‘Battle for Africa’: Russia Pushes Into ‘Free Country for the Taking’ In Attempt to Rival the West
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
There are new guests at the ruined palace where Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa once held court. During his rule over the Central African Republic in the 1970s, Bokassa used a year’s worth of development aid to stage an extravagant coronation, and he personally oversaw the torture of prisoners. He fed some to his pet crocodiles and lions.
But the French government that helped install Bokassa in 1966 ousted him in 1979, deploying paratroopers to prevent any countercoup. Now, four decades later, it is Russian soldiers who mill around this crumbling estate in Berengo—and the shifting power dynamic is raising concerns in the West. President Vladimir Putin is pushing into Africa, forging new partnerships and rekindling Cold War–era alliances. “There will be a battle for Africa,” says Evgeny Korendyasov, head of Russian-African studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, “and it will grow.”
Russia’s economy is in long-term decline, and its reach has diminished since the Soviet era. So the Kremlin is using diplomatic, economic and military tools to prospect for political influence and new markets in Africa—signing multibillion-dollar arms deals, bidding for big construction projects, boosting space communications, exploiting hydrocarbon reserves and launching publicized military interventions, alongside more clandestine operations. “The Russians want to implant themselves in the Central African Republic so they have an axis of influence through Sudan in the north and southwards into Angola,” says a senior United Nations security official in Bangui, CAR’s capital, who requested anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak with the media. “The French are hated as the old colonial power. American troops have left. It’s a free country for the taking.”
“This fits into the Russian approach of being opportunistic in their attempt to inject themselves into areas of Western interest and project a great power image—but all on the cheap,” says Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague of what is an initially low-level intervention.
African Development Bank President Adesina calls for emerging agriculture technologies to optimize farmers’ output
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
Africa should be the breadbasket of the world, has no reason spending US$ 35 billion a year importing food, Adesina tells Agriculture conference in U.S.
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, August 9, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank Group (www.afdb.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has made an urgent call to give farmers across the continent new technologies with the potential to transform agricultural production. Adesina said the technology transfer was needed immediately and that evidence from countries like Nigeria demonstrated that technology plus strong government backing was already yielding positive results.
”Technologies to achieve Africa’s green revolution exist, but are mostly just sitting on the shelves. The challenge is a lack of supportive policies to ensure that they are scaled up to reach millions of farmers,” Adesina said during a keynote speech delivered at the 2018 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C August 5, 2018.
Adesina cited the case of Nigeria, where policy during his tenure as the country’s Minister of Agriculture, resulted in a rice production revolution in three years.
“All it took was sheer political will, supported by science, technology and pragmatic policies…Just like in the case of rice, the same can be said of a myriad of technologies, including high-yielding water efficient maize, high-yielding cassava varieties, animal and fisheries technologies,” Adesina said.
The African Development Bank is pointing the way to how this can be done, and is currently working with the World Bank, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mobilize US$ 1 billion to scale up agricultural technologies across Africa under a new initiative called Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
TAAT is taking bold steps to bring down some of the barriers preventing farmers from accessing latest seed varieties and technologies to improve their productivity.
“With the rapid pace of growth of the use of drones, automated tractors, artificial intelligence, robotics and block chains, agriculture as we know it today will change,” the President said. “It is more likely that the future farmers will be sitting in their homes with computer applications using drone to determine the size of their farms, monitor and guide the applications of farm inputs, and with driverless combine harvesters bringing in the harvest.”
Adesina used the opportunity to advocate for African universities to adapt their curriculum to enable technology-driven farmers and to focus on agribusiness entrepreneurship for young people, emphasizing the need to rise beyond theories to application.
Through its innovative Enable Youth initiative, the African Development Bank has in the past two years committed close to US$ 300 million to develop the next generation of agribusiness and commercial farmers for Africa.
Adesina stressed the Bank’s resolve to change the face of agriculture in Africa to unleash new sources of wealth.
AAEA President Scott Swinton said Adesina and the African Development Bank exemplify the use of economics that makes a difference in people’s lives.
“If applied economics is economics that make a difference, I think that there is no better example of someone who has used that than Akinwumi Adesina,” Swindon said.
Adesina told delegates at the 2018 conference attended by over 1,600 agricultural and applied economists from around the world: “There is no reason why Africa should be spending US$ 35 billion a year importing food. All it needs to do is to harness the available technologies with the right policies and rapidly raise agricultural productivity and incomes for farmers, and assure lower food prices for consumers.”
Adesina, who was the 2017 World Food Prize winner, is advocating for the creation of staple crops processing zones across Africa (SCPZs): vast areas within rural areas set aside and managed for agribusiness and food manufacturing industries and other agro-allied industries, enabled with right policies and infrastructure.
“I am convinced that just like industrial parks helped China, so will the SCPZs help to create new economic zones in rural areas that will help lift hundreds of millions out of poverty through the transformation of agriculture- the main source of their livelihoods- from a way of life into a viable profitable business that will unleash new sources of wealth,” he said.
The African Development Bank has already begun investing in the development of processing zones in a number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique, with a plan to reach 15 countries in a few years.
To help Africa transform its agriculture, the Bank is investing US$ 24 billion over the next ten years to implement its Feed Africa Strategy.
Can sound help save a dwindling elephant population? Scientists using AI think so.
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Jennifer Langston, Microsoft
Deep in the rainforest in a northern corner of the Republic of Congo, some of the most sophisticated monitoring of animal sounds on earth is taking place. Acoustic sensors are collecting large amounts of data around the clock for the Elephant Listening Project.
These sensors capture the soundscape in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and adjacent logging areas: chimpanzees, gorillas, forest buffalo, endangered African grey parrots, fruit hitting the ground, blood-sucking insects, chainsaws, engines, human voices, gunshots. But researchers and local land managers who placed them there are listening for one sound in particular — the calls of elusive forest elephants.
