Malawi denies claims Bushiri took a ride with President Chakwera
November 16, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
A diplomatic storm is brewing between SA and Malawi after Pastor Shepherd Bushiri absconded this week – at about the same time that Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera jetted into SA for a brief meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Some social media outlets have been setting the narrative that Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church who has returned home in Malawi contravening his bail conditions was offered a ride on the President’s plane together with his wife, Mary.
Malawi’s Nyasa Times reported that the State House Press Secretary, Brian Banda, on Saturday afternoon described the allegations as false.
He also said Chakwera and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, did not discuss the issue of Bushiri during their meeting in Pretoria on Friday.
“The topics of discussion between President Lazarus Chakwera, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and their delegations were highlighted by the two leaders during their joint press briefing,” Banda said.
Bushiri was scheduled to address the media on Saturday afternoon. The media briefing has since been postponed.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has said they will seek an extradition process for Bushiri.
“Malawi is a signatory of the SADC protocol and other legal instruments on extraditions. We will not hesitate to invoke these provisions and instruments to assist law enforcement agencies to extradite fugitives of justice,” Lamola tweeted on Saturday.
But Bushiri said he and his wife “temporarily” left for Malawi due to safety concerns.
“There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been state protection,” Bushiri said.
The preacher claimed that he and his wife were being persecuted in South Africa.
The couple was arrested in October on charges of fraud, money laundering and theft worth more than R102 million. They were granted R200 000 bail each last week.
Africa’s governance performance declines for the first time in a decade, finds 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
November 16, 2020 | 0 Comments
New data delivers a clear warning: governance progress in Africa has slowed since 2015, and declines for the first time in 2019. Deterioration in participation, rights, rule of law and security threatens improvements achieved in economic opportunities and human development. This is particularly concerning with the COVID-19 pandemic set to increase existing challenges and reduce hard-won gains
Click here to register for the media briefing at 12:00 GMT. The 2020 IIAG will be released at 12:30 GMT.
Dakar and London, Monday 16 November 2020 – The 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, highlights a decline in African governance performance for the first time since 2010.
The first decline in governance performance since 2010
The 2019 African average score for Overall Governance falls by -0.2 points below that of 2018, registering the first year-on-year score deterioration since 2010. This recent decline is triggered by worsening performance in three of the four IIAG categories: Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Security & Rule of Law and Human Development.
In fact, progress had already been slowing down since 2015. Over 2015-2019, performance slackened in both Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity, while deterioration continued in both Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion, even worsening for the latter.
However, over the decade, overall governance performance has slightly progressed, and in 2019, 61.2% of Africa’s population lives in a country where Overall Governance is better than in 2010.
The 2020 IIAG is the most comprehensive assessment of governance performance in 54 African countries. It tracks Africa’s trajectory across four main categories: Security & Rule of Law; Participation, Rights & Inclusion; Foundations for Economic Opportunity; and Human Development. The new IIAG incorporates three significant upgrades: an expanded governance scope, including new areas such as environment and equality; strengthened indicators, thanks to better data availability; and a new section fully dedicated to Africa’s Citizens’ Voices.
Over the last decade, governance dimensions have followed diverging paths
Progress achieved over the last decade has mainly been driven by improvements in economic opportunities and human development. Foundations for Economic Opportunity (+4.1) and Human Development (+3.0) have made good progress, primarily led by improvements in the sub-categories Infrastructure and Health, complemented by advances in Sustainable Environment.
This is threatened, however, by an increasingly precarious security situation and concerning erosion in rights as well as civic and democratic space. Over the last decade, both Participation, Rights & Inclusion (-1.4) and Security & Rule of Law (-0.7) have registered worrying declines.
Over the past decade, 20 countries, home to 41.9% of Africa’s population, while achieving progress in Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity, have at the same time declined in both Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion.
Only eight countries manage to improve in all four categories over the decade: Angola, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Sudan and Togo.
COVID-19 heightens existing challenges and threatens economic progress
The 2020 IIAG provides a picture of the continent before it was hit by COVID-19. In terms of Participation, Rights & Inclusion, progress was slowing long before the pandemic, which only worsens the existing negative trajectory. Conversely, economic opportunity was set on a positive course of sustained progress, and the impact of COVID-19 is now threatening this hard-won achievement.
Africa’s citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with governance delivery in their countries
In 2019, new analysis of the Citizens’ Voices section in the IIAG reveals that Public Perception of Overall Governance registers the lowest score over the decade, with the pace of deterioration nearly doubling within the last five years.
A balanced approach to governance is key to progress, as well as improvements in rule of law, justice, inclusion and equality
The strongest correlations of Overall Governance performances are found with the sub-categories Rule of Law & Justice and Inclusion & Equality. The indicators showing the strongest relationships with high overall governance scores span all four IIAG categories, underlining the importance of a balanced approach to governance.
The growing imbalance between the various governance dimensions outlined above is likely to threaten overall governance performance.
Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, says:
“This is a testing time for Africa. Pre-existing weaknesses and challenges in African governance, as uncovered by the 2020 IIAG, are exacerbated by COVID-19, which also threatens economic progress. Citizens’ dissatisfaction and mistrust with governance delivery are growing. African states have an opportunity to demonstrate both their resolve to safeguard democracy and their ability to drive a new growth model that is more resilient, more equitable, more sustainable, and more self-reliant.”
About the 2020 IIAG and its new framework
- The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as the provision of political, social, economic and environmental public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their government, and that a government has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.
- Since 2007, the IIAG constitutes the most comprehensive data set measuring African governance.
- Every two years the IIAG provides comparable data on the whole spectrum of African governance in 54 African countries over a period of ten years – the 2020 IIAG covers 2010-2019.
- The IIAG dataset and online and Excel data portals provide scores and trends at country and continental level as well as for African geographical regions, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) or specific groups.
- Over the ten years since the IIAG inception in 2007, the data and governance landscapes have both evolved immensely. To incorporate those changes, a thorough review of the IIAG has been conducted between 2018 and 2020, providing a completely re-worked framework for the 2020 IIAG, with three main changes.
- An expanded governance scope: The new IIAG takes into account the new governance landscape, linked to expanded 21st century citizens’ expectations. The 2020 IIAG now encompasses areas such as environment, digital rights, healthcare affordability or inequality measures in social protection.
- A strengthened and more balanced framework: While the IIAG has increased its coverage of topics and the number of variables composing the Index, the number of indicators has been reduced. The new IIAG is built on a more balanced structure, and 90% of its underlying indicators are clustered. This has led to a strengthening of the IIAG, providing a clearer, more complete, and more stable framework. The methodology used to calculate IIAG scores, initially built with the Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University, is unchanged. Fully reviewed in search of better ways to calculate the IIAG, it has been confirmed as the best way to calculate a composite index like the IIAG.
- A new section dedicated to Africa’s Citizens’ Voices: This new section provides a comprehensive “reality check” to complement the IIAG results with citizens’ perceptions and satisfaction with public services.
