeki does come with his own baggage. On the positive side, Mbeki does know Zimbabwe’s political environment and actors. He was the mediator when then-President Robert Mugabe signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) together with the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in 2008. The GPA subsequently led to the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009. For his part in the negotiations in 2008, Mbeki played a huge role as he managed to quell down the tensions between ZANU (PF) and MDC which had led to the death of dozens of people. On that front therefore, Mbeki did usher in peace in a broken country.

In as much as Mbeki did a great job in bringing peace to the country, his solution at the time was for the short term and not long term. It is because of the short-sightedness of his solution that 10 years later, he is back in the country looking to broker another peace deal between ZANU (PF) and the MDC. As such, as Mbeki starts his talks with the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition parties in Zimbabwe, there is need for him to introspect and come up with a long term solution rather than a quick fix solution which will need another mediator to come to Zimbabwe in 10 year’s time. One of the things that Mbeki need to consider in his deliberations with the political actors in Zimbabwe is to invite the military to the negotiation table. The military in Zimbabwe has shown that it does possess much political power (even though this is not desirable in a democratic country). As such, any long term solution to the country’s political challenges will have to bear in mind the immense political power that the military possesses.

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South Africa:Malema Given Mandate to Lead EFF for a Second Term
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Julius Malema was re-elected unopposed as the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
Julius Malema was re-elected unopposed as the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)

Julius Malema was re-elected unopposed as the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) during the party’s second elective conference held on December 14 2019.

Malema’s reelection means that he will head the EFF for a second five-year term. This subsequently means that he will be able to challenge for the presidency in South Africa’s next general election. The elective conference which was held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg also saw significant changes being effected within the EFF’s top six.

Malema founded the EFF in 2013 after his ouster from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

During his time as the leader of the EFF, Malema has managed to make the party a force to reckon with within the South African political sphere. The party’s support base significantly increased over the past five years attracting mostly the urban poor especially the youths. This resulted in the party performing superbly in the 2019 general election where it grossed 10.7 percent of the vote, up from 6.3 percent during the previous election. The increase in support meant that the party now has 44 parliamentarians and has cemented its spot as the second main opposition party.

EFF’s growth thereby largely dissuaded many potential rivals from contesting the position of the leader of the party. Some quarters, however, attribute the lack of contesters for the position of the leader of the party down to Malema’s behaviour and personality rather than his impressive work. They argue that Malema has strategically surrounded himself with ‘yes men’, individuals who do not challenge his authority.

Speaking after his reelection, Malema denied the claims stating that anyone is free to contest him and if no one is willing to do so, he sees no problem in him being unopposed. “My simple thing of being elected and re-elected unopposed every time is very simple: I work very hard. I do not take anything for granted. I pay attention to the smallest detail.” He went further stating “I am not a dictator. I am a hard worker. I come from nothing, born from a domestic worker who suffered from epilepsy, and I worked my way up here single-handedly, knowing where I come from. So I do not care who thinks what about me.”

In preparation for his next term, Malema said that he will continue with the work that he has been doing but will aim to improve. As his main priority, Malema said that he will preach discipline in the party. “It is discipline that will make the EFF a viable alternative for the hopeless masses of our people. An alternative that will maintain its protest character while fighting battles within the walls of parliament.”

To the president, Malema said that the EFF will continue its fight against white monopoly capital and state capture. “Ramaphosa, I want to tell you now that…you are not our friend because you want to sell the assets of our people. And if you want to sell our assets to the Ruperts and the Oppenheimers, we will defend our assets with everything, including our bodies. We will occupy the picket lines in defence of our properties.”

While the elective conference generally went on smoothly, there were a couple of rather interesting incidents. On the second day of the conference, dozens of delegates randomly burst into song, ran up to the stage where Malema was speaking from the podium and knelt before him. While kneeling, the delegates started singing a praising Sesotho song which loosely translates to “Julius Malema, there is no-one like you.” Malema had no kind words for the delegates as he immediately slammed them saying that he did not ask anyone to kneel in front of him. Later on, during a plenary session of the party’s conference, Malema also took time to discourage anyone from kneeling before him. “I never asked you to kneel before me. Don’t kneel before me. I don’t want that,”

There is another incident which also occurred when some female delegates clashed with the Defenders of the Revolution, EFF’s security detail. Some of the female delegates were pepper-sprayed and accused the Defenders of the Revolution of having a tendency of using force against women. Responding on the incident, Malema denied that the incident took place saying no such treatment of women is allowed in the EFF. To him, the incident was all part of fabrications by the media.

