Daily News Brief on ICGLR Member States compiled by LMRC ( 6th June 2019)

1.       ANGOLA

a)      Angola Press Agency: Former Minister Augusto Tomás denies accusations

Luanda - The former Transport Minister, Augusto da Silva Tomás, denied Tuesday in court that he had wrongfully appropriated the amounts accused by the Public Prosecutor's Office.

At the trial, which began on Friday (May 31) in Luanda, the Public Prosecutor's Office accused Augusto Tomás of illegally appropriating more than 1 billion Kwanzas, 40 million dollars and 13 million euros from the National Shippers Council (CNC).

During the interrogation, the Public Prosecutor accused Augusto Tomás of practicing fraudulent ways to divert funds from the state, for his companies and some private entities.

"At no moment did I receive this money," the former transport minister (2008 to 2018) told the jury.

Augusto Tomás’s interrogation continues this Wednesday.

The trial sessions are being held in the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court.

b)      Angola Press Agency: AU Commissioner for Political Affairs to visit Angola

Luanda - The African Union (AU)?s Political Affairs Commissioner, Minata Samate, will visit Angola on 12-14 June to make contacts with the local authorities in the domains of democracy, governance, human rights, elections, among other topics.

With the aim of preparing the trip, the AU Commissioner received on Wednesday in an audience, in Addis Ababa, the Angolan ambassador to Ethiopia, Francisco da Cruz, who is also the country’s permanent representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The press services of the Angolan Embassy in Ethiopia have released a note stating that Minata Samate’s trip to Angola is part of the efforts of relationship strengthening between the Angolan Executive and the African Union.

The visit may also serve for the AU official to make an assessment of Angola’s democratisation process, including its preparation of the first local elections, which are scheduled for the year 2020.

On the other hand, Francisco da Cruz and Minata Samate also spoke about the 5th Congress of the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA), which Luanda will host on 09-13 June and to which the AU Commissioner has also been invited.

c)       Angola Press Agency: China pledges to keep cooperation with Angola

Luanda - Chinese government is available to continue cooperating with Angola in the economic field and execution of several projects, based on credit lines.

The Asian country’s intention was expressed by its Ambassador to Angola, Gong Tao on Wednesday in Luanda.

Gong Tao was speaking to the press at the end of an audience the Angolan President, João Lourenço, granted to the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Assembly, Wang Chen.

Gong Tao, who attended the audience, said that the meeting discussed development of cooperation between the two countries.

He mentioned the economic, social, political and diplomatic fields and prospects, as the main issues reviewed at the meeting

The deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Assembly of China, arrived Monday in Luanda for a three-day working visit aimed to strengthen bilateral relations between the legislative bodies of both the countries.

Angola and China are long-time partners, with diplomatic relations date backing to 36 years.

João Lourenço  paid two visits to China: the first in September at the China-Africa summit, and the second in October (state visit).

In these two trips to China, he met with his counterpart Xi Ji Ping to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

2.       DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

a)      CNBC Africa: The key challenges that DRC’s new president faces

Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba is the new prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He’s an old-timer who has worked for former presidents Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent Kabila, and his son Joseph Kabila. He now joins President Felix Tshisekedi’s freshly minted administration.

At the time of Ilunga’s appointment the DRC had been without a premier for more than four months. This was not ideal given the importance of the position. Congolese premiers must countersign presidential orders. Without a prime minister, the president can struggle to exercise full control over the government.

It’s therefore no surprise that without a prime minister for the first four months of his presidency Tshisekedi has not been able to set out a clear legislative agenda.

The appointment confirms fears that former president Joseph Kabila still wields a lot of powerover the Congolese government. Ilunga is one of his close confidants.

This might be overblown given that Tshisekedi had no real choice about appointing a Kabila ally. The DRC Constitution requires that the prime minister comes from the largest party in the National Assembly. That party is Kabila’s Peoples’ Party for Reconciliation and Democracy.

Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that Ilunga will face dealing with conflicts between party and president. Kabila’s Peoples’ Party for Reconciliation and Democracy and Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress are bound to clash from time to time and Ilunga is likely to get caught in the cross-fire. In that position, he will have to choose whether to advance the president’s agenda or to frustrate it. If he chooses to frustrate, Tshisekedi’s time at the helm will be rocky.

Tshisekedi will also have to work with a National Assembly that is dominated by an opposing coalition. This means that he will not be able to pass laws without the approval of the Kabila led Common Front for Congo.

Away from the parliament, Kabila is yet to move out of the presidential palace. Meanwhile, Tshisekedi is often met with indifference around the country. He will have to work hard to dislodge the status quo.

