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July 6, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Former Zanu-PF activist William Mutumanje also known as Acie Lumumba

Former Zanu-PF activist William Mutumanje also known as Acie Lumumba

Zimbabwe has a new political party, and its leader launched it in the most controversial way possible.

Acie Lumumba, 26, a former activist in the ruling Zanu-PF party, announced the creation of Viva Zimbabwe at a press conference in the capital Harare on Friday. And the young activist directed his words firmly at President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.

“You’ve never really seen Zimbabweans angry…So here’s the red line. Mr President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe—fuck you. I’ve drawn the line, our kids are in trouble,” said Lumumba, to gasps of shock and a round of applause from the gathered reporters.

A spokesperson for Lumumba tells Newsweek that the activist is currently in police custody will go to court on Wednesday.

During the Viva Zimbabwe inauguration speech, Lumumba also appeared to threaten members of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party if anything should happen to him. “I’m someone’s child, a war veteran’s child. You touch me—you can touch me but I hope you live long, because God forbid something happens to you, and you leave your kids. They will be touched too. I’m not making threats, this is not a threat,” said Lumumba. War veterans who fought in Zimbabwe’s independence struggle hold an exalted position and political influence in the country.

Lumumba said that he would not be contesting for public office in Zimbabwe’s next general election, due to be held in 2018, but that his party would exist to give young people the opportunity to resolve the problems created by the 36-year administration of Mugabe, who turned 92 in February.


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Zimbabwe’s meteorological services department receives support from Chinese
July 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

HARARE, June 10, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping (L, front) and Zimbabwe's Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri (R, front) exchange documents during a handover ceremony in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 9, 2016. Zimbabwe's state weather forecast department has tuned in to signals emitted from polar-orbiting Chinese satellites in a technological makeover aimed to improve the meteorological services of a country which relies on agriculture but has struggled to cope with irrationally changing weather patterns in recent years. (Xinhua/Xu Lingui)

HARARE, June 10, 2016 (Xinhua) — Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping (L, front) and Zimbabwe’s Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri (R, front) exchange documents during a handover ceremony in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 9, 2016. Zimbabwe’s state weather forecast department has tuned in to signals emitted from polar-orbiting Chinese satellites in a technological makeover aimed to improve the meteorological services of a country which relies on agriculture but has struggled to cope with irrationally changing weather patterns in recent years. (Xinhua/Xu Lingui)

Zimbabwe’s meteorological services department has received state of
the art equipment valued to the tune of $2 million to enhance weather
and climate information dissemination services especially targeting
farmers and remote rural communities.
According to Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Environment,
Water and Climate under which the meteorological services department
falls, Zimbabwe is one of the first few countries in Africa to receive
such kind of aid where equipment is installed, handed over and at the
same time commissioned.
Kashiri said that the equipment has been donated under the
China-Africa initiative to capacitate the under resourced
meteorological services department.
“The donation comes at a time when the demand for weather and
climate information has become unprecedented due to rapidly changing
weather and climate.Our weather has become more extreme, with dry
spells becoming droughts and rainy events turning into floods,”
Kashiri said.
The meteorological services department provides vital information
which farmers can use for agricultural planning. Kashiri said that the
information should be readily available at ward level and includes
information on rainfall patterns and early warning on floods.
Kashiri said that the equipment will enhance the quality of the
services being offered by the department.
Two automatic weather stations have been installed at the
Agriculture Extension Services department (AGRITEX) offices at Neshuro
growth point in Masvingo province and in Rushinga district of the
She said that this demonstrates the close link between weather and
agriculture and the partnership between the meteorological services
department and the ministry of Agriculture.
Some of the equipment received by the department include a
polar-orbiting satellite receiving system which is reported to be the
first of its kind in Africa.The system is reported to receive its
images from a chinese satellite that is orbiting the earth from pole
to pole.
Other equipment include a weather virtual TV studio.The FY-3 polar
orbiting satellite receiving and processing system is an advanced
system that receives all weather and high precision data from polar
orbiting earth observation satellites for medium and long range
numerical weather forecasts, climatic prediction and natural disaster
monitoring for drought, fire,vegetation and water,150 automatic
weather stations, meteorological early warning radio system and 1 600
radios for rural communities and a Meteorological Information
Comprehensive Analysing and Processing System (MICAPS).

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#Zimbabwe: The revolution will be hashtagged
July 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

by *

With traditional avenues of criticism being closed off, Zimbabweans have taken to protesting online. But don’t mistake this for slacktivism.

Evan Mawarire started #thisflag, but the movement has taken on new life over the past few months.

Evan Mawarire started #thisflag, but the movement has taken on new life over the past few months.

In a moment of deep frustration this April, Evan Mawarire, a pastor based in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare, set his camera to record.

Draped in the Zimbabwean flag, the emotional 39-year-old looked into the lens and spoke for over 4 minutes about his weariness at what he saw as the government’s failures and broken promises of liberation.

“When I look at the flag it’s not a reminder of my pride and inspiration – it feels as if I just want to belong to another country,” he said.

As he posted the video online, he could never have imagined the response. Within a day, the video had reportedly been viewed 120,000 times and soon the hashtag #thisflag was trending as other Zimbabweans emulated the pastor in posting their own grievances.

“I was astounded that such a large number of people felt the same way. So many people identified with what I was saying, that our country has let us down,” Mawarire told African Arguments.

However, it did not stop there. With the administration of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party tightening its grip on the media recently, #thisflag broke a taboo and soon found itself at the heart of what seemed to be a growing trend of disgruntled Zimbabweans remonstrating, demonstrating and mobilising online.

Later that month, for example, ZANU-PF’s Acie Lumumba opted to air his grievances at being fired from the Youth Empowerment committee under the hashtag #digdeeper. He later resigned from the ruling party and has been posting videos on social media attacking Mugabe and accusing cabinet ministers of corruption.

Meanwhile, other opposition groups such as #Asijiki (meaning ‘we will not back down’) have also emerged in the wake of #thisflag.

Moreover, many of these new groups and movements have not just stayed online but also translated into action on the streets.

In June, for instance, Mawarire led a group of over 200 activists to meet Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya to protest against the introduction of bond notes.

Acie Lumumba has launched a political party called Viva Zimbabwe which he says will fight against the Mugabe regime.

And protesters linked to #tajamuka (meaning ‘we have rebelled’) – a movement led by Patson Dzamara, whose activist brother Itai went missing over a year ago – has seen dozens of Zimbabweans occupying Harare’s Africa Unity Square and, more recently,protesting against Vice-President Phekezela Mphoko’s continued stay at Rainbow Sheraton Hotel at the taxpayers’ expense.

The government fights back

Openly criticising the government has typically been a risky business in Zimbabwe, and many who have dared speak out against Mugabe or ZANU-PF have been imprisoned, attacked or disappeared. Additionally, over the past few years, media freedoms have been particularly squeezed with more journalists being persecuted and news houses threatened.

It is in this context that online platforms seem to have presented a less traditional but potentially far-reaching way for large numbers of Zimbabweans to both access dissenting viewpoints and share their own. And with mobile penetration at 95.4% and internet access at 48.1%, the implications could be huge.

This kind of online activism is more difficult for the government to monitor, though that has not stopped government supporters trying to push back. Mawarire, for instance, has been intimidated and received death threats. Lumumba’s house was broken into, with the assailants taking his laptop and leaking a sex tape which was on the machine. And many of the protesters who have been part of the #tajamuka movement have been arrested.

The Zimbabwean government has also engaged in its own war of words, firstly trying (largely unsuccessfully) to kickstart the counter-hashtag #OurFlag, but also trying to delegitimse the social media phenomenon as a US conspiracy.

After US ambassador Harry Thomas tweeted “wonder if #Zimbabwe’s #thisflag movement will spread to the US and other nations”, Zimbabwean Minister Jonathan Moyo claimed the US was behind the whole movement. He claimed a meeting the ambassador had held with social media voices was “Evidence of an exposed cat coming out of a see-through bag” and claimed “US envoys ignited social media revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, whose common outcome was bloodshed”.

