Special Report: ‘Treacherous shenanigans’ – The inside story of Mugabe’s downfall
November 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
HARARE (Reuters) – Inside State House in Harare, Robert Mugabe was in the tightest spot of his 37-year rule. Tanks were on the streets and troops had occupied the state broadcaster, from where the army had announced it had taken control of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, 93 years old but still alert, remained defiant. The only leader the country had known since independence was refusing to quit.
At a tense meeting with his military top brass on Nov. 16, the world’s oldest head of state put his foot down: “Bring me the constitution and tell me what it says,” he ordered military chief Constantino Chiwenga, according to two sources present.
An aide brought a copy of the constitution, which lays out that the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Chiwenga, dressed in camouflage fatigues, hesitated before replying that Zimbabwe was facing a national crisis that demanded military intervention.
Mugabe retorted that the army was the problem, according to the sources present. Then the beleaguered president indicated that perhaps they could find a solution together.
The meeting marked the start of an extraordinary five-day standoff between Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s supreme law on one side, and the military, his party and Zimbabwe’s people on the other.
The generals wanted Mugabe to go, but they also wanted a peaceful “coup,” one that would not irreparably tarnish the administration aiming to take over, according to multiple military and political sources.
The president finally accepted defeat only after he was sacked by his own ZANU-PF party and faced the ignominy of impeachment. He signed a short letter of resignation to parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda that was read out to lawmakers on Nov. 21.
Mugabe, who had run Zimbabwe since 1980 and overseen its descent into economic ruin while his wife shopped for luxury goods, was gone.
The country erupted into ecstasy. Parliamentarians danced and people poured onto the streets in their tens of thousands to celebrate a political downfall that sent shockwaves across Africa and the world.
To many, the end of Mugabe had been unthinkable only one week before.
Reuters has pieced together the events leading up to Mugabe’s removal, showing that the army’s action was the culmination of months of planning that stretched from Harare to Johannesburg to Beijing.
Drawing on a trove of intelligence documents from within Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), Reuters reported in September that the army was backing Emmerson Mnangagwa, then vice president, to succeed Mugabe when the time came.
The report detailed how Mnangagwa, a lifelong friend and former security chief of Mugabe, might cooperate with Mugabe’s political foes in order to revive the economy. It caused furore in Zimbabwe’s media and political circles.
Bitter rivalry intensified between Mnangagwa and Grace, Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, who also hoped to take over as president and had the backing of a ZANU-PF faction known as G40.
In early October, Mnangagwa said he had been airlifted to hospital in South Africa after a poisoning attempt in August. He pointed no fingers – but he didn’t need to.
Grace’s swift response was to deny it and accuse her rival of seeking sympathy; she belittled him as nothing but an employee of her husband, according to a report in the state-run Herald newspaper.
As the pressure built, Mugabe became increasingly paranoid about the loyalty of army chief Chiwenga, a career soldier and decorated veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s bush-war against white-minority rule.
Mugabe’s spies, who permeated every institution and section of society in Zimbabwe, were warning him the military would not accept Grace as president.
“Mugabe is very worried of a coup,” one intelligence report, dated Oct. 23, said. “Mugabe was openly told by senior CIOs that the military is not going to easily accept the appointment of Grace. He was warned to be ready for civil war.”
Reuters reviewed the document, and hundreds of other intelligence reports dating back to 2009, before the coup took place. The documents come from within the CIO, but Reuters could not determine for whom they were written. The CIO is split into factions, some pro- and some anti-Mugabe.
In late October, Mugabe summoned Chiwenga to a showdown, according to another of the documents, dated Oct. 30. It said Mugabe confronted the army chief about his ties to Mnangagwa and told him that going against Grace would cost him his life.
“Chiwenga was warned by Mugabe that it is high time for him to start following. He mentioned to Chiwenga that those fighting his wife are bound to die a painful death,” the intelligence report said.
At the same meeting, Mugabe also ordered Chiwenga to pledge allegiance to Grace. He refused.
“Chiwengwa refused to be intimidated. He stood his ground over his loyalty to Mnangagwa,” the report said.
Reuters put questions about this exchange and other aspects of this article to Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba. In an enigmatic text message dated Nov. 23, he replied: “Enjoy Reuters copy. Goodnight.”
Two spokesmen for Chiwenga declined to comment.
After another tense meeting with Mugabe on Nov. 5, Chiwenga left Harare on a pre-arranged official trip and traveled to China, which wields significant influence as a major investor in Zimbabwe.
A day later, Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as vice president and purged him from ZANU-PF, the liberation movement that Mnangagwa had served since his youth and for which, as a young militant caught bombing a train, he had nearly been executed.
