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Covidhero: Zimbabwean Lady Feeds Thousands Of Hungry Children
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images
Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images

Heroes often emerge during tumultuous times. In Zimbabwe, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen one heroine emerging. Her name Samantha Nyasha Muzoroki. With the little that she has, Samantha has been feeding thousands of families mostly children every day since Zimbabwe put in place a national lockdown in the early months of 2020.

In her own words, Samantha says, “Feeding thousands of families in my hometown, Chitungwiza, on the outskirts of Harare, has become my life since the start of the lockdown in Zimbabwe. Seeing smiles on the faces of women and girls is fulfilling.”

Samantha says her relief kitchen initiative really started modestly. With the sole aim of giving children a good start to their day, she decided to serve free porridge to the vulnerable in her community. As soon as she started, more and more children began to visit her home each morning for a scoop of her nutritious porridge. In no time, adults also started trickling in. Assessing the situation that most of these people were in, Samantha quickly decided to serve two meals each day, breakfast and supper. For breakfast, she continued serving porridge (and occasionally bread when porridge runs out) and for supper she serves sadza (Zimbabwe’s staple food).

As the national lockdown continues dragging for long, the numbers of people who are dependent on her meals continue increasing. In the early days, hundreds were served but now, Samantha’s kitchen now serves close to 3000 each day.

At the very first, Samantha says she “started with a 2kg packet of rice and 500g of beans.” As the numbers of those in need of a meal increased by each day and as her savings were dwindling, she had to barter her jeans and sneakers with food supplies.” Her compassion however has since encouraged the corporate world and some individuals to chip in and help her with food supplies.

Bread Company Lobels has chipped in on occasions donating bread. Other companies that have made donations include EzuluFoods, Chicken Hut, N. Richards Group, Clean City, Quick Fresh, Health Factor Zimbabwe and Fresh in a Box.

Other individuals have also been inspired by Samantha and they have since launched their own relief kitchens’ in their respective communities. In Victoria Falls, some officers in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, local municipality officers, members from the business community and other individuals have 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.

The diplomatic community has also been inspired by the work being done by Samantha. The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe made a donation of hand sanitizers and pairs of gloves.

For all those who have chipped in, in helping her with the relief kitchen, Samantha said she is thankful. “I am thankful for the community of Chitungwiza and the world wide community.”

In the early days, Samantha did encounter some challenges as she was shut down by the local council authorities for operating an illegal relief kitchen. However, the differences were ironed out and her relief kitchen is now registered as Kuchengetana Trust. In an interview with a local publication VUKR, Samantha said that she will take her initiative beyond the lockdown when lifted, “Definitely, we are now registered as a trust ‘Kuchengetana Trust’. There is no way I could ever turn back on what we have built in the last couple of months. I have dreams so pronounced I am eager to deliver. I plan to make self sustenance the order of the day. I get goose bumps when I think about it. Social development projects and facilitation of them are my main objectives.”

Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN
Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN

With regards to self sustenance, Samantha says she “envision a future where a woman is self-sufficient. I have been talking with some of the women about ideas to help start income generating projects.” She does acknowledge that this is something which requires a lot of resources especially financial resources but is hopeful the desired resources will come.

Samantha is helped by willing volunteers in her relief kitchen. Some prominent individuals including renowned Urban Grooves musician Rockford Josphats aka Roki have helped her serve meals to the thousands who visit her relief kitchen on each day of the week. Some who visit her kitchen in need of a meal often are moved by her work and they end up staying to volunteer. One such person is Anastencia Hove. After visiting the relief kitchen for a meal, Anastencia Hove says she “was moved by her (Samantha) love. It is rare to find people who think about others. So I said as a token of my appreciation for her support, I should volunteer. This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering. The number of people I see here shows that many are hungry.”

Samantha is an immigration lawyer by profession and a business lady.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Tightening Lockdown in Zimbabwe: A Case of Restricting Civil Liberties or Just a Desire to Save Lives
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Mnangagwa sees the lockdown as an effort to curb the spread of COVID, his critics think he wants to stifle civil liberties
President Mnangagwa sees the lockdown as an effort to curb the spread of COVID, his critics think he wants to stifle civil liberties

In the past days, the number of positive corona virus cases being recorded in Zimbabwe has been rising exponentially. On average, the country has been recording 100 new cases in the past couple of weeks. This is certainly a major cause of concern for both the government and the general populace.

While both the government and the general populace view the exponential rise of COVID-19 positive cases as worrisome, differences have emerged over how to salvage the situation so as to prevent the worst from occurring.

On one hand, there is the argument by the government that the only way forward to salvage the situation and potentially flatten the curve is to tighten the lockdown restrictions. On the other hand, there is the call by the general populace as spearheaded by the media and civil society to force the government to be more responsible, proactive and accountable in its handling of the pandemic. The basis of the argument being that by tightening the lockdown regulations, the government simply wants to restrict civil liberties owing to the prevailing precarious security situation.

It’s all about flattening the curve – Government

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his nationwide tours to mining companies around Zimbabwe has bemoaned the exponential increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. In response, the President made it clear that his government is looking to tighten the lockdown restrictions with the aim of flattening the curve.

President Mnangagwa’s address on 21 July, 2020 to the nation in which he announced tighter lockdown restrictions, therefore, did not come as a surprise. In his address, the President said that only the working population is allowed to move within cities and towns. The non-working population must remain indoors except for the purposes of securing food, water and health services. All gatherings including church gatherings which had previously been allowed but under strict measures were banned with the exception of funerals. Business operating hours were cut from 08:00 am-16:30 pm to 08:00 am-15:00 pm.

Perhaps the most glaring regulation was the enactment of a dusk to dawn curfew. “With effect from tomorrow Wednesday 22 July 2020, all our security services must enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew set to come into force daily between 1800 hours and 0600 hours.”

The tighter lockdown regulations according to the President “are being taken for our (citizens) collective safety. As Zimbabweans, we have to win the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.” He said it was prudent to implement such difficult measures so as to curb the spike in local infections. “Another worrisome development is that more and more cases of local transmissions are being reported at places of work. COVID-19 is thus no longer a problem out there, far and beyond our borders, rather it is now here amongst us and in our communities.”

Drawing comparison with the neighbouring South Africa, President Mnangagwa said that now is not the time to be complacent. South Africa, Zimbabwe’s neighbor to the south has been recording an exponential rise in cases, and now ranks fifth globally in terms of infections. Mnangagwa said the tighter lockdown regulations are justified so as to prevent against going the same route as South Africa.

A case of restricting civil liberties – civil society, private media and the general populace

 During the days leading to the President’s 21 July address and as it became more and more apparent that the lockdown restrictions were going to be tightened, civil society, private media and members of the general populace began to raise concerns that the government was looking at tightening the restrictions so as to restrict civil liberties and not to address the spike in COVID-19 cases.

The big question raised by government critics pertains to the issue of striking doctors and nurses. A couple of months back, investigative journalists in the country unearthed a massive scandal dubbed the CovidGate scandal in which government procured personal protective equipment (PPE) at overly inflated prices from a shelf company. Details emerged that the company had links to the First Family and as such, it was being used by the First Family and other linked officials to siphon money from the country.

