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Africans Who Made Global Headlines in 2020
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

Archbishop Samuel Kleda said his COVID-19 herbal remedy called Essential Oils has treated thousands in the Central African sub region
Archbishop Samuel Kleda said his COVID-19 herbal remedy called Essential Oils has treated thousands in the Central African sub region

The year 2020 is fast coming to an end. For most people, the year 2020 is one to be forgotten as the world had to fight (and is still) a deadly pandemic known as COVID-19. However, despite the challenges that 2020 brought about, there are some individuals who managed to achieve some incredible feats. Some of the feats relate to humanitarian matters, politics, economics, and science while others made significant strides in finding long lasting cures and vaccines for COVID-19. In this article, we are going to take time in sharing with all readers Africans who made global headlines in 2020.

Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Doula (Cameroon)

As the world is currently battling the corona virus pandemic, we saw it befitting to start off with one man who announced that he has found a cure for COVID-19. Early on in May when the corona virus was just starting to show off its devastating side, one cleric in Cameroon by the name Archbishop Samuel Kleda made some bold remarks stating that he had found a cure for COVID-19. Archbishop Kleda’s cure is a herbal remedy which he concocted himself. In an interview with state media CRTV, Archbishop Kleda said that he had over 30 years of medicinal plant research experience and it is this experience which helped him to come up with the COVID-19 cure which he calls Essential Oils.

Soon after his remarks, many people in Cameroon flocked to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Doua

la in search of the precious COVID-19 herbal cure. Amongst those who received the herbal cure, many of them who were interviewed by different media houses testified that the cure was of great help as it managed to heal them.

Realizing the popularity of Archbishop Kleda’s herbal cure, the Cameroonian government had to intervene sending a team of researchers and doctors to determine the validity of Kleda’s claimed cure. Once the outcome of the investigation is proved to be true, the government has promised to make the herbal cure more widely available.

In the meantime as the government researchers and scientists continue doing their work, Archbishop Kleda said he would continue administering the treatment to patients who sought help from him. He said his goal as a servant of God was to help poor and suffering people hence the reason he will continue administering the treatment free of charge to all people.

Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar)

Earlier in the year when COVID-19 was starting to show its ugly face, the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina made some bold remarks stating that his country had found a cure for COVID-19. The said cure is a herbal concoction made from locally available plants in Madagascar. When the Madagascar president made the remarks, he stated that his government had already done some tests (albeit with a rather small population) and had proven that the herbal cure known as Covid-Organics was safe and effective.

As soon as Covid-Organics was released, Madagascar began to witness a reduction in the number of infected cases. At one point, the country had to go for several weeks without recording any new cases. For many, including the skeptical, they started to view this as testament that Covid-Organics was indeed a safe and effective cure and thus they started to embrace it. Many African countries approached the Madagascar government looking to get their own share of the miracle cure and found the Madagascar government readily willing to help its African sisters. Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, DRC and Tanzania are some of the countries that received their own batches of Covid-Organics.

In as much as the Madagascar people and other African countries embraced Covid-Organics, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union including other scientific bodies remained skeptical saying they would only approve of Covid-Organics’ safety and efficacy if clinical trials are done first.

Despite the skepticism shown by scientific bodies, the AU and WHO, President Rajoelina remained defiant stating that Covid-Organics is safe and effective for use as a COVID-19 cure. At one point, he stated that the skepticism shown by some emanates from the fact that Covid-Organics was found by an African country, if it had been any other American or European country, the reception would be different.

“What is the problem with Covid-Organics, really? Could it be that this product comes from Africa? Could it be that it’s not OK for a country like Madagascar, which is the 63rd poorest country in the world… to have come up with (this concoction) that can help save the world?” Rajoelina asked.

FILE PHOTO: John Nkengasong, Africa's Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: John Nkengasong, Africa’s Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Dr John Nkengasong (Cameroon)

Dr John Nkengasong is a virologist who is the director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Africa CDC was established by the African Union to support member states’ public health initiatives and strengthen public health institutions’ capacity to detect, prevent, control and respond to disease threats and outbreaks quickly and effectively. When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take its toll, Dr John Nkengasong was appointed as the WHO Special Envoy for Africa. In this role, Dr John Nkengasong has worked tirelessly in coordinating the African response to COVID-19.

In an interview of ReliefWeb, Dr John Nkengasong said his work was made easier by the fact that COVID-19 didn’t start in Africa. This gave him time to quickly strategize on how Africa could best prepare for the pandemic. As the pandemic was starting to cause havoc in other continents, Dr John Nkengasong realized that Africa by the second week of February only had two countries (Senegal and South Africa) that could diagnose COVID-19. To address this challenge, Dr John Nkengasong together with his team quickly brought together representatives of laboratories from 16 African countries, trained them and gave them diagnostic equipment. They repeated the exercise in cohorts with representatives from other African countries to ensure that every country on the continent could diagnose COVID-19 on its own.

After this, Dr John Nkengasong’s focus turned towards infection prevention and control. Recognizing that it would be devastating if health personnel in African countries would be infected in large numbers (as this would derail the fight against COVID-19), Dr John Nkengasong together with his team brought representatives of 35 countries in Nigeria and trained them on infection prevention and control. Another training was done in Kenya which brought about representatives of more than 30 countries for training in enhanced airport, airline and port-of-entry screening. The next task was to train health personnel on communicating risk to the general public and this was done in Tunisia.

As a last step in coordinating an African response to COVID-19, Dr John Nkengasong working with the African Union convened a meeting of all health ministers where it was agreed that there need to be a coordinated continental strategy that hinges on cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication. This led to the establishment of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus Preparedness and Response.

Jack Ma (China) *Not African but included owing to his generosity in helping in Africa’s fight against COVID-19

This article seeks to expose Africans who made global headlines in 2020. The first part of the article focused on Africans who have achieved great feats when it comes to fighting COVID-19. When it comes to Africa’s response to fighting COVID-19, it would be a miscarriage of justice to exclude one man (albeit non-African) that is, Jack Ma whose generosity with COVID-19 donations greatly helped many African countries to better fight the novel corona virus pandemic. 

When most African countries were struggling to raise adequate funds to purchase personal protective equipment and other necessary tools required in the fight against COVID-19, Chinese business magnate Jack Ma announced that he through his Jack Ma Foundation would be helping the African continent to better fight the pandemic by availing COVID-19 donations. The donations came in three rounds with all African countries benefitting.

On each round, Africa received masks, swabs and test kits, ventilators, sets of protective clothing, face shields, temperature guns, body temperature scanners and pairs of gloves.

Speaking after receiving donations for the third round, the director of Africa CDC Dr John Nkengasong said, “Getting diagnostics and medical equipment for COVID-19 response is a global challenge. Africa is in a fierce competition with the developed world with respect to the availability of commodities. These donations from the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have been an incredible initiative helping to feed the need for medical supplies by African countries.”

Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi)

In a historic development certainly on the African continent, a constitutional court managed to annul the results of a presidential election and ordered fresh polls! Africa for so long has been marred by allegations of electoral fraud and violence. However, despite the numerous reports of electoral fraud and violence, only once (Kenya in 2017) had an election been annulled based on the reports. That changed in 2020 as Malawi’s Constitutional Court annulled the country’s 2019 presidential results ordering fresh polls.

Reading his ruling earlier on this year, Malawi’s Constitutional Court judge Healey Potani said, “In every election there are irregularities. However, in the present case, the irregularities were widespread and systematic and affected the result… We order the nullification of the election… We further order that a fresh election be held in accordance with the law and pursuant to directions we will make soon. We also order that elections should be held within 150 days.”

The landmark ruling was warmly greeted by many both within the borders of Malawi and beyond as it demonstrated the independent nature of Malawi’s Judiciary. The plaintiffs were then losing opposition candidates Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima. The two challenged the result, alleging that the tally sheets were tampered with and that some polling stations used correction fluid to alter the results.

Soon after the Constitutional Court ordered fresh polls, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima joined forces as they entered into an alliance. The objective – to force then incumbent Peter Mutharika out of office. 6.8 million Voters cast their votes and Lazarus Chakwera was duly declared the winner of the fresh polls with 58.57 per cent of the vote.  An elated Chakwera speaking after the election re-run said, “This is a win for Malawians, it is a win for democracy, a win for justice… It is a win that will enable this nation to really reset and begin to build a new kind of Malawi in which all of us together will be involved.”

 Dr Akinwumi Adesina earned a second term and has placed the AfDB as one of the most credible partners in helping Africa bounce back from COVID 19
Dr Akinwumi Adesina earned a second term and has placed the AfDB as one of the most credible partners in helping Africa bounce back from COVID 19

Akinwumi Adesina (Nigeria)

2020 saw Akinwumi Adesina being reelected to run for a second term as the president of the African Development Bank (AFDB). However, Adesina’s path to his second term in office was by no means smooth sailing as he faced numerous challenges that threatened to derail not only his reelection but also taint his career.

According to the Business Day Nigeria, Adesina’s re-election can be likened ‘to a warrior who won an almost impossible battle as he was faced with a lot of issues which would have posed as threats for a second tenure’. Three months before he was expected to be re-elected, the former Nigerian minister of Agriculture was questioned after a string of corruption and abuse of office allegations from his own staff.

The staff calling themselves ‘Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AFDB’ claimed that Adesina was using the bank’s resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge but underserved severance packages to staff who resigned mysteriously, and favouring his fellow Nigerians. AFDB using its own internal investigation unit opened an investigation to look into the allegations but found no evidence to prove any wrongdoing on the part of Adesina. The outcome however wasn’t accepted by the US Treasury Department which immediately called for an ‘independent’ investigation.

US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.” Soon after, a tribunal was set up chaired by former Irish President, Mary Robinson. The tribunal just like the ethics committee before it exonerated Adesina.

The tribunal’s findings paved the way for Adesina to compete for a second term and he was unanimously reelected by the Board of Governors with a 100 per cent vote at the end of the Bank’s 2020 Annual Meeting on 27 August. After his win, President Adesina had this to say, “I am deeply grateful for the collective trust, strong confidence and support of our shareholders for electing me for a second term as President. It is yet another call for selfless service to Africa and the African Development Bank, to which I will passionately devote myself… The future beckons us for a more developed Africa and a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank Group. We will build on the strong foundations of success in the past five years, while further strengthening the institution, for greater effectiveness and impacts.”

Paul Kagame (Rwanda)

Rwanda has become an emblem of economic development on the African continent and beyond. This has largely been necessitated by the country’s president, Paul Kagame who has been at the forefront in pushing a development oriented agenda. The year 2020 was no different with other recent years as Rwanda continued its developmental trajectory. However, what makes 2020 particularly special to Rwanda is the fact that 2020 is the year that Rwanda set as the year it would achieve its economic deliverables as outlined in Vision 2020. Suffice to say, there is much to celebrate as the country managed to achieve a lot of its economic deliverables.

Rwanda’s accomplishment of the objectives laid out in Vision 2020 is part of the reason for its high growth. The country’s government created Vision 2020 intending to become a middle-income country by 2020 – this was later on postponed to 2035 but there is sufficient evidence on the ground that the country is on the right path to achieving the goal way before the targeted year that is, 2035. This largely necessitated by widespread development from infrastructure to service sector investments.

Samantha Muzoroki (Zimbabwe)

They say heroes and heroines emerge during troubling times. During the troubling COVID-19 pandemic, one heroine has emerged in Zimbabwe by the name Samantha Muzoroki. Samantha Muzoroki is an immigration lawyer by profession but she found a new ‘profession’ during the national lockdown in Zimbabwe that of, feeding children, the poor and vulnerable in society.

Samantha Muzoroki runs a relief kitchen in Chitungwiza, one of the most populated towns in Zimbabwe which is a few kilometers away from the capital Harare. Her relief kitchen offers free food to children, the poor and the vulnerable. Samantha says she realized that many children were going the whole day without anything to eat as the national lockdown implemented by the government to combat the spread of the novel corona virus pandemic was having an economic toll on families that survived on doing menial jobs in and around the town – restrictions of movement which is part of the lockdown meant the shrinking of incomes for many families hence hunger. With the little she had, she decided to offer children something to eat every morning.

Unbeknown to her however, her work inspired many and soon, individuals and corporates began to donate food and money to help her continue her excellent humanitarian work. Nowadays thanks to the donations she receives from various individuals and corporates, Samantha is able to provide two meals per day (breakfast and supper) to children, the poor and the vulnerable. Her work has also inspired other individuals in different parts of the country to establish their own relief kitchen initiatives with the intention of helping the less fortunate in society during these troubling times. In the tourist town of Zimbabwe, officers from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in partnership with local municipality officers and members from the business community joined hands to launch the Victoria Falls Children’s Feeding Scheme. The Scheme has one aim which is to provide every child with a hot nutritious meal 5 days a week.

*Culled from December issue of PAV Magazine

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Kenya: More Dividends From Uhuru – Raila Handshake
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma*

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report on October 26.Photo PSCU
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report on October 26.Photo PSCU

“If there had been no handshake, this country would have been brought to its knees by perilous forces—the reckless aggressiveness of some and the triumphant chest-thumping and stone-walling by others,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta while reflecting on the ungovernable state of the country after the 2017 presidential polls.

Kenyans turned against each other following the disputed polls that pitted President Uhuru Kenyatta against his former political nemesis Raila Odinga.  Their supporters engaged each other in battle as well as name callings splitting the nation down the middle. As a result of the disputes, innocent lives were lost, the property of untold value devastated, and the economy declined as businesses remained closed and investors were shutting down their operations in the East African nation.

To save the country from plunging further into chaos, Kenyatta and Odinga reached a consensus famously known as a handshake to work together. Their main objective was to build a nation responsive to the urgent need for prosperity, fairness, and dignity for all Kenyans.

“That is why we saw it fit towards the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, after seeing what was happening in various parts of the country—Kenyans fighting among themselves. We decided, together with Raila, that we need, as leaders, not to sit back and watch as Kenyans shed blood because of us and because of politics,” reiterated the Head of the State.

After the handshake, stability was achieved, normalcy resumed, and the economy started to pick up well until early this year when the coronavirus pandemic led to an economic downturn though it is a global challenge. The handshake provided the President with a conducive environment to deliver his promises to the electorates during his second and final term in office. Kenyatta’s administration has made some significant progress thanks to unity and peace the East African nation has enjoyed since 2018.  Some of the achievements are:

 Deputy President William Ruto has expressed reservations on some of the developments taking place
Deputy President William Ruto has expressed reservations on some of the developments taking place

Launching the Kenya Coast Guard Service

In November 2018, President Kenyatta signed into law the Coast Guard Service Bill to allow Kenya’s coastline to be guarded by a special force. The Kenya Coast Guard Service has been tasked to enforce maritime security and safety, pollution control and sanitation measures, and prosecuting offenders. Reports state that Kenya loses about $100 million annually to scrupulous traders engaging in illegal commercial activities.

“For too long, we have experienced multiple problems with marine security including illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by foreign trawlers, smuggling of contraband goods, degradation of marine ecosystems through discharge of oil, toxic waste dumping, and the destruction of coral reefs and coastal forests.”

“It will enforce security, safety, and protection of Kenya’s maritime resources,” he said, noting that apart from illegal fishing, Kenya faces other security concerns such as drug and human trafficking and trans-shipment of illicit arms which come through the sea because of lack of proper surveillance mechanisms,” said Kenyatta during the launch.

Anti-graft fight

The government has stepped up its effort to fight against corruption. So far, several former and current leaders have been arraigned in court and charged with corruption-related offenses. Some like Governors Mike Sonko and his colleague Okoth Obado have been denied access to their offices until their cases are heard and determined.

President Kenyatta had signed deals with Switzerland and the UK’s governments to help Kenya recover stolen funds stashed in Swiss and UK banks. During the signing of the agreement, Swiss President Alain Berset promised to return assets to Kenya.

“We have a history and a policy of freezing and returning stolen assets, and we need partners like Kenya in all those two duties. It is also through a partnership that an agreement can be reached on how to return assets in a way that benefits the people of the country concerned,” he said.

Deal with the US

Kenyatta entered into a deal with the US government that saw two companies invest $23 million in Kenya. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Kipeto Wind Energy agreed to construct and operate a 100-megawatt grid-connected wind power plant in Kenya’s capital.

China Trade Deal

Kenya and China had also reached an agreement to allow Kenya’s fresh produce such as avocado, mangoes, and cashew nuts to be exported to the Chinese market.

The handshake gave birth to Building Bridges Initiatives (BBI), an initiative to unite Kenya through inclusivity. The document has proposed numerous changes in the political arena and other areas to achieve a united nation. On November 25, 2020, Kenyatta and his handshake brother unveiled the collection of at least one million signatures to back the Constitution’s amendment.

The BBI secretariat noted that they intend to collect the signatures within seven days. Those supporting the document would be required to state their name, ID number, county, constituency, county assembly ward, polling station, phone number, and email addresses. The signatures will be subjected to a verification process by the electoral commission to ascertain their validity.

“To enable the voter verification process and to ensure completeness of the supporters’ records, all the fields in the said approved format/template should be duly filled,” said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati.

The document is expected to address the gender disparity which the country has struggled with for decades and do away with the ‘winner takes it all’ policy that has promoted political animosity since independence. BBI will also address rampant corruption, devolution, and negative politics. It will also ensure Kenyans’ human and civil rights are respected, and those affected by human-made and natural disasters are secure.

Once the IEBC verifies signatures, the document would be tabled in all of the 47 county assemblies, and 24 county assemblies are required to endorse the document to move to the next stage, the National Assembly and the Senate. When the document sails through in both the houses, it would be taken to people to decide.

However, the document is expected to face stiff opposition from a political faction led by Deputy President William Ruto. The group has been calling for the review of the report so that everyone’s view is accommodated. The second in command wants the proposal to create the position of a judiciary Ombudsman appointed by the President amended. The draft proposes the nomination and appointment of the ombudsman for a five-year term by the President with the National Assembly’s approval. Ruto termed the proposal a derogation of Judiciary independence, a claim that has been rubbished by Odinga.

“We must be careful about the independence of institutions. We are coming from a history where judges received phone calls after meetings were held at night. We do not want to go back there,” the DP asserted.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga signing the BBI report on November 22, 2020. Photo Courtesy
President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga signing the BBI report on November 22, 2020. Photo Courtesy

Ruto and his allies are also against increasing the number of lawmakers and the executive’s expansion as proposed by the draft.  Some have described the report as the real tower of Babel, while others call on President to deal with urgent matters such as the Covid-19 pandemic, insecurity, loss of jobs, evictions, and failed Universal Health Care (UHC), graft impunity, and political thuggery.

“Since greed, the myopia of BBI fraud overrides common sense and logic; since #BBI is a desperate do-or-die conspiracy for 2022 Cartel that’s ignoring all the cries and all advisories for a reason, let them bring it, they’ll know majority Kenyans are fed-up. BBI deception must fall,” said ex-MP Kabando wa Kabando.

The electoral commission will have 30 days from December 2 to verify the signatures before submitting the bill to county assemblies between January 11-18. The Assemblies will deliberate on it from January 19 to February 19.  Parliament will have to discuss the bill between February 20 and April 5 before taking back to IEBC to prepare for a referendum set to be held latest June 6, 2021.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Buffeted On All Sides, The Buhari Administration Gropes For Space
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Richard Mammah*

 President Buhari is assailed by criticisms from all angles in Nigeria
President Buhari is assailed by criticisms from all angles in Nigeria

Though they had spent quite a lot of their political capital attempting to give a good face to the Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is looking quite obvious now that for many of the Northern political elite, the parlous security situation in the region has indeed taken its toll on their faith in the government and they may presently have reached ‘the tipping point’ in terms of their frustration over the seeming inability of the government to address it.

