Sunday, January 20, 2019

Kazakhs Warm Up to Zimbabwe
21 JAN, 2019 - 00:01

President Mnangagwa pays a visit to the Presidential Library in Astana, Kazakhstan, yesterday. — Picture by Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo

Mabasa Sasa in Astana, Kazakhstan
Zimbabwe Herald

Kazakhstan’S leading businesspeople and industrialists have responded positively to President Mnangagwa’s call for them to partner Zimbabwe, saying they are willing to invest in the country.

Yesterday, the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan invited President Mnangagwa to a working lunch in Astana, and in response to his overview of the opportunities abounding in Zimbabwe, they expressed readiness to do business in the country.

Mr Alexander Mashkevich, who chairs the management board of the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), said his company had already invested US$100 million in Zimbabwean platinum and coal projects and they were now negotiating projects that covered chrome extraction and construction of a ferro-alloy facility in the country.

ERG employs over 70 000 people and is the world’s largest ferrochrome producer.

Mr Mashkevich said: “Zimbabwe has a lot of opportunities for business and that is why I have been there several times and know what I am talking about.”

The board chair of Alageum Group, Mr Yerkebulan Ilyasov, added: “We are ready to co-operate with your energy companies and the Ministry of Energy, so that you can benefit from our ever advancing technologies.”

The Alegeum Group is Kazakhstan’s largest electro-technical firm, operating more than 30 subsidiaries and plants in the sector.

The deputy chair of pharmaceutical giant Chimfarm, Mr Aziz Turdiyev, said they were keen to establish a win-win partnership with Zimbabwe; while the deputy chair of KazAgro said the two sides should explore ways of developing irrigation and the wider agriculture sector.

Mr Yerdan Bekhozhin, the deputy chair of the Export Insurance Company, said they were willing to facilitate investment into Zimbabwe.

Mr Bekhzozhin’s counterpart at Kazakh Invest, Mr Marat Birimzhan, lauded President Mnangagwa’s clarity of vision on attracting investment, saying such lucidity was behind Kazakhstan’s rise as the leading destination of foreign direct investment in the region.

Mr Malik Olzhabekov, who is the deputy chair of the Aerospace Committee of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defence and Aerospace Industry, offered to run a one-month pilot programme for any sector of Government’s choice for it to appreciate the services offered by satellite technologies.

Kazakhstan is a world leader in aerospace, and runs the only existing programme to launch people into space, in addition to regularly propelling satellites into orbit.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said there was need to put in place an investments protection agreement.

Prof Ncube is the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who along with Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando is part of President Mnangagwa’s delegation here, said Zimbabwe was looking for partners “to take us to the next level”.

He said there were many opportunities in fertiliser manufacturing and supply, oil refining and fuel supply, reinsurance, wheat supply and production and pharmaceuticals.

He encouraged businesspersons to establish a Kazakhstan-Zimbabwe Business Council to expedite commerce and investment between the two countries, and extended an invitation for participation at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

Minister Chitando pointed out that from a geo-survey perspective, Zimbabwe was under-explored, and this in itself spoke to numerous direct and indirect opportunities for investors.

He said the commodity-specific mineral development policies by Government created investment opportunities in mining itself, as well as in rail construction, power generation and machine building among many others.
‘We’re Determined to Improve Quality, Standards of Living’
21 JAN, 2019 - 00:01
Zimbabwe Herald

The following is a transcript of the address delivered by President Mnangagwa at his meeting with representatives of the Kazakhstan business community in Astana yesterday

I wish to thank the business community of Kazakhstan for having organised this event at the sidelines of my first visit here to lay a firm foundation for economic and investment co-operation with your beautiful country.

Guided by our strategy to “open new frontiers” under my Government’s Engagement and Re-engagement Policy, we are committed to deepen and strengthen relations with the Government and people of Kazakhstan.

This visit is opportune and is sure to facilitate and increase Kazakhstan’s presence in Zimbabwe and the Southern African region.

On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and on my own behalf, I am grateful to His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev for having invited me and my delegation to visit your country.

I am confident that we will have fruitful deliberations which will explore possible investment areas between our two countries, anchored in our understanding and appreciation that the private sector is the engine for economic development.

Following our interactions today, we look forward to welcoming business and investment from Kazakhstan and the establishment of a Kazakhstan-Zimbabwe Business Forum as soon as possible.

Zimbabwe is shedding off the isolation she has been under for close to two decades.

To this end, we have embarked on a bold course to revive, rebuild, modernise and industrialise every sphere of our economy.

We are determined to improve the quality and standard of living of our people under our vision to become a middle-income economy by 2030. We extend the opportunity for you to partner us on this journey.

In achieving this we are cognisant that vibrant private sector participation and foreign direct investment are essential ingredients.

My Government continues to implement comprehensive economic reforms which foster a conducive business and investment climate with greater impetus.

The ongoing public sectors reforms are set to harness the immense abilities of our educated human capital base. These reforms will also see the improved efficiency and responsiveness in our bureaucracy to ensure the speedy implementation of investment projects.

Let me assure you that my Government is entrenching a disciplined, consistent and predictable business and policy environment which is free from all forms of corruption.

All investments are therefore safe and private property rights respected. Foreigners are free to repatriate their investment proceeds, in accordance with our laws.

Zimbabwe, as I have always said, is open for business.

The growth of trade and investment in mining, agriculture, infrastructure development, energy and power generation are expected to anchor our economic development agenda.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act has been amended and this has reignited the interest of foreigners to do business in our country.

The private sector from Kazakhstan is, therefore, invited to come on board and take advantage of the possibilities in our country. Zimbabwe is open for business and dialogue.

My Government has put in place a broad economic reform policy, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme.

Through this economic blueprint, we expect to incrementally stabilise the economic environment, reduce Government deficit, the external debt and liquidity challenges.

In the agriculture sector, the fertile soils and conducive climate create huge potential in a wide array of both domestic and export-bound agriculture products.

We invite investors to develop our irrigation capacity, as well as modernise and mechanise agriculture.

Investors are free to consider investing in crops such as tobacco, tea, coffee and citrus fruits. Enterprises across the wide array of horticulture, livestock, fisheries and wildlife products may also be pursued.

We have a broad range of wildlife in the Zimbabwe, and our national parks are among the best in the world.

There are also prospects along the agriculture value chain such as fertiliser and chemical manufacturing, agriculture engineering and the agro-processing sub-sectors.

Our manufacturing sectors requires retooling, the equipment is obsolete and cannot compete with others in the world today, so there is opportunity for investment in that area.

We are enthusiastic to leapfrog the modernisation of our manufacturing sector so that it catches up with the rest of the rising countries in the Third World. We further welcome investment to value add and beneficiate products such as tobacco, cotton, dairy and meat products in agriculture, and in mining in lithium, chrome and iron ore among other products.

