Monday, October 26, 2020

Zimbabwe President Salutes Africa

27 OCT, 2020 - 00:10 

Fungi Kwaramba Political Editor

Herald

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday saluted SADC, the African Union and the world at large for standing by Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional removal of the Western imposed illegal economic sanctions during the Anti-Sanctions Day.

In an interview at State House yesterday, the President chastised the country’s opposition parties for consorting with the Western world led by the United States to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and campaigning for their continued stay.

“On behalf of Zimbabwe, I wish to express my deep appreciation of the support rendered to Zimbabwe, first by SADC. Almost all SADC member states expressed themselves loudly against the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe. They joined our cry as Zimbabwe that sanctions should be removed unconditionally and immediately, across the board,” said the President.

For close to two decades now, Zimbabwe has been groaning under the weight of illegal economic sanctions that were imposed by Western nations that were outraged by the country’s decision to redress the racial land imbalances.

As a consequence of the unilateral sanctions that breach international statutes, the country’s population has been hit the hardest as Zimbabwe has had to go it alone without access to international loans.

Because of the illegal sanctions, Zimbabwe could not access assistance to fight the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, effects of successive droughts have also left the country vulnerable but still with no access to international loans.

As such, SADC countries in Tanzania last year declared October 25 the Anti-Sanctions Day, to lobby as a region for the unconditional removal of the punitive economic embargoes that have cost Zimbabwe billions over the years.

The President paid tribute to the SADC chairperson and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi for his bold statement that called for the unconditional lifting of the economic embargoes that have affected especially the vulnerable contrary to misrepresentations by America and her allies that they are targeted.

On Sunday, although restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen nations imposing restrictions on people’s movements and public gatherings, across the SADC region several people demonstrated against the illegal sanctions, while nations such as the Russian Federation and China also issued statements unreservedly condemning the illegal economic embargoes.

“I am also grateful to the AU (African Union). There was also a solid, broad, robust and clear statement representing the continent by the African Commission stating that as the AU, we are saying as a continent sanctions must go because they are illegal. What else do we want as Zimbabweans? We are so grateful to the African continent,” he said.

While almost every Zimbabwean spoke against the illegal sanctions, the opposition was oddly calling for the continued existence of sanctions.

“They are lucky that they are not Americans. If they had American citizenship, they could be locked up because there is legislation in America which forbids Americans to propagate against interests of America anywhere, but in Zimbabwe you have an opposition which bids day and night for the imposition of sanctions on their own people. This is regrettable (and) I hope one day they will realise that they are not only Zimbabweans but they are also Africans,” he said.

Just like in the US where they have laws that punish persons who speak against the interests of that State, the Cabinet is currently considering the principal framework of a proposed Patriotic Bill that will criminalise and impose stiff penalties for campaigning against the country through private correspondence with foreign governments and harming national interests.

Trump Remarks Egypt May ‘Blow Up’ Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Trump suggestion for Egyptian military action against Ethiopian Dam triggered outrage among Ethiopians. Mr. Trump thinks the dam stops the flow of Nile water to Egypt. 

Mr. Trump during speakerphone conversation with Sudanese PM Abdulla Hamdok. ( Photo : screenshot from Youtube video)

Borkena

October 24, 2020

In a phone conversation with the Prime Minister of Sudan Abdulla Hamdok, President Donald Trump suggested that Egypt may blow up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Trump remarked about GERD when he was annoucing the normalization of the United States’ relation with Sudan following decades of sanctions.

“It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way,” he said as reported by the AFP.  For him, the Dam stops the flow of water to Egypt. 

And he suggested: “They’ll end up blowing up the dam. And I said it and I say it loud and clear — they will blow up that dam. And they have to do something”

Furthermore, Mr. Trump said that Egypt should not have allowed the construction of it in the first place. From what he said during the speakerphone conversation,  it seems that he subscribes to the Egyptian view that the construction of the dam happened because Egypt was having an internal problem ( the revolution that removed President Hosni Mubarak from power) in 2011.

US-brokered Washington discussion between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan failed in February 2020 as the Trump administration pushed for a deal to benefit Egypt at the expense of Ethiopia.

Trump said on Friday, “I had a deal done for them and then unfortunately Ethiopia broke the deal, which they should not have done. That was a big mistake.”

His government cut aid funding to Ethiopia over Ethiopia’s defiance to the imposition of a deal that violates its sovereignty and disregards its sovereignty. 

More than 86 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia – a country that is now determined to use its share of the water to provide electricity to the population with no access to it, which constitutes about 65 percent of the entire population.

A recent report from the Ministry of Irrigation indicated that 76 percent of the construction of the Dam is completed.

Reactions to Mr. Trump remark

Democratic Colorado Rep. Jason Crow said in a twitter message :  “The President’s comments about the #GERD are reckless & uninformed – #Ethiopia is a long-time ally of the U.S. The U.S. must act as an honest broker to ensure a sustainable diplomatic settlement and stop senseless foreign aid cuts.”

Ethiopian Americans who are active in US politics reacted to Trump’s remarks,too. Ted Alemayhu, who was a former Republican Congressional Candidate, said “I support Donald Trump because of his ‘America first’ policy which I continue to support. Nothing else! When it comes to Hagera- Ethiopia however, I will never ever back down from defending her!”

Mr. Trump’s view seems to have attracted Ethiopian-Americans, who are otherwise indifferent, to the US election as they think it would give them “power to vote out Trump.”

The office of Prime Minister of Ethiopia has issued a statement on Saturday in reaction to Trump’s remark. The statement said, “The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is an affirmation of Ethiopia’s commitment for equitable and reasonable utilization of the Abbay River.”

Mr. Trump’s uninformed stand on GERD has outraged Ethiopians in and outside of the country.

Ethiopia Summoned US Ambassador to Over Trump’s Remark

Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia speaking to US Ambassador to Ethiopia on Saturday (Photo: MFAE)

Borkena

October 24, 2020

Ethiopia summoned on Saturday US Ambassador in Ethiopia over President Trump’s remark regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Ambassador H.E. Mike Raynor was called to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to provide clarifications on “the remarks the US President made regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during his telephone conversation with the Prime Ministers of the Republic of Sudan and the State of Israel,” as reported by the Ministry.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew is cited as saying “the incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in International Law governing interstate relations.”

Ethiopia stated that it will never negotiate its sovereignty while affirming commitment to the African Union-led trilateral negotiation with Sudan and Egypt.

Meanwhile, the European Union said on Saturday that it is time to support the negotiation process between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, not a time to create what it called unnecessary tension in the region.

The Union said “Over 250 million citizens of the Blue Nile Basin stand to benefit from a predictable agreement based on a negotiated arrangement for the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and are expecting investments in water security, irrigation, agricultural production and electricity generation.”

It was Josep Borrell, current High Representative of the European Union, who said so following the U.S President’s remark which Ethiopia called reckless and irresponsible.

In a phone conversation with the prime ministers of Sudan and Israel, Mr. Trump said “They [Egypt] will end up blowing up the dam. And I said it and I say it loud and clear — they will blow up that dam. And they have to do something”

He said so based on his understanding that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will stop the flow of water to Egypt and Sudan.

Coronavirus Deaths Are Rising Again in the US, as Feared

By LISA MARIE PANE and MIKE STOBBE

Sasha Jacquez tests The University of Texas at El Paso student Ariona Gill for coronavirus Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, at the UTEP Fox Fine Arts Center in El Paso, Texas. Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in nearly every single state. In El Paso, authorities instructed people to stay home for two weeks and imposed a 10-p.m.-to-5-a.m. curfew because of a surge that has overwhelmed hospitals. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in practically every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great.”

With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Health experts had warned that it was only a matter of time before deaths turned upward, given the record-breaking surge in cases engulfing the country. Deaths are a lagging indicator — that is, it generally takes a few weeks for people to sicken and die from the coronavirus.

Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota expert on infectious diseases who warned over the summer of a fall surge, said what’s happening now is a confluence of three factors: “pandemic fatigue” among people who are weary of hunkering down and are venturing out more; “pandemic anger” among those are don’t believe the scourge is a real threat; and cold weather, which is forcing more Americans indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

“When you put those three together, we shouldn’t be surprised what we’re seeing,” Osterholm said.

The virus is blamed for more than 8.6 million confirmed infections and over 225,000 deaths in the U.S., the highest such totals in the world.

Deaths are still well below the U.S. peak of over 2,200 per day in late April. But experts are warning of a grim fall and winter, with a widely cited model from the University of Washington projecting about 386,000 dead by Feb. 1. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until mid-2021.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases hit a record high on Sunday of 68,767, according to Johns Hopkins, eclipsing the previous mark of 67,293, set in mid-July. The U.S. recorded more than 80,000 new cases on both Friday and Saturday — the highest marks ever — though testing has expanded dramatically over the course of the outbreak, making direct comparisons problematic.

The true number of infections is thought to be far higher because many Americans have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

On Wall Street, stocks had their worst day in more than a month, amid the surging caseload and mounting doubts that Washington will come through with more relief for the economy before Election Day. The S&P 500 slid 1.9% Monday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 650 points, or 2.3%.

On Monday, the White House coronavirus response coordinator spent the day looking around North Dakota’s capital city and proclaimed the COVID-19 protocols to be the worst she’s seen in her travels around the country.

Dr. Deborah Birx, whose tour has taken her to nearly 40 states, said she found the absence of face coverings and the lack of social distancing in Bismarck “deeply unfortunate” and a danger.

“Over the last 24 hours as we were here and we were in your grocery stores and in your restaurants and frankly even in your hotels, this is the least use of masks that we have we seen in retail establishments of any place we have been,” Birx said. “And we find that deeply unfortunate because you don’t know who’s infected and you don’t know if you’re infected yourself.”

In the Texas border city of El Paso, authorities instructed people to stay home for two weeks and imposed a 10-p.m.-to-5-a.m. curfew because of a surge that has overwhelmed hospitals. The state is converting part of the city’s civic center into a hospital.

“We are in a crisis stage,” El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the county’s top elected official, as he issued the stay-at-home order over the weekend.

On Monday, the county reported a record high in daily cases, with 1,443, and 853 patients hospitalized because of the virus, up from 786 a day earlier. The state has provided over 900 medical personnel to El Paso, some of whom will staff the convention center site.

Just last week, Trump during the last presidential debate downplayed the virus’ effect in the Lone Star State, saying: “There was a very big spike in Texas, it’s now gone.”

Trump said repeatedly over the weekend that the country is “rounding the turn.” His remarks came amid another outbreak in the White House inner circle. Several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive, including his chief of staff.

In Idaho, where large numbers of residents resist wearing a mask, Republican Gov. Brad Little on Monday ordered a return to some restrictions to slow the spread of the virus as rising cases put a strain on the hospital system.

Little’s directive limits indoor gatherings to 50 people, urges businesses to encourage employees to work from home, among other steps.

Idaho’s positivity test rate is fourth-worst in the nation. St. Luke’s, with hospitals in southwestern and central Idaho, is reporting that 20% of hospitalized patients are suffering from COVID-19. Its hospital in Twin Falls has postponed elective surgeries and are sending children in need of medical care to Boise, about 125 miles away.

Primary Health Medical Group, the largest independent medical group in Idaho, has had to close two of its 19 urgent care clinics in southwestern Idaho because of sick or quarantined staff. The clinics are a buffer keeping hospital emergency rooms in the region from getting clogged with patients not needing emergency-level care.

Oklahoma is one of the states consistently breaking records for new cases, and the strain is being felt in hospitals. Bed space is running out, and an equally daunting problem is a shortage of nursing staff.

Dr. Sam Ratermann, director of the hospitalist program at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital in Grove, Oklahoma, said patients are being transferred from “hospital to hospital across the state” for lack of beds.

“Even when we have open ICU beds across the state, we don’t have staff to fill them,” Ratermann said. “There’s going to be a point where there’s no beds and we can’t even care for our local citizens.”

The University of Minnesota’s Osterholm has been predicting the darkest days will be in the weeks or months ahead. He said he expects increased competition for drugs and shortages of hospital specialists, N95 masks and other protective gear.

A strong national response plan was needed, along with consistent messaging that emphasized mask wearing and other preventive measures, Osterholm said.

“But our response has been... I don’t know what our response has been,” he said.

Stobbe reported from New York.

More Than 200,000 Alabama Absentee Votes Already Cast

By KIM CHANDLER

People wait in the rain to vote in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said a record number of absentee ballots have already been cast this year in the election. Some counties allowed Saturday voting for the first time. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A record 200,000 Alabamians have already voted in the November election amid an early voting push and pandemic rules that made it easier to vote by absentee ballot.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday that 271,318 absentee ballots have been requested, and a 206,552 of those ballots have been returned. The previous record was 89,000, he said.

Alabama does not technically have early voting, but people can cast absentee ballots by mailing them in or filling them out at local elections offices. Normally, to vote absentee, people must swear that they are out of town or ill or working during polling hours. But this year, Merrill has said this year people can vote by absentee ballot if they are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 at the polls.

About 2.1 million votes were cast in the state during the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats have made a push to get people to the polls early. “Every Day is Election Day,” the state Democratic Party wrote on social media in posts encouraging people to make a plan for voting. Nationally, Democrats have dominated early voting opportunities.

Hundreds of people waited in long lines to vote Saturday after election officials in about a dozen counties opened courthouses for in-person absentee voting on the weekend. Merrill said he is unsure if all of those votes are included in the 206,552 count because some ballots may be waiting to be processed.

Tuscaloosa Rep. Chris England, who is the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. said he believes the numbers are “direct evidence” that people want more opportunities to vote early.

England said he expects legislation to be introduced in the next session to allow early voting every year or at least allow people to vote absentee without an excuse.

England said he believes the issue cuts across party lines, and that people of all political leanings appreciate the opportunity to vote outside of 12 hours on Election Day.

The last day to apply for an absentee ballot and for in-person absentee voting is Oct. 29. An absentee ballot returned by mail must be postmarked no later than the day prior to the election and received by the absentee election manager no later than noon on election day. If hand-delivered, the ballot must be in the office of the Absentee Election Manager by the close of business on the day prior to the election.

Voters Line Up in Rain in New York on 3rd Day of Early Vote

By MICHAEL HILL

People line up at an early voting location near Lincoln Center Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in New York. Early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 general election continued for the second day in New York state. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New Yorkers lined up to vote early for a third consecutive day Monday, many waiting under umbrellas, after a weekend that saw a crush of more than 400,000 voters statewide.

State elections officials said 422,169 people voted Saturday and Sunday, the first two days of early voting in New York. The unofficial tally shows about 194,000 voters this weekend in New York City, where some people waited an hour or more in lines that stretched for several blocks.

“We need this to be a better experience. Long lines tell people to go home. That’s just the reality,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at his daily briefing.

De Blasio accused the city’s Board of Elections of being “clearly not prepared” for the heavy turnout. He urged the board to expand weekend early voting hours, bring more voting machines online before Election Day and make more staffers available to help voters.

An email seeking comment was sent to a board spokesperson.

Early voters continued to turn out steadily on a soggy Monday, though local wait times varied.

Lines were about 10 minutes long at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. At a polling place in midtown Manhattan, some voters waited over two hours. A local hotel handed out tea and coffee to those in line and a little girl gave out candy.

In Staten Island, Republican congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis faced a short line to vote at an elementary school. She is challenging Democratic Rep. Max Rose.

In suburban Ossining north of New York City, an elderly woman collapsed while waiting in a light rain in a nearly two-hour line to vote. She was taken by stretcher to an ambulance and reemerged in a wheelchair a half-hour later, pushed in to vote as people in line cheered.