With Malema at the helm for the next five years, the future of the EFF certainly looks bright thanks to Malema’s anti-capitalist and anti-white rhetoric which resonates well with the poor black majority. Over 20 years since the fall of Apartheid, the country’s black majority still lives in dire conditions. Speaking to the 4000 delegates that attended the conference, Malema said “The scars of colonialism and apartheid are still there. The failure to change the property structures in our economy and return the land to our people has resulted in our people having political rights, but no economic freedom.” The onus, therefore, is on the EFF to ‘represent the poor and oppressed’.

The EFF top six is now as follows:

  • Julius Malema is the Commander in Chief. He was reelected.
  • Floyd Shivambu is the Deputy President. He was reelected.
  • Veronica Mente is the National Chairperson. She replaces Adv. Dali Mpofu.
  • Marshall Dhlamini is the Secretary-General. He replaces Godrich Gardee.
  • Poppy Raeside Mailola is the Deputy Secretary-General. She replaces Hlengiwe Mkhalipi.
  • Umpile Maotwe is the Treasurer General. She replaces Leigh-Ann Mathys.

A new central command team was also elected at the conference.

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Nigeria:Adopt New Approach To End Boko Haram, Centre Appeals To Borno Elders
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Abu Duniya

The Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights (CALSER) has challenged elders, leaders and political stakeholders in Borno State to adopt new approach and strategy to defeat terrorists’ ideology.

In an emotion laden speech delivered at the Unity Fountain on Friday, the Centre says it will take collaboration of the elders, politicians and other stakeholders in condemning the antics of Boko Haram/ISWAP ideology for peace to return to the north east.
 
CALSER’s convener, Princess Ajibola, in an open letter to Northeast elders, stakeholders and politicians, called on these leaders to help build the region and defeat terrorists’ ideology.  

According to Convener, Princess Ajibola, the northeast must realise that “we are our own enemies” and the “time has come for us to get out of this shell that has tied our hands and tongues”.

CALSER, therefore, called on elders, political leaders and other stakeholders to join hands with the government and the armed forces to extend the maximum level of support needed to succeed in the fight against insurgency and for Nigeria to defeat the Boko Haram/ISWAP ideology.

The Centre reckoned that this can only be achieved if a more pragmatic approach towards defeating terrorist ideology is adopted.

Read full letter below:

Our respectable elders, esteemed stakeholders and political leaders in North-east Nigeria, this is an appeal for us to stand up and take our destiny in our hands. The time has come for us to sit and reason together concerning what has been happening in our country, particularly the North-east region.

We cannot afford to pretend  that all  is still well when our well-being as a people has been violated and the future for us and our children threatened. The overall essence of our humanity is being threatened by evil, wickedness and foreign conspiracies against our country.

We can no longer pretend that all is well with us, when we are being attacked on a daily basis by evil minded men, when our sources of livelihood  are being destroyed, the social order we once enjoyed is being eroded, our people are being killed and the very foundation of our existence shattered. Life losing its true meaning and our core values  being overtaken by a new posture of malice, envy and jealousy.

In the past 10 years and more, our situation has become one of the most pathetic and unfortunate conditions any group of humans have been subjected to live with on the globe. We have been through the worst forms of human experiences,  forced on a daily basis to pass through the most devastating circumstances known to man. This includes suffering by innocent children who have committed no crime against us but simply being born Nigerians at this point in time.

We have experienced and are experiencing bombs, land mines and other forms of devices that do havoc to both our physical forms and psyche that the sound of any of these no longer mean anything to us. We have seen lives cut short in the most brutal manner, limbs chopped off and other horrors that are better not mentioned.