Forest elephants are in steep decline; scientists estimate two-thirds of Africa’s population has likely been lost to ivory poaching in recent decades. Africa’s savannah elephants have also declined by 30 percent over a recent seven-year period, primarily because of poaching, according to results released in 2016 from Paul G. Allen’s Great Elephant Census.
But those working to save these species, which are critical to keeping ecosystems in balance and that also draw wildlife tourists, have a powerful new tool at their disposal: artificial intelligence.
Conservation Metrics, a Microsoft AI for Earth grantee based in Santa Cruz, California, uses machine learning to monitor wildlife and evaluate conservation efforts. It is applying its sophisticated algorithms to help the Elephant Listening Project, based at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, distinguish between forest elephant calls and the other sounds in a noisy tropical rainforest. It’s a perfect job for AI — looking for these rare patterns in terabytes of data that would take humans years.
Researchers use the elephant call data to build more accurate and frequent population estimates, track their movements, provide better security and potentially to identify individual animals, which can’t be easily seen from the air.
It is one of many ways biologists, conservation groups and Microsoft data scientists are enlisting artificial intelligence to prevent the illegal killing of elephants across Africa, stop the global trade in their parts and preserve critical habitat. Efforts include using machine learning to detect real-time movement patterns that could alert rangers to poaching and blocking online ads that attempt to sell illegal ivory or elephant parts.
Scientists with the Elephant Listening Project estimate that Africa’s population of forest elephants has dropped from roughly 100,000 animals in 2011 to fewer than 40,000 animals today. But those numbers are largely based on indirect evidence: ivory seizures, signs of poaching and labor-intensive surveys that are too expensive to be done regularly.
The Elephant Listening Project has spent more than three decades researching how elephants use low-frequency rumbling sounds to communicate with one another. More recently, those scientists began to use acoustic sensors at research sites to build population estimates and, ultimately, to track and protect forest elephants across their ranges in Central and West Africa.
If scientists find, for example, that at specific times of year elephants are using clearings in an unprotected logging concession to access scarce minerals or find mates, scientists can work with the loggers to schedule their work to minimize disturbance and reduce conflicts.
But there has been a bottleneck in getting data out of these remote African forests and analyzing information quickly, says Peter Wrege, a senior research associate at Cornell who directs the Elephant Listening Project.
“Right now, when we come out of the field with our data, the managers of these protected areas are asking right away, ‘What have you found? Are there fewer elephants? Is there a crisis we need to address immediately?’ And sometimes it takes me months and months before I can give them an answer,” says Wrege.
Conservation Metrics began collaborating with the Elephant Listening Project in 2017 to help boost that efficiency. Its machine learning algorithms have been able to identify elephant calls more accurately and will hopefully begin to shortcut the need for human review. But the volume of data from the acoustic monitors is taxing the company’s local servers and computational capacity.
Microsoft’s AI for Earth program has given a two-year grant to Conservation Metrics to build a cloud-based workflow in Microsoft Azure for analyzing and processing wildlife metrics. It has also donated Azure computing resources to the Elephant Listening Project to support its data-processing costs for the project. The computational power of Azure will speed processing time dramatically, says Matthew McKown, the CEO of Conservation Metrics. The platform also offers new opportunities for clients to upload and interact with their data directly.
It takes about three weeks for computers to process a few months of sound data from this landscape-scale study, says McKown. Once the Azure migration is complete later this year, that same job may take a single day.
“It’s a huge improvement. We’re really interested in speeding up that loop between having equipment monitoring things out in the field and going through this magic process to convert those signals into information you can send into the field where someone can take action,” says McKown. “Right now, that process can take a really long time.”
‘We’ve only scratched the surface’
Across the continent in East Africa, Jake Wall, a research scientist with Save the Elephants who collaborates with the Mara Elephant Project and other conservation groups, typically has more immediate access to data about the savannah elephants he studies in Kenya and seven other countries. That’s because animals in those populations have been outfitted with GPS tracking collars that transmit location data via satellites and cell networks.
That information is uploaded to the Domain Awareness System (DAS), a real-time data visualization and analysis platform now used in protected areas across Africa. It integrates data from about 15 different sources today, including ranger vehicle and radios, animal trackers, camera traps, drones, weather monitors, field reports, snare locations and satellite imagery. The tool was developed by Paul G. Allen’s Great Elephant Census, another AI for Earth partner that is moving the DAS system and its data onto the Azure cloud, to give managers a real-time dashboard that can inform tactical decisions for interdiction against suspected illegal activity or apparent threats to endangered wildlife.
In some areas, DAS also powers a Save the Elephants tracking app that can alert rangers when an animal has slowed or stopped moving via email or text message. The app can also warn when animals are heading toward human settlements where they might raid a farmer’s crops. Reserve managers or the farmer can then help herd the animals back to safety. From Gabon to Mozambique to the Congo, some 463 animal tracking devices are deployed, of which 358 are on elephants.
In other projects, Microsoft has worked with the Peace Parks Foundation, which combats rhino and other wildlife poaching in South Africa, to create remote sensing systems that can detect and evaluate poaching risks. Microsoft, through a NetHope Azure Showcase grant, is also helping move the open-source SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) Connect to the Azure cloud. It is used in dozens of conservation sites across Africa to improve the effectiveness of wildlife patrols.
AI for Earth has also provided grants to researchers at the USC Center for AI in Society (CAIS) and Carnegie Mellon University, who have created and are continuing to improve Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS). It uses machine learning to create patrol routes based on where poaching activity is most likely to occur. USC CAIS has also created and is continuing to improve the Systematic Poacher Detector, which detects poachers and wildlife in nighttime drone footage, now being used by organizations including Air Shepherd.