For the generals, Mugabe had gone too far. The military immediately activated a “Code Red” alert, its highest level of preparedness, a military source said.
Moments after Mnangagwa was ousted on Nov. 6, the security details assigned to him and his house were withdrawn, according to a statement he issued later. He was told his life was in danger.
“Security personnel, who are friendly to me, warned me that plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station,” Mnangagwa said in a Nov. 21 statement. “It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately.”
From Harare, he managed to escape over the border into neighboring Mozambique, where he caught a plane to China, according to one source familiar with his movements. There he met up with Chiwenga, the source said.
Reuters could not confirm the account; but an intelligence report from Nov. 13 indicates that Mugabe suspected some of his generals of preparing to overthrow him from China.
“A number of generals are now in China ready to plot Mugabe’s ouster with Mnangagwa,” the report said. It was not clear which generals, and whether their travel to China was authorized.
Mugabe’s spies suspected old allies had turned against the aging president. An intelligence report, dated Oct. 30, said Beijing and Moscow both supported regime change out of frustration at Zimbabwe’s economic implosion under Mugabe.
“China and Russia are after change,” the report said. “They are after change within ZANU-PF as they are sick and tired of Mugabe’s leadership.”
“The two countries are even ready to clandestinely supply arms of war to Mnangagwa to fight Mugabe.”
Neither China’s Defense Ministry nor Foreign Ministry responded to a request for comment. The Foreign Ministry had previously said Chiwenga’s visit was “a normal military exchange mutually agreed upon by China and Zimbabwe.”
Reuters sent written requests for comment to the Kremlin, the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian Foreign Ministry. None of them responded.
China has long taken an interest in Zimbabwe, having supported Mugabe’s forces during the liberation struggle. After independence it developed connections there in mining, security and construction.
Russia has also had ties to Zimbabwe since the early 1980s, and in 2014 a Russian consortium entered into a partnership to develop a $3 billion platinum mining project in the country.
Chiwenga’s trip to China culminated in him meeting Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing on Nov. 10.
Two sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters that Chiwenga asked if China would agree not to interfere if he took temporary control in Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe from power. Chang assured him Beijing would not get involved and the two also discussed tactics that might be employed during the de facto coup, the sources said.
Reuters could not establish whether Mnangagwa met Chang.
Having got wind of the talks in China, Mugabe summoned his still-loyal police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, and his deputy, Innocent Matibiri, to detain Chiwenga on his return to Harare, government and security sources said.
The pair assembled a squad of 100 police and intelligence agents. But the plot leaked and Chiwenga supporters managed to pull together a counter-team of several hundred special forces soldiers and agents as their commander’s plane approached.
Some were disguised as baggage handlers, their military fatigues and weapons hidden beneath high-visibility jackets and overalls, one security source said.
Realizing they were outnumbered and outgunned, Chihuri’s police team backed down, allowing Chiwenga to touch down without incident, the security source said.
Mugabe’s spokesman did not comment on the incident.
Two days later, Chiwenga and a group of military commanders demanded a meeting with Mugabe at his official State House residence in Harare, an ornate colonial villa complete with stuffed leopards and thick red carpets, according to a government source.
They said they were “very alarmed” at the firing of Mnangagwa and told Mugabe to rein in his wife and her G40 faction, whom they accused of trying to divide the military, according to the government official, who was present at the discussions.
“What do you think should be done?” Mugabe demanded of the soldiers as he sat slumped in an armchair.
The generals asked him to give assurances that they too would not be purged. Mugabe’s response was lukewarm, the government source said. Chiwenga told Mugabe he would be making his concerns about the G40 faction public.
Hours later, Chiwenga summoned reporters to the military’s main barracks near Harare to issue a statement.
“We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” he said, reading from a prepared text.
The following afternoon, Reuters reported six armored personnel carriers heading towards the headquarters of Mugabe’s Presidential Guard on the outskirts of Harare. It was unclear whose command they were under.
At the time, the city’s residents were on edge but still unsure what it all meant.
THE LINE WENT DEAD
At around 6 p.m. on Nov. 14, Mugabe’s motorcade headed to his private “Blue Roof” residence, a heavily fortified compound in the capital’s leafy northern suburb of Borrowdale.
Meanwhile, social media buzzed with pictures of armored vehicles driving along roads to Harare, sparking frenzied speculation about a coup.
Increasingly concerned, Grace put in a call shortly after 7 p.m. to a cabinet minister asking to get WhatsApp and Twitter shut down, according to one source familiar with a recording of the conversation.
The minister, whose identity Reuters is withholding for safety reasons, replied that such a move was the responsibility of state security minister Kembo Mohadi.
“No-one will stand for a coup. It cannot happen,” said Grace, commonly referred to as Amai, which means Mother, according to a source who heard the recording.
Mugabe’s voice is then heard on the line: “As you have heard from Amai, is there anything that can be done?”
The minister gave the same response, about the responsibilities of state security, and the line went dead, the source said.
Mohadi declined to comment.
Two hours later, two armored vehicles rolled into the Pockets Hill headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), according to ZBC sources.
Dozens of soldiers sealed off the site and stormed into the studios where they accosted staff, snatching their phones and halting programs. State-owned ZBC, widely seen as a mouthpiece for Mugabe, switched to broadcasting pop music videos.
Mugabe’s inner circle, nearly all of them G40 loyalists, had no idea what was under way, according to four sources familiar with their conversations.
Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo called Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi to ask if he had any information about a possible coup. Sekeramayi said no, but tried to check with military chief Chiwenga.
Chiwenga told Sekeramayi he would get back to him. According to the sources, Chiwenga never did.
Moyo remains in hiding and was unavailable for comment. Sekeramayi declined to comment.
As ministers in the G40 faction tried frantically to work out what was going on, Chiwenga’s men closed in on Mugabe’s compound.
According to a source briefed on the situation, Albert Ngulube, a CIO director and head of Mugabe’s security detail, was driving home around 9.30 p.m. after visiting Mugabe. He met an armored car on Borrowdale Brooke, a side road leading to Mugabe’s house.
When Ngulube confronted the soldiers and threatened to shoot them, they beat him up and detained him, the source said. Ngulube was later released, but had suffered head and facial injuries, the source added.
Spokesmen for Chiwenga and Mnangagwa declined to comment. Reuters was unable to contact Ngulube.
Other G40 ministers were also picked up by soldiers. Finance minister Ignatius Chombo was found hiding in a toilet at his house and beaten before being detained at an undisclosed location for more than a week.
On his release on Nov. 24, he was hospitalized with injuries to his hands, legs and back, his lawyer told Reuters, describing the army’s behavior as “brutal and draconian.”
Soldiers used explosives to blow the front door off the house of Jonathan Moyo, the main brains behind G40, according to video footage of the house seen by Reuters. Others burst through the front gates of the residence of local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, another key Grace supporter.
Both men managed to escape to Mugabe’s residence. Contacted by Reuters shortly after midnight in the early hours of Nov. 15, Kasukuwere was audibly stressed. “I can’t talk. I‘m in a meeting,” he said, before hanging up.
For another week, Mugabe clung on to the presidency as Chiwenga and his forces tried to engineer a peaceful, and quasi-legal, exit for the long-serving leader.
But as parliament began impeachment proceedings on Nov. 21, Mugabe finally gave up. After 37 years in control, during which much of his country fell into poverty, his letter of resignation said he was stepping down out of “concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.”
*Culled from Reuters.Reported by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Joe Brock and Ed Cropley; Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka in HARARE, Michael Martina in BEIJING and Jack Stubbs in MOSCOW; Editing by Richard Woods and Mike Collett-White
TP Mazembe hold SuperSport to retain Confederation Cup
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Mark Gleeson*
Congolese giants TP Mazembe held out for a goalless draw in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup final in a cold and rainy Atteridgeville on Saturday to overcome South Africa’s SuperSport United and successfully defend their crown.
Both teams finished with 10 men at the end of a tempestuous tie which Mazembe won 2-1 on aggregate, after home success in the first leg in Lubumbashi last Sunday.
It means Mazembe win a continental title for the third successive year after taking the 2015 Champions League as well.
They played the better tactical game and showed their experience against the South Africans who were in their first ever final.
Mazembe’s line-up had three changes from the first leg in Lubumbashi that suggested they had come to defend their tenuous lead, but came out of the starting blocks in a much more attacking approach than that of their hosts.
They caught SuperSport hopping with their approach and should have been 2-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, missing two sitters right in front of goal that – had they gone in – would have certainly killed off the tie.
After 10 minutes Rainford Kalaba beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but rushed his shot and blasted over the bar.
If that miss was not bad enough, there was further horror for the sizeable contingent of Mazembe supporters from the large expatriate Congolese community who live in South Africa.
Kalaba made a dashing run down the right with a quick burst of pace before cutting the ball back to striker Ben Malongo who slipped at the vital moment, but it fell perfectly for Daniel Adjei behind him, only for the Ghanaian import to somehow fluff his shot just wide when it seemed easier to score.
It took SuperSport at least 30 minutes to settle but as the rain continued to fall they began to win the midfield battles and set up chances.
Centre back Tefu Mashamaite, who had come forward for a free kick, was just offside as his diving header went into the net only to be correctly disallowed by the Senegalese officiating team.
In the second half, Mazembe only allowed SuperSport one clear shot on goal, dealt with competently by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
Mazembe central defender Kasango Chongo got sent off with 10 minutes to go but SuperSport lost their numerical advantage when Thuso Phala got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.
US former Vice President Al Gore to host 24-hour live broadcast about climate activism around the world
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Former Vice President of the USA and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore will on December 4 to 5, 2017 host 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, a 24-hour live broadcast focused on the climate crisis and its solutions.
According to a spokesperson, this year’s program will look at the extraordinary climate activism happening all over the world and encourage the millions watching to speak up for solutions.
The Climate Reality Project announced that the seventh-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast , a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on the climate crisis and its solutions will take place December 4-5, 2017.
Hosted by former US Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will explore the extraordinary climate activism happening all across the planet, encouraging the millions watching to use their voices to speak up for solutions, science, and truth at this decisive point in history. It will be carried by broadcast partners globally, and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org.
It is also reported that a variety of international celebrities, musicians, elected officials, advocates, and other special guests will join the broadcast, including musicians Annie Lennox, Avicii ft Sandro Cavazza – ‘Without You’ performed by Sandro Cavazza, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Bragg, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, Jason Mraz, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maná, Nile Rodgers, Rag’n’Bone Man and Young Paris; actors including Calum Worthy, Helen Hunt and Patrick Adams; elected officials and thought leaders including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, California Governor Jerry Brown, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab; and television personalities including HGTV’s Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott and Sam Champion.
“We stand at a pivotal moment in our mission to solve the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “While the Paris Agreement gave the world a critical framework for solving the crisis, it’s up to us – concerned citizens of all backgrounds – to keep this progress going, no matter what actions the Trump Administration takes. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality broadcast will highlight empowered citizens taking action across the world, and will inspire those watching to use their own voices to be part of the solution.”
In the US, where the federal government has retreated from the climate fight, citizens have stepped up to push for practical solutions everywhere and in every way possible. In April, 200,000 Americans marched on the White House to demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for climate action. When President Trump announced his plan to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of citizens, business leaders, mayors, governors, and more across the nation stood up to say, “we are still in.”
24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will highlight these and many other voices and share inspiring stories of political, business, community, and personal activism that illustrate how we can all make a difference, right now, when our planet needs us most.
“This year’s theme – Be the Voice of Reality – is a call to action for anyone concerned about the climate crisis and everyone who wants to secure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Ken Berlin, Climate Reality President and CEO. “24 Hours of Reality is a reminder of how far we have come and the work that remains, and we hope to encourage people to join the movement and speak out for climate action at all levels of society – from local city halls to the chambers of Congress.”
The program will begin on Monday, December 4 at 6:00 PM EST and will be broadcast live from New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The broadcast will travel around the globe highlighting stories of climate activism in six regions: North America, Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Al Gore will also share stories and statistics from his slideshow presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth and the recently-released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
Previous 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme related to the climate crisis. Last year’s broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, examined both the challenges and opportunities for climate action and clean energy in the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries.
Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement of more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, it is spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions.
Miracles and Testimonies on Sale
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*
It is baffling to watch or read how modern-day preachers and prophets anticipate miracles and testimonies, almost as a form of advertisement for their ministries or churches. On social media platforms, miracle seekers are quick to ‘share’, ‘like’, or type ‘Amen’ on a story in exchange for some spiritual favor. In these transactions, people are expected to fulfill certain conditions if they wish to experience a miracle, have a breakthrough, or obtain any favor. I recall one of my pastoral visits in Cameroon: a knock at the door brought me into a home where the entire family was glued to “Testimonies and Miracles Show”. As soon as I stepped in, someone changed the channel! This didn’t surprise me at all, because I was aware of the proliferation of healing and prophetic ministries, and I knew that more people were becoming desperate in search for this or that favor from God. Spiritual prostitutes abound, moving from church to church in search for ready-made answers to their problems.
In the case of Cameroon, Pentecostalism gathered momentum in the 1980s, a time of intensifying economic crisis. To console their congregations, the preachers’ messages pivoted on a prosperity gospel, with refrains like, “Poverty is not my portion,” “Suffering is not my portion,” “Death is not my portion,” and so on. Scripture is often twisted to back up such claims, for example in the verse, “Christ became poor so that we should become rich” (1Cor 8:9). But this verse doesn’t refer to material wealth. Paul means richness in Christ, as expressed in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” This richness is also summed up in the beatitudes, in which the spiritually rich are those who are poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek, humble, peacemakers, merciful, and so on (cf. Mtt 5:1-12).
Recently, I watched a video clip circulated by many Catholics, in which televangelist Benny Hinn said, “Many miracles are taking place in the Catholic Church.” Though the evangelist is right, true worshipers don’t need miraculous signs or testimonies to substantiate their faith in God. Oh yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Christ never, ever took delight in commercializing miracles, healings, or testimonies. This wasn’t because he didn’t have social media; it was because Christ was neither out to sell miracles nor to self-promote. Instead, sick persons who were healed by Jesus were often instructed not to tell anyone about it (cf. Mk 1:40-45; Mk 7:36; Mtt 8:4). Similarly, after the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, a huge crowd started following Jesus, but he denounced them for their wrong motives when he said, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). This “lasting food” was his own Body and Blood, which he would offer before his transition to heaven (Mk 14:22).
Decidedly, miracles were not the centerpiece of Christ’s message. It was, rather, calling sinners to repentance. Even the raising of Lazarus was only an illustration of Jesus’ power over life and death (Jn 11:38-53). After all, Lazarus would eventually die. That’s why Christ explains, after the resuscitation of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). Similarly, all the physical healings and miracles of Jesus were only signs to show that, in Him (Jesus), the Kingdom of God has come. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Therefore, miracles were not a substantive part of Jesus’ ministry, they were only signs pointing to the Kingdom. Understandably, when the disciples rejoiced that they had cast out demons, Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice that the demons bow to you, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20). He tells his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added unto us (Mtt 6:33).
In no way does the Kingdom-driven message suggest that Jesus doesn’t care about our physical health, social welfare, economy, and so on. Rather, he implores us to make distinctions between the ephemeral and the eternal, so we can set our priorities right—where your treasure is, there your heart will be too (Mtt 6:21). Remember, the booming economy can crumble within the twinkle of an eye, just like the physically healthy can die in an instant. What, then, shall it profit anyone if he gets all the healing, testimonies, and worldly success he asks for, yet loses his soul? There is much more to abundant life in Christ than mere signs and wonders.
Among other reasons, ignorance and the denial of God’s will constitute the main reasons that many people fall for the miracle and healing business today. Scripture rightly says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). With an unprecedented gullibility, many adherents to modern day preaching fail to identify the characteristics of soothsaying and divination that are exhibited by self-styled prophets. The prophets of God were humble and selfless messengers, called by God to speak on His behalf. The true prophets didn’t preach a prosperity message, neither did they compel their followers to “sow seeds” by giving them money for a luxurious lifestyle. The prophets of God didn’t point fingers, accusing friends and family members of being witches and wizards blocking their progress. The true prophets didn’t promise visas, breakthroughs, wives, or husbands to their clients in exchange for sowing seeds.
In sharp contrast, the prophets preached repentance and conversion. They called out the kings and people against social injustice, bribery, corruption, and persecution of widows, orphans, and the less fortunate in society. They often sounded warnings of impending danger if the people didn’t change their ways (cf. Is 1:4; Jer 8:8-12; Amos 5:10-13). Prophets were not predictors of the future. Rather, the prophets’ primary task was to call the people as a community to accountability and responsibility in their relationship with God. Even when they spoke about the future, it was for the purpose of calling people to be responsible before God in the present (Is 51:7; Jer 20:12).
As earlier indicated, the denial of God’s will is a major spiritual crisis of our time. With their preconceived plans for life, relationships, family, and wealth, many people are in rebellion against God’s will. And when things don’t work out your way, you go in search of quick fixes and instant answers to ordinary, day-to-day challenges. We behave as if our birth certificates stated somewhere that life should be easy! The miracle preachers are already very aware of this desperation, and they use it to prey upon you. Some of them even have agents who survey territories and learn about the people ahead of their miracle crusades, so they can startle you with stories about your own life. Indeed, wonders shall never end!
Of course, it is natural to shout out, “God’s blessings upon you!” to your family and friends. It is impossible to keep quiet after having received some special favor from God. However, Jesus specifically denounced any form vain publicity. For example, he said to the man he had freed from demonic oppression to go tell his family how the Lord had shown him mercy, yet this excited man uncontrollably went spreading the news all over the place (Mk 5:19-20). If Jesus asked us to keep quiet about his own miracles, imagine how much worse it is when testimonies are fabricated and miracles faked as a means to promote a church or ministry. It is sheer extortion when these so-called “men of God” demand that their clients sow a seed by making specific donations in hope of spiritual favor. Inexhaustible forms of duplicity are employed by the modern-day messiahs. Suffice it to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. Beware of false prophets prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds’” (Jer 23:16).
Since antiquity, there have always been traders of the Word; these are opportunists who used the Scripture and the name of Jesus for fame and personal aggrandizement. In Acts 8:9-25, we read about Simon the magician, who wanted to buy miraculous powers from Peter and John. He was condemned for thinking that the gift of God could be bought with money. Paul clearly states, “We are not like so many others who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity as men sent from God” (2Cor 2:17).
In conclusion, it is time to wake up to all the soothsayers and diviners who pose as prophets and preachers with the sole aim of taking advantage of spiritually weak and ignorant followers. Don’t allow yourself to be lured by commercials for miraculous solutions to the ordinary challenges of life. Be aware that all you see on social media and miracle TV channels has been altered or outright faked. In Jesus’ time, testimonies were spontaneous and sincere, because there was no time for rehearsal or make-up, as there is today.
Be aware of your worth as a child of God. Scripture says, “All who have received him he empowers to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). You have power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions, and if you only believe in Him and do His will, the miracles and testimonies will begin to follow you, and in abundance! No matter how real or exciting someone else’s testimony appears to be, it will never be your own. Therefore, it is better to desist from wasting precious time on miraculous entertainment and testimonies. The best way to use your time profitably is to nourish your mind with good reads. Read and wise up!
*Father Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Profressional and author of the book New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa
National Aviation Services (NAS) Partners with #VisaFreeAfrica
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
|#VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a continental effort to facilitate mobility in Africa|
|KIGALI, Rwanda, November 22, 2017/ — The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) has partnered with National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero), the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, for an exclusive sponsor of #VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa.
For the past 30 years, the African Union has attempted to address free movement on the continent. The “Agenda 2063” plan to introduce a common African passport by 2020 is in motion but African citizens still need visas to travel to 42 out of 54 African countries.
The #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, launched by the Kigali Global Shapers during the World Economic Forum for Africa in 2016 includes a global petition that calls for:
In addition to the petition, Global Shapers across the African continent are engaging their leaders and policy makers in dialogues about the need to ease mobility on the continent. Through this initiative, African youth will find a platform to voice the reasons why facilitating movement of people across the continent now can fast track the continent’s 2063 Agenda.
The NAS and VFA partnership took roots at the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017 and was formalized almost immediately. NAS has made a five-year commitment to support this campaign which will be implemented in several African countries in the coming months.
Michaella Rugwizangoga, Curator at World Economic Forum Global Shapers said “With support from National Aviation Services (NAS), the Kigali Shapers will be able to better coordinate a continental effort towards open African borders and facilitate the removal of visa requirements on the continent.”
On a global scale, Africa’s competitiveness is tied to labor mobility. With the African market set to grow to 2 billion by 2050, greater integration and human mobility is the need of the hour. Liberal visa policies will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities and facilitate economic growth. It will also open up new job opportunities to the 60 percent* of African youth that is currently unemployed.
Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO NAS, said “NAS has a presence in over ten airports in Africa and continues to grow quickly in the region. As we expand our footprint of operations in Africa, our responsibility towards the local communities also increases. As a partner in Africa’s development, we are aware of the mobility issues faced by youth and businesses in the region. With our investments in the region and by supporting Visa Free Africa we continue to drive efforts for the development of the continent and its people.”
NAS operates across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with a presence at 30 airports, managing more than 31 airport lounges and handling seven of the world’s top 10 airlines. With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.
The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) are part of a global network of 600 Hubs under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum. Hubs are developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a contribution to their communities. The community encompasses 7000 change makers.
The flagship project “Twumve Twumve” Forum, loosely translated “Hear us, we hear you”, empowers Rwandan youth to make their voices heard. Twumve Twumve is a unique opportunity for youth to engage in direct conversation with leaders from the public and private sector on issues facing Rwanda and the continent.
The Kigali Shapers created and lead the #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, a call to action for African leaders and the African Union to ease visa procedures across the continent. The Kigali Hub is partnering with NAS and coordinating actions across youth-led organization in Africa to raise awareness around the issues of mobility and accelerate the ease of travel procedures across the continent.
National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero) is the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets.
The NAS portfolio of services includes ramp and passenger services, cargo handling, engineering and line maintenance, airport technologies, fixed base operations, terminal management, aviation training, travel solutions, lounge management and meet-and-assist packages.
Secure, Trusted Internet Critical to Advancing African Economy
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
|New Internet Society report highlights how Africa can benefit more from the Internet economy|
|ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 23, 2017/ — Many African countries have made significant progress towards creating an Internet sector, with broad reforms that focus on increasing broadband availability. There have been further successes within countries in developing online platforms, fostering growth of local companies and increasing the incentive to go online– says a new report launched today by the Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.
“Promoting the African Internet Economy” highlights how greater use of the Internet and digitization of the traditional economy will spur economic growth in Africa.
The report further examines Internet adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the region, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an Internet economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.
Both businesses and citizens can benefit from an Internet economy. Businesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban areas benefit from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.
The report also outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advantage of the digital opportunity offered by the Internet. It highlights local successes as well as broader challenges, offering recommendations for policymakers in Africa to adopt.
“The Internet economy presents a major opportunity for Africa. However, Africa needs a secure and reliable Internet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small businesses online, along with governments and other social services,” explains Dawit Bekele, Africa Region Bureau Director for the Internet Society.
The Internet Society in collaboration with the African Union recently introduced Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for Africa to help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, ISP/operator and organizational level.
In Kenya, the Internet economy already represents 3.6% of the country’s GDP and in other developing countries 1.3% of GDP comes from the Internet economy. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that in addition to contributions to GDP, the Internet will deliver productivity gains across Africa. These productivity gains across six key sectors: financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture and government are projected to be valued at between US$148 billion and $318 billion by 2025.
However, a thriving Internet economy in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in the region. In 2016 alone, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world. These shutdowns affect individuals and organizations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative effects on the economy.
“In addition to the economic costs, Internet shutdowns also affect trust. If people don’t know whether they will have connectivity, they can no longer rely on that connectivity to build Internet-based businesses. This will affect entrepreneurs in greatest need of digital-led innovation for their own future, and the future of the Internet economy in Africa,” added Bekele.
Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
“Together, let’s open up the skies of Africa, and together let’s integrate Africa. By so doing, we will build stronger and more resilient economies.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.
“Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience,” Adesina said.
The Bank President also emphasized the Bank’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.
“The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy,” Adesina said.
“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.”
The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.
Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about 7 million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.
The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.
“That’s the good news,” he said, adding that regrettably Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.
“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!”
The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.
“Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies,” he noted.
The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank’s investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.
Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.
The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.
The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.
The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency to co-host the third ICAO World Aviation Forum from November 20-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.
Burkina Faso recalls ambassador to Libya over “slave markets” report
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
|Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects|
|Submission window opens as Solar Projects Compete for US$ 100,000 Grant to Develop their Projects|
|DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2017/ — FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Dutch development bank, and Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition following the competition’s successful first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.
In order to be considered for the grant, the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology. They should also meet the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development (preliminary feasibility studies should have been completed). Furthermore, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that can be developed with support of the grant.
Proposals will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power. Four shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February. The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event.
The winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power. In addition to that, Access Power will pre-qualify the winning proposal of the Solar Shark Tank competition for the 2018 edition of the Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) (https://goo.gl/76qvjJ) competition, subject to meeting ACF qualification requirements. Access Power will provide the ACF winner with technical support, financial structuring and development process management.
Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, commented:
Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO, added:
About Solar Shark Tank 2018
Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) is a fast-growing developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets and is currently developing power projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia. In late 2016, Access Power commissioned East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Soroti Uganda which currently provides clean energy for over 40,000 homes, schools and small businesses.
FMO (www.FMO.nl) is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS GIVES THANKS BY OFFERING ITS LOWEST FARES OF THE YEAR
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Holiday Sale Offers Exceptional Fares Starting at $599* roundtrip to Africa
Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 21, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline today announces a holiday sale that offers its lowest fares of the year to selected destinations throughout Africa. For a limited time only, book flights for round-trip travel from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg, South Africa for just $599.00* (restrictions apply) or to Cape Town for $629.00*(restriction apply). Also on offer are nonstop flights from Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Dakar, Senegal for $629.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip or to Accra, Ghana for $639.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip. These fares are available for purchase through November 28, 2017, for travel between January 10 and March 27, 2018.
“At this festive time of year for giving, we are expressing our thanks by making Africa even more affordable for travelers from North America. There is nothing that can compare to witnessing the beauty of an African sunset, sipping sundowners on a safari, taking in the magnificent sights in Cape Town, or exploring the history and culture of Ghana and Senegal”, said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways. “With these fares, our very lowest of the year, we are encouraging everyone to give the gift of Africa to oneself, a loved one or a friend this holiday season. Giving this gift, on Africa’s most awarded airline, is certainly a terrific way to show your appreciation to that someone special.”
The sale fares are available for 7-days only, so travelers must hurry to purchase tickets by visiting www.flysaa.com or by calling SAA Reservations at 1-(800) 722-9675 to take advantage of these incredible savings.
As the leading carrier from the U.S. to South Africa, South African Airways is the only airline to offer daily nonstop service from New York – JFK and daily direct service from Washington, DC-Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa. South African Airways also offers nonstop service from Washington, DCDulles to Accra, Ghana, four-days per week and Dakar, Senegal, three-days per week. From its hub in Johannesburg, SAA offers business and leisure travelers’ convenient connections to over 75 destinations on the Africa continent in partnership with its regional airlines SA Express, Airlink, and Mango.
Kenya’s Supreme Court rules election rerun valid, opposition rejects decision
November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Hilary Clarke and Brianna Duggan*
(CNN)Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that last month’s presidential election rerun met all the constitutional requirements, meaning incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is the winner. However the opposition rejected the ruling, saying it was made “under duress.”
On Friday, five people were killed in Nairobi in clashes with the police following Odinga’s return to the country from the United States, where he had given a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe ignores party deadline to quit
November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has summoned its MPs to discuss the future of its leader, President Robert Mugabe, after a deadline for his resignation came and went on Monday.
The deadline was set by Mr Mugabe’s own party, Zanu-PF.
The embattled leader surprised Zimbabweans on Sunday, declaring on TV that he planned to remain as president.
Zanu-PF says it backs impeachment, and proceedings could begin as soon as Tuesday when parliament meets.
In a draft motion, seen by Reuters, the party blamed the president for what it called an “unprecedented economic tailspin”.
The public has poured on to the streets in protest in recent days, calling for the end of Mr Mugabe’s 37-year presidency.
His grip on power has weakened considerably since the country’s army intervened on Wednesday in a row over who should succeed him.
The crisis began two weeks ago when the 93-year-old leader sacked his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife Grace as next president.
Zimbabwe has since then seen huge street rallies demanding his immediate resignation.
The protests have been backed by the influential war veterans – who fought in the conflict that led to independence from Britain in 1980.
The group’s leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, on Monday called for more demonstrations against the president’s attempt to cling on to power.
“We want to see his back now,” Mr Mutsvangwa said. “Mugabe, your rule is over. The emperor has no clothes. Thank you very much.”
Choreographing a departure
Andrew Harding in Harare
The city is swirling with rumours that Mr Mugabe is planning his resignation and that he may go back on television to announce it at any stage, and that Sunday’s speech was simply about giving carte blanche to the military for what they’ve done.
But we just don’t know at this stage if he will give in to the pressure from the war veterans, his own party, and the public.
Mr Mugabe said in his speech that he planned to preside over the Zanu-PF congress next month, a statement people here found baffling after the party voted to strip him of his leadership and kick out his wife.
What is clear is that everyone here believes that the Mugabe era is over. Saturday’s protests unleashed something and people believe that a line has been crossed. Now it is really about negotiating the time, the process, the choreography of Mr Mugabe’s departure.
The fear of Zanu-PF and of the security services will not go away overnight. People here grew up with that fear. In the meantime, the streets are calm, but Tuesday may bring more demonstrations.
What did Mugabe say in his speech?
During the 20-minute address, the president, who was flanked by generals, made no mention of the pressure from his party and the public to quit.
Instead, he declared that the military had done nothing wrong by seizing power and placing him under house arrest.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they [the army] went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” he said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster in the capital Harare.
He also said “the [Zanu-PF] party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes”.
Before Mr Mugabe’s speech, Mr Mnangagwa was named as Zanu-PF’s new leader and candidate for the 2018 general elections, while Mr Mugabe’s wife was expelled.
So what happens next?
After Mr Mugabe’s speech, Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke was quoted as saying that the resignation ultimatum was unchanged.
He added that impeachment proceedings could be launched on Tuesday in parliament. This would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
The opposition MDC-T party has tried unsuccessfully to impeach Mr Mugabe in the past, but this time the ruling party – which has an overwhelming majority in both houses – is likely to go against him.
However, the impeachment process could take weeks.
The BBC’s Africa Editor, Fergal Keane, said his understanding of the situation was that Mr Mugabe had agreed to resign, but then changed his mind.
Our correspondent says the generals have no intention of forcing Mr Mugabe out by the barrel of a gun, and are happy to let the Zanu-PF carry out its procedures, working through impeachment if necessary.
It is unclear how Robert Mugabe can preside over Zanu-PF’s congress next month, following his dismissal as party leader.
Party positions are officially decided at the congress and Mr Mnangagwa may take over leading the country then.
Mr Mnangagwa, a former state security chief, is nicknamed “the crocodile” for his perceived shrewdness. He fled Zimbabwe after his sacking a fortnight ago, but has since reportedly returned.
What’s the reaction been?
The War Veterans Association, which used to back Mr Mugabe, now says it is time for him to step down.
“Thirty-seven years, you have had your time, you are toast now politically,” association head Chris Mutsvangwa told the BBC.
“Please give the country a chance, let it move to the next page.”
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was “baffled” by the president’s address.
“He’s playing a game. He has let the whole nation down,” he told Reuters news agency.
Mr Mugabe has led the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.