Furthermore, faced with growing dissent, Mugabe has even threatened to control social media, saying: “There is a lot of filth in it.  There are a lot of serious insults peddled in there…China set up security measures and we will soon look into how they are administering it so that the abuses and insults can be reduced.”

However, ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has poured cold water on this idea somewhat, saying: “[The internet] is an important tool for development and no sane government or sane minister would say we want to ban social media. And if there was an intention by anyone to ban social media it would be next to impossible.”

“We are not afraid to die”

With more people organising and expressing discontentment on social media, the Zimbabwean government is understandably spooked, though commentators disagree as to to what extent these movements will actually be able to shape change at the political level.

According to some commentators such as Floyd Kadete, for example, “It doesn’t come as a surprise that the entire voting population has access to the messages and it is bad news for the government”. Meanwhile others such as Rhodes PhD scholar Admire Mare are more cautious, emphasising that “social media is not a magic bullet. What is needed is civic education to create political consciousness.”

However, all tend to agree that regardless of the popularity of hashtags and online movements, the real measure of success will be the extent to which these mobilisations can be translated into offline momentum. “Obviously the government officials are threatened as one can see from the way they are responding to this social media movement,” says Mike Vareta, a Harare-based analyst, “but the problem is how to transform from social media protests to go into the streets.”

On this front, there is plenty still to be done, though the success of movements such as #thisflag and #tajamuka in leading to marches and protests have been notable. Furthermore, although many movements may begin with relatively easy actions online, there seems to be no shortage of passion or determination amongst Zimbabwe’s activists to mobilise offline too and put their bodies on the line.

“This regime has failed to protect human rights and it is time to confront them,” says Dzamara. “We are not afraid to die.”

Mawarire echoes this, adding “Even if they kill me, they won’t kill the idea.”

*African Arguments.Problem Masau is a Zimbabwean journalist.

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South African Rand Adoption For Zimbabwe Should Boost Investment & Be Championed
July 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Roger Aitken*

A puzzle with the national flag of Zimbabwe and a US dollar banknote. (Image: Shutterstock)

A puzzle with the national flag of Zimbabwe and a US dollar banknote. (Image: Shutterstock)

Zimbabwe’s adoption of the South African rand (ZAR) as its main transaction currency to replace the US dollar in the country’s multi-currency system will “encourage” foreign direct investment according to an investment specialist in Zimbabwe at one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations managing billions of dollars.

The move, which could come as soon as in the next few weeks, could help the country reduce domestic prices and raise its international competitiveness.

The assessment from South African-born Shane Helberg, Area Manager of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique at deVere Group, which has around $10bn under advice from 80,000 mainly expatriate clients globally, comes after reports that the development is around the corner.

His comments follow presentations made on 6 June by representatives of the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, where it was stated that the adoption of the rand would be one of the measuresrequired to address the cash shortages facing the country.

And, Zimbabwe certainly needs an investment boost. This year has witnessed an escalation of cash shortages in the country, which is mostly a US dollar-based economy after domestic currency hit the skids back in the 2008 after hyperinflation gripped the nation.

Economy & Hyperinflation

Zimbabwe witnessed the first hyperinflation of the 21st century, which at its peak in mid-November 2008 reached an incredible monthly rate of 79.6 billion percent. At this point it took prices just 24.7 hours to double.

The economy went into free fall following a campaign to seize white-owned commercial farms. And, recent years saw a move from a broad range of currencies to an almost dominance by the US dollar. Today the Greenback accounts for around 95% of all transactions in the country.

At the heart of the matter for Zimbabwe is a dire shortage of foreign investment. Shifting to the South African rand could help the authorities gain time and allow them to initiate a much needed shot in the arm in terms of implementing policies that are investor friendly.

Helberg, who served with the British military for five years before joining up with deVere in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, commenting says: “Zimbabwe’s adoption of the Rand as the main trading currency within the country’s multi-currency system should be championed.”

As to who will champion it, reports have pointed to the Zimbabwean and South African governments reaching an agreement during the recent continental summit in Ethiopia.

The South African president Jacob Zuma has also been quoted as saying: “I’m very much impressed by such a great and historical event that will be witnessed between the two countries both economically and socially.”

“Whilst the rand perhaps is not as weighty as the US dollar for international trade as it is more volatile against major currencies, it must be noted that the dollar has not been effective in arresting the freefalling economy in recent times,” remarks Helberg.

Multi-Currency System

Zimbabwe introduced a multi-currency system in 2009 to help prevent unofficial trading. In addition to the US dollar, the country allows the use of currencies including the rand, yuan, pound and the euro. While that helped control inflation, it also left the government short of cash to buy essential imports and pay its bills – 80% of which involve civil servants’ salaries.

Stability and certainty is always welcomed by foreign investors and especially so in emerging markets. And, not all emerging markets – especially in Africa – can be considered homogenous.

Primary Currency: Benefits

Using one primary currency, the rand, for commerce is likely to be beneficial for a number of key reasons. “Firstly, it’s is better to move to using one single semi-convertible currency than a multiplicity of currencies at the moment as it reduces confusion and uncertainty,” says the South African.

Move To The Rand

Should the move prove to the Rand be successful, Helberg contends that “we can expect further levels of foreign investment and in turn more expats moving to Zimbabwe.” A steady rise in foreign investment into country will represent a clear mark of success after such a move.

Clearly, international organizations and people bring with them a raft of potentially enormous associated economic benefits to any host country.

“Zimbabweans and expats already in the country will be thankful that a single currency could replace the present variety of currencies used for the added economic stability it will likely generate,” note Helberg in Harare.

Secondly, the measure should also help boost trade links with South Africa, Zimbabwe’s major trading partner. For many years, South Africa has been Zimbabwe’s single largest trading partner.

According to statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe imports from South Africa in March 2016 represented 22% of total imports. On the export front, South Africa accounted for 78% of the nation’s total.

Chinese Investment

The future development is especially important for Zimbabwe as it will make China, amongst others, more confident about investing in the country if it helps stabilize the economy.

It has been reported that China is expected to channel more than $20bn worth of investments to Zimbabwe and South Africa. And, Helberg posits that this “arrangement might have helped spur on the agreement” on rand use between the beneficiaries.

Currently the majority of Zimbabwean manufacturers are importing raw materials from South Africa. In addition, Zimbabwe imports household and basic goods from South Africa as the local industry is still struggling to meet demand. Similarly, Zimbabwean supermarket shelves are found to have around two-thirds of imported products mainly from South Africa.

Zimbabwe’s main industries are Mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, diamonds, clay, numerous metallic/non-metallic ores), steel; wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs and beverages.

Thirdly, such a move will increase Zimbabwe’s competitiveness in broader global terms as it will make exports cheaper. Also prices in Zimbabwe will reduce.

“When the rand becomes the de facto currency of Zimbabwe, the country’s economic woes could seriously start to diminish” he also suggests. And, this according to the South African would “drive confidence in Zimbabwe” as being a place to do business and invest.

Property Market

On the property front, emerging and frontier markets – including in Africa – presents unique and individual challenges for property occupiers and investors. And, highlighting that countries across Africa cannot be considered as homogenous, a report published last year by commercial property and real-estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield rated Zimbabwe ‘high risk’.

In a risk analysis of the top 42 emerging and frontier markets around the globe, while Cushman & Wakefield’s annual ‘Emerging and Frontier Markets’ (2015) report ranked five African markets in the top 10 globally – with Botswana overall number one as the “most transparent” of emerging economies – Zimbabwe ranked a lowly 39th just one spot ahead of Angola.

The principal office market in Zimbabwe is the capital city Harare, which has a population of around 1.5 million. The report noted the “weakening economy and on-going political uncertainty” had led to reduced demand from international occupiers over the past few years and higher vacancy rates in the city centre.