Even with advances in radio collar technology, sensors and imagery collection, a lot of additional work is needed to turn that data into scientific insights or actionable intelligence, says Wall.
“I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible,” says Wall. “We’re really excited because the expertise that Microsoft and AI for Earth can bring to the table includes skillsets that field biologists don’t typically have.”
“Machine learning could be applied to seven or eight immediate things that I would love to know more about, whether it’s recognizing individual elephants or picking up on changes in movement behavior or figuring out what’s happening on a landscape level with human expansion and deforestation,” says Wall.
Wall has been collaborating with Dan Morris, a Microsoft researcher working with AI for Earth, on a half dozen project ideas. One examines how to use machine learning to identify streaking behaviors — when elephants run fast and in an unusually straight line — that can be a sign of poaching or other threats.
Morris has also been working to apply machine learning algorithms to camera traps, which are remote field cameras that are triggered by motion and photograph anything that crosses their path. But finding an animal of interest can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“Sometimes no one has time to look through these images and they end up sitting on a grad student’s shelf somewhere,” says Morris. “The potential for machine learning to rapidly accelerate that progress is huge. Right now there is some really solid work being done by computer scientists in this space, and I would guess that we’re less than a year away from having a tool that biologists can actually use.”
Wall and Morris are also beginning to work on using AI to distinguish between elephants and other animals like buffalo or giraffes in aerial photography. Knowing when and where elephants are coming into contact with other wildlife — and particularly domesticated animals like cattle — can help rangers minimize conflicts with humans and help scientists better understand disease vectors.
These insights can also inform land-management decisions, such as where to lobby for protected areas and where to locate human infrastructure like roads and pipelines. That’s one of the most significant yet least understood threats to elephant survival, says Wall. With access to the right imagery data, AI tools could help begin to keep tabs on, and draw useful insights into, human encroachment into their habitat.
“We’re always focused on poaching and these acute problems, but really it’s the expansion of human settlements and the advancements of roads and railways and pipelines that are going to affect African elephant populations going forward,” says Wall.
‘AI is really the key piece’
Saving elephants isn’t just about stopping poachers where they hunt. Disrupting the global marketplace that rewards them economically is equally important.
Microsoft and other tech companies have joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and partners TRAFFIC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. After observing that trafficking in wildlife parts like elephant ivory, animal skins and live pets had largely moved from physical marketplaces to the internet, they convened companies from across the online landscape to combine forces to stop it.
Along with targeting the illegal trade in elephant products, the coalition partners target criminal transactions such as the sale of tiger cubs for pets and the trade in pangolin scales and illegal coral.
“Previously cybercriminals were able to operate pretty freely on the internet because there wasn’t much risk,” says Giavanna Grein, a wildlife crime program officer at WWF. “But now we’re creating deterrents and consistency across all the different platforms — if every time a criminal creates a new account and puts up a new post, it’s taken down immediately, that’s going to be really frustrating for that criminal.”
The coalition has since worked with search engines like Bing, e-commerce sites and social media companies to adopt strong and consistent policies about what products are prohibited on their platforms. WWF also provides training to help companies recognize and shut down advertisements and customer accounts that traffic in illegal wildlife.
That involves some mix of human detective work and algorithms that search for keywords associated with wildlife trafficking. In September, Microsoft’s AI for Earth team will host an AI-focused workshop for tech companies and academics working to enhance automation to detect illegal wildlife and their products online. The goal is to advance technologies to identify and root out endangered species posts before anyone has a chance to see and purchase them.
“AI is really the key piece in combating wildlife trafficking online. While it’s not the only solution needed, automating the review of posts containing illegal wildlife and their products would drastically increase the barrier to entry for wildlife cybercriminals,” says Grein.
Mines Secures $13M Series A to Grow Digital Credit Platform for Emerging Markets
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Rise Fund Leads Round As Startup Expands Markets
10 August, 2018. San Mateo, CA, US. Mines, a fintech startup re-inventing credit in emerging markets, has closed a Series A round of $13M led by The Rise Fund, a global fund managed by TPG Growth. Also participating are Velocity Capital, Western Technology Investments, First Ally Capital, X/Seed Capital, NYCA Partners, Persistent Capital, Singularity Investments, Trans Sahara Investments, and the Bank of Industry. Mines plans to use its investment for talent acquisition, continued growth in Africa, and expansion to South America and South-East Asia.
Mines provides a Credit-as-a-Service digital platform that enables institutions in emerging markets to offer credit products to their customers; no smartphone is required. Leveraging their own data sets, domestic institutions are able to serve loans to customers ignored by available credit systems and open up entirely new revenue opportunities.
“There are more than 3 billion adults globally without access to credit. Our vision is that every one of them will have instant access to credit in the next 10 years.” explains Ekechi Nwokah, Mines CEO. “We believe the best way to realize this vision is to partner with banks, retailers and mobile operators and power digital credit products tailored to their markets so they can create the customers of tomorrow, today.”
By mining high-volume data like phone records, bank records, and payment transactions in real-time, Mines can instantly assess credit risk in markets that lack robust credit bureau infrastructure. It then integrates its risk models with identity, origination, payments, loan lifecycle management, and customer service to form a holistic platform. The net result is a seamless user experience where partners’ customers can apply for and receive a loan in less than 60 seconds or make instant purchases with virtual or physical credit cards.
The company has hardened its proprietary technology in Nigeria where it has been used by over 1 million customers since launching in 2017. It is now the leading provider of consumer credit in the country, counting mobile operators 9mobile and Airtel, payment processors Interswitch and NIBSS, along with several banks amongst its partners. “What we have done differently is take Silicon Valley technology and built it into a product that is robust enough for emerging markets like Nigeria, Brazil, or Indonesia”, says Chief Scientist Kunle Olukotun. “We can extend credit to all types of customers, including customers without smartphones or even bank accounts as these are the people who need credit the most.”