In Buffalo, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz waited in line with about a dozen voters outside a church. More than 28,000 people voted this weekend in Buffalo and surrounding Erie County.

“More people have early voted in the first two days of early voting in Erie County than all nine days last year,” Poloncarz said as he waited to vote.

Early voting continues until Nov. 1.

Maryland Breaks Record for Early Voting on 1st Day

By BRIAN WITTE

Voters stand in line to cast their ballots inside the Pip Moyer Recreation Center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 in Annapolis, Md., on the first day of in-person early voting in the state. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland voters lined up on Monday for a busy, record-breaking first day of in-person early voting in the state.

While more than 1.6 million Maryland residents have requested mail-in ballots amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, residents at early voting centers said they felt strongly about voting in person.

Sarah Sweeny, a 65-year-old Democrat who voted for Democrat Joe Biden in Annapolis, said she believes this is one of the most important elections she’s ever voted in. She said she felt like she had to vote against President Donald Trump in person.

“I’m just so tired. I’m tired of the lies and the deceit and this complete incompetence of leadership, and I just had to do this in person for that reason,” Sweeny said after voting at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center. “I’m just so tired and just need a change.”

Bruce Ballantyne, a Republican, said he already has mailed in his vote for Trump. Ballantyne, who came to the early voting center in Annapolis to hand out voter guides, said he believes the president has made good decisions. He described Trump as “the right man for the right time.”

“The economy before the virus was just going gangbusters — through the roof — so I think he makes good judgments, and he’s a businessman and he’s a pragmatist,” Ballantyne, who is 75, said. ”I’m pretty comfortable with what his results are and not gum-flapping and just talking like a politician.”

Ron Howard, a Republican, said he initially requested an absentee ballot to mail in, but he decided to vote in person. He had to fill out a provisional ballot, so that election officials can check to make sure the absentee ballot wasn’t mailed. Howard said he ended up feeling better about voting in person.

The 72-year-old who typically votes for Republicans said he didn’t this time.

“I just absolutely can’t stand another four years of Trump, and so Joe is the man for me,” Howard said, referring to Biden. “He has all of the characteristics that make sense for me for leadership, and I’m very hopeful the rest of the country feels that way.”

More than 125,000 people had voted at the state’s 81 early voting centers by 5 p.m., officials said. The previous high was 123,623 in 2016. Maryland has had early voting since 2010.

“It’s busy,” said Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections.

More than 1 million Maryland residents have voted so far, when Monday’s voting is added to more than 947,000 absentee ballots returned so far.

In addition to the presidential race, Maryland voters are deciding congressional races and two statewide ballot questions. One would allow sports betting. The other would give the state legislature more power in the state budget process.

Early voting in Maryland runs for eight consecutive days. That includes Saturday and Sunday. Early voting will end in Maryland the day before Election Day, which is Tuesday of next week.

Maryland has same-day voter registration, so residents who missed the advance voter registration deadline can register to vote at early voting and Election Day vote centers. They are open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The Maryland State Board of Elections says voters must wear a mask at voting centers and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) between other people.

Because of the pandemic, in-person early voting was not held during the June primary.

High Court Won’t Extend Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballot Deadline

By MARK SHERMAN

Madison, Wis. residents Theola Carter, left, and Carrie Braxton fill out their ballots on the first day of the state's in-person absentee voting window for the Nov. 3 election outside the city's City-County Building Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is siding with Republicans to prevent Wisconsin from counting mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.

In a 5-3 order, the justices on Monday refused to reinstate a lower court order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election. A federal appeals court had already put that order on hold.

The three liberal justices dissented from the order that the court issued just before the Senate started voting on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.

Chief Justice John Roberts last week joined the liberals to preserve a Pennsylvania state court order extending the absentee ballot deadline but voted the other way in the Wisconsin case, which has moved through federal courts.

“Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin,” Roberts wrote.

Democrats argued that the flood of absentee ballots and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic makes it necessary to extend the period in which ballots can be counted. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19, with hospitals treating a record high number of patients with the disease.

Republicans opposed the extension, saying that voters have plenty of opportunities to cast their ballots by the close of polls on Election Day and that the rules should not be changed so close to the election.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler responded to the ruling by pledging Democrats would be “dialing up a huge voter education campaign” to prod roughly 360,000 people who hadn’t yet returned absentee ballots to hand-deliver them by 8 p.m. on Election Day, or to vote in person.

State Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt praised the ruling.

“Absentee voting in Wisconsin is extremely easy and hundreds of thousands of people have done it already — last-minute attempts to change election laws only cause more voter confusion and erode the integrity of our elections,” he said in a statement.

The justices often say nothing, or very little, about the reasons for their votes in these emergency cases, but on Monday, four justices wrote opinions totaling 35 pages to lay out their competing rationales.

“As the COVID pandemic rages, the Court has failed to adequately protect the Nation’s voters,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent that noted the state allowed the six-day extension for primary voting in April and that roughly 80,000 ballots were received after the day of the primary election.

Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged the complications the pandemic adds to voting, but defended the court’s action.

“No one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses serious challenges. But none of that means individual judges may improvise with their own election rules in place of those the people’s representatives have adopted,” Gorsuch wrote.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also wrote an opinion concurring in the order.

Could Justice Amy Coney Barrett Deliver the Election to Trump?

BY JAMES D. ZIRIN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 10/26/20 02:30 PM EDT 

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

Amy Coney Barrett is likely to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court today. Before she eviscerates ObamaCare, weakens economic regulation and scuppers Roe v. Wade, she will have an immediate task — to help determine whether President Trump gets reelected. We are about to see just how partisan our justice system has become. 

It is trite law that a federal court will not change election rules during the period of time just prior to an election because doing so could confuse voters and create problems for officials administering the election. The principle takes its name from the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Purcell v. Gonzalez.

Eight years later, in Veasey v. Perry, the court permitted a new Texas voter identification law to remain in effect for the November election. The decision was viewed by some as voter suppression. The district court had found the new law unconstitutional, and the court of appeals stayed its hand. The Supreme Court reversed the decision, but the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, reasoning that the majority had ignored the Purcell principle. According to Ginsburg, the district court’s decision would not confuse voters or cause much disruption to Texas’s electoral process. The decision merely would have reinstated familiar election rules in place for the previous 10 years, prior to adoption of the new law.

This year, in a 5-4 ruling on absentee voting in Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, all of the justices relied on Purcell. One day prior to Wisconsin’s April primary election, the court blocked a district court ruling issued five days before the election that extended the deadline for submitting absentee ballots in light of the COVID crisis. The district court based its decision on an immense backlog of timely absentee ballot requests due to concerns about voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Citing Purcell and Veasey, the court found that the lower court should not have changed the election rules so close to the election. According to the five-justice majority, permitting absentee ballots to be cast after the polls closed on Election Day would “fundamentally alter the nature of the election.” The court reasoned, moreover, that extending the time might prevent the state from announcing election results, thus creating the kind of confusion cautioned against in Purcell.

In a dissenting opinion joined by the liberal Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, Ginsburg wrote that the Purcell principle should have prevented the Supreme Court from intervening so late in the process. She noted that Wisconsin election officials had already spent several days developing procedures and informing voters of the district court’s requirements. In Ginsburg’s view, the majority’s decision was creating confusion for voters and problems for election officials, while also not considering that the district court had ruled in the context of a public health emergency.

Last Monday, the Supreme Court tied 4-4 over the Pennsylvania court’s ruling allowing mail-in ballots to be counted that were postmarked before Election Day but received up to three days after November 3. Chief Justice Roberts voted with the three liberals to create the tie vote. When the court is deadlocked, it leaves the decision of the lower court undisturbed. Chalk one up for the Democrats. 