- The new IIAG dataset, the online and Excel data portals are freely available for access on our website. For the next two years, the Foundation will continue working on unpacking the findings of the IIAG across the full set of categories and sub-categories, as well as at country, regional and group levels.
About the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of political leadership and public governance in Africa. By providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance, the Foundation aims to promote meaningful change on the continent.
The Foundation, which is a non-grant making organisation, focusses on defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa through five main initiatives:
- Ibrahim Index of African Governance
- Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
- Ibrahim Governance Weekend
- Ibrahim Fellowships and Scholarships
- Now Generation Network
*Mo Ibrahim Foundation
We Are Laying The Foundation For A New Malawi-President Chakwera
November 15, 2020 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
The success of Malawians, their prosperity, their aspirations fulfilled, their future ensured, their country secured, and their lives assured, is what must define the success of this administration, says President Lazarus Chakwera. Responding to questions from Pan African Visions on the first hundred days of his administration, President Chakwera says the focus has been on laying a solid foundation for an efficient machinery to deliver change that Malawians want.
“Ours is a system that needs an overhaul. That’s why we are talking of changing direction for this sinking ship which had been weighed down by greed, nepotism, corruption, executive arrogance and all the economic atrocities that were committed by a cartel of state criminals,” President Chakwera said.
Describing the evils as deeply entrenched, President Chakwera says it will take a collaborative effort to uproot them and his administration was resolute on putting the right people in the right places to get Malawi back on the rails.
President Chakwera thanks for accepting to answer our questions, your presidency has recently clocked one hundred days, may we know how Malawi is faring under your leadership?
President Chakwera: What the first hundred days of my Administration have sought to do is to turn Malawi around, to change course. My first task was to put up a team of ministers that would understand and implement the Tonse philosophy of shared responsibility, shared accountability, and shared prosperity. The values of that philosophy are outlined in my Super High 5 agenda, whose tenets are Servant Leadership, Uniting Malawians, Prospering Together, Ending Corruption, and the Rule of law. Over the past three months, we have focused on laying these foundations across the public sector so that we have an efficient machinery for delivering the change Malawians want.
In what shape did you meet the country when you took over, and what are some of the concrete measures you have taken to get Malawi back on the rails?
President Chakwera : I said this when I was giving the State of the Nation Address in parliament, that by way of diagnosis, my Administration believes that the Executive is too powerful, the Judiciary is too underfunded, the Legislature is too subservient, and all three are too corrupt. Ours is a system that needs an overhaul. That’s why we are talking of changing direction for this sinking ship which had been weighed down by greed, nepotism, corruption, executive arrogance and all the economic atrocities that were committed by a cartel of state criminals. These evils were deeply entrenched and went on for so long that it will take a collaborative effort to uproot them. But we are resolute, and we are on course with putting the right people in the right places to get the country back on track.
How is your administration coping with the ravages of COVID-19?
President Chakwera: The COVID-19 pandemic is such a colossal challenge that requires not just domestic unity, but also global unity and innovative solutions. It has ravaged our health system and caused deep economic harm to our nation. Malawi, being one of the Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Countries is among the hardest hit.
As a country, we have made efforts to contain the disease from spreading, to disseminate messages of awareness, and to sustain economic activities., ensuring the pandemic does not wipe out our socio-economic gains of the last few months.
It will interest you to learn that Malawi issued a Statement on 25th September, 2020, to the United Nations, which highlighted the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in terms of: high risk of debt default; worsening trade competitiveness; supply chain disruptions; and a constrained informal working sector. The Statement further appealed for enhanced international support towards the LDCs and debt cancellation ultimately and an extension of the debt moratorium in the meantime.
In short, we know that there are short and long term implications that come with COVID-19 and my government continues to deal with both. So far, we are thankful to God that our efforts are yielding fruit.
What is your response to criticism that your cabinet is a family affair with relatives appointed as Ministers and the bulk of the cabinet from the Central region which is your fief?
President Chakwera: When I came up with the list of names, marital status, religion, and tribe were not considerations. All I consider was whether these Ministers have the capacity to deliver results and the public credibility to have a following for their example of hard work. I believe that a just society is not only one in which familial, regional, and marital ties do not qualify you for service, but also one in which those ties do not disqualify you for service. The only thing that counts is merit.
Let us talk about some of the promises you made, and we start with fighting corruption, just how bad was corruption in Malawi when you took office and what progress has been made in fighting it?
President Chakwera: Like I have said somewhere before in this interview, our society is deeply entrenched in corruption and that it will take all of us to cooperate in order to deal away with this beast.
In the first place, we must equip with enough resources the arms and organizations that are concerned with fighting corruption, such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Police Service and all others. My Administration has already fulfilled this promise in the recent budget allocation that was presented and approved by the National Assembly.
Secondly it is to allow all the bodies that fight corruption to function independently, to make sure that there is no interference from the Executive or any other arm of government. I am glad that, the Anti-Corruption Bureau for example, is now able to carry out its work without interference.
We have seen several officials from the previous administration arrested, how will corruption cases be handled in a way that Malawians do not see it as a witch hunt of the previous administration?
President Chakwera : As long as there is independence in the bodies that are mandated to fight corruption, as long as we follow the rule of law, as long as there is no interference from any arm of government, people will eventually realize that there is no witch hunting in our fight against corruption.
One of the promises you made was to meet regularly with opposition leaders to get their input on running the country, may we know how many times President Chakwera has met with the opposition and how useful their proposals have been?
President Chakwera: This is an ongoing process, and we are on course to set up the first meeting with the Leader of Opposition before the end of the year. So far, I have already met with the Secretaries General of opposition parties and well as various senior members of the same to get their views on board. In that regard, I can assure you that we have met and continue to meet with the opposition, and we are resolute in making sure that we are servant leaders who put Malawi first.
What plans do you have to strengthen the electoral system and institutions in a way that under your leadership and going forward Malawi will not experience rigged and flawed elections again?
President Chakwera: We are putting in place plans to ensure the independence of the Malawi Electoral Commission. One of them is to ensure that there is no obstruction to the electoral reform Bills that were passed by Parliament recently, and that we continue to propose legislative amendments aimed at enhancing Parliament’s independence in handling matters of elections and reducing the President’s power to obstruct its functions.
President Chakwera is known to be a man of strong religious believes, what role are your Christian values playing in influencing your policy choices and the direction of Malawi under your leadership?
President Chakwera: The Super Hi5 agenda is the blueprint for the Tonse government development agenda. This template is not a biased agenda that leans on religion or party affiliation. It is a template that suits all Malawians from all walks of life. As a Christian, one thing I need to continuously remember is that I represent people of diverse backgrounds, that is the reason why the Super Hi5 makes sense; Servant Leadership, Unity, Prospering Together, Ending Corruption, and upholding the Rule of Law. All our policies must be guided by this template. My faith guides me to remain strong in delivering this agenda.