Soon after the expose, nurses and doctors declared that they were going to undertake industrial action as they were working in the frontline under terrible conditions while others were corruptly benefitting from money meant for frontline workers. Since they embarked on industrial action over two months back, the government has remained quiet. The big question being asked by the critics is why the government is remaining quiet during a pandemic which requires nurses and doctors to be at the forefront fighting against COVID-19. The government’s reluctance to address the concerns of the health workers therefore paints a worrisome picture that it does not care about the health of the nation.

Concerns have also been raised by some saying the time that the country has started recording exponential rises in positive cases is suspicious. Several weeks back at the height of the CovidGate scandal, an opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe announced that his party in collaboration with others will be holding a nationwide protest on July 31. As many people were riled up by the corruption scandal, Jacob Ngarivhume quickly found sympathizers and his call for protests soon became an ‘anthem’ on social media platforms. It is at that same time that the Ministry of Health began to announce an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases. Government critics therefore argue that the rise in COVID-19 cases is a deliberate ploy by the government to prevent the protests as it under the impression of preventing the spike in positive cases would tighten lockdown restrictions and in turn, make it impossible for the protests to take place.

Jacob Ngarivhume is under arrest
Jacob Ngarivhume is under arrest

The recent arrests of Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who exposed the CovidGate scandal thus prove that the concerns of government critics may not be far-fetched. The imposition of the dusk to dawn curfew also partly vindicates the claims of government critics. This is because the protests will be hard to conduct during a curfew. Breaking the curfew will give the security forces legit reasons to clamp down on people as they will be judged to have violated the curfew. Regardless of the opposing views, the neutral view is that local infections are contained while at the same time; civil liberties are to be guaranteed.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Africa Energy Forum 2020 joins forces with the African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa and Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly to host Digital Energy Festival for Africa
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The event will take place online from 20th October – 26th November 2020. The digital platform will allow attendees to access content and networking offerings across all three market leading events with one point of entry, making it the largest ever energy event for the African continent marketed to a combined energy database of over 200,000.

Following the impact of the pandemic on the energy sector in Africa, the event will seek to address critical issues such as pivoting to digital, new financial models and innovative power generation sources to allow attendees to make decisions and formulate recovery plans.

Under the theme ‘The 5th Industrial Revolution,’ the Africa Energy Forum agenda will look ahead to the digitalisation of the energy sector.

Managing Director of EnergyNet Simon Gosling commented; “The impact of Covid-19 has clearly magnified the need to be able to deliver energy in times of crises. The 5th Industrial Revolution theme will explore the relationship between energy and technology with purpose and inclusivity, seeking to understand how technological innovation can work hand in hand with humans to enhance energy security, sustainability and energy access in a post-covid future. We want to help our community harness this potential so the continent doesn’t just recover, it recovers better.”

Over 10,000 attendees are expected to register for the Africa Digital Energy Festival, which will employ AI technology to match attendees with relevant content and networking opportunities allowing for a personalised event experience over the four-week period.

As well as over 120 programme experiences the event will also feature an online marketplace of products hosted by sponsors and exhibitors.

For more information about the Digital Energy Festival:

Head of Marketing: Amy Offord

Event dates: 20 October – 26 November 2020

Event location: Online

Organisers: EnergyNet

Email: events@energynet.co.uk | Tel: +44 (0)20 7384 8068

Visit: www.africa-energy-forum.com

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Siemens Gamesa supports Morocco in its fight to overcome the COVID-19 crisis
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Rapid response for Midelt’s rural communities
Siemens Gamesa’s social commitment special COVID-19 initiatives support Africa’s most vulnerable communities benefitting rural communities in Morocco.

The company’s social commitment newly launched Global Impact Project special COVID-19 edition supports Africa’s most vulnerable communities; Siemens Gamesa  funds rapid response initiatives benefitting Midelt’s rural communities; Siemens Gamesa’s local team’s step-up to support Moroccan relief efforts.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has launched a series of social impact initiatives around the world, to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. The company provided €1 million worth of healthcare supplies and other relief to hospitals and communities.

In total, the company allocated funds of €350,000 to several initiatives in African countries severely impacted by COVID-19. Given the company’s strong presence and operations in Morocco, Siemens Gamesa has dedicated a large share of the funds towards social actions driven in the country.  These initiatives supported a great number of vulnerable communities through food and vital sanitary supplies’ distribution, a donation of containers to serve as shelter, and even a blood donation by volunteering employees of the company’s blade factory in Tangier.

“Thanks to the various funds granted, we have been able to support vulnerable communities in Morocco as part of a responsible and sustainable approach to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.” says Sonia Adnane, Director Communications and Institutional Affairs Africa at Siemens Gamesa. “Many social initiatives are led by employees who are not only passionate about the environment but also about social responsibility and sustainable development towards the communities in which we operate. And it is the strength and unity of such commitment that ultimately benefits everyone: our company, our employees, the planet, our customers and our communities. ” she adds.

Siemens Gamesa funded initiatives

 Rapid response for Midelt’s rural communities

The city of Midelt is home to 55,000 inhabitants that depend largely on tourism and traditional industries. As a result of the pandemic and confinement measures around the world, the region’s main economic activities have come to a standstill, increasing food shortages in an area that is already three times above the national poverty level of 4.8%.

In collaboration with the Moroccan NGO Amis des Écoles, with whom the “Women for Women in Need” initiative launched in Morocco by Siemens Gamesa employee volunteers has already worked in Oussertek to benefit a vocational training center, Siemens Gamesa has implemented a project to distribute food and vital hygiene products worth more than 35,000 euros to severely affected communities in the Midelt region.. The donation has helped 1,250 households stay safe and healthy during the global crisis and through the month of Ramadan.

SGRE Impact Program — Special COVID-19 edition

— Relief for vulnerable regions Azilal, Boujdour, Chichaoua and Taroudant

In collaboration with the High Atlas Foundation, Siemens Gamesa distributed food baskets and hygiene products as well as warm clothing for the benefit of 4,000 people. As part of this collaboration, 5,000 almond and walnut trees were provided to 500 households in vulnerable areas, offering more than 4,000 people new sources of income while making a healthy contribution to their diet. 40,000 was deployed through the SGRE Impact Programme, in line with the sustainable development objectives SDO 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDO 15 (Preserving and Restoring Terrestrial Ecosystems).

Locally driven relief actions

Local support from Tangier blade factory

Inaugurated in 2017, the Tangier wind turbine blade factory was the first manufacturing unit in Africa and the Middle East, and has created over 750 direct jobs, employment and business opportunities enabling the province of Fahs Anjra to become an integral part of the local economy. To help communities in the region, the Siemens Gamesa Tangier blade factory team, in collaboration with the Melloussa Association for Local Development (AMDL) and the local authorities, distributed food baskets and hygiene products for the benefit of 1,000 households in the region for a total value of 24,000 euros. — Pop-Up Shelter for local authorities in Tangier

In collaboration with the Agence de Promotion et Développement du Nord (APDN) and local authorities of the Fahs Anjra region, Siemens Gamesa Morocco donated 49 Containers, including prefabricated showers, toilets, sleeping facilities, and kitchen units, in addition to 121 lockers, worth over €100,000 to help support vital infrastructure in the region of Tangier.

