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Malawi election: Joyce Banda admits defeat as Peter Mutharika wins election
June 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Court upholds Mutharika’s victory in disupted election, as Joyce Banda concedes defeat   By David Blair and Agencies [caption id="attachment_9600" align="alignleft" width="300"]Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of Malawi's disputed presidential election Photo: AFP Peter Mutharika was declared the winner of Malawi’s disputed presidential election Photo: AFP[/caption] Peter Mutharika, a former foreign minister, was sworn in as Malawi’s new president on Saturday after defeating Joyce Banda in a bitter and chaotic election.

Mr Mutharika, the brother of a former president, took 36.4 per cent of the vote against Mrs Banda’s 20.2 per cent, said the electoral commission.
Mrs Banda assumed the presidency only two years ago when her predecessor died in office. She has now become only the third incumbent leader in the history of southern Africa to concede defeat in an election.
She issued a statement congratulating Mr Mutharika on his “victory in a closely contested election” and said she was “leaving office a happy person”.
Earlier, however, Mrs Banda had called for the whole election to be annulled, denouncing “serious irregularities” and claiming the contest was “null and void”. But the High Court rejected a request to block the release of the results. Maxon Mbendera, the head of the electoral commission, duly declared Mr Mutharika the winner. The official results showed that Mrs Banda was beaten into third place by Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who won 27.8 per cent of the vote. Mrs Banda’s reputation was undermined by the “cashgate” corruption scandal, under which civil servants stole $32 million from government accounts. When she came to office in 2012, she won plaudits for dispensing with a presidential jet ordered by her predecessor. But The Daily Telegraph exposed in January how Mrs Banda had sold the aircraft to a company which allowed her to continue using it for free. Mr Mutharika, 74, takes power under the shadow of a treason charge. He stands accused of concealing the death of his brother, President Bingu wa Mutharika, in 2012 with the apparent aim of preventing Mrs Banda, who was then vice-president, from taking over in accordance with the constitution. Mr Mutharika also faces additional charges of inciting a mutiny and conspiracy to commit a felony, along with other officials. He denies all the accusations. Now that he has become president, he will have immunity from prosecution, so the charges are likely to be set aside. There is speculation that Mr Mutharika could turn the tables on Mrs Banda and have her charged with corruption over the “cashgate” scandal. “Banda did everything in her power to prevent Mutharika from becoming president… and then bringing charges against her,” said Clive Gabay of Queen Mary University of London. *Source Telegraph
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Dr Machar brought UPDF here first, says Salva Kiir
May 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bierr-kSpeaking on BBC’s Hard Talk, South Sudan President Salva Kiir on May 19 provided insights into why the May 9 ceasefire remains shaky. He also offered his thoughts on rebel leader Dr Riek Machar and the Ugandan army’s presence in his country, among others. Alon Mwesigwa transcribed parts of the interview. Three years ago you became a president of a new independent nation, South Sudan, and yet today we sit here and your nation is tearing itself apart. Why? After independence we thought that we have a task to deliver services to our people, which we promised them during the war. But some of my colleagues were impatient …and so they had wanted to get into power very quickly, and this is what is tearing our country into pieces. Do you accept responsibility yourself for what has happened to South Sudan today? … But I can’t accept mistakes of others, especially after the 15th of December 2013 [incident] because that was uncalled for. Explain to me what do you mean by uncalled for? There was no reason for leaving peaceful talks and going to wage war against the nation. This was the crux of what has become the conflict. Riek Machar who was your vice president until you sacked him in the summer of 2013 claims that in December 2013, your presidential guard moved against Nuer people inside that unit, and that that was the beginning of what became the conflict instigated, he says, by you He was lying. I don’t think I can do that. The presidential guards unit, even now, has no reason to move against any Nuer soldier in that unit. The second in command of that unit is a Nuer and he is still with us to date. So if there was any intention of killing any Nuer, why was he left untouched? Riek Machar is now leading an armed rebellion inside the country. The country is in fact in a state of civil war. You met him in Addis Ababa just a few days ago; you signed a cessation of hostilities agreement and you laid out a process to work together on a new political roadmap, but it sounds to me like he does not trust you and you don’t trust him. Well, as long as we are doing one thing, I can trust him. If he was [serious] I can trust him, but somebody who is not…it would be difficult even it were you to trust such a person. We signed a cessation of hostilities on the 9th of this month, and on the 11th, he violated it – attacking our forces. Do you think he is actually instructing his forces to continue the offensive? Definitely, because he did not give them orders to stop fighting after signing. Are you saying to me that the ceasefire is effectively finished? No, it is not finished on my side. My forces are observing the ceasefire. They are observing it strictly, according to the orders. I asked Machar a few days ago whether he was still in control of all these forces and he insisted he was. I put the same question to you. Are you in full control of all the forces fighting in your name? I am in full control because these are regular forces under my command. What about the Ugandan battalions who are still in this country and involved in this conflict, and what about the Justice and Equality Movement fighters from the south of Sudan who are in your country fighting in your name? No, they are not fighting in my name and they were brought in by Riek Machar and his colleague, Taban Ndiquar. These were the people who brought them in. Mr President, I have spoken to independent security sources and they said Justice and Equality Movement fighters from Darfur are in your country and fighting in your name Well, I don’t believe that. The time they came in is over. So they did come in? They came in when Taban was the governor. And what about the Ugandans? Okay. The Ugandans are in South Sudan. They came in after the incident in December. But there are Ugandan forces who have been here since 2006 and they were brought in by Riek Machar. There is irrefutable evidence that the Ugandans have been fighting on your side. I don’t deny that. They fought in Bor and they stopped there, and they haven’t gone anywhere [else]. They are here in Juba and Bor. And they have used cluster bombs No. I never heard that. But why, when one of the international ammunitions clearance organizations asked for permission to go and clear cluster bombs from an area around Bor, they were not given permission. Is it because you were embarrassed about what the Ugandans are doing? Not at all; Not at all, I never got that information that some agency wants to go and clear any mines around Bor. I never got that. You characterize this as a conflict instigated by Riek Machar. But the truth right now, it looks like this is a conflict between tribes with deep ethnic hatred fueling the fighting. [caption id="attachment_9305" align="alignright" width="300"]South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic[/caption] Well, it is him who has actually incited the Nuer against Dinkas. But on our side, we have never done that. The hatred, yes it has been planted in there by Riek Machar and we on our side, we always defuse it and tell people, no, there is no revenge. The first serious outrageous acts of violence based on ethnicity appear to have taken place here in Juba right after December 15. We have reports backed by evidence from the UN and Amnesty International of your troops going into neighbourhoods in this city seeking out Nuer men, taking them to security facilities and murdering them. When I got the information that there were killings going on in the estates around Juba, I set up a commission and then sent in troops to arrest whoever had taken the law into his own hands. But with respect, it was the security forces that were doing the killing based on ethnicity. Do you accept that? I will not accept until they are investigated and then it is confirmed. Because of those incidents and the deaths of hundreds of Nuer people and the fact that you know right across this city, Nuer people thousands and thousands of them fled for their lives to the safety of UN camps. What we now have is a conflict which looks dangerously like a Rwanda style ethnic conflict. It will not. It will not go to that stage. These people who had run to the UN compound are now coming out on their own because they have seen there is nobody who is targeting them. But what about the people in those camps who are still frightened for their lives? Those who are inside the camps are actually people who have been politicized, because Riek Machar is sending messages that ‘don’t come out. We are coming to liberate you when we capture Juba.’ The UN secretary general has said those responsible for the atrocities and systematic human rights violations should be held to account in a special tribunal. I agree. But that could be you It can be me. If it is me who has given orders, I don’t mind facing the law. Did you give orders? I did not. I did not give orders for the fighting; Riek Machar gave orders for the fighting. And if you were to listen to the security people, you will get to know he was ordering his forces to open fire. To be clear then, in the short term will you invite him back into some senior government positions – may be to become vice president again? Well, we will come together; it is now being discussed in Addis Ababa and when people reach to the conclusion of that thing, we will come together again and we hold a reconciliation conference, and after that we will see what position to be given to whom in an interim arrangement. He says you talk of interim arrangements which if it happens you will not be facing elections in 2015, which is your intent of staying in power up to 2017 It is not me. Who is it then? It is not me, it was pushed into my mouth. Pushed into your mouth? By the Americans; they said no room for elections. I said okay, when do you want the elections to be held? I was here with John Kerry (US Secretary of State). John Kerry basically demanded that you postpone your own elections? Yes. Riek Machar says the problems of this country can only be addressed if you leave the presidency because you no longer have legitimacy. It is not true. My presidency is still on up to next year when we are supposed to go for elections by July. Might you stand down next year? Well, we have not yet reached next year. Is it a possibility that you will leave office voluntarily next year? We cross our bridges when we reach them. We don’t cross the bridge before we reach there. There is a massive humanitarian crisis developing in South Sudan. I spoke to the director of the World Food Programme and he says it’s no longer a question of whether people die of hunger in your country. It’s a question of how many. He is concerned that your government does not understand how serious the situation is. No, we understand, but it is not our making. It is a man-made disaster and this is why we want the war to stop so that we allow humanitarian agencies access to everybody in the country. If Riek Machar was to understand that the civil population is going to face one of the worst famines that has ever been witnessed in South Sudan, this is the time to come out. You are using the word famine. Are you? Yes. What will happen when people starve to death? I mean you sit here as a president of your nation and you tell me that you believe your people are facing famine. Isn’t that something which suggests you have failed? Do you want me to deny that if this thing continues there will be no famine? I cannot deny it. Facts are facts and they have been said. We have to stop this fighting so that we save the people. *observer.ug]]>

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Nigeria's Military Knows Location Of Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram: Defense Official
May 27, 2014 | 1 Comments

Gbenga Olamikan/AP -  Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the government’s chief of defense staff, center, speaks during a demonstration Monday calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls. Gbenga Olamikan/AP – Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the government’s chief of defense staff, center, speaks during a demonstration Monday calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls.[/caption] ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s military has located nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed, the country’s chief of defense said Monday. Air Marshal Alex Badeh told demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he added, “we can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.” He spoke to thousands of demonstrators who marched to Defense Ministry headquarters in Abuja, the capital. Many were brought in on buses, indicating it was an organized event. Asked by reporters where they had found the girls, Badeh refused to elaborate. “We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?” he asked the crowd. People roared back, “No!” “If we go with force what will happen?” Badeh asked. “They will die,” the demonstrators responded. That appeared to leave negotiation the sole option, but a human rights activist close to negotiators said a deal to swap the girls for detained Boko Haram members was agreed last week and then scuttled at the last minute by President Goodluck Jonathan. The activist who is close to those mediating between Boko Haram extremists and government officials said the girls would have been freed last week Monday. Jonathan had already told British officials that he would not consider an exchange. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Nigeria’s military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls seized by Boko Haram militants from a remote northeastern school six weeks ago. President Jonathan was forced this month to accept international help. American planes have been searching for the girls and Britain, France, Israel and other countries have sent experts in surveillance and hostage negotiation. A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the department cannot confirm the reports about the Nigerian girls at this point. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation, spoke on background. Jonathan’s reluctance to accept offered help for weeks is seen as unwillingness to have outsiders looking in on what is considered a very corrupt force. Soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are not properly paid, are dumped in dangerous bush with no supplies and that the Boko Haram extremists holding the girls are better equipped than they are. Some soldiers have said officers enriching themselves off the defense budget have no interest in halting the five-year-old uprising that has killed thousands. Soldiers near mutiny earlier this month fired on the car of a commanding officer come to pay his respects to the bodies of 12 soldiers who their colleagues said were unnecessarily killed by the insurgents in a night-time ambush. The military also is accused of killing thousands of detainees held illegally in their barracks, some by shooting, some by torture and many starved to death or asphyxiated in overcrowded cells. More than 300 teenagers were abducted from their school in the town Chibok on April 15. Police say 53 escaped on their own and 276 remain captive. A Boko Haram video has shown some of the girls reciting Quranic verses in Arabic and two of them explaining why they had converted from Christianity to Islam in captivity. Unverified reports have indicated two may have died of snake bites, that some have been forced to marry their abductors and that some may have been carried across borders into Chad and Cameroon. Boko Haram — the nickname means “Western education is sinful” — believes Western influences have corrupted Nigerian society and want to install an Islamic state under strict Shariah law, though the population 170 million people is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims. *Source AP/Huffington Post]]>

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President Jacob Zuma announces members of the National Executive, Pretoria
May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Fellow South Africans,

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
images (1)I am pleased to join you on Africa Day, as we conclude our transition to a new administration following the fifth national general elections.
I announced on Saturday that we have entered the second phase of our transition to a national democratic society. I also said this would be a radical phase of socio-economic transformation.
It is my pleasure today to announce the members of the National Executive, who have been tasked with improving and speeding up the implementation of our progressive policies and programmes.
The team will implement the five year Medium Term Strategic Framework of government, which has been developed using the National Development Plan and the ANC Manifesto.
To improve implementation and ensure impact, we have reconfigured some departments while others have been expanded to improve capacity.
I will briefly outline the changes and then announce the names of the new ministers and deputy ministers.
We have established a Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Our country has a fast growing telecommunications sector which in 2012 was estimated at being worth R180 billion. We also see a great developmental value in the Post Office given its role of delivering financial services to remote areas of our country.
This new department will ensure that the country derives more value out of the booming information communications and technology industry and the postal services sector.
The National Planning Commission as well as the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Ministries in the Presidency have been combined into one Ministry to harmonise the planning and monitoring functions.
This Ministry will also continue to be responsible for youth development.
We have established a new Communications Ministry, which  will be responsible for overarching communication policy and strategy, information dissemination and publicity as well as the branding of the country abroad.
Improved communication and marketing will promote an informed citizenry and also assist the country to promote investments, economic growth and job creation.
This Ministry will be formed out of the following components;
• The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
• The SA Broadcasting Corporation
• Government Communications and Information System (GCIS)
• Brand SA and
• The Media Development and Diversity Agency
Ladies and gentlemen,
The functions related to support for people with disabilities and children, will be transferred to the Department of Social Development.
The current Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disability is now the Ministry of Women which will be located in the Presidency.
The Women’s Ministry will champion the achievement of women’s socio-economic empowerment and women’s rights.
To further improve efficiency in the criminal justice system, we have combined the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development with the Correctional Services department.
The Department will now be called the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.
Ladies and gentlemen,
images (2)We have made an undertaking to significantly improve the provision of water and sanitation to our communities in the new term.
In this regard, we have established the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.
You will recall that we stated in the inauguration address that the economy will take centre-stage. The development of the small business sector is critical to economic development and transformation.
We have thus established a new Ministry for Small Business Development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is now my pleasure to announce the members of the National Executive.
The Deputy President is Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.
MINISTERS
1. The Minister in the Presidency is Mr Jeff Radebe.
2. The Minister of Women in the Presidency is Ms Susan Shabangu.
3. The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services is Mr Michael Masutha.
4. The Minister of Public Service and Administration is Mr Collins Chabane.
5. The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans is Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
6. The Minister of Home Affairs is Mr Malusi Gigaba.
7. The Minister of Environmental Affairs is Ms Edna Molewa.
8. The Minister of State Security is Mr David Mahlobo.
9. The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services is Dr Siyabonga Cwele.
10. The Minister of Police is Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko.
11. The Minister of Trade and Industry is Dr Rob Davies.
12. The Minister of Finance is Mr Nhlanhla Nene.
13. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is Mr Senzeni Zokwana.
14. The Minister of Water and Sanitation is Ms Nomvula Mokonyane.
15. The Minister of Basic Education is Ms Angie Motshekga.
16. The Minister of Health is Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
17. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation is Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
18. The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform is Mr Gugile Nkwinti.
19. The Minister of Higher Education and Training is Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande.
20. The Minister of Economic Development is Mr Ebrahim Patel.
21. The Minister of Transport is Ms Dipuo Peters.
22. The Minister of Mineral Resources is Adv Ngoako Ramathlodi.
23. The Minister of Social Development is Ms Bathabile Dlamini.
24. The Minister of Public Enterprises is Ms Lyn Brown.
25. The Minister of Sport and Recreation is Mr Fikile Mbalula.
26. The Minister of Labour is Ms Mildred Oliphant.
27. The Minister of Arts and Culture is Mr Nathi Mthethwa.
28. The Minister of Public Works is Mr Thulas Nxesi.
29. The Minister of Small Business Development is Ms Lindiwe Zulu.
30. The Minister of Energy is Ms Tina Joemat-Peterssen.
31. The Minister of Science and Technology is Ms Naledi Pandor.
32. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is Mr Pravin Gordhan.
33. The Minister of Communications is Ms Faith Muthambi.
34. The Minister of Human Settlements is Ms Lindiwe Sisulu.
35. The Minister of Tourism is Mr Derek Hanekom.
DEPUTY MINISTERS
The Deputy Ministers are the following;
1. The Deputy Minister of Human settlements is Ms Zoe Kota-Hendricks.
2. The Deputy Minister of Basic Education is Mr Enver Surty.
3. The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, responsible for provincial and local government is Mr Andries Nel.
4. The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, responsible for traditional affairs, is Mr Obed Bapela.
5. The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe.
6. The Deputy Minister in the Presidency is Mr Buti Manamela.
7. The Deputy Minister of Tourism is Ms Thokozile Xasa.
8. The Deputy Minister of Health is Dr Joe Phaahla.
9. The Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration is Ms Ayanda Dlodlo.
10. The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs is Ms Fatima Chohan.
11. The Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises is Mr Gratitude Magwanishe.
The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services will have two deputy ministers.
They are;
12. Mr John Jeffery, responsible for the justice and constitutional development component and
13. Mr Thabang Makwetla responsible for the correctional services portfolio.
14. The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs is Ms Barbara Thomson.
15. The Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation is Mr Gert Oosthuizen.
16. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is Mr Bheki Cele.
17. The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal services, Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize.
18. The Deputy Minister of State Security is Ms Ellen Molekane.
19. The Deputy Minister of Police is Maggie Sotyu.
20. The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, is Mzwandile Masina.
International relations and cooperation will remain with two deputy ministers.
These are;
21. Ms Noma-India Mfeketho and
22. Mr Lluwelyn Landers.
23. The Deputy Minister of Finance is Mr Mcebisi Jonas.
24. The Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation is Ms Pam Tshwete.
About 17 million South Africans live in rural areas. However, rural areas bear the brunt of poverty, joblessness and gross inequality, particularly former homeland areas.
Given this reality, I have decided to appoint two Deputy Ministers for Rural Development and Land Reform.
They are;
25. Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha  and
26. Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini.
27. The Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training is Mr Mduduzi Manana.
28. The Deputy Minister of Economic Development is Mr Madala Masuku.
29. The Deputy Minister of Transport is Ms Sindi Chikunga.
30. The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources is Mr Godfrey Oliphant.
31. The Deputy Minister of Social Development is Ms Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu.
The labour portfolio will gain a deputy minister given the important role of the department in the economic cluster.
32. The Deputy Minister is Inkosi Patekile Holomisa.
33. The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture is Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi.
34. The Deputy Minister of Public Works is Mr Jeremy Cronin.
35. The Deputy Minister of Small Business development is Ms Elizabeth Thabethe.
36. The Deputy Minister of Energy is Ms Thembi Majola.
37. The Deputy Minister of Communications is Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
I have appointed 20 men and 15 women Ministers as well as 20 men and 16 women deputy ministers.
We are happy to be moving closer to our target of having more women in Cabinet and the national executive as a whole.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and all the Ministers and Deputy Ministers who served in the fourth administration.
Their contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of our people is highly appreciated.
We wish Deputy President Ramaphosa and all the newly appointed Ministers and Deputy Ministers all the best as they lead the nation in moving the country forward.
I thank you.
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Africa and Global trends of the 21st century: Challenges and Opportunities
May 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh*

 

“It is to be noted that failing economic development; high youth unemployment; deindustrialization (in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram); limited education and training opportunities; and low access to participation in governance provide the breeding ground and swamps in which these extremist groups thrive. Collectively, as the world fights these groups, we must also focus on draining these swamps”  Dr. Fomunyoh

 

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh

I would like to thank ABI for giving me the opportunity to discuss a topic that is dear to my heart, namely: how Africa is coping with the many global trends of the 21st century. I cannot tell you how honored I am to be here at ABI, a highly respected institution with a very impressive research curriculum and a broad international outreach that guarantees considerable attention to pressing international issues, attracting in the process a lot of international students and practitioners. ABI’s integrative approach that combines scientific research, applied development research, and the training and further education of development experts values the kind of opportunity we have today where a practitioner like me can reflect and share ideas with you all on global trends affecting the continent of Africa.

First let me provide some context by discussing Africa’s contribution to the world.

 

According to the Population Reference Bureau, as of 2013, the total population of Africa is estimated at 875 million, representing approximately 15% of the world’s population. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center (Feb. 2014), it is projected that by 2050 the population of Africa would have more than doubled and hence increased the most globally to make up a greater share of the world’s population. Around 40 percent of the population in most sub-Saharan African countries is below 15 years old. In countries such as Mali and Uganda, close to 50 percent of the population is in the below 15 years old bracket compared to only 20 percent in the USA and approximately 13 percent for Germany. Africa is therefore a youthful continent.

 

Africa remains a viable trading partner. Undeniably, a German-African       partnership would be mutually beneficial as industrialization remains     a priority for many African governments even if the surge in Chinese interest  in Africa has flooded  African markets with cheap products that have in many  cases (such as Northern Nigeria and Zambia) stifled the nascent private sectorin the   textile  industry. 

      

Germany has been, and remains, one  of the  most important bilateral partners for sub-Saharan Africa.      Moreover, a sizeable share of German development assistance today supports regional integration and capacity building.

Between 2002 and 2012, the imports from Germany to sub-Saharan Africa increased by over 133 percent, going from $100 billion to over $350 billion. Exports from the region to Germany have also risen by a similar magnitude. The top three export categories from Germany to Africa are machinery, manufactured goods and chemicals. Germany has, over time, increased its imports of fuel-based commodities from Africa. Indeed, the top three imports from Africa into the German market are fuel – which represents over 75 percent of all imports – agriculture commodities and some manufacturing.

 

Africa therefore remains a viable trading partner with a multiplicity of untapped mineral resources. For example, Guinea Conakry with a population of 12 million people is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.

 

In bauxite production, Guinea comes after Australia, but at the same time, Guinea maintains the highest bauxite reserves in the world far ahead of Australia. Ghana and South Africa figure prominently among the top ten gold producing countries in the world. Five African countries – Cote d’lvoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Togo – are among the top 10 world producers of cocoa. Five others – Ethiopia, Cote d’lvoire, Uganda, Cameroon and Togo – are among the top ten world producers of coffee. Gulf of Guinea countries that include Nigeria, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Angola, account for close to 20 percent of oil imports into the United States; and new technology in oil exploration and production is contributing to new oil discoveries in countries such as Mauritania, Chad, Ghana, Cote d’lvoire, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and even Niger.

 

Take a look at the mineral map of the DRC – cobalt, coal, natural gas, nickel, diamonds, gemstones, gold, water resources for hydro-electric purposes, just to name a few. These       rosy stories of macro-economic trends and economic potential on the African continent can also be amplified by some of the gains with regards to democratic transitions in the last two decades.

 

Since the late 1980’s and the advent of the third wave of democratization ushered in after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, Africa witnessed   the   achievement   of   independence by Namibia in 1989/1990, the end of apartheid in South Africa and release of Nelson Mandela in 1991, and the fall of many military and autocratic regimes.

 

In fact, in 1990, Freedom House, which ranks freedoms around the world, rated only four African countries as partially free or democratic. Today, Freedom House rates about 11 African countries as totally free and another 19 as partially free, for a total of about 30.

 

In 1990, only three African Heads of State had relinquished political power and still lived in their countries -Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Sedar Senghor of Senegal, and Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon. Today, over 40 former African Heads of State live on the continent, many of whom either voluntarily relinquished power, were term limited in newly adopted progressive constitutions or lost presidential elections and accepted the outcome; thereby facilitating the renewal of political leadership in their respective countries.

 

In today’s Africa, unlike two decades ago, civil society is vibrant and seeks to play an advocacy role; human rights organizations exist and regularly denounce the gross violations of human rights by the dozen or so remaining autocratic regimes; and independent media that includes community-based radio stations and print media provide opportunities for diverse viewpoints and dissenting voices to be heard.

 

In today’s Africa, women are increasingly demanding, and obtaining, the right of access to elective office. The proof is that today in Africa; we have three women heads of state — in Liberia, Malawi, and the Central African Republic — with the elected chair of the African Union Commission also being a woman.

 

Indeed, many African countries have made considerable progress in the past two decades:

·         Renewal of political leadership

·         More credible and transparent elections

·         Emergence of Independent National  Elections Commissions

·         Vibrancy of domestic observers’ groups

·         Emergence of new institutions with charters that emphasize the rule of law, democracy and good governance (ex of the AU Charter of 2007) and sub-regional entities such as ECOWAS, IGAD and SADC with protocols, which expand markets by allowing for free trade and free movement of persons and goods.

 

Bottom line: Africa is not a poor continent. Indeed, it is a rich and wealthy continent both in human capital and natural resources; but it is the poor management of these resources that causes extreme poverty on the continent, and an ever expanding gap between the rich and the poor.

And, yes, in still too many African countries, the rich in many cases are not young, dynamic, hardworking entrepreneurs; but rather old corrupt autocrats and their cronies who feed from the public treasury and exacerbate the levels of corruption.

 

So the rosy picture pointed earlier does not tell the full story of today’s Africa. A lot is still desired of Africa’s political leadership as the continent continues to struggle with bad governance, violence and armed conflict   that   destroy   human   lives   and   dilapidate material resources. At the same time, the continent is now being exposed to other emerging global threats such as terrorism and climate change, which it is ill­ prepared to tackle single-handedly.

 

1.         Conflict

In sub-Saharan Africa, trends show that inter-state conflict has been declining whereas intra-state conflicts have been on the rise. Between 2002 and 2005, the number of state-based conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa dropped by 60 percent. However, in 2005, more than 50 percent of the world intra-state conflicts occurred in Africa, even as that represented a sharp decline in the number of wars since the 1990s. (UCDP/Human Security Database)

 

As we  see more intra-state conflict, the nature of conflicts has changed to become more asymmetric. Increasingly, the lines between criminal and political violence are becoming blurred. Whether it is in Somalia, South Sudan, Darfur, CAR, Northern Mali or the DRC, conflicts are becoming more fragmented with an increasing number of non-state actors  involved  in conflicts, often moving across what we all know to be very porous national borders. There is a growing and disturbing convergence and connection between networks of organized crime, drug trafficking, illicit activities, money laundering, kidnapping, and terrorism.

 

Violence directly associated with elections has increased along with the rise in political contestation before, during and after polls, especially in settings where the commitment of political elites to democracy is weak, as illustrated by elections in Zimbabwe in 2005 and 2008 (200 casualties, tens of thousands displaced) then Kenya in 2007 (with over 1,000 deaths), in Nigeria in 2011, and Cote d’lvoire in 2011 with over 3,000 deaths and close to one million internally displaced.

 

These examples speak to the perpetual latent conflict and tensions that surround political competition and the management of political power in still too many African countries. The tendency by some political elites to view elections as a zero-sum game or “winner take all” and to arrogate to themselves all levers of political and economic control causes  frustrations that often burst to the surface in violent manifestations or attempts to seize power through non-democratic means.

 

In post-conflict situations, elections are crucial for choosing who will obtain the legitimacy to govern. In many of these environments, nascent and still fragile governments have to tackle grievances that relate to national reconciliation, unemployment, ethnic marginalization, as well as access to livelihood resources, such as land and water. Indeed, there is evidence that in weak states, competition over scarce resources (either because of climate change or access to commodities such as minerals and oil) often leads to violence. In 2010 and 2011, conflicts over resources accounted for approximately 35 per cent of all conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that while the youthful population of Africa is an asset, the high percentage of youth in poverty increasing the risk of conflict, particularly when young people lack opportunities for gainful employment or to lead meaningful lives.

 

2.         Terrorism

 

Since the last decade, African countries are being challenged by transnational terrorist groups that seek to use certain regions of the continent, notably the Sahel and the Horn, as launch-pads for attacks against domestic and international targets in the name of religious extremism. In many ways, the terrorism threat in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has flared up in recent years has benefited from certain global conditions such as:

 

·         the emergence of extremist ideologies, exploiting social media and easily accessible information sharing environment with Djihadism from the Middle East trickling over into Africa, and the proliferation of light weapons across the porous continent after the first phase of the Libyan crisis and overthrow of Moummar Kaddafi, and the djihadist explosion in Northern Mali and Boko Haram in North Eastern Nigeria.

 

It is common knowledge that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) was launched initially by elements that fought to overthrow the Algerian government in the early 1990s, but in recent years, have consolidated their activities across the Sahel region, particularly in northern Mali. More recently, the emergence of Boko Haram in North Eastern Nigeria is having a devastating impact on neighboring countries such as Niger and Cameroon.

In the same manner, the activities of Al-Shabaab in Somalia are likely to also destabilize Kenya and other countries in the Horn and East Africa.

 

It is to be noted that failing economic development; high youth unemployment; deindustrialization (in Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram); limited education and training opportunities; and low access to participation in governance provide the breeding ground and swamps in which these extremist groups thrive. Collectively, as the world fights these groups, we must also focus on draining these swamps.

 

3.         Governance

 

Africa is still plagued by issues of corruption, lack of credible political transitions, and marginalization of its poorest communities. Without effective political leadership and the appropriate delivery of services to citizens by the state, the prerequisites for development would never be met, and the Millennium Development Goals would remain a distant illusion. To have sustained economic growth, Africa needs inclusive economic institutions and viable political systems capable of creating an enabling environment for private sector investments and exercising proper oversight. In short, it is not just about having a nation state in name, but, more importantly, today’s debate should particularly be about how the state is governed.

 

·         Autocratic regimes (Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Burkina Faso)

 

Countries that have had the same leader for close to three decades or more, coupled with a one party dominance and a weakened opposition – such as Cameroon (32 years), Burkina Faso (27 years), Zimbabwe (34 years), Equatorial Guinea (35 years), and Angola (35 years) – these regimes create conditions for political decay and stifle opportunities for the renewal of political leadership. Although these regimes sometimes put on national elections to mirror               the existence of democracy, the distinction between genuine democracy and the facade that is frequently displayed is quite apparent.

 

·         Constitutions   without constitutionalism (Burundi, Burkina Faso, Algeria, DRC)

 

Many political transitions in Africa fail because incumbent heads of states try to retain political power for life or in perpetuity and at all costs. They therefore manipulate   the   constitutions   of   their   respective countries to extend their mandates indefinitely.  If the constitution, which should be the bedrock or foundation of every society can be manipulated at will, the enforcement of any other laws or regulations (and processes or systems) fails in comparison. Even private investorsthen   would    worry    that   the    rules   on commercial transactions and other engagements could be changed at the whims of one man or of a tiny circle of oligarchs.

 

Often, these actions gravely frustrate the democratic aspirations of the younger generation of Africans. In some cases, these leaders hold flawed elections that invariably lead to violence and conflict: Zimbabwe (2008) Kenya (2007) Cote d’lvoire (2010). Invariably, a government with questionable’ legitimacy is less likely to build the national consensus needed to deliver effective social services to citizens and generate or sustain long-term economic growth and development. On the contrary, such a government devotes public resources to sustaining a system of patronage, prebendalism and corruption, without which             its stay in power becomes tenuous.

 

·         Non-inclusive politics

 

Unfortunately, in many African countries, the politics of exclusion remains a reality of daily life. Apartheid may have collapsed in South Africa in the 1990’s, but in many an African country, identity politics buttressed by subjective elements such as ethnicity, region of origin, and in a few cases religion, deprives many African countries of the expertise and experience of some of the best of their fellow citizens.

 

Many groups are still marginalized or disenfranchised, especially women and youth. Poor governance is notably acute in post-conflict societies where political leadership is weak and ineffective, and issues such as disarmament, demobilization, reintegration of armed groups, national reconciliation and economic reconstruction are not being dealt with. No wonder then that the recovery period can be long and painful in countries such as Angola and the DRC, or that countries relapse into conflict because they haven’t come to closure with the past to avoid further conflict as we now see in South Sudan.

 

4.         Conclusion

 

Despite this list of challenges, I see several opportunities for tomorrow’s Africa, and my optimism for      the continent’s future        is unwavering. Let me conclude by pointing to two areas that I believe will determine,            significantly, the wave of thefuture for Africa.

 

Youth and technology                                                                       

Today’s era of globalization has witnessed a boom of new technologies. Financial flows together with innovation create markets that foster growth; and one of the biggest growing sectors on the continent is the information and communications technology sector (ICT).

 

In 2014, several reports indicate that, globally, investments in the ICT sector will increase only in Africa. Countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria, have made huge investments in ICT infrastructure working in partnership with international agencies, ICT vendors and researchers. This is no surprise, as Africa is also home to 200 million youth between the ages of 15-24; a number that could double by 2045 according to the African Development Bank. This age group is the biggest consumer of technological goods, and as they grow in numbers, so does the demand in this sector. The demographics are a real asset for Africa.

 

The new generation of young Africans being more tech­ oriented and tech-savvy, are poised to contribute meaningfully to positive changes to the development trajectory of Africa, thereby stimulating gains in human development, economic growth and citizen advocacy and participation in politics. This next generation of Africans looks at the world from a more global vantage point with less cumbersome constraints and pressures from traditional reference points.

Migration and the role of the diaspora

 

Young Africans are extremely mobile often traveling to North America, Asia, and Europe for further studies or to pursue private professional career opportunities. The human resources and strategic potential of the African diaspora needs to be harnessed to promote responsible, transparent, accountable and democratic systems of governance on the continent.

 

There is the size and positive developmental impact of financial remittances, but equally important to note  that the African  diaspora  portents non-financial  attributes that should be leveraged to influence positively on the development of their homelands, and significantly contribute to improving lives on the continent (Ex. Somalia, Peace- and state-building programs in Somalia). Nothing should be allowed to stop the African diaspora from contributing to democratic governance in much the same way that they currently contribute to economic welfare and development in their home countries. They can do so by making their knowledge, practical experience, professional expertise, and transnational relationships available for strengthening the capacity of political institutions.

 

One cannot forget the historic role of the first wave of the African diaspora when it returned to the continent in the 1950’s and early 1960’s to join the struggle for independence. One must remember that leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah who became president of Ghana – the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to win independence; Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria who launched  the  first political  party in West Africa (the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons); Sedar Senghor   of Senegal, Houphouet Boigny of Cote d’lvoire; Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon – who became the first post-independence presidents in francophone Africa after serving in French institutions in Paris; Tom Mboya of Kenya who studied at Oxford University and went back to lead negotiations with the British over the independence of Kenya; and many other Africans of that generation played significant roles that remain a legacy of political and visionary leadership on the continent. Today’s diaspora must be ready to take on the mantel, for that too is required in shaping the destiny of Africa in this 21st century.

 

*Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh is Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). The Speech was delivered during his visit to the Arnold Bergstraesser Institut, University of Freiburg, Germany

 

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African Leaders Agree Plan To Bring Down Boko Haram At Paris Summit
May 20, 2014 | 1 Comments

(LtoR) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, France's president Francois Hollande, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images) | ALAIN JOCARD via Getty Images (LtoR) Niger’s president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad’s president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan, France’s president Francois Hollande, Cameroon’s president Paul Biya, and Benin’s president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images) | ALAIN JOCARD via Getty Images[/caption] Boko Haram has ample funds, highly sophisticated weaponry and advanced training with some of the world’s most experienced terrorists, the French president said Saturday as he and African leaders grappled with how to combat the Islamic extremist group whose reach extends to five countries. At the summit in Paris intended to hammer out a plan to find and free 276 schoolgirls being held hostage by Boko Haram, intelligence officials from the U.S., Europe and Africa shared information while heads of state and top diplomats tackled policy. Hours after yet another attack in a Boko Haram stronghold — this time in Cameroon near the border with Nigeria — the leaders agreed to improve policing of frontiers, share intelligence, and trace the weapons and cash that are the group’s lifeblood. “This group is armed, with heavy weapons of an unimaginable sophistication and the ability to use them,” said French President Francois Hollande. He said the weapons came from chaotic Libya, and the training took place in Mali before the ouster of its al-Qaida linked Islamist leaders. As for the money, Hollande said its origins were murky. “Boko Haram is acting clearly as an al-Qaida operation,” said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who had only reluctantly accepted outside help after years of insisting the group was a local problem. Cameroon, which French officials said until recently also treated Boko Haram as an issue involving only Nigeria, has become increasingly involved. The attack late Friday against a Chinese engineering firm’s camp left at least 10 people missing and one person dead. The camp was in the same nearly trackless parkland where the girls were first spirited away after an attack on their school in northern Nigeria, highlighting Boko Haram’s ability to cross borders unimpeded. Hollande said the effort to find them and ultimately combat Boko Haram will involve sharing intelligence, protecting borders, and quick action in a crisis. An intelligence cell involving French, British and American agents is already operating out of Nigeria. Hollande also emphasized that Boko Haram had clearly established ties with other terror groups in Africa, making it a concern throughout the continent and beyond. That could provide an opening for U.N. sanctions against the group to freeze its assets and impose travel bans against members. Wendy Sherman, a U.S. diplomat who was at Saturday’s talks, said the sanctions could come as soon as next week. “I can’t imagine any country who would not support this designation,” she said. Surveillance jets have joined the search and Hollande left open the possibility that French fighter jets could be deployed. Boko Haram has offered to exchange the captive girls for jailed insurgents, while threatening otherwise to sell them into slavery. “Boko Haram’s strategy, contrary to all civilization, is to destabilize Nigeria and to destroy the fundamental principles of human dignity,” Hollande said during the working lunch. “More than 200 young girls threatened with slavery is the proof.” Officials have said there will be no Western military operation. British officials say Jonathan has ruled out swapping prisoners for the girls. “There are many ways to bring this horrific situation to a close, but when and if we know where they are then the Nigerians will have to decide how to proceed,” Sherman said. On Friday, Jonathan canceled a trip to the town where the girls were seized, apparently due to security concerns. Signs are growing that some Nigerian troops are near mutiny, complaining they are overwhelmed and outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers have told The Associated Press that some in the ranks actually fight alongside the group. Last year, Jonathan said he suspected that Boko Haram members and sympathizers had infiltrated every level of his government and military, including the Cabinet. That complicates attempts to share intelligence. The U.S., France and Britain have all sent experts to help find the girls, but French and American officials have expressed concerns about how any information might be used. The northeastern region where the girls were kidnapped has suffered five years of increasingly deadly assaults by Boko Haram. Thousands have been killed, including more than 1,500 civilians this year. France has negotiated the release of citizens held by Boko Haram in Cameroon and officials intended Saturday’s summit to draw the outlines of a more international approach. The summit concluded with promises to coordinate border patrols, pool intelligence and track trafficked weapons. Chinese state media reported that 10 people were missing in the Friday night attack on the camp in a region where Boko Haram has previously abducted foreigners, including a French family of seven and a priest. Hollande’s administration successfully negotiated the release of the French citizens, and officials in Paris said France’s experience dealing with Boko Haram as well as its good relations with the governments concerned were the impetus for the summit. China is a major investor in Cameroon, helping build infrastructure, public health projects and sports facilities and importing crude oil, timber and cotton. *Source Huffington Post/AP]]>

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Do current African leaders overstep their mandates?
May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Leaders of the European Union and their African counterparts pose in a group photo during the recent EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium. African leaders have come under fire over the manner in which they grant foreign powers and multinationals with land concessions leaving their own people landless. Leaders of the European Union and their African counterparts pose in a group photo during the recent EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium. African leaders have come under fire over the manner in which they grant foreign powers and multinationals with land concessions leaving their own people landless.[/caption] In the field of farmland leases and sell-offs (commonly referred to as land-grabbing) the current crop of African leaders may well be accused of exceeding their mandate to the point of treachery to their continent, their people and to future generations of Africans.

Land is the property of all the people in a nation; it does not belong to any single leader or any particular government. Politicians are trustees of a nation’s future and as such are entrusted to govern for the benefit of their nations and peoples.
How come then African leaders are today doling out our farmland to their foreign associates in perpetuity as if it were their personal property? And at a time when the continent’s population is growing in tidal waves?  By 2050 the number of people in Africa will double to 2 billion.
Land and independence are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, to invite foreigners to take over our farmlands in perpetuity is tantamount to literally giving away independence itself, which no African leader is authorised to do, either legally or morally.  Thus leaders of any government claiming to bat for their country’s freedom, progress and prosperity by giving away land to be used for the sole benefit of foreigners on 99 year contracts (which in practice means forever) are at best delusional and at worst are acting far beyond the scope of their authority — which could safely be termed as either gross abuse of power or actual treachery against the state.
Countries go to war for one reason and one reason only — to protect what are called vital national interests. Any talk of military missions to spread or defend democracy abroad is utter claptrap. Corollary to this is that the farmlands being freely confiscated by foreigners today, in collusion with our leaders, will tomorrow be turned into “assets of core or vital interest” which are therefore worth foreign states going to war to defend. Consequently, wars of liberation will start all over again and again with the loss of millions of African lives.
The US embargo against Cuba has been in place since 1959, simply because Fidel Castro, Cuba’s Revolutionary leader nationalised American casinos and plantations. America has intervened in every banana republic in Latin America since the 1900s to protect American planters. The West’s intervention in the Gulf has nothing to do with democracy but rather its desire to gain access to oil — a commodity of vital importance. This, then, is the fate awaiting our children and their children tomorrow, which is why the on-going land give-aways are equivalent to treason.
Only a few leaders in the continent, with their pockets stuffed with money from foreign land-grabbers, are the beneficiaries in this FDI (foreign direct investment) in farmlands, while the rest of us are net losers on a large scale. In pre-colonial Africa land was vested symbolically in the hands of the chief in trust for the whole community and no member of such communities was, at any time, allowed to go without land, because in Africa land is life and to render Africans landless is as much a death sentence today as it was in the past. The traditional symbolism of entrusting land to our leaders for fair distribution among their people has been carried over into almost all post-colonial constitutions in Africa.
However, contemporary constitutions have just grafted the format of this customary African system of land control onto their constitutions, without also embedding its spirit. In traditional societies the chief owned the common land on behalf of a particular tribe, but every member was at all times guaranteed land to live on and from.
I have seen this system at work first hand as my father was a chief. However, many of today’s African leaders seem to think they literally own the land, rather than symbolically; while some of them are sitting on vast tracts of land or giving it away to foreigners, their people are dying by instalments through poverty caused by landlessness. This is a cynical abuse of a very noble tenet.
To illustrate this assertion I would like to give my country of Tanzania as an example, although what I say is also true of every other country in Africa at this moment in history.
During President Nyerere’s time in office land was state property, not government property, trusted to the President on behalf of the people, just as it is today stated in our Constitution. But that is where the similarity ends. While under Nyerere substantive land rights were in the hands of the users – the people – not the President; today those rights have been hived off to an unelected, unaccountable quango called Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC). President Nyerere had powers to retake State land and create publicly-owned farms, ranches, national parks, and game and forest reserves, whose profits were ploughed back into the state coffers.
What a contrast to nowadays when the TIC is dishing out land to foreigners to grow bio-fuel for overseas car tanks and food crops to fill the stomachs of non-Africans, with any profits being  repatriated in full overseas. While Mwalimu Nyerere put in place safeguards to stop any particular government from stealing land from the Tanzanian people, governments since Mwalimu’s time have changed the land code eight times in eleven years to put in place a system which legitimises such theft of land from the people by a small and privileged elite. To make the Tanzanian people’s inability to access common land total, the current government is flirting with the idea of “Land Banks”, which in my view are out-and-out criminal institutions. The sole purpose of  these  land banks are to speed up the process of land acquisition by foreigners through the removal of people’s automatic right to the common land to which they have previously had free access. If these land banks are instituted a corrupt oligarchy, who do not need the land for their livelihood, will be lining their pockets at the expense of those who need these farmlands for their survival. This is not only a criminal scheme but also potentially a murderous one.
The argument that the TIC and the land banks are above reproach, because they are created by an Act of Parliament, is a huge red herring; after all the Apartheid system in South Africa was created by an Act of Parliament but this did not make it morally tenable. Moreover, a land bank-type scheme was created by an Act of Parliament in Mexico in 1850 with exactly the same aims of facilitating the way for foreign investors – and what was its outcome? 830 people and corporations confiscated 97 per cent of Mexico’s 1.9 million square kilometres with 17 individuals controlling 20 per cent of the land previously under the ownership of over 15 million Mexicans.
It was this Act which made the Mexican Revolution of 1910/20 inevitable which left an estimated 2.1 million people dead in its wake. So before our leaders jump onto the bandwagon of foreign-induced land bank schemes, they need to read about the Mexican Revolution first.
Even though it happened over 100 years ago we have a lot to learn from it.
Any Parliamentary Act should be considered useful and valid only when it serves the best interests of the majority of people and the country at large, not sectional or group interests; the TIC and similar establishments throughout Africa are failing to meet this criterion by a wide margin.
The president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, Lester Brown, has written a book titled, ‘Full Planet, Empty Plates’, in which he asserts that, “Food is the new oil and land is the new gold”.
All oil and gold producing countries outside Africa are super-rich today because they are selling those commodities at top prices to the rest of the world — not giving them away. Similarly, the industrial countries of the world are super-rich because there are selling their capital goods expensively to the world — not donating them. Furthermore, no African was ever invited to own or even to share the oil fields of the Gulf or the industries of the North.
 * Source  The Citizen.Harid Mkali can be reached through Email: mkali@live.co.uk, Website:www.haridmkali.com
 
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South Sudan's rebel leader agrees new ceasefire with president
May 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic[/caption]

 South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar signed a ceasefire deal on Friday after coming under growing international pressure to end ethnic fighting that has raised fears of genocide.

Friday’s deal was made at a meeting in Ethiopia that was the first time the two men had met face-to-face since violence erupted in December following a long power struggle. Kiir and Machar, both Christians, shook hands and prayed together.

The men agreed that a transitional government offered the “best chance” to take the country towards elections next year, though there was no immediate decision on who would be part of an interim administration.

“Now that we have come to our senses … dialogue is the only answer to whatever problem we had,” Kiir said after a signing ceremony in Addis Ababa’s presidential palace. “We will continue to move in the right direction.”

The truce will take effect within 24 hours and both sides agreed to disengage their forces and refrain from any provocative actions, said Seyoum Mesfin, lead mediator from the regional IGAD grouping.

“Today’s agreement to immediately stop the fighting in South Sudan and to negotiate a transitional government could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

A previous ceasefire accord struck in January swiftly fell apart, with each side blaming the other for fighting that has exacerbated deep-rooted tensions between Kiir’s ethnic Dink community and Machar’s Nuer group.

Western powers had demanded a new deal. Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had both visited the Texas-sized country in the past week, part of a diplomatic push by regional and world leaders still haunted by Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“I saw with my own eyes last week the stakes and the struggles in a new nation we helped courageous people create. The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long,” Kerry added in Friday’s statement.

The United States has already slapped sanctions on two commanders on opposing sides of the conflict, a sign of its growing frustration with the leaders of Africa’s youngest country, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

Cranking up the pressure ahead of the Friday’s meeting, the European Union also threatened sanctions against anyone blocking the peace effort.

INTERIM GOVERNMENT

Fighting erupted in South Sudan’s capital Juba in mid-December between soldiers loyal to Kiir and those backing Machar and quickly spread across the country.

Kiir’s government at the time accused Machar of treason – a charge again denied by the rebel leader, who on Friday swapped his military fatigues for a dapper suit.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes. Troops on both sides have committed murder, rape and other sexual abuses, a U.N. report said.

The unrest has caused oil output to be cut by a third to 160,000 barrels per day.

“I had no reason to bring South Sudan to war,” Machar told Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and envoys.

Kiir and Machar have been locked in a long-running power struggle that intensified after the president sacked Machar as his deputy in July.

Negotiators from the two sides will now hammer out the terms of an interim government that will guide the country of 10 million people to elections in 2015, the agreement said.

Those discussions may be hard fought. Machar told Reuters in January that Kiir had lost the people’s trust and should resign – a demand some in his camp were still making earlier on Friday.

But Kiir’s ministers say the president would not quit.

One Western diplomat said there was a push for the peace process to include former political prisoners, the church and local civil society groups.

“You can’t leave it to warring guys because then it’s basically about who gets what part of the cake,” said the Juba-based Western diplomat. “These (talks) are a fundamental review of where the country is going and on what basis”

*Source Reuters]]>

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Nigeria leader Goodluck Jonathan in missing girls plea
May 5, 2014 | 1 Comments

President Jonathan vowed to secure the girls' release in his first public comments since they were taken President Jonathan vowed to secure the girls’ release in his first public comments since they were taken[/caption]

President Goodluck Jonathan has admitted that Nigerian security forces still do not know where more than 200 abducted girls are being held.

They were taken three weeks ago from their school in Borno state by suspected Islamist militants. President Jonathan was speaking for the first time since their disappearance amid growing criticism of the response. He has come under fire for not speaking earlier and his government has faced increasing anger from the public. “We promise that anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out,” he said in a live TV broadcast. The president said that despite searches by the army and the air force, the girls had not been found. He asked for the co-operation of parents and the local communities in the rescue efforts, saying the “government needs assistance.” “It is a trying time for this country… it is painful,” he added. The BBC’s Will Ross in Abuja says it appears somewhat astonishing that the girls cannot be found when there are reports they have been moved around in convoys of vehicles. This seems to be a sign that there are parts of north-east Nigeria that are more or less off limits to the Nigerian armed forces, our correspondent says. Islamist militants known as Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, are believed to be behind the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Chibok. They have waged a violent campaign in the north-east that has killed hundreds of Christians and Muslims. President Jonathan dismissed the suggestion that negotiations were taking place to secure the release of the girls, saying it was impossible to talk to Boko Haram. “You don’t negotiate with somebody you don’t know. The issue of negotiation has not come up,” he said. He said his government has spoken to the United States and several other world powers, including France, Britain and China, for help with its security issues. “We are talking to countries we think can help us out. The United States is number one. I have talked to President Obama at least twice,” he said. *Source BBC]]>

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Out of Africa: The great money migration
May 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Almost $2 trillion has left Africa illicitly since 1970, thwarting poverty reduction and economic growth.    * Bahar Dar, Ethiopia – The figures are staggering: At least $1.8 trillion illicitly flowed out of Africa between 1970 and 2009. This is far more than the external aid the continent received over the same period, and almost five times its current external debt. According to researchers, the continent also loses at least $100bn a year in this financial haemorrhage. African leaders convened this week in the Ethiopian city of Bahar Dar to discuss illicit financial flows and what can be done to staunch them. A study commissioned by the Tana High Level Forum on African Security, which organised the conference, found that illicit flows from Africa grew at an average rate of 12.1 percent per year since 1970, and that capital flight from West and Central African countries accounted for most of the illicit flows from sub-Saharan Africa. Illicit financial flows consist of money earned illegally and then transferred for use elsewhere. The money is usually generated from criminal activities, corruption, tax evasion, bribes and smuggling. Yet the numbers tell only part of the story – a story that exposes how these highly complex and deeply entrenched practises have flourished, with a devastating impact on Africans’ efforts to extricate themselves from grinding poverty. This scourge eats into the gross domestic products of African countries, draining foreign exchange reserves, reducing tax collection and investment inflows and worsening poverty. “The costs of this financial haemorrhage have been significant for African countries. It has heightened income inequality and jeopardised employment prospects. In the majority of countries in the continent, unemployment rates have remained exceedingly high in the absence of investment and industrial expansion,” said Kenya’s Central Bank Governor Dr Njuguna Ndungu. Worse than expected And some believe that the estimates of illicit financial flows underestimate the problem. “These figures do not capture money lost through drug trafficking and the loss of Africa’s marine resources through illegal fishing,” said Abdiweli Mohammed Ali, the new president of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. “Somalia loses between $800m and $1bn through illegal fishing every year. This is money we cannot afford to lose. Something must be done about the illegal international fishing cartels looting our marine resources,” said Abdiweli, who is also a former prime minister of Somalia. The study also found a significant link between increases in the price of oil and capital flight from Nigeria – Africa’s largest oil producer, which also accounted for the highest amount of illicit outflows. “Some of the acceleration in illicit outflows was undoubtedly driven by oil price increases and increased opportunities to misprice trade that typically accompany increasing trading volumes due to globalisation,” the report noted. For instance, Nigeria lost at least $250bn between 2000 and 2009. South Africa, which was the continent’s biggest economy until it was recently overtaken by Nigeria, came second with a loss of at least $170bn over the same period. Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Angola, Sudan and Cameroon are also high on the list. Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said: “It’s shameful that Nigeria leads in such an unsavoury trend. But it must be pointed out that we are also leaders in trying to repatriate some of the stolen funds. We managed to recover billions that former military dictator Sani Abacha stashed in banks abroad.” Ribadu said Africa needs honest and committed leaders who will set examples by eschewing corruption and closing avenues of illicit financial flow. “It is the seriousness and commitment showed by African leaders that would convince foreign countries to work with them towards recovering looted monies stashed abroad.” Skewing income distribution Experts say the enormity of the outflow explains why donor-driven efforts to spur economic development and reduce poverty have not achieved their full potential in Africa. Sustained illicit outflows have also turned the continent into a net creditor to the rest of the world. “Policy measures must be taken to address the causes of illicit outflows and also to impress upon the international community the need for better transparency and tighter oversight of banks and offshore financial centres that absorb these flows,” said former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki is also the chair of the Commission on Illicit Finances established by the UN Economic Commission on Africa. As long as illicit capital continues to pour out of impoverished African countries at this pace, efforts to reduce poverty and boost economic growth will be thwarted, and income distribution will become more skewed, leading to economic and political instability. Yet there is a glimmer of hope, now that African leaders and governments are increasingly understanding – and coming to terms with – the dangers posed by illicit financial flows. * Source Al Jazeera.Follow Mohammed Adow on Twitter: @Moadow]]>

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Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030
April 25, 2014 | 1 Comments

New Study Shows Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030, Build Climate Resilience and Boost Food Security / Positive Returns Projected within Seven to Ten Years download (6)Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits – equivalent to an estimated USD 45 billion by 2030 – as well as greater food security, a cleaner environment and higher productivity of natural resources, according to a new study launched Tuesday by the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment Programme. The Green Economy Assessment Report: Kenya finds that the transition to an inclusive, low emission , resource efficient green economy will result in stronger economic growth and increased wealth creation opportunities by 2021. Under a green economy scenario, with an investment of two percent of GDP, national GDP would exceed a business-as-usual scenario by about 12 per cent, or KES 3.6 trillion (equivalent to USD 45 billion), by 2030. Per capita national income would nearly double from KES 39,897 (USD 498.70) to KES 69,702 (USD 871.30). Under a business-as-usual investment scenario and a two per cent investment, GDP would only increase to KES 53,146 (USD 664.30) over the same period of time. As green economy measures mitigate the impact of climate change, the report finds the country’s aggregated Green House Gas Emissions measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent would be 9 per cent lower by 2030 under a green economy scenario with an investment of two per cent of GDP compared to a business-as-usual scenario and a two per cent investment. In the agriculture sector, the report finds that green economy investments would increase the average agriculture yield by about 15 per cent from its current baseline. Agriculture accounts for approximately one quarter of Kenya’s national GDP annually and up to 65 per cent of its exports. Kenya is already implementing policies and initiatives to move towards a green economy, and this approach is recognized in the country’s long-term development blueprint and in the government’s Second Medium Term Plan (2013-2017). The report finds that further green energy investments could lead to about a two per cent reduction in energy consumption and an expanded supply of electricity from renewable sources compared to business-as-usual. For example, under a green economy scenario, renewable energy would double geothermal capacity by 2030, compared to business-as-usual, and other renewable energy resources would also grow during this period, contributing to 20 per cent of the total power supply. To accelerate these efforts, the report urges the government to consider adopting targeted clean energy solutions for households and institutions, such as energy efficient lighting and appliances; and, making additional investments in renewable energy, such as geothermal, solar, wind and biofuel energy. While Kenya’s manufacturing sector has continued to contribute about 10 per cent to the country’s GDP for over many years, it is still one of the largest in Sub-Sahara Africa and considered a key pillar for the country’s future growth. However, the report finds that to green this sector, more public policies are needed to encourage and incentivize investment in resource-efficient and clean production processes, recycling and eco-labelling, among other transformative strategies. The country’s transport sector is also critical to its green economy goals. This sector is expected to triple between 2010 and 2030, and vehicles on the road have already doubled during the last decade. To better regulate this sector and reduce emission of harmful gaseous pollutants, the report suggests that the government needs to create incentives to lower the age of its passenger and freight fleet, as well as promote more mass transit and non-motorized transport . UNEP supported a consortium of Kenyan institutions that formed the “Inter-Ministerial Committee on green economy” to lead the green economy in the country. The Committee comprised members from various government ministries and the private sector organizations. The report, which examines the economy-wide impacts of green investments under different scenarios, reveals that positive returns could be realized within seven to ten years. It confirms that an overall green economy, resources efficiency and recycling policy framework is fundamental to underpin the success of these sector initiatives. Several areas where further government action is needed are identified, from improving regulatory compliance and developing national standards, resources efficiency and resource productivity targets ; to securing financial resources and introducing fiscal instruments like tax rebates on environment friendly technologies and innovations “Green Economy driven by resource efficiency is the basis for sustainable development and poverty eradication. A green economy revolution is already taking place in Kenya, where the harvesting of geothermal energy from the East African Rift is just one of the many renewable energy projects underway across the country. By learning to more accurately value our own natural resources, Kenya will be able to better harness these strategies as it moves towards a holistic, inclusive green economy in the future.”Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu “The next wave of investment and innovation in Kenya will be driven by the need for new energy sources, wealth generation and job creation. Kenya is already demonstrating leadership by pioneering green economy approaches in the energy, urban and natural resources sectors as a vehicle to deliver its national development goals. This report confirms that the country can achieve even greater prosperity and well-being by scaling up its green investments in key sectors, while also factoring the conservation and efficient use of its natural capital into future decisions related to infrastructure, investment in the development of the energy, transport, agriculture and industry sectors.”UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: *Source UNEP/APO]]>

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Nigeria preacher: Healer or controversial leader?
April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

c66346705c9ecf0f510f6a7067003234It’s Sunday, and 15,000 people are seated in the enormous arena-like church, fanning themselves against the dusty humid air in Nigeria. The preacher in a blue flowered shirt taps his microphone to announce “prophecy time.” He places his hands on worshippers, who spin in circles, wave their arms in the air and finally collapse to the ground, shaking. They’ve been delivered. “Emmanuel!” he shouts. “Emmanuel!” the crowd echoes. A camera crew of 20 scurries around speakers branded with the slogan for his Emmanuel TV station, “Distance is not a barrier.” The service is beamed worldwide. This is T.B. Joshua, one of the best-known preachers in Africa and among the most profitable in Nigeria, the go-to faith healer and spiritual guide for leaders such as the late Ghanaian president John Atta Mills, Malawian president Joyce Banda and former Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Joshua’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations has branches around the world, and a recent YouTube video even credits him with predicting the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Yet critics say this wildly popular televangelist hinders efforts to curtail the spread of HIV and tuberculosis with testimonies by church-goers that faith and his holy water can cure both. He is also accused of taking advantage of his followers and tightly controlling those closest to him, who call him “Daddy.” Joshua brushes such concerns aside. “The gospel needs to be preached all over the world,” says Joshua, whose full name is Temitope Balogun Joshua, in a rare interview at his church with The Associated Press. “You cannot light a candle and put it under a roof.” Even in Nigeria, a country of 170 million where various forms of evangelical Christianity are practiced passionately in churches around every corner, Joshua stands out for his ambition. His Lagos church has a sprawling campus of restaurants, overflow tents for thousands and dorms for visitors, who all hope to be touched, even if only by proximity, by the man known as “the prophet.” Joshua also has satellite centers in London, Greece, Ghana, South Africa and several other countries, along with a 24/7 television station on cable and online that comes with simultaneous translations in French and Spanish. The man who says he comes from the poor village of Arigidi is worth between $10 and $15 million based on assets, according to Forbes magazine, which in 2011 estimated his personal wealth. His church, however, has become controversial for showing on its website people with testimonies of being healed of HIV. They hold up a required before and after certificate, allegedly signed by a doctor, stating that their HIV-positive status has transformed to negative. UNAIDS notes that there is no available cure for HIV, and any interruptions to medical treatment can have serious health implications and infect others. “We strongly advise people not to waste their money on T.B. Joshua and his false cures,” said Marcus Low, head of policy at the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign, which advocates for increased access to treatment and support services for people living with HIV. “Supposed faith healers often lead people to forego effective treatments in the mistaken belief that they have been cured. They exploit the desperation that many sick people feel and use this desperation to enrich themselves.” When asked if he advises followers to forego HIV/AIDS medication for his “anointing water,” Joshua responded: “Let me tell you, I am a medium. In the same way, doctors are mediums to bring treatment.” Joshua, 50, claims his mother was pregnant with him for 15 months. Later in life, he says, he fell into a trance for three days and saw a hand pointing a bible at his heart. He started his church more than 20 years ago, and now has allegedly more than 50,000 people visit his Lagos synagogue weekly, including foreigners. “It’s the opposite of sacrifice,” said disciple Angela Brandt about working for Joshua. She has stayed on the campus in Nigeria after visiting from California more than a decade ago. She said she was healed of severe scoliosis. 4011a0a95c9dcf0f510f6a706700b917Joshua told the AP that God heals through him, with a smile and confidence that show why he’s so beloved to some. He sits in a small office with a blue and white robe over his clothes, with several flat screen televisions visible from his desk. He uses a buzzer to call in — and sometimes shout at — young, barefoot men and women who serve him. That kind of treatment of his disciples has also raised questions. Former disciple Giles Hurst, 31, says at first he was “lovebombed,” a term that can be used to describe when cults or groups shower a recruit with love and accolades to get them to join. But when he became a disciple, Hurst said, he saw the other side. Competition was fierce among the 200 or so disciples for Joshua’s attention, and they were encouraged to “report” each other for behaviors deemed wrong, he said. Sins are confessed in front of others, recorded and archived, according to Hurst and other former disciples. Passports are taken, along with novels and any medications, including mild painkillers or malaria pills, he said of when he was there. Permission from Joshua in the form of a signed “pass” is needed just to make a phone call or email, Hurst said. “Nobody questions it … he is a holy man, he can do whatever,” Hurst said, a statement backed by interviews with other former disciples. The danger Joshua posed became clearer, Hurst said, when his mother, who was devoted to the church, started losing her battle with cancer. Hurst claims that she refused chemotherapy because Joshua told her she was healed. And the cancer did shrink at first, but six months later, she was dead. When Hurst told Joshua the news a few months later, he said the man he called “Daddy” hung up. It was explained to him that “the prophet” didn’t like to listen to bad news. Ruth Mackintosh, who is from the U.K., said she’s lost her sister, brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew to the church. “There is no possibility for meaningful conversation (with them),” she said. “They speak in cliches and set phrases.” And many who devote themselves to Joshua, and leave, find themselves without money, a resume or education, Mackintosh and Hurst agreed. Calls and emails to Joshua’s church for reaction to these allegations went unanswered. Money doesn’t seem to exchange hands anywhere on the Synagogue, Church of All Nations campus. But to remain a church member, the former disciple explained, you must give. Followers are expected to give about 10 percent of their paychecks, the payments are monitored and people are ranked and seated accordingly, Hurst said. T-shirts, books and frames photos promoting Joshua are also for sale. However, even former disciples agree that Joshua himself does give a lot money to charity and in scholarships. Joshua defended his church’s resources. “Without material and money, I wouldn’t be able to carry out so much huge, huge, huge, huge … People come here for support,” Joshua said. Hundreds of foreigners gathered at Lagos airport recently, going back home after visiting Joshua’s church campus. They wore Emmanuel TV T-shirts, laughed and exchanged stories of their strengthened faith, love and hope, intoxicated by their time with Joshua — he talked with each individually during their weeklong stay. Sithini Mahola, a 36-year-old woman from South Africa, explained Joshua’s draw: “The problems you face, maybe you aren’t strong enough to overcome, so you need someone stronger to commit to your faith.” *Source AP]]>

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