What is the reaction of President Chakwera to penchant for African leaders to abrogate constitutional term limits to remain in power?
President Chakwera: As long as I live and breathe, that will never happen here.
With all the promises you made to Malawians and the great ambitions you have, what will be your definition of a successful presidency?
President Chakwera : I am here to serve Malawians, nothing more, nothing less. The success of Malawians, their prosperity, their aspirations fulfilled, their future ensured, their country secured, their lives assured, is what must define the success of this administration.
2 Years Later – Zimbabwean MP Erroneously Declared Winner Still in Parliament
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
Mistakes do happen from time to time. Some mistakes may be rectified easily without many consequences while others may have disastrous consequences even if they are rectified. In Zimbabwe, the body responsible for all national electoral activities made a huge error when it announced the wrong winner for a House of Assembly seat.
After the people had cast their votes in the 2018 harmonized election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) undertook the process of compiling and tabulating all election results before announcing the winners. When it came to tabulating the results for the Chegutu West constituency parliamentary seats, the numbers showed that Gift Machoka Konjana of the MDC Alliance had won the elections. However, something bizarre happened (some would call it a mistake) as the ZEC on national television announced that the duly elected member of Parliament for the Chegutu West constituency was Dexter Nduna from ZANU (PF).
As ZEC had clearly displayed the numbers polled for both Konjana and Nduna but had somehow made an error in announcing the name of the rightful winner, many thought that it was just a matter of making another statement to the effect that an error had been made and the rightful winner was Gift Machoka Konjana instead of Dexter Nduna but alas, that was not the case.
As many would soon learn, such a mistake could not only be corrected by the word of mouth but had to be corrected by the Courts – this despite the fact that evidence of a false declaration was clear for all to see.
Having heard that the only route to have Dexter Nduna removed from Parliament as he was in actual effect an election loser, Konjana did approach the Electoral Court a few weeks after the erroneous declaration. Representing Konjana, Advocate Tererai Mafukidze argued that the Electoral Court had to move swiftly in correcting a clear and obvious mistake done by ZEC. Electoral Court judge Justice Mary Zimba-Dube ruled that Advocate Mafukidze’s petition against Nduna was fatally defective solely on account of being brought on notice.
With the petition dismissed by the Electoral Court, Advocate Mafukidze and Konjana took the matter up to the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court, Advocate Mafukidze argued that Justice Zimba-Dube erred by declining to exercise discretion to condone non-compliance with its rules upon erroneously finding that the electoral law does not vest in it the competence to regulate its process yet section 171(9) of the Electoral Act vests such competence. Furthermore, Advocate Mafukidze stated that it was grave injustice that Justice Zimba-Dube did not consider the merits of the case even though ZEC acknowledged under oath the error of declaration. Essentially, Advocate Mafukidze asked the Supreme Court to set aside Justice Zimba-Dube’s earlier judgment and allow the petition to be heard on merit by a different judge.
The Supreme Court however is taking its time to make its judgment on the case and to this day, the man who was erroneously declared the winner of an election is still in Parliament and enjoying all the benefits that come with being a member of parliament.
The snail’s pace that the Supreme Court is moving with has not however disheartened or deterred Gift Konjana from working for the people who placed their confidence in him during the 2018 elections. In an interview with a local Zimbabwean news outlet, Gift Konjana had this to say, “My case is still before the courts in the Supreme Court. I will continue to fight as a matter of principle. The stakes are high, but still, I am determined. I pray that one day I will get justice…However, this is not in any way stopping me from executing my mandate as a people’s MP. I continue to be proactive in the constituency. I have a number of initiatives that I am carrying out. Am happy that am still connected with the grassroots.”
Speaking on ZEC’s error, the Election Resource Centre (ERC Africa) said “The case of the 2018 Parliamentary election results for Chegutu West reinforce the legal and institutional weaknesses associate with elections in Zimbabwe. Election laws need to be strengthened on how mistakes can be rectified and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission needs to set up administrative measures to resolve disputes.”
ERC Africa said the onus to have the error rectified did not just lie with the erred party that is, Gift Konjana but the whole constituency has a responsibility to demand their vote to be heard. The only way to do so is to petition the Courts to rectify the matter by overturning the decision made by ZEC. “The people of Chegutu must seek remedy to their tragedy through leading the demand for electoral reforms so that their vote is not compromised in the future. They must demand strong laws and strong institutions to make their future vote count. “
Losing Candidates Sworn in as MPs in Zimbabwean Parliament
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
The essence of elections is for the electorate, the people to vote and choose the candidate that they think will best represent their interests when elected. The candidates maybe running for a council/municipality seat, Parliament seat, Senate seat or the presidential sit. Regardless of the electoral method in use, the general rule is that the candidate (in first past the post system) or the party (in proportional representation system) that garners the most votes will be sworn into office. However, something bizarre recently took place as the losing candidates in an election saw themselves being sworn in to the House of Assembly.
The last Harmonized Election that took place in Zimbabwe was conducted in 2018. The election saw the electorate vote for three candidates in one go – one vote went to the candidate running for an urban/rural council seat, the second vote went to the candidate running for the House of Assembly while the last vote went to the candidate running for the presidential seat.
The overall winner in the presidential race as announced by the chief elections body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was Emmerson Mnangagwa (50.8%) from ZANU (PF), the party that has ruled Zimbabwe since the country attained its independence in 1980. The runner up in the presidential race was Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A) with 44.3% votes. 23 presidential candidates ran for the presidential seat – apart from the leading candidates Mnangagwa and Chamisa, all the other presidential candidates failed to garner more than 5% of the total votes.
When it came to the House of Assembly race, the revolutionary party ZANU (PF) won convincingly as it garnered two thirds of all National Assembly seats. ZANU (PF) won 145 seats out of the 210 contested seats. The ‘main’ opposition led by Chamisa came in second with 60 seats.
While everything looked straightforward after the announcement of the results, trouble soon arose when another MDC faction, MDC-T stated that the Alliance led by Chamisa had effectively dissolved soon after the 2018 elections. As such, there was no longer a party by the name MDC-Alliance meaning all candidates who had been elected on the MDC-Alliance ticket now represented their ‘individual’ parties. The MDC-Alliance was an alliance of several parties established before the 2018 election with the main aim of removing ZANU (PF) from power. After the MDC-T said the MDC-Alliance had effectively dissolved, it meant that all candidates now represented their individual parties instead of the ‘defunct’ MDC-Alliance. MDC-T also stated that Chamisa agreed to be part of the MDC-Alliance as a candidate representing MDC-T and as such, all MDC-Alliance MPs who won the 2018 election were effectively MDC-T members.
Not surprising, Chamisa quickly took the legal route as he challenged the assertion by the MDC-T that the MDC-Alliance was now defunct as it had served its purpose. Chamisa argued that the MDC-Alliance was now a political party on its own and was very much different from the MDC-T. To support his argument, Chamisa said both the MDC-Alliance and the MDC-T had held two separate Congresses where party leaders were chosen who would lead the two parties for the next 5 years. Chamisa was convinced therefore that by holding two different elective congresses, MDC-Alliance and the MDC-T had effectively demonstrated that they were two different political animals and thus they were independent from each other.