As reported in The Hill last Friday, the Democrats won another victory in Pennsylvania. The Trump campaign had wanted to impose an additional requirement in mail-in ballots, that the signature on the ballot must match the signature on the voter’s application, thus turning election clerks into handwriting analysts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a decision concurred in unanimously by Republican and Democratic judges, ruled that mail ballots cannot be discarded based on a perceived mismatch between signatures appearing on the voter’s application to vote and the actual ballot.

There is no provision of Pennsylvania state law that requires such a comparison. The court reasoned that the Pennsylvania legislature knew how to provide for such a requirement had it wanted to. It didn’t. The matching requirement is an obvious contrivance to suppress the vote, and create problems for officials administering the election. If ever there was a case where the contrary outcome would change the rules just before an election, and create administrative problems, this was it. The Purcell principle should govern, but Trump has taken the case to the Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania is a key state. It has 20 electoral votes. The presidential election may turn on its result. That is why both candidates have campaigned there so hard in recent days. In 2016, Trump won the state over Hillary Clinton by 0.72 percent, the narrowest margin in a presidential election for the state in 176 years. This year in Pennsylvania, Biden is up in the polls by five points. More than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians have already voted. It is too late to change the rules.  

But consider this one. If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed and seated before Election Day, there will be no chance of a tie unless she recuses herself. There is every reason to believe that she will not recuse herself. Recusal is indicated when the judge’s impartiality may be fairly questioned. But that venerable principle may not stop her.

Who will question her impartiality? Her conservative colleagues? Half the country? The other half will think she is free to vote. I predict that she will vote. 

That means there is a good chance that the Supreme Court will, by a vote of 5-4, stay the count in Pennsylvania until thousands of signature-mismatched ballots are sorted out and disqualified even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling doesn’t change anything. It will be an administrative nightmare rivaling Florida’s infamous hanging chads in 2000.

The partisan views of Ginsburg and Barrett could not be more diametrically opposed. Ginsburg’s untimely death may ensure Trump’s reelection.

James Madison, one of the principal authors of the Constitution, believed that allowing the judiciary to choose the presidential electors “was out of the question.” But the new conservative majority on the court is sure to disagree. We may be on the road to having a president who is not elected by the will of the people, but by unelected judges.

James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor, is the author of “Plaintiff in Chief—A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3500 Lawsuits.”

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Anti-sanctions: AU, SADC Reaffirm Support for Zimbabwe

26 OCT, 2020 - 00:10

During the march against sanctions in Pretoria yesterday.

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter

Herald

Zimbabwe yesterday commemorated SADC Anti-Sanctions Day, with the African Union (AU) and the South African government adding their voices to growing calls for the unconditional removal of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe by the United States (US) and the European Union (EU).

The SADC-initiated commemorations were held under the theme “Resilience, Progress and Solidarity under an environment of sanctions”, an apt description of trials and tribulations that Zimbabweans have endured under the yoke of the illegal economic embargo.

President Mnangagwa set the tone last Friday when he chronicled to SADC how the sanctions, imposed as punishment for implementing the Land Reform Programme by the US and Western nations, have stymied Zimbabwe’s economic growth.

And yesterday, AU Commission chairman Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat reaffirmed the continental body’s call for the removal of sanctions.

“The chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat reaffirms the African Union’s continued demand for the immediate and unconditional removal of economic sanctions imposed against the Republic of Zimbabwe, and in support of the Southern African Development Community decision to commemorate 25 October 2020 as SADC Anti-Sanctions Day,” said Mr Mahamat in a statement.

“The chairperson recalls the continuity of his call since 2017 where the Commission, its relevant organs including the Peace and Security Council and the Bureau of Heads of State and Government, have consistently voiced the Union’s concerns regarding the negative impact of the persistent economic sanctions on the economy and people of Zimbabwe. In this regard, he expressed his determination and that of the various relevant Organs of the Union to continue to mobilise support for the country’s recovery efforts.

“The Chairperson expresses the commitment of the African Union to continue working closely with the Southern African Development Community to support regional efforts.

“In this regard, the African Union associates itself with the statement made by President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique.”

South Africa equally reaffirmed its resolve to have sanctions against Zimbabwe lifted.

“Today, October 25, marks the day in which the Member States of the Southern African Development Community united in their resolve in calling for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

In this regard, the South African Government reaffirms its support to the SADC Summit’s decision to call for the unconditional and immediate removal of sanctions against the Republic of Zimbabwe,” said the South African Government.

In its solidarity message, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe said the Muslim community, stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the people and Government of Zimbabwe in commemorating the anti-sanction day aimed at calling for the removal of the illegal embargo.

“We commend SADC’s stance to conduct actions in its member countries to vigorously work toward the removal of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe. SCIAZ’s stance is that sanctions have been an impediment in Zimbabwe’s economic growth through cutting off the country’s foreign trade.

ANC National Executive Committee and National Working Committee member Mr Dakota Legoete (left) addresses Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa.

“This has resulted in the shortage of foreign currency which compromises government’s ability to acquire life-sustaining necessities such as medicines, especially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, water purification equipment, heavy industrial equipment, fuel and many other necessities. Sanctions literally kill,” said SCIAZ president, Mr Sheikh Ismal Duwa. In his address, President Mnangagwa saluted SADC for standing by Zimbabwe during difficult times and the sanctions that were imposed to instigate regime change after the Zanu PF Government honoured its war pledge to ultimately reunite the people with their land.

He said going forward African states must continue to stand together, as demonstrated in the anti-sanctions solidarity, and defend the continent against foreign aggression and neo-imperialism.

On Saturday, Sadc Chairperson, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, in a statement to mark the second anniversary of the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day, called for the immediate removal of sanctions, saying they were not good for the region and the world at large.

President Nyusi rallied the world to support the lifting of sanctions, saying the Western-imposed measures undermine Zimbabwe’s capacity to respond to socio-economic challenges.

In May 2018, United States Senator Chris Coons admitted that sanctions were adversely affecting Zimbabwe, saying if removed there would be a huge boom for Harare’s economy riding on its natural resources and huge human capital, which has a high literate rate.

He commended President Mnangagwa for the reforms that his administration undertook that included allowing election Western observers in the run up to harmonised elections.

“I think Zimbabwe is rightly recognised as a country with terrific potential. It has wonderful human resources in terms educated citizenry. It has got a legacy of infrastructure and development, agriculture potential, natural resources. If sanctions are removed, I think they will find interested partners from around the world that will gladly come and invest in the development of the region. But as long as there are significant sanctions imposed by Western countries on Zimbabwe that raises both direct and indirect challenges for them,” said Senator Croons.

From Tanzania to South Africa, and from Namibia to Mozambique, the anti-sanctions message resoundlingly reveberated on radio, television and social media platforms much to the chargin of the US and EU representatives in Harare who tried in vain to come up with a counter-narrative of saying that the sanctions are not affecting the ordinary people.

Sanctions: ANC Rallies Behind Zimbabwe

26 OCT, 2020 - 00:10

Photo: Dakota Legoete

Wallace Ruzvidzo in Johannesburg, South Africa

The African National Congress (ANC) has pledged to stand by Zimbabwe in the fight against sanctions that have caused untold suffering for the general populace.

Speaking at an anti-sanctions march held in Loftus, Pretoria, yesterday, ANC National Executive Committee and National Working Committee member Mr Dakota Legoete said Zimbabwe was a sovereign State which should be able to govern itself uninterrupted.

Further, Mr Legoete said sanctions were not affecting the purported individuals but the general populace of Zimbabwe hence the high migration rate of Zimbabweans to South Africa and other neighbouring countries.

“As ANC we stand in support of Zimbabwe and Sadc on the resolution that sanctions must be removed. As ANC we support Zimbabwe and derive our ethos from ubuntu.

“In the 20 years of these sanctions we have seen over 5 million Zimbabweans leaving their country to find opportunities. We have 3 million Zimbabweans both documented and undocumented,” he said.