In the past few days and weeks, the din of criticism coming from the region on the failings of the administration on most notably the security turf have been getting louder. From the Sultan of Sokoto to the Northern Elders Forum and on to members of the National Assembly from the region – many of whom belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress alongside the president – the dam has literally been opened and the torrent of criticism is now almost unstoppable.

Very dramatically, the spate of criticism has since percolated over unto the National Assembly which the incumbent administration had reportedly taken a more than casual interest at its emergence in ensuring that it would not have leaders who would rock the boat. But faced with the reality of body bags everywhere, the lawmakers are also now being compelled to be more than yes-men and women to the Presidency. They are asking tough questions, demanding tougher action and also now summoning the President!

Perhaps the most trenchant of the administration’s critics is the Northern Elders Forum, NEF. A body that is composed of academics, technocrats and public servants, serving and retired, NEF in its latest assessment of the administration could almost not find anything to salvage!

In a statement signed by NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the group lamented the recent beheading of 43 farmers in Borno State and expressed its shock over the remarks reportedly made by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that the slaughtered farmers did not receive clearance from security personnel to go to their farms!

‘We have consistently drawn attention to the lack of a political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping.

 The Northern Elders Forum has slammed President Buhari for not doing enough to curb rising insecurity.Photo courtesy
The Northern Elders Forum has slammed President Buhari for not doing enough to curb rising insecurity .Photo courtesy

‘We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and the leadership of the military could be made more effective.

‘Obviously, along with advice and concerns from many other Nigerians, these have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.

‘These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the President.

‘The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely expose the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.

‘These killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for a leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.

‘Elsewhere in many parts of the North, many farming communities have not been allowed by bandits and kidnappers to plant crops. Those who did are being prevented from harvesting by these same criminals.

‘The prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities.

‘Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals.

‘We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.

‘In civilized nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign,’ the statement very tersely expressed.

Other long-term and newly emergent critics of the administration are not left out. The main opposition political formation, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is enraged and scores of civil society activists have also risen up in arms to call the administration to order. Indeed in some extreme cases, the calls go beyond faulting the administration’s tepid approach to security sector management and go on to asking the President to resign and quit the nation’s top-rank political stage. Predictably, spokespersons for the administration have lampooned these calls.

A tough year Indeed

The distressing security crisis in most notably, the Northern part of Nigeria is not the only point of concern in the country today. Indeed, Nigeria has had a year like not many before it in recent times in terms of the toll that a lot of the untoward developments that have been recorded this far in the year have taken on citizens and residents of the country. It has been the year of the #EndSARS protests by young people who are demanding an end to police brutality in the country. It has also been the year when Nigeria slipped into its second bout of economic recession in the five years that General Muhammadu Buhari has held sway in the country. It has also been the year of the most debilitating COVID-19 pandemic and the associated season of lockdown that followed.

Going further, it has also been the year of the closure of Nigeria’s land borders with its West and Central African neighbours and in the midst of this also, the time of Nigeria’s eventually commencing the process of ratifying the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA. The departing year has indeed been a mixed bag, a challenging season whose tough demands for discipline and adjustments can now no longer be faulted. Without putting it in very many words, it is a year that many in Nigeria would not very quickly forget in a hurry.

More than casual solutions

As the Nigerian crisis continues to fester and produce quite convoluted expressions, discussions are going on everywhere as to how best the challenges are to be addressed. In all of the brainstorming, one idea that is gaining massive traction is the call for a comprehensive restructuring of the country.

While there is no consensus yet on the exact shape that the exercise should take, some of the component elements that have been raised this far in the discussions include suggestions for the introduction of a six-zone structure, the implementation of a regime of fiscal federalism that incorporates the principle of resource control, and the reorganization of the policing framework of the country to now formally allow for the introduction of state and regional police formations that would more frontally assist the Nigeria Police Force in the countrywide resolution of security threats and incidents.

What does Buhari want?

In the midst of all the hoopla going on in the country currently, commentators say that the entire season of discontent is being further fuelled by the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari may not be responding as vibrantly as the people would want him to.

For many of his critics, the administration’s continuing to keep the embattled service chiefs in office and its failure to respond to cries of business players and residents of closed border communities continue to sustain a negative image for it. This has equally not been helped by the clearly not very empathetic tone used by senior administration officials when they come out to the public domain to clarify actions taken by the administration.

There is the equally perplexing turn of events which came to the fore with the tepid management of the #EndSARS protests and the police now formally moving to not only delegitimise protests but to get the courts to quash the ongoing work of the judicial panels of inquiry that had been put up this far. While the Inspector General of Police, IGP has since disassociated the force from the suit and now taken steps to discontinue it, the claim by Police Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba that the Force Legal Officer whose office reportedly initiated the process has been queried over his role in the entire saga raises further questions as to how decisions of such a weighty nature could have been taken in the first place and effected without due clearance by the IGP or even by the President himself. So who is in charge?

It may very well be some of these acts of chicanery that continue to upset many of the young people of Nigeria who have now begun to mobilise on twitter once again for a resumption of the shelved #EndSARS protests.

Across the country also, polity watchers are raising questions as to what should be done at this time to address the many political, economic and security challenges in the land going forward.

People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. Protests against Nigeria's police continued to rock the country for the eighth straight day Thursday as demonstrators marched through the streets of major cities, blocking traffic and disrupting business. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Says Izuchukwu Ahuchaogu:

‘I think the Government should stop borrowing to pay senators and funding their expensive lifestyles. With what we saw in 2020, it’s obvious that the older generation has not gotten what it take to move the country forward. We now need more young people in government; they understand more how the 21st century works.

The journalist and commentator adds a caveat:

‘Not young people from the class of the sons and daughters of our politicians but young people who have groomed themselves through reading and proper learning, as without this we don’t expect to see any real change. It will keep taking us back if we have someone like Buhari as president in the future again. Nothing will change’

For Maurice Okoro, an educationist, public affairs commentator and reading promoter, some of the required adjustments he would want to see at the moment would include the immediate opening of the nation’s land borders, the sacking of the current service chiefs, the restructuring of the country, undertaking a probe of the Buhari administration and the resignation of the President and the Federal Executive Council. Clearly, Nigerians are simply in no mood to take hostages!

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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A Tribute to African Men and Women We Lost in 2020
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

George Bizos was a prominent Lawyer in the fight against apartheid

2020 will go down in history as one unforgettable year – certainly not on the positive front. This all as a result of the novel corona virus pandemic which brought about some devastating consequences on the global stage. The number of the infected as of 25 November 2020 in Africa has eclipsed the 1.5 million mark while several thousands have lost their lives. The impact of the corona virus pandemic however is not just seen in regards to the infected and death stats but also includes the millions of people who lost their sources of livelihoods and incomes owing to national lockdowns implemented by African countries in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.

It’s no doubt; therefore, that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and has negatively affected all individuals on the African continent in one way or the other. However, in 2020, Africa also had to deal with the losses of some top Africans who during their lifetime achieved some incredible feats. In this article, we are going to take time in celebrating the lives and paying tribute to fallen African legends.

George Bizos (South Africa)

On the 9th of September 2020, Africa lost George Bizos. Bizos was a lawyer by profession who mostly practiced in South Africa. Known to some as the unrelenting crusader for justice, Bizos died at a ripe age of 92. During the course of his career, George Bizos did inspire and impact the lives of many people. On this front, its best to highlight some of his most popular cases just to demonstrate how his work impacted people seeking justice.

During the Apartheid era in South Africa when the white minority government was systematically discriminating against the black majority, George Bizos decided to be the lawyer for Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress who was facing persecution. The pair had met while studying law in Johannesburg. When Mandela started his anti-Apartheid activities, he often times crossed paths with law enforcement agents and Bizos was always there to bail him out. Perhaps the most prominent of all bail outs is the Rivonia Trial. In 1964, Mandela together with other anti-Apartheid activists were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of seeking to overthrow the Apartheid government. When both sides had concluded their closing remarks, Bizos asked the defendant’s team to show him the closing remarks. After going through the document, he urged the team to add the words, “if needs be” – this phrase was the difference which determined that Mandela receive a life time sentence instead of a death sentence.

George Bizos also endeared himself with the common man. After South Africa attained independence in 1994, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up. Bizos would go on to represent and work with victims that appeared before the Commission urging them to speak freely without any fear in exposing their perpetrators and the risks and damages they were exposed to. At times, George Bizos would take his work beyond borders. When the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai (now late) was arrested on treason charges, at the turn of the millennium, George Bizos travelled all the way from South Africa to Zimbabwe to face off with the much feared Robert Mugabe representing Tsvangirai.  Tsvangirai eventually won the case and was acquitted.

Jerry Rawlings (Ghana)

Jerry Rawlings, the man who ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2000 passed on 12 November 2020. Jerry Rawlings during his tenure as Ghana’s president was known for being a champion of decentralization and municipal movement. His incredible work to ensure that decentralization became a common feature in modern African states saw him win the prestigious distinction award from the Executive Committee political leadership of UCLG Africa in 2013. Rawlings believed that only through decentralization could Africa emerge from its shells and become a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. In one of his most acclaimed speeches on decentralization, Jerry Rawlings had this to say:

“Decentralization is a system of power devolution that garners respect and confidence from the people who choose us as leaders. Decentralization allows for governments to share their burden with the ordinary people. This is what has been structured and elevated into what we call local government. Everything possible should be done to encourage local government. It shares the central government’s burden with the people, demystifies what governance is about and brings people in touch with the problems that central government faces.”

Following the death of Jerry Rawlings, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairman of the African Union Commission said, “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic, continental statesman.”

Africa lost one of its venerated elder statesmen in Jerry Rawlings
Africa lost one of its venerated elder statesmen in Jerry Rawlings

Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi)

Former Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza also passed away this year. Nkurunziza just died a sudden death without any reports of ill-health. Both in his country and beyond, Nkurunziza during his time as the leader of Burundi sharply divided opinion. To some, Nkurunziza was viewed as a dictator, another one of the numerous African dictators. To some however, Nkurunziza was viewed as a great Pan-Africanist, a man who valued African regional integration and unity above anything else. Whichever side one may align with when it comes to Nkurunziza, the one thing that crystal clear from his rule as the Burundi president is that he did all he could to unify a nation that was highly divided along ethnic lines. Before his ascension to power, several top government officials including his predecessor had all been assassinated owing to the ethnic alignments. However, Nkurunziza managed to stamp out ethnic linked political assassinations.

Away from the political realm, Nkurunziza wanted so much for his country to enjoy the same economic benefits as those enjoyed by developed nations. It is against this background that he called upon all industrialists, researchers and economists to come up with strategies that would help in diversifying the economy. Burundi largely depended on exporting two products that is coffee and tea. However, overreliance on these two was not prudent hence the reason Nkurunziza favoured associating himself with a young generation of technocrats in a quest to come up with ways on how best the country could diversify its economy.

 Many were stunned by the death of Pierre Nkurunziza who was actively preparing to hand over to his elected successor
Many were stunned by the death of Pierre Nkurunziza who was actively preparing to hand over to his elected successor

Abya Kyari (Nigeria)

Nigerian President Muhammadou Buhari lost his best friend who was also working as his Chief of Staff earlier this year. Abya Kyari was Buhari’s right hand man for many years going back before the time Buhari had even won the Nigerian presidential race.

In his role as the Chief of Staff, many attributed him as Nigeria’s de-factor president. This necessitated by the fact that the role of the Chief of Staff entails organizing the life of his principal that is, President Buhari. Kyari was also known not to shy away from dabbling in actual governance, something admired by many while also loathed by many. He was instrumental in shaping the contours of the Buhari administration policy thinking on agriculture, defining the government’s focus on achieving rice self-sufficiency. Looking at the stats, its crystal clear that Kyari’s work paid dividends as Nigeria now produces more rice annually, about four million tons a year.

In a moving tribute, the Nigerian President had this to say, “Mallam Abba Kyari, who died on 17th April, 2020, at the age of 67 from complications caused by the Coronavirus, was a true Nigerian patriot. My loyal friends and compatriot for the last 42 years – and latterly my Chief-of-Staff – he never wavered in his commitment to the betterment of every one of us. He was only in his twenties when we first met. A diligent student, soon after he was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad – first at Warwick and then law at the University of Cambridge. But there was ever any question Abba would bring his first-rate skills and newly acquired world-class knowledge back to Nigeria – which he did – immediately upon graduation. Whilst possessing the sharpest legal and organizational mind, Abba’s true focus was always the development of infrastructure and the assurance of security for the people of this nation he served so faithfully. For he knew that without both in tandem there can never be the development of the respectful society and vibrant economy that all Nigerian citizens deserve. In political life, Abba never sought elective office for himself. Rather, he set himself against the view and conduct of two generations of Nigeria’s political establishment – who saw corruption as an entitlement and its practice a byproduct of possessing political office. Becoming my Chief of Staff in 2015, he strove quietly and without any interest in publicity or personal gain to implement my agenda… He made clear in his person and his practice, always, that every Nigerian – regardless of faith, family, fortune or frailty – was heard and treated respectfully and the same. Mallam Abba Kyari was the very best of us. He was made of the stuff that makes Nigeria great. Rest in Peace, my dearest friend.”

Manu Dibango (Cameroon)

Manu Dibango popularly known as ‘Pappy Grove’ passed on from COVID-19 complications on 24 March. Manu Dibango was a Franco-Cameroonian singer of world jazz who was regarded by many as an international symbol of African music. Dibango was one of the pioneering African artists to reach the Top 40 American charts. He would go on to scoop some prestigious accolades and awards for his brilliant music.

While Dibango is popularly known for his musical career, he also was a proud Pan-Africanist. In a touching tribute, Ugandan author and journalist had this to say, “To understand why Manu was special, it is important to understand the political context in which ‘Soul Makosa’ came out… It was the Cold War, and Africa was caught between inept brutal military dictatorships. They were gloomy times, and along come ‘Soul Makossa,’ which had a unique cheerfulness and cosmopolitanism to it. It was just what people needed, because it brought warmth to people’s lives… It helped, of course, that he looked cool. He was Issac Hayes without the beard… At that time if folks wanted to be cool, not be political sellouts, and have some Pan-African creds, the Makossa man was the badge they carried.”

Soul Makossa translating to ‘I will Dance’ is the song credited for putting Manu Dibango on the global map.

Manu Dibango was one of the prominent Africans who died of COVID 19
Manu Dibango was one of the prominent Africans who died of COVID 19

Aurlus Mabele (Congo-Brazzaville)

The King of Soukous, Aurlus Mabele passed on, on 19 March. The Multi-talented Mabele who was a singer, composer and bandleader was known far beyond his native Congo-Brazzaville. Born in Congo-Brazzaville, from an early age Mabele demonstrated a strong passion for music. When he started to craft his own music, he created an up-tempo dance music synchronized from American R&B and funk, West African music and numerous Caribbean genres including bele, meringue, soca, beguine, modern chouval bwa and cadence-lypso. During his time, Aurlus Mabele shared the stage with some great artists including African Fiesta, Papa Wemba, Pepe Kalle and Michael Jackson.

Amadou Gon Coulibally (Ivory Coast)

On July 8 2020, Ivory Coast woke up to the sad news that aspiring presidential candidate Amadou Gon Coulibally had passed on. Amadou Gon Coulibally had been a constant feature in Ivory Coast politics for a long period. He rose to the post of Prime Minister in January 2017 and by 2020, he had been nominated as the ruling party’s candidate in the 2020 Ivorian presidential election – he according to many polls was tipped as the favourite to win.

Before his ascension to the post of Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibally had served in various roles in government including serving as the Minister of Agriculture, senior Minister, Secretary General of the Presidency, Director of Economic and Financial Studies as well as Deputy Director General.

Amadou Gon Coulibaly, then secretary general of the presidency, speaks at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Friday, April 13, 2012. Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate of Ivory Coast's ruling party, died Wednesday, July 8, 2020 just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France, where he previously had undergone a heart transplant, the country's presidency announced. (AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde)
Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate of Ivory Coast’s ruling party, died Wednesday, July 8, 2020 just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France, where he previously had undergone a heart transplant, the country’s presidency announced. (AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde)

Speaking after the passing of Amadou Gon Coulibally, the President of the African Development Bank (AFDB) Akinwumi Adesina said “Amadou Gon was an exemplary leader… He was such a great champion of programs to accelerate the development of his country. He carried the vision of the President and the government wholeheartedly into every meeting, into every discussion.”

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Sierra Leone: JuSAS Global entertainment bags double awards again as best movie
December 26, 2020 | 3 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Multi awarding winning entertainment company, JuSAS Global Entertainment continues to make headway as one of the leading entertainment companies in Sierra Leone and the United States of America (USA) for its block buster Movie Mind Game: bagging two awards in the just concluded New School Awards (NSA 2020) and the Sierra Mobile Digital Awards (SMDA 2020) as Lead online Salone Movie due to its availability on a monetized YouTube platform.

The movie, which has won several awards, with last year winning the best movie, Best New Act and Best Editor in the National Entertainment Awards (NEA 2019): has been viewed by many as world class, for having used the latest technology in its production.

Speaking to Pan African Visions online in an exclusive interview on Friday, Director of the award-winning movie, Mind Game Sheku Mohamed Sheriff said they were very happy for the double awards they have received this December whilst stating that they were not surprised as they have worked hard to put value into the film industry in the country adding that they are glad for the immense support and accolades they have received from award winning bodies both local and international.

“As the movie director, I feel like we are gradually accomplishing our mission. For JuSAS Global we pride ourselves on the premise of providing quality services for our customers in whatever sector. It is a mission accomplished because when we did Mind Game, our perspective is to change the perception of people about how they think for every film maker in the country,’’ he said whilst adding that they believed they have been able to change that narrative by presenting something of international standing.

He said that Mind Game has gained several nominations and have so far won five awards and expressed hope that they will win more awards as they have invested a lot in sober movie productions.

 “we are contributing from our little ways or whatever little we can to ensure that we make the film industry in this country a very important sector in the development of this country. I know, most people know, the entertainment industry, so to speak, the film industry, can support the government in terms of employment but because it is not as enviable as it should be, it has been looked down’’ Director Sheriff added.

Director Sheriff further added that due to the global pandemic, it has affected them as an industry but nonetheless as an entertainment they were able to collaborate with other film stars to put together a sensitization Television series called ‘Nor Touch’ and urged other people in the film industry to emulate their work or do more than them.  

“People should expect greatness from us, we have laid a solid foundation and we have collaborated with other film makers. By the grace of God 2021 is going to be a smooth ride as we plan to launch our five-film project from JuSAS Global. Of course, watch out for IN THE EYES, KEY TO THE WILL, HYPNOTIZED DEMENTIA etc., ‘’ sheriff revealed.

Meanwhile the Chief Executive Officer of JuSAS Global, Amb. Abdul Sigismond Sesay revealed that they will be launching the Multimedia branch of the entertainment company in January 2021 to facilitate full engagement in the Republic of Sierra Leone.

“On behalf of the Management and Staff of JuSAS GLOBAL I would like to wish His Excellency the President, Vice President and people of Sierra Leone; a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year,’’ he said.

He said that Shady Baby, one big JuSAS GLOBAL affiliates will be launching  his newest Album 2021 in Sierra Leone, which he said would have been launched this 2020 but didn’t happened because of the Covid-19 pandemic

The entertainment company recently signed its first winsome gospel female artist Lady Mattia (with a hit single; Good God), to join other team of stars like Shadybaby, Boss King, Raj, among others.