As part of the financing, Yemi Lalude from TPG Growth and Willem Willemstein from Velocity Capital have joined Mines’ Board of Directors. Lalude says, “Mines combines world-class artificial intelligence and extensive use of data with a strong focus on local partnerships to build financial inclusion. We are excited to partner with them to drive financial access across the world.”
Mines started out as a research project on high performance artificial intelligence led by Olukotun, a professor of computer engineering at Stanford University. It came to life after a chance meeting with Nwokah, a computer scientist working on big data projects at Amazon Web Services, after which they teamed up to direct the technology towards solving the grand challenge of financial access. Both founders grew up in Africa and understand the challenges facing technology companies trying to solve problems in emerging markets without a deep respect for the complexities of local culture, knowing they need to take a different approach. They have been joined by VP Commercial Adia Sowho, who has successfully scaled several digital financial services at one of Nigeria’s largest mobile operators, to grow the business.
Sowho says “Scaling a digital product in Africa requires a deep understanding of two things – distribution and partnerships. In Nigeria, Mines has demonstrated that its platform is flexible enough to enable partners with consumer reach across the income pyramid, activate a wide swath of distribution channels, from rudimentary USSD to more advanced web-based ones. We look forward to building more partnerships in Nigeria and beyond”.
Founded in 2014, Mines is a robust platform used to construct and power consumer-facing digital credit products that engage the world’s population currently underserved by formal financial services. The platform includes components such as APIs, frameworks, consumer insights tools and expertise on best practices that local enterprise partners can use to build transformative credit products for their own markets. Mines has offices in San Mateo, CA and Lagos, Nigeria.
The Rise Fund is the world’s largest global fund committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns — what we call “complete returns.” The Rise Fund is managed by TPG Growth, the global growth equity and middle market buyout platform of alternative asset firm TPG. The Rise Fund is led by a group of influential thought leaders with a deep personal and professional commitment to driving social and environmental progress. The Rise Fund invests in education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services, growth infrastructure, healthcare, and technology, media, and telecommunications companies that deliver complete returns.
Namibia: Annual SADC Summit starts in Windhoek
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – The 38th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has started in Windhoek on Thursday, with Heads of State and Government, ministers and senior public officials from 16 member states expected to attend the 10 day event.
This year’s gathering is held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. The event started off with the meeting of SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials at which Namibia took over the rotational chair of the regional committee.
The Standing Committee is the technical advisory that reviews and clears documents for the SADC Council of Ministers, which oversees the functioning of the SADC institution and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.
Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation took over Kgabo Mahoai, the Director General for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa.
In her acceptance statement, Ashipala-Musavyi says Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of the Standing Committee of the Senior Officials.
“Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of our Organization, who’s objectives are to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. These are socio – economic challenges that we are all grappling with and aspirations for which we collectively continue to strive,” she said.
The regional summit is returning to Windhoek, where SADC was conceived 26 years ago.
Namibia hosted the similar summit in August 1992, during which leaders signed the SADC Treaty that that transformed the former Coordinating Conference into a Development Community that has been in existence since to Southern African Development Community.
Established through the Article 2 of the SADC Treaty, SADC was meant to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and promote regional integration.
“It is here where the Southern African Development Community was birthed and here we have returned, to gauge not only it’s growth and progression, but more importantly, how SADC has continued to meaningfully touch the lives of our people,” Ashipala-Musavyi.
The Heads of State and Government will meet on 17-18 August, during which Namibia President Hage Geingob will take over the chairmanship of SADC from his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu will also be confirmed as the new chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, taking over from President João Lourenço of Angola.
Another point of interest is President Azali Assoumi of the Union of Comoros, who will attend the SADC Summit after the Island nation, was admitted to the regional body as its 16th member last year.
Big Barrels: The New Narrative on Africa’s Oil & Gas that is Captivating Global Markets
August 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
South Sudan president Kiir grants amnesty to Machar, all rebels
August 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir granted a general amnesty to rebels in South Sudan’s civil war, including his former deputy Riek Machar, days after signing a power-sharing agreement in the latest effort to end a five-year civil war.
This also comes a day a rights organization said authorities in Africa’s youngest country should also free its unarmed critics.
South Sudan’s president has granted amnesty to armed opposition leader Riek Machar and all rebel groups
The amnesty order was read out on state-run television late on Wednesday evening, three days after president Kiir, SPLM-IO leader Machar and the heads of other groups signed a revitalized power-sharing peace agreement in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on August 05, 2018.
I declare republican order number 14 for the year 2018 for the grant of general amnesty to the leader of SPLM-IO Dr Riek Machar and other estranged groups who waged war against the government of the republic of South Sudan,” read the order broadcast by the state media late Wednesday.
South Sudan has descended into another civil war in 2013 after the political row between president Kiir and Dr. Machar that has killed tens of thousands, forced 2.5 million population to flee their homes and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and ruined the country’s oil-dependent economy.
The conflict has often been fought along ethnic lines. This is the second agreement after a similar peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later in deadly clashes that saw Dr Machar flee into exile.
Dr. Machar was freed this year from house arrest in South Africa where he had been held since fleeing South Sudan in 2016.
As part of the power-sharing deal, Kiir will remain president and Machar will return to the country as the first vice president, one of five vice presidents, a similar agreement fell apart in July 2016.
President Kiir also ordered the army to allow unrestricted access to humanitarian agencies to respond to massive humanitarian needs across the country and to respect the ceasefire.
SPLM-IO is the largest of the rebel groups fighting Kiir’s government, and fighters allied to it control several areas in South Sudan. Whereas other anti-government groups have also emerged, some of which have fought against each other.