— Siemens Gamesa employees volunteer for a blood donation

End of March, 92 employees from the Tangier plant contributed to national solidarity to save lives by participating in the blood donation campaign launched by the health and safety department. The factory’s participation rate of 35% exceeded by far the international and national averages of 4% and 0.99% respectively.

“The health and safety of our employees are always the highest priority at Siemens Gamesa. Beyond the company, we also consider it our duty to act responsibly and to do our part to protect society, especially in these challenging times,” says Johannes Pieter Cools, Managing Director at Siemens Gamesa Morocco. “We could not be prouder of the sense of responsibility demonstrated by our local teams towards communities in need. We hope these acts of social commitment will lay the foundation for a greater spirit of community to support long-term sustainable development in the region.”


Installations total 3.5 GW in countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius Islands, Tunisia and Algeria representing 55% of all wind power on the continent. Siemens Gamesa is driving Africa’s energy transition to deliver cleaner, more reliable, more affordable energy for millions of African people and support long term sustainability and economic growth. It has the broadest product portfolio in the industry with leading technology and innovation, the scale and global reach to provide proximity to customers, and high standards of health, safety and environmental protection.

About Siemens Gamesa in Morocco:
Siemens Gamesa has today installed 8 wind farms totalling 856MW in Morocco and representing over 70% of market share. Additionally, the establishment of the Siemens Gamesa blade factory in Tangier (Morocco) end of 2017 represents a major commitment to the sustainable future of the entire region, being the first blade plant of a wind turbine manufacturer in Africa and the Middle East. The plant is already delivering blades to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In total Siemens Gamesa Morocco employs around 800 people.
*SOURCE Siemens Gamesa
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Dr. Robert N. Erlich Joins the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Robert N. Erlich
Robert will be advising and supporting the Chamber’s work within its Exploration Committee.

American geologist and oil expert Robert Erlich has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board for 2020 and 2021. Robert will be advising and supporting the Chamber’s work within its Exploration Committee.

Robert brings decades of exploration experience working in the hottest oil & gas frontiers in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa. During his career, he has notably worked assignments in the US, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, the United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China.

His demonstrated leadership, and successful track record of leading technical and operational programs that have resulted in the discovery of several major oil and gas fields make him a key asset to the Chamber’s Advisory Board. Robert has worked both for international oil companies such as BP, and for several junior and independent firms such as Hess Corporation. He is currently a partner and Executive Director, Upstream for Cayo Energy L.P., an oil and gas consulting service specializing in the assessment and evaluation of upstream and midstream projects and investments.

“Bob understands geology and exploration better than anyone else and is known across the industry for his ability to successfully execute exploration programs,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber. “More importantly, he has significant experience exploring Cretaceous depositional systems of the Equatorial Atlantic margins on both sides of the Atlantic. His expertise will be crucial to supporting the Chamber’s agenda of incentivizing exploration across the continent.”

Bob received his BS degree in Geology from the University of Miami, his MS degree in Sedimentology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his PhD in Paleoceanography from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

*African Energy Chamber
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Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani Joins the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

 Leading and prominent African energy expert and finance executive Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board for 2020 and 2021. Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

Currently Managing Director of EnergyInc Advisors and Senior Africa Advisor for the IFU Danish Investment Fund, Rolake brings years of experience providing financial and strategic advisory services to the public and private sector in oil and gas and power. She has built a track record of helping to finance, invest in and successfully scale businesses across Africa’s energy sector.

“Rolake has critical experience in the financing and scaling up of gas and renewable energy companies, which is just what our continent needs at the moment,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber. “Rolake represents the next generation of African business women who is playing the most critical role in shaping the future of our industry.”

Rolake also sits on the global advisory board of Canadian Private Equity firm, Stonechair Capital advising on its #EnergyAfrica Fund for Sub-Sahara Africa. She was previously the head of energy and natural resources for FBN Capital and FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Nigeria’s oldest financial services group, where she helped energy, and oil and gas companies raise debt and equity capital. From 2017-19 she was also a member of the private sector economic advisory group in the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, working closely with the Chief Economic Adviser to the President on a range of national development policy issues.

For her significant contribution to Africa’s growth story, Rolake was recognized in the United Nations’ MIPAD Top 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Under 40, in the Business & Entrepreneurship Class of 2018, and was listed in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Choiseul Institute’s (France) top 200 Under-40 Young Economic Leaders in Africa.

Rolake has a BSc and MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a global executive MBA from TRIUM.

*African Energy Chamber
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Corruption Is Robbing Nigerians Of Democratic Dividends-Okey Sam Mbonu
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The absence of a strong vision and rampant corruption impede Nigeria from reaping the dividends of democracy, says Okey Sam Mbonu
The absence of a strong vision and rampant corruption impede Nigeria from reaping the dividends of democracy, says Okey Sam Mbonu

No party that sells primary tickets to the highest bidder deserves to be in power in Nigeria, says Okey Sam Mbonu President of the Nigerian American Council. A seasoned player on African policy circles in the USA, Mbonu says the pervasive corruption culture in Africa’s most populous country is making it difficult for the country to meet its development obligations.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Mbonu who mounted a presidential bid in the 2019 elections says a year after the re-election of President Buhari, the lack of a strong vision and rampant corruption are preventing Nigeria from reaping the dividends of democracy.

On the upcoming US elections, Mbonu says the US-Nigerian council is undergoing critical structural reforms with a view to broadening its tent, and playing a more impactful role on US-African ties. While the current Administration has taken a laid-back approach to Africa, Mbonu believes that it is in the interest of the next administration irrespective of party to step up its game in Africa to curb the marauding Chinese presence.

It has been over a year since President Buhari started his second term of office, what assessment do you make of his leadership?

President Buhari’s current and final term has been bedeviled by some major problems, including:

-Lack of vision, which manifests through the limited delivery of democratic dividends, such as economic growth via a diversified economy.

-Lack of a broad view of national governance issues, because his core inner-circle is of one mindset, thereby robbing the President of the diversity of thought necessary for progress, in a highly diverse country like Nigeria, especially on security and the economy.

-Finally, the President has had to deal with economic uncertainty occasioned by COVID-19, and the collapse of the Oil Industry.  The COVID-19 is nobody’s fault, but the collapse of the Oil economy should have been anticipated way before now.

What do make of the way his government has handled the coronavirus pandemic?

Well, Buhari’s government has adapted well with existing public health protocols in other countries.  However, the COVID-19 has revealed the under-belly of the Nigerian economy, which is that a huge chunk of the economy, perhaps more than 75% is unregulated and informal.  Most Nigerians basically survive by going out on the streets every-day to “hustle”.  Thus if they don’t go out, for a week or two, they may die of hunger.  Many people essentially went berserk out of hunger and deprivation, during the state mandated lockdowns.

May we have your take on the suspension and subsequent detention of Ibrahim Magu former Chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC ?

 My recent extended exposure to Nigeria showed how corrupt the country really is, especially among the political leadership.  We have witnessed former state governors who essentially plundered their states beyond recognition, walk away from jail (maybe temporarily), thus giving everyone a license to plunder.