Mind Game has been shown on several international channels including the Nollytrailer TV, a monetized YouTube channel. Watch the movie on the link here https://youtu.be/thHHIxcWbQE and see why it has been making headlines.

JuSAS GLOBAL is a one stop shop: For Shipping (Ocean Freight), Car Dealership, Logistics, Multimedia & Entertainment, Clearing and Forwarding, Transportation, Moving & Delivery, Containerization etcetera.

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Operations to Restore Law and Order in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: How Did We Get Here?
December 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By H.E. PM Abiy Ahmed Ali*

H.E. PM Abiy Ahmed Ali
H.E. PM Abiy Ahmed Ali

When I took office as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018, I had only one driving mission for my premiership – to put my country and people on a path to lasting peace and prosperity. I vowed to myself, my family and my people, in private and in public, that I would never resort to force as a way of resolving internal political differences. I believe that no problem is worthy of any bloodshed, that all problems can be resolved amicably if we have the courage of our convictions to sit around a table, in good faith, in search of mutually acceptable solutions. I further declared that the only enemy I would mobilize my people and resources to wage war against was poverty.

However, my vision and determination came under severe strain right from the start of my premiership. It did not take long for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leadership to launch a campaign, covertly and overtly, to undermine my administration and make our people and the rest of the world believe that, without them at the helm, Ethiopia would be ungovernable. To make their case, the TPLF leadership had to produce the evidence of ungovernability themselves, organizing a clandestine nationwide campaign of criminality and violence: sponsoring, financing, and training disaffected individuals to instigate communal clashes and attacks on members of ethnic minorities in different parts of the country. Attacks sponsored and orchestrated by the TPLF leadership left more than two million people internally displaced and thousands dead in the past two and half years.

I was fully aware that the TPLF leadership orchestrated the mayhem, bordering on party-sponsored terrorism, diverting budgetary resources allocated by the Federal Government to pay for their criminal enterprise and destabilize the nation. But, despite overwhelming pressure from the public for the Government to stop them by all means necessary, including through the use of force, I made it clear, repeatedly, that my Government would never resort to force to resolve the matter. I shared this firm and clear position to the TPLF leaders directly, in person and on the phone, and reassured the Ethiopian people, including our citizens in the Tigray Region, through mainstream and social media.

When the TPLF leadership rejected my personal invitations to engage with my administration in constructive dialogue on the future of our nation, I encouraged the country’s most senior religious and community leaders to travel to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region, and help federal and regional political leaders resolve the differences peacefully. Regrettably, these most revered community and religious leaders were rebuffed by the TPLF leadership, treating them with utmost contempt and sending them back with nothing.

Even then, I did not give up; I would not. As I’ve said before, my own life has taught me that war is “the epitome of hell for all involved”. I did not come to office to take my people to hell; on the contrary, I came to office with a commitment to lead my people towards peace and prosperity. Since I came to office just over 30 months ago, I reiterated, time and again, that nothing would distract me away from my firm position on this matter. Regrettably, all my persistent efforts to avoid conflict by all means were taken for weakness.

In the end, however, the choice was not to be mine. While I was preaching peace and prosperity for my country and people, and working day and night to realize it, a violent attack was launched against my Government and people. On the night of 03 November 2020, the TPLF leadership launched, under cover of darkness, what they later described, on public television, as a “lightening pre-emptive attack” against the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), which had been stationed in the Region since the outbreak of war with Eritrea over two decades ago. Using traitors recruited from within the army along ethnic lines, not only did the TPLF leadership cause the massacre of unarmed soldiers in their pyjamas in the dead of night, they also took possession, illegally, of the entire military arsenal of the Northern Command. I was thus left with a decision only of how, not whether, to fight to defend the integrity of my country and restore the constitutional order.

More than the attack, what shocked me and my fellow Ethiopians to the core was the level of cruelty the TPLF leadership displayed in the conduct of their criminal operations. After they surprised and overpowered several regiments of the ENDF forces, the TPLF identified and separated hundreds of unarmed Ethiopian soldiers of non-Tigrayan origin, tied their hands and feet together, massacred them in cold blood, and left their bodies lying in open air. Never would I have imagined it humanly possible for any person to kill their fellow soldiers while asleep and record themselves singing and dancing on the bodies of their victims.

Following their surprise attack on their own unsuspecting fellow Ethiopians, it didn’t take long for the TPLF leadership to start celebrating and gloating in public about their prowess and invincibility in war and how they have now transformed themselves, overnight, into the largest fighting force in the entire Horn of Africa.

With the benefit of hindsight, the surprise attack by the TPLF forces had three interrelated objectives. First, by attacking the Northern Command, which accounted for the bulk of Ethiopia’s most experienced combat forces, they aimed to weaken the capability of the ENDF to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Second, by using ethnic Tigrayans members of the ENDF to carry out the attack on their comrades-in-arms from other ethnic groups, they aimed to divide and destroy whatever was left of the ENDF as a cohesive national defence force. Third, once the ENDF was so fractured, defeated and destroyed, and the country almost certainly descended into anarchy, the TPLF would present themselves as the only force that could put the country back together, thus removing and replacing the federal government by force.

My primary duty as prime minister and commander in chief is to protect the nation and its people from internal and external enemies. That is why the Federal Government launched and successfully executed defensive operations to restore law and order in the Tigray Region, regrettably making the use of force the only tool left in our arsenal.

I recognize that, in the end, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Only history will judge whether the Federal Government under my leadership could have done anything else to resolve the existential crisis my old and proud nation faced on that fateful night of 03 November and its aftermath.

As I write this article, the Ethiopian army has completed its mission according to plan and captured the regional capital of Mekelle without the large-scale civilian casualties and war crimes that so many in the international community confidently predicted. Yet, despite the success of these operations, I’m not celebrating; I cannot be. While I admire the courage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniforms, I know the conflict has caused unimaginable suffering. This is a conflict in which Ethiopians had to kill their fellow Ethiopians, target and destroy their own defence infrastructure and weaken their own defence capability. At the same time, I also know that the Federal Government was forced to engage in this operation for existential reasons – the future of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation and the peaceful co-existence of its people was at stake. The heavy cost we incurred as a nation was necessary.

Now that the active phase of military operations is over, our next task is to launch the process of healing from the aftereffects of this traumatic conflict, to ensure our citizens in the affected areas, including those who have been forced to cross the borders to the Sudan, have unfettered access to humanitarian assistance and other support necessary to rehabilitate them back to normal life at the earliest opportunity. Also critical is the need to restore the transport and communications links destroyed by the conflict.

Having witnessed afresh the courage and determination of the Ethiopian people to protect their country from its enemies, I am confident that Ethiopia will rise back to its traditional role as the anchor of stability for the entire subregion and beyond.

At the same time, the peace and security we have restored at so much cost remain fragile. That is why we are determined to ensure our next elections, scheduled to take place in mid-2021, are fair, free, and inclusive, and that the people of Tigray, like all other Ethiopians, shall soon be led by a regional government of their free own choice.

*Source PMO.GOV

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Backlash as Malawi government orders 14 day border closure
December 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

Health Minister Khumbidze Chiponda said the decisions have also been made in the wake of rise in new infections in neighboring nations include the discovery of a new variant
Health Minister Khumbidze Chiponda said the decisions have also been made in the wake of rise in new infections in neighboring nations include the discovery of a new variant

Human rights groups are engaging their lawyers in a bid to challenge the new Covid19 restrictions that government has announced.

The new restrictions which include the ban of public gatherings that attract more than 100 people and closure of border come following a rise in Covid19 infections.

Health Minister Khumbidze Chiponda said the decisions have also been made in the wake of rise in new infections in neighboring nations include the discovery of a new variant.

According to Chiponda said they expect every Malawian to abide by the measures.

” We are challenging people to take these measures seriously as festivities have come.”said Chiponda.

However, the vocal Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says the decision does not consider peoples rights and was not done after consultations.

According to HRDC member, MacDonald Sembereka the decision restricts peoples rights of movement.

This will be a second time for the grouping to challenge such orders.

Earlier this year, the grouping successfully sought an injunction against a 21 day lockdown that former president Peter Mutharika ordered.

Currently, Malawi has slightly over 300 active cases of Covid19 and up to 187 people have died since the first case was recorded.

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Kenyans stealing babies from each other
December 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

We do not condone child trafficking and we will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this issue says Labour and Social Protection Minister Simon Chelugui

Cases of women losing their children in some Kenyan hospitals, streets, and residential places recently have hit a high record, raising queries on who might have been involved. Some pictures of women living in despair and pain after losing their young ones had been shared on social media platforms and mainstream media, confirming the famous African adage saying the parent knows a child’s pain.

For instance, in February 2018, a couple lost a three-week-old twin baby at Kenyatta National Hospital to a woman posing as a patient at the facility. Reports showed that the infant’s father, identified as Job Ouko, approached the woman to help him look after the boy as he wheeled his ailing wife to the hospital’s first floor. Within a twinkle of an eye, one of the women carrying Ouko’s other child rushed to him and reported that the other woman had taken off.

The police launched the investigations, and the suspect was later arrested in Nairobi’s Kawangware slum while in possession of the child. Eyewitnesses had revealed that the woman said to have stolen the baby had monitored her victims for about 10 hours. Theft of babies has left untold wounds in many mothers as they keep their slim hope of reuniting with their lost children alive in the future.

Where the stolen babies are being taken for long has been a mystery until the recent expose by the BBC Africa Eye. The BBC report revealed the babies are being sold for a hundred dollars with the prime targets being those living in the streets, children’s care centres, and hospitals. Many cases are from Nairobi with Kayole slum, which houses thousands of people rumored to be a hotbed of the illegal business.

“Most of the clinics in Kayole do this business. They sell children. If you can’t have a baby and visit such clinics, they will give you a child. It is a business that is booming, and they are making a lot of money,” said Judith Kanaitha, a news reporter with a local radio station.

The chain of those engaging in child trafficking business that rob women their children in the East African nation is long, including employees in public hospitals and government officials. Some staffers at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Nairobi were mentioned in the BBC expose. Fred Leparan, a clinical social worker at the facility, was filmed negotiating with an undercover journalist in a well-organized plot to sell the abandoned child in the hospital for $400.

In a quick response, police arrested Fred alongside the hospital CEO and administrator Emma Mutio and Regina Musembi, respectively, and Selina Awuor, another social worker. Also nabbed was Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Medical Services Deputy Director Musa Mohammed. The CEO and the administrator were released after a Nairobi court found no case to answer. Medical Services Deputy Director Musa Mohammed was also on November 25 released on Sh200,000 cash bail.

Some of the homeless mothers in the streets of Nairobi have also fallen victims to child smugglers. As Esther narrated, their children are being snatched without their knowledge by the child smugglers looking for easy-earned money. Esther’s three-year-old son disappeared in 2018, as reported by BBC, and is yet to be found.

“I have never been at peace since I lost my child. I have searched for him all the way to Mombasa… I loved him so much, and I would forgive them if they would give me back my child,” said Esther.

It is alleged the stolen babies are sold to the highest bidders who cannot have children, and some are used for sacrifice by unknown individuals. Mary Anna Munyendo, the CEO and founder of Missing Child Kenya, said African culture plays some roles in the thriving black market for babies in the country.

“Child trafficking is a big issue in Kenya. There are many under-reporting, cultural issues, and long-term established cartels that are even protecting each other. One of the biggest reasons is that we have a culture that states to keep a marriage, you must have a child, and on top of that, you must have a boy. You go back to the village, and people call you barren or a dry piece of wood. So what do you do to save your marriage? You steal a child!” reiterated Mary.

A multi-agency team has been formed to unearth all the networks behind the syndicate.

“Following this expose, a team of officers and experts from the relevant government agencies has been constituted to investigate and take the necessary action exhaustively. As the Government of Kenya, we do not condone child trafficking, and we will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this issue,” said Labour and Social Protection Minister Simon Chelugui.

Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino told journalists that security had been beefed at Children’s homes and hospitals.

“And the inspector general has given clear instructions to county commanders in other parts of the country to ensure that they work together with the multi-agencies, other government organs, and monitor children’s homes and government hospitals, and the operation of these children’s homes, so that we can be able to put them to accountability and to ensure that we protect children from trafficking,” Owino said.  

Kenyans have been urged to report any case involving child trafficking to the nearest police post or relevant government agencies or call Child Helpline number 116.

A person found guilty of child trafficking in Kenya is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than 30 years or a fine of not less than Sh20 million.

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Cameroon: First-Ever South West Regional Council Session Takes Place
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Bakoma Elango Zacheus of Meme Division and Chief Dr Atem Ebako from Kupe Muanenguba elected President and Vice President respectively of the Regional Council for the South West Region of Cameroon.

 

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Executive Bureau of the SW Regional Assembly

Executive Bureau of the SW Regional Assembly

The first-ever sitting of newly elected members of the Regional Council for the South West Region has taken place. 90 delegates comprising 70 for the Regional Council and 20 for the House of chiefs met December 22, 2020, at the Buea council for their first session, since they won the election that took place December 6.

Bakoma Elango Zacheus from Meme Division was elected during the first sitting as President of the South West Regional Council. Cheif Dr Atem Ebako was elected as Vice President. Just one list for the Regional Council executive bureau was presented and validated.

89 of the 90 delegates took part in the voting exercise, with one delegate absent. Bakoma Elango and his list got a total of 88 votes, with one vote considered null and void, officially making his list the winner of the SW Regional Council.

“We know that there are challenges and it is enormous. You can count on us and we will not disappoint you,” Bakoma Elango, President of the South West Regional Council said.

He has noted that he intends to work with the General Assembly to move the Region ahead and for the development of the Region.

There was also the election of one commissioner for economic development (Mokoko Simon Gobina), one commissioner for security and social development (Itoe Williams Elangwe), one commissioner for education, sports and cultural development (Taking Walters Ayuk), two Secretaries (Limunga Becky Effoe and Chief Foto Felix) and one questor (Dr Tazie Andrew) were all elected for form the executive bureau.

Presiding over the solemn ceremony of the General Assembly of the South West Regional Council, Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai said the implementation of the decentralisation process is one of the significant gains as concerns the management of local affairs. To him, this maiden sitting signifies the completion of the decentralisation process.

“This sitting involves the implementation of the special status, one of the major recommendations during the Major National Dialogue. The councillors have huge tasks ahead of them…,” Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the South West Region said.

To the councillors, Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai called on the Regional Councillors to “demonstrate a high sense of patriotism, objectivity, partiality in the discharge of their duty.”

The regional council has been seen as a new dawn for politics in the South West Region. The region has been hard-hit by the ongoing Anglophone crisis that has been going on for more than four years now. The crisis has led to thousands of people displaced to neighbouring Nigeria or other areas of the country, others have been killed both on the part of the civilians, separatist fighters and government forces.

The putting in place of Regional Councils will establish the special status for the North West and South West Regions; a strong recommendation of the Major National Dialogue. The Regional Council gives powers to the representatives to carry out development in various areas of life; it is about devolving powers from Yaounde to various Regions.

The CPDM ran unopposed in elections in the North West for the first time since the rebirth of multiparty politics in 1990. They were also unopposed in the South West Region. Many opposition political parties including the Social Democratic Party, SDF MRC of Maurice Kamto boycotted the event though the SDF participated in some areas.

The proclamation of the results of this election will start as from today (December 6) by the Regional Supervisory Commission. In conformity with the legal provisions in force, the sessions as of right shall meet shortly to elect Regional Organs.

The election of Regional Councillors convened by the presidential decree of 7 September 2020 took place Sunday 6 December 2020 in all the 58 electoral constituencies. 900 delegates were elected into the Regional Council across the country, a first in the political history of the country. 700 divisional delegates and 200 traditional rulers representatives were elected.

Bakoma Elango Zacheus, pioneer President of the SW Regional Assembly

Bakoma Elango Zacheus, pioneer President of the SW Regional Assembly

To Frida Likowo, Regional Councillor of Muyuka subdivision, “decentralisation has come to enable us to develop our areas. We do not have to be indifferent. We all have to join together to bring the necessary changes we have all been wanting to see in the Region.”

Emmanuel Motomby Mbome, Regional Councilor from Fako said a lot is going to be achieved with this new bureau that has been put in place. “It (Regional Council) has been put in place to carter for the worries of the population. What is needed now is just cooperation that we are calling for,” Emmanuel Motomby Mbome said.

Banners such as “The South West welcomes the Regional Assembly for the unity, peace and progress of the Nation”, “Lebialem supports the Regional Assembly to Accelerate the Disenclavement of the Region” “Kupe Muanenguba welcomes the Regional Assembly for the Empowerment of the Local Population” were dotted around the Buea municipality.

 

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Flying The African Flag Even In Crisis: Ethiopian Airlines And Its Fight Against Coronavirus
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

A donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of masks, COVID19 test kits and other materials arrive in Tanzania. Photo Courtesy

A donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of masks, COVID19 test kits and other materials arrive in Tanzania. Photo Courtesy

When the coronavirus outbreak first hit international news outlets, no one could fathom the level of chaos it will create on a global level. Giant economies have been shattered, companies bankrupt, and thousands of lives destroyed. There was no escaping from the novel virus which seemingly throw scientists off their game and challenged world leaders, most of who strived to keep their countries afloat.

Responding to the outbreak and preventing a far devastating consequence was the only viable option. It will be fair to state that European nations and some countries in North America had an easy ride responding to the pandemic due to their economic and developmental standings. But in a continent like Africa, unique in every way, a Pan African hero was needed – especially after the first coronavirus case was reported in February.

On March 15, 2020, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had secured a continent-wide coronavirus support from Chinese business magnet, Jack Ma.

The Ali Baba founder confirmed the news 24-hours later following which the materials were flown to Ethiopia on March 22. With coronavirus increasing its spread across Africa, the continent received a much-needed care package but then the issue was how to get the package across the difficult terrain in Africa to the affected population – most of them in secluded areas.

Flying the African flag even in times of crisis

Ethiopia agreed to use its national career, Ethiopian airlines, to undertake deployment to all member states across the continent.

On March 23, the airline which is Africa’s most profitable was flying across the continent delivering the supplies and before March 27, Ethiopian airlines had delivered the consignments to 41 countries. This is after the national carrier had announced major cancelation of international flights to curve the spread of the virus and keep its employees safe.

Destined to each of the 54 African countries was 20,000 test kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields all distributed by Ethiopian Airlines.

A star Alliance member, Ethiopian airlines is branded the pride of Africa and recognized and the best airline of the continent wining three times in a row the prestigious Skytrax World Airlines Award.

Suffering a loss of over $190 million, the carrier has suspended flights to 30 destinations as demand collapses and some countries impose travel bans to try and contain the deadly pandemic. Aviation is one of the hardest hit industries by the virus, facing billions of dollars of lost revenue.

Ghana’s Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu received his country’s consignment as Ethiopian airline carrier touched down at the Kotoka International Airport

Despite the difficult times marred with uncertainty, Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines remains optimistic saying the African skies could experience increased activity earlier than other continents.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV he said “here in Africa we expect to be slightly faster in recovery,” this is against the backdrop that global flights are forecast to take up to two years to return to 2019 levels.

Air travel was one of the most impacted economic centers as most countries across the world closed their airspaces to passenger flights save in some instances for medical and emergency landings.

The European Union, United States and several western governments had also arranged flights to evacuate their citizens across the continent with Ethiopian at the forefront of some of these operations.

Conversely, African governments – most recently Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda have all moved to evacuate stranded citizens from different parts of the world. Again, Ethiopian, one of few airlines that continued operations stepped in to bring them home.