Mr Legoete said these sanctions were resulting in Zimbabweans and South Africans fighting for jobs as over 2 million South Africans were unemployed hence the xenophobic attacks which he denounced as not being the answer to fixing unemployment and other issues.

“There are over 2 million South African people who are unemployed so this leads to people jostling for jobs hence the xenophobic attacks which we do not want,” said the ANC delegate.

Zanu PF South Africa branch information and publicity secretary Cde Kennedy Mandaza called for the unequivocal removal of the embargo saying they were a violation of human rights.

Cde Mandaza lauded President Mnangagwa for introducing and implementing policies that had shielded the country from the impact of these sanctions while also improving the country’s infrastructure.

“We want to thank President Mnangagwa for finding a way around these sanctions by trying to mitigate their impact through introducing policies that have seen the rehabilitation of infrastructure including major roads and dams,” said Cde Mandaza.

He reiterated sentiments that calls for reforms should come from Zimbabweans and not external forces as it is a sovereign state.

“If ever there are to be more reforms these should be demanded by Zimbabweans and not America,” he said.

One of the marchers, Mr Peter Magasu said sanctions had resulted in high unemployment in Zimbabwe hence his decision to migrate to the neighbouring country but wishes to return back home with his family.

“I left Zimbabwe because of high unemployment and lack of opportunities. My daughter right here was born here in South Africa, but all things being normal she should have been born in her real home country.

“I really wish I could go back home and invest there,” he said.

Cde Gugulethu Ncube from the district’s women league said women and children were suffering more as the breadwinners have to leave the country to find employment opportunities and so women are left to bare the brunt by themselves.

“Sanctions are not targeting the individuals they are purported to be affecting but they are affecting the ordinary and poorest of citizens.

“Women and children are affected the most mainly because their husbands had to leave to look for opportunities leaving the women to be bread winners,” she  said.

The anti-sanctions march was a success as over 75 people graced the event including members from the church community and South Africans.

It proceeded from Loftus Park to the American Embassy where a petition calling for the unequivocal removal of sanctions was sent.

HERALD EDITORIAL COMMENT : Sanctions Have No Purpose Except to Hurt Zimbabwe

26 OCT, 2020 - 00:10 

The campaign to have sanctions against Zimbabwe lifted heated up this year, with Sadc taking the lead to persuade the United States (US) in particular to dump the sanctions imposed both by executive action and by its legislature.

For Sadc this is more than being a good neighbour: the sanctions hit our neighbours as well.

The basic sanctions have never been those trumpeted as targeting a small group of individuals and companies, although those have been damaging in making financial transactions with Zimbabwean banks more difficult and have consequently seen a number of banks reckoning that any tie with Zimbabwe is not worth the bother.

The main sanctions are those that force the US delegates to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multi-lateral institutions to vote against any loan, any continuation of any programme, and any debt relief for Zimbabwe.

And the US is the biggest voter in the World Bank and the IMF and can find a few minnows who will go along with it to ensure it has a majority. In these institutions you vote by shareholding, not by country.

This hits Sadc. It is rather difficult to plan any regional development programme that excludes Zimbabwe.

We are not only a member in good standing, with our elections signed off by Sadc and following all Sadc rules, but there is also our geography, right there in the middle of Sadc and with border posts with five other Sadc states.

That geography is where Sadc is also hit by the sanctions. You simply cannot figure out how to develop transport links, or development along the Zambezi River, for example, without involving Zimbabwe.

And the Zimbabwean economy, both as a producer and a market, is a useful part of the growing Sadc economy and has to be integrated into regional plans.

The US legislation that hits us so hard is the Zimbabwe Development and Economic Recovery Act, Zidera. This starts off by openly admitting that Zimbabwe needs access to international finance and needs debt relief if it is to develop faster.

But after stating that self-evident truth, it cuts off that support for four main reasons: land reform is one, and is despite the rhetoric almost certainly the main one.

The second is that Zimbabwe was involved in the Democratic Republic of Congo war, supporting the legal Government under a Sadc treaty mind you and with other Sadc countries also supporting that Government. But this appears to be a dead letter since the legal Government did survive and all subsequent DRC governments have taken office after elections.

The third appears to be that opposition parties do not win Presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

Well they are allowed to compete, they have competed and they have lost.

Those elections and in particular the last two under our new Constitution, have been free of any hint of violence or malpractice, being monitored by large teams with Sadc taking the lead. Sadc insists members are run by Governments with popular mandates and puts in the diplomatic effort to ensure this.

In fact we are bound by Sadc agreements to follow basic democracy rules.

The fourth reason given is that we were squandering the money we had already received.

Well, we know our accounting was not wonderful 20 years ago, but the World Bank, the IMF and others were perfectly capable of using their own rules and internal auditing to sort that out. In any case, for our own reasons, we have done that. It is worth stressing that this was done for internal reasons, not because of pressure, and it was done so we can use our resources for development without relying on external funders.

Returning to the normal international finance world will accelerate development, not create development, and Zimbabwe does not have any problems with normal banking rules and regulations. After all, we are now enforcing these internally as good practice.

So we are left with bad feelings and the land reform.

Besides fixing the economic basics, the Second Republic has also been fixing the land reform.

For a start audits are in progress but already the policy of use it or lose it is in full force, and generally the land issue, internally, is no longer a political issue with even opposition leaders accepting it is an accomplished fact that cannot be reversed.

The biggest achievement was to reach an agreement with the displaced farmers over compensation.

The former farmers accepted that land reform was irreversible and that there was no compensation for land.

But the people of Zimbabwe, in approving the present Constitution by such huge majorities in Parliament and in a referendum, agreed that these former farmers were not to be punished for holding the land and doing a lot of work on that land. This was a Zimbabwean decision, not something forced on us.

The historical land grab through bogus treaties, war and plain theft was rectified. But the individuals who built dams, drilled boreholes, cleared arable land, upgraded the soil, and generally put in infrastructure must be paid for those improvements. The nitty gritty details were worked out by the Second Republic with the farmers and approved by Government and a large majority of the ex-farmers. Those holding virgin land for speculation obviously get nothing, but those who worked their land are being paid for that work.

So even if you accept the validity of Zidera, and it was bad legislation badly conceived, the conditions have been met.

Even the professionals in the US State Department seem to accept that, as recent contact between our Foreign Ministry and the State Department shows, along with re-opening of grants of relief aid.

But the compensation deal will go through a lot more smoothly if Zimbabwe has access to the same sort of multilateral support that other countries with land reform programmes received.

Land reform is common in the developing world, but the US only gets angry about it when large American corporations are involved, as in Guatemala, where the US organised a coup on behalf of United Fruit, or when white people are involved, as in Zimbabwe.

The European Union has been far more practical about the sanctions. Almost all EU sanctions have been lifted although admittedly there is still an arms embargo, not really a major issue since Zimbabwe has no plans to go shopping in Europe for arms.

So we are now just left with the US, where maintenance of the sanctions using the financial muscle of the US in global banking and global development finance is hampering the efforts of Zimbabwe to break free of poverty and do the right thing to all citizens.

We will develop, we will compensate former farmers for improvements, we will reach our Vision2030.

But we will do it faster if we were treated as an ordinary country in a normal world.

Nairobi's Slum Women Bear the Brunt of Domestic Violence

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A section of Kibra slums in Nairobi. A recent survey by Tifa shows that women, especially from the slums,  are the majority victims of domestic violence at 52 per cent.

Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

By Kamau Maichuhie Gender Reporter

Women living in Nairobi slums continue to suffer domestic violence the most. The latest survey by Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa) released last week, shows that women are the majority victims of domestic violence at 52 per cent followed by men at 37 per cent and children at 36 per cent.

The survey conducted between September 24 and October 2, shows that women continue to suffer from the domestic violence despite government efforts to end the vice.