Upon hearing the two arguments from the MDC-Alliance as well as the MDC-T, the courts ruled that both arguments by the MDC-Alliance and the MDC-T were flawed. The Courts ruled that the only way forward was for the MDC-T to revert back to the 2014 structures and afterwards hold an elective congress that would lead to the emergence of new leaders. The Courts’ ruling therefore meant that the MDC-Alliance at law was no longer recognized as its leaders were also part of the MDC-T 2014 structures.
Using the Court’s ruling, leaders from the current MDC-T structures concluded that no one had the right to belong to two political parties. As such, those who aligned with the MDC-Alliance were asked to revoke their allegiances to the MDC-Alliance and rather swear allegiance to the MDC-T. This move therefore led to the clashes between the leaders of the MDC-Alliance led by Chamisa and the leaders of MDC-T led by Khupe and Mwonzora.
With the law on their side, the MDC-T leaders issued an ultimatum to all those who aligned with Chamisa starting that refusal to cross the floor to their side will see them being recalled from the party and in turn from their elected positions as they no longer represented the interests of the party. Acting on the ultimatum, the MDC-T has indeed recalled several MDC-Alliance councilors as well as Members of Parliament.
The New Legal Route into Parliament
Having made the recalls, a vacuum was now left in the Council as well as the House of Assembly. What this therefore meant was that by-elections had to be conducted for new candidates to be elected who would replace the recalled councilors and MPs. As fate would have it however, the novel corona virus pandemic was causing havoc and the feasibility of conducting by-elections in a time where large gatherings was prohibited was questioned. Some argued that by-elections were still safe to hold as the authorities would just enforce safe practices. However, others said there was danger of spreading the virus even more if by-elections were to be conducted. The government in the end supported the latter and passed a Covid-19 regulation that temporarily banned all election activities in the country.
With a vacuum left both in urban/rural councils as well as the House of Assembly and the ban on all electoral activities, the question many were left wondering over is – how will the recalled candidates be replaced. The Courts found an easy way of nominations. The parties that had been wrecked by the recalls were the ones to submit names for nominations. As the MDC-T claimed that all the MDC-Alliance who had won during the 2018 elections was in actual effect MDC-T members by law, it is the MDC-T which forwarded names for nomination. Among the names nominated was that of Thokozani Khuphe, the candidate who competed in the 2018 presidential race. Thokozani Khuphe’s nomination passed smoothly and she was duly elected as a Member of Parliament recently – she also now holds the post of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Khuphe was sworn in with several of her loyalists.
Elections? For What Purpose
The whole scenario which led a losing presidential candidate to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament has left many wondering. The big question is – why really should people worry about going to the voting booths when the candidates they choose to represent them can be recalled and are replaced by candidates that they didn’t vote for. Why go to elections when the Courts have the power to remove elected candidates from their positions. In an era where voter apathy in increasing, what does the recalls mean for those who already have distrust for the country’s electoral system.
Senesie Foundation Joins The Development Train in Sierra Leone
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
As way of complementing government’s Free Quality Education, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation based in the United States of America has donated 80 million Leones worth of school materials to vulnerable children in ten schools through its youth Empowerment Project learning material support to the less privilege in Moyamba District, Southern Sierra Leone.
The donation targeted ten schools in the Moyamba District with each of the school receiving one hundred bags and one hundred books as part of the one thousand vulnerable school children targeted as a way of helping them with school materials.
Prior to that the Foundation led its CEO Francis Senesie with support from his wife Wendy Senesie had donated an assorted consignment of Personal Protective Equipment to help some communities cope with the COVID 19 pandemic.
With the development challenges facing Sierra Leone, the Senesie Foundation is angling to be a key partner in complementing efforts from the government. Discussing the Foundation in an interview with PAV, Francis Senesie, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, says plans are in gestation to expand its initiatives and projects to other parts of the country.
Could we start with an introduction of the Senesie Foundation that you lead, when was it created and what is its mission?
The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation is a charitable organization based in United State of America with an establishment in Sierra Leone. The purpose of the organization is to intervene in the lives of vulnerable children, youth and vulnerable women (aged) through education and also the provision of individualized rehabilitated services such as counselling and pro poor activities.
The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation has a vision to develop children, youth, and women to contribute to chiefdom, district and national development.
The mission of the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation is also to actively engage the children, youth, women in social life and innovative approach in developing themselves. By doing so, they continue in building and sustaining development in line with our motor which is developing the community to develop the nation.
Since its creation, what are some of the achievements that the Senesie Foundation has registered since its creation?
The creation of the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation in June 2020 coincided with the Covid 19 pandemic which affected the vulnerable and the country at large. Though young, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation deemed it necessary to join the Sierra Leone Government in fighting the pandemic. In fighting the covid 19, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation provided assorted food items, face masks, infrared thermometers, and sanitary supplies to more than hundred (100) families and households in Moyamba District. These items were distributed under the supervision of the stakeholders in District.
Recently the Foundation made a huge donation estimated at 80 million Leones worth of school materials to vulnerable children in ten schools in the Moyamba district, Southern Sierra Leone, can you shed some light on this?
In October 2020, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation donated over Eighty Million Leones (80,000,000) worth of school materials to ten schools in the Moyamba District in the Southern Region Sierra Leone. This was done as way to complement the Government of Sierra Leone flagship programme which is the Free Quality Education launched by His Excellency Retired Julius Maada Bio. Education is something we cherish, and we believe that with our contribution, we can complement the worthy efforts that the government is putting in.
May we know why you focused on education and Moyamba district?
Education is of importance not just to the young people we seek to uplift, but also for the future of the country. With education, opportunities are opened for young people who can in turn contribute to building a better Sierra Leone. Moyamba District is just a starting point. We had to start from somewhere, and considering the educational challenges facing the Moyamba District, we believe that from that we can slowly but steadily expand to other parts of the country.
What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that the donations get to those in need and are used for the intended purpose?
We worked with authorities in the District in compiling the list of vulnerable and needed pupils who got support from the Foundation. The process was open and very transparent. Those kids are the future Teachers, Doctors, Engineers, Nurses, and so on. This is just the beginning and there is much more that will be coming from the Senesie Foundation in the years ahead.
At what point should other parts of Sierra Leone expect to benefit from such initiatives from the Senesie Foundation?
The other parts of the Country in Sierra Leone expect benefit from the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation as soon as possible. We decided to start it at this level because there is an adage which says that a little drop of water makes a mighty ocean. Charity begins at home and ends abroad. Whatever initiatives you are embarking on start with your very self. Definitely we will get to the other parts of Sierra Leone, it will just be a matter of time.
Looking at the current situation or state of Sierra Leone, in what way do you think Foundations like yours and others could help in meeting the development needs of the country?
There are lots of ways in meeting the development of Sierra Leoneans especially when the country is going through economic challenges. As I mentioned earlier, during COVID 19, we contributed safety material to people. The government cannot be expected to do everything for the people. We must do our part and Foundations like ours can contribute in small and modest ways to support government action in making a difference in the lives of our people. There are other Foundations doing great work, and we encourage others to take other initiatives that could help bring development to the people of Sierra Leone especially those in the rural areas of the country. Because we knew that the Covid 19 might have affected the parents in terms of business, farming and education, the Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation thought it wise to come to the aid of the parents in providing learning materials in order to cushion the challenges.
What are some of the challenges that the Senesie Foundation has faced in its mission so far?
As a young Foundation, the start is certainly always challenging .The Senesie Youth Empowerment Foundation went through a lot of odds during the distribution of the learning materials to the beneficiaries, especially when the programme took place during the raining season. To access these areas during the raining season it was exceedingly difficult, but due to an incredibly good team spirit, my staff were able to navigate their way to various locations. Challenges will always be there, from funding of our projects, to expansion to other parts of the country and so on, but the Foundation will be up the task. Where there is the will, there will always be the means. Our Foundation is resolute in its commitment to make a difference in the lives of young Sierra Leoneans and contributing in its own modest quota in the overall development of that great, beautiful and promising country.
Any projections for the future, what should the people of Sierra Leone expect from the Senesie Foundation and its leadership?
Our journey of a thousand miles has just begun. We will continue to build on the successes of our recent initiatives, work on putting in place our structures across the country and expanding our programs. The vision of the Foundation is big and there is still much work needed to put everything in place. Definitely expect the Foundation to shift gears when it comes to its engagement with your people. You should also expect to see programmes of the Foundation expanding slowly but steadily to other Districts across Sierra Leone.
Cameroon: Cases Of Rape Increasing At An Alarming Rate
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Violence against Women and Girls has become a new normal, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These past months have been trying for the society with reports of sexual violence committed on women, girls and babies as young as 6 months.
Sadly, more cases of sexual violence/rape go unreported as some families and communities practice a culture of silence or indifference about sexual violence/rape leaving the victims traumatized.
Child sexual abuse is a widespread problem. “The phenomenon has become so rampant that women now live in constant fear for themselves and their children. It happens in schools, in cars, in parks, in uncompleted buildings, in homes. Perpetrators have no regard for age or social status,” a communiqué from the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRA stated.
“Boys will be boys”, “she was drunk”, “women say no but they mean yes”, “the way she dressed was asking for it”, all these and many more are statements made to justify rape. Such statements according to gender experts will continually sponsor rape culture in our communities if nothing is done. “Nothing justifies rape! It is a crime, which has devastating effects on its victims,” Kum Gilian said.
“The issue of girls dressing indecently does not call for them to be raped. What about guys who dress indecently are they being raped too? Or what about a six month or one year child, was she indecently dressed before she was raped?’ she pondered
This year alone, more than eight cases of rape have been reported within a span of a few months. A 17-year-old girl identified as Minette Fosting was reportedly raped to death in Douala, Littoral region of Cameroon. According to reports Minette was found beside a construction site in Logpom not far from her family house alive but in a critical condition early Wednesday, September 30.
The results sources say revealed that the teenage girl was suffering from vaginal discharge, vulvar secretions and dehydration suggesting signs of forceful recent sexual intercourse, an interpretation supported by the family. Despite the care administered on her, Minette succumbed to her condition.
Law enforcement officers on January 7, 2020, arrested and detained a class six teacher of primary school Bonabome in Ndobo, a locality in Douala Four Subdivision, Littoral of the Central African country.
Kounj Jean Marie, Commander of the Gendarmerie Research Unit, Bonaberi where the teacher was detained said the suspect was presently behind bars for allegedly raping minors of his primary school whose ages range from 10 to 14 years.
Buma Kevin had raped a total of eighteen (18) young girls in the school, the Commander said, adding that during the question and answer session with the Gendarmes, Kevin admitted to all accusations.
Rape is a serious problem that can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their families, friends, and communities as a whole. “As in society at large, this particular form of sexual abuse and violence against women in Cameroon persist, for many reasons, including the failure of adequately holding perpetrators accountable, that is, the (often correct) assumption that reporting a rape case to law enforcement won’t result in prosecution, the pattern of victim-blaming, patriarchal attitudes, stigma, and widespread ignorance and apathy where some claim ‘it is not my business’. These all contribute to underreporting and the perpetrators go free, waiting for their next victim,” CHRDA stated.
Observers say there needs to be strong enforcement of the laws regarding sexual assault in the country. They say the perpetrators should be punished and not allowed to go free if some of them have money to buy their way out. “If a man has been caught raping a child, the man needs to be giving life sentence,” a parent said.
“I think there is a fault somewhere. Either they are doing it for money rituals or some kind of manipulation from somewhere whether knowingly or unknowingly. The government, church, judicial authorities need to see how to redress this situation.”
Mozambique Faces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Due To Terrorist Attacks, Now Expanded To Tanzania
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim*
When armed attacks began in Mozambique in October 2017, the local authorities did not take the matter very seriously. They saw the assault on a local police station and the killing of police officers as just another crime. The attacks continued and the authorities’ position has always been to demoralise the situation. The chief of police even publicly declared that the ‘bandits’ had seven days to surrender to the authorities or else they would all be arrested and punished. Three years have passed since the first attack and in Mozambique alone more than 2,000 people have been killed. The government’s classification of the attackers has changed from ‘evildoers’ to ‘terrorists’, and they are already expanding their armed incursions into Tanzania.
Between October 2017 and October 2020, the insurgents have carried out more than 600 attacks in the central and northern districts of Cabo Delgado province, causing more than 2,000 deaths, of which more than 60% are civilians. Apart from their barbarity, the most visible face of the attacks in Cabo Delgado is the growing number of internally displaced people, which reached more than 300,000 by the end of September 2020. According to the Mozambican think tank Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) that is about 13% of the entire population of the province.
Massive attacks against districts in Cabo Delgado province have contributed to the rapid increase in the number of displaced people in Mozambique, in the last two years, 2019 and 2020. Datas from CIP indicates that by late 2018, in the entire country there were about 15,000 people displaced internally by the armed conflicts in Cabo Delgado and in the central region. By 19 October 2020, the total number of displaced people in the country reached 424,202, because of the intensified armed attacks in Cabo Delgado and also in the central region. Thus there has been an increase of more than 2,700% in the number of displaced people, in just two years.
The flood of internally displaced people caught the Government completely unprepared, and the situation of humanitarian crisis is visible in the places where the displaced people are accommodated.
Hence two separate groups arose of internally displaced people. On the one hand, the majority who took shelter in the homes of welcoming relatives, and, on the other, those who are in centres for the displaced set up for this purpose.
The situation of the displaced will tend to worsen in the coming days, particularly if the government is unable to hold back the intensification of attacks in the central and northern districts of Cabo Delgado.
The historic neighbourhood of Paquitequete is the main point of entry for internally displaced people arriving from the coastal regions of Quissanga, Macomia, Mocimboa da Praia and Palma districts. They arrive at the fishing port on sailboats after long days sailing at sea.
Many of the displaced who arrive at Paquitequete are seeking to locate the house of a relative or acquaintance who lives in Pemba. After spending about 48 hours, in the open, on the waterfront, the displaced manage to locate their relatives, friends and acquaintances and are received into their houses. Most of them stay in Paquitequete, known as the neighbourhood of the Kimwanis. Some young volunteers, mostly students in Pemba, work relentlessly to assist the newly arrived IDPs with water, food, and to finding shelters.
In Paquitequete, at least one in every two households is hosting people displaced by the war. Some houses hold more than 30 people. The aid is distributed only to the displaced people. The households who accommodate them are not considered, which causes conflicts since most households in Paquitequete are very low income, and welcoming people displaced by the war increases the household expenditure.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said many of the displaced people arriving in Pemba were fatigued, dehydrated, hungry and suffering from various diseases.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said many of the displaced people arriving in Pemba were fatigued, dehydrated, hungry and suffering from various diseases. These include diarrhea and malaria. Three women went into labour on the boats. They have nothing to even wrap the baby, since they fled the war and went out with only a capulana around their bodies, so they often carry the babies in plastic basins
The main needs of the people arriving have been identified as clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food security, health and protection, especially related to child protection and gender-based violence.
The Islamic insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado feeds upon the region’s relative isolation from the rest of the country, a large disenfranchised Muslim population, extreme poverty, and marginalized economic development that embraces illicit activities. The government has had difficulty maintaining sustainable physical linkage with the north which contributes to its isolation.
From ‘evildoers’ to ‘terrorists’
Authorities meanwhile confirm an increase in the number of attacks in Cabo Delgado. Armindo Ngunga, Secretary of State in the province acknowledged in a conversation with journalists on 20 October that there has been an intensification of terrorist attacks in recent months.
“It seemed to be an action which could eventually be overcome in a short time. That is why we, at that time, called these guys evildoers. [They] have been growing in terms of performance, which worries us. Especially the refinement with which they carry out their barbarities,” Ngunga explained, adding that since March this year, “the matter has got worse, because they started to attack not only administrative posts and villages, but also some district capitals in the central and northern regions of the province”.
The Defence and Security Forces in the region have intensified operations in order to restore peace. However, according to the State’s representative in the province, this has not prevented people from moving to areas considered safer, such as districts in the south of the province.
In the attacks, villages have been burnt down and people beheaded. The militants have also killed government soldiers before retreating into the bush. The fighting in Cabo Delgado has so far involved less sophisticated tactics and weaponry. The militants are known to use mobile phones to communicate and motorcycles to move from one point to the next.
Mozambique-based terrorists spread attacks to tanzania
The terrorists based in Mozambique conducted a major attack on the Tanzanian town of Kitaya on 15 october, capturing an armoured personnel carrier and killing at least two people.
A communication from the Islamic State group claimed the attack had hit a barracks of “the Tanzanian Crusader army”. Video footage has emerged on social media and messaging apps, showing armed men shouting in Swahili that they are Al Shabaab from Mozambique, now attacking Tanzania.
The Islamic State statement claims a tank was captured in Kitaya, which sits on the Tanzanian side of the Rovuma River which forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. One of the videos appears to show the men with an armoured car.
The videos suggest a political angle to the attack, which came two weeks ahead of the Presidential election in Tanzania. One video shows an apparent insurgent tearing a poster of Tanzanian President John Magufuli.
The terrorists based in Mozambique executed six villagers in a Tanzanian border village on November 13, marking the first reported cross-border attack in this conflict. The attack was unsophisticated but is an early warning of the threat that they could pose to Africa’s sixth-largest country.
Merck Foundation marks “World Diabetes Day 2020” in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health by building Diabetes and hypertension care capacity nationwide
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Merck Foundation to expand their ‘Diabetes Blue Points Program’ to more countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.|
Merck Foundation has enrolled about 500 doctors from 39 countries to one-year diploma and two-year master degree to build Diabetes, cardiovascular preventive and endocrinology capacity across Africa, Asia and Latin America; Merck Foundation to expand their ‘Diabetes Blue Points Program’ to more countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks ‘World Diabetes Day 2020’ by continuing their strategy to provide specialty training for African, Asian and Latin American doctors to better manage diabetes, hypertension and endocrinology patients.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020) explained, “At Merck Foundation, we mark ‘World Diabetes Day’ every day by providing One year diploma and two year master degree in Diabetes, endocrinology and cardiovascular preventive medicines to doctors as part of “Merck Foundation Diabetes Blue Points Program” in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health and Medical Societies. I am very proud to announce that around 500 Doctors from 39 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, have been enrolled to these courses. Our aim is to improve access to quality and equitable Diabetes, Hypertension and endocrinology care across the three continents. We will expand to more countries in the coming year”.
Merck Foundation is providing for One-Year Postgraduate Diploma and two year master degree in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Preventative Cardiovascular Medicines from University from UK. Merck Foundation also enrolls doctors for ‘Master course in the Clinical Management of Diabetes’ in 4 languages- English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, endorsed by Diabetes UK to improve access to quality and equitable diabetes care for African countries and Latin American countries.
So far, Merck Foundation has already enrolled 491 candidates for these courses from 39 African and Asian Countries including Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, CAR, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee Conakry, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, UAE, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Some of these countries never had a Diabetologist before such as in Liberia where Merck Foundation together without Liberia First Lady provide specialty training to have the first diabetologists in public sector in Liberia. In addition to many other specialists who will be the first in Liberia, after graduating, such as: Sexual and reproductive health, endocrinology, cardiovascular preventive medicines, respiratory medicines, fertility specialists and Embryologist.
“It is important to mention here that over 120 doctors have successfully completed the specialty training till today. The trained doctors will be able to establish diabetes clinic in their Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities. This will significantly help the people living with health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. We must not forget that they also fall under the coronavirus high risk group”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.
Dr. Beata Iyaloo Haulofu from Namibia, candidate enrolled for PG Diploma Diabetes says, “I am very happy to be a part of ‘Merck Foundation Diabetes Blue Points Training Program’. This program will enable me to properly manage the patients, thereby reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with this health burden”.
Dr Niyonsenga Simon Pierre from Rwanda, candidate undergoing MSc diabetes states, “I feel fortunate to be a part of this beneficial course. I thank Merck Foundation for this opportunity. This will help me to advance my clinical knowledge and provide my expertise to the people of my country”.
Moody’s Investor Service affirms African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
|The ‘AAA’ rating from Moody’s follows earlier affirmations of the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook, by the other leading rating agencies.|
Moody’s Investor Service has affirmed the African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating, with a stable outlook.
“The credit profile of African Development Bank (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is supported by the bank’s robust capital buffers and superior risk management, which mitigate risks,” Moody’s Investor Service said in an annual credit analysis dated 27 October 2020.
Moody’s added: “An ample liquidity buffer and unfettered access to international capital markets also support its ability to meet its debt-service obligations. Moreover, the bank has a long track record of being the premier development institution in Africa and benefits from shareholders’ ability and willingness to support its development objectives, exemplified by the significant contributions of highly rated non-regional member countries.”
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “The AAA rating by Moody’s validates the strength of the Bank’s prudent financial and risk management and strong governance systems even in the face of tough challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The extraordinary support of the Bank’s shareholders boosts our capacity to finance African countries. We will continue to manage risks and capital requirements adequately to help African countries to build their economies back better and faster, while assuring economic, health and climate resilience”.
Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President, Vice President for Finance and Chief Finance Officer at the African Development Bank, said: “Thanks to the solid backing of its shareholders and strong financial profile, the African Development Bank is rated triple-A with stable outlook by all the major international rating agencies”.
The ‘AAA’ rating from Moody’s follows earlier affirmations of the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook, by the other leading rating agencies, namely Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings and Japan Credit Rating Agency.
Upskilling Exporters & Reskilling Manufacturers in Africa
November 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Naseem Javed*
New African leadership is emerging, influenced by global pandemic recovery, optimizing entrepreneurialism to new heights while creating upskilling of exporters and reskilling of manufacturers. The question is how to create tidal waves of change on a large national scale. Today, nation-by-nation, mobilization of entrepreneurialism on digital platforms of upskilling exportability and reskilling manufacturers is a new science and an art.
The Difficult Questions: How to start such mandates,when 50% of frontline teams already need ‘upskilling’ while 50% of the back-up teams need ‘reskilling’ so what is required to open constructive discussions leading to workable and productive programs? Each stage challenges competency levels and each stage offers options to up skill for better performances. Talent gaps need fast track closing and global-age skills need widening. This is all about embracing global age skills, and by passing old lingering systems and thinking.
The future economies will start by getting NationalExport Promotion Agencies, Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations and midsize economic developments department heads to engage in bold and open regular debates. The arrival of Virtual leadership and Zoomerang culture is a gift from pandemic recovery, acquiring mastery. Today, impact is now forcing institutions to become active accessible players to deliberate wisdom from the comfort of their homes round the clock events.
New mandates appearing; globally speaking offices losing their centrality, now it is more about intellectual deployment and execution of ideas with live virtual based execution bringing diverse groups of decision makers from faraway places all on one digital platform. All big and small organizational structures either Public or Private Sector enterprises both must deliver super speed execution and efficiencies on digital platforms. The world of 200 nations, 10,000 cites and 5,000 cultures are all almost accessible based on the intensity of digitization. Top frontline management must pass tests to ensure new special demands on skills and thinking capable to deploy a master agenda. Creating powerful flat meritocratic-based organizations is the new challenge. Collaborating with global nations with high quality exportability is the new demand. Deeper studies are mandatory. Pandemic with new wisdom arrived like a message in a bottle on the shores of collective humankind goals, now shaking down gigantic physically visible economic structures, exposing invisible debt structuring, challenging illusionary successes and depleted progress of humankind.
Become Innovation-crazy: Complex problem solvers emotionally bonded to innovative thinking, almost crazy observing and analyzing problems seeking automated solutions with extreme scalability. Ask questions, search for light under the sun and acquire understanding of darkness in a darkroom. Innovation is all around us, we have to learn to see it. Magic hidden in our inquisitiveness needs strength to deny status quo and demand change. Love your surroundings, acquire training on self-discovery to become like diamond-grinding on skills; all rounder, multifaceted, highly focused but reflective in all directions, tough, crystal clear, valuable and shiny, not just any stone, but a diamond always grinding to perfection.
National Mobilization of SME: Identify 1000 to 100,000 small and midsize entrepreneurs within a nation, and create a national agenda to quadruple their performance on innovative excellence and exportability. Deploy digitization of top national trade associations and chambers of commerce to upgrade to excellent digital platforms so that their entire membership can skate nationally and globally displaying their goods and services. Study how Expothon is placing 25,000 SME+MFG on digital platforms of “upskilling”, we will add another 100,000 and soon take it to one 1,000,000. This project is a global example and working model that we hope to engage 50 selected groups from the current pool of 11,000 Chambers and 100,000 Trade Associations.
Special Event Series: Expothon is also planning a “Special Senior Level 3-Hour-Webinar-Workshop-Serie” to create detailed and pragmatic discussions with powerful debates on specific solutions. The “National Mobilization of SME via Upskilling on Exports” calibrated for the selected 100 Chambers and 100 Special Trade Association heads across the world and gatekeepers of commerce of selected countries.
The rest is easy.
*Naseem Javed is a corporate philosopher, Chairman of Expothon Worldwide; a Canadian Think tank focused on National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism Protocols on Platform Economy and exportability solutions now gaining global attention. www.expothon.com email: email@example.com
Cameroon’s Second Largest Employer, CDC Wobbles Towards Extinction
November 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Andrew Nsoseka
Administrative indifference from the Cameroon government, as well as personal egoism, and other ills have placed one time prestigious employer, and second largest employer after the Cameroon Government, the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, in its dying throes.
The CDC whose woes predate the Anglophone crisis, has been placed in a very tight spot, with the Anglophone Crisis that has raged on for over four years, making things worse for the giant agricultural corporation, as most of its activities have been halted from time to time, or entirely stopped in unstable areas.
Government officials on their part, have seemingly failed in their duty to protect, maintain and ensure the survival of the agricultural giant, in an era rife with unemployment, which has on its part, lured thousands of youths to join the separatist movement in Anglophone regions of Cameroon. Rather than salvage what is left of the corporation, government Ministers and officials, have rather brazenly joined other unscrupulous individuals, to plunder the corporation and make away with what they can.
A scheme said to be aimed at giving land of the corporation back to the indigenes, who are predominantly Fako natives, has seen thousands of hectares taken from the agricultural giant, and most chunk of it has ended up in the hands of administrators. The crisis which started in 2016, also saw alleged separatist fighters attacking workers of the corporation for not respecting separatists imposed lockdowns. This discouraged many from working, and also forced the corporation to shutdown most of its farms, and factories. Due to the crisis, the workers have gone for years without pay, and with the farms not very functional, the land surrendering racket moved on, with administrators and traditional leaders chipping away the CDC’s lands and making billions from it sales, to the detriment of the CDC and indigenes to whom the land is guised to have been surrendered to.
Consequently, following recent workers’ protests, founded on an imminent demise of the corporation, a flurry of orders were recently issued, restricting what had become a spate of expropriation of huge hectares of CDC lands by speculators and other Shylock interests. The big question however, is whether someone really cares whether the CDC carries on as a going concern or dies off like many other enterprises upon which the economy of the former West Cameroon was hinged.
From the look of it, the action from Yaounde may be tantamount to buying time for the sting to wear off before the “CDC auction bazaar” is resumed like before. For one thing, many such orders have been issued in the past, only to be surreptitiously dumped in the dustbin or casually cancelled with indifference by the same pen that issued them. Law courts have gone back on their own learned decisions, consequently throwing back CDC interests to the wolves without appeals or petition from vested litigants or defendants.
It is feared that the recent cancellation by way of Ministerial orders of “CDC land surrender” may also be just a facade. This is because, as at Friday, September 11, effective felling of CDC palms was still ongoing at Bimbia. Those carrying out the act were protected by heavily armed gendarmes who chased away CDC guards and dared anyone else that to question the dastardly act. As it stands, a rather helpless CDC may have to wait, pray and hope for yet another Ministerial order to arrive from Yaounde, most probably only after many hectares of palms in their most productive stage must have been destroyed.
It is becoming more and more evident, going by official approach to its dilemma that the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, the much touted second-largest employer after the State, has been abandoned to wear out. After all, in its time of great difficulty, it has, unlike many other State Corporations, been shamelessly, if not callously ignored, with administrators rather trying to pluck what they can, as the corporation rapidly dwindles in its fortunes, leaving its over 20,000 workers and teeming numbers of dependents in the lurch.
With its troubles that were sparked by a global economic meltdown and exacerbated by the armed conflict in the English speaking Regions of Cameroon, where the CDC is situated, political gladiators and economic predators could be rightly said to be just waiting in the wings to see the giant corporation fall and shatter for them to pick up the pieces like was the case with the Marketing Board and Cameroon Bank, to name but these. Unlike other corporations like the national oil refinery, SONARA where Ministers and other ranking officials trooped in, and its workers are still paid even though it is no longer functional; the national airlines company, CAMAIRCO, that has, to put it bluntly been a company of flying coffins, but government pumps in funds to sustain it, the case of the CDC is different; state authorities are rather helping themselves with what is still left of the ravished and looted corporation, even as it still could be brought out of its comatose state to revert to its traditional role of providing succour to the thousands of families that have depended on it over many decades.
Dubious Land Surrender, Scheming Mafias
The Fako Land Surrender scheme, which was sugar-coated as an initiative to surrender part of the CDC’s land to natives who originally owned the land, for them to expand their villages and settle, turned out to be a well-mapped out bogey by corrupt, overbearing administrators, as well as gullible traditional rulers, and chiefs of doubtful origins and credibility posing as representatives of the locals. It has been established that inexistent villages were created by certain local administrators, and in complicity with some local chiefs and in some cases, purpose-made chiefs enthroned by local administrators and top government functionaries were brought to front as representatives of the locals. Once the land was allocated by government officials, who often do so without consulting the CDC, the administrators collect a huge chunk of it, and the leftovers given to the Chief for his troubles. The Chiefs then proceed to sell what is left, after the administrators would have taken the big bite.
More often than not, the locals emerge the highest losers, even though the land is surrendered on the pretext that it is for them. Talking over a TV programme on a local TV channel, My Media Prime, one of the front line lawyers and Fako native, Barrister Ikomi Ngongi, who is fighting to reclaim surrendered land from administrators and traditional rulers who have turned the scheme into a thriving racket, revealed that for the over 4,000 hectares of surrendered land, Fako natives have not received up to 500 of them.
“In fact, Fako people have not received up to 20 hectares put together,” he said, alleging that most of the land is in the hands of non Fako indigenes, whom he insisted are administrators who pulled the strings behind the scenes, and at the end, owned lands bigger than that owned by entire villages. To him, rather than surrender land to the wrong hands, the land could be retrieved and kept under the CDC’s custody, for better use and management, and not plundered by administrators for personal gain.
Speaking at several instances since the Fako land saga started, Barrister Ikomi Ngongi has faulted officials, right from the Southwest Governor, Mr Okalia Bilai, his subordinates, to the Senior Divisional Officers, Divisional Officers and dubious or fake chiefs and even court officials, whom he states are all part of the scheme to fraudulently take and own the thousands of hectares of surrendered CDC land, to the detriment of the locals, who are supposed to be the bona fide beneficiaries.
In some cases, traditional rulers have ended up in legal battles with their subjects over land. Often, some have been accused of selling all the surrendered land, and then encroaching into that originally owned by natives, of course, with the backing of all powerful local administrators.
Anglophone Crisis Putting Final Nail of the CDC’s Coffin?
Though effectively grappling with already compromising corporate challenges, the CDC has been hard hit by the ongoing Anglophone crisis. With workers often coming under attack orchestrated by suspected separatists, several production units and farms have been completely abandoned. Even with its well known attribute as the largest employer after the State, the CDC and its workers don’t benefit like other individuals and smaller companies, from any form of security protection.
Unlike most State Corporations where security is ever available, the case of the CDC is different, as workers are always left at the mercy of attackers, who hit and escape at will, thus discouraging most from risking to work. What now appears to be calculated administrative negligence, has cost the CDC lots, including human life as many activities have been grounded, except for the ever-ready land surrender schemes, machinated of course by Shylocks who should rather have been working to ensure the CDC’s survival, especially as communities, thousands of families and the economy of the Region and country at large still depends on the tottering giant for survival.
CDC, Its People, Impact on Generations
The CDC, unlike many other state corporations, has a history and part played in the lives of many. For those who lived out the heydays of the corporation, they narrate stories of communities, with social amenities, hospitals, schools, clubs and others that were enjoyed by CDC workers and the communities hosting them. Even books and literary art pieces have been produced by children who lived and were educated thanks to the CDC. In some prose, like “The Good Foot”, written about life in the CDC, one can through the narrations, picture a corporation which was at the centre of survival for many. A CDC which is not only regarded as a corporation, but a life wire and even community where many can trace their origin and growth.
Will the CDC Be Abandoned Like other West Cameroon Corporations?
With the openly displayed culpable negligence of certain officials in particular and the government in general, having elected not to make the survival of the CDC concern, let alone a priority, many fear that it most likely to go the way of the Cameroon Bank, the crumbled Government Technical College Ombe, POWERCAM, Tiko Airport, West Cameroon Lottery, West Cameroon Development Agency, the Department of Marketing and Inspection, West Cameroon Marketing Board and many more, that were vibrant, but have now been selectively consigned to the compost heap of history.
In the context of the Anglophone Crisis and rife unemployment, many working-age men and women continue to be lured to the waiting arms of separatists and criminal gangs, to be able to make a living or feed their starving families.
Also, the much-heralded initiative of Cameroon’s President Biya, to encourage farming as a means of economic empowerment, has been turned into a big joke because the state has failed to bail out and ensure not just the survival, but the renaissance and upgrading of the CDC, as the country’s lone agro-industrial giant.