The focus for most occupiers is on suburban locations, with cost reduction and consolidation remaining key trends. In terms of the rental outlook for 2016, this report forecasted Harare’s USD/sq.m/year level at $144.00 ($120.00), a decline of 17% over the previous year. Demand was found to be still highest for smaller-sized suites, with higher quality accommodation letting more quickly. However, larger floor plates were taking much longer to let.

deVere is one major global brand that is currently using its resources to develop its presence in the country with its strategic and ambitious growth plans for the longer term. Helberg reveals that the firm intends to “take on more financial advisers and support staff” to meet the anticipated demand across Zimbabwe and wider southern Africa throughout 2016/17.

The rand was trading at around ZAR14.78 against the US dollar at 17.34 UTC today, with its low over the past 12 months being 12.25 and a high of 16.88. Prior to the Brexit vote USD/ZAR was at 14.40 but has receded now by 2.63%.


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The Black Knight Of Africa: How Robert Gumede is Expanding His Legacy Across the Continent
July 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe*

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 17: Robert Gumede during the Super Rugby Lions press conference at The Referee’s Drop In Room, GLRU’s offices on February 17, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 17: Robert Gumede during the Super Rugby Lions press conference at The Referee’s Drop In Room, GLRU’s offices on February 17, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Robert Gumede is one of Africa’s most accomplished business leaders and investors. The 55 year-old South African entrepreneur is the founder of the Guma Group, a leading black-owned investment company with businesses spanning Information Technology, mining, tourism, infrastructure development, hospitality and energy in several African countries.

Gumede is most popular for founding  Gijima Group, an ICT company that provides application services, infrastructure configuration and end-to-end managed outsource services to clients across Southern Africa, but his business interests toay are far more extensive.

Gumede is also one of South Africa’s most recognizable philanthropists. His charity, theKeni Foundation, has given away millions of dollars in scholarships to poor South African students.

I recently caught up with Gumede, who is popularly referred to as the ‘Black Knight’ in South Africa’s social circles. He recounted his humble beginnings, mused on Sino-Africa relations, and talked about his philanthropic activities among other issues.

You are one of the most successful and recognizable business leaders in Africa today. But what’s the background story of Robert Gumede?

I was born one of seven children amidst the socioeconomic and political climate of apartheid; the same year Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison for life.

I was raised in Nelspruit, perhaps the most beautiful part of South Africa, parented by my single mother and grandmother. I started off my professional business career at the age of 7. As a 7-year-old young man, I would caddie at the Nelspurit Golf Club for prominent farmers and businesspersons that I came to admire. These people were extremely successful and I was captivated by their passion for their various businesses and their incredible drive to succeed. I always kept it at the back of my mind that I wanted to become successful like these people.

As time went on, I proceeded to study Law at the University of Zululand and eventually became a Lawyer. But while serving as a prosecutor at the Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court early in my professional life, I grew tired of witnessing the sentencing of men and women who committed petty crimes like stealing milk to feed their families. Deep down, I knew I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the entrepreneurs I grew up admiring and build my own successful enterprise.

So in 1988, I started Gijima Electronic And Security Systems (Pty) Ltd, which is the flagship company of Guma Group. In 1992, I moved to Johannesburg – the City of Gold’ to build the business from there. I opened a small office – Guma Group’s first office, in a basement located within an industrial park. As we were a relatively new business, I had to learn effective networking and marketing to win clients. Before long, our business prospered. In 1999 I listed the company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and the sale of some of my stake in the company gave me the liquidity to make other smart and timely investments in tourism, hospitality, property development and mineral exploration. And we are still expanding and investing into new businesses in Africa and beyond.

During apartheid, black people were not allowed to play economic contributory roles of value. After the demise of apartheid, the Mandela government introduced a scheme to bring black people in to the mainstream economy through what we called ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ (BEE). Against the mantra of BEE, I took on the white-owned I.T. enterprise AST and through entrepreneurial flare in doing so, I saved over 2,000 white jobs; instead of BEE, I executed a “White Economic Empowerment ” (WEE) initiative, one achieved by its ‘Black Knight’, ergo the moniker.

With the Guma Group of Companies today operating in over 32 countries, with over 12,000 staff members and international clients and partners including British Airways and American Express, we are unlike any offering on the continent; in fact, years ago, you would never think the Duty-Free trolleys rolling through BA airline aisles worldwide would be owned by an African boy ‘from the village’.

Yet they are; I choose to believe in this unique differentiation achieved by hard work matched by ingenuity, entrepreneurial traits inherent to Africa.

What new business territories are you venturing into in the near future?

We seek to expand our operations into new sectors such as renewable energy, information technology for taxation and population registration with a citizen card, and water purification among other things. I think it’s unfortunate that Africa is home to most of the world’s fresh water reserves and yet so many people across Africa struggle to get clean water to drink. This is tragic, and the Guma Group is exploring ways to address this problem for Africa’s poorest people. Currently, we have interests across the continent and with international partners beyond our borders, such as China. We are consistently exploring new regions to expand our investments, innovate where we can and deploy our present portfolio.

‘Where’ region-specifically is a particularly intriguing question; we seek to enhance development throughout the Southern African Development Community (or SADC); North Africa, such as Egypt; the Economic Community of West African States (or ECOWAS) such as Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. Regarding Nigeria, I must recognize fellow African entrepreneurial minds such as Aliko Dangote, who has embarked on a terrific professional journey which had roots in the cement manufacturing industry. Proud of his achievements, where he crafts cement, I use it to build roads, dams and major throughways where we presently operate and indeed where we seek to grow.

Lastly, when people refer to ‘Black Africa’ today, they do not mean pigment of our African skins; they mean the way our continent looks from Space versus the West and the deserts of the Middle East  – We must create lasting change for the next generation and work together to light up the continent and compete effectively in a globalizing marketplace.

We have concurrently witnessed tremendous integration from China in Pan-African emerging markets; what can be drawn from the dichotomy between Sino-African enterprises and the West’s trepidation?

There is no question the West is lagging behind China as it pertains to integration and doing business effectively in Africa. This isn’t new. As I’ve stated many times, it remains undeniable that China has been contributing to Africa’s economy in a way that the former Western colonial powers failed to do for over 400 years.

Opportunities for mutual benefit in Africa are being squandered in the West and bearing fruit in the East, with China’s President Xi Jinping this year pledging to invest $60 billion in African States. In fact, Scott Eisner, vice-president of African affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, has said himself that the US “…has a small window in the next couple of years before China, India and Brazil compete or partner on the continent and trade relations are theirs to own almost exclusively’”.

However, at present, we find the West setting up private equity that compete against local African businessmen instead of channeling funding through partnership and directly with like-minded entrepreneurs and providing a debt instrument that is competitive.

We seek to raise awareness to the opportunities available for the Chinese private sector to continue to compete, continue to integrate and to do so with efficiency by partnering with local businessmen as opposed to State Owned Enterprise to State Owned Enterprise; our approach is a mutually beneficial and socially responsible endeavor.

How best can South Africa reinvigorate dynamism from within and promote the opportunity it offers to international investors?

Where many may see challenge, I see opportunity. This downturn has perhaps for the first time in our democracy got government and the private sector to work closer together. However, it is no doubt extremely crucial that we restore foreign integration and domestic market confidence to increase GDP and enthusiastically promote the wide array of opportunities available for investment in the country.

As Africans, we must demand more from our leadership at all levels. They must respect the rule-of-law and promote best practices in governance. We must also demand more from our fellow successful entrepreneurs and ensure that they give back to their local communities and economically empower others. Also, we must do more in letting the world know that we are open for responsible, efficient business and that South Africa is a vital throughway for the continent.

To S&P, to the greater international community, I will say this and it’s an adage I use often – “It is best to climb on the back of an elephant when it is on its knees. For when the elephant rises, it must rise with you on top of its back”; that is what entrepreneurship in Africa is all about.