 However, what is so troubling is that an entity like EFCC could also be mired in the very essence of their existence, corruption within a corruption fighting agency. 

If the allegations are proven, it erodes the trust of all international partners who depend on the credibility of their crime-fighting partners, to maintain sanity and economic stability via standards rooted in the “rule of law” in the world.  A situation where every entity and everyone becomes beholden to corruption, will eventually lead to a chaotic “everyman for themselves” doctrine. 

There isn’t, and won’t be enough police to contain all out corruption in the country, thus ultimately leading to a complete grounding of the country.

No party that sells its primary tickets to the highest bidder deserves to be in power anywhere ,says Okey Mbonu
No party that sells its primary tickets to the highest bidder deserves to be in power anywhere ,says Okey Mbonu

What is your take on the National Assembly hearings on the misappropriation of funds in the Niger Delta Development Commission?

The NDDC saga, is another showdown that the problem of Nigeria is really the thieving elites versus the masses.  If serious prosecutions do not happen, then the executive branch would have failed to get a grip on the evil of corruption. 

It is really sad, because, if you think about the mind-boggling figures involved, you wander, why public officials need to steal in an unconscionable manner like that.  However, if you take a look at the physical appearances of these people, you know they won’t live very long.  It’s obvious from their distended stomachs from excessive consumption of alcohol and the like, organ failures, high-blood-pressure, obesity, heart problems, etc.  So what is all the stolen loot for?

Nigerians have now had the opportunity of comparing leadership and governance from the APC and the PDP which are the dominant parties, which of these two parties has responded more to the expectations of Nigerians?

 None.  It’s the same people going back and forth in different color-painted buses.  President Buhari could have done a better job of reining in some excesses, and setting some examples, by signaling intolerance of corruption from his own party members, as well as prosecute members of other parties.  However, Buhari still has a chance to set some example before his term is over.

On the other hand, the first of these two parties (APC and PDP), to open up their primaries, without excessive nomination fees to new-generation candidates, and a corruption-free nomination process, will ultimately prevail in the moral battle for the soul of Nigeria. 

No party that sells its primary tickets to the highest bidder deserves to be in power anywhere, because that candidate who “bought” the ticket, does not owe the electorate anything, except to recoup their money, and empower their family to their heart’s content.  That is why you frequently see a governor who plundered their state and failed to pay salaries walk the streets of Nigeria without outrage.

Do you agree with those who think that a third major force or party will be a healthy development for democracy in Nigeria?

A third major party is a viable route, but that third party may ultimately have to ally with one of the big two, in order to pull-off a national victory.  There are many other intricacies to address, but it is doable.

You did get into the 2019 Presidential race, but dropped out, could you share some of the lessons that you learned from the experience and any plans for 2023?

 Yes, my Campaign team calculated that the Labour Party, which is technically the third largest party, with existing structures in all 36 States, was a good vehicle to challenge the status quo.  However, it turned out that the Labour Party needed substantial internal reforms, in order to float a national candidate.  We came close to clinching the party’s nomination, but met resistance from the party’s national leadership who did not see the vision we saw.

The shocking end was that the party actually did not present a presidential candidate after I dropped out, because there was no other candidate of caliber like myself to fly the flag of the party.  However, there are a few good people at the party leadership level, and maybe they learned enough lessons to get it right in the future.

As we do this interview, the US is bracing up for elections in November, how is the Nigerian American Council that you lead preparing for this?

Well, we have actually commenced an evolution at the Council, which is now veering off in a new direction, to embrace the entire African Diaspora via a new “National Council for African Diaspora (NCAD)”, which you’ll be hearing about very soon (August/September 2020).  The new NCAD vehicle will encompass the entire African Diaspora, and is poised for more impact in US and Africa in the near future.

May we know what changed negatively or positively for US-African relations in the first term of the Trump Presidency?

While the current US Administration has not placed a lot of strategic interest on Africa at the moment, however, the traditional US institutions and organs like the State Department, continue to perform their traditional roles of engagement with Africa. 

However, most of us in the policy-circles expect that the US beyond 2020, regardless of who wins the election, will as matter of necessity engage more with Africa, because to disregard Africa, is to capitulate to the Chinese, who are now having a field day in Africa.

If care is not taken, the Chinese will take charge of strategic sources of African input in the global economy, especially in the area of expendable natural resources.

Young and dynamic with a strong vision, Okey Sam Mbonu remains a player to watch in the future of Nigerian politics
Young and dynamic with a strong vision, Okey Sam Mbonu remains a player to watch in the future of Nigerian politics

What is at stake for Africa in the elections and what are some of the recommendations that should guide the choice of voters especially those of African origin?

Politics is consistently about protecting or preserving one’s interests.  The African Diaspora should not be guided by emotions, but by a clear strategy of preserving their interests in the US and beyond.  Once the community determines what those interests are, then they should invest in candidates or programs, or movements that will protect those interests.

Could we also get a word from you on the reaction of African countries on the murder of George Floyd, when the same African countries remain silent on flagrant atrocities that take place across the continent daily?

George Floyd opened the eyes of Africans to racism in the US, in ways they never knew existed.  It has also forced continental Africans to begin to evaluate how their own police enforce the status quo in their law and order.

Africans within the continent actually need to make greater efforts to cultivate and maintain cordial effective and cooperative relations, with their African-American cousins.  African-Americans are the most prominent black Diaspora on the world stage; their struggles should garner strong solidarity across Africa.  However, in reality we find that because of colonial mentality, and a profound lack of enlightenment, many Africans inside the continent, do not see the struggles of African-Americans as their struggle as well.

This is where the continentals who migrated in the past 20, 30, or 40 years effectively come in, as the bridge between the continent of Africa, and the West, especially the US.

About 70% of current African leaders, from Buhari to Biya, etc, do not have a clear understanding of the need to raise the stakes, in the Africa versus the rest of the world dynamics, which could be a win-win situation for all.  I believe only newer generation continentals with exposure to Africa, Europe, the America’s and even Asia can address the gap.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Africa Has Not Been A Priority Region For The Trump Administration-CFA President Mel Foote
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump really has not had any discernible agenda for Africa, says Mel Foote

Very little has been done by President Trump in articulating and fostering a concise African policy, says Mel Foote, President of the Washington DC, based Constituency for Africa. In addition to not paying a visit to Africa in his first term, the President’s utterances and actions have not been helpful in forging stronger ties with Africa, says Mr. Foote, a highly respected veteran of African Affairs in the Washington, DC circuit.

Fielding questions from PAV, Mr. Foote says the upcoming Presidential elections will have profound implications on how the U.S interacts with Africa and the rest of the world.

“Should Trump win re-election, we certainly should not expect anything of significance for Africa, and certainly no new initiatives.  On the other hand, should Vice-President Biden win, we can certainly expect a stronger hand of friendship coming from the U.S., although the attention of President Biden will most certainly be on responding to the COVID-19 impact in the U.S,” says Mr. Foote.

“While clearly President Trump has not engaged much with African-Americans during these four years , African-Americans have not done well with the Democratic Party either as both sides routinely promise things in exchange for votes, but deliver little,” Mel Foote charged.

Still, the CFA leader believes that the African American vote could be decisive in swaying the election either way and for this to happen, their turnout must mirror 2008 levels when President Obama won the elections, Mr. Foote says.

Thanks for accepting to grant this interview, can we start with your assessment of the state of US-African relations?

Since assuming the Presidency of the United States, President Donald Trump has done very little to advance any significant U.S. – Africa policy agenda.  He started off on the wrong foot, by insulting African countries, calling them “shithole countries”, and followed this up by putting African countries, including Nigeria on a list to restrict U.S. visas!  The first lady Melania Trump visited Africa last year, but did not focus on any real substantive agenda, and there has been little or no follow-up.

What was the Trump agenda for Africa and what impact did it have on the traditional ties that the US has had with Africa?

President Trump really does not have any discernable agenda for Africa. The U.S. is only peripherally involved in major movements on the continent, i.e., the Continental Free Trade Agreement; efforts to respond to climate change on the continent; and efforts to respond to COVID-19.   Having said that, the U.S. State Department has been helpful in the peaceful transition to democracy in Sudan.  The US played a role in the peaceful elections in the DRC.  The US seems to be on the right side in pressing for democratic reform and leadership change in Cameroon.

President Trump is wrapping up his first term of office with Africa been the only region he has not visited, what message does it send to the seriousness with which the US takes its ties with Africa?

Given all of the challenges the Trump administration is facing as it wraps up its first term, including the global COVID-19 pandemic, no one can expect President Trump to make a trip to Africa any time soon.  In fact, for security reasons, the President is not able to travel to Europe, Canada, Asia or anywhere else, until such a time that a vaccine would be available!  Most of the Africa-watchers in Washington, would have questioned his motives for making a trip to Africa anyways, given some of his rhetoric, and his abhorrent disregard and treatment of black people in Africa and here in the United States. 

An operational concept of unification, that allows African Americans, African
immigrants, Afro Latinos, and Afro Europeans, to cooperate is still needed, says Mel
Foote pictured here with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya

Elections are around the corner, what could be at stake for US-Africa relations come November?

The US Presidential Elections in November will certainly be important for Americans and for the entire world!  Should Trump win re-election, we certainly should not expect anything of significance for Africa, and certainly no new initiatives.  On the other hand, should Vice-President Biden win, we can certainly expect a stronger hand of friendship coming from the U.S., although the attention of President Biden will most certainly be on responding to the COVID-19 impact in the U.S.; putting Americans back to work; and getting the U.S. economy going again.

What guarding principles or recommendations do you have for African Americans in making their choice of who to vote in November?

African-Americans certainly are in position to determine the outcome of the elections, if we turn out to vote at the level of 2008, when Barack Obama won the election.  The Trump re-election team is working hard to make it difficult for Black people to vote, and clearly want to limit the potential!  While clearly President Trump has not engaged much with African Americans during these four years — African Americans have not done well with the Democratic Party either!  Both sides routinely promise things in exchange for votes, but deliver little!   Unfortunately, we can expect little to achieve for Africa and for African people, regardless of who is elected!

What do you make of the way Africa reacted to the recent murder of George Floyd?

With the advent of social media, the entire world witnessed to murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis, Minnesota police!  While thousands of blacks have been systematically murdered by police across the United States, it has always been covered up, with police claiming that they were defending themselves and had to use lethal force!  African immigrants have generally stayed out of the issue of police brutality, but increasingly are being caught up as the police are only seeing them as black people, and not as Ethiopians, Guineans, Nigerians, etc.  The George Floyd murder reverberated across the world including across Africa!  The African immigrant community also has been caught up in the global protest, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The emotional responses from Africa during the George Floyd included calls from the Minister of Culture for aggrieved African Americans to come back “home,” what is it that African countries could do to build bridges to its diaspora?

Africa and African people are certainly coming to realize the potential of the African Diaspora, for remittances, for trade promotion, for tourism, etc. 

Thus, the African Union’s launching of the Diaspora as the “Sixth Region”, in 2012!  However, much work remains to be done in Africa and here in the Diaspora, to make this Sixth Region a functional reality.  The biggest challenge is to how we can develop an “operational concept of unification”, that allows African-Americans, African immigrants, Afro-Latinos, Afro-Europeans, etc., to cooperate!

While most of the Africa-focused organizations in the U.S. have disappeared, the CFA under the leadership of Mr Foote continues to respond to the call of Africa
While most of the Africa-focused organizations in the U.S. have disappeared, the CFA under the leadership of Mr Foote continues to respond to the call of Africa

As we speak, the African Union Mission in Washington DC has gone without an Ambassador since October 2019 when Ambassador Arikana was recalled, what do you make of this?

We all applaud the tremendous effort of Ambassador Arikana Chihombori to engage the Diaspora, during her three years as the Permanent Representative to Washington.  She was tireless in her approach, and did much to wake the Diaspora up to the possibilities in Africa!  On the other hand, Ambassador Chihombori was clearly functioning as a part of the African Union Commission and operated under their organizational policies and procedures!  She served at the pleasure of the AU Chairperson, and like all Ambassadors, was subject to recall for any reason as determined by the Chairperson.   The African Union has an “Acting” Representative in place here in Washington, and given the COVID-19 pandemic, the AU is certainly suspending efforts for the time being, to formally fill Ambassadorships around the world!  I do expect that the way Ambassador Chihombori departed the position, unfortunately will hurt efforts in the future for the AU to focus on African Diaspora issues and engagement.  They will likely focus on bilateral issues with the U.S. government, and with institutions like the World Bank and IMF!

What plans does the Constituency For Africa that you lead have for the 2020 annual Ron Brown African Affairs Series?

The CFA 2020 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series will take place virtually, between September 12 – 19.  The theme for the Series this year is, “Advocating for Africa in the Mist of the Pandemic”!  While most of the Africa-focused organizations in the U.S. have disappeared, or have severely reduced their programming during the Coronavirus pandemic, CFA has clearly adjusted, and continues to respond to the call of Africa, albeit with minimum resources.  In some respect the programming is even better today in that we have much better access with the use of ZOOM and other information technologies, to reach leaders across Africa, and throughout the Diaspora around the world!  We are planning to release the agenda for the 2020 RHB Series next week.

Mel, we like to end with a last question on what is been done by you and other veterans of African advocacy in Washington ,DC, to ensure that there is continuity in the great work you have done for decades?

I am pleased to say that CFA has always prioritized preparing the next generation of leadership to support Africa.  I recall my own experience in coming up, how the Black leaders at that time were not attuned to helping me or any of the up and coming folks, to prepare for leadership.  One of my bosses told once told me when I went to him about career advice, “You must pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”!  In other words, he was not going to do anything to help me to advance my career!  I decided then and there that if I am ever in the position, I would take a much different approach to the next generation!