It covered Huruma, Kibra, Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru kwa Njenga and Kawangware slums.

The report indicates that physical, verbal and a combination of the two, are the three main categories of violence in these areas.

Physical, verbal violence

Men have not been spared with 39 per cent of those interviewed disclosing of having suffered a combination of physical and verbal violence.

About 46 per cent of children were found to have suffered both physical and verbal violence, followed by physical violence at 28 per cent and verbal violence at 21 per cent.

In May, a report by Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya (Fida-Kenya) listed Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa counties as leading in gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

The report also listed Kakamega, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kilifi, Uasin-Gishu, Taita-Taveta, Vihiga, Bungoma, Lamu Siaya, Kitui and Nakuru as counties also with high GBV cases.

“The nature of GBV cases reported are mostly intimate partner violence, defilement and rape especially in Nairobi and Kisumu. Widow eviction and physical violence by in-laws was found to be prevalent in western region,” the report indicated.

Plan International Kenya a child rights agency, also released some statistics, in April, on GBV during this Covid-19 period that indicated at least 45 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men aged 15 to 49 had been physically assaulted while 14 per cent of women have experienced sexual violence.

Cases of domestic violence have been on the increase since mid-March when the government imposed restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19.

There have, however, been optimism that the cases will decline as the government eases restrictions.

Alarmed with the skyrocketing cases of domestic violence, President Uhuru Kenyatta in July ordered a probe into matter. He directed the National Crime Research Centre to investigate cases of gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy.

It is not only in Kenya where increase in domestic violence has been recorded.  In April during the height of the pandemic, the United Nations called for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence.

“I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic,” UN Secretary General António Guterres wrote on Twitter then.

Rural-urban Migration Aggravating Rural Women’s Poverty

Friday, October 23, 2020

A woman prepares for rice planting at Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu County. Women’s potential in agriculture is limited by the hours they spend in domestic work unlike the men, leaving them poorer.

Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

By Moraa Obiria Gender Reporter

Men moving to the urban areas in search of better economic activities leave behind women with multiple roles.

With the increased workload, women end up spending more time in unpaid labour than paid work.

Women, unlike men, are limited in access to information and market resources as they devote their time in completing household chores.

Adult education programs targeting women crucial in equipping them with basic skills.

Rural-urban migration is aggravating poverty among women in the rural areas. Institute for Motivating Self Employment (IMSE) Executive Director Ms Ujjaini Halim says men moving to the urban areas in search of better economic activities leave behind women with multiple roles.

With the increased workload, she says women end up spending more time in unpaid labour than paid work. Ms Halim spoke during a Spotlight Rural Women webinar.

“They work at home and outside home. For women to thrive, their workload has to be reduced,” she said during the October 15 webinar jointly hosted by Devex and International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad)

Ordinarily, women’s potential in agriculture is limited by the hours they spend in domestic work unlike the men, affirms a 2018 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) study on burden of unpaid work on women’s participation in paid work.

Household chores

The study found that women, unlike men, are limited in access to information and market resources as they devote their time in completing their household chores.

Ms Halim said adult education programs targeting women are crucial in equipping them with basic skills, which they can apply in negotiating for market linkages and better prices.

Ifad Gender and Social Inclusion Lead Technical Specialist Ms Ndaya Beltchika, said 1.7 billion women, living in the rural areas globally, lack right opportunities to break free from poverty.

Food security

She noted the importance of investing in rural agriculture to help the women sustain the nutrition and food security of their households.

“Promoting economic growth through agriculture is two to three times effective in reducing poverty,” she said.

Ms Pamela Kimkung from Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme - Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods (KCEP-CRAL), said mechanised farming can help reduce women’s workload and increase their farm yields.

 “We need to move women beyond nutrition and food security, and take them towards market commercialisation and income generation,” she said.

E-voucher

She noted of the e-voucher initiative, which has enabled women to access farm inputs and training as one way of unlocking their potential in agricultural productivity.

E-voucher, is an Ifad and European Union-funded initiative under KCEP-CRAL.

Under the initiative, farmers contribute10 per cent of the credit while the government tops up the remaining share, she said.

 “E-voucher scheme has helped even the uneducated women. They can access input by swiping the card in agro-dealer shops,” she said

“There is need for a level playing ground for women to fully participate in agriculture,” she added.

Only 0.6 pc of Africa's Indigenous Women are Educated

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Women from the Sengwer community who live in Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet County gathered to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples in August last year. A new study reveals that nearly all (97 per cent) indigenous women work in the informal sector.

File | Nation Media Group

By Moraa Obiria Gender Reporter

The Global Study on Situation of Indigenous Women and Girls (2020) report reveals that nearly all (97 per cent) indigenous women work in the informal sector.

Study sampled indigenous women from 11 countries including Kenya, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.

In Botswana, the San women reported facing discrimination at healthcare facilities on the basis of their appearance.

In Cameroon, accessibility to health facilities is problematic for pygmy women as they are often located far from their homes.

Only 0.6 per cent of the 18.5 million indigenous women in Africa have advanced education, a new report shows. 

The Global Study on Situation of Indigenous Women and Girls (2020) report by International Indigenous Women's Forum (Fimi), a global network of indigenous women leaders, further reveals that nearly all (97 per cent) indigenous women work in the informal sector.

The study sampled indigenous women from 11 countries including Kenya, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon and Chad. Other countries are Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.

Beijing Declaration

The report whose analysis pegs on the progress made in attaining the 12-strategic commitments made under the named Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 25 years ago, highlights distinct bottlenecks aiding leaving behind indigenous women in the journey towards sustainable development.

For instance, they are far behind in access to education. Out of the total population, only 11 per cent have acquired formal education. The rest lack the literacy skills crucial to securing better livelihoods.

While 61 per cent of the girls and women aged above 15 are in paid labour.

The declaration commits governments, international community and civil society, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector to act on women’s poverty, armed conflict, education, and health and end violence against them. 

Distinct inequalities

Not a single country has fulfilled the commitments according to UN Women analysis on progress made this far, with indigenous women left far behind. This is because country-level laws do not still recognise them, eliminating possibilities of responding to their needs. 

By understanding their distinct inequalities in access to healthcare services, countries could establish laws and policies to ensure fair treatment when seeking maternal healthcare.

In Botswana, the San women reported facing discrimination at healthcare facilities on the basis of their appearance, class and gender. For that reason, they avoid going to hospitals. 

While in Cameroon, accessibility to health facilities is problematic. They are often located far from homes of the pygmy women and they offer charged services, unaffordable to the poor indigenous women.  

Pregnant women

“In conflict-affected countries such as Mali, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Cameroon, indigenous women stated that pregnant women have to travel long distances to hospital and sometimes face difficult conditions on the journey,” reads part of the report.

There is also an underlying problem to rooting out gender-based violence (GBV) among the indigenous communities.

The women interviewed in this study spoke of the fear to report such abuses because of their dependence on men. In the Kenyan scenario, this would imply the indigenous women suffering in silence instead of seeking for help through the10 GBV hotlines including the national toll free number, 1195.

The report recommends adopting a human rights-based approach in policies and laws regarding indigenous women’s social, economic, civil and political rights.

It also suggests creation of “proper work opportunities for indigenous women corresponding to their skills and traditional knowledge,” in order to economically empower them.

Sudanese Split Over Normalizing Relations with Israel

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A file photo taken on August 11, 2014 shows Sudanese protestors shouting slogans during a rally in the capital Khartoum to denounce Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Ashraf Shazly | AFP

By AFP

The move -- announced Friday -- came shortly after US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was formally moving to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that strangled Khartoum's economy for decades.

Sudanese analyst Othman Mirghani said the priority for the government was saving the economy, which has seen inflation soar to over 200 percent.

Khartoum

Sudan's move to normalise relations with Israel has laid bare deep splits within society, with some bashing the deal as betrayal and others as a way to rescue the devastated economy.