You’ve given millions of dollars in charitable donations in South Africa through your Keni Foundation. Why do you feel it is important for the business community to be more philanthropic?

Africa simply cannot wait for foreign businessmen like Bill Gates to bring in billions of dollars to assist the continent. It is also high time Africa stopped being seen as a basket case and rather the breadbasket for which it should be. Those of us who have made it through the opportunities created by our forefathers have a moral responsibility to empower those who have not been as fortunate. I love giving scholarships and supporting educational causes because I believe that education is the bedrock of world-class aspirations.

However, it is social responsibility, with particular regard to the private sector that instills investor confidence and assuages integration concerns.

We must look to ensure the future of the next generation of African leadership in public and private life is one of equal and ample opportunity. The Robert Gumede Family Keni Foundation (RGFKF) was formed in 2010 and is a wholly broad based, black empowerment family trust, with a key role being to contribute to vulnerable communities, give back and thereby create a climate conducive for sustainable development, with societal value throughout.

Any last words?

For Africans to continue to thrive, we need certainty, rule of law, stability, overarching opportunity and determined leadership. Leaders like President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (once a war-torn country, this strong woman is the first democratically-elected female President on the continent) and private sector thought leaders marking their own path will steward Africa’s renaissance.

We need to industrialize Africa, as this is Africa’s century.

*Forbes.Follow  Twitter @MfonobongNsehe. Email:

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The opposite of Brexit: African Union launches an all-Africa passport
July 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Anne Frugé*

AFRICAN_LEADERS_MUST_BE_BORN_AGAIN_0.26188900_1434106807__thumbOn June 13, two weeks before the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the African Union announced a new “single African passport.” The lead-up discussion was much like the original debate on the European Economic Community, the E.U.’s predecessor. African passport proponents say it will boost the continent’s socioeconomic development because it will reduce trade barriers and allow people, ideas, goods, services and capital to flow more freely across borders.

But now the A.U. faces the challenge of making sure the “e-Passport” lives up to its potential – and doesn’t fulfill detractors’ fears of heightened terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration.

The African e-Passport is part of a long-term plan for the continent

The e-Passport is an electronic document that permits any A.U. passport holder to enter any of the 54 A.U. member states, without requiring a visa. It will be unveiled this month during the next A.U. Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Initially, the e-Passport will only be available to A.U. heads of state, foreign ministers and permanent representatives based in the A.U.’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, . The plan is to roll it out to all A.U. citizens by 2018.

The electronic passport initiative grows out of the A.U.’s Agenda 2063, a plan to mobilize Africa’s vast resources to strengthen the region’s self-reliance, global economic power and solidarity.

Why is the single African passport important?

The e-Passport is a step toward eliminating borders on the continent, aiming to enable deeper integration, increased trade and further development. Just as important, the passport is a powerful symbol of unity across Africa – and simultaneously a step toward connecting African countries economically and politically.

An A.U. passport represents the latest effort to create a common market spanning the continent, much like that in the E.U. Such efforts date back to 1963 with the creation of the Organization of African Unity. Pan-Africanistscelebrating the demise of the colonial state and hailing a United States of Africadesigned the O.A.U. to unite Africans and dissolve the borders between them.

Essentially, the O.A.U. sought to raise living standards by supporting leaders of anti-colonial struggles in their roles as heads of new states. In its quest to make the transition to independence as smooth as possible, the organization at times defended national sovereignty to a fault. For example, the decision to respect arbitrary colonial borders had far-reaching consequences, including numerous identity-based conflicts.

Over time, other entities arose to coordinate economic activity across national lines: the East African Community (1967), the Economic Community of West African States (1975), the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa (1980) and the Southern African Development Community (1992), just to name a few.

In 2002, the A.U. replaced the O.A.U.

Moving away from the O.A.U.’s state-centric approach, the A.U. attempts to balance “the principle of sovereignty with the need to accelerate political rights and socio-economic growth and cooperation,” according to Matebe Chisiza, visiting scholar at the South African Institute of International Affairs. For example, the A.U. suspended 12 member states after “unconstitutional changes in government,” including Libya, Central African Republic, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

None of Africa’s regional organizations have yet been able to create a common market. This vivid dream has endured despite the enormous political and logistical challenges it would entail. Deeper economic integration is seen by many, including the World Bank, as the road to prosperity and stability. In fact, the A.U. is guided by this premise.

What might be the downsides of the e-Passport?

Opponents of the passport are concerned about a range of security risks. Detractors argue that visa-free travel would make it easier for terrorists to move within and between countries. Human traffickers and drug smugglers could take advantage of the new system. Disease and other public health crises could spread more rapidly in a borderless Africa. As has happened in Europe, an e-Passport may intensify competition for jobs and public services, leading to more xenophobic political rhetoric and attacks. Migration is already a contentious issue, as shown by deadly anti-immigrant riots in South Africa and Zambia and heated debates over refugees in Kenya.

Many elites favor the unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services. But if the effort is mishandled, such free travel may simply reproduce social inequalities — helping the well-off become richer and leaving behind the poor. We can see that already in the fact that only certain individuals will have the passport at first, which creates a hierarchy of citizens, only some of whom can travel freely.

Moreover, Bronwen Manby’s report for the Open Society Foundations describes how passports can become tools for repressive regimes to silence their critics. In 2007 alone Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe denied or confiscated passports for a variety of opponents, including “from individual trade unionists, human rights activists, opposition politicians, or minority religious groups.” Fortunately, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia have taken steps to put into law the principle that every individual has a right to a passport — even if the principle is upheld irregularly in practice.

The African Union can learn from the E.U.’s example

The E.U. offers a model that the A.U. can use to study both the progress and pitfalls of regional integration: managing a common currency, balancing economies of vastly different sizes and structures, and building solidarity within and across culturally diverse nations.

Brexit is a reminder of the challenges inherent in a shared political and economic space. The debates over debt, immigration and national identity that led to Brexit would only be magnified in Africa under the weight of industrializing economies, significant barriers to access in education and health care and ongoing conflicts over resources and identity.

An African passport is an exciting development that can spur growth and improve living standards. To capitalize on this potential, the A.U. needs to plan two steps ahead. Crafting thoughtful regulations will be essential to ensuring the e-Passport’s economic promise is genuinely available to everyone and not subject to abuse.

For example, integration needs to benefit the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, with both productivity and industrial capacity increasing in tandem. When some countries deindustrialize at the same time that others expand their markets, the stragglers strain the common pool and fall into crisis.

Further, governments need to fight against a race to the bottom in which commerce follows the path of least restrictions. This point is especially important considering that demos-centered Pan-Africanism underpins the A.U.’s mission.

And implementation plans must address practical obstacles that prevent many Africans from obtaining basic identity documentation, such as weak civil registration systems, slow and costly bureaucratic procedures, and corruption. According to the World Bank, 37 percent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have legal identification, a prerequisite for obtaining a passport.

In short, the path forward is to ensure fairness in integration. When the system rewards the few on the backs of the many, solidarity wanes and the unification project suffers.

*Washington Post.Anne Frugé is a PhD candidate in the department of government and politics at the University of Maryland.

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Visa Free by 2018? Africa’s Open Visa Policy
June 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Michelle DeFreese*

Giriyondo Border Post South Africa Mozambique

Giriyondo Border Post South Africa Mozambique

African citizens currently face some of the most stringent visa restrictions in the world. According to the Africa Visa Openness Index Report launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB), citizens of African countries require visas to travel to 55% of countries within the continent. Within the next two years, however, the implementation of a proposed common visa policy under the African Union’s (AU) 2063 Agenda, a strategic document outlining the vision for African development, could profoundly impact the continent in terms of intra-regional trade, economic development, and regional integration.

While the AU’s visa-free travel proposal represents both challenges and opportunities for the security and economy of Africa, previous examples by regional communities and individual countries suggest that the benefits will outweigh the risks. As the plan moves from policy to implementation, the African common visa policy has the potential to impart substantial economic incentives through the removal of trade barriers, increased tourism and investment opportunities, and job creation.

The AU’s 2063 Agenda contains plans for a common visa policy with three primary components: visa-on-arrival for all African nationals, mandatory granting of a minimum 30-day visa for African citizens visiting any African country by 2018, and the ambitious goal of a single, continental passport by 2020. Challenges of implementing the plan include associated risks of widespread economic migration, the movement of illegal goods, cross-border terrorism, and the issue of stateless individuals. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made – regionally and nationally – with benefits that demonstrate the effectiveness of the policy in terms of stimulating economic growth.

The importance of regional integration was also discussed during the 2013 AfDB Annual Meeting, during which Professor Mthuli Ncube, AfDB Vice President and Chief Economist, stated, “Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. Visa restrictions imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade and for the local service economy such as tourism, cross-country medical services or education.”

Thus far, regional communities within Africa have made variable progress towards the goal of a pan-African, visa-free policy with largely positive results and spillover effects: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) introducedfree movement between member states in 1979; a single visa is in place enabling nationals of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) free movement; a common visa policy unites Zambia and Zimbabwe; and the East African Community (EAC) now has a single tourist visa available for visitors to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda coupled with an East African passport that allows citizens freedom of movement within the trading bloc. Following the adoption of the EAC common visa policy, both Uganda and Rwanda benefited from increased tourism revenues by 12% and 8% respectively. According to the AfDB’s Africa Tourism Monitoring Report, comparable visa liberalization schemes could increase tourism by 5-25%.

Individual countries, including the Seychelles, Ghana, and Rwanda, have also made significant efforts to ease visa restrictions on travelers. The Seychelles is one of the few visa-free countries that does not require a visa for citizens of any country upon arrival. After adopting the policy, international tourism arrivals to the country increased by an average of 7% per year between 2009 and 2014. Ghana has adopted the 2063 Agenda’s visa-free policy, which will be formally introduced in July 2016. Rwanda in particular has made significant strides to ease visa restrictions for African nationals, and provides an important example of the potential for the adoption of the visa-free policy in other countries. According to the AfDB, Rwanda’s 2013 visa-free policy for African nationals resulted in several positivebenefits in terms of economic development; these include an estimated 24% increase in tourism arrivals from African countries and a 50% increase in intra-African trade. Trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone increased by 73% since the implementation of the policy.

Beyond the implications for the continent, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, has suggested that visa-free travel within Africa could potentially reduce emigration to other continents. At the same time, reduced visa restrictions will necessitate advances in electronic border management systems and improved interoperability of security architecture to address the increased risks of trafficking and cross-border crime.

Examples of the successful implementation of visa-free policies by regional communities and individual countries – and the benefits that have followed – are compelling arguments for the implementation of the AU’s common visa policy for the continent. For a continent that is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and a burgeoning middle class, the dissolution of barriers to trade, increased free movement, and bolstered tourism will foster an unprecedented growth of untapped markets critical for the realization of thecontinued rise of Africa.

*HuffPost.Michelle DeFreese is a consultant with the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) based in Tanzania. She completed her Master’s degree in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and is an Africa Fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

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Tanzanian Tycoon Said Salim Bakhresa To Invest $30 Million In Zimbabwean Flour Mill
June 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe*

960x0 (1)Tanzanian multi-millionaire Said Salim Bakhresa is set to spend $30 million in acquiring a controlling stake in Blue Ribbon Industries (BRI), a flour milling company in Zimbabwe.

According to the Zimbabwe Mail, Bakhresa Group, one of Tanzania’s largest conglomerates, has officially notified Zimbabwe’s Competition and Tariff Commission that it plans to acquire a 100% shareholding in the troubled miller.

In 2014, Bakhresa Group won the bid to acquire a controlling shareholding in BRI after its core shareholders invited tenders for prospective investors to either buy BRI, or inject capital to revive the operations of the floundering company. BRI, which manufactures bread flour and stock feed, had been battling cash flow problems and was struggling to repay loans it owed to a consortium of Zimbabwean banks and trading partners.

Bakhresa Group was the preferred bidder. Bakhresa, which is the largest milling company in Tanzania, with operations in other countries in East Africa, indicated that it would provide equity capital of $30 million to BRI and steer the company back to profitability.

But the deal has faced stiff opposition from competitors and Zimbabwe’s Competition and Tariff Commission has dragged its feet in approving the deal.

Said Salim Bakhresa, who is the founder of Bakhresa Group, is the 3rd richest man in Tanzania with a fortune FORBES estimates at $600 million. His Bakhresa Group is involved in agribusiness, beverages, logistics, media, oil trading, recycling and packaging.

He was not available to comment as at the time of filing this report.

*Forbes.Follow on Twitter @MfonobongNsehe. Email: mfon.nsehe at

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Zimbabwe: I’m On My Way Out – Mugabe
June 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

President Robert Mugabe yesterday told thousands of children attending celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child in Harare that he is on his way out and wants his successors to do a better job.

Mugabe the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence 36 years ago — has used all manner of tactics to cling to power, including alleged violence against political opponents and electoral fraud.

A few weeks ago, Mugabe (92), declared he wanted to stay on while First Lady Grace Mugabe told the recent Zanu PF million-man-march that “he will rule from the National Heroes Acre”.

Constitutionally, Mugabe can run for one more term, which will end in 2022. But officially opening the 24th Children’s Parliament yesterday, the veteran ruler admitted his days were numbered.

“Once upon a time, I was like you. But I am not like you anymore. I am on my way out,” he said.

“But when I look over my shoulder, I would want to see bold and courageous men. I want to look behind and say those coming will be better than me.”

“That is what we always fight to do. To be better than our parents, initially be like them but strive to be better.”

Meanwhile, children who spoke at the occasion painted horrifying images of what they go through in their daily lives, especially their rural counterparts.

This was after Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao had told Mugabe that his government’s policies showed a deep commitment to addressing the needs of young people.

“The policies of our government are addressing the various needs of our children,” he said.

 “Our youth must be given space to fight for Zimbabwe’s economic independence.”

The government was called upon to take the Child Parliament seriously and not treat it like “a Christmas Day”.

“The government should do something to help children in the rural areas,” he said.

“Some of them walk for as long as two hours to go to school. Children as young as Grade Zeros. They go to school without shoes in this cold,” lamented a child parliamentarian.

A representative of children living with disabilities weighed in.

“The government has to do something to minimise the subjects of those children with disabilities. Focus should be put on practical subjects that can enable children who are disabled to become innovative because nobody is willing to employ them,” he said.

Mugabe admitted that the scourge of rape was getting out of hand, threatening “inhuman treatment” to perpetrators.

“If it does not stop, we will be forced to use inhuman treatment to men who rape. It must stop and stop now,” Mugabe said.

Another child lawmaker said grinding poverty was forcing children into early marriages.

*Allafrica/The Standard

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DreamAfrica: Telling authentic Africa stories
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

DreamAfrica is a platform through which the old tradition of African storytelling is preserved and the telling of new stories is facilitated. It is also a common entertainment and educational platform in the household and school.

By Brenda Lare*

DreamAfrica EXPERIENCE PhotoThe way stories form ideologies that influence our attitudes about life is an interesting phenomenon. Our perceptions of stories often seem to direct our perceptions of life.

Upon consumption of stories the ‘tabula rasa’ is consequently filled up with symbolic images, text and information that can ultimately leave a significant impression upon our minds, emotions and actions. Thus, our consistent encounters with particular stories can subtly structure our lives and understanding of the world, sometimes to our detriment, as Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie cautions with “the danger of a single story.”

Indeed, as stories generally contribute in shaping our reality, a single story can taint and distort it. A single story about an individual, culture and society can not only breed misunderstanding but also nurture discord, stereotypes and xenophobia among a diverse populace. A single story denies individuals an experience of authenticity.

According to Chimamanda, many people particularly from the West identify with the misrepresented story of Africa “the single story of catastrophe.”

This is a common view expressed by many Africans across the globe and acknowledged by those from other regions who have had the opportunity to visit and reside in this rich and beautiful continent. Africa is a continent rich in tales of courage, honesty, loyalty, communion and optimism among many other virtues, yet these stories never see the light of day in most global mainstream media.

The time has come for Africa to recount its own narrative for the world to experience its authenticity amidst conventional tales of despair framed as its sole brand.

On 10 May 2016, a group of African journalists gathered in Nairobi for a workshop on online reporting whose theme was “Telling Africa’s Story on the Web”. The workshop was the brainchild of Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla the head of Catholic News Agency for Africa (CANAA) and his team. They had a vision and invited like-minded journalists to discuss how they could play their role in bringing Africa’s authentic story to light.

One of the ways discussed was highlighting and collaborating in forums that feature Africa in its authentic state. As the discussions progressed, the DreamAfrica app became a topic for dialogue as this digital storytelling platform is already in operation unearthing the myriad of hidden tales from Africa as narrated by Africans.

DreamAfrica is a platform through which the old tradition of African storytelling is preserved and the telling of new stories is facilitated. It is also a common entertainment and educational platform in the household and school. DreamAfrica was co-created by two young Africans – Brian Asingia from Uganda and Franco Abbot from Kenya. The two met at Lafayette College in the United States and had a conversation about the role they could play in the future of Africa before deciding to create DreamAfrica.

Africa’s wealth of stories is distributed and shared “through an application that features e- books, audio-books and video animations from renowned authors all across Africa” says Franco Abbot, CTO of the company.

Torin Perez, the organization’s Global Product Evangelist says he loves the project because DreamAfrica “is about changing the single story of Africa…it is a place where people can come to get culturally relevant content from all over the continent, families can come to enjoy multimedia stories and schools can benefit by integrating them into their teachings in the classroom.”

DreamAfrica is not only a storytelling platform but also a digital literacy tool that can be used in primary schools to enhance creative learning as the world’s demands for 21st century skills increases. “80% percent of brain development and early learning happens between 0-5 years of age. We are focused on providing knowledge and information to children 12 years and under through schools and families globally because a diverse global community needs a diverse global education that starts in early childhood development so as to address challenges of identity, culture and global connectedness,” says CEO Brian Asingia.

In Kenya, schools can benefit from the relevant Kenyan Institute of Curriculum Development approved content ready for integration in the classroom across subjects. As children learn using this tool, teachers can facilitate their development of core skills that will be necessary for their future success.

In collaboration with various entities, the DreamAfrica team organized a teachers training workshop on 26 and 27 April 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. During this workshop teachers were introduced to the creative learning process that’s possible utilizing the content available on the DreamAfrica digital application.

Many of the beneficiaries of this training expressed their appreciation for DreamAfrica. Henry Matheka, a teacher at Langata West Primary School, Nairobi, says that DreamAfrica “actually makes learning more interesting to the child, more captivating to make the child hands on for the lesson…the child is not bored, the child feels one with the teacher.”

One attendee from Discovery Learning Alliance said “the aspect of making learning interesting is one of the things that I think will really capture the attention of learners and storytelling and how this can be used to teach other subjects is just amazing…it cuts out the monotony of teacher chalk teacher talk process”.

In realizing the aspirations of many, such as Chimamanda and the journalists at the online reporting workshop, DreamAfrica seeks to present an authentic narrative of Africa.

“I want it to be the one place where you can come and experience storytelling in an authentic way. The story is brought to life and this is the old tradition of African storytelling. We want to connect the authors in Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience”, states Franco Abbot in expressing the vision of DreamAfrica.

Thankfully, he is not alone in this vision. Recently at the 2016 African Economic Forum held at Columbia University, African philanthropist and founder of United Bank for Africa Tony Elumelu, remarked that DreamAfrica is “An example of African solutions to African problems. It doesn’t come better than this.” Selected in the inaugural class of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) in 2015, we all hope the future only gets brighter for this organization and the vision it serves.

* Pambazuka.Brenda Lare is a student of Social Communication at Tangaza University College, Nairobi, Kenya. She recently began an internship at DreamAfrica and got inspired by the role the company is playing in shaping Africa’s future.

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Pan Africanism is the road to Africa’s security
June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

Pan Africanism is anti-nobody. It is pro-Africa. The mammoth task of liberating Africa from the ongoing imperialist exploitation and marginalisation can be achieved only through Pan-African unity. African people must understand that they have a common destiny.

By Motsoko Pheko*

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah

Programme Director, Distinguished Delegates, Brothers and Sisters at this historic Convention, I SALUTE YOU ALL for your persistence on the Pan African path.

Africa is a beautiful house that has been burning for some time with its children, women and men trapped inside. They are desperately trying to come out. As that Pan Africanist Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe correctly put it, “This Continent [Africa], has had the bad luck to be over-run by [European] soldiers of fortune that had neither [moral] fibre nor humanity. Slavery played its shameful role in depopulating Africa. Capitalism denuded [Africa] of its wealth. Colonialism deprived Africa of its birthright, and imperialism emasculated its will to live as human being and enjoy its share of bounties of the earth.”

 Africans must control their riches for their people

Africa has immense wealth and resources. There is hardly an agricultural crop that cannot be produced on this great continent. And almost every kind of mineral is found in Africa – vanadium, chrome, uranium, cobalt, tantalum, platinum, gold, diamonds, iron, coal, oil, etc. Africa is blessed with three types of climate: temperate, tropical and Mediterranean.

The paradox is that its African owners are among the poorest people in the world. Africa is actually the size of Europe, America, China and India combined. The Democratic Republic of Congo alone is the size of the following twelve European countries combined: Britain, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Armenia, Albania and Belgium. Congo is 905,355 square miles. Its untapped potential wealth is estimated at twenty four trillion American dollars. This is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of Europe and America put together.

Imperialist countries have made Africa their hunting and looting ground for many years through various forms such as slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Congo became a Belgian colony as a result of the imperialist Berlin General Act of 26 February 1885 through which seven Western European countries stole the whole of Africa, except for Ethiopia.

Boasting about how Belgium stole the riches of the Congo, the Belgian Secretary of Colonies Godding said, “During the War [European World War against Adolf Hitler], the Congo was able to finance all the expenditure of the Belgian government in exile in London, including the diplomatic service as well as the cost of armed forces in Europe and America…the Belgian gold reserve could be left intact.”

To get all these riches from the Congo, how did the Belgian colonialists treat Africans in their own country? The British philosopher Betrand Russell reported about the European colonial treatment of the Congolese Africans under their Belgian colonial rulers. He has written:

“Each village was ordered by [the colonial] authorities to collect and bring a certain amount of rubber as much as the men could bring by neglecting all work for their maintenance. If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were taken away and kept as hostages in the harems of government employees. If this method failed, troops were sent to the village to spread terror, if necessary by killing some of the men. They were ordered to bring one right hand amputated from an African victim for every cartridge used.” (Freedom And Organisation, 1814-1914)

The result of these atrocities, according to Sir Harris H.H. Johnston, was reduction of the African population in the Congo from 20 million to 9 million in fifteen years.

Africans have given more than they have received

Imperialist countries have psychologically conditioned Africans to think that they cannot live without the crumbs from Europe or America or from any other imperialist country in this world. But the American Senator Jesse Helms during Ronald Reagan’s presidency let the cat out of the bag when he warned the Americans about the loss of wealth in South Africa if a Pan-Africanist government came to power.

“South Africa is the source of over 80% American mineral supply and 86% of platinum resources,” he said. “I will not go into details of each vital mineral. It was former Secretary of State Alexander Haig who said the loss of mineral output of South Africa could bring severest consequences to the existing economic and security framework of the free world. South Africa has 90% of the world’s chrome reserve. As you know there is no substitute for chrome in our military and industrial manufacturing.

“Without South Africa’s chrome, no engines for modern jet aircraft, cruise missiles or armaments could be built. The U.S. air force could be grounded. Our military would be unarmed. Without South Africa’s chrome surgical equipment and utensils could not be produced. Our hospitals and doctors would be helpless.”

Imperialist countries have not only behaved as if Africa’s riches belong to them; they further have made Africans believe that they cannot do anything for themselves unless they totally depend on Western countries – in particular their former enslavers and colonisers. African leaders must exorcise this demon of helplessness and inferiority complex. This borders on idolatry where Africans worship the false gods of “superiority and invincibility.”

The Pan-African path leads to life but is no dinner party

The mammoth task of liberating Africa economically and technologically can be brought about only through Pan-African unity in a united Africa. Africans are the only people in the world who fight their common liberation struggles as individuals. Those who enslaved Africa and colonised Africa, however, have always united to achieve their imperialist goals. During the Berlin Conference when they stole the whole of Africa except Ethiopia, they sat at this Conference from 15 November 1884 to 26 February 1885.

They were serious. They were united. They were determined. They wanted to steal all of Africa at gunpoint. Ethiopia was saved only by its glorious Victory of the Battle of Adwa against the Italian colonial invaders of Africa. This was on 1st of March 1886.

Pan Africanism is anti-nobody. It is pro-Africa. It is anti-injustice and continued stealing of Africa’s resources by some foreigners while the children of Africa wallow in the quagmire of poverty, ignorance, short life expectancy and high child mortality.

This creates a situation where Africans are incapable of educating their children for various technical skills and professions so that they can manage their national affairs competently. In a situation like this, Africans become victims of some foreign countries that see ignorant and poor Africans as their ready carcass to devour.

Africa needs the world and the world needs Africa

The world needs Africa and Africa needs the world. Pan-Africanists demand that there must be a new way of interacting with Africa economically and technologically. Africa needs a new breed of foreign investors who see Africa not just as a place to make quick riches, but as an important partner for the continent’s economic development and true liberation of the African people. Investors must get their fair share of profits. But the exploitative relation between investors and Africa must go. It must be buried deep in the colonial grave.

Over 50 years ago the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana hit the nail on the head when for his country, he declared: “We welcome foreign investors in a spirit of partnership. They can earn their profits here provided they leave us an agreed portion, promoting the welfare and happiness of our people as a whole, as against greedy ambitions of the few. From what we get out of this partnership we hope to expand the health services of our people, to feed and house all, to give them more and better educational institutions and see to it that they have a rising standard of living.”

Billions of dollars stolen from Africa  

Global Financial Integrity has researched and revealed that a cumulative sum of $814.9 billion was swindled from Africa between 2004 and 2013. All African countries have lost large sums of money generated through corruption such as invasion of tax, bribes and cross-border smuggling.

A few examples are: South Africa $209 billion, Nigeria $178 billion, Tanzania $191.77 billion, Senegal $8.03 billion, Uganda $116.76 billion, Tunisia $154.5 billion, Egypt $39.83 billion, Ethiopia $25.83, billion, Lesotho $3.41 billion, Swaziland $5.82 billion, Botswana $13.68 billion, Mauritius $6.09 billion. African countries such as Guinea, Liberia and Mali which not long ago experienced thousands of deaths of their citizens due to the decimating Ebola disease, were also robbed of billions of dollars.

Other research institutions on this illicit flow of money out of Africa such as Christian Aid and Tax Justice Network have quantified the illicit flow of money out of Africa as between $1.2 trillion and $1.4 trillion. This is said to be four times the size of “Africa’s foreign debt.”

The only African country from which there has been no money to steal is Somalia. This is a country that was long destabilised by America until October 1993. The American government withdrew from Somalia only after the Battle of Mogadishu in which 18 American soldiers were killed, 84 wounded, two Hawk helicopters downed by Somali army, three pilots killed and one pilot missing.

The then American President Bill Clinton called this, the “Battle of Rangers” or the “Black Hawk Down.”  When withdrawing the America troops from Somalia, he said, “We had gotten to a point where we kind of thought that we could intervene without getting hurt, without our soldiers getting killed. The incident I call ‘Black Hawk Down’ certainly disabused us of that.” Unfortunately this American mess has badly destroyed Somalia and distabilised East Africa to this day.

Western economic exploitation of Africa goes on unabated. In July 2008 Pope Benedict XVI could not contain himself about this any longer. His Holiness said, “Our Western way of life has stripped Africa’s people of their riches and continues to strip them.”

Corroborating this fact, a Member of the Scottish Parliament Mark Ballad affirmed, “Our [Western European] relationship to Africa is an exploitative one. The West no longer needs standing armies in Africa to strip its resources because it can do so more effectively with multi-national companies.”

Afrophobia undermines Pan-African unity

Let me move to another point that urgently needs the attention of all Pan-Africanists and leaders of the African Union. In some African countries there have been instances of Afrophobia. This is mistakenly called Xenophobia. The English borrowed this word from Greek. It means “fearing or hating a foreigner.”

But in reality this is Afrophobia. It means African brother hating African brother and sister and African sister hating African sister and brother. In the espoused spirit of Botho/UBuntu and Pan-Africanism, there is no African who can be a foreigner in Africa, while non-Africans who live in Africa are not regarded as foreigners. It is a contradiction in terms, to be an African and a “foreigner” at the same time.

On 22 May 2008, I spoke about Afrophobia as a Member in the South African Parliament. I pointed out that “African people have a common destiny. We are in the same ship. If it sails safely across the stormy seas we shall all be safe. If it sinks, we shall all perish. Europe enslaved or colonised us to accumulate their stolen riches from Africa. They did not care whether you were a Nigerian, a Zimbabwean, Azanian, South African or Mozambican. They inflicted their atrocities and genocide on every African whether in Jamaica or America.”

African Union desk at points of entry

One of the beginning steps member states of the African Union must take is to erect sign boards at all ports of entry in Africa for citizens of African states reading,   “ CITIZENS OF AFRICAN UNION.” These citizens must not be checked at the desk marked “FOREIGN PASSPORTS HERE.” This undermines the Pan-African agenda. Africans travelling within Africa must feel welcome in every African country.

Africa Liberation Day so declared in Addis Ababa by African heads of state on 25 May 1963 did not come cheap. Much African blood and tears were shed. It is a shame that many African countries that claim to work for African unity have still not declared May 25 a statutory holiday. It must be a special day on which all Africans reflect about where post-colonial Africa has come from, where Africa is presently and where Africa must be tomorrow; in terms of economic prosperity, progress, security of life and high living standard of Africa’s people; especially with regard to economic control of resources for African people and technological advancement in every sphere of life.

Africa is the epicentre of this planet. She has impeccable credentials to occupy a prominent place in the world as she did before she became the victim of the European Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. The 54 member states of the African Union are like rooms in one house. When one catches fire, the fire is likely to spread threatening the safety and security of the whole house. Pan-Africanism is not wishful thinking. It is Africa’s weapon to survive the onslaughts of imperialism. Not a single African country can stand on its own without perishing. Pan-African unity is not a choice. It is an imperative.

There is a subtle imperialist assault on Africa. In June 2016 three American credit rating agencies threatened to give South Africa a “junk status.” Their names are Standard & Poor, Fitch and Moody. They threatened to do the same to Nigeria in 2015.  If Africans do not wake up they will find their sovereign power that was paid with blood and tears lost to the greedy forces of this world. These greedy forces that have no moral fibre, humanity or a sense of justice have a clear a political agenda to recolonise African people and continue to under-develop Africa. That is why they have a new programme for Africa – “junk status.”

Pan Africanists must look seriously at the Western conspiracy of reducing African States to what they call “junk status.” These agencies are very powerful in the world of finance. They have the support of the American government. To prevent new companies that are not approved by the America government from offering similar credit rating services, new terms were put in place called “recognised rating manuals.” They protect and assist only the “Big Three” rating agencies against non-approved companies.

This June 2016, the move by the three American credit rating agencies has been followed by the arrogance of the American ambassador in Pretoria. He has warned of pending “terrorist attack in South Africa” in the media without first bringing this to the attention of the South African government. He ignored prescribed diplomatic channels. He behaved as if Azania (South Africa) is a colony of America.

The South African government has refuted these claims as unfounded. Will some desperate forces anxious to prove their falsehood true, now “manufacture these terrorists” to “prove” that they were right? Whatever the case may finally be, this is a wakeup call to Africans to grow to manhood and womanhood and look after their own interests. This can be done successfully and effectively through Pan-African unity only.

Unity will lead to victory for Africa

The struggle to return Africa to her power politically, economically and technologically is of course not a dinner party or a bed of roses. The enemies of Africa are determined to keep Africa and Africans weak, especially economically, technologically and militarily. Africa, however, has already overcome worse tragedies in her history: the slave trade, colonialism, racism, genocide and the longest holocaust in this world.

The colonial history of Africa demonstrates that when Africa is united on her objectives, goals and aims there has always been resounding achievement and victory for the African people. Where would Africa be today, if there had never been the 5th Pan African Congress in 1945, to plan the destruction of European colonial rule over Africans?

What would be the situation in Africa today, especially with regard to Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and apartheid colonial South Africa if there was never the Organisation of African Unity Liberation Committee to assist  liberation movements such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the African National Congress, MPLA, FRELIMO,SWAPO, ZANU, ZAPU and PAIGC? The latter was led in Guinea Bisau and Cape Verde by that brilliant Pan-Africanist Amilcar Cabral.

The past generations of Africa suffered and survived the most barbaric forms of Western slavery and colonialism. Through their matchless resilience driven by sacrifice, selflessness and dedicated service, these older generations paved the way for Africa’s ultimate victory for the total and authentic emancipation of this continent. There are signs that victory is coming to Africa despite the current dark clouds. But this is only if Africa persists on the Pan-African path and chooses her friends carefully. There are wars no nuclear weapons can win.

How would the African liberation struggle against colonialism have progressed if on 6th March 1957, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah established diplomatic relations with South Africa, instead of declaring as he did, that “Ghana’s independence is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa?”

PAC got South Africa expelled UN

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) got South Africa expelled from the United Nations General Assembly. This was made possible because of the Pan African unity of the Organisation of Africa Unity – the predecessor of the African Union.

Commenting on this important victory for PAC and Africa, Prof. Tom Lodge has written, “In November 1974 the Pan Africanist Congress succeeded in obtaining the expulsion of South Africa from the United General Assembly and in July 1975 the Organisation of African Unity adopted as official policy a long document prepared by the PAC arguing for the illegality of South Africa’s status.”

That is how the PAC got the observer status at the United Nations. The ANC also benefited from this victory of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and the Organisation of African Unity.

Indeed, the political situation in Africa today is such that even those among some African leaders who once opposed Pan Africanism and denigrated Pan Africanists as “racists” and “anti-white” are today forced by present circumstances to act Pan Africanly or pretend to do so.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first President of Tanzania, was right when he said, “There is no time to waste. We must unite or perish. Political independence is only a prelude to a new and more involved struggle….” Nyerere warned that “African nationalism is meaningless, dangerous and anachronistic, if it is not at the same time Pan Africanism.”

To advance victoriously to rebuilding the broken walls of Africa, Pan Africanism is the key and the most powerful weapon. Carefully planned action and vigilance are urgent in this age. Imperialism is overthrowing many governments it does not like. This has caused unprecedented terrorism in the world. It is now threatening even governments in Africa.

That Pan Africanist visionary Kwame Nkrumah was right when he warned: “If we [African people] are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefits of Africa’s resources we must be united to plan our total defence and full exploitation of our material and human means in the full interest of all our people. To go it alone will limit our expectations and threaten our liberty.”


* Pambazuka. Dr Motsoko Pheko deliverd this message of solidarity to the world-wide Pan African Convention held at Orlando, SOWETO, Azania 13 -15 June 2016.Dr. Motsoko Pheko is author of several books such as AFRICA IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS and HOW AFRICA CAN REGAIN HER LOST POWER AND GLORY. He is a former Member of the South African Parliament. During the liberation struggle he represented the victims of apartheid and colonialism at the United Nations in New York and at the UN Commission on Human Rights.


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Zimbabwe villagers displaced by diamond mining hope to see action from government
June 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Mambondiyani*

Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa

Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Villagers re-located to a sprawling government-owned farm complex in eastern Zimbabwe to make way for the nation’s biggest diamond field are hoping that President Robert Mugabe’s move to take control of the valued resource will benefit them.

More than 1,000 families were moved in 2009 from a village adjacent to the Chiadzwa diamond field in Marange to Arda Transau, a 12,000 hectare farm settlement about 40 km (25 miles) to the north with promises of a better life.

Arda Transau was billed as a new township with tarred roads, shops and health clinics – but seven years later the villagers say they have yet to see the promised education and health facilities while their homes are crumbling and food is scarce.

Seven mining companies licensed to mine the area were ordered in March to leave by Mugabe who accused them of robbing Zimbabwe of wealth. Mugabe took over all diamond operations in the newly-formed Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC).

Some of the affected diamond companies – Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments – have since taken the government to court with the issue still pending before the courts.

While Mugabe’s move could further tarnish the country’s image as a risky investment, with investors already unnerved by his drive to force foreign-owned firms to sell majority shares to locals, the relocated villagers are hoping it will help them.

Caiphas Mujuru is one of the Arda Transau residents lobbying the government to get ZCDC to address the problems faced by the villagers who are facing severe food shortages.

“Life is really difficult here at Arda Transau. We are going hungry,” Mujuru told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We had been promised honey and milk here but it is now a nightmare for us.”


When the villagers were moved, each family was given $1,000 in compensation and a four-room house but these new dwellings, painted bright yellow, have since developed cracks.

Families were promised 11 hectares of arable land including one hectare earmarked for irrigation to run small piggery or poultry projects but this never happened, the villagers say.

People in Marange hoped the diamond industry would pump money into reviving failing irrigation schemes as small-scale farmers cannot maintain or replace ageing equipment and national law requires mining companies to help local communities develop.

But the plight of the villagers has been further exacerbated by the current El Nino induced drought which has decimated the southern African nation’s crops, leaving 4 million Zimbabweans in a population of 14 million without adequate food supplies.

The villagers had the chance to voice their concerns at the Alternative Mining Indaba conference in Mutare this month comprising civic society, communities and stakeholders in the mining sector and legislators promised to help.

“We will take your concerns to the Minister of Mines (Walter Chidhakwa),” Prosper Mutseyami, legislator for Musikavanhu constituency in Chipinge district, told the villagers.

However the diamond companies maintain they fulfilled what they were expected to do for the relocated villagers.

Anjin Investments, which was a joint venture between the government and Chinese investors, said it complied with the law when it came to the relocation of the villagers.

“We did everything required by the law,” Anjin Investments’ Chief Executive Officer Munyaradzi Machacha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

A spokesman for Mbada Diamonds, George Manyaya, said his company was happy with what they had done for the villagers and the traditional leaders had appreciated their initiatives.

But villager Blessing Mufute said the situation at Arda Transau had become so bad that many people were going hungry.

“We have been selling the few livestock we had to buy food,” said Mufute, adding relocated villagers were in urgent need of jobs, clean water, and electricity as well as food.

In a telephone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said local people should not feel they are forgotten.

He said the Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene would work with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to provide social and food assistance to the villagers.

Contractors would also be asked to work on the poorly built houses at Arda Transau, Chidhakwa added.

But James Mupfumi, who heads the Center for Research and Development, a local non-governmental investigative organization, is skeptical.

“It is disheartening to realize that the Mines Minister has already visited Arda Transau for Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company to relocate more villagers to Arda Transau without addressing previous community grievances,” he said.

*Thompson Reuters Foundation

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