I am extremely proud of my role in the formulation of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), that was launched by President Barack Obama, after he became President.  President Obama sent an aide to see me late in 2008, and asked me to offer my thoughts on what approach the President could take in regards to Africa, in that when he arrived in office, the U.S. economy was in total freefall, we were fully engaged in fighting two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan),  and he needed to spend his first year or so in fixing the economy and getting Americans back to work!  He also followed George W. Bush in office.  President Bush, despite his limited knowledge and interest in Africa, ended up being perhaps the most successful U.S. President in history in relationship to Africa, allocating $15 billion to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and $5 billion to launch the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which provided new development support for Africa. 

President Obama wanted to show Africa that he, as a son of the continent, was indeed very much interested in the affairs of Africa, but he needed to spend his first year or so, fixing the monumental problems in the U.S.  I wrote a paper for the President Obama, and suggested that he not spend his political capital trying to get African old tyrants to do the right thing, but focus his attention on the young, the up and coming generation, and preparing them for leadership!  President Obama loved the idea, and went on to structure YALI!

*Culled from August Issue for PAV Magazine

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Friends In Need, Friends Indeed:Q & A With Dr Rasha Kalej On The Merck Foundation Response To COVID 19 in Africa
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed its agenda, but the Merck Foundation under the leadership of its CEO Rasha Kelej remains a dependable development partner  for Africa. From continuous engagement with African first Ladies, to raising awareness and showing appreciation to frontline actors, Dr Rasha Kelej sheds light on the response of the Merck Foundation to Covid 19 in Africa in the following Q &A

With the first ladies that you work with, what initiatives have been embarked on in response to COVID 19?

Merck Foundation has raced to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in partnership with 18 African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information and Education focusing on four main areas: community support , training doctors and community awareness through our “stay at home “ media recognition awards and children storybook. To give a brief ;

1) Community donations: the lockdown imposed in most countries had hit the daily workers and women the most, making it very difficult for them to survive. Therefore, we partnered with the African First Ladies of Liberia, Ghana, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Niger, Sierra Leone, Malawi (Former) and Burkina Faso to support livelihood of thousands of women and families of casual and daily workers who are most affected by the Coronavirus (COVID -19) lockdown. The relief contribution was also undertaken in Egypt with the aim to support 500 families.

2) Coronavirus Healthcare Capacity Building: We strongly believe that building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare specially during this vicious pandemic, therefore, Merck Foundation will strongly continue their current capacity advancement programs and will specially focus on building Coronavirus healthcare capacity through providing African and Asian medical postgraduates with one-year online diploma and two-year online Master degree in both Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines at one of the UK Universities. This program is in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministers of Health and Academia across the two continents.

As part of our strategy of responding to coronavirus lockdown, we scaled up to more African and Asian medical postgraduates to provide online medical specialization scholarships. We will now focus more on online scholarships which will be for one-year diploma and two year master degree in several specialties such as: Diabetes, Cardiovascular Preventive Medicines, Endocrinology and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines. We invite Medical Graduates to apply for these courses by email us on submit@merckfoundation.com

3) Community Awareness: We  also launched ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards in partnership with  First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi (Former), Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi (Former), Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Mali, Mozambique for English, French, Portuguese and Arabic Speaking African countries. The awards have been also announced for Middle Eastern, Asian countries and in Spanish for Latin American Countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe, Keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown with the aim to separate facts from myths and misconceptions’. The winners of the awards will be announced soon.

4) Community awareness for Children and Youth: We also launched an inspiring storybook called ‘Making the Right Choice’ in partnership with 18 African First Ladies. The story aims to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth as it provides facts about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy during the outbreak. It also promotes honesty, hard-work and the ability to make the right choices even during the most challenging times. The story has been  released in three languages: English, French and Portuguese.

Dr Kelej and the Merck Foundation have partnered with African First Ladies on diverse projects to mitigate the effects of Covid 19
Dr Kelej and the Merck Foundation have partnered with African First Ladies on diverse projects to mitigate the effects of Covid 19

There is also a song out -My White Army song from a group of 11 artists from 11 African countries in three languages ; for ur first time in Arabic , French and English. on the pandemic, how did you come about this initiative?

I started this song as an idea of creating an inspiring pan African song which aims to thank the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, who are risking exposure to the virus so everyone else can stay home and stay healthy.

I strongly believe, it is important for the people on the front line; doctors, nurses and health workers to know how grateful we are. I did not want this to be a one-off thank you, but one that becomes a regular act of gratitude across our communities. I have heard stories of horrible behavior against our health workers, such as, landlords are forcefully evicting them due to paranoia that they might spread COVID -19. It is shocking, illegal and inhuman behavior”.

Through the My White Army song, singers representing Africa are expressing our love, respect and gratitude for doctors, nurses and health workers, the frontliners in the coronavirus battle. It is their messages of support for those braving the outbreak to help others.

This is the first time in Africa and may be in the world that 11 singers from 11 African countries in three languages have participated in one song, to support the medical staff during this difficult time.

The title of the song- ‘My White Army’ simply refers to the team of health workers who wear white uniforms to save and defend us against the coronavirus pandemic which seem like a battel to the world.

What criteria was used in picking the 11 artists that were used for the song and what is the feedback you have received since the song was released?

The criteria I used was to approach singers from Arabic, English and French speaking countries with a representation from East, West, North and South Africa. Of course, I approached many singers, but I selected the ones who showed passion and great interest and were willing to work under this difficult times and restrictions.

I must say am happy with the team of singers that could come on board, but this is the beginning of series of projects and songs to be done from different countries including Portuguese speaking countries. Singers from all countries will be contacted and represented in the future to create songs to address different sensitive topics in Africa.

The 6th edition of Merck Africa Asia Luminary took place in Ghana last year , what souvenirs did you take out the forum and with COVID 19, what plans for the next one?

 Of course this year we will not be able to conduct the luminary  in Zambia in October like it was originally planned due to coronavirus pandemic new regulations.  We will conduct our forums online this year and we will postpone the luminary to 2021. Hopefully by then everything will be under control.

The Merck Foundation rallied a group of top African artists to use music in thanking frontline actors and sharing safety tips
The Merck Foundation rallied a group of top African artists to use music in thanking frontline actors and sharing safety tips

You were listed last year amongst the top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine; how did you receive this news?

I am very proud to be listed among the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2019. This recognition is very important for me and for Merck foundation as it acknowledges my efforts, my team’s efforts for empowering infertile women and extensively working on eliminating stigma associated with infertility through our historic campaign ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. I am very passionate about this cause and I love my work and my achievements as an African woman.

Through this movement, we have succeeded to initiate a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with 18 African First Ladies who are the ambassadors of this movement, I love to work with them. And also, by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

May we have an idea of any other initiatives or projects that the Merck Foundation will be working on in the course of the year?

 In addition to the four  areas we are focusing on to respond to COVID 19. We will focus online speciality education like as mentioned earlier.  And of course all our awards which can be conducted remotely. The full focus will be on our community awareness through our social media channel. I am very prod that we reached 3 m followers on all our channels including my private channels @Rasha Kelej . I am still thanks to all technology platforms , in close contact with all our partners , as our Alumni and new candidates to ensure that Merck foundation is on the right track to realize our vision.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Kenya:Raila responds to Ruto’s ‘deep state’ claims, says he is unaware of the outfit
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s chief opposition leader Raila Odinga

Kenya’s chief opposition leader Raila Odinga has once again maintained his stand saying Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party is not in the government.

In a press briefing on Thursday, August 13, 2020, Raila said he holds no position in the government indicating that ODM is in opposition.

The former Prime Minister was responding to claims by the Deputy President William Ruto over the existence of a ‘deep state’ that is working tirelessly to block him from ascending to the presidency.

The ODM party leader distanced himself from the alleged outfit saying he is unaware of its existence.

“As you know, where I am I hold no position in the government of the Republic of Kenya. Kenya is led by the President whose name you know and his deputy whose name you also know. So if you are talking about the deep state, who is there? It’s the president and his deputy,” Raila said.

“Go and ask the Deputy President which deep State he is talking about… we are not in government as ODM. So we don’t know about this deep State,” he said.

The second in command on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, accused unnamed individuals whom he referred to as a system of devising schemes to rig him out during 2022 polls. Ruto stated that he is not afraid of anything.

“I just want to tell them: ‘We’re waiting for you’. This system, this deep state we are being told about, we are waiting for it,” he said.

In rejoinder, Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis dismissed the claims adding that the ‘deep state’ he is referring to secured him from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Ruto is a daytime dreamer. He is dreaming. He will never be the president of this great country. No one will stand in his way to stop him. We will see where he will get votes,” Atwoli told the Star.

The vocal Cotu boss accused the Deputy President of undermining the president calling him to resign.

“Ruto is interested in politics instead of serving Kenyans. He is number two and if he is not comfortable he should resign. This young man should not be rude to his bosses who are the taxpayers. He needs to understand that he is using the taxpayers’ funds for security, transport, and hosting delegations and must respect them,” Atwoli added.

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Cameroon:Gruesome Crimes, Impunity And A Disturbing Trend.
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

* Chief Charles Taku is an International Lawyer and a former President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA
* Chief Charles Taku is an International Lawyer and a former President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA

The catalogue of crimes targeting civilians in the Southern Cameroons and elsewhere in the territory of LRC bear disturbing common features. These features appear to be similar to the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Southern Cameroons but for the dolo specialis or specific intent underlying the targeted massacre of vulnerable members of the civilian population among them, women and children.

The targeting of women for sacrificial rituals in the political landscape of LRC was well documented and denounced by one Eballe Angounou more than three decades ago. Corpses of lifeless decapitated women have been found in different parts of Cameroun, in Soa, Yaounde, Bafoussam and many other locations over several years, most of them killed and decapitated. No known reasonable action was taken to find and bring the perpetrators to account for these crimes. Targeted killings have also afflicted key religious organisations through these disturbingly similar methods. Again, no known reasonable actions were taken to find and bring the perpetrators of the crimes to book. There appear to be a culture of fear to even contemplate calling for accountability. Why?

In the result, over the years, a culture of impunity surrounding the violation of the sanctity of human life has become a tolerated, if not an acceptable official norm. It is this culture of impunity that has regrettably been interposed into the genocidal war in the Southern Cameroons.

I will not venture to second-guess or make assumptions about the responsibility for the crimes targeting women, children, clerics and religious personnel, healthcare personnel and humanitarian assistance personnel. It is irresponsible to make presumptuous accusations without demonstrable forensic indicia pointing in the direction of potential perpetrators. Yet the recent killings have aroused lousy opinion newspaper headings attributing responsibility, without investigation.

 This is evidence of the dearth of investigative journalism which investigative journalistic giants such Chief Besong Etah Oben, Charlie Ndichia, Adolf Mongo Dipoko, Chief Jerome Gwellem, Tataw Obenson, D.A.T Williams and others were well known for. Who is to blame? Surely the system which colonised the Southern Cameroons and turned some of our people to paid parrots of the cultural genocide that has turned our human identity and sense of intellectual discernment on its head.

Be this as it may, I will venture to point to some disturbing trends surrounding these targeted killings during and in the context of the genocide and systemic crimes which are aimed at exterminating Southern Cameroonians on the basis of their Southern Cameroons identity. My concern at this point in time is to point out these common trends which if not reasonably explained may be reasonably construed as an implicit admission of criminal responsibility or attempts to conceal criminal responsibility for the crimes. In order words there is a reasonable perception to attempts at stifling reasonable enquiry and abate mounting calls for a deployment of a fact finding mission to investigate all the crimes and not just some and bring the perpetrators to book in an international transitional justice mechanism or in countries with universal jurisdiction.

In a keynote address which I presented in a workshop for Regional Military Commanders that took place in Monrovia Liberia from October 3- 6 2019, I emphasized the point that the law and customs of war and the Geneva Conventions are applicable to State Parties and armed combatants possessing an identifiable and reasonable command and the capacity to formulate and implement rules of engagement, deploy forces and impose punishment in case of violations. I also emphasized that the Geneva Conventions I-IV protect civilians in armed conflicts not taking part in conflict, soldiers and combatants hors de combat, prisoners of war, civilian targets and protected targets such as hospitals, places of worship, cultural heritage, palaces and civilian subsistence economy.

Also, certain weapons are outlawed in armed conflicts. The definition of weapon of war in the Cameroun Code of military justice until the legislation criminalizing civil liberties did not include Dane Guns and some outdated military ordnance that was available during WWII. I defended Arong Peter, a Games guard at the Korup National Park who was brought before the Military Tribunal in Kumba by the Nguti Gendarmes for the attempted murder of some Poachers. Lt Colonel Ndjock Presiding over the Military Tribunal in Kumba, acquitted him on the grounds that the case was wrongly brought to the Military Court because the weapons he was accused of using to attempt the crime did not fit the definition of weapons of war under the Military Code. I have to specify that the militarization for civil liberties law which is applicable today is extremely expensive and is a cobweb of terror over LRC French vassal prison state. It is a crucial tool in the execution of the ongoing genocide in the senseless war of choice in the Southern Cameroons.

I have stated before and must repeat that any pint of civilian blood lost will be accounted for in the fullness of time. The execution of civilians who are not taking part in the war and are not substantially engaged in the war effort, is reprehensible and unacceptable. Where the criminal responsibility for many of the crimes have been admitted by the perpetrators, I will not belabour the eliciting them. The disturbing trend that is subject to this posting is limited to cases where responsibility is admitted, and no further action taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

General Melingui a Cameroun Government Commander, shortly before his transfer to a higher command position admitted candidly that soldiers under his command committed crimes. This admission should have led to the initiation of investigations to bring the perpetrators to account. This did not occur. It has still not occurred.

The execution of a Catholic Priest in Kembong was attribute by the Prelate of the Mamfe Diocese to the Cameroun Army. No one has been held accountable for the crime. The Cameroun Government made a public statement stating that it had apprehended the perpetrators of the murder of Florence Ayafor a Penitentiary officer of the Bamenda Prison. Little is known about whom these individuals are and the purpose of the gruesome crime. Also, no further action is known to have been taken to bring them to account for their crime.

The gruesome beheading of a civilian in Bafut was admitted by the government of LRC as haven been carried out by a senior officer of its army, whom it alleged was apprehended and taken to Yaoundé and nothing has been heard about the matter ever since. This was one beheading admitted by the Government too many. There are others which the government promised to investigate, and nothing has been heard so far.