Ilunga’s appointment, however, could dent his efforts to prove that he is the man in charge. The new prime minister’s experience and expertise — he was once head of the Congo’s national rail network (SNCC) and is an economics professor at the University of Kinshasa — could potentially help Tshisedi even if his time at the helm of the SNCC was a failure. Whether or not Ilunga’s experience helps Tshisekedi depends on the choices he elects to make.

b)      Morocco World News: MONUSCO Forces Commander Honors Moroccan Peacekeepers in DRC

Rabat – Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, otherwise known as MONUSCO has honored Moroccan peacekeepers deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a ceremony held on Tuesday in Kananga.

The Moroccan Embassy in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said in a statement that the “battalion forming the Moroccan contingent deployed in DRC, under the command of Colonel Zakaria Sahili, was decorated by Lieutenant General Elias Rodriguez Martins Filho, Commander of the Monursco Forces.”

The statement added that the Moroccan peacekeepers received the medals of merit in recognition of their “commendable services” in the UN mission.

Moroccan ambassador to Kinshasa Rachid Agassim attended the ceremony along with the Naval Attache Zine Hrizou.

Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCR) as well as several officers representing other countries also took part in the ceremony.

Morocco is an active contributor to MONUSCO, with a contingent of more than 1,300 troops deployed in the DRC, particularly in Kasaï (the center of the country) and Bunia in North Kivu.

The Moroccan forces are strengthened by a number of female peacekeepers. There are 25 female members in Kananga, including five officers.

The Moroccan military enjoys a very good reputation, both in the regions of their deployment and the Congolese authorities.

In addition to the medals of merit attributed to Moroccans on Tuesday, UN also honored the sacrifices of Moroccan volunteers in UN Peacekeeping Operations on May 29.

Morocco contributes more than 2,100 uniformed peacekeeping volunteers. It also ranks 13th in the world for peacekeeper contribution, and has been “an essential partner of United Nations peacekeeping operations for many years,” said UN peacekeeping spokesman Nick Birnback.

“We thank them for their commitment to preserving international peace and security, especially in Africa,” Birnback said.

c)       Daily Mail: UN says about 25% of Ebola cases could be going undetected

GENEVA (AP) - The World Health Organization says it may be missing a quarter of all Ebola cases in eastern Congo as violent unrest complicates detection.

That estimate by WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan on Thursday comes after aid groups expressed concern this week that the rate of new cases has been picking up speed.

There have been more than 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of the Ebola virus since August, with nearly 1,400 deaths.

Ryan told journalists in Geneva that WHO believes it is probably detecting only 75 percent of all Ebola cases.

Health teams have been unable to reach some areas because of violence by rebel groups.

The teams also have come under attack by locals who mistrust foreigners and government officials in a long-volatile region far from the capital.

3.       KENYA

a)      Daily Nation: Uhuru Kenyatta bans single-use plastic products in parks, beaches

President Uhuru Kenyatta has banned the usage of single-use plastic products in all protected areas as Kenya seeks to curb plastics hazard, just two years after the country banned the use of polythene carrier bags.

Visitors to national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas will not be allowed to carry disposable plates, cups, straws, spoons, forks and water bottles, which are considered major environmental pollutants.

The ban, announced in Canada where the President addressed the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, will take effect on June 5, 2020.

Plastics have become a major nuisance for the environment with many littering the oceans, forests and even blocking drainages.

"Sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society. And that is why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign," President Kenyatta said.

The conference focus is on gender equality, the health rights and wellbeing of girls and women across the globe under the theme: ‘Power, Progress, Change’, through which it seeks to inspire women to take up their position in bringing positive change in their societies.

The President’s order comes just days after the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) raised a red flag over the possible return on the use of plastic bags.

Kenya outlawed the use of plastics carrier bags in 2016 and has been considering extending the ban to other single-use products.

It is not clear why the President singled out the protected areas in the Wednesday ban.

But, a source at the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife told the Nation that the enforcement in protected areas has not been effective with visitors carrying in the polluting agents and dumping them.

About eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the Indian Ocean yearly, according to the UN Environment Department.

Tonnes of water bottles and other plastic waste is collected from oceans, especially during coastal clean-up days.

Plastics have also been found in marine animals’ stomachs,

In 2017, Kenya joined 40 other countries in the fight against ocean and sea pollution as part of interventions to roll back the consequences of an increasingly polluted planet.

The country signed to take part in the United Nations Environment #CleanSeas campaign that aims at countering the torrents of plastic trash degrading oceans and seas and endangering the life they sustain.

The 40 countries within coastal lines, from Kenya to Indonesia and Canada to Brazil, account for more than half of the world’s coastline.

They also committed to fight against marine litter and ocean pollution, and announced measures including drives to increase recycling in their respective countries.

b)      Xinhua Net: China to support Kenya's development agenda: envoy

NAIROBI, June 6 (Xinhua) -- China has vowed to support Kenya's development agenda, and actively participate in growing the bilateral cooperation, a Chinese envoy said on Wednesday evening.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng said in Nairobi that the China-Kenya partnership is currently at its best.

"Over the decades, our cooperation has been built on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits."

"We reaffirm that China will fully support Kenya's development, and actively participate in our growing cooperation," Wu said during a celebration of World Environment Day combined with a reception held by the embasssy.

He revealed that on Kenya's request, Chinese companies are working on contributing to the Naivasha industrial park.

According to Wu, China is dedicated to Kenya's development with many efforts, far more than just funding.

Data from the Chinese Ambassy in Kenya indicates that China's direct investment in Kenya reached 52 billion shillings (about 520 million U.S. dollars) in 2018.

Wu also encouraged Chinese enterprises to align themselves with the Kenya's Big Four Agenda of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare, by increasing investments in areas such as manufacturing.

The Chinese diplomat noted that China and Kenya also enjoy common values of defending multilateralism, free and fair trade, pursuing win-win cooperation and safeguarding the interests of developing countries.

Ababu Namwamba, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said the bilateral cooperation has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since the two countries signed the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

According to the Kenyan official, the benefits of the China-Kenya cooperation can be witnessed in multiple areas and includes the Standard Gauge Railway which has become a pillar of the Kenya's economic growth.

He noted that China has played a pivotal role in helping Kenya realize its Big Four Agenda and especially the industrialization goal.

"We are also happy our cooperation with China will result in Kenyan goods accessing the huge Chinese market," he added.

c)       Daily Nation: Kenya eyes free trade pact to expand dairy market in Africa

The Department of Livestock wants to expand the share of Kenya’s dairy products in the African market with an eye on West Africa following the advent of the continental free trade area.

Livestock PS Harry Kimutai says a number of countries in West Africa have already made inquiries about Kenya’s long-life dairy products.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will allow movement of good from one country to another.

Mr Kimutai said Kenya would also witness an increase in dairy goods from other nations, noting the country needs to address the high cost of production to remain competitive in the market.

“We are eying to expand our market to other regions and we are starting with West Africa that has already expressed interest in our milk products, especially the powdered milk,” he said.

The West African countries that have shown interest include Liberia and Nigeria, with officials from Monrovia recently visiting the country.

The African free trade pact came into effect at the end of last month after two more countries ratified the agreement.

Kenya Dairy Board managing director Margaret Kibogy says Nairobi is seeking to lower of the cost of production from the current Sh25 per litre to Sh15 in order to remain competitive in the wake of the free trade area.

“AfCFTA is a good initiative that will open up the market for Kenya and other African countries. However, it might not augur well with our high cost of production; that is why we want to address the overheads to an acceptable level that will make us competitive in the market,” she said.

4.       SOUTH SUDAN

a)      Radio Tamazuj: South Sudan adds more security features to its visa

South Sudan’s government on Thursday launched a new visa with some new security features to enhance its security after attempts by criminals to forge visas in Juba.

Interior Minister Michael Chiangjiek told Radio Tamazuj that his ministry has introduced a new visa with enhanced security, saying the old visa was not secure.

“We launched the new visa in order to reduce attempts by criminals to make fake visas. The new visa is not completely different from the old one, but we added new security features,” he said.

“Some criminals had tried to forge our visa, that’s why we added 18 security features to the new visa. It will now be difficult for criminals to forge it,” he added.

“I also want to tell our people that they need to differentiate between the old visa and the new one because some criminals may try to use the old visa. But we will work on how to control it at the airport.”

Separately, Minister Chiangjiek warned drivers who drive vehicles with tinted windows in Juba, saying police personnel will continue to impound cars with tinted glasses.

The government official said people must obey the order, which prevents the tinting of car windows. He stressed that tough measures will be taken against those failing to respect the order. “Let us embrace peace among ourselves,” he said.

“I want to give instructions to you, especially immigration officers at the borders, tinting of car windows is forbidden,” he added.

Chiangjiek urged the police to treat people with respect.” Let us treat our people with dignity. Things should be facilitated to our people when they come to process documents,” he said.

b)      The National: South Sudan needs lasting peace to maintain fiscal stability, says IMF

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, will need “lasting peace” to restore fiscal stability, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecast a 6.6 per cent increase in annual economic growth next year if it can maintain an agreement to cease conflict.

The peace agreement signed last year between the South Sudanese government and a rival faction has “improved prospects for lasting peace and economic recovery”, the organisation noted.

Inflation declined to around 40 per cent by year-end from 550 per cent at the height of the conflict in September 2016, with oil production rising by a fifth in the first quarter of the year.

"Without peace and security, the outlook remains extremely difficult, with continuing threats to macroeconomic and financial stability, declining income and deteriorating humanitarian conditions," the IMF said. A sustainable medium-term outlook requires improvements in the political and security situation, robust economic adjustment and reforms, budgetary discipline as well as enhanced oil revenue management, it added.

South Sudan’s economy is heavily reliant on crude revenues, with oil set to account for 28 per cent of total government receipts in the current fiscal year.

The nation of 12.6 million people, which broke away from Sudan in 2011, has Africa’s third-largest oil reserves at an estimated 7 billion barrels. It currently produces below capacity at 165,000 barrels per day after a two-year civil war devastated oil facilities. Crude accounts for nearly all of the country’s export revenues and efforts are underway to modernise South Sudan's oil infrastructure.

In an interview with The National, Awow Daniel Chuang, South Sudan’s director general for petroleum authority said the country looked to attract $3 billion across its energy sector over the next five years. Around $1.5bn will be spent upstream in exploration and production, with the remainder to be spent developing downstream assets, particularly building refineries. The country currently has no refineries and exports all of its crude to neighbouring countries. A capacity of at least 80,000 bpd is required, with the products targeted for export to neighbours such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

The IMF expressed concern however, over a “lack of transparency” in the financial operations of state oil company Nilepet, and called for an open audit to ensure that its planned investments in oil production and related activities are "cost-effective and growth-enhancing”.

The fund also cautioned that South Sudan’s fiscal policy has been weakened by lack of fiscal discipline, deteriorating public financial management as well as contracting of non-transparent oil advances, which it said has added to the country’s “corruption vulnerabilities”.

The country’s banking sector has yet to revive from the civil war, which began not long after independence, leading to high inflation and strong depreciation in currency. Most banks were heavily under-capitalised and faced rising non-performing loans, noted the IMF.

South Sudan’s plans to pursue a tight monetary policy, with the objective of lowering inflation further and replenishing international reserves would help long-term, it said. The country’s plans to float its exchange rate was a positive move that would help address “external imbalances” and improve the economy’s resilience to shocks, added the IMF.

5.       SUDAN

a)      Telesur English: African Union Suspends Sudan after Army Crackdown on Protests

The African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan Thursday from the regional bloc in response to its brutal crackdown by the military on protesters.

The AU's Peace and Security Department said on Twitter that Sudan's participation in the AU is immediately suspended "until the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority" is established as the only way to "exit from the current crisis."

Since Monday, at least 108 Sudanese protesters have been killed and more than 500 wounded, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, demanding civilian elections and an end to the Transitional Military Council's (TMC) rule. According to a health ministry official, the death toll is 61.

The doctor’s committee claimed that the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which controls the capital city of Khartoum, pulled 40 bodies out of the Nile River Tuesday and took them to an unknown location.

"The RSF, the special military force which killed, raped and tortured thousands in Darfur, brings its murderous rampage to the capital," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"Reports that bodies have been dumped in the river demonstrate the utter depravity of these so-called security forces." The main protest organizers, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), accuse the TMC of perpetrating “a massacre” as it broke up a protest camp Monday, a charge denied by the council.

Since the ousting of long-time President Omar Al-Bashir in April, Sudan has been governed by the army-led TMC, many of whose members were a part of Bashir's ousting. The SPA had been talking with the council to negotiate when elections would be held until this week. The two sides had agreed elections would be held within three years, but the SPA wanted a civilian council to takeover during the transition. The TMC insisted it would continue to rule during the interim and responded to the continued sit-ins by firing at protesters Monday.

“The protesters holding a sit-in in front of the army general command are facing a massacre in a treacherous attempt to disperse the protest,” the protest group said.

Demonstrations began last December demanding the former president's removal from office. Bashir was charged by the International Criminal Court for crime against humanity in 2009.

The AU Commissioner Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat called for an "immediate and transparent investigation in order to hold all those responsible accountable.”

6.       ZAMBIA

a)      Lusaka Time: Amos Chanda resigns

Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Mr Amos Chanda has resigned.