In the infrastructure sector, we have an expansive national road and railway network.

Our roads and railway infrastructure are behind by about 20 years and we need our infrastructure to speak to the networks in the region by rehabilitation and construction of new networks.

We also want to develop and modernise our airports and the airline industry. These combined will result in Zimbabwe being an efficient transport and logistics corridor into the region,

Opportunities are also available in real estate and our tourism sector through the construction of hotels, as well as business and residential premises.

As I have highlighted above, my administration removed restrictions to foreign shareholding in the mining sector.

We welcome investors to exploit, value add and beneficiate any of the over 50 minerals found in Zimbabwe, including natural gas, coal-bed methane and associated petro-chemicals. There are others besides the ones I have mentioned: gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome, lithium, coal and many others.

In addition, there are opportunities for investments in specialist services such as engineering, transport and logistics, ICTs, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries. We have many opportunities in the ICTs sector.

Zimbabwe, along with her neighbours in the Southern African region, presently has an energy deficit.

As such, we are inviting investment into this sector not only for consumption, but also for possible export into our region.

Our energy can be generated from hydro, thermal and solar. In Zimbabwe we have sunshine virtually from January to December. This snow we’re seeing here — we don’t know it in Zimbabwe. It’s a marvel to us.

Energy generation in line with the new technologies associated with our lithium endowments offer exciting investment prospects.

The tourism sector provides opportunities in the hospitality industry such as the construction of hotels and conferencing facilities.

We are also eager to widen our tourist products through, for example, the building of golf courses, sports and leisure facilities or amusement parks, restaurants and entertainment areas.

My Government is reforming State-owned enterprises and parastatals, which provides investment prospects for potential investors.

I invite you all to take advantage of the opening up of our economy and invest in my country.

By leveraging on our land-linked geographical position, investors can utilise Zimbabwe as a hub and centre for industrial development through which to enter the African market. Africa has about 1,2 billion people; it is a huge market and Zimbabwe can be gateway to that market.

Once again, allow me to extend an invitation to you all to visit Zimbabwe and explore the business opportunities that are there.

Each ministry in my Government has detailed investment brochures and an open door policy to receive your enquiries, and we are developing a one-stop centre where all your questions relating to investment can be answered.

Visiting Zimbabwe will allow you to experience my country’s hospitality, climate and other tourist attractions.

Zimbabwe is open for business and dialogue. We look forward to your investments and the growth of our economic relations.

I thank you.
Violent Protests: Hundreds Lose Jobs
21 JAN, 2019 - 00:01
Pamela Shumba Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe Herald

INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has said hundreds of people lost their jobs as a result of last week’s violent protests and Bulawayo companies were the worst affected.

He said the terror attacks, organised by the MDC-Alliance and civil society groups aligned to it, defeat efforts by Government and industries to revive the economy.

In an interview, Minister Ndlovu said the demonstrations send wrong signals to potential investors.

“We’re yet to calculate the losses made, but hundreds of people have lost their jobs due to the destruction of business buildings, which are not only affecting individuals, but the entire nation,” he said.

“I don’t know how we’ll recover the lost production and infrastructure deficit that has been created. I’m disappointed that Bulawayo was the worst hit by the violent demonstrations and property worth millions of dollars was destroyed.

“It’s sad and I didn’t expect this from the people of Bulawayo. I made a number of calls and the updates I got shocked me.”

Minister Ndlovu said there was no need for aggrieved people to express themselves by engaging in criminal activities.

“This has taken us aback,” he said.

“Businesspeople in the city suffered huge losses and I wonder where we’re going as a city. Investors who have plans to bring business in Bulawayo might lose interest now because of hooligans who just decide to go into people’s shops, loot and burn buildings.

“It’s really sad for industry and the country as a whole.”

Minister Ndlovu said it was saddening that people were given space to exercise their rights, but ended looting shops and destroying properties.

“In December, I had a meeting with the Bulawayo City Council led by the Mayor, the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs, captains of industry and think tanks in the province to try and come up with strategies to turn around the economy.

“The meeting was also meant to make decisive moves towards re-industrialising our city and create employment for the people of Bulawayo. We scheduled a review meeting for the end of this month and I thought we were on course in terms of making Bulawayo a good investment destination, but this is obviously a huge set back.”

Minister Ndlovu said it was unfortunate that people had decided to exercise their rights in such a manner, which leads the country nowhere.

“We have a burden of rebranding our country and positioning it where it was and I think as a country we did well in terms of respecting human and respecting constitutional rights and giving them a chance to genuinely engage in discussions with the Government,” he said.

“Perhaps we over did it because these violent incidents have instilled fear in the population as police officers were also threatened and assaulted, with one of them losing his life.

“Members of the public need to know that it’s not their rights only that matter, but the next person’s rights too.”

Minister Ndlovu said it was important for people to unite and rebrand the country.

He appealed to business people to desist from increasing prices unnecessarily.

“I’m appealing to business people to desist from this idea of profiteering,” said Minister Ndlovu.

“When they price their goods beyond the reach of the people for whatever reasons, this has a direct risk on their businesses.

“As we speak today, kombis and buses have hiked their fares in an unreasonable manner. They increased by almost 300 percent when fuel costs in running a business ordinarily don’t go beyond 40 percent of the total cost.

“There’s no justification because businesses have got a rebate where they’re not affected by these increases.”

Choppies Supermarkets in New Lobengula and Entumbane were burnt in the protests while the Pumula and Lobengula West branches were looted.

Chicken Corner in Tshabalala was also targeted.

There were also reports of looting from shops in Nkulumane, Lobengula, Pumula, Emganwini, Luveve, Magwegwe, Sizinda and other areas.
Zimbabwe High Court to Rule on Internet Suit
 21 JAN, 2019 - 00:01 
Daniel Nemukuyu
Senior Court Reporter
Herald

THE High Court in Harare will today rule on the legality of the Government’s directive to mobile network operators to shut down all internet operations in the country during last week’s violent demonstrations.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) sued the Government over the shutdown of the internet and all social media platforms saying the move was unconstitutional.

Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for National Security issued a warrant for a total shutdown of internet services at the height of the violent national so-called stay away that rocked major towns and cities last week.

The two organisation filed an urgent chamber application seeking a reversal of the decision.

President Mnangagwa, Minister of State in the President’s Office for National Security Owen Ncube, Director-General of Intelligence Services, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, NetOne Cellular Private Limited and Telecel Zimbabwe were listed as respondents in the application.

On Friday, the High Court registry set the matter down for today before Justice Owen Tagu.

ZLHR executive director Ms Roselyn Hanzi deposed an affidavit contesting the Government’s decision.

She argued the shutdown would result in the loss of business and income as most transactions are done online.

“The directive will unnecessarily cost some people significant amounts of money in loss of business and income.

“The drastic measure has also put human lives at risk as telemedicine and financial services such as Diaspora remittances which rely on internet-based communication and banking services have also been affected,” said Ms Hanzi.

Personal security of people, according to Ms Hanzi, had also been compromised as they were not able to communicate the security situation in their respective areas using social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Skype and Facebook.

The directive, it is argued, infringes on the people’s freedom of expression and freedom of the media as enshrined under Section 61 of the Constitution.
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina Sworn into Office
Eric Oteng   19/01 - 13:21
Africa News

Madagascar president, Andry Rajoelina, has been sworn into office on Saturday after taking the oath of office in Antananarivo before nine judges of the High Constitutional Court.

In accordance with the Constitution, Mr. Rajoelina swore an oath “to perform in virtue” his function as President of the Republic of Madagascar and to use his powers “to guarantee and strengthen national unity and human rights”.

“This is a new page in the nation’s history and it is hoped that in five years’ time, national unity will be strengthened,” said Court President Jean Eric Rakotoarisoa during the ceremony held at Mahamasina’s municipal stadium.

On Friday, also for the first time in the country’s history, a transfer of power was made between two elected presidents, Mr. Rajaonarimampianina and Mr. Rajoelina.

“This is historic, it is an illustration of a democratic transfer of power, respect for republican values,” Rajaonarimampianina told the press outside the presidential palace.

In power since 2002, the former had been forced to resign in 2009 in the face of a wave of violent demonstrations fomented by the latter, then mayor of Antananarivo.

The latter had then been installed by the army at the head of a transitional presidency that he left in
Madagascar’s New President Pledges Investor-Friendly Policies

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina pledged to invest in renewable energy and make it easier for investors to do business in the island nation after winning last month’s elections.

The two men had been banned from running for the 2013 presidential election as part of an internationally endorsed post-crisis agreement.

On 8 January, the Malagasy courts validated Mr Rajoelina’s victory by dismissing unsurprisingly all accusations of fraud by his rival Marc Ravalomanana.
SADC Congratulates Tshisekedi on Election Victory
Eric Oteng
Africa News

The Southern African Development Community on Sunday congratulated President-elect Felix Tshisekedi and Congo for conducting elections in a peaceful manner “despite the security and logistical challenges.”

The 16-nation regional bloc had last week called for a unity government and possible recount.

The group “calls upon all Congolese to accept the outcome, and consolidate democracy and maintain a peaceful and stable environment following the landmark elections.” The body called on “all stakeholders to support the President-elect and his government in maintaining unity, peace and stability; and attaining socio-economic development in DRC (Congo). SADC looks forward to a peaceful transfer of power to the President-elect.”

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli also sent congratulations on Twitter.

“I congratulate HE. Felix Tshisekedi on his election as President of the DRC (Congo). While congratulating all the Congolese, I beseech you to maintain peace and affirm my commitment to furthering our historic and brotherly ties,” he wrote.

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza congratulated Congo’s President elect Felix Tshisekedi and the Congolese people on the election result.

“Through a fully organized electoral process without outside influence and the wisdom of President Kabila, Congo has just defended its dignity and sovereignty. #Burundi congratulates the elected President, HE Felix A. Tshisekedi and the step taken by the Congolese people. “

Congo’s Constitutional court confirmed the victory of Felix Tshisekedi, dismissing the claims of massive vote fraud by runner-up Martin Fayulu.

Tshisekedi’s supporters celebrated the court decision, announced early Sunday, by driving their motorcycles and cars in a procession through Kinshasa. Later the capital city was quiet, with people attending church. Other cities across Congo were also reported to be quiet.

But Fayulu’s declaration that he is Congo’s “only legitimate president” and call for the Congolese people to peacefully protest what he called a “constitutional coup d’etat” threatened to keep the country in a political crisis that has been simmering since the Dec. 30 elections.

Tshisekedi welcomed the court’s decision confirming him as the winner of the presidential election saying it was a victory for the entire country.
Attack on UN Base in Mali kills 8 Chadian Troops
Eric Oteng
Africa News

Gunmen killed at least eight Chadian UN peacekeepers in an attack Sunday on one of their bases in northern Mali, a source close to the MINUSMA force said.

“According to a new toll, still provisional, at least eight peacekeepers have been killed,” the source said.

Gunmen killed at least eight Chadian UN peacekeepers in an attack Sunday on one of their bases in northern Mali, a source close to the MINUSMA force said. "According to a new toll, still provisional,...

The attack happened early Sunday at the Aguelhok base 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Kidal and towards the border with Algeria, the source added.

A Malian security source spoke of at least six killed and 19 wounded, while a diplomat in northern Mali told AFP that several of the attackers were also killed.

An attack at the same base last April killed two peacekeepers and left several others wounded.

More than 13,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Mali as part of a UN mission that was established after Islamist militias seized northern Mali in 2012. They were pushed backed by French troops in 2013.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability to Mali following a brief Islamist takeover in the north.

But the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Earlier this month, both France and the United States criticised the authorities in Mali for their failure to stem the worsening violence.
Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu Visits Chad
Eric Oteng
Africa News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Chad on Sunday for a visit he described as a “historic breakthrough” in this African country with a Muslim majority with which Israel is preparing to resume relations.

Visit follows Déby’s surprise visit to Jerusalem two months ago, and the two leaders are expected to announce the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.

Just after his arrival at N’Djamena airport, Mr. Netanyahu went directly to the presidential palace to meet with Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno. A press conference of the two leaders is scheduled for midday.

This visit is part of the revolution we are leading in the Arab and Muslim world that I promised to accomplish.

Before leaving Israel, the head of government said that the visit “to a very large Muslim country with borders with Libya and Sudan marks a historic breakthrough,” his office said in a statement.

“This visit is part of the revolution we are leading in the Arab and Muslim world that I promised to accomplish,” the Prime Minister said.

He also indicated that his visit to Chad would bring “great news”, apparently referring to a possible resumption of diplomatic relations that Chad had broken in 1972.

“All this irritates and even provokes the anger of Iran and the Palestinians who are trying to prevent it (rapprochement with Arab or Muslim countries), but they will not succeed,” Netanyahu also said.

This visit, which is scheduled to last only one day, follows President Déby’s visit to Israel in November.

Mr. Netanyahu then announced his intention to announce the restoration of diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad, a country of about 15 million people, during a forthcoming trip to N’Djamena.

Mr. Netanyahu is actively engaged in a campaign to establish or renew ties, including in Africa, with countries that refuse to recognize Israel or have distanced themselves because of the conflict with the Palestinians.

In November, Benjamin Netanyahu and Idriss Déby refused to say whether their discussions included arms agreements.

In response to rebellions in the north and east of the country, the Chadian army and the National Intelligence Agency have acquired Israeli military equipment, although Chadian security sources had informed AFP.

Chad is one of the African states engaged in the fight against the jihadist organizations Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa. In November, it received military vehicles and ships worth $1.3 million (approximately €1.15 million) from the United States, Israel’s major ally.

The pressure of African Muslim nations, accentuated by the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, led a number of African states to break with the Jewish state.

But in recent years, Israel has offered opportunities for cooperation in areas ranging from security to technology and agriculture to develop its relations on the African continent.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Algeria to Hold Presidential Election on April 18
REUTERS 
18/01 - 11:01

Algeria will hold a presidential election on April 18, the presidency said on Friday in a statement, but did not say whether veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika would seek a fifth term in office.

Bouteflika, 81, has been in office since 1999 and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013 which bound him to a wheelchair.

Candidates have 45 days to inform the constitutional council of their intention to take part.

Will Bouteflika seek a fifth term?

Under the constitution the election date was made necessary by the expiry in April of Bouteflika’s fourth term.

Algeria’s ruling coalition and other leading figures in labour unions and the business world had previously urged him to run again for the presidency.

But there have been concerns about his health.

In December, Bouteflika, who has been wheelchair-bound since 2013, was unable to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he came to Algiers for a two-day visit due to acute flu.

His last meeting with a senior foreign official was during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept. 17. An earlier meeting with Merkel and a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte were cancelled.

Bouteflika’s supporters say his mind remains sharp, even though he needs a microphone to speak. The opposition says he is not fit to run again.

He is unlikely to face competition from within ruling circles. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, leader of the National Rally for Democracy (RND) allied to the FLN, has already said he will not run if Bouteflika goes for a fifth term.

What is at stake?

The North African country, an oil producer, avoided the major political upheaval seen in many other Arab countries in the past decade but has experienced some protests and strikes. Unemployment, especially among young people, remains high.

The economy has improved over the past year as oil and gas revenues have picked up. They account for 60 percent of the budget and 94 percent of export revenues.

The government has said it wants to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, which accounts for 60 percent of budget finances, but there has been resistance from those within the ruling elite to opening up to foreign investment.

That has left the economy dominated by the state and firms run by business tycoons.
Ethiopia's Ruling Coalition Happy Over Execution of Eritrea Deal
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban 
Africa News
19/01 - 05:00

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition says it is happy about the level of execution of a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea. The deal was signed in Asmara in July 2018.

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF, Executive Committee at a regular session held in the capital Addis Ababa said deal had so far been a big success, state-affiliated portal FBC reported.

“The economic ties between the two countries laid a foundation to bring change in the horn of Africa and build Ethiopia’s image at the global level,” the FBC report said in part.

The landmark deal was signed when leaders of both countries met in Asmara during the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s historic visit. The two sides reestablished all friendly ties for the first time in two decades.

The EPRDF session was led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who is chairman of the EPRDF. It also evaluated successes since its last meeting last year. Amongst others the widening of the political landscape and increased human rights.

The session however expressed concerns about insecurity in parts of the country which had triggered mass displacements. It also identified the activities of anti-peace elements as a threat to reform efforts.

The Committee further tasked the media to play its rôle in advancing the course of peace and unity among Ethiopians. It identified the media as a key player that needed to contribute to the journey towards a multi-party system.
Ethiopian Rebel Group Accuses Government of Airstrikes
By ELIAS MESERET
Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Jan 18, 2019 10:41 AM ET

An Ethiopian rebel group recently welcomed back to the country accuses the reformist government of targeting it with airstrikes. The government denies it.

Tensions are growing with the Oromo Liberation Front, which a year ago was in exile and listed as a terror group after waging a deadly guerrilla war for self-determination. It was among a number of groups invited home to take part in political dialogue as part of sweeping reforms under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He took office in April.

The OLF on Thursday said Ethiopia's air force carried out airstrikes in the western Oromia region on Jan. 12-13, saying seven civilians, including a baby, were killed.

"Trying to hide this attack is like trying to hide with a stolen camel," the OLF said in a statement. It also accused Ethiopian troops of burning people's houses and stealing their belongings.

Abiy's office denied reports of airstrikes but said rebel groups were "not heeding the call for peace." A statement by press secretary Billene Seyoum accused the OLF of "egregious violence against community members."

The statement said Ethiopian forces have responded to a request by the Oromia regional government and have been "undertaking a stabilizing operation over the past two weeks, and the area is now being secured."

Abiy recently expressed frustration with the OLF, warning it against trying to take power in a few months' time instead of following the path to what he has pledged will be free and fair elections in 2020. The OLF has expressed support for elections, provided they are on time.

In what analysts have called the core problem, OLF has said there was no agreement for it to disarm when it agreed to return home. Ethiopia's government has said clearly it must disarm as the country's legal framework doesn't allow more than one armed entity.

The OLF's members have been estimated at around 5,000.

Ethiopia is currently experiencing ethnic-based clashes in various parts of the country that have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Ethnic minorities have been attacked and universities have closed.

The unrest poses the biggest challenge so far to Ethiopia's reforms.
———
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP—Africa
The OLF is Dead, But its Oromo Struggle Lives
January 19, 2019
by Abdurazak Kedir Abdu

Daud Ibsa’s militia is not the Oromo Liberation Front. While the OLF has disintegrated, what it stands for still captures the essence of the Oromo struggle, and this contradiction is convulsing Oromo politics.

The Oromo Liberation Front has experienced increasing turmoil since leaving the transitional government in the early 1990s after falling out with fellow rebels.

There have been multiple disputes and splits over past decades. But importantly, Daud Ibsa started to brand his rump movement as the mother organization around 15 years ago. His guerrillas, commonly known as OLF-Shanee, and particularly so by critics, sporadically made lethal attacks on the army in peripheral areas of Oromia.

Since 1973, the OLF has represented the aspirations and principles of the Oromo quest for hiree murteeffannaa—self-determination. In the past, it argued for secession. But despite its proud legacy, the OLF has disintegrated beyond repair. Any groups now branding themselves under the shadow of that grand organization are mere pretenders—very much including Daud’s.

Yet OLF still captures the essence of the Oromo struggle and so abides in the heart of many patriotic Oromos. It is this contradiction that is currently convulsing Oromo politics.

OLF-S’s hostile relations with the government continued until July, which marked the start of negotiations during Ethiopia’s ongoing political transition led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The agreement did not imply disarmament

Daud didn’t want direct talks and proposed the mediation of a third party. However, reportedly due to pressure from President Isaias Afewerki, his group, exiled in Eritrea, was compelled to accept Addis Ababa’s proposal, and so returned home.

An undisclosed agreement for peaceful political contestation was entered into between Daud’s group and the government. But it did not come into force, and ongoing deadly tension became the norm. The parties blame each other for non-implementation.

So, the agreement is the bone of contention.

Gammachuu Ayyaanaa, a defected colonel and part of the returned OLF-S leadership, has been enlightening on this subject in interviews with the Oromo Broadcasting Service. While briefing the regional broadcaster on the agreement, he addressed the vital point of the disarmament of Daud’s soldiers.

The pundit alleged that the agreement did not imply disarmament as that amounted to falling captive. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government, and particularly Oromia’s ruling party, claim that the agreement included the disarmament of OLF-S, regardless of the implications for its rebellion.

The ex-colonel says that the deal was instead to create a buffer zone. In other words, there would be land controlled by Daud. Gammachuu also said that the intention was to establish a third party, such as a commission, to help manage the tensions between them. He claims that the fate of the OLF-S soldiers will be determined after the work of such a body.

Buffer bluff

Gammachuu mentioned precedents in Burundi, Congo, Liberia and Rwanda. But those are not relevant because there was civil war there, while there is not in Ethiopia. Indeed civil war was far from the reality in Ethiopia until recent weeks when OLF-S upped its operation with the alleged assistance of elements linked to the former regime’s security apparatus. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front is aggrieved by the transformation, and sees OLF-S as partners in a nominally pro-federalist “strategic alliance”.

Furthermore, rebel forces were competitive in the other examples, but in Ethiopia the government has overwhelming dominance; and, despite recent gains, OLF-S didn’t have territorial control in Ethiopia, as rebels did in the other countries.

A buffer zone would only have been necessary if Daud’s soldiers were a threat. Yet, this is not feasible as Daud has never controlled territory, even in its western stronghold. The request was built on false claims——it was an attempt to exploit the negotiations to gain territory it has failed to control in the past. By establishing a territorial foothold, the OLF-S aimed to prove that third party mediation is needed, which, in turn, would allow the group to gain international legitimacy.

Apart from its lack of legitimacy, Daud made a tactical error in opposing the appointment of another former OLF figure, Kemal Gelchu, as regional security head. Kemal has the requisite skills, even if he is a political rival, and OLF-S could have tried to work with Kemal, who is from eastern Oromia.

Abiy has been smart not to arrest Daud

At the very least, they should have refrained from shunning someone who once was their comrade. Daud thought appointing Kemal was a strategy of the ruling Oromo Democratic Party to obliterate them. However, the truth is that Oromia’s leaders wanted to compensate Kemal, an ex-member of the army, who left due to grievance.

OLF-S is now soliciting international recognition under the guise of negotiation. This should be resisted. Daud’s movement is weak. It has lost support among the Oromo elite, most university students, many farmers, and, above all, the brave Qeerroo, including those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. All now want an end to dictatorship and conflict.

Ultimately, negotiation was part of a military strategy for Daud, while the same instrument was interpreted as a means of disarmament for the ruling party. But it is Abiy and Lemma who have the advantage, having played their hand well. Abiy has been smart not to arrest Daud, instead allowing him to look like unconvincing rebel leaders ensconced in luxury hotels.

But the government has recently moved to detain Gammachuu and many others—it seems they have exhausted the politics of tolerance. Hence, the authorities are taking strong measures after a peaceful settlement proved elusive with this troublesome rump of a once formidable movement.

Main photo: OLF supporters wave its flag at the group’s welcoming rally; Addis Ababa, Sep. 15; Petterik Wiggers

This is the author’s Viewpoint. However, Ethiopia Insight is responsible for clear factual errors.
Ethiopia Deploys Military Against Opposition Faction
2019-01-17 16:31
AFP

Ethiopia has deployed soldiers against an armed faction of a recently-legalised opposition group that is robbing banks and attacking residents in the country's remote west, the government said on Wednesday.

The violence in Oromia, Ethiopia's largest region, comes after separate ethnic clashes in the east temporarily shut the country's main fuel supply route, causing severe petrol shortages in the capital this week.

The unrest across Africa's second most-populous country is the latest challenge faced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has won Ethiopians over with dramatic reforms since taking office last year, even as ethnic violence surged.

Those changes included welcoming home banned groups like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which returned to Ethiopia after signing a peace deal last August.

But last month, the group accused the government of breaching the agreement, and on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Abiy said the military had been sent to Oromia's Kellem Wollega zone to stop a faction responsible for rapes, looting banks and blocking roads.

"Government has been patient for a very long time, trying to facilitate the different ideas," Billene Seyoum told journalists. "Those skirmishes are as a result of not heeding the call for peace."

Authorities have detained 835 armed OLF members involved in the unrest, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

Meanwhile, a separate outbreak of ethnic conflict between the Afar and Somali peoples of eastern Ethiopia led to the closure of the trade route to Djibouti, whose Red Sea ports import most of Ethiopia's petroleum products.

Such ethnic clashes have become increasingly common since Abiy's inauguration last April, and 1.4 million Ethiopians fled their homes last year, one of the world's highest numbers.

The road closures caused blocks-long fuel queues to appear in the capital and largest city Addis Ababa, but Billene said representatives of the two ethnicities had reached an agreement.

"The road has been opened as well," she said.
After Ambush, Ethiopia Readies 'Massive Offensive' on al-Shabaab in Somalia
Associated Press
Jan 19, 2019 10:04 AM ET

Peacekeeping troops from Ethiopia are shown on a deployment in South Sudan in 2016. Ethiopia confirmed an ambush by al-Shabaab extremists on an Ethiopian peacekeeping convoy in Somalia and promised retaliation. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ethiopian National Defence Force on Saturday confirmed an ambush by al-Shabaab extremists on an Ethiopian peacekeeping convoy in neighbouring Somalia and said Ethiopian forces are preparing a "massive offensive" in response.

The statement rejected an al-Shabaab claim that several Ethiopian troops were killed.

The ambush was reported as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the deadly hotel assault in Nairobi, Kenya, and deadly attacks on forces inside Somalia.

Ethiopia contributes troops to a multinational African Union peacekeeping mission. It also has troops in Somalia independently under Ethiopian army command.

3 wounded in ambush, African Union says

The statement said the ambush occurred when the convoy was travelling from Burhakaba to Baidoa in Somalia's southwest.

A separate statement by the AU force said the ambush occurred on Friday and AU troops returned fire, killing four extremists and wounding several others.

Three soldiers with the AU force were wounded, the statement said.

Al-Shabaab, which formed more than a decade ago in response to the presence of Ethiopian forces inside Somalia, among other reasons, has never managed to orchestrate a major attack inside the Ethiopian heartland, though it has carried out major attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

In late October, al-Shabaab claimed it killed 30 Ethiopian troops inside Somalia. Weeks before that, Ethiopian state media outlets reported that the Ethiopian Air Force killed 70 al-Shabaab members after the extremist group tried to attack Ethiopian forces.
52 al-Shabab Fighters Killed in Somalia Airstrike: US Military
The strike was in response to a raid near Kismayo earlier on Saturday, which left eight Somali soldiers dead.

Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out attacks

The United States' military has said that an airstrike in southern Somalia killed at least 52 al-Shabab fighters, in response to an attack earlier in the day that left at least eight Somali soldiers dead.

A US Africa Command statement on Saturday said the strike occurred near Jilib in Middle Juba region.

Jubaland regional security minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur told state-run Radio Mogadishu that the fatalities from the al-Shabab side could be as high as 73.

There was no immediate comment from al-Shabab on the death toll.

Earlier on Saturday, at least eight Somali soldiers were killed when al-Shabab fighters overran a military camp on the outskirts of the town of Kismayo.

According to reports, the heavily-armed fighters launched a dawn raid on the military camp, followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire which lasted hours.

Al-Shabab claimed it killed 15 Somali soldiers.

The incident came a day after al-Shabab said it had attacked Ethiopian troops in Somalia in an ambush on the road between the capital, Mogadishu, and the southwest town of Baidoa.

Since 2017, the US military has stepped up air raids against the armed group.

Al-Shabab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

Al-Shabab forces have been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.

On Tuesday, it also carried out a deadly attack in neighbouring Kenya, which it has regularly targeted since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia.

Four gunmen and a suicide bomber left 21 dead and injured 28 in Nairobi.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES
US Airstrike in Somalia Kills 52 al-Shabaab Fighters, Military Says
Associated Press in Johannesburg
Sat 19 Jan 2019 14.05 EST

The US military said it carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed 52 al-Shabaab extremists, in response to an attack on Somali forces.

Al-Shabaab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere. The group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday.

A US Africa Command statement said the airstrike occurred on Saturday near Jilib in Middle Juba region. The US said Somali forces had come under attack by a “large group” of the al-Qaida-linked extremists.

The statement did not say how many Somali forces were killed or wounded. There were no reports of Americans killed or wounded.

Al-Shabaab asserted via its Shahada news agency that its attack on two Somali army bases killed at least 41 soldiers. It described the location as the Bar Sanjuni area near the port city of Kismayo.

There was no immediate comment from Somalia’s government.

In neighboring Ethiopia, state television cited the defense ministry as saying more than 60 al-Shabaab fighters had been killed and that four vehicles loaded with explosives had been “destroyed”.

Ethiopia contributes troops to a multinational African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia and has troops there independently under Ethiopian army command.

Al-Shabaab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile suicide bombings and other attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.

The US has dramatically stepped up airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia since Donald Trump took office, carrying out at least 47 such strikes last year. Some have targeted top leaders or key financial officials. The extremist group funds its attacks with an extensive network of “taxation” and extortion.

In October, the US said an airstrike killed about 60 fighters near the al-Shabaab-controlled community of Harardere in Mudug province in the central part of the country.

The airstrikes hamper the extremist group but have not “seriously degraded al-Shabaab’s capability to mount strikes either inside or outside Somalia”, Matt Bryden of Sahan Research, an expert on the extremists, said after the Nairobi hotel attack.

Airstrikes alone cannot defeat the extremists, Bryden said, and must be combined with more ground-based attacks as well as a non-military campaign to win over residents of extremist-held areas.

The US on Saturday said it was committed to “preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia”.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Press TV’s Hashemi Unlikely to be Released Immediately: Son
Sat Jan 19, 2019 03:04AM
presstv.ir

Marzieh Hashemi, a Press TV news anchor (file photo)

A court in the United States has confirmed the arrest of US-born Iranian Press TV news presenter Marzieh Hashemi as a material witness in an unspecified investigation.

Ms. Hashemi, 59, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on unspecified charges upon arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday, her family and friends said.

At the request of the US Justice Department, Judge Beryl Alaine Howell, the chief district judge for the District of Columbia, issued a federal court order, approving the partial unsealing of the Press TV journalist’s case, Reuters reported.

According to the document, since her arrest, the journalist has appeared twice before a US district judge in Washington and has been appointed a lawyer.

The Associated Press said US government officials expected her to be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury, but Ms. Hashemi's elder son, Hossein, was pessimistic about prospects for her immediate release, saying it was not clear yet how long his mother’s testimony would last.

“We’re hoping that it would be complete and she would be out this week. It doesn't look like that's going to happen,” said Hossein outside the court on Friday. “So we're just waiting to hear more.”

However, the Friday court order did not include any details regarding the criminal case in which she has been named as a material witness.

The order said that Ms. Hashemi “has not been accused of any crime,” but she has said she was handcuffed and shackled and was treated like a criminal. The journalist has also said she had her hijab forcibly removed, and was photographed without her headscarf upon arrival at the prison.

Reuters further quoted an unnamed US government source as claiming that it appeared the grand jury was examining whether Press TV is a “propaganda outlet” that failed to register with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign government.

The Press TV anchor and producer, who returns periodically to the US to visit her family, had been working in St. Louis on a documentary about Black Lives Matter, an international activist movement originating in the African-American community that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people in the United States.

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of the PEN America group promoting literature and free expression, says she is concerned Ms. Hashemi might have been targeted for her documentary for political reasons. “If there are other grounds for Hashemi's detention they must be made clear, otherwise she should be released immediately,” Nossel added.

'Remarkable perseverance'

Hashemi’s attorney, Preston Burton, said, “Marzieh Hashemi’s perseverance has been remarkable in the midst of difficult circumstances, and it is my privilege to represent her. She is heartened by the many expressions of concern about her well-being, and we expect that she will soon return to her family, her home, and her career.”

What is material witness?

The US law defines a material witness as a person who is presumed to have information about the subject matter of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, which is critical to the outcome of the case or trial. US Federal law allows judges to order witnesses to be arrested if the government can prove that they are material witness.

Since terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, material witness warrants have been used to detain possible witnesses or suspects.

The material witness warrants are rarely issued, and Ms. Hashemi’s case is the first such case filed in federal court in the US capital this year. Only two such warrants were issued last year and both are still under seal, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

The statute generally requires those witnesses to be immediately freed once they are deposed. However, the report further cited a 2005 joint analysis conducted by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union showing that the US government had held 70 men as potential material witnesses to that time and nearly half of whom were never called to testify.

The analysis concluded that the use of the warrants was excessive and frequently unlawful since many of the detainees were never questioned by a grand jury or were even denied access to lawyers for extended periods of time, and that most of them were never charged with a crime.

US violating Hasehmi’s religious rights: CAIR

Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the US – called on US authorities to “cease violating” Ms. Hashemi’s “religious rights.”

“Law enforcement officials must clarify why they are holding Ms. Hashemi without formal charges and why they have allegedly denied her religious rights while in custody,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said, adding, “There can be no justification for denying an American citizen, or any other person, their basic civil and religious rights.”
Bolton, Pompeo Behind Arrest of Marzieh Hashemi: Analysts
Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:48AM
presstv.ir

Marzieh Hashemi, Press TV anchor (Photo)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Advisor John Bolton are those who have ordered arresting Marzieh Hashemi, a journalist and anchor working for Iran’s English-language Press TV television news network, say commentators.

American-born Hashemi, most famous for anchoring news programs and presenting shows for Press TV, was detained upon arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday, her family and friends said.

Collin Cavell, former lecturer at the University of Bahrain, told Press TV that “it looks like Secretary of State Pompeo and specially National Security Adviser Bolton are now imposing their will on US foreign policy and violating Article 13, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and thus violating international law by arresting Marzieh Hashemi and putting her in undisclosed detention facility somewhere in Washington DC.”

Scott Bennett, former US army psychological warfare officer, said that “I look at this as part of a psychological operation, as part of a larger plan, a larger entrapment that rogue elements, I would assume, under Bolton, under Pompeo, rogue elements and the deep state are being engaged in this operation against Marzieh just simply to achieve a variety of false ends.”

“Essentially, you (American officials) have imprisoned the dam ladder of the Iranian news industry,” Bennett noted.

In another interview with Press TV, Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran, said that “Marzieh Hashemi is an American citizen. She is American born. She is African American. She went there to see her family and everything that she did in the United States was legal unlike American reporters or British reporters who come to Iran, who go and see ministers and who see key political figures.”

Press TV’s chief says the Iranian English-language news network will take any necessary legal action to secure the release of its anchor, Marzieh Hashemi, who has been imprisoned in Washington for unspecified reasons.

Meanwhile, Iranian parliament speaker's special adviser on international affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said “the US started the ordeal by detaining Marzieh Hashemi. If this Press TV journalist is not freed immediately, this ordeal will not end when the US government desires.”

Protests planned in US

Also, Akbar Muhammad, spokesperson for prominent Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan said “I plan to go to Washington and speak with those who have caused this ordeal. A demonstration will be held on Friday and a women's march is planned for Saturday.”

Tehran University professor and international relations expert Foad Izadi also said “Press TV’s television programs are not accessible in the US because of a government ban on the channel but Hashemi’s detention and the subsequent media outcry made many Americans aware of the channel and Hashemi’s activities over the past years."
Online Petitions Launched to Secure Press TV Anchor Hashemi's Release
Fri Jan 18, 2019 06:43PM
presstv.ir

 Press TV news presenter Marzieh Hashemi (file photo)

Seven online petitions have been launched on the petition website Change.org to secure the release of Press TV news presenter Marzieh Hashemi, who has been imprisoned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Police (FBI) on unspecified charges.

In two of the petition to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, the website said it has been informed of Hashemi's arrest and imprisonment in Washington DC without any clear reasons and formal charges.

It added that Ms. Hashemi, who was born in the United States, is an American citizen, who has not been found guilty of any crimes.

An American law expert tells Press TV that the imprisonment of its news presenter, Marzieh Hashemi, on unspecified charges runs contrary to the US Constitution, which forbids “unreasonable” seizures.
In another petition to the United Nations, the website said the "cowardly abduction" of the prominent journalist by the US President Donald Trump's regime is part of its "obsession with Iran."

"Trump and gang want the resistance axis to recognize the existence of the illegal and illegitimate Zionist regime occupying Palestine. The Trump gang is ignorant of the fact that the Political Earthquake that happened in Iran in 1979 is today bigger than Iran," said Saif Ali Budgami who started this petition.

Other petitions are also been sent to a number of American and international bodies and officials demanding Hashemi's immediate release.

Iran's FM says the US should end its 'political game' release Press TV's detained news anchor.
Ms. Hashemi was taken into custody on Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri, where she had filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also on Friday expressed its "serious concern" over Hashemi's detention.

The federation wrote in a Twitter post on Friday that the United States must give clarifications about the situation of the anchor of the English-language channel Press TV.
Zimbabwe President Arrives in Azerbaijan
Herald

President Mnangagwa has arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, where is he is scheduled to hold talks with that country’s leader, President Ilham Aliyev. President Mnangagwa was received at Heydar Aliyev International Airport by Azerbaijan’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Yaqub Eyyubov.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces yesterday concluded a State visit to Belarus, which followed another one in Russia where he met President Vladimir Putin.

Zimbabwe and Azerbaijan established diplomatic relations about 11 years ago, but in that period there have not been any bilateral political or economic changes.

Since President Mnangagwa’s ascension in November 2017, things have started to change.
Late last year, Azerbaijan started providing scholarships to Zimbabweans at undergraduate/graduate/doctoral level and for medicine/residency.

Now, the countries want to go even further, and it is understood that Azerbaijan would like to sign memoranda of understanding with President Mnangagwa’s Government in tax administration affairs, and promotion and reciprocal protection of investments.

Baku is also looking at co-operation in the fields of mining, energy and tourism. Harare, on its part, is looking at interesting Baku in investing in polished granite goods and finished tobacco products.
Earlier in the week in an interview with Russia’s Tass news agency, President Mnangagwa said when President Aliyev invited him to Azerbaijan, the latter indicated he wanted to directly discuss agriculture and oil with him.

“I have never been there (to Azerbaijan) before but these are the areas that he indicated in his invitation, that he would want to develop relationships in those areas.

“They are currently drafting memorandums of understanding in those areas, and we will finalise when we arrive there,” President Mnangagwa said.

From Azerbaijan, President Mnangagwa rounds off his four-nation Eurasian tour in Kazakhstan, where he is expected to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries during talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Zimbabwe Protests Weren’t About Fuel Prices: Broader Political Plot Exposed
19 JAN, 2019 - 00:01

A motorist weaves his way past rocks that had been used by MDC rioters to block the road in Harare on Monday

Herald Reporter

The MDC-Alliance instigated violent protests witnessed early this week had nothing to do with an increase in the price of fuel or high cost of living among Zimbabweans, but part of the broader attempt at effecting illegal regime change, analysts said yesterday.

The timing of the protests, targeting of police stations for attacks, inflating of the number of victims by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and petitions to the international community, among other shenanigans by those who initiated the demonstrations, all point to a poorly-concealed political agenda oiled by the country’s traditional foes.

“The fuel issue was only manipulated as a trigger to long-standing efforts to internationalise domestic politics in Zimbabwe in a manner skewed in favour of the MDC-Alliance,” said political analyst, Mr Goodwine Mureriwa.

He said MDC-Alliance was trying to reinforce a false argument that the post-election outcome produced an illegitimate Zanu-PF Government.

He questioned why, if President Mnangagwa’s economic policies were not working, he was not being given the chance to fail instead of engaging in disruptive behaviour.

Mr Mureriwa also said the timing of the demonstrations and their violent nature were meant to influence the European Union (EU) to maintain illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

He said it was also aimed at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to impose illegal sanctions on the country.

“This explains why the so-called Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights is inflating the number of those injured to create a pretext for intervention on humanitarian grounds. They want to create a pretext for abuse of human rights, violation of the rule of law and to paint the whole politics of Zimbabwe as undemocratic,” added Mr Mureriwa.

He said this also explained why the demonstrators deliberately targeted police stations for attack.

“They targeted police stations for attack so as to provoke a firm response by the police that could lead to many casualties. Their objective will not be achieved without dead bodies and to strengthen their resolve, they also had to bomb their own offices (Harvest House) to portray Zanu-PF as a doctor of violence, violence which they instigated,” said Mr Mureriwa.

Another analyst who refused to be named said the violent protests were also “to throw spanners in President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement efforts for Zimbabwe to remain a pariah State”.

He said geopolitically, there were countries which were not happy about the close ties President Mnangagwa was forging with Eurasia due to the lukewarm attitude of the West despite all his reform efforts.

President Mnangagwa is in Eastern Europe on an engagement drive that will also see him in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

Another political analysts, Mr Gabriel Chaibva, applauded the security forces for exercising the  highest standards of self-restraint in the face of provocation by opposition forces “itching for dead bodies” so as to create a human rights situation in Zimbabwe and the resultant international consequences.

“There is nothing as provocative as trying to get a gun from a soldier or attacking a police station. They were hoping for many dead bodies that would justify their outcry about human rights violations. Let us forget their lie that the protests were about economics. There is a broader political agenda to overthrow Government through unconstitutional means,” said Mr Chaibva.

Mr Chaibva, a former MDC official, said this had always been the opposition party’s agenda.

“It is the continuation of the MDC-Alliance agenda of August 1, 2018 of trying to make the country ungovernable. The MDC-Alliance are in pursuit of a foreign agenda which started in 2001 – the regime change agenda and the imposition of illegal economic sanctions. It explains the timing of the disturbances when the President is in Eastern Europe and soon in Switzerland. The EU is meeting soon to review economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. They must therefore find an excuse for extension of the sanctions, citing alleged deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. It also explains why they are anxious to petition that the President should not attend the Davos summit,” said Mr Chaibva.

He added: “Let us not be under any illusion that the regime change protagonists are at rest. They are expanding their efforts.”

Mr Richard Mahomva said the MDC-Alliance and its partners were hiding behind the new fuel price to cause chaos.

“The violent response to what was an inevitable policy position on the fuel price was a concerted agenda to perpetuate the legacy of 1 August. It is the same old approach of manipulating gullible public emotional outrage to stage a war with ZANU-PF. The underpinning matter here is not the fuel price rise; it is about finding an opportunity to give traction to the ZANU-PF illegitimacy crusade post the 2018 elections,” said Mr Mahomva.

“As one would note, the shutdown plan only excelled in urban opposition hotspots, hence the outcry on the internet jam. From the outset, there was no constructive mechanism to engage a policy alternative and one notes that this is part of the long promised measure by the opposition to make the country ungovernable. Of note is the opposition’s hidden hand in the recent plunder just as was the case in August,” he said.

The Herald is reliably informed that the protests were funded to the tune of US$2 million by a foreign power and were supposed to leave at least 200 people dead.

This, it was planned, would then see the UN Security Council intervening on humanitarian grounds.
Nairobi Attack Ends After 20-hour Siege
AFP
2019/1/16 20:03:41

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday that Islamists who stormed an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, killing 14 people, had been "eliminated" after an almost 20-hour siege in which hundreds of civilians were rescued.

At least one suicide bomber blew himself up and gunmen engaged security forces in numerous shootouts during the assault on the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and office buildings.

The attack was claimed by the Al Qaeda-linked Somali group Al-Shabaab, which has repeatedly targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the jihadist group.

The sight of armed Islamists and terrified civilians fleeing reminded Kenyans of a 2013 Shabaab attack on the Westgate mall left 67 dead in a siege that stretched out over four days and led to sharp criticism of the security response.

In a televised address, Kenyatta said some 700 civilians had been evacuated throughout the attack at DusitD2, with the swift and effective work from security forces drawing widespread praise in local media. "I can confirm that... the security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated," Kenyatta said in a televised address.

"As of this moment, we have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost to the... terrorists, with others injured."

Police sources and a mortuary official had previously reported 15 dead.

It was not immediately clear how many attackers there were in total.

CCTV footage broadcast on local media showed four black-clad, heavily armed men entering the complex on Tuesday afternoon. At least one of them blew himself up at the start of the attack.

A police source said two attackers had been shot dead Wednesday morning ­after a prolonged shootout.

The attack began at about 3 pm on Tuesday, with a loud blast followed by gunfire and rapid calls for help spreading on Twitter.

Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said the attack began with an explosion targeting three cars in the parking lot and a suicide bombing in the foyer of the Dusit hotel.

Among the dead was an American citizen, a State Department official said.

A mortuary official said there were also 11 Kenyan victims, a British victim, one with no papers as well as an unidentified torso of a male adult.
China-Africa Relations Continue to Develop Supported by Investment Into the Continent
By Song Wei
Global Times
2019/1/16 18:43:40

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid an official visit to Ethiopia, the African Union Headquarters, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal from January 2 to 6, which was his first diplomatic trip of 2019. As a diplomatic tradition, the Chinese foreign minister has visited Africa first each year, for the past 29 consecutive years. The continuing China-Africa cooperation is not just meant to deepen their traditional friendship, but is also needed to support the economic development in the African continent.

With the accelerating economic development, industrialization and urbanization in Africa, funds have been continually injected into various African countries. At present, China is the largest investor in the continent, with its investment covering many development areas. For this reason, during the 29th Summit of the African Union (AU) held in 2017, several senior AU officials said that the connection between AU's "2063 Agenda" and the "Belt and Road" (B&R) initiative should be strengthened. Subsequently,  37 African countries and the AU signed the B&R cooperation documents with China, which agreed to take the opportunity of B&R to deepen the cooperation and assist in supporting developