Category Archives: Politics

OBAMA INSPIRES YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Obama Mandela Tribute Lecture

Jereaghogho Efeturi Ukusare

Former US President Barack Obama was in South Africa Wednesday for what would have been the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela. As always, the former US President delivered an inspiring speech.

Earlier Tuesday, in an address in honor of the late Nelson Mandela ahead of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Obama criticized movements toward authoritarianism around the world and ridiculed the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” who lie. He added that politics today often rejected the concept of objective truth.

Attendees at the Obama Speech in SA

His lecture, titled “Renewing the Mandela legacy and promoting active citizenship in a changing world,” tracked the transformation of the world, particularly in terms of race relations and human rights, over the past 100 years.

Obama’s speech in all could be summerised thus, as he put it: “Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision, I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King, and Abraham Lincoln, I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Barack Obama and Cyril Ramaphosa behind Soweto Gospel Choir

ZIMBABWE FACES ACCUSATIONS OF LEAKING VOTER’S PERSONAL DATA

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)

A scandal over leaked data has hit Zimbabwe’s election after the ruling party sent personalized, unsolicited campaign messages to potential voters’ mobile phones.

The opposition says thousands of supporters reported receiving the messages. “ZANU-PF has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar. There is no legal way for any political party to access voter phone numbers,” opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said Tuesday on Twitter.

Some of the messages seen by The Associated Press solicited support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the July 30 election and were issued in the language of the area where the voter lives. Zimbabwe, like many countries in Africa, is multilingual.

Mnangagwa, who took office in November after longtime leader Robert Mugabe was pressured into stepping down, has pledged a free and fair election in the hope that years of international sanctions will be lifted. Past elections in the southern African nation have been marked by alleged violence and fraud, and the main opposition under Chamisa has raised a number of concerns about transparency that have been echoed by Western election observers who have been welcomed for the first time in almost two decades.

Another opposition politician and former finance minister, Tendai Biti, said the data leak “proves beyond reasonable doubt collusion between (the election commission), ZANU-PF and mobile networks.”

The electoral commission denied sharing voters’ data with the ruling party. “There are so many instances where you leave your phone numbers where you buy your goods,” one commissioner, Netsai Mushonga, told reporters.

Another commissioner, Qhubani Moyo, called the messages “bulk telemarketing adverts that we have always seen and received from various suppliers of services.”

ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo confirmed the party sent the messages but denied allegations that the data came from the elections body as “hogwash.” He won’t say how the party obtained it.

CAR BOMB EXPLODES IN SOMALIA’S CAPITAL

MOGADISHU (Reuters)

A suicide car bomb exploded meters away from the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday and smoke was seen rising above the scene of the explosion although it was unclear who was behind the blast, police said.

“A car bomb exploded … it is too early to know (the) casualty,” Major Mohamed Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters moments after blast.

A second blast nearby occurred opposite a police building, a police source said. It was not immediately clear whether it caused any injuries.

A Reuters witness saw smoke emanating from many burning vehicles at the scene around the blasts.

Islamist group al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in the Horn of Africa country where they are fighting to topple the central government. But they have not yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts.

The group wants to topple the Western-backed central government, expel the African Union-mandated peace keeping force AMISOM and establish a government based on their own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990.

The first explosion occurred outside a building meters away from the presidential palace and also near a checkpoint.

Hussein said security forces opened fire after the blast occurred. Booming sounds of ambulance sirens were heard while announcements were made via loudspeaker to help clear the road.

Photo: AP file photo

ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA “OPEN DOOR OF PEACE” AFTER FIRST TALKS IN 20 YEARS

By Aaron Maasho, ADDIS ABABA (Reuters)

Long-time foes Eritrea and Ethiopia “opened the door of peace” on Tuesday after the first high-level visit from Asmara to Addis Ababa in nearly two decades, raising hopes for an end to one of Africa’s most intractable military stand-offs.

In a highly symbolic move, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopian Airlines would restart flights to Eritrea for the first time since 1998 when conflict erupted between the two nations over their disputed border, with diplomatic relations broken off ever since.

Tuesday’s visit comes after Abiy said this month he would honour all the terms of a peace deal, suggesting he might be ready to settle the border dispute, a move welcomed by Eritrea.

“Today is a day of joy because two identical peoples and two generations have been separated throughout that period. But through struggles, we have opened the door of peace,” said Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh.

Abiy said he hoped the dispute would end with this generation and reiterated his willingness to accept the transfer of territory.

“There will be lands swapped between the two countries but that will not matter – there will not be a border between us as our relationship will strengthen,” he said at a state dinner with the Eritrean representatives.

“For Ethiopians who have longed for heading to Massawa (in Eritrea) for a stroll, I call on you to be ready as Ethiopian Airlines will start services there soon,” he said, without giving further details.

Earlier Olympic athletes, singers, actors and religious leaders joined Abiy at Addis Abiba airport to welcome Saleh and other top officials, who were presented with garlands of flowers.

The flags of both countries fluttered from lampposts in Addis Ababa along with a banner reading “Welcome!”

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had welcomed Ethiopia’s “positive messages” and decided to send the delegation that included his adviser Yemane Gebreab and his envoy to the African Union.

The border war killed some 80,000 people and the sides remain at odds over the status of the frontier town of Badme. The border remains militarised.

Abiy was at a rally hit by a grenade that killed two people on Saturday an attack that government-affiliated media blamed on opponents of reforms announced since he took office in April, including airline and telecoms privatisations and the rapprochement with Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations two decades ago, although Asmara has a permanent delegation in Addis Ababa representing it at the African Union, whose headquarters are in the Ethiopian capital. No Eritrean representatives have been part of an official visit for talks with the Ethiopian government since at least 1998.

SOUTH SUDAN FOES AGREE ‘PERMANENT’ CEASEFIRE WITHIN 72 HOURS

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar agreed Wednesday to a “permanent” ceasefire to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of a deal to end their country’s devastating war. “All parties have agreed on a permanent ceasefire within 72 hours,” Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed announced following talks in the Sudanese capital.

Kiir and Machar then signed the document, called the “Khartoum Declaration,” in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. “This day was expected by our people in South Sudan and it has now come,” Kiir said after the signing of the agreement.

Machar said the ceasefire must finally lead to the “ending of the war”.

The latest push for peace in South Sudan comes as part of a fresh bid launched by East African leaders and with the two factions facing a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.

Several previous ceasefire agreements have been violated.

“We offer this agreement as a gift to South Sudanese citizens,” Bashir said. “This agreement says that peace has started to return to South Sudan.”

The declaration, a copy of which was made available to AFP, stipulates that the ceasefire arrangement includes disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of all allied troops, opening of humanitarian corridors, and the release of prisoners of war and political detainees.

The agreement also allows members of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) — an East African regional grouping that has been pushing peace efforts — to deploy forces to supervise the ceasefire.

– Transitional government –

“The security arrangements that shall be adopted shall aim at building national army, police and other security organs of an all-inclusive character that shall be free from tribalism and ethnic affiliations,” the document says. “Policies shall also be agreed upon for the disarmament of civilians all over the country.” Wednesday’s declaration says that a transitional government will be formed within 120 days which will govern the country for a period of 36 months.

“During the transitional period the country shall be prepared for national elections,” the document says. “It is agreed that the election shall be open for all political parties and shall be free and fair.”

The Khartoum negotiations came after a round of talks brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week in Addis Ababa faltered. The Khartoum talks commenced on Monday and are scheduled to last for two weeks, after which the next round of negotiations will be held in Nairobi. A last round of dialogue is expected in Addis Ababa.

South Sudan’s war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about four million, broke out in December 2013 when Kiir accused his then-deputy Machar of plotting a coup, dashing the optimism that accompanied independence from Sudan just two years earlier.

A KLEPTOMANIAC ASSEMBLY

By Jereaghogho Efeturi Ukusare

In a country with approximately 200 million people who lack good roads, quality education, electricity, security and with very poor health care and a very high level of unemployment and poverty and a host of other problems, the government should as a matter of urgency, with the country’s available resources, fix the issues that bedevils its citizens and take steps that are globally acknowledged as steps to alleviate the sufferings of its people and make good the society. It is the exact duty of the representatives of the people of the country to ensure that these issues plaguing the citizenry, be put to a final end. However, in a country called the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is a sad story.

The country’s Leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, a repentant leader of the country’s one time military junta, presented the country’s Budget to its National Assembly in November 2017. Ideally, the implementation of the National budget of Nigeria should begin on the first of day of the new year. In this case, the idea was to start the implementation of the budget on the first day of January, 2018. Sadly, the National Assembly of Nigeria, the arm of government that represents the interest of the people, thought it right to delay the budget for seven months. The idea behind the delay was to fix in projects that would impact positively on the lives of their constituents. Sweet as this may sound, this has always been the case over the years and yet, there are no visible developmental projects implemented by the National Assembly members in their constituencies. The roads to some of their villages or hometowns are death traps, that some of them go on okada (public motorbike) just to get to their houses in their hometown or village, while billions of Naira have been allocated for such constituency projects by them nationally. One may want to ask, where is this money that was earmarked for these projects? Perhaps, monkeys, snakes and the likes have runaway with them. This is Nigeria.

Constitutionally, it is the responsibility of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace order and good governance of the nation as enshrined in section 4 subsection 2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. Interestingly, these set of lawmakers have turned against their own people to make laws not in favor of the people but themselves. How else do you explain a budget of 125 billion naira for the National Assembly raised from such a mind boggling amount to a humongous amount of 139.5 billion naira for just 469 people who make up the National Assembly in a country where many of the approximately 200 Million people live in abject poverty. The constitution further states in section 16 subsection 1 paragraph (b) that the state – which the National Assembly is a part of – shall: “control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.” With the appropriation bill that was recently passed by Nigeria’s National Assembly and reluctantly signed  – as a result of the manipulations in the document –  by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 20, 2018, it is clear from the statement of the President that the interest of the people was set aside. Such acts of setting aside the interest of the people by their representatives in government is unconstitutional.

The President in his speech made it clear that the allocation for the Maritime University which is to be sited in Delta State which was put at 5 billion naira by the Federal Executive Council was reduced to 3.4 billion naira by the National Assembly. Pensions was reduced by 5 billion naira by the assembly. The President also revealed that “provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja,  especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project were cut by a total of 7.5 billion naira. In fact, the reductions in critical areas of the budget affecting the lives of Nigerians, including those who have served the country and are now old needing pensions are enormous. An assembly whose duties are expressly stated in section 16 subsection 2 paragraph (b) of the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended: “that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good” is now the assembly and arm of government going against the common good of the entire citizenry of the nation. If not, why then do we have all these reductions that reduces the ability of the government to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians while increasing the amount of money for the assembly.

Mr. President has worked in the interest of the country, whether contractors deliver or not is another issue. At this level of appropriation, the intent of President Muhammadu Buhari is to as much as possible, alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians. This is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a country that belongs to all Nigerians and not a few. The representatives of the people who have sworn to uphold the constitution of Nigeria have gone against the provisions of the constitution – that they swore to uphold –  to satisfy their selfish desires. Good enough, the constitution of our dear country provides for the citizens’ welfare in sections 16, 17 and 18 among others, of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

However, it is pertinent to note that not all the members of Nigeria’s National Assembly have these tendencies, some of them are indeed honorable men and women. The responsibility is now on President Muhammadu Buhari who has the mandate of the people and thus empowered by the constitution to take steps in line with section 15 subsection 5 of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that these Kleptomaniacs are dealt with according to the laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) which adequately takes care of matters of this nature.

Brief Profile: Bogolo Kenewendo

By Jereaghogho Efeturi Ukusare

Bogolo Joy Kenewendo was born 31 years ago and is from Motopi village in the Boteti area of Botswana. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Botswana and an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex (UK) with a Chevening scholarship she earned for herself. She is also a certified Project Management PRINCE 2 practitioner.

She was one of two Botswana youth delegates at the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. During which she was nominated to present a statement of African youths to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Ms. Kenewendo is a specialist in Macroeconomic policy, public debt management, trade policy, export development, trade in services, regulatory frameworks, trade related issues, trade and investment policy, industrial development policy, institutional frameworks for policy formulation, poverty alleviation and financial sector development. She was honored with the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) award by JCI Botswana in 2012. Following her encounter with the US first lady Michelle Obama during her Yali experience pre-Mandela Washington fellowship in 2011, she and a friend formed the Molaya Kgosi Women Empowerment.

She was based in Ghana where she had been working as a trade economist in the ministry of trade and industry in Ghana and was previously employed as an economic consultant at Econsult Botswana. Interestingly, Ms. Kenewendo is also a seasoned presenter and regularly provides analysis for local and international press. She is currently the youngest representative in parliament after being specially elected by the President of Botswana. A versatile personality, she achieved all these by hard work and perseverance.