In a surprise move, Mr Chanda handed in his resignation to President Edgar Lungu this morning.

Sources have revealed that President Lungu summoned Mr Chanda just before lunch time with the hope of convincing him to change his position.

Other senior Ministers and intelligence personnel were also tasked to help change Mr Chanda’s mind.

After all failed, President Lungu reluctantly accepted Mr Chanda’s resignation.

And in a hurriedly organized news conference at State House a while ago, Mr Chanda thanked President Lungu and the First Lady for the opportunity to have served as Presidential Spokesperson for the past four years.

Mr Chanda said the position he had held had accorded him the opportunity to put in the best years of his public service.

He said he will remain resolute in supporting the President Lungu and the PF government in the persuit of development.

Mr Chanda is expected to be redeployed to another position.

b)      Lusaka Times: President Lungu is at the epicenter of FIC corruption report-HH

UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema says the manner in which President Edgar Lungu has recanted to the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) annual report confirms his lack of seriousness in dealing with corruption.

Speaking at KKIA lasts evening when he arrived from Ndola, President Lungu said the FIC report is fueling gossip and that it was just full of “Mfwiti Mfwiti.”

But Mr Hichilema said President Lungu has dismissed the FIC report detailing financial embezzlement as “mfwiti mfwiti” because he is at the epicenter.

Mr Hichilema said If he were in President Lungu’s position, he would have immediately called on the ACC, DEC and the Police to independently study the FIC report and expedite investigations and bring all the named suspects to book.

He said the FIC report has revealed yet again that corruption under President Lungu’s Government has reached alarming levels.

“This corruption and resulting high taxes should worry every Zambian, who is now overtaxed, cannot access health care nor have a quality education. This corruption coupled with the strange act of PF’s expropriation of KCM has further eroded investor confidence,” Mr Hichilema said.

He charged that Zambians can safely say the country is in economic turmoil.The FIC report shows that as of 2018, K6.1 billion had been stolen by scams and rackets which involved politicians in the PF.

The figure is up from 6.1 billion from K4.5 billion reported by FIC in 2017.

“Edgar Lungu was handed that report, but he did NOTHING. Now he has been handed this latest report which cites examples of terrorist funding from Zambia and he still does NOTHING, in the meantime the country is haemorrhaging and the people of Zambia are paying dearly while their President is preoccupied with defending criminals,” Mr Hichilema said.

“UPND’s policy of zero tolerance on corruption is clear and this is why we say: Mr Lungu must reflect on his insatiable appetite for corruption because we, in the UPND, together with the people of Zambia would like to channel these resources and public funds to improving the welfare of every Zambian. In the midst of a distressed economy where government is failing to pay salaries and suppliers, such financial leakage must be stopped.”

He said the UPND has guided that oversight institutions such as Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, National Prosecution Authority and the Judiciary need to not only be strengthened but given independence to fulfil their mandate without fear or favour.

“The same people being investigated are the same ones responsible for appointing people to positions in these institutions. The level of the greed by certain individuals is staggering, as reflected in the FIC report. The culture of corruption has become endemic and synonymous with the PF leadership.”

He added, “We are greatly concerned about this as the rot has continued to deepen. Only a change of administration can avert such a decline in ethics and fiscal discipline.”

“It is an insult to the millions of Zambians, suffering in this weak economy that is on its knees due to poor economic management and blatant corruption.”

He said the loss of 6.1 Billion Kwacha in a space of 9 months is a clear indication that the PF has utterly failed to govern in the interest of Zambians adding that they are on a path of destruction.

“This money would have cleared all arrears that UNZA has, would have provided water to all residents of Kitwe. This money would have been used to buy drugs in hospitals. Let me put this into perspective, the money stolen is 93% of the 2019 budget for roads, 272% of the 2019 budget for hospitals, 120% of our defence budget; 308% of water and sanitation. This is the cesspit that we are entertaining from the PF government.”

He stated, “We need total independence for the law enforcement agencies across the board, security of tenure for all employees must be guaranteed by the constitution. There should be an end to officers being fired in so called national interest for doing their job. We challenge the law makers to ensure that they develop laws to safeguard the law enforcement agencies.”

“Secondly we demand that Edgar Lungu cracks the whip, he cannot tell us that he truly believes one fire engine can cost one million US dollars. Thirdly we demand that the ACC and other arms of the law take these matters up.”

He said, “One case is very clear, the procurement of fire engines does not need forensics, everyone can see there was corruption on a grand scale at play here. Zambians deserve better. Enough is enough.”

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