About bailouts, he stressed that Ethiopian – a continental leader – was not at the stage of seeking any such interventions but that they had other operational areas they seek government support.

“African governments will not be in a position to bail out airlines as much as in Europe and America,” said Tewolde. “Airlines are not flying or generating revenue and governments do not have the resources to bail them out. It is going to be very, very tough for most African airlines.”

Lessons to other African carriers

Indeed, the biggest airlines in Africa are reeling from the devastating economic effects of coronavirus. Kenya Airways, the sixth largest airline on the continent, has occasionally asked the country’s government for an urgent bailout to avoid going into bankruptcy, and protect the jobs of 3,900 employees. In July 2019, the Kenyan parliament voted to re-nationalize the airline, 23 years after it was privatized.

Small carriers like Air Zimbabwe, a single-plane carrier that’s $300 million in debt, The Associated Press reported. But major airlines are also hurting, including Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Lome-based regional carrier ASKY Airlines, whose fleet of nine aircraft is still grounded.

In April, the International Air Transport Association warned African airlines could lose $6 billion in revenue this year, along with about 3 million aviation and related jobs continentwide. The African Airlines Association offered an even darker assessment of $8 billion in losses.

Even industry star Ethiopian Airlines is hurting, reporting revenue losses in millions of dollars.

Aviation experts say the 75-year-old Ethiopian Airlines has both the fleet and managerial capacity to help ease the burden of Africa’s struggling airlines.

In the 2017-2018 financial year, Ethiopian owned 111 planes, more than any other airline on the continent, and flew to 106 destinations around the world. It is also one of the few airlines that consistently turn up a profit in Africa.

Ethiopian has invested heavily in modernizing its fleet, which is now the youngest in Africa at 5.4 years as of March 2019. This compares well above the average of 13.5 years, 15 years, and 10.7 years for British Airways, United Airlines and American Airlines, respectively.

(L to R) Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam and U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor at the signature of a partnership between USAID and Ethiopian Airlines

(L to R) Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam and U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor at the signature of a partnership between USAID and Ethiopian Airlines

A long way here

Ethiopian has come a long way since commencing operations in 1945 with a weekly service between Addis Ababa and Cairo. Early on the airline recognized that a successful future depended on first developing a far-reaching pan-African route network. With this aim now largely fulfilled, the airline’s focus is shifting. New destinations and increased numbers of flights to Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Asia and the Middle East have been launched, as the airline goes about bringing the world closer to Africa.

Internationally, Ethiopian flies to a number of major cities in Europe including Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome, Brussels and Stockholm; to Bangkok, Beijing, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Mumbai across Asia; to numerous destinations in the Middle East; to Washington D.C ,Newark and Toronto in North America.

From its hub at Addis Ababa, Ethiopian serves 116 international and 23 domestic destinations.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

 

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Rwanda: Israel NSO company boosts Intelligence spy network capacity
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M.Mupenda*

We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it,says President Kagame

We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it,says President Kagame

What can you do if you wake up and find yourself in the hands of your enemy or whoever you believed could be a threat to you? This is the trend by Rwanda’s spy network that has disrupted many plans of opponents operating in and out of the country.

The tiny central African country has always been accused of cracking down the opponents and spending much money on spying those living in different countries including neighbouring Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Kenya, according to different sources and media reports, citing examples of many people who have been disturbed, warned or surprisingly found themselves in Rwanda.

This was no doubt as, in 2019, President Paul Kagame accepted that during a press conference and even went further to say that the country could be using an excessive budget.

“We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it.”

Many allies believe that Rwanda spy and intelligence network has done great work on having their so-called enemies extracted, killed and arrested or found themselves in a country. This has however been questioned by many opposition activists in a country and abroad. Human rights watch and Amnesty International have never ceased raising red flag on the ongoing crackdown, killing and arresting of opponents.

A number of people have been arrested and charged with terrorism under what observers call injustice and targeting opponents to silence them but in most times it happens with justifiable reason by Kigali government,  in that spy network has already established and gathered information that could be a threat to the country’s security and peace for citizens.

When Callixte Nsabimana a.k.a Sankara was arrested in Comoros, it is said that the country was stalking him through pegus app following up the chats between him and other opponents; in fact, every country he was living and operating from, Rwanda knew it, thanks to Pegus, an Israel NSO  group’s application that has helped on tracking all whatsapp and other social media communications.

Rwanda went ahead and crossed continent to make sure the opponents are weakened or warned. In fact, many of them have often claimed they live in fear of being kidnapped by Rwanda’s secret service operatives.

Australia has pointed out that Rwanda spy network infiltrated the country as reported by ABC News last year.

Earlier this year, British citizen Faustin Rukundo’s phone started to ring at odd times. The calls were always on WhatsApp — sometimes from a Scandinavian number, sometimes a video call — but the caller would hang-up before he could answer.

Whenever he rang back, no one would pick up. Mr Rukundo who lives in Leeds, had reasons to be suspicious because, he is a member of a Rwandan opposition group operating in exile; he has lived for several years in fear of the security services of the central African nation where he was born.

In 2017, his wife, also a British national, was arrested and held for two months in Rwanda when she returned for her father’s funeral. Unidentified men in black suits have previously queried her co-workers about her route to the childcare centre where she works, he says.

His own name has shown up in a widely circulated list of enemies of the government of Rwanda titled “Those who must be killed immediately”.

In the two decades since Paul Kagame became president of Rwanda, dozens of dissidents have disappeared or died in unclear circumstances around the world.

In response, those willing to criticise the regime or organise against it, such as Mr Rukundo, say they have learnt to be cautious, masking their presence on the internet and using encrypted messaging services

Kagame has often warned his critics that those who “betray” the country will be dealt with, and the country’s intelligence network has been accused by international human rights groups of abducting and killing former allies in Rwanda and abroad. The Rwandan government has always rejected the allegations.

Patrick Karegeya was strangled in South Africa and Rwanda regime was pointed out as the perpetrator, which prompted feud between the two countries.

Reliable intelligence states that the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life,” read the police warning notice given to Rene Mugenzi. “You should be aware of other high-profile cases where action such as this has been conducted in the past. Conventional and unconventional means have been used.”

It is said that as immigrants and refugees move to England, many other countries work closely with agencies to have spies infiltrate to monitor the activities for those relocated if they are safe to the countries they are from and that is including Rwanda.

For your records, Rwanda-Uganda relations have been in a row for almost two years now. And this is due to espionage accusations that are stalling the talks between two countries that angered Uganda but of course, Rwanda was trying to protect its interest after learning that the most fearful RNC party could be operating in Uganda and recruiting members who will one day go and oust Rwanda’s strongman.

Pastor Nyirigira of Agape Community in Uganda was among those who were followed up closely and disrupted in all actions he was planning against Rwanda as a member of the Rwanda National Congress. His daughter was recently held in Kigali by police on similar accusations, according to Rwanda Investigation Bureau.

Paul Rusesabagina , a well known government critic is now standing trial in Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina , a well known government critic is now standing trial in Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina from humanitarian to a government critic was on top list to be monitored for long time until he was tricked, and the flight flown him to the country he had spent about 26 years without stepping in. Apparently, he was tricked by Rwanda spy network and boarded into a private jet knowing that he was heading to neighbouring country, Burundi.

According to Rwandan authorities, he was arrested because he is believed to be the leader, founder and sponsor of a violent extremist group operating in Rwanda and more widely, known as MRCD/FLN. The international arrest warrant under which he has been detained include accusations of the attacks and killings by FLN in southern Rwanda in June and July 2018, and December 2018. Rusesabagina and dozens of his former MRCD comrades are detained in Rwanda awaiting trial on charges that include terrorism.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

 

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Cameroon: D&L Foretia Foundation will Continue Catalyzing Africa’s Economic Transformation
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Fri Asanga, COO Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation

Fri Asanga, COO Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation

The Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation will continue its focus on Africa’s transformation through social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health and progressive policies that create economic opportunities for all. This per the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Fri Asanga, in an interview with Pan African Visions to look back at the year’s activities that the Foundation has organized and what is installed for 2021.

Before joining the Foundation, Fri Asanga was the Coordinator for FinScope and MAP Cameroon where she oversaw the activities of the financial scoping consumer survey in Cameroon on behalf of UNCDF and FinMark Trust.

PAV: 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and the Foundation is not left out, what measures were taken or have been taken to ensure staff does not contract the coronavirus?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation educated the staff on the virus, its signs and symptoms, how to prevent it, and other measures necessary for them to protect themselves and their loved ones. In a bid to curb the spread of the disease and protect staff, the Foundation closed its offices in March 2020 and everyone started working from home. When office activities resumed in September 2020, the Foundation ensured that all staff wear masks to work, Wash their hands before getting into the office premise, and maintain social distancing while in the office.

PAV: At the start of the Coronavirus in Cameroon, the Foundation moved swiftly to create the COVID-19 taskforce. What successes were recorded? And were there any challenges faced trying to communicate to the population?

The Foundation has been a leading voice on COVID 19 themed initiatives

The Foundation has been a leading voice on COVID 19 themed initiatives

Fri Asanga: The covid 19 community pilot project under the covid task force was launched on the 16th of April 2020. The pilot project was launched in a bid to accompany the government in the fight against Covid-19 through community involvement. Through the  project, the following activities were accomplished;

  • Training of community leaders on the identification of signs and symptoms of Covid 19
  • Distribution of flyers and posters in the simbock neighbourhood.
  • Training the community on how to locally produce hand sanitizers and wash hands properly.
  • Creation of local volunteers at the community level.
  • Translation of messages to local languages (Ewondo and Bamileke) Radio sensitization.
  • Myth debunking.
  • Creation of a WhatsApp group for better monitoring and follow up.
  • Organization of a covid Symposium to crown the project.

The COVID-19 Taskforce published more than 10 bulletins to educate the general public and advise policymakers about the pandemic. Each bulletin was written both in French and English to reach a maximum number of people. The bulletins covered specific aspects including the management of the pandemic, its implications for households and companies, and the measures to curb the spread of the virus just to name a few.

Also, the task force organized a series of webinar events where key policymakers and health practitioners were invited to share their thoughts and experiences to promote evidence-informed decisions in the country.

During the entire project, the following challenges were encountered: Most volunteers were students and were not available to fully participate in the program due to school activities. Also, some interested people did not have android phones nor computers to participate in the online symposium.

Another difficulty was encountered at the level of planning and organizing the radio sensitization programme as it coincided with an exam programme of community volunteers where a greater proportion of them was in examination classes. It was a challenge getting community members to attend the virtual symposium via zoom.

PAV:  What are some of the activities that the Foundation has carried out this year?

This year we organized the SBEC Activities for the year 2020 which involved; Regional forum on Business Networking on January 31st in Douala. Theme “The Pivotal Role of business networking to entrepreneurs in Cameroon”

– Regional Forum on the business network on February 27th in Yaoundé. Theme “Business networking, a valuable tool for entrepreneurial Growth in Cameroon”

– Business plan training online from May 12th to July 1st (5 modules). Theme “Business plan, an ultimate tool for fueling ambitions and entrepreneurial growth in Cameroon”

– Bookkeeping training online on July 29th.Theme “A Practical Guide for Bookkeeping”

– Webinar on “Surviving beyond the Covid-19 as an entrepreneur in Cameroon” on September 11th.

-Webinar on “The effects of Information Asymmetry on business growth in Cameroon” on 27th November.

The Nkafu Policy Institute organized a 1-week intensive training course on policy analysis. Two Nkafu Debates were organized on the themes; “Will more Taxes Increase fiscal revenues in Cameroon” and “Is market competition good for Cameroon’s Industrialization?

Under our Leadership and Democracy project, we organized about 10 events on Peace and Democracy. As part of our COVID-19 project, we organized about 10 webinars and invited experts to gain more insights on the pandemic, and how Cameroon and Africa are adapting.

We equally organized 2 events to disseminate the research findings of a Thematic Report on Starting a business in Cameroon, and another on Dealing with Construction permits in Cameroon

PAV: Let’s now focus on some activities you carried out this year. Firstly, talk to us about the Emerging Leaders Program for this year and what are some of the peculiarities?

Fri Asanga: The Emerging leaders’ program is a program organized by the Foundation to better equip today’s youths for transformational Leadership in Cameroon. This training program which identified 20 highly skilled and motivated Cameroonians below the age of 35, took place from the 25th to the 28th of October 2020 with renowned speakers based in Cameroon and the United State of America.

The second phase of this program is underway as these youths equipped with knowledge in leadership and democracy will organize similar events financed by the Foundation in their respective regions of origin.

PAV: The Foundation organized the STEM Program last year 2019 but this year there was none. Why so?

Fri Asanga: The STEM Program did not take place this year due to the advent of the COVID 19 Pandemic. The program was scheduled to take place mid-year but during this period, the COVID 19 pandemic was at its peak and all schools were closed.

PAV: What are some of the challenges that the foundation has had to grapple with this year aside from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Fri Asanga: Moving to the virtual way of doing events was a great challenge as the entire Foundation struggled to adapt to this new system. Participants struggled with attending and using online video conferencing applications.

PAV: How have you found the situation of working from home or using the zoom platform for webinars by the Foundation better as opposed to using physical locations?

Fri Asanga: Firstly is the ability to bring in resource persons from all over the world to contribute to discussions during webinars. The distance barrier is broken through webinars. Next is the fact that participants who were interested in our events could now attend irrespective of their location or what they are doing.

PAV: This year 2020 is about rounding up, what are we expecting from the Foundation in the few weeks left?

Fri Asanga: The foundation has some events planned out for December. They include the following;

  • December 04, 2020Le Processus De Démocratisation Au Cameroun 30 Ans Après : Quel Bilan à l’Épreuve Des Crises ?(Online)
  • December 08, 2020COVID-19 and Africa: The Path Forward A Conversation with Dr Bernard Kadio (Online)
  • December 11, 2020 SBEC National Forum (Foundation Headquarters)
  • December 16, 2020 Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons for Business Incubation in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. (La Falaise Hotel, Yaoundé)
  • December 18, 2020 One year into the COVID-19 Pandemic. What Lessons can be learnt? (Online )

Fri Asanga addressing 2020 Cohorts of the Emerging Leaders Programme

Fri Asanga addressing 2020 Cohorts of the Emerging Leaders Programme

PAV: What should we envisage from the Foundation this coming year 2021?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation will continue to work on 4 major projects

  • The DBI project which focuses on Liberating Entreprises to advance prosperity in Cameroon
  • The COVID-19 Project which is focused on Protecting Liberties while addressing the Corona Virus Pandemic
  • The Social Entrepreneurship Project that focuses on Business Incubator Practices in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Ghana
  • The leadership and democracy project which is aimed at Promoting Democracy and Governance in Cameroon

PAV: Is there anything you will like to talk about that we left out? If not, what is your last word as we sign off 2019?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation will continue its mission of catalyzing Africa’s Economic Transformation through social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health and progressive policies that create economic opportunities for all.

*Culled from December issue of PAV Magazine

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December: Of Bush Fallers, Broken Relationships, Fake Marriages & Other Scams
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Nsoseka

.Seme Beach on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon is a major attraction.Photo credit Nkem Tourism

.Seme Beach on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon is a major attraction.Photo credit Nkem Tourism

It is the month of December in Africa, the period of the year when most Africans residing in foreign countries (bush fallers) do return to feast with family, friends, and, as well, catch some fun before returning to their host countries, mostly western nations, to hustle.

This is the month, when love stories go sour for some unfortunate lovers. During this period, those who traffic in love make sudden changes, reshuffling their love cabinets, and prioritising seasonal lovers to their ‘broke’ partners, often for quick monetary gains, or over fake love promises made to them by holiday-making ‘bush fallers’. This is the period when passion crimes often rear their ugly heads. This is the period when young beautiful women are shoved into fake marriages (usually traditional) by bush fallers, to enable them have the girls for about a month, for their sexual exploits, before disappearing into their ‘bush’.

This is the month that some unfortunate guys abhor, because, it is during this month that the love of their lives was either snatched from them, or dumped them for ‘appealing’ and seemingly well-to-do bush fallers riding in posh cars and feasting at every given opportunity.

However, this is also the month when passionate and hardworking guys return to meet the love of their lives, to commune in ways they have always dreamt of. It is the month of the good, the sweet, the bad, and the ugly love stories.

In this month of December, some traffickers in love will surreptitiously slip off for days in apparent visits to some ‘Aunt or Uncle’. Of course, they will end up in hotel rooms with some bush fallers, for quick gains or lofty promises. This is the time of the year, where easy girls make the most financial gains, accompanied by constant feasting.

It is not only so with male bush fallers. Their female counterparts also come back home to catch fun. Some of them come back home to have real banging by local gigolos or guys who are mostly not well to do.

This is also the month when some ‘free girls’ will sit down, and elaborately strategise on ways through which they will squeeze out as much money from lascivious bush fallers as possible. Time management plans will be developed, alongside schedules for visits to different towns where bush fallers are located.

With the covid-19 pandemic preventing many of the bush fallers from returning home, love-hawkers will have to re-strategize to make quick money from a different group of people, or from a different activity.

Some ‘area boys’, who wouldn’t want the spotlight to shift from them to bush fallers, are already piercing their ears, to put on earrings, alongside fake branded watches, and chains, which will make them look like bush fallers. As such, they too will draw a semblance of the attraction accorded to bush fallers by ready girls and other admirers. Such fellows sometimes take girls to hotel rooms, and escape as early as possible, and are never heard from again.

In this month of December in Africa, some holiday making returnees engage in cruel acts like carrying out convenience marriages that are never meant to last.

Once, yours truly accompanied a bush faller in Buea, Cameroon, he was a friend of a friend. We went and carried out traditional marriage rites of a girl he would later jilt. I remember how the girl beamed with delight and joy. Her parents wore proud faces of fulfilled African parents, proud that their daughter was married to a young, promising bush faller. About a year later, the bush faller returned again, and I was told he had married another girl and ditched the one I accompanied him to marry.

Such cases are many. While other carryout such reckless acts as payback to those girls who had ditched them at certain times, others do it for the fun of it; the most obnoxious of it being going to the extent of fake marriages, where families are involved.

It is disrespectful and callous to perform traditional rites, involving a woman’s family and her close friends, just for payback, or just to satisfy a lascivious appetite.

Meantime, there are free or ready girls around, who at this time of the year, roam the streets aimlessly just praying and waiting for an idle fellow to whistle for them, chat them up and take them out to booze and knock the hell out of each other in a hotel or wherever they wish. Such willing ones can be contracted. It is less sacrilegious, than to jilt a woman willing to settle for a responsible life.

Merry Christmas!

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Another year ends with no solution in sight for Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Nsoseka

Funeral of school children killed by armed men in the town of Kumba, little progress has been made towards a lasting solution to the crisis

Funeral of school children killed by armed men in the town of Kumba, little progress has been made towards a lasting solution to the crisis

Another year is fading out, yet the crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions remains in a stalemate, with no feasible solution in sight, while young people in their numbers continue to have their dreams, and in the worst-case scenario, their lives snuffed out.

The crisis that has dragged on for four years running, is showing no signs of taking a logical end much-desired by those trapped in the conflict. The stalemate has left many confused and frustrated as they live not knowing what could happen in the next minute or day.

The year 2020 in Cameroon, has largely been preoccupied with the supposed implementation of a 24-year-old constitutional provision of decentralisation, largely described as a sham by many.  There has also been much talked about implementing the Special Status granted the Northwest and Southwest regions where separatist campaigns have been going on for over four years. The Special status for the two English speaking regions has generally been very unpopular, especially as it was a result of 2019’s Major National Dialogue mostly attended by the ruling CPDM’s bigwigs and a few opposition leaders. Separatist fighters and activists who were expected to be the main party dialoguing with the government bench, and reaching a compromise were absent, thus making the much-trumpeted national dialogue seem like a monologue among flunkeys. In the end, it was just a constitutional clause from the country’s constitution that was reactivated to confer on the crisis regions, a special status, whose substance many still largely describe as inadequate for a people who are seeking greater autonomy and a say in matters that concern them.

In 2020, the Cameroon government rather focused its attention on organising local elections, for municipal and parliamentary seats. The elections were greatly mired in malpractices amidst a historic low voter turnout. The ruling CPDM largely ‘won’ the elections, even in some hotspots like in the Anglophone zones, where their militants mostly tiptoed in, using armoured cars, and then dashed out in like manner. Some of the supposedly elected officials are operating in regional headquarters and abhor the idea of staying within their constituencies to serve those who supposedly elected them.

Most of those who turned out to vote massively, were security and defence forces, who in some cases were accused of moving around and voting severally, especially as their names did not feature on the electoral registers. Most of them were from different regions, but were allowed to vote local representatives and councillors for communities they do not belong to. Court cases filed regarding the issue were simply thrown out in their multitudes on the guise that the servicemen had a right to vote, even when they do not know the candidates and did not belong to the community whose leaders they voted.

The issue of elections has dragged on, with the governing CPDM party making complete and total gains from it. In the regional elections, the CPDM is running unopposed in several regions, as those to vote, are councillors and traditional rulers who in their overwhelming numbers, are CPDM militants or flunkeys. With the exhibited mistrust for the electoral process in Cameroon, and corresponding voter apathy, the ruling CPDM has in its scramble, secured a sickening obese number of seats in councils, and well as parliament, that are not a sign of any healthy democratic society. They are expected to control all regional councils too. The country now rather looks like the days of the one-party system.

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousand displaced from their homes

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousand displaced from their homes

A government of hardliners and side-lined pacifists  

In mid-2020, some government representatives met with leaders of the separatist movement for the first time, to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire. The meeting which held outside the prison premises was the first of its kind, and thus gave a feeling hope especially in the Anglophone zone where hope has been sapped away by the four-year and running conflict.

The sigh of relief was rather short-lived when the hard-line faction of the Cameroon government rose against holding peace talks with the separatists. Following the meeting, information filtered out that the first talks have been held with the separatist leaders serving life sentences. The information would later be confirmed by Separatists’ leader, Julius Ayuk Tabe, who affirmed that talks were held, to discuss a possible ceasefire. He also told his followers and believers in the Ambazonia dream that they are resolute and will not settle for anything short of complete independence for the two regions.

Shortly after, the hardliners in the Biya regime who were seemingly blindsided on the underground talks came up strongly against the move. The disagreement was publicly manifested when the Minister of Communication, Mr Emmanuel Rene Sadi was asked to produce a public note, disclaiming the meeting with separatist leaders. In his statement, the Minister craftily stated that news of the talks, was not consistent with the reality. The Minister, however, did not categorically state that the meeting did not hold.

It is alleged that the government, is operating in two camps, with one faction, extremely invested in the military option, while the other with people like Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, favours talks with the separatists as the best option to a lasting peace deal. The disagreement within the government bench in Cameroon lead to the crumbling of the glimmer of hope people had, when news broke out that talks were ongoing between the government and separatist leaders.

The year 2020 will again, like other years, end in a deadlock for the Anglophone crisis, which is steadily and gradually taking new dangerous twists. In 2020, several reports of explosives going off in the regions, as well as the economic and political capitals of the country have become too frequent. Such explosive attacks have largely been blamed or attributed to separatist activities.

In 2020, the country too has been dragged down by several other conflicts, especially protests from one of Cameroon’s political parties, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, of Prof. Maurice Kamto. A protest to oust the Biya regime organised on September 22 led to the brutal crackdown and arrest of protesters. The leader of the CRM has equally been placed on house arrest since then. Some women who protested half-naked demanding the release of Prof. Kamto were also arrested, before later released.

Towards the end of the year, lawyers too got into another fracas with the government, when an issue in court deteriorated and the police used teargas, and also brutally subdued lawyers. The issue also degenerated as lawyers were arrested, before later been slammed suspended sentences and fines. Due to the treatment meted out on lawyers, they announced a nationwide protest from November 30, to December 4.

Even with the myriad of crisis plaguing the country, President Biya continues to be heard and seen sparingly.

Even with the myriad of crisis plaguing the country, President Biya continues to be heard and seen sparingly.

President Biya- the ever missing leader

Meanwhile as the country is chocked in a stalemate in its most serious conflict that threatens Cameroon’s territorial integrity as the world knows it, the President, Mr Paul Biya has played the absentee landlord. With Several things going on, the president has used his traditional silent tactic to rule from the shadows.

Throughout 2020, there have been widespread rumours that the President has died. In his characteristic manner, the president who is seemingly unaccountable to anyone, and whose schedule is an issue of privacy is rarely seen or even heard from. As such Cameroonians only hear through rumours, or gossip what their president is up to. On rare occasions, the president is only spotted on photographs granting audiences or receiving a few diplomats at the Unity Palace in Etoudi, Yaounde.

Even Cameroon’ opposition Maurice Kamto, sometime seemed to have believed that the President was truly dead. In one of his outings, the CRM leader threatened that if President Biya does not show a sign that he was alive, then he, Kamto, was going to assume duty as the President of the republic. The outing by Kamto did not go well with CPDM Members. Kamto also expressed fears that there was an underground ploy for Biya to be succeeded by his son, Frank Biya. The rumours went wild, for quite a long time, then the President appeared receiving the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Christophe Guilhou.

While Biya remains as President, he is generally judged as been tired after almost four decades in office, as the President. The President who cannot keep up with the daily activities of the state as its president, had earlier delegated his signature to Ferdinand Ngo Ngo, a loyalist who is also much liked by the First Lady, Chantal Biya.

President Biya’s constitutional successor, is the President of the Senate, Marcel Niat Njifenji. Niat himself is aged out, and has spent much time abroad, where he receives medical attention. Many have also joked about the idea of Niat taking over the management of state affairs when he too appears to be more sapped of energy and strength like President Biya.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Sierra Leone: CSO’s urged security forces not to over securitized electioneering process
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A police officer argues with voters during the runoff presidential elections, outside a polling station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday March 31, 2018. Polls opened Saturday morning in Sierra Leone's runoff presidential election, which had been delayed by a few days after a court challenge of the first round.(AP Photo/Cooper Inveen)

A police officer argues with voters during the runoff presidential elections, outside a polling station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday March 31, 2018. Polls opened Saturday morning in Sierra Leone’s runoff presidential election, which had been delayed by a few days after a court challenge of the first round.(AP Photo/Cooper Inveen)

The Civil Society Working Group on Elections and Human Rights in Sierra Leone, has urged security forces not to over securitized electioneering process so as to avoid unnecessary fear and apprehension by the electorate there by resulting to voter apathy.

The group of thirty (30) civil society organisations made this call as part of recommendations in their report of the recently concluded parliamentary re-run Bye election in constituency 110 west of the capital, Freetown.

The report stated that there was an outright case of voter apathy across the constituency accounting for less than 50% turnout of the electorate in the said constituency adding that in almost all of the voting centres observed by the Working Group, the electoral turnout was very low.

“That though the security forces displayed a high sense of professionalism in their manning of polling centres, there was however an outright over securitization of the electoral process which in some ways created fear among the voting population.  It is therefore safe to conclude that the election was not free from fear,’’ the group said.

The group added that as part of the other challenges they observed was that  there  were  allegations  of  “vote  merchandise”  in  some  polling  stations where the Working Group witnessed chaotic scenes at Sengbeh  Pieh Secondary School and Hamilton at Polling Centre 1588 which had to do with some voters caught taking snapshots of their voting slips for a consideration of fifty thousand Leones (Le 50,000).

“When apprehended by the police, some of them confessed to have been sent by political stalwarts to do the said act. This was the case in other polling centres though not on a wide scale,’’ the report noted.

The report further noted that a number of unaccredited government officials using vehicles with no number plates bulldozed their way into some voting centres/stations particularly in Kent and Number 2 communities adding that some of our observers were subjected to verbal attacks by overzealous party stalwarts as a result of our vigilance and robust monitoring of the election.

“That some of the polling centres visited were not disabled friendly.  Thus, accessibility for Persons with Disabilities was a huge challenge. That the voting process at the Kallon Field polling centre stopped at some point in the early hours of voting due to the downpour of rain. This was as a result of the make shift structures that were constructed for the voting process,’’ the Civil society working Group on elections and Human Rights report further noted.

The CSO’s however urged that they and media institutions be provided with the necessary resources and accreditations by NEC so as to enable them monitor the conduct of public elections nation-wide.

“The  Civil  Society  Working  Group  on  Elections  and  Human  Rights  registers  its  profound thanks and appreciation to the government of  Sierra  Leone, NEC, election management bodies, the Sierra Leone Police,  political parties, civil society organizations, the media and the entire electorate at constituency 110 for the smooth  and successful  conduct of  the parliamentary rerun election In sum, while it is apparently clear that the election at constituency 110 could be said to be free and fair, it is  however  our candid opinion  as a WORKING GROUP  that the said election was not free from fear. Hence, the low voter turnout’’.

 

 

 

 

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Cameroon: HRW Urges US to Protect Cameroonians from Deportation
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

 

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousand displaced from their homes

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousand displaced from their homes

International Human Rights Organization, Human Rights Watch has called on the UG government to designate Cameroonians in the United States for temporary protected status, which is intended to protect nationals and habitual residents of countries experiencing extraordinary and temporary conditions from being returned to those countries if they are not able to return in safety.

“US authorities should also investigate allegations that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel physically abused Cameroonian asylum seekers to force them to sign documents related to their deportation,” a release from HRW noted.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “The US government should suspend deportations to Cameroon because of the serious threats Cameroonians face to their lives and freedom upon return.”

“In addition to a generalized risk of serious harm because of violence in the Far North, North-West, and South-West regions, deportees to Cameroon also face a risk of torture and ill-treatment because of their real or imputed opposition to the government.”

In October and November of this year, Human Right Watch indicated than more than 90 Cameroonians were deported from the US after seeking asylum, per reports.

Cameroon for the past years has been facing crises in the Far North Region of the country and over the past four years, the Anglophone crisis in the two English-speaking regions of the country. Violence in the North West and South West Regions has displaced tens of thousands of people in the past year, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes since the start of the violence to neighbouring Nigeria or other parts of the country.

The Islamist armed group Boko Haram has been carrying out daily attacked on civilians, including internally displaced people, with almost daily killings, kidnappings, thefts, and destruction of property, HRW reports.

“Given these conditions, many Cameroonians qualify as refugees under US asylum and international refugee law. Cameroonians in Africa will also qualify under the expanded refugee definition in the 1969 Africa Refugee Convention, which recognizes as refugees those who have fled their country “owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality,” HRW stated.

To Allegrozzi, “Cameroonians fleeing very real danger in their country deserve protection from abuse and a fair assessment of their claims for asylum and related forms of protection in US law.” “The US government should suspend deportations of Cameroonians and ensure that all ICE abuse allegations are properly and impartially investigated.”

According to Human Rights Watch, the two known flights of deportees from the United States to Cameroon, on October 13 and November 11, carried a reported 57 and 37 Cameroonians respectively. “The more than 90 Cameroonians deported by ICE in the first two months of the fiscal year 2021 already exceeds the total number of Cameroonians that ICE deported to Cameroon in fiscal years 2020 (49), 2019 (74) and 2018 (68),” said the Right Organization.

 

 

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Cameroon: The Fisherman’s Diary Wins Big at AMA, Golden Movie Awards
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Fisherman's Diary continues to soar across the world

The Fisherman’s Diary continues to soar across the world

 

Cameroonian movie of the year The Fisherman’s Diary’s rise shows no sign of stopping. The movie fronted by Kang Quintus and Faith Fidel has won big at the Golden Movie Awards in Ghana and the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Nigeria. At the two awards, the Film snapped up 10 awards.

At the AMAA, which is seen as the “African Oscars”, The Fisherman’s Diary picked up 2 awards after being nominated in 9 categories. Faith Fide won Best Young Actress, while Enah Johnscott and Buh Melvin “Baba Prox” won the award for Best Screenplay.

For the Golden Movie Awards in Ghana, the movie was nominated in 15 categories, succeeded in winning 8. Kang Quintus and Faith Fidel, lead actor and actress were the two standout winners of the Golden Movie Awards.

Kang Quintus who was nominated as Best Actor did succeed in winning the award. He also went home with the award for Best Sound Editor.  Faith Fidel took home two awards, one for Best Actress and Discovery of the Year.

The Fisherman’s Diary who was nominated for Best Film did also succeed in winning the award for Best Film. Enah Johnscott and Buh Melvin “Baba Prox” won the award for Best Screenplay. Rene Etta took home the award for Best Cinematographer; the Best indigenous Film category was won by The Fisherman’s Diary.

“We have made waves in 29 countries and 6 nominations in a festival like that with other great films in Africa and we dominating the entire festival is an honour for not just me but the entire country Cameroon. It tells us that the Cameroonian cinema is there and we are ready to compete with any other country and not just in Africa but the world at large,” Kang Quintus told Pan African Visions after the nominations were made public.

“… It was a lot of time and talent that went into the project and this is just a reflection of hard work that went into the film.”

An insight into The Fisherman’s Diary

The movie directed by Enah Johnscott and produced by Kang Quintus is a storey of a 12-year-old Ekah (Faith Fidel) who got inspired by Malala Yousalzai, the youngest noble prize winner.

She is determined to go to school in a village of fishermen where it is considered as taboo. He drives to break this adage gets her embroiled with her father Solomon (Kang Quintus) experience with girl child education, critiqsite reported.

The film features other actors such as Ramses Nouah, Onyama Laura, Neba Godwill, Mayohchu and Daphne Njie.

The film has won best film in India and New York, picking up Best director, best film, best soundtrack and best production nominations at the prestigious PAMA in Paris, France.

 

 

 

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Zimbabwe after Mugabe: New Man in Charge but Challenges Still the Same
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Mnangagwa has been faced with enormous challenges since he took office.Photo Credit NewZimbabwe.com

President Mnangagwa has been faced with enormous challenges since he took office.Photo Credit NewZimbabwe.com

At one point, ‘Zimbabwe’ and ‘Mugabe’ became synonymous. Whenever one name was said, the other quickly came to mind. This really was not surprising considering that Mugabe had become the face of Zimbabwe as he had been involved in the country’s politics for far too long starting off as the leader of the opposition during the last days of the colonial era and later on Prime Minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe before becoming the executive President in 1987, a position he held till the time he was forced out of office in November 2017.

The exit of Mugabe from the political scene in November 2017 saw the entrance of another man in the mould of Emmerson Mnangagwa taking the supreme position of the President of Zimbabwe. Since the time Emmerson Mnangagwa was chosen to lead Zimbabwe after the fall of Mugabe, he has gone on to win an election which will see him lead the southern African country for a 5-year term which will end in 2023.

The Zimbabwean Constitution allows a maximum of two terms for anyone aspiring to be a president. This essentially meaning Mnangagwa can be the Zimbabwean president till 2028 if he happens to win the 2023 presidential race. While there is a new face in the presidium in Zimbabwe, a face which may be around till 2028, nothing has really changed in the country both on the political and economic front. Despite there being a new man in charge of the country’s affairs, Zimbabwe still finds itself in deep socio-economic turmoil and political crisis.

Socio-economic turmoil

Zimbabwe became the first nation in the world to record inflation figures running into millions in 2008. This on its own proves just how dire the economic situation was during that time. A year later, then leader Robert Mugabe was forced to enter into a Government of National Unity with two leading opposition candidates (Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara) to save the country from falling further into the hopelessness abyss. At the advent of the unity government, Zimbabwe adopted a multi-currency system. The system immediately brought some sanity on the economic front but didn’t help much in overturning the country’s economic fortunes. That situation prevailed till Mugabe was ousted from office and Mnangagwa inherited a country that was economically struggling.

The confidence that engulfed the nation as well as the international community soon after the disposal of Mugabe briefly brought some economic joy to the country. However, that was all too short-lived as many in a matter of months began to realize that Mnangagwa just like his predecessor was following the same disastrous economic pathway. The lack of confidence in Mnangagwa’s economic trajectory soon showed on the country’s local bourse, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange as stocks began to drastically drop. In an effort to save the situation, the Mnangagwa administration began to target some traders accusing them of sabotaging the economy and this did not help matters as it alienated the government and the private sector.

On the black market, which since Zimbabwe’s hyperinflationary days (late 200s) had started operating parallel to the formal economy, the lack of confidence in Mnangagwa’ economic trajectory showed as the country’s local currency (at the time known as the Bond Note) rapidly began to lose value against the greenback. The Bond Note’s rapid loss of value made the salaries of workers worthless. The government itself felt the effects of the Bond Notes’ loss of value leading several government departments to increase the prices of their services and products. Surprising, the government did not see it fit nor prudent to adjust the salaries upwards to commensurate with the rising prices of commodities. This paved the way for many social problems as protests, demonstrations, and stay always became the order of the day.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has been fighting hard to get it right on the economy

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has been fighting hard to get it right on the economy

After realizing that the country was heading towards a disastrous outcome, Mnangagwa decided to solve the problem by reverting back to the decision taken at the advent of the government of national unity that is, adopt a multi-currency system. The hope here being that people could freely use whatever currency they so wish to conduct any transaction they so wish. While this problem certainly eased the liquidity problem as well as allowing citizens to conduct their business more freely without checking their shoulders for law enforcement officers, it created another problem. Commercial outlets started to favour transacting in foreign currency over the local currency citing high volatility on the part of the local currency. Customers thus were now expected to use foreign currency – herein however lays the challenge, the government and other private sector workers were still paying their workers in the local currency. To get the foreign currency required to purchase goods and commodities in commercial outlets, they had to exchange the local currency for the foreign currency on the black market which was charging exorbitant rates. In trying to solve one challenge, Mnangagwa therefore created another.

Some challenges that Mnangagwa is currently facing most notably social problems talk of extreme government criticism and demonstrations have been ushered in by the lackadaisical approach that Mnangagwa has been taking in addressing graft cases. When Mnangagwa assumed office, he stated that there were some ‘criminal elements’ surrounding then President Robert Mugabe. He thus promised to flush out these criminal elements so as to allow the country to function more efficiently and effectively. With many people pinning their hopes on Mnangagwa to arrest some top government officials who for so long had been accused of corruption, the so-called ‘criminal elements’ were only arrested, detained and after a few days in remand prison released on bail. Their court cases would drag on and on and some are still going to this day. No convictions on any top government officials have been effected. This has frustrated many who now claim that Mnangagwa’s declaration to arrest all those implicated in corruption cases is just a façade and the few arrests made (albeit with no convictions) is just a ploy to hoodwink the masses.

Without looking at the criminal elements who were supposed to be flushed out soon after the ousting of Mugabe, several graft cases have been exposed by investigative journalists in the country. One such case is the CovidGate scandal which implicates members of the First Family, then Minister of Health, and officials from the Ministry of Finance. Reports by investigative journalists exposed that the government had purchased COVID-19 personal protective equipment at highly inflated prices. Face masks which were readily available in the country and in neighbouring South Africa for around US$3 were purchased at a whooping $17! Several other PPEs were also purchased at overly inflated prices from a company which had just been registered whose proprietor had close links to the First Family. The report stated that over a million dollars had been systematically stolen by purchasing the equipment at overly inflated prices. Soon after the release of the reports, the public started to make calls to the President and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to look into the reported corrupt deal. Both the President and ZACC took time to deal with the issue. Only after several weeks did the President fire the Minister of Health on abuse of office charges. From the whole ‘stinking’ deal, that was the only real consequence faced by anyone of the officials implicated as no arrests were made. The handling of the CovidGate Scandal not surprising angered many hence the reason many people believe that the First Family links to the proprietor of the company that supplied the PPE at inflated prices is real. Not to help matters is the arrests of investigative journalists on flimsy charges as is the case with Hopewell Chin’ono as this paints the presidency in a bad way as from a distance it looks like the arrest is a way of silencing journalists while at the same time instilling fear in others that if they dare to expose corruption linking the First Family and top government officials, they too will find themselves in jail. To gain public confidence, it’s imperative for the President to ensure that such issues of grand corruption are dealt with ruthlessly without fear, favour or bias.

Political Crisis

President Mnangagwa is facing a political crisis both at home and abroad. It’s no doubt that Mnangagwa ascension to power in 2017 heralded a win for one ZANU (PF) faction over the other. Mnangagwa was regarded as the kingpin of the Lacoste faction which was fighting against the G40 faction led by the wife of Robert Mugabe, Grace Mugabe and younger ZANU (PF) officials Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwawo and Saviour Kasukuwere. From the onset, this meant that Mnangagwa had to outsmart the opponent at all times during his tenure if he is to finish it. At this point, he indeed is doing just that but day by day, the divisions that exist in the party continue to emerge. Several top government officials who are also ZANU (PF) members have lost their government positions and others even suspended or fired from the party. From within his party, Mnangagwa therefore faces a stern task of retaining power at all costs otherwise his dreams of running for a second term come 2023 may not come to fruition.

On the national front, the country’s political situation has been deteriorating day by day as the political space is slowly being closed. Soon after the 2018 presidential race, there were protests in country largely in the capital Harare where opposition supporters clashed with security forces. Estimates say that at least 7 people lost their lives during the protests as the security forces opened fire on unarmed civilians. To clear his name, Mnangagwa set up a commission of inquiry led by former South African president Hlalema Mothlathe. The commission of inquiry at the end found out that security forces did have a case to answer and those responsible were supposed to be exposed and tried for their offenses. However, to this day, no officer has been tried or even named for being responsible for the August 1 atrocities.

Political space has also been shrinking day by day as government critics from journalists, members of the civil society, opposition leaders, student leaders and outspoken clerics have all been arrested on flimsy charges including that of undermining the authority of the president. Even more worrisome is that the Mnangagwa administration has used COVID-19 national lockdown to implement measures which hinder political expression. Under the current COVID-19 national lockdown regulations, all elections are banned. However, this is despite that almost every other public sphere has been opened.

Health Minister Obediah Moyo was fired by President Mnangagwa for corruption

Health Minister Obediah Moyo was fired by President Mnangagwa for corruption

On the international front, President Mnangagwa has found his reengagement drive under threat. When Mnangagwa assumed office, he promised that he would ditch Mugabe’s isolation policy. Mnangagwa promised that the only way forward for the country is if it works in partnership with other global countries and as such, he would be launching Zimbabwe’s reengagement drive to the West. At first, things looked like they were going in the right direction as envoys from the UK and other countries visited Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa himself had quite a cordial relation with then UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing. However, as months passed and many began to realize that things were just the same as before with the Mugabe era, the goodwill that Mnangagwa had enjoyed with the international community dissipated . The coming in of the corona virus pandemic did not help matters as it meant that Zimbabwe’s reengagement jaunts to the West abruptly stopped. In America, the coming in of the Biden administration presents another chance for the Mnangagwa administration to charm America to resume ties with Zimbabwe. This however won’t be an easy feat at all as it is the Democratic administration of the early 2000s which included Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton that penned the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), a policy document that effectively ushered targeted sanctions towards top government officials, business people and businesses aligned to ZANU (PF). Mnangagwa and his ZANU (PF) party will therefore need to convince the people who applied sanctions on them that they have reformed and there is need for the sanctions to be removed – something which basing on the current situation on the ground is difficult to sell.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rwandan Troops To The Rescue As Bozize’s Rebels Hit Central Africa
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

A vehicle of the Rwandan peacekeepers in Central African Republic on December 9, 2014 (Photo AFP)

A vehicle of the Rwandan peacekeepers in Central African Republic on December 9, 2014 (Photo AFP)

Rwanda on Sunday, December 20, 2020 announced that it has deployed force protection troops to the Central African Republic, under an existing bilateral agreement on defense.

The deployment is in response to the targeting of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) contingent under the  UN Peacekeeping force by rebels supported by François Bozize.

In announcement made by Rwanda Defense Force on Sunday, the deployed troops  “will also contribute to ensure a peaceful and secure general elections scheduled on Sunday 27 December 2020,  twenty-two months after the peace agreement which was reached between the government and fourteen armed groups.”

The Rwandan army has been in Central African Republic since 2014. It is  one of the largest troop contributor to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

MINUSCA is a strong force of 12,000 troops contributed by different nations including Rwanda.

Since last weeks, tensions has been mounting in Central African Republic capital, Bangui ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled on 27 December 2020. Opposition and rebel groups which control most parts of the country, have  been calling for elections postponement.

Last Saturday, outgoing government of President Faustin Archange Touadera accused former president François Bozize of plotting a coup. Bozize was barred by court from running in upcoming elections. He denied any wrongdoing.

Since 2016, Rwanda’s peacekeepers have been tasked among others to control the security of Central African Republic president,  Faustin Archange Touadera.

In July this year, Rwanda’s soldier lost his life in an attack launched by a  Central African rebel group against UN peacekeeping forces in Bangui.

 

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Hunger Threats Loom Over 7 million In South Sudan
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – At least 7.2 million people, about 60 percent of East African’s’s population, are projected to face acute food shortage next year, according to a joint report released by South Sudan and the UN on Friday.
In a new integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report estimate that between October and November, 6.5 million people in South Sudan faced severe acute food insecurity and are in need of urgent assistance.
This number is projected to grow to 7.24 million between April and July 2021.
Friday’s report comes after two independent reports published by the IPC Global Support Unit last week which indicated that tens of thousands of people are likely to face famine conditions in Pibor county.
In this situation, many families are experiencing high levels of acute malnutrition and even mortality.
In another five counties (Akobo, Aweil South, Tonj East, Tonj North and Tonj South), some communities are facing catastrophic conditions, the independent analysis found.
Also, around 1.4 million children aged between 6 months and 5 years are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2021 and will need life-saving treatment, according to today’s report.
This includes 313 000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and more than a million children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition.
At the same time, 483 000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished and in need of treatment.
Hon. Isaiah Chol Aruai, Chairperson of South Sudan National Bureau Statistic (NBS) said the food security and nutrition situation is deteriorating in South Sudan.
“The food security and nutrition is deteriorating and will be worsen due to the pocket of conflict, calamity (floods), economic crisis and the effect of covid 19 pandemic,” said Chol while releasing the IPC key findings.
“In order to save lives and avoid the total collapse of livelihoods in the affected counties, particularly those with a population in catastrophe (IPC 5) and emergency (IPC 4), there is an urgent need for immediate scale-up of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance, ” said Chol.
The high levels of hunger are being driven by insecurity, the effects of COVID-19, the economic crisis, and the impact of flooding on livelihoods, the report said. Humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives and avert a total collapse of livelihoods in hard-to-reach areas.
The event was attended by representatives from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who said they are already scaling up their response, along with other humanitarian aid organizations.
In the press statement, three United Nations organizations are calling for immediate humanitarian access to parts of South Sudan’s Pibor County in Jonglei State, where people have run out of food and are facing catastrophic levels of hunger.
“We call on all parties to stop the violence and to ensure safe humanitarian access in order to prevent an already dire situation from turning into a full-blown catastrophe,” FAO Representative in South Sudan Meshack Malo said.
“We are extremely concerned about the increased numbers of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. These children need urgent treatment to prevent them from dying. The data leave us with no doubt about the sense of urgency for all of us – Government, donor community and humanitarian actors – to join hands and ensure all these children get the treatment they need. At the same time, we need to invest more in actions to prevent children from becoming malnourished in the first place,” UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Mohamed Ayoya said.
“WFP is extremely worried about the rising numbers of people suffering because of the lack of sufficient food and nutrition, intensified conflict, unprecedented flooding and high food prices. The coming year will be extremely tough, but we are determined to do all we can to reach more people for longer periods of time,” said Makena Walker, Deputy Country Director of the World Food Programme in South Sudan.
Emergency response.
Meanwhile,, Alain Noudehou, UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, reiterated the commitment of the humanitarian community to scale up its response to meet people’s increasing needs and to save lives.
“It has been a truly difficult year for the people of South Sudan. The country has been hit hard by a second consecutive year of major flooding, as well as by widespread sub-national violence and COVID-19 related restrictions,” said Noudehou.
It blames insecurity, economic crisis and climate shocks such as floods and droughts for the deteriorating food insecurity situation in South Sudan.
“The fighting and the violence should stop if we are to see improvement in the humanitarian situation and for the country to recover toward a lasting peace,” he stressed.
In the press statement, the WFP has already begun scaling up its lifesaving food and nutritional assistance to critically food insecure areas in Pibor County as well as other areas of concern, extending its humanitarian response beyond the usual lean season and increasing the number of vulnerable people who need support.
In the past two months, WFP said it has extended its food assistance to nearly 80,000 people in Pibor County.
Meanwhile, in Akobo East more than 40,000 people are currently receiving food assistance.
“WFP will continue to scale up its emergency food response working with partners to build community resilience and development. In total, WFP has provided food assistance to five million people in need in South Sudan in 2020,” said in part of the press statement.
The statement further said UNICEF will further scale up its interventions supporting therapeutic treatment and stabilization centres in the most affected counties to protect and save children’s lives.
This year, UNICEF has already treated 170,000 children affected by severe acute malnutrition, with a 94 per cent recovery rate. Further expansion of services is now urgently needed – including to insecure areas – for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
UNICEF will continue to address the underlying causes of malnutrition such as malaria and diarrheal diseases caused by a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and investing in prevention of malnutrition through promotion of breastfeeding and good feeding practices for the young child.
On the other hand, FAO’s priority is to assist farming and agro-pastoral communities to increase their production and preserve their livelihoods.
So far in 2020, over 100 000 farming families have received support to grow their own food from seeds, and more than 5 million animals have been vaccinated and treated to assist 164 000 households.
FAO has also distributed 800 tonnes of emergency animal feed for critical animal stocks, especially in flood-affected locations.
Despite formation of transitional government in late February 2020, the country’s leaders have failed to stop a pocket of violence and also to recover the dire economy from the effects of war as current daily oil output remains below 200,000 BPD amid drop in global oil prices due to covid 19 pandemic.
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Africa Remains The Land Of Promise For Billions of People-Dr Christopher Fomunyoh
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 In the midst of all the challenges, it was not all dark and gloomy for Africa, says Dr Fomunyoh

In the midst of all the challenges, it was not all dark and gloomy for Africa, says Dr Fomunyoh

Africa remains the land of promise for billions of people and we owe it to posterity not to destroy or squander what the Lord and nature have graciously put in stock for us, says Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, NDI. In an interview to review the year in Africa, Dr Fomunyoh says Africa must play to its strength.

“We are the youngest continent on the face of the globe, we have the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth; and if we don’t value all of these assets, the rest of the world will continue to turn us a blind eye.  We must respect our own lives and our own people for no one else will do so in our place,” says Fomunyoh.

Fielding questions on major socio-economic and political developments that defined the year in Africa, Dr Fomunyoh opines that in the midst of all the challenges, it is not all dark and gloomy for the continent.

Thanks for accepting this interview to review the year in Africa with PAV and we would like to start with COVID 19, what assessment do you make of the African response to the pandemic?

To a large extent, Africa has been luckier than other continents in the sense that our worst fears and the cataclysmic projections about likely deaths across the continent have not materialized.  Yet we must acknowledge that, like on every continent, the COVID 19 pandemic has had disastrous consequences in loss of lives and disruption of economic and political activity. As of this interview, based on statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), for the continent’s 1.4 billion inhabitants, we have had approximately 1.4 million Coronavirus cases and approximately 33,400 COVID-19 related deaths.  That’s far less than other continents, but it’s still regrettable and heartbreaking.  We must remain vigilant and respectful of preventive measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and other health measures.  We must not lower our guard, especially because the public health, social and economic infrastructures of most of our countries are not robust enough to withstand all the shocks of this pandemic.

From people like Archbishop Kleda in Cameroon with his herbal cure, to President Rajoelina of Madagascar touting the merits of COVID Organics as a cure, may we get your take on these efforts from Africans to be proactive in seeking solutions and instead of waiting for others to bring solutions for them?

We cannot discount that our rich flora and the unique species of medicinal plants that our continent possesses can boost immune systems and contribute to other healing therapies for coronavirus and other ailments.  The difficulties we face for such a global pandemic are in being able to scale up and sustain production on a national level and maintain quality control over therapies like the ones you mention.

What impact did the pandemic have on politics and democratic progress on Africa which you are well versed with?

The overall impact of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic on African politics has been very negative, as it has made it extremely difficult for citizens to exercise their rights and continue their advocacy for political space and good governance.  We saw that in a country such as Burundi, the government pushed through presidential elections in the heat of the crisis, and then the former Head of State who had been campaigning vigorously through that period lost his life from COVID-19 complications.  Eswatini (former Swaziland) just lost its prime minister to the pandemic.  Ethiopia was forced to postpone its elections because of the pandemic, and the inability to find consensus on the matter then led to a political crisis between the central government and leaders of one of the country’s regions – Tigray – that has now convulged into a full-blown armed conflict with thousands of casualties and lots of refugees and internally displaced persons.  In other countries such as Uganda and Guinea Conakry, regimes with autocratic tendencies are using the excuse of the pandemic to further clamp down on citizens’ rights and various freedoms, hence aggressively shrinking political space, and that is so shameful!

 With the youngest continent on the face of the globe, the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth, if we do not value these assets, the rest of the world would not, says Fomunyoh

With the youngest continent on the face of the globe, the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth, if we do not value these assets, the rest of the world would not, says Fomunyoh

In Malawi, we saw a court overturn the results of Presidential elections won by an incumbent and ordered for a rerun won by the opposition, can you put some context on this and what lessons Africa could learn from this?

Malawi turned out to be a beautiful story in the midst of otherwise dark clouds.  We must thank the justices of the Supreme Court of Malawi for their courage and independence in applying the law.  We also must salute the tenacity and peaceful commitment of political parties and civil society organizations which, on finding weaknesses in the previous elections, sought legal redress instead of resorting to violence as we’ve seen in some countries.  There’s something unique about Malawi as its people have faced several challenges in the path of the country’s democratic transition but have always risen to meet and surpass these obstacles.  I remember the 1993 referendum on multipartism, and various instances during which even the Malawian Defense Forces sided with citizens for political pluralism and good governance.  Lots of lessons to learn, and surely much that the rest of us Africans should be grateful to the Malawians for.

We also did notice the resurgence of the disturbing trend of leaders especially in French speaking Africa changing term limits to remain in power with Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire as key examples, what accounts for this setback for democracy and what needs to be done to avoid this becoming the new normal for African countries?

Despite the positive experiences of countries such as Senegal and Niger Republic, the alternation of political power and renewal of political leadership remain constant challenges in Francophone Africa. To date, only Benin, Mali and Senegal have seen multiple peaceful transitions from one elected president to the next at the end of two terms – and Senegal only after former President Wade was defeated as he ran for a third term.  Other countries have taken two steps forward and multiple steps backward, hence giving the impression of very fragile or yet uncompleted transitions.  As many of the Francophone countries are located in West Africa, the regional body (the Economic Community of West African states – ECOWAS) has in the past played an important role in upholding democratic norms in the region, and around 2015 came close to amending its protocol on governance to provide specific protections of presidential term limits. However, those efforts deserve to be reinforced to avoid further backsliding.

Today, many ask why should people trust the opposition when leaders such as Professor Alpha Conde in Guinea who fought for democratic reforms most of his adult life, and even Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire, get to power only to perpetuate and excel in the same undemocratic practices they vowed to fight?

That’s a very valid concern, and I believe pro-democracy advocates and civil society, as well as development partners should be urging these leaders to think about their legacies and how they think they will be judged by history.  Africa today yearns for leaders that can emulate the examples of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, or Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and others that made their countries and the continent proud when they handed over power peacefully after serving their terms in office.

You were in Ghana for the 2020 elections where President Nana Akufo Addo was proclaimed winner, but the opposition is crying foul, how did the elections go from your perspective?

In fact, although in the past 20 years, Ghana has always experienced very close and competitive elections, the 2020 polls seem to be the closest both for the presidency and the parliament. Ghana’s two main parties — the National Patriotic Party (NPP), and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — are both quite solid and do start every election with a substantial base of support.  As per the official results of the Electoral Commission, the next parliament will be divided right down the middle and will require a lot of tact and parliamentary agility and collaboration to get elected officials on both sides to work together.  With regards to the presidential race, the two main candidates and their respective parties set up their own data centers where they collected results from polling stations to track those officially announced by the Electoral Commission. I’m therefore hopeful that once they clean up their numbers, they will come to the same conclusion as the Commission.  I’m very confident that both presidential candidates are men of peace and committed democrats who mean well for Ghana and the continent of Africa.  They will not allow Ghana to go down the path of other countries that have experienced violence in the post-election period.

What lessons do you think other African countries can learn from Ghanaians?

Many lessons indeed: For example, that regular peaceful elections can be the norm in Africa.  By holding its elections on schedule every four years, and also taking steps to engage in electoral reforms after every exercise, Ghana is proving that all that comes out of African elections is not doom and opacity, and Ghanaians should be commended for that.  There’s open political space in Ghana that allows civil society and media to independently monitor the polls without any incumbrances, to the point where a coalition of civic groups (CODEO) now conducts parallel vote tabulations as a permanent fixture in the process since 2008.  Ghana also has strong and effective political parties that make it easy to gain citizen input into the policy formulation process and to run issue-based campaigns.  I hope that Ghanaians will share freely of these experiences as they exchange views and compare notes with other Africans.

Dr Fomunyoh with President Issoufou of Niger whose country is cited today as one of the success stories in Francophone Africa in terms of democratic progress

Dr Fomunyoh with President Issoufou of Niger whose country is cited today as one of the success stories in Francophone Africa in terms of democratic progress

What do you make of the EndSARS in Nigeria, with a myriad of problems across the continent, is there something that other African countries could learn or draw from that?

In my opinion, the ENDSARS movement in Nigeria was a spontaneous demonstration of how citizen dissatisfaction with government performance can erupt in unexpected ways.  It all started as a protest against police brutality, but then other grievances popped up in ways that the Nigerian government may not have expected.  A couple of lessons stand out for me, including the fact that police brutality and violence is unacceptable and must be stopped, and governments must put in place mechanisms to listen to citizen responses to their performance.  I am pleased that commissions are being set up in various states across Nigeria to look into matters of social justice and policing, and that Nigerian youth and civic leaders are having a seat at the table to make their voices count and their views heard.

May we get your take on the Building Bridges Initiative in Kenya where fierce political rivals are trying to chart a new political discourse and path?

That too is getting extremely heated and polarizing, and we can only wish that Kenyans, who have gone through similar experiences with past constitutional debates and reviews, are reminded to do the right thing for their people and the country.

In Cameroon, the Anglophone crisis continues to rage on with no end in sight, at this point in time, what do you suggest as a way forward to a lasting solution?

It is incredibly sad and revolting to see what began as a citizen’s petition regarding legitimate rights and grievances morphed into a crisis and now a full-blown armed conflict with its daily dose of killings and atrocities.  As I have said since 2016, when the crisis first broke, a military solution is the worst approach to settling grievances that are long embedded in historical facts and missteps.  The only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.  So much death, damage and destruction have befallen the English-speaking people of former Southern Cameroons.  With now thousands of deaths, over 70,000 refugees in neighboring Nigeria, over 800,000 internally displaced and over 4.2 million people at risk of famine, everything must be done to bring the conflict to an end.  The international community and friends of Cameroon must do more to help us bring an end to the war and address the genuine grievances of the afflicted populations.

Despite the huge toll on people in the North West and South West Regions, the international community has remained so indifferent, why is the international community turning a blind eye to the crisis in Cameroon?

Some countries within the international community have made multiple declarations on the conflict, but their admonitions have fallen on deaf ears.  Even the last session of the United Nation Security Council meeting on December 9, 2020, discussed Cameroon; however, by now, it should be clear to everyone that simple declarations and statements alone will not suffice.  People are being killed and innocent lives lost daily in the North West and South West regions.  We are in the 21st century, and world leaders should not sit by idly or passively while these atrocities continue with absolute impunity.

President Biya has been largely absent from the scene, and no one seems to know exactly who is in charge; how important has his absence been as an impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict?

To many descendants of Southern Cameroons, Paul Biya has become a huge part of the problem, and a lot has been documented about how his government’s mismanagement of the crisis has exacerbated it.  When governing a country in conflict or crisis, leaders are known to exert themselves tirelessly in search for peace – in the Cameroon case we don’t see Biya doing that.  It’s difficult to say who is giving the orders today, but individuals must know that, ultimately, they will be held accountable for their roles in the massacres and atrocities.

As the succession battle plays out behind the scenes in Cameroon, there are some who have suggested that a President from the English-speaking regions of the country could be one of the confidence building measures, do you agree?

That was the spirit of the Federation that existed at reunification from 1961 – 1972.  At the time, there was an understanding as two equal entities the positions of president and vice president could alternate between leaders from the two cultural and linguistic entities that formed the Federal Republic of Cameroon.  Unfortunately, that too was abrogated by Francophone leaders who began a process of over centralization of power and attempted assimilation of the Anglophones.  At the fast rate of today’s deterioration, I am fearful that if the conflict is not brought to an end swiftly, it’ll go past the point where simple elite bargains will be sufficient or credible enough to bring peace and harmony.

And a word on your own political ambitions, if you are called upon by Cameroonians to answer the call for a new leadership in the country, is that something you are willing to consider?

The challenges at hand demand that we all shelf our personal ambitions until we can get our people out of the total mess and sense of distress and hopelessness in which they find themselves.  The situation is heartbreaking and depressing, it is extremely difficult to project into the future while surrounded by the current dark clouds that risk annihilating a whole generation of our people.

The year in Africa also saw the passing of big personalities from former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, to President Nkurunziza of Burundi, South African iconic Lawyer George Bizos, Manu Dibango and any word from you for these departed Africans?

Indeed, 2020 has been a very difficult year at multiple levels.  I knew President Jerry J. Rawlings personally, and had the pleasure on many occasions to visit with him in Accra, and to work closely with him on the African Statemen’s Initiative which was a gathering of former African Heads of State that were very active in humanitarian and other good causes across the continent.  His sheer presence and personality, his positive energy and big vision for Africa are unmatchable.  We will all miss him, just as his fellow country men and women of Ghana would.  Manu Dibango was also a class act of a legend – the world-renowned self-made man whose leadership in music and culture were unrivaled.  He too was an African legend and an ambassador for the continent.  It’s still very difficult to imagine that ‘Grand Manu’ is gone to his final resting place.  May the souls of these departed African leaders rest in perfect peace and their memories remain a blessing.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.

As we move into 2021, what will the agenda for the NDI look like with regards to its engagement with Africa?

NDI and its various partner organizations are committed to working to reverse some of the backsliding that we discussed earlier. For example, we are looking at providing multiple platforms for Africans to foster discussions on how to safeguard and consolidate the progress that has been made in some countries while drawing lessons from those successes to address shortcomings in other countries.  For example, we are gladly joining various African experts, advocacy groups and civil society organizations in what we hope will be a continent-wide conversation on constitutional term limits and the rule of law as tenets of democratic governance.  It is important to curb the resurgence of ‘life presidents’, something that the continent worked so hard to dismantle in the early 1990s, but that seems to be resurfacing in a number of countries.  In that endeavor, we take comfort in knowing that of the continent’s population of 1.4 billion people, more than 75 percent are youth 35 years or younger, a vast majority of whom aspire to have a strong say in the politics and public policy of their respective countries, and to be governed justly and democratically.

We end the interview with your wish for Africa in 2021, what will you like to see for the continent?

The new year wish for Africa 2021, is that we give our young men and women the opportunities to lead.  Our continent must play to its strength — we are the youngest continent on the face of the globe, we have the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth; and if we don’t value all of these assets, the rest of the world will continue to turn us a blind eye.  We must respect our own lives and our own people for no one else will do so in our place.  The continent still remains the land of promise for billions of people, and we owe it to posterity not to destroy or squander what the Lord and nature have graciously put in stock for us.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Most US Administrations Have Not Had Good Policies On Africa-Lawrence Freeman
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa, says Lawrence Freeman

Many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa, says Lawrence Freeman

As the Biden -Harris administration warms up to take power, questions are been asked on how their African policy will look like. To Lawrence Freeman, while the potential of stronger ties and bonds are real, it is best not to have high expectations as successive U.S administrations have not had good policies on Africa.

The political and economic analyst with thirty years of experience working on Africa says the last President who engaged Africa in a substantive way was President John Kennedy in the 60s. Though the relations seemed to have reached an all-time low during the Trump administration, Freeman opines that successive administrations including the more recent ones of Clinton, Bush and Obama all considered Africa as a low priority area, giving the Chinese an opening to hold sway. Freeman who runs a blog on Africa and frequently travels the continent, says his goal is to see poverty eliminated in Africa in his lifetime.

Pan African Visions: It is not every day you see an American whose work has focused on Africa for some thirty years now, could we start this interview with what motivates or makes Lawrence Freeman passionate about Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: It started in the second half of the 1960s. Some people will remember that it was a time of political activism, and I was involved in High School and later on in College. One of the things I began to think about was the conditions in Africa – the fact that it is a large continent with so much land and why will the people go hungry. About 30 years ago I began to focus on Africa, and I began to write, had meetings started with some Cameroonians, Liberians, and then I ended up going to Nigeria in the 1990s which I have been many times. I now teach a course on African History and it has been my passion increasingly and every year I am more and more involved. 3 years ago, I set up my website so I can publish my articles. I am a researcher, journalist, consultant and my goal is to eliminate poverty in Africa in my lifetime.

Pan African Visions: How will you describe African policy under President Trump, what were some of the changes that you observed?

Lawrence Freeman: US policy under President Trump was not effective. I have to say many of the Presidents in recent periods have not had very good policies for Africa. Many of them do not understand Africa, and they already have an interest which is a low priority on the President’s list. The last President to engage himself in Africa was John F. Kennedy. He established a very unique relationship with Kwame Nkrumah and the latter was the first Head of State that John F. Kennedy brought to the United States on March 8 before any other country in the world. Trump has done very little; he has a programme called Prosper Africa which does not do much but focus on Trade and not a real development programme. He has involved himself in the Ethiopia dam issue in a very provocative manner by suggesting that Egypt may bomb the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam which was very unfortunate.

On the other hand, he has been very supportive of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his confrontation with Tigray and also very supportive of President Ouattara in the election in Cote d’Ivoire. But overall, I would not give him a very high mark, but that is not very different from President Obama or President Clinton.

Pan African Visions: Some people have described him as been dis-engaged, for African countries that yearn for genuine independence, was this not an opportunity to let them handle their affairs while pushing other colonial powers notably in Europe to scale back their influence on Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: The problem is the lack of a coherent policy for Africa from the United States. Africa should be independent but there are ways that a country like mine (USA) could help which China is doing to a great extent. We can provide long term loans with credit for infrastructural development; to assist and collaborate with African countries and not to dictate and tell them what to do. This is a big omission on the current administration and the previous.

Pan African Visions: The USA opposed the election of Dr Akinwumi Adesina for a second term as AfDB President despite his huge accomplishments and unanimous support from African countries and other international partners, and most recently the candidature of Okonjo Iweala at the helm of the WTO was also opposed, can you put some context on these controversial options from the USA?

Lawrence Freeman: For the case of Iweala it was clear that the Trump administration was supporting another candidate – this hurt the African nations as they wanted to have someone of prestige in that position. The question of the African Development Bank I do not understand that. I believe President Trump was giving some false information about President Adesina and somehow his people in the administration acted on this in a way to try and undermine the President of the AfDB. The AfDB has its procedures for investigating internal fraud or mishandling of funds and that should have been left alone for the AfDB to handle and they did and cleared him (Adesina) of any wrongdoings. I am not sure why or who gave President Trump this false information, but it was something that did not help build a strong relationship between the United States and Africa.

Tapped to serve as UN Ambassador,Linda Thomas Greenfield could introduce some positive policies for Africa that are useful, says Freeman

Tapped to serve as UN Ambassador,Linda Thomas Greenfield could introduce some positive policies for Africa that are useful, says Freeman

Pan African Visions: What kind of changes do you anticipate seeing on US-African relations in the Biden-Harris Administration?

Lawrence Freeman: Unfortunately, the group of people for the most part that President-elect Biden has been bringing out to the public represent long-term establishment figures, people who were in the Obama administration, and people from the Clinton administration which is going back some 20 years. These are people who do not have a vision for the development of Africa the way I do, and the leader of the United States should do. The interesting possibility lies with his pick for the UN Envoy Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She will not be in the state department where policies are made but she will be a member of the cabinet as UN Ambassador. She from contacts I have on the continent is viewed as a reasonable, thoughtful, even-handed representative in terms of dealing with problems in Africa and some of my friends in Africa think highly of her.

Because of her background as Ambassador to Liberia, working as secretary of State for Africa under President Obama, she has a background in Africa which very few people on the cabinet-level bring in. I do not know if she will be, but she could be a type of person that introduces some positive policies for Africa that are useful. The main problem we have now is that Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and this is where the United States could play a major role. Unfortunately, under several administrations and more emphatically under the Trump administration, they define the Africa policy not as simply for Africa but as countering China. They saw Africa as playing the game between the US and China and they used Africa as the chessboard rather than developing our positive policy.

China has done many good things for Africa such as their investment in infrastructure, rail and energy and I would like to see the United States do more, and for the United States to allow other nations like Russia and India to put their investment in infrastructure in Africa. I do not think that is going to happen during the Biden administration, but I am hopeful some positive steps will happen even though I don’t think Africa is going to be top on Biden’s list. It has not been on any President’s agenda.

Pan African Visions: If you were advising the administration what would be some of the priority areas that you see prospects of engagement with Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: We have a list of very important infrastructural projects in Africa that the United States should be involved in. for example, a project I have been working for over 20 years called Trans Aqua and it is a great water project to bring water to build a canal (2400km) into the Central African Republic and which will lead to the filing up of Lake Chad. Lake Chad is drying up and it is 90 per cent from where it was in 1960. More importantly by building this canal it will increase trade and development to all the countries around the Great Lakes; Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and the countries around Lake Chad which are without water such as Nigeria; Cameroon, Niger and Chad. We are working with the Italian government to initiate a feasibility study on Trans Aqua. The United States has had no role to play and has not even supported the project. This is a great project. These kinds of projects will transform the continent, and this is where economic powers like the US, China and other nations could contribute to providing long term low-interest credit because infrastructural projects take many years to complete. Nuclear energy is another area where I think the United States can contribute because the electricity deficit on the continent is so huge. I think most politicians think very narrowly – they think about tomorrow and I think about 40 years ahead.

My thinking is better – you have to think 20 to 40 years ahead to plan policies. The United States like other European leaders have no vision of a future 20 years to advance. This is very unfortunate, and the Biden administration is bringing the same old people who did not have a vision when they were in government 10 or 20 years ago and I do not think they are going to have one now. If they are smart, they will make me their economic adviser and maybe I can win them over to some of these long-term plans that we are developing.

Pan African Visions: For many Africans and African countries that look up to the USA as a model for the kind of democracy worth emulating, what message or lessons could be drawn from the recent US election?

Lawrence Freeman: The main thing is that the United States has a great constitution written by some brilliant founding fathers. In that constitution, they take care of all concerns concerning elections. The idea of having electorates is correct; all the procedures outlined in the US Constitution are working. The basis of the US constitution is the preamble and not all the separate by-laws. No matter what goes on there are rules set, dates set, the electors have to be certified, read to congress and the constitution works. We have not had any coup, but we have had several Presidents assassinated but we survived that. My recommendation to African Presidents is for them to study the constitution of the United States and all the documents involved. We are not going to have a civil war, we will not have riots, and we will move on to the next government – whether that government has any good ideas that is another question. A government will continue in the United States.

Pan African Visions: On the conflict in Ethiopia, you described it as a war won to preserve the nation-state, and seem to support the position of President Abiy who opted for force and not dialogue, can you shed more light on your arguments?

Lawrence Freeman: I have studied the Ethiopian constitution and the history of Ethiopia for several years. The main problem is that ethnicity became the basis of the constitution – they wanted to comprise with the various ethnic groups, and they set ethnic regional states. This caused a problem because it did not establish an Ethiopian identity with the same problem existing in Nigeria. The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) was the leading group that carried out the coup. They maintain power not only in the Tigrayan region but all over the entire country. PM Abiy set up the Prosperity Party which was not based on any ethnicity and the TPLF rejected that and made different moves to undermine the government. From my standpoint, it was a necessary action to preserve the nation. If that action was not taken Ethiopia would have ceased to be a leading nation in Africa.

Pan African Visions: Coming less than a year or so after he bagged the Nobel Peace Prize, is the world right in faulting Prime Minister Abiy for not doing more to explore a peaceful resolution or opening up to third-party mediation?

Lawrence Freeman: The situation in Tigray is that there was an attempt to set up negotiations, there was a dialogue going on. The problem is that the TPLF violated national law and the government declared they could not carry out their election in May due to the COVID-19 crisis and set it forth for next year. The TPLF went ahead and had elections and they took military actions. At that point, I think the PM did what he could do giving the conditions that existed in Ethiopia where you had this ethnonationalism which does not respect the centralize power that existed in Addis Ababa that represented the nation.

Pan African Visions: The conflict comes at a time when Ethiopia was grappling with a crisis over the Nile, what do you make of the insistence of Ethiopia to proceed with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Lawrence Freeman: First of all, the Grand Renaissance Dam is 75 per cent complete and nothing is going to stop its completion. This is a matter of national identity for the people and they have funded the Dam by themselves. The Dam is on the Blue Nile which comes down from Lake Tana which is inside the sovereign state of Ethiopia. The Egyptians have a legitimate  right to request that they not be without  water. What needs to be looked is that Egypt is not deprived of necessary water. But the Egyptians are using the legacy of the colonial period that nobody can disrupt the Nile unless they approve it.

The 1929 Water Agreement on the distribution of the Nile allocation was Sudan gets ¼ of the Water and Egypt gets ¾. In 1959 when both Sudan and Egypt were independent there was another agreement and this time between Sudan and Egypt. Again, Ethiopia was not allocated water from the Nile and was told not to build a dam on the Nile without Egyptian approval. Ethiopia is an emerging nation and has very bold economic programmes. The biggest problem in Africa is the lack of electrical power. Agreements on the water can be worked out and it should be worked out.

Pan African Visions: You were in Cote d’Ivoire for the elections and surprisingly spoke favourably about the controversial polls, what is it you saw that influenced the optimistic outlook that you painted of developments in that country?

Lawrence Freeman: This was my first visit to Cote d’Ivoire. Most of my visits have been to Nigeria. I did not know the significance of the Port in Abidjan which is the largest port in West Africa and has a railroad that goes into Burkina Faso and Mali. This has a lot of economic potentials and I also realized that the government of Cote d’Ivoire under President Ouattara has had good progress on the development of its infrastructure and economy, reducing poverty, increasing access to electricity and clean water. I met with some officials and attended some lectures which indicate to me that the country is moving forward.

As an observer in the election, I could see what was going on and I found that the population was very orderly. It was a hot day and hundreds of people were standing in line, no fighting, carrying out their affairs in a good manner. Even though there was a controversy around Ouattara going again for a new term it is legitimate under the new constitution which was supported by the people in 2016. It is something I believe he did not want to do – he had indicated that he will resign but the chosen candidate died unexpectedly. This is almost the same situation in the United States where you had several Presidential candidates that were in their 70s and you had many members of the congress and senate who are septuagenarians who seemed to dominate politics in many parts of the world. I believe there is a new commitment to the new government for economic empowerment and I am optimistic about that.

The people who opposed the election could not provide a viable alternative. They just attacked the government and called for a boycott which they got no vote. After the election was concluded on October 31, they declared themselves a new transition government. In 2010 3,000 people in Cote d’Ivoire  were killed because President Gbagbo would not leave the palace. Now in 2020 to have a group of people declare that they are the government it was uncalled for. I believe there is a lot that must be done but they are getting there.

Pan African Visions: Your position kind of mirrored that of the US Ambassador who said the US supported the sovereignty of Cote d’Ivoire in the elections which many considered as controversial, and in countries like Tanzania the US picks issues with the elections, does this selective criticism or biased critique based on interests not hurt healthy relations between the USA and Africa?

Lawrence Freeman: There are mixed signals, that I have no question about. The Ambassador in Cote d’Ivoire before the election said this election belongs to the people of Cote d’Ivoire and their institutions. And when the opposition tried to meet with the Ambassador (Richard Bell) after the election he did not meet with them. The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the State Department supported the sovereignty of Cote d’Ivoire. That was very strong support for Cote d’Ivoire, and I was pleased to see it. In other areas that does not exist, and the mix signals is coming even in the same country. Like in Ethiopia you have President Trump who is criticizing Ethiopia for building the Dam and making provocative statements and then when PM Abiy intervenes in the Tigray Region Tibor Nagy of the state department came out in support of the Ethiopian government.

The problem is that there is not a coherent conception coming from the United States on what Africa needs. There is a loud discussion on “democracy”, but they do not understand democracy. It is not about how regularly you have elections but the ability of the citizens to discuss and debate important and profound ideas about the future of the country. In the United States we do not have that – everybody talks in 20 to 30sec sound bites, but real democracy like we had during our founding fathers, for that to take place in Africa everybody needs to have a minimum standard of living. Without economic development, real democracy cannot exist. Without a clear idea of what our policy for Africa should lead us to, we give mix signals.

Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and the US could play a major role, says Lawrence

Africa needs development, specifically infrastructural development; electricity, roads, hospitals and the US could play a major role, says Lawrence

Pan African Visions: The crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon have been raging for some four years with the US and the rest of the international more or less indifferent, may we know the US position on the situation in Cameroon from your understanding?