The murder of an American missionary is a case in point. This was an easy case to investigate through forensic pathologists and experts in ballistics to identify the weapon that was used in the committing the crime. Was it for the lack of expertise or a cover up such as that in the Ngarbuh massacre? The answer points in the direction of a cover up.

The Ngarbuh massacre is a patent cover up. It was another simple case in which forensic pathologists, experts in ballistics and experts in technical intelligence would, if available and requested have established criminal responsibility and how far it went in the chain of command within a reasonable period. Only a nitwit will admit that foot soldiers of a professional army will deploy and with a militia to attack a target without specific command authority from civilian and military commanders. I am persuaded that a military operation in war time will not be commanded through military radio communication up the chain of command and that the commanders would be informed of the outcome of the operation through an alleged written report on the basis of which the high command of the army and civilian commanders made conflicting misleading explanations blaming the victims of the attack.

There is available information that the alleged perpetrators of the gruesome murder of a woman in Muyuka have been apprehended by the Cameroun army. This, if true should have ended the speculation about those responsible for the crime. But the common trend of allegedly apprehending alleged perpetrators of gruesome crimes and taking no known action to put them to trial raises the spectre of a cover up. It may be construed as some have alleged that the crimes are committed by Cameroun government soldiers and its allied militias purposively to blackmail alleged “separatist fighters” without specifying which, in attempts to paint all restoration fighters with the same brush during this emotive period of heightened international pressure for an internationally endorsed negotiation to address the root causes of the conflict, end the carnage and the humanitarian calamity.

Cameroun Government admitted in its report on the Ngarbuh massacre the use of allied militias by its military to perpetrate the crime. This was an official admission of the use and participation of armed militias on the side of Government forces, although a government minister, some government administrators and ruling party political elite have publicly admitted to forming, training and arming militias and armed gangs to bolster the governments war efforts.

 These militias and armed bands are alleged to be active in the kidnapping and ransoming of civilians on the watch of government soldiers and the areas known to be under government control. They have also been accused for some of these gruesome massacres with impunity due to their apparent immunity from prosecution; an impunity which they appear to share with government soldiers who have blighted Southern Cameroons towns and villages baying for the blood of its citizenry.

The killing of humanitarian aimed workers and healthcare personnel has become so recurrent with no action, and no explanation by the government, even to defend the allegations made the victims that the perpetrators were government and its allied militia. This is impunity. Attempts at mimicking a shift of responsibility will deceive only the gullible. A state party to the Geneva Convention should respect its multilateral treaty obligation. Cameroun, I regret has not done so in this and many other cases during these 59 long years and in its prosecution of this senseless war of choice.

* Chief Charles Taku is an International Lawyer and a former President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association- ICCBA

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Cameroon: Outrage as Suspected Amba Fighters “Slaughter” Woman in Muyuka
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The gruesome images have drawn have drawn local and international condemnation across the board
The gruesome images have drawn have drawn local and international condemnation across the board

The gruesome killing of lady, 35-year-old mother of four has caused great consternation amongst many in the trouble English-speaking Region. The incident happened August 11, 2020, in Muyuka, one of the most affected towns in Cameroon’s South West Region.

A video circulating online and seen by PAV shows a lady, her hands bounded behind her back and being tortured with a machete. One of the men then moved to use the machete on the lady’s neck twice, causing her to bleed to death. She was then dragged and dumped in the middle of the road.

The lady was accused of being a “blackleg” to the separatist push to have an autonomous country. Some well-known secessionists took to social media shortly after the gruesome killing was carried out to give their blessings while also promising similar actions should to any other person that goes against their struggle.

Some have called the video the worst they have ever seen, while others have refused watching it. The international organizations that according to many are quick to condemn attacks carried out by Cameroon’s security forces have been urged to do same for the atrocities that have constantly been carried out by separatist forces across the Regions.

Politicians and civil rights activists have all condemn the brutal killing of the woman. Barrister Akere Muna, former Presidential Candidate said it was barbaric and unacceptable. “I was unable to complete watching a most gruesome video, an incident which supposedly took place in Muyuka, SWR. Hands tied behind her back, a lady is hacked to death with a machete. Whatever the cause, this is most barbaric and inhuman. Unacceptable!” Barrister Akere Muna wrote.

Illara Allegrozzi of the Human Rights Watch shares a similar view. She stated: “Cameroon: verifying horrific video circulated yesterday on social media showing a woman in Muyuka, South West, tortured by alleged separatists who slit her throat accusing her of informing military. Unspeakable violence. Sources say yesterday separatists also beheaded a man in Ndop, North West,” the senior researcher stated.

CHRAD Indicts Amba Boys over Atrocities against civilians

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, one of the most renowned human rights organizations in the country have documented atrocities carried out by separatist across the North West and South West regions. Some 6 killings have been documented by the Rights group, all committed by separatist fighters.

On the killing of the lady in Muyuka, the CHRDA in a document said: “This is just one of many cases of violence against women, occurring especially in rural communities and committed by separatist fighters against the civilian population. In 2019, separatist fighters in like manner abducted and killed Florence Ayafor in Santa subdivision of the North West Region.”

CHRDA went on to state that: “On the same August 11, another video emerged online depicting a man being interrogated in a cocoa farm by armed separatist fighters in Muyuka. They accused him of being a blackleg and that he is leaking information to the military because he works as a security officer in a petrol station (BOCCOM) where soldiers often sit. From the video, the man can be seen with a swollen face. He was savagely beaten by his captors. At the time of this report, his whereabouts are unknown.”

Ambazonia Groups distancing themselves from the Killing

The Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Activists Front, SCAAF, have distanced themselves from that gruesome killing. SCAAF through its Secretary-General Belmondo Atanga in a statement said: 

“SCAAF has seen with consternation the beheading of a lady in Muyuka, Southern Cameroons in a video making rounds on social media on 11/08/2020. SCAAF is presently engaging to investigate and identify the actors of this barbaric act. As we continue to find out who the murderers are, SCAAF condemns in very strong terms such a barbaric action that only comes to taint the image of the revolution. SCAAF uses this opportunity to inform all actors in the Southern Cameroons war of independence that war crimes are punishable under international law as per the Geneva Convention.”

“Ambazonia fighters must do all in their powers to avoid any of such crimes and most importantly fish out anyone within their midst likened to do such. SCAAF is also aware that as the United Nations Assemble approaches every September, actions like these always come to light. SCAAF cannot rule out Biya’s regime sabotage as they have been doing, on this note Ambazonia fighters must be watchful and fish out any paid agents or look-alike persons in their community prone to carry such despicable acts. BELMONDO ATANGA. Secretary-General, SCAAF.”

Since the crisis in Cameroon’s two English Regions turned violent in 2017, many civilians have unfortunately been killed by both Cameroon’s security forces and the armed separatist fighters. Civilians have had their arms maimed, others beaten by separatist fighters often accusing them of being blacklegs. This unfolding catastrophe as put by CHRDA has caused many persons to abandon their homes to neighbouring areas or are refugees in Nigeria.

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