Despite the agreement that Kiir and Machar signed over the weekend in Sudan, the working relations between the two principals remained fragile.
The SPLM-IO spokesperson Lam Paul quoted said president Kiir was in no position to grant amnesty to anyone after overseeing the atrocities and multiple cease-fire violations committed by his troops.
“Salva should instead seek for forgiveness from Dr. Machar in particular and South Sudanese in general,” Paul told AP.
Paul further added that the amnesty will only be genuine once Kiir observes all the conditions agreed upon in the deal signed on Sunday.
“Machar can only come to Juba after the pre-interim period when the unified forces are deployed in Juba and other major towns in South Sudan,” Paul said, quoted by Reuter.
However, observers said that this may give Machar much confidence and other rebels a genuine reason to return to the country without the fear of the repetition of the 2016 incident.
Multiples of citizens said a lot still is needed such as the genuine cessation of hostilities and ending the war of words among the warring parties.
The United States last month said it was “skeptical” the two men whose rivalry has been so destructive could lead the way to peace under the new agreement.
South Sudan’s government insists things will be different this time, with government spokesman Michael Makuei saying last week that Machar has “learned the hard way.”
However, the warring parties leaders from the sides of the conflict are seem to end the war because they have run out of money and they need cash to continue hold on power. For instance, if oil flow increases, and more money goes into economic, then they will find a good reason to abandon the war and to enjoy the profits for peace.
Machar’s troops are expected to go to cantonment sites for training to be unified with the government army.
Although, the implementation of peace takes a lot of time than signing a piece of paper, the two principals and other parties’ leaders have committed themselves to implement the peace deal.
The analysts described it as ‘a good gesture toward trust building that will enhance the smooth and genuine implementation of the recently signed power – sharing deal.’
Deng Jacob, resident in Juba, said it demonstrated the ability to forgive and to be forgive and that means, it can forge a room for forgiveness [if president implemented it] amongst the South Sudanese and may paved to the reconciliation process in the country.
Congo’s Kabila will not stand in presidential election
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Amedee Mwarabu*
KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will not stand in December’s presidential election, a spokesman said on Wednesday, announcing that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.
The announcement by spokesman Lambert Mende at a news conference puts an end to years of speculation about whether Kabila would defy term limits to run for a third term.
Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate but the election to replace him was repeatedly delayed. That sparked protests in which the military and police killed dozens of people. Militia violence also rose in the country’s volatile eastern borderlands.
Kabila’s political allies had floated various legal arguments they said would justify his running again but he came under strong pressure from regional allies like Angola as well as the United States and EU to stand down.
The selection of Ramazani is, however, a defiant move by Kabila. A former interior minister, he is under European Union sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, including deadly crackdowns by security forces on protesters.
“We are all going to align behind (him),” Mende said. “It is Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, permanent secretary of the (ruling) PPRD.”
His choice of a die hard loyalist suggests that Kabila, who came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001, will remain closely involved in national politics after bowing out.
Kabila will remain at the head of his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and has installed loyalists across the federal bureaucracy, including in the courts and in the military.
But the announcement that he will not run again will ease fears in the region and beyond that a Kabila candidacy would drag the country back into the civil wars of the turn of the century in which millions died, mostly from hunger and disease.
The Dec. 23 vote should now herald Congo’s first democratic transition of power following decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and deadly conflict.
Mende said that Ramazani was on his way to the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa to file his candidacy.
Several opposition candidates, including former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and the president of Congo’s largest opposition party, Felix Tshisekedi, have also registered to run.
They fear that the goodwill Kabila could earn from not seeking a new term could make it easier for his coalition to cheat. They say voter rolls are unreliable and are suspicious of electronic voting machines due to be used for the first time.
A nationwide opinion poll last month showed opposition candidates collecting a significant majority of the vote with potential candidates from the ruling coalition trailing far behind.
Namibia: Land debate heating up ahead of land conference
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – Tension is mounting amongst different stakeholders in Namibia over land reform question, with calls to amend the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation and the recognition of ancestral land rights.
A heated debate is raging in the southern African country about how best to resolve the skewed land ownership that still being dominated by white minority, 28 years after independence.
In order to find a lasting solution, the government has scheduled a national land conference in October 2018, a platform for Namibians from to take stock of the post-independence land reform process and chart out a new course.
The second land summit to the held in the capital Windhoek is of most importance, after pronouncements made at the first land dialogue in 1991 failed to resolve the land question.
In preparation for the watershed national dialogue on land, the Ministry of Land Reform held regional consultations in July 2018 to garner inputs that will form part of the agenda for debate at the conference slated for 1-5 October.
And different opinions have emerged from the regional consultations. On side, are communities that are demanding that government expropriate farmlands without compensation from the minority white, who still owns majority of productive agricultural land.
The Ovaherero and Nama speaking communities that reside in southern part are vocal about the restitution of ancestral land that their forbearers were dispossessed of during the subsequent colonization of Namibia by the Germans and South Africans between 1883 up until independence in 1989.
On the other side are communities in northern regions that have never suffered land dispossessions by the colonizers, are not supporting the idea to recognize ancestral land claim.
When Namibia gained independence in 1990, the new country inherited an extremely skewed land ownership in favour of the whites.
At the time, 69.6 million hectares of productive agricultural land, 36.2 million hectares of 52% was in the hands of about 5000 white farmers. Majority of blacks that represent over 90% of the population shared 33,5 million hectares of mostly unproductive land in communal land.
The first land conference skirted around the issues of land expropriation without payment and the ancestral land claims, which is currently haunting the SWAPO-led administration.
The government instead committed to buy backs some of the land from the white landowners through the willing seller-willing buyer concept in accordance with the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995.
However, the willing seller-willing buyer failed to yield the desired result to acquire 5 million hectares of commercial land by 2020.