The move -- announced Friday -- came shortly after US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was formally moving to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that strangled Khartoum's economy for decades.

But the announcement revealed divisions between political forces in Sudan, currently undergoing a rocky transition since the April 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir following mass protests against his three-decade rule.

To some in Sudan, the move seemed to be a matter of economic pragmatism to end international isolation.

Others however saw it as a step too far, a "betrayal" of the Palestinian cause, and beyond the mandate of the transitional government which took power after Bashir's ouster.

Government's priority

Sudanese analyst Othman Mirghani said the priority for the government was saving the economy, which has seen inflation soar to over 200 percent.

"The government had expected that Sudan's removal from the US terror list would be linked to normalisation with Israel," said Mirghani, who is also the editor-in-chief of Al Tayyar daily.

"It insisted on the removal from the list, even if it is through Tel Aviv, because a deal would open a door for Sudan's economy with the international community."

A deal with Israel would make Sudan the third Arab country since August, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to forge peace with the Jewish nation.

Supporters, like Sudanese trader Mostafa Solieman, believe it would allow the "economy to flourish."

But others have invoked Sudan's long-standing anti-Israel stance.

Sudan has been part of a decades-old Arab boycott of Israel.

Arab commitment

Following the 1967 Six Day War, Arab leaders gathered in Khartoum to announce what became known as the "three nos": no peace, no recognition, and no negotiations with Israel.

"Normalisation contradicts Sudanese national law, and the Arab national commitment," said former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, referring to the boycott of Israel which remains in force under Sudanese law.

Mahdi, who leads the National Umma Party, refused on Saturday to take part in the transitional government's conference on fighting Islamist fundamentalism in protest.

In a poll earlier this month by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, only 13 percent of those questioned in Sudan supported relations with Israel -- compared with 79 percent against.

Sudan's top Islamic institution said it had issued a fatwa prohibiting the normalisation with Israel.

Eid Abdelmoneim, who manages a financial transactions company, said the removal from the US blacklist and normalisation with Israel should not have been linked.

"No authority has the right to strike such a deal with Israel without consulting with the people," Abdelmoneim said.

"We don't need Israel, our country is rich with its resources."

Mandate question

Mohamed Haidar, of Sudan's Socialist Baath Party, said the government -- set up in a power-sharing deal between civilian and military leaders -- does not have the power to strike a deal with Israel.

In August this year, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was quoted as saying his government "does not have a mandate ... to decide on normalisation with Israel."

But Hamdok's government has gone to great length to be removed from Washington's blacklist, which dates to 1993 when Bashir's government hosted wanted militants, including former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

It has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American families of victims of past attacks when Al-Qaeda had a base in Sudan.

Foreign minister-designate Omar Qamareddin said the deal would only come into force after the approval of a yet-to-be-formed legislature.

It was not immediately clear when a parliament would be created.

Opposition

Analysts believe the normalisation would fuel anger against Sudan's government.

"Normalisation will add new fuel to existing opposition to the transitional government from backers of the former government, who also see major overlap in interests with the country's Islamist groups," said Jonas Horner, from the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

"Sudan's prime minister will be at pains to seek consensus, and to avoid creating deeper divisions during this tenuous transitional period."

At the same time, the government is facing increasing calls -- including protests this week -- for action to solve the economic crisis.

"The primary risk to stability in Sudan remains the economy," Horner added.

"The success of the country's fragile transition is intimately wrapped up in escaping the deepening economic abyss."

AU Council Calls for Urgent De-escalation of Unrest in Nigeria

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Protesters raise hands in salute to the national anthem during a demonstration to protest against police brutality at Magboro, Ogun State in southwest Nigeria, on October 20, 2020.

Pius Utomi Ekpei | AFP

By Xinhua

The council also called for a thorough, fair and independent investigation of reports appearing to show the shooting of unarmed protesters by uniformed personnel and to ensure justice for victims and perpetrators alike.

Lagos

The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union(AU) has called for an urgent de-escalation of the current unrest in parts of Nigeria arising from recent protests against police brutality.

In a statement made available to Xinhua in Lagos on Saturday, the council called upon all parties, including the government and protesting citizens, to come together around the table of dialogue and swiftly and peacefully resolve the current impasse to "prevent any further fragmentation of the national fabric".

ECOSOCC urged the Nigerian government to reinforce and expedite the work of the various committees of inquiry established to look into the issue of police brutality to restore the confidence of citizens in the institutions of the state.

The council also called for a thorough, fair and independent investigation of reports appearing to show the shooting of unarmed protesters by uniformed personnel and to ensure justice for victims and perpetrators alike.

In the past days, thousands of Nigerians took to the streets across the country to protest against reported police brutality, harassment, and extra-judicial killings by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police unit for anti-robbery purposes.

Several cities have seen reports of violence during the protests, leading to deaths and property losses.

Somalia Parliament Endorses New PM Roble's Cabinet

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Members of Somalia’s new Cabinet pose for a picture with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled alias Khadar following the announcement in Mogadishu on October 19, 2020. 

By Abdulkadir Khalif Somalia Correspondent

Nation Media Group

The premier presented the list of 70 ministers, State ministers and deputy ministers to the legislators, saying he selected them based on their capacities and integrity.

In his speech to seek parliamentary approval of his portfolio holders and political programme, PM Roble emphasised his government’s drive to tackle the country's most pressing issues.

Mogadishu,

The Lower House of Somalia's Federal Parliament has approved the new Cabinet formed by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble last Monday.

The premier presented the list of 71 ministers, State ministers and deputy ministers to the legislators, saying he selected them based on their capacities and integrity.

“I have selected the ministers upon closely examining their abilities to deliver services to the people,” he said in a brief speech.

All 188 MPs present voted in favour of the new Cabinet by show of hands.

Pressing issues

PM Roble was appointed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on September 17 to replace Hassan Ali Khaire, whose Cabinet lost the vote of parliamentary confidence on July 25. Parliament endorsed him on October 23.

In his speech to seek parliamentary approval of his portfolio holders and political programme, PM Roble emphasised his government’s drive to tackle the country's most pressing issues, particularly the smooth running of the envisaged general election in 2020 and 2021 as well as insecurity.

Many analysts anticipated the return of most of the deposed PM’s Cabinet members.

However, in this new setup, several senior ministers lost positions. Among them were the holders of the Interior, Defense, Internal Security, Information and Education dockets.

Others who have not appeared in the new list include the ministers of Commerce and Industry as well as Public Works.  

Eight women

Those who remained in their positions include Deputy PM Mahdi Mohamed Guled alias Khadar, Foreign minister Ambassador Ahmed Issa Awad and Finance minister Dr Abdirahman Dualeh Beile.

Others are Planning minister Jamal Mohamed Hussein and Health minister Dr Fawzia Abikar Nur.

The new lineup includes eight women - four ministers, a State minister and three deputy ministers. 

The new Cabinet is made of 27 ministers, 27 deputy ministers and 17 state ministers.

Tanzanian Main Rivals Plead for Huge Turnout in Decisive Elections

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A supporter of Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) holds a sign with the image of President John Magufuli during the official launch of the party's campaign for the October general election at Jamhuri stadium in Dodoma, August 29, 2020.

Ericky Boniphace | AFP

By Aggrey Mutambo Senior Diplomatic Writer

Nation Media Group

Fifteen candidates, including two women, are gunning for the presidency but eyes are fixed on incumbent John Pombe Magufuli and Tundu Lissu.

The constitution bars any legal challenge on presidential elections. It means presidential results announced by the National Electoral Commission are final.

Twenty nine million Tanzanians head to polling stations on Wednesday to extend or put a stop the reign of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Africa’s second longest ruling party.

Fifteen candidates, including two women, are gunning for the presidency but eyes are fixed on incumbent John Pombe Magufuli and Tundu Lissu.

Led by Magufuli, the party formed in 1977 has largely campaigned on the promise of “real development” while accusing opponents of being stooges of foreign entities.

Magufuli has promised a fresh start in his running thread.

“Vote for Magufuli for true development and so we can continue building a new Tanzania,” he said last week.

Magufuli, nicknamed the “bulldozer”, has rallied on his rigorous campaign against corruption, often reprimanding government bureaucrats who show up late at work or delay completing projects.

He now promises to ensure the $3.4 billion pipeline with Uganda is complete, piped water and electricity to more homes, free basic education and affordable healthcare.

“In just five years, Magufuli reduced funerals in our homes through improved health services,” Health minister Ummy Mwalimusaid at a rally in Tanga where the president was campaigning last week.

“These elections mean a lot. They determine if we get leaders who are loyal to the country or puppets. Good leaders are the ones who can maintain peace,” Magufuli added.

Biggest election

Yet he has found a formidable foe in Tundu Antiphas Lissu, a former lawmaker for Singida East who survived an attempt on his life in 2017.

Running on Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), Lissu’s survival of the incident has been his rallying call for justice.

No one has been charged with the attempted killing.

“This is the biggest election the country has ever had,” Lissu said in a video message on Thursday.

“In this important period, I call on fellow Tanzanians from all religious faiths and denominations to pray for our country so we can have an election that is free, fair and acceptable to all and the entire world.”

Lissu’s call for justice has been consistent, even as he celebrates the legacy of the country’s founding father Julius Nyerere who died in October 1999.

Nyerere founded CCM, after then ruling party in Tanganyika – Tanu – merged with Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi Party.

Lissu credited Nyerere for uniting Tanzania, adding that he did not clamp down on the dissent, especially when it came to public participation to development.

“Development means any act that gives citizens powers of making decisions, regardless of whether the acts will improve their health or will be appeased,” Lissu quoted Nyerere during a rally in Lake Victoria’s Ukerewe island.

 “Acts that reduce citizens’ powers in decision-making are not linked to development regardless of whether they improve health or make them satisfied.”

Many candidates

The 2020 presidential contest has attracted more candidates than the one in 2015 which had six.

Five years ago, an opposition alliance known as Ukawa under Edward Lowassa competed strongly, garnering about 40 per cent of the votes cast.

Six in every 10 of the 23 million voters cast their ballots.

Lowassa has since made peace with CCM and it is unlikely the opposition could put up such a fight this time, observers say.

“It is difficult to tell the true strength of CCM rivals, given that the government has been wooing opposition MPs and councillors to defect to the ruling party,” said Peter Mwencha, secretary-general of the International Relations Society of Kenya, Nairobi.

Under Magufuli, Tanzania banned independent research firms from publishing data on elections or opinion polls.

The government is accused of passing laws that impede fairness or retaining policies that favour CCM.

The constitution bars any legal challenge on presidential elections. It means presidential results announced by the National Electoral Commission are final.

amutambo@ke.nationmedia.com

Conde Declared Winner in Guinea’s Presidential Election

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Guinea President Alpha Conde addresses his supporters at a campaign rally in Conakry on October 16, 2020. The 82-year-old president is bidding for a third term in office in Sunday's presidential elections.

AFP

By Kemo Cham

Sierra Leone Correspondent

Nation Media Group

Celebration break out in Conakry and elsewhere in the country among Conde’s supporters after the announcement.

Main challenger Cellou Dalein Diallo, who got 33.5 percent of the total votes, has rejected the results.

Alpha Conde has been declared winner of the presidential election in Guinea.

The 82-old-incumbent won a landslide in the first round of the voting on October 18, garnering 59.5 percent of the votes cast, according to preliminary results issued by the National Electoral Commission on Saturday.

Conde was challenged by 11 candidates, with his main challenger been Cellou Dalein Diallo, who got 33.5 percent of the total votes.

Diallo’s party has rejected the result and said it intends to present evidence of “grand fraud” to the Constitutional Court, which must certify the final result before the winner takes office.

Diallo has eight days to file his complaints with the court, as per laws.

A police officer looks on as protesters gesture and throw stones, during a mass protest the morning after preliminary results were released for five communes in Conakry on October 21, 2020.

AFP 

Celebration broke out in Conakry and elsewhere in the country among Conde’s supporters after the announcement.

In opposition dominated areas of the capital, Conakry, however, there were protests by supporters of Diallo who clashed with police who fired tear gas to disperse them.

Opposition protests

The outcome means a third term of five years for Conde, who controversially changed the country’s constitution, which previously allowed for only two terms.

The opposition and pro-democracy campaigners criticized his action.

The run up to the election was marred by violence, with dozens of people killed.

On Friday the government shutdown internet and phone lines to international calls from Guinea amidst protests by opposition supporters.

Diallo, a former Prime Minister of Guinea, declared himself president a day after the vote, prompting criticism from both in and out of Guinea.

A coalition of civil society activists, which opposed Conde’s candidature from the beginning, have called for nationwide protest starting on Monday.

The Defence of the Constitution, which comprises activists and some opposition political parties, described Conde’s victory as amounting to a constitutional coup.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Sudan’s Leftist Groups Reject Normalization with Israel

Sudanese Communist Party supporters hold flags as they arrive to the Friendship Hall in Khartoum to attend the SCP 6th convention on 31 July 2016 (ST Photo)October 23, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - The National Consensus Forces, which are part of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) Friday voiced their rejection of normalization with Israel and threatened to form a broad popular front to resist this rapprochement.

The leftist and Arab nationalist political forces had warned the Sudanese prime minister not to go along with the military component of the Sovereign Council in the rapprochement with Israel, saying that the transitional government has no mandate to take this decision.

In a statement released after the joint statement announcing the normalization, the NFC said that the transitional government violated the constitutional document and went against "the Three No’s, in support of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."

The statement was referring to the Khartoum Resolution adopted in an Arab meeting held in August 1967 known as "The Three No’s"; No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel".

The statement stressed that the joint agreement ignored public opinion and is not binding on them. It further called on the government to "to freeze any steps for normalization with the Jewish state."

"Our people will abide by their historical positions and work through a broad front to resist normalization and support the Palestinian people in order to obtain their full legitimate rights," stressed the statement.

The consensus forces include the Communist Party, the Baath Party, the Nasserist Party, and the United Unionist Party.

The National Umma Party led by Sadiq al-Mahdi declared its rejection of normalization and threatened to withdraw its support for the government.

Al-Madhi’s party is expected to issue a statement on Saturday.

(ST)

"We're Here to Defend Our Unity": Nigeria Clashes Trigger Global Movement Against Police Brutality

CBS News

Johannesburg — Demonstrators stayed off the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday morning after a brutal week where government forces were accused of fatally shooting protesters who were demonstrating against police brutality.

The shootings have ignited international outcry and a nationwide movement for social change. Amnesty International reported that soldiers opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least 12 people. This alleged suppression of a peaceful demonstration has only served to increase the anger of Nigerians of all ages who continue to take to the streets.

"We are here because we believe in what we are fighting for. We are here to defend our unity," one protester said.

More than two weeks ago, tens of thousands of Nigerians began demanding the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a controversial police unit known as SARS. There are striking similarities with protests across the U.S. that followed George Floyd's death in police custody. Commentators have been quick to point out that police brutality flourishes when law enforcement protects the interests of the powerful.

"Once you're not a community resource and you have authority over people and you have no accountability structures, you then create an environment where bad people do bad things with that power," said Zibusiso Wayne Ncube, the head of strategic litigation at Lawyers for Human Rights. 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised to disband SARS over a week ago, but it was too late. Fed up with years of corruption and a lack of accountability, protesters have turned this into a far bigger crisis for Buhari's government.

Police brutality is not the only issue fueling the anti-government sentiment. The misuse of emergency government COVID-19 funds and a stagnant economy crippled by the pandemic have become a major focus of popular anger.