We have seen innocent people butchered that the red colour of blood does not evoke blood-curdling emotions any more. We have seen children orphaned in seconds and women widowed in their  thousands in the twinkle of an eye that such sights no longer evoke sombreness as it used to.

We can say without fear of contradiction that our situation is worse that than those of nations at war. Those who under the throes of war are enabled to idèntify the casus belli and thereby work towards a plan of action to bring an end to the crisis and make for reconciliation to avoid treading similar paths in future.

But in our case, we are daily confronted with despair and despondency owing to the fact that while war has been declared  on us, we cannot say what the reasons are for the belligerence neither can we descry its duration.

The fact is that we are not even sure who the enemy is as the more we try to point accusing fingers the more the fingers keep curving towards us. We are told that the terrorists want to conquer and bring the nation down, but who are the insurgents if not our blood brothers, uncles,.sons and other relations.

They are people known to us as there is none of us who can claim not to know at least one or two of these persons causing the damages to us

We looked the other way because we thought they were aggrieved and that perhaps their anger would last only for a little while.
We were wrong as there was no anger in the first place and the evil that is driving them  seems to have no end.

We thought that if we stop the onslaught on them and talked to them in a tongue they understand, that they would drop their guns and come home. But our pleas on their behalf seems to further aggravate the situation.

Our silence has crept in on us and we have now realised that we are our own enemies. Our children are being recruited and trained to turn their guns and bombs on us and we remain silent.

Our daughters and sisters are forcefully taken captives, defiled and humiliated and we look in bewilderment, our lands are being desecrated with blood and we say nothing, our people are being killed and we look the other way.

The time has come for us to get out of this shell that has tied our hands and tongues, the time has come for us to take action and speak out against these heinous crimes being committed against our people.

The North east used to be the home of peace and example of perfect social and economic order that people from other parts of the country and indeed West Africa send their children to come and acquire Islamic education on our shores.

From Bauchi to Gombe to Borno to Yobe, Adamawa and Taraba are vast fertile lands for agriculture, mining and tourism that others  not so privileged come to share in our God-given assets.

It is not a coincidence that some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country with captivating allure are found in this region.
For example the Yankari Game Reserve, the Lake Alau, the Gwoza hills and the Mambilla Plateau are all here.

The strategic importance of the zone to the rest of the country are captured in the numerous dams and river basins we have across the zone.

But all these cannot on their own yield the economic potential to the country and humanity unless we the people put efforts to harness them.

And these cannot be harnessed in an atmosphere of bringandage, brouhaha, chaos, cataclysmic social liquidation and war.

By the time we realise the effect of these years wasted in chaos and social interruptions, it may be too late.

We therefore appeal to our elders, political leaders and other stakeholders to join hands with the government and the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to extend to them the maximum level of support needed to succeed in the fight against insurgency and for Nigeria to defeat the Boko Haram/ISWAP ideology.

This we can achieve by evolving a more pragmatic approach towards  defeating the Boko Haram/ISWAP ideology that is targeted at breaking Nigeria into pieces.

Cooperating  with the Federal Government will send negative signal to the terrorists that it is not business as usual and will put them out of business. Our unequivocal condemnation of the terrorists and their evil habits will send a signal to them that we are now united and want to see the final end of terrorism.

Lasting peace will come if only the elders and stakeholders are passionately  involved and work hand in hand with the Federal Government to see that the wounds begin to heal.

Perhaps the insurgents have mistaken our lukewarmness to mean we either condone what they are doing or that  we are too scared to talk to them. No one should be too precious to live when the lives  of our children and women are not guaranteed.

We must condemn with every ounce these barbaric and dastardly acts and talk to the insurgents to desist from the path they have chosen that normalcy should return to the North east as we all would be the better for it if the force of evil is overthrown.

The time for us to speak against the evil is NOW and not tomorrow. We must defeat the Boko Haram/ISWAP ideology before it breaks us into pieces.

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South Sudan:President Kiir pardons 30 prisoners, including Peter Biar, Kerbino Wol
January 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir got rave reviews for the move
President Kiir got rave reviews for the move

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has pardoned thirty prisoners including political activist Peter Biar and Businessman Karbina Wol Agok as gesture towards peace and reconciliation, as the country is implementing a fragile peace deal.

The presidential decree releasing the thirty convicts was announced on State based media on Thursday evening in Juba.

The decision followed the President’s visit to Juba central prison on Christmas Eve where he said inmates with minor cases would be pardoned and promised to release some inmates who had shown good conduct on the New Year’s Eve.

Among those freed are prominent political activist Peter Biar Ajak and philanthropist Kerbino Wol Agok.

On 11 June 2019, a court in Juba sentenced to jail, London – based economist Peter Biar Ajak and businessman Kerbino Wol following accusations that they threatened the security of the state.

Activist Biar was sentenced to two years in prison, while businessman Wol got 10 years.  Biar was initially detained by the National Security Service (NSS) in July 2018 while Wol was detained in April the same year.

Biar was accused of inciting violence and disturbing the peace over interviews he gave to the media during a stand-off between inmates and guards at the National Security Service headquarters on 7 October 2018, while Wol was accused of masterminding subversive activities against the government.

The pairs were also charged with possession of firearms and sabotage among others.

The arrest and subsequent convictions of Peter Biar and Kerbino Wol attracted condemnations from within and outside the Country.

The 30 inmates were released from prisons across the country with effect from January 1, 2020. Some of the freed inmates are juveniles.

The inmates pardoned are from Juba Central Prison, Wau, Tonj, Kwajok and Torit state prisons respectively.

However, president Kiir’s pardons have received vital reactions from the citizens, including social media, saying this has opened a glimpse for a peace in the country.

Philip Anyang Ngong, defense lawyer for political activist Peter Biar, said he welcomed the bold decision taken by president Kiir.

“It’s the best gift of the New Year to us the lawyers as well as the family of Peter Biar and we commend the president for that,” Anyang told Africanews, adding that the decision by the president to invoke his discretion as provided by the law.

Anyang, who submitted his appeal after the Juba court sentenced to jail Peter Biar, says president’s order cancels or to reprieves the appeal.

Observers say this is truly a manifestation that the year 2020 will be a year of peace in South Sudan.

“Peter Biar Ajak is free at last!!! I look forward to when Peter Biar will leave the prison and head home tomorrow, and when he will be united with his kids soon. 2020 is definitely a year of peace, and it has started well,” Biar’s wife Nyathon J. Hoth, wrote it on her feedbook page.

The inmates were supposed to be released today, Friday but due to the level of bureaucracy in the fragile country delay it and the authorities on the pardons didn’t act swiftly on the other hand.

  Ajak Mayool, Lawyer of Kerbino Wol, among others says all the paperwork would be have done before but unfortunately it had, something he says it almost fade away a happiness of the people.

“The happiness that had been there since yesterday and a better part of today, till on but only some bits of frustrations are coming on because people seem to know what is a happening,” said Mayool, adding that we still hopes to see the goodwill of president.

Kerbino further says ‘it is a goodwill gesture – it is a gesture that the president is concerned about his people – it is a gesture there is a peace and the president is a peace-lovers.”

The family of inmates gathered today at the Central Prison Service but the releasing didn’t comment, something that ‘frustrated them.”

But, Akoon Agok, Kerbino’s brother says theirs’ excitement and joyful should not be fade away by this hectic bureaucracy, pointing out that the days they spent in prison are more than a days they will be release.

The pardons’ inmates were the victims of conflict that broke out in late 2013 after the political disagreements between president Kiir and his former – foe Dr. Riek Machar.

President Kiir, opposition leader Machar signed a peace deal in September 2018, largely stopping the bloodshed that began five years earlier in the world’s youngest country when the pair fell out.

Since then, the two principals have missed two deadlines to form a power-sharing government, a fundamental belief of a peace deal that the regional and international community observers’ fear is in peril of collapsing.

As a last chance for Kiir, Machar, have until February to form a unity government to iron out key pre – transitional sticking points – namely how to unify their faction – fighter under one national army, and agree on the number and boundaries of states.

The political violence in South Sudan has killed close to 400,000 people, uprooted four million people from their homes – both internally and externally before it devastated the country’s economy.

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