The Ministry of Land Reform has so far bought managed to buy 513 commercial farms measuring 3, 1 million hectares worth N$1.7 billion ($131 million) since independence. The ministry has earlier said it need a further N$6.1 billion ($470 million) in the next three years to buy average 633,333 hectares per year to meet the 2020 target.
Despite the noble gesture behind the willing seller-willing buyer, the government found it difficult to acquire because of white landowners that have glossily inflated prices.
According to the land reform ministry, landowners were charging government an average N$3200 ($247) per hectares thus N$2billion ($154 million) is required per annum.
Many critics have dismissed the upcoming second national conference on land as a sham, and accusing the administration of lacking clout to take drastic measures to resolve the matter.
President Hage Geingob recent noncommittal comment over the calls to reclaim ancestral land has added fuel to the perception that his government lack clout to take on the land challenge.
“Namibia is our ancestral land, therefore we fought for it and we got our ancestral land back,” President Geingob made the remarks while officiating at 2018 Eenhana Expo in the northern Ohangwena region last week.
These remarks infuriated the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), whose secretary general Mutjinde Katjiua has accused President Geingob and his administration of playing a ‘very dangerous game’ by trying to engineering a political outcome of the upcoming land summit.
Geingob has in the past been criticized for making contradictory remarks regarding land debate, including that his government has no intention of expropriating land without compensation.
In a leaked official land position paper, the OTA is claiming a bulk of central Namibia as part of its pre-colonial land.
These include areas, in which major cities are located including Windhoek in Khomas region, others in Erongo, Ohaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.
However, Martin Elago, the chief regional officer of the Oshana region has emphasized that the northern regions are against calls for ancestral claims because “all Namibians have the rights to get land whenever they want to settle in the country”.
About half of Namibia is made of Aawambo people that resides in northern part of the country, and a dominant force behind the ruling SWAPO Party.
The Oshiwambo speaking people that made up 49% of the population hold key positions in politics, and government including state-owned entities.
There is a sentiment amongst the Ovaherero (7.5%) and Nama communities that the land resettlement programme is favouring the Oshiwambo speaking people that have never lost any land.
Most black elites including those aligned to the former liberation movement have managed to buy close to 1000 commercial farms through private finances and affirmative-action loans provide by the state Agricultural Bank of Namibia.
Many are beneficiaries of the land resettlement programme that was meant to benefit landless people who cannot afford to buy land.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Agriculture (NAU), which represents the interests of white commercial farmers, has warned against land expropriation without compensation, that it may trigger economic calamity. NAU’s executive manager, Roelie Venter told media that the union supports land expropriation “with compensation within the confines of the law as provided in the Constitution.
The opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) has also waded into the land debate by cautioning from turning the scheduled land conference into a political gimmick.
The dialogue to be genuine, RDP secretary general Mike Kavekotora said it must resolve the urban land, ancestral land, national resettlement including the ownership of land by absentee foreign landowners.
According to the Ministry of Land Reform, foreign nationals mostly the Germans and South Africans own 281 commercial farms measuring over 1.07 million hectares.
Choosing Peace For The Horn Of Africa
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka*
The Horn of Africa and the global community witnessed two dramatic events on July 8 and July 14 as the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea visited each other respectively. The smile and the big hug exchanged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki on Sunday, July 8 surprised many people who have followed the bitter conflict and sour relationship between the two countries in the last few decades. The two historic visits we have witnessed these past days express the joy and hope that come with ‘choosing peace.’ To further the peace process, the embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia was opened once again on Monday July 16.
From the UN general assembly vote to make Eritrea a central component of Ethiopia in 1952 to the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1958 and the decades following the two events, the two countries have had turbulent relationship especially few years after the independence of Eritrea in 1993. Between 1998 and 2000, the crisis reached its pick and had continued these past two decades with attendant human, economic, mutual distrust, political and social losses.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean crisis negatively impact the Horn of Africa as is evident in Djibouti and Somalia. The area has been affected by years of famine, disease, low economic development, weak governance, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate social services and the growth of different militia groups. These threats to human well-being and peace in developing countries that should apply their little resources to promote the dignity of persons and communities torn apart by avoidable conflicts show the nobility in the decision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki a noble one. A careful and committed completion of this process will reassure the return of peace and development in the region. It is a movement of courage because order requires courage to say no to violence.
In a time when African peace is continuously threatened locally and regionally from South Sudan to DR Congo, Burundi to the Central African Republic, Cameroon to Nigeria, etc., with untold hardship, deaths, displacements, and starvation, every step towards peace and reconciliation must be appreciated. In a time in the continent when millions of children die of malnutrition and diseases of all sorts resulting from violent conflict situations, when women and their daughters are mercilessly raped and violated by security agents and militia groups alike, when the Mediterranean sea and the desert have become the graveyard of African youths fleeing their continent in search of life and hope, peace ought to be pursued with every sense of urgency. The destruction of human, social, moral and economic fabric and resources of Africa through violent conflicts invite us to use nonviolent initiative for peace as a way of life.
The gesture of the two leaders represent what it means to choose peace as they bear eloquent testimony to the words of the Psalmist, “how good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together”(Psalm. 133: 1, The New Jerusalem Bible). The above was illustrated when the Ethiopian Prime minister’s chief of staff said to the President of Eritrea, ‘welcome home President Isaias.’ Peace is possible when we make the courageous choices and understand that “it is by considering our peers as brothers and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts” (Francis, 2016). Peace is possible when we understand that we are ‘one family under God’ irrespective of our religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural identity and affiliation. Peace benefits all just as war destroys all. The gesture of the two leaders is a sign of hope for the millions who have waited for the day of peace in the region. The day of order introduced by this brilliant move must be appreciated as we look back to the cost of conflict suffered the two countries and their neighbors as well as humanity at large.
It is important to remind ourselves that in the last two decades, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused among other things 80,000 deaths, more than 600,000 displacements of people, and a massive damage to the economy of both countries and their neighbors( (Negash & Tronvoll, 2000; (Bazebih, 2014). Thus, “the war left ineffaceable imprints in the minds of the schoolchildren in Mäqällä. The inhumane killing of innocent children in Aydär is still fresh in the minds of many residents and families of the victims. The Eritrean leadership claimed that the bombing was targeting a military site but in reality, it was the Aydär Elementary School’s 58 pupils and civilians that lost their lives and 185 were injured by cluster bombs (Tronvoll, 2003). Most shockingly, “at the height of the war, Ethiopia increased the total size of its army from 60,000 to 350,000 and increased its defense expenditure from $95m in 1997/98 to $777m in 1999/2000. Overall, the cost of the war for Ethiopia was nearly $3bn. In the meantime, the size of Eritrea’s army increased to 300,000 (almost 10 percent of the population) through National Service Conscription following the outbreak of the war, and the government has been using the intractable stalemate between the two countries as a justification not to demobilize the unsustainably high number of troops for a small nation like Eritrea” (Allo, 2018).
What the bitter truth about the two countries and all of us must deal with is that in the destructive conflict, the two developing countries lavished hundreds of millions of dollars on the war. Thus, the resources could have been used to fight diseases, poverty and other development issues that threaten the dignity, existence, and freedom of the poor citizens of the countries and their neighbors. From the thirty years of war with the Mengistu regime to the present times, the two countries have known the harsh cost and consequences of war.
Looking back to the loss of the two countries in the last two decades, Abiy and Afirkwi in the previous few days re-affirm by their action that , “violence is wrong that we can live in peace, that peace works, that peace is possible, indeed that peace is the only way for the human family to live and survive.” (Dennis, 2018). The two leaders have recognized that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (Madison, 1795). Both countries cannot regain what they lost in war, but they can avoid more losses by refusing to adopt the culture of war and violence. Precious lives were cut short in the conflict of the last two decades putting families and communities in pain and sadness.
The two leaders by this act are chatting a new path for Africa and the global community. They teach us to embrace nonviolence initiative as a way of life. This is a unique moment in African history. A moment to reawaken the consciousness that peace is about dealing with our differences in a nonviolent manner as ‘build bridges, fight our fears and pursue a style of dialogue that is open and sincere seeking the good of all citizens” (Francis, 2015). This special moment invites African leaders, stakeholders and all people of good will to see from the lens of John Paul 11 that, “war is a lie….because it destroys what it says it wants to defend”(John Paul 11, 2002). For two decades, war has lied to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and by their noble gesture, Ahmed and Afwerki say no to the lies war.
What if we say no to the lies of war and conflict in other parts of Africa where millions of our people have lost their lives? How many lives do we defend by killing our people? How can we not see the pain of the child whose ribs can be counted because of the lies of war? How can we not know the agony of the woman who walks hundreds of miles with her children and loads on her head in search of shelter and peace because of the lies of war? How can we not feel the tears of the young girl who has been raped and violated many times because of the myths of war? How can we not see the lies of war in the child soldier who has been forced to carry the gun, kill and be traumatized all his life? How can we not see the destruction of Africa with our own hands at this time? A friend of mine from Ethiopia told me last Monday that he cried when he saw how the people of Eritrea came out to the streets to receive this good news of peace. He said to me, ‘the common man does want war, war is designed by the arrogance and interest of the elites’. It is evident that, “for much too long, powerful people and political decision-makers have been promoting a paradigm that justifies enormous loss of human life and widespread destruction of the planet in pursuit of an elusive peace, false security, national geopolitical interests and tremendous profit for few people and companies”(Dennis, 2018). The poor people in Africa ask our leaders for just a peaceful environment as they struggle to survive.
African elites who have become conflict entrepreneurs ought to listen to the voices of citizens as we saw in Eritrea and Ethiopia this last week. African elites need to see in the action of Abiy and Afwerki a call to embrace ‘active nonviolent action’ as a tool for social change and African transformation. A peaceful environment where justice and dignity of all are upheld enlarges people’s freedom and choices. The poor citizens in Africa are mostly affected devastatingly by wars, not the elites. African political leaders and elites need to appreciate that peace starts from within just as these two leaders have shown. The goodwill, the resolve, the process and implementation ought to begin from within not neglecting external contributions.
Is the world listening to these two voices from the Horn of Africa? .Because we do not hear the sounds of bombs and guns in the Horn of Africa, the view of peace echoed by these two leaders may be ignored. Gestures such as the two leaders made this last week must be encouraged in Africa as effort must be made stop supplying arms to Africa thereby reducing African citizens to objects for money making by transnational companies and their governments. Arms and we open of war do not build peace. Disarmament should be encouraged and promoted by local and global policymakers. Are the warmongers and those who specialize in increasing military spending, building and bragging for nuclear weapons armament listening to these two leaders? Are governments, global and regional regimes, transnational co-operation who see Africa as a money making a machine for weapon transaction listening to these voices re-affirming that we spend much less to build peace than to embark on war?
What if we choose peace and promote the path to nonviolence as Abiy and Afwerki have demonstrated? The action of these two leaders is at the core of the Nonviolence initiative of Pax Christi International encapsulated in the understanding that various forms of violence at the cultural, structural, systemic levels that affect interpersonal, social and international relationships can be transformed without resorting to violent means (Dennis, 2018). What we witnessed from the two leaders is a statement that says no to more than two decades of war as a means of addressing differences. They have seen that “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence,nor repressions which serve as the mainstay for a false civil order”(Paul VI, 1968)
Our hope is that the step initiated by these two leaders and all people of goodwill restores peace in the Horn of Africa. The global community is urged to embrace the ‘Nonviolence Initiative’ of Pax Christi International, make it a lived experience and approach for sustainable peace because war no matter how just it looks is always “a defeat of humanity” (Francis, 2013). It is the position of nonviolence initiative of Pax Christ that extraordinary steps such as the one taken by Abiy and Afwerki can heal and reconcile peoples and the planet more than any weapon war of war. Battle defeats us. War diminishes us and questions our moral fabric.
*Rev. Fr. Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Howard University in Washington DC.
Help Trigger Necessary Political Will in Africa -Akufo-Addo To Moot Court Participants
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah
Ghana’s President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has charged participants at this year’s Human Rights Moot Court Competition to use the academic exercise to trigger the necessary political will in their respective countries on the African continent to deepen respect for human rights.
Delivering the keynote address at the 27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the Great Hall, University of Ghana Monday, President Akufo-Addo said that on the 19th of December, 2018, the world would be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The declaration, according to the President, has since been the basis of considerable advancement in the universal protection of human rights. The enforcement of the global instrument in Africa, however, cannot be said to have been fully achieved yet.
President Akufo-Addo thus said the inhabitants of the African continent have a sacred task to ensure that the fight for the protection and respect of human rights remains a constant one.
Quoting from, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, President Akufo-Addo said, “One could hardly think of a better way to advance the cause of human rights than to bring together students who are the leaders, judges and teachers of tomorrow, from different countries, with Chief Justices and Professors, to debate some of the crucial issues of our time in the exciting and challenging atmosphere of a courtroom, where they can test their arguments and skills against one another in a spirit of fierce but friendly competition.”
On that score, President Akufo-Addo urged the “mooters” to argue out their views on human rights strongly to catch the attention of the leaders of the continent for their necessary action.
Representative of the Organizers
The Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, (organizers of the Moot Court Competition), Professor Frans Vilijoen, in his address expressed the excitement of the organizers over the kind of energy and preparation being invested into the competition by all 19 countries who are participating in this year’s challenge.
He also commended the University of Ghana for the tremendous investment they have made in ensuring that the competition goes on smoothly.
The Moot Court Competition
The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of students, academics and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa.
This annual event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose top students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The competition continuously prepares new generations of lawyers to argue cases of alleged human rights violations before the African Court.
Mnangagwa In Firm Control As President Elect Basks In Glow of Congratulatory Messages
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
On Monday the 30th of July 2018, Zimbabweans residing in the country went to cast their votes to choose their representatives in local government and the House of Assembly as well as to elect a ‘new’ president.
On Election Day, there was no report of any election-related violence, a stark contrast to what happened in previous elections when numerous election-related violence cases were recorded. Almost all polling stations closed at 7 pm on Election Day with a few closing later as there were still people queuing to cast their votes.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started announcing its election results the following day, first to be announced both by ZEC and at District Command Centres were local government election results. Next, to be announced, this time by ZEC only were House of Assembly election results. After all the House of Assembly results were announced, ZEC took a few hours (nearly a day) before announcing the Presidential election results.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of ZANU (PF) was declared the President-Elect assuming the mandate of leading Zimbabwe for the following five years.
Soon after the announcement of the results, congratulatory messages from all corners of the world started to pour in for Emmerson Mnangagwa. Below is a rundown of the congratulatory messages directed to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa from different world leaders and global influential persons.
A high number of influential people and leaders from across the globe took turns to congratulate Emmerson Mnangagwa on his victory. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Snr in a statement said that he congratulates “His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa as the democratically elected President of The Republic of Zimbabwe.” He went on to thank the majority of Zimbabweans who “voted in peace, demonstrating their determination to strengthen democracy in their country.”
The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko sent a message to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa stating that he is confident that the leadership of Mnangagwa will “contribute to the prosperity of the country and the quality of life of people.” He went further to state that he expects the cordial relations between his country and Zimbabwe to strengthen.
From South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) which is the ruling party sent a message which reads, “We want to take this opportunity to congratulate ZANU (PF) for having won a majority of seats in the Zimbabwean National Assembly. We also congratulate Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as president of Zimbabwe.” ANC President and also the President of The Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa tweeted, “Congratulations to His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as President of Zimbabwe. We urge the people of Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the election, or follow the legal route should they wish to challenge it. We look forward to great working relations with you.”
According to several media outlets, Cyril Ramaphosa also called Emmerson Mnangagwa and directly congratulated him.
Also from South Africa, the Economic Freedom Fighters, a party led by Julius Malema sent a congratulatory message which reads, “The EFF congratulates the newly elected President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU (PF)… We take this opportunity to wish him well in his tenure as new President in a Zimbabwe free of Mugabe’s autocratic leadership… We call on all Zimbabweans, in particular, the opposition parties, to accept the electoral outcome and continue to build the new Zimbabwe based on peace and stability.”
From Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza tweeted, “Dear Mr President @edmnangagwa, on behalf of the Burundian People and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations on your election as President of Zimbabwe. I wish you much success and good health for the prosperity of your country and Africa.”
President John Magufuli from Tanzania tweeted, “Cde. Mnangagwa On behalf of the Government and people of Tanzania, I convey my sincere congratulations on your victory in the Presidential Election of Zimbabwe. Your victory is a reflection of the confidence reposed in you by the people of Zimbabwe in leading them to prosperity.”
Inside the country, the president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa also received congratulatory messages from The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe, Cdes Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (national chairperson), Pupurai Togarepi (Secretary for Youths Affairs), Marble Chinomona (Secretary for Women’s Affairs), Engelbert Rugeje (Political Commissar), Obert Mpofu (Secretary for Administration) and Simon Khaya Moyo (Secretary for Information and Publicity) among others.