Lawrence Freeman: The problem of Cameroon is indicative of what we have done to Africa. It is a result of the dividing of Africa. A united Cameroon never existed up to this point and because the French and British divided a legitimate nation is similar to the ethnicity we see in Kenya and other parts of Nigeria. What started in 2016 with the demonstrations, protests and strikes with separatist movements that have come in. I do not believe in dividing nations. I was opposed to the division of Sudan to two nations. I do not want to see Cameroon divided up. What has to be is that there has to be recognition of one Cameroon which may be difficult under Paul Biya who has been in power for almost 4 decades, this is going to be a problem. What we should do is put forward an idea, a one Cameroon that has to be built under the conception of an economic mission for the country.

Let us establish a goal of where Cameroon should be in 5 or 20 years from now and make that mission a goal that unites all the people in the country and that everyone benefits from the economic benefits. That is the way I know how to unite the people. The prejudice won’t go away in the model, but they have the capability of going away in time as people see interest in working together. The interest of myself lies in the interest of another and that is a challenging path. I think the United States has eliminated Cameroon from the AGOA process, but sanctions are not going to do it. They do not work that well and you have to put something positive in its place. I will make a great economic mission for the country and unite everyone together and establish a Cameroonian identity, not a French-controlled identity.

Pan African Visions: We end with the last word on how you see 2021 playing out for Africa, what are your hopes and fears?

Lawrence Freeman: If you look at the problems we have now if we do not implement certain measures today, we are going to have problems 10 or 20 years from now. If you have an approximate population of two and a half billion and approximately one billion may be young people; if those young people do not have jobs, see their nation as providing for them then you can have very nasty operations and demonstrations, regime changes on the continent. On the other hand, we have all these very bright people, if we implement policies today that will bring about the kind of economic growth that is needed then you will not have an increase in alienation, anarchy and protests.

I would like to see the United States join with China and probably Russia to help Africa. They have to unite and assist Africa and not tell them what  to do, and not seize anything. I estimate that Africa needs at least a thousand gigawatts of power to give people access to electricity. These things are primary. If we can begin in 2021 with a robust commitment to developing, then I think Africa will have a very interesting and beautiful future. If we do not, then we could be facing more serious challenges over the years ahead. I am approaching 70 years and I am going to put everything I have to make those things happen. If more people in the United States, Europe, and Africa will work with me on that then I think we can make some improvements that will benefit billions of people that are not only living today but those who will be born in the future. And that is my goal and commitments.

Pan African Visions: Thanks for answering our questions.

Lawrence Freeman: Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I appreciate all the work you do.

For more information on Lawrence Freeman and his work visit his blog here

*Interview also features in  December Issue of PAV Magazine  

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The African Development Bank appoints Mr. Simon MIZRAHI, Acting Director, Communication and External Relations (PCER)
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Simon MIZRAHI as Acting Director, Communication and External Relations Department (PCER), effective 16 December 2020.

Simon is a British national who joined the Bank on the 10th of May 2009, as Head of Results Management Division. Before joining the African Development Bank, he worked for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based in France, as Senior Policy Adviser, Aid Effectiveness Division (2001-2007) and as Deputy Head, Aid Effectiveness (2007-2009).

As Deputy Head at the OECD in charge of aid effectiveness, Simon authored the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action—two landmark agreements adopted by 110 countries and organisations across the world. Prior to this, Simon worked as Director, International Development Consultancy Services (1996-2001) and as a Country Director for Médecins du Monde, Kigali (Rwanda) and Managua (Nicaragua), from 1994 to 1996.

Simon is a seasoned senior executive with more than twenty-five years’ experience delivering strategic leadership on development and development policies. He excels in fast-paced, high-pressure environments and executing complex operations in challenging settings around the world. He has extensive experience in leading policy work and has published on issues central to the development agenda with a strong emphasis on development impact, climate change and development effectiveness.

Simon is currently the Director for Delivery, Performance Management and Results. In this capacity he oversees the delivery of results on the Bank’s $10 billion annual investments across the African continent and engages with the Bank’s Board of Directors and donors on the full complexity of the Bank’s development challenges. In the course of his career, Simon has demonstrated a strong capacity for thought leadership, strategic decision-making and delivering bottom-line results.

He holds a Masters of Philosophy degree in Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (1991) and a Masters in Politics, Philosophy and Economy (PPE), Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po), France (1990).

Commenting on his appointment President Akinwumi Adesina said “I am pleased that Simon has stepped into this role to provide strong leadership and support for the Department until a substantive Director is appointed. He is known for delivering results and building effective partnerships and networks to effectively communicate and advance the work of the Bank”.

*AfDB

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South Sudan launch health security plan to mitigate risks, build strong health sector
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol

Mayen Machut Achiek, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health

Juba – South Sudan has launched a four-year health plan to prevent, detect and respond to any public health threats and designed to build the health sector to efficiency in the country.

 

The 2020-2024 Health Security Plan launched in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to detect and prevent or manage health risks arising from natural disasters like floods, political instability, and diseases such as COVID-19, polio and measles.

 

The 85-pages National Action Plan for Health Security will cost about $70 millionover the five-year period of its implementation and it is expected to build the national capacity for resiliency.

 

Mayen Machut Achiek, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, said they need more support in order to respond to major disease outbreaks and to establish a strong health system in the restive country.

 

“What we are embarking on today is risk management to prepare for infectious diseases that are imported across the borders,” said Achiek.

 

 

South Sudan has a health system structured with three tiers: Primary Health Care Units PHCU, Primary Health Care Centers PHCC and Hospitals which exist as either state, county, police or military.

 

The plan is anticipated to maintain a strategic partnership using one-health: all hazards, government and whole of society approach.

 

“These risks are natural disasters [such as] flooding, which is happening now, insecurity, political archival [which] cause much trauma,” Dr. Machut stated, adding that they want to mitigate risks of “outbreak of infectious diseases that are imported from across the borders.”

 

The country is also prone to diseases -with meningitis, measles, yellow fever, and whooping cough endemic in many areas.

 

This is coupled with malaria, river blindness, sleeping sickness, and cholera.

 

“Most of the time, we focus on humanitarian work. It is important to save lives. But importantly as well, we need to move from there and start to put in place, develop activities and develop intervention that will help this country to really move on,” said Olu.

 

He described the new National Action Plan for Health Security as a deliberate step “to build a system that can comprehensively respond to outbreaks — not only COVID-19 but several other outbreaks.”

 

“It is an opportunity for us to strengthen our system. Over time, we have responded to different [disease] outbreaks. It now gives us the opportunity to build a system that can comprehensively respond to outbreaks — not only COVID-19, but several other outbreaks,” said Olu.

 

Martin Elia Lomuro, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said the government is keen on improving the poor health infrastructure, human resources and level of preparedness to help respond to disease outbreaks.

 

Lomuro had also discouraging the practice of traveling abroad for medical treatment, saying there is no need for people to travel for minor procedures when the country has the medical expertise.

 

“Health security is a holistic approach. This is where we would like to stand with you. We want to encourage young people by leading this plan and by making sure we raise funds. We have taken our health seriously. COVID-19 has taught us lessons,” said Lomuro.

 

South Sudan, gained her independence in 2011 is currently battling more than six – years civil war, coronavirus pandemic, effects of flooding and polio.

 

 

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EIB launches EUR 50 million Africa pharmaceutical manufacturing initiative
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
  • Programme to strengthen supply chain and reduce dependency on drug imports
  • Investment to scale-up local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
  • Scheme to improve healthcare, create skilled jobs and boost industrial growth

This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

The European Investment Bank today launched the first ever scheme to strengthen local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in Africa and scale up drug manufacturing essential to improve public health.

The EIB’s new EUR 50 million pharmaceutical investment initiative, initiated together with kENUP Foundation, will contribute to reducing dependency on drug imports and address medical supply chain weaknesses linked to COVID-19. The programme will improve availability of specialist drugs and tackle supply chain challenges that currently damage public health across Africa.

Scaling up pharmaceutical investment in Africa will help to protect millions of people from disease and disability and strengthen resilience to ongoing and future pandemics.

“Accelerating high-impact pharmaceutical investment across Africa is crucial to improve public health, address medical supply chain weaknesses and unlock long-term economic development.  The European Investment Bank is pleased to launch the first ever-financing initiative to scale up local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in Africa. This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“COVID-19 has highlighted how public health in Africa is vulnerable to global supply chains and dependent on international production. Increasing local specialist manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients will help to improve the public health of millions of Africans. This new initiative demonstrates how specialist pharmaceutical and financing expertise can create jobs and a better future for Africa.” said Dr Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, World Health Organisation Assistant Director- General responsible for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

“Team Europe’s new support to scale up African manufacturing of advanced pharmaceutical ingredients and build on the strengths of existing manufacturing expertise, in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa, will help to protect millions of people from disease and disability. The demand for pharmaceuticals is expected to double in Africa by the end of the next decade. This provides huge business opportunities for African pharmaceutical companies.” said Simon Mordue, European Union Ambassador to Kenya.

The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients financing initiative was formally launched earlier today with participation of representatives from the European Investment Bank, World Health Organisation, EDCTP, Global Access in Action at Harvard Law School and kENUP Foundation. Kenyan-based non-profit APIFA (API for Africa) contributed their expertise throughout the process of establishing this financing facility and will act as a non-exclusive promotor to the facility.

“In the spirit of leaving no region behind in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals, we warmly welcome the launch of the API for Africa initiative. This will add value to future Research & Development with more active involvement of the African region.” said Michael Makanga, Executive Director of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

“This is a timely facility that will transform the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry on the continent and thus enhance access to essential medicines for vulnerable populations. We call on all relevant stakeholders to now work together to support manufacturers in this transformation journey and ensure the long-term viability of this initiative”, says Gerald Macharia, a founding director of APIFA.

Supporting global efforts to strengthen health system reliance

This new initiative is aligned with World Health Organisation goals and the recently announced cooperation between the EIB and WHO to combat COVID-19 and strengthen health system resilience to better face future pandemics.

Specialised pharmaceutical financing responding to exceptional COVID-19 healthcare needs

Long-term financing will be available in USD, EUR and local currency and can cover more than 50% of the total cost of eligible investment, as part of the EIB’s exceptional response to COVID-19. EIB financing can co-finance projects alongside philanthropic, equity, development financing or support from commercial banks.

Tackling medical supply chain weaknesses highlighted by COVID-19

In recent months the global COVID-19 pandemic has stained fragile supply chains and led to acute local shortages of medical and pharmaceutical supplies, including drugs to treat HIV. Increasing local production will reduce dependency on imports and exposure to counterfeit drugs.

Enabling African business to benefit from future pharmaceutical growth

The scheme will enable Africa to benefit from predicted doubling in local pharmaceutical sales over the next decade, improve access to healthcare and create specialist jobs on the continent. Demand for pharmaceutical products in Africa is expected to double to EUR 60 billion by 2020.

Unlocking high-value innovation investment in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

The EIB initiative will provide long-term financing for pharmaceutical production across sub-Saharan Africa and specifically target manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients that constitute 45% of final drug costs.

The new financing programme will also ensure that African pharmaceutical manufacturing can benefit technological innovation that is transforming the industry and making local production easy through digital connectivity, automation and cloud computing.

Building on the EIB global response to COVID-19

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and a leading financier of public health and innovation investment.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic the EIB has been working with partners across Europe and around the world to accelerate vaccine development, strengthen public health and help business to invest during the crisis, with more than EUR 27 billion of COVID related investment approved in recent months.

Last year the EIB provided more than EUR 3 billion for public and private investment across Africa.

 

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

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PIN Asks Court to Stop NCC from Disconnecting Over 100 Million Nigerians
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Paradigm Initiative has asked the court to restrain the Nigerian government and telecommunications service provider from carrying out a recent order requiring that all SIM cards not linked to the National Identity Numbers be disconnected by the telecoms service provider by December 30, 2021. The organisation decries the Nigerian government order requiring all telecommunication service providers to ask their subscribers to link their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to the SIM cards within two weeks. PIN says it is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the government and the service providers from carrying out the draconian order as it believes it is a violation of fundamental rights to freedom of expression of Nigerian Citizens as guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As amended).

The proposed blocking of SIM cards not linked with the National Identity Number is unlawful and unconstitutional says Adeboye Adegoke, Senior Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative. “Many young people and others, using their mobile phones for expression or to do business online will be affected by the poorly thought-out policy. No reasonable Nigerian will support such a policy that is geared to make life unbearable for Nigerian citizens.

In June 2020, the Director-General of the NIMC, Aliyu Aziz said only 38% of Nigerians have any form of identification. According to him: “over 100 million Nigerians have no identity (ID). These include the poorest and the most vulnerable groups, such as the marginalised – women and girls, the less-educated people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, people with disabilities and people living in rural and remote areas.”

The said policy has created panic in the polity since it was announced. Nigeria at the moment is experiencing a 2nd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the daily numbers from the Nigeria Centre for Defence Control (NCDC) in the past one week. “This is a time when we need to discourage public gatherings, crowding, and the likes, but it appears that the government is not sensitive enough to see those nuances and has asked that 100 million Nigerians should go and register for the National Identification Number within 2 weeks, so we are left with no choice but to seek the intervention of the court.”

“Requiring over 100 million Nigerian citizens to register for NIN in two weeks is not only unrealistic but a fire brigade approach to governance that will not bring any value to the people,” says Valery Nijaba, Communications officer at Paradigm Initiative. “Whatever the government is trying to achieve by the strange directive is ignoble. When the same government tried to compel students writing UTME examinations to register for the NIN as a pre-requisite to sitting for the examinations last year, many students couldn’t register, with documented cases of government officials and law enforcement officials weaponising the desperation of the students to register for NIN to extort them and their parents. The government was forced to walk back on the policy at that instance. These are the type of effects the fire-brigade approach to policymaking leads to. Valery concluded

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Chagos Islanders Demand One Billion in Restitution For Lost Fishing Rights
December 18, 2020 | 1 Comments

Seychelles:

British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago) is best known for the secretive US naval base on Diego Garcia Island and the forced deportation of the original Afro-Creole inhabitants from the Chagos Archipelago and subsequent apartheid laws barring them from return.

Despite the United Nations General Assembly, African Union, and International Court of Justice finding that Britain’s deportation of the Chagos Islanders 50 years ago and continued military occupation of the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) is a serious violation of international law, the Chagossians are still banned from the territory by apartheid laws and US and British military forces.

The Chagossians have presented the British colonial administration with a demand for 1 Billion (BIOT) Pounds to compensate them for lost fishing rights.  The Chagos Archipelago is one of the world’s prime fisheries rich in tuna, shell and game fish.  Indigenous fishing rights are recognized by the UN, African Union and many countries with native peoples.

According to Dr. Jonathan Levy, the international lawyer representing the Chagos islanders: “There is no doubt the Chagos Archipelago fishing rights have immense monetary and cultural value and the Chagossians are barred from even entering the territory’s waters. The colonial administration which is constitutionally separate from the United Kingdom, has the power to issue the currency requested and has no excuse for what amounts to continuing theft of indigenous property and rights”

 

 

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Africa must risk capital for its youth, Adesina urges
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Africa must leverage investment to unleash the potential and ingenuity of its youth, its most important asset, African development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said at a Conference of Montreal fireside chat event.

The three-day virtual event was organized by the international economic forum of the Americas, under the theme, a sustainable recovery for people and planet. During the fireside chat, Adesina engaged in discussion with Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UNEP.  Jean Lebel, President of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) moderated the discussion, which covered three areas: the current state of affairs with respect to COVID-19 and climate change, stimulus policies and recovery, and the role of the private sector in terms of recovery.

“Climate change is an existential crisis,” Andersen said, and one that the planet must face together. The four largest economies account for 55% of emissions, Andersen pointed out, adding that the brunt of the impact will fall on African countries as well as delta and low-lying small economies around the world.   “Any recovery has to have a degree of solidarity with it,” she said.

Adesina reiterated that climate change posed a grave threat to Africans. “ “We have to grow differently, he said. We have to have growth that is climate resilient. Adaptation must be at the top of the agenda. The risk of actually dying from hunger is higher than the risk of dying from Covid-19.”

He noted the Bank’s commitment to mobilize $25 billion for climate finance by 2025 as well as a number of Bank initiatives that are addressing  climate adaptation, such as TAAT, which has provided Sudanese farmers access to heat tolerant maize and farmers in Zimbabwe, Malawi and other southern African countries.  “The other way that one can grow back in a way that is climate resilient is by actually providing the countries with facilities that will allow them to insure themselves against exogenous climate shocks,” including the Bank’s ADRIFI program.

Moving away from a linear economy and investing in nature’s infrastructure offered part of the solution, Andersen said. “Companies that jump into circularity, SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production, companies that do that, will save money, resources will be more circular, they will leapfrog, they will have a market edge, and they would have a lesser need for resource inputs. We’re seeing it in some sectors. Plastics, textiles, fashion, and food.”

The issue of inequality ran through the discussion.

Adesina admitted that the pandemic had worsened inequality in many spheres, education, rural versus urban, and the differences between the genders in terms of access to education and to finance. “You cannot grow economies without focusing on women. Women run Africa. Most of them are in the informal sector. They lack access to finance. There’s a $49 billion financing gap between them and men. That’s why the Bank launched a $5 billion initiative called Affirmative Finance Action For Women in Africa (AFAWA), so we can close that particular inequality.”

The Conference of Montreal, which runs from 14-17 December, is an event of the International Economic Forum of the America. The theme of the 2020 edition is Bridging a Disconnected World.

*AfDB

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14 foreigners set to be deported from Kenya
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s Interior Minister Dr. Fred Matiang’i .Photo courtesy

Kenya’s Interior Minister Dr. Fred Matiang’i .Photo courtesy

The Kenyan government is set to deport 14 foreigners who are in the country illegally.

Kenya’s Interior Minister Dr. Fred Matiang’i on Thursday signed the visitors’ deportation order claiming they are engaging in illegal gambling activities.

“They are in the country illegally with involvement in gambling and other illegal activities,” reiterated an official from Matiang’i’s office.

Reports indicate the 14 were nabbed on December 16, 2020, in different parts of Nairobi in a crackdown against illegal gambling conducted by immigration officials and police.

No names have been revealed, but it is said they hail from Eastern Europe.

Tough-talking Matiang’i has always maintained that the government will not relent to combat against non-compliant betting and gaming companies.

“We will not go back on the decision that we have made as a government. And Kenyans can rest assured, absolutely on this matter,” Matiangi said last earlier last month.

He vowed the government would only support investors operating within the law.

“We are here to listen to each other but not to condemn each other, we respect your investment but understand that we have a country to protect and not when asked to pay taxes you rush to the court,” he said.

In May 2019, the minister okayed the deportation of 17 foreigners involved in prohibited gambling in the East African nation.

Those deported were mainly from Spain, Turkey, and China.

 

 

 

 

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Kenya reports rise of online fraud ahead of festivities
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Many Kenyans shopping on the internet have fallen victims of online scammers, announced the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

In a statement released on Thursday, December 17, the agency urged citizens to be extra vigilant of while shopping online as fraudsters impersonate websites belonging to established vendors with a motive of defrauding them.

DCI appealed to Kenyans to deal only with reliable online vendors.

“The DCI has noted an increase in online fraud cases, caused by an upsurge of online shopping, due to the festive seasons’ needs.”

“We therefore advise the public to take precaution while engaging in online business dealings, to avoid falling prey to online scammers and fraudsters,” the DCI cautioned.

Buyers have been warned further to be wary of doorstep deliveries.

“Lower no cautionary guard when dealing with doorstep deliveries and be careful on who you choose to make deliveries to your house. As a safety precaution, turn down deliveries from agents who show up at your door without your request, as they may have an ulterior motive,” DCI added.

In case of any threat, Kenyans can reach out to DCI by dialling the agency’s toll-free number 0800 722 203 for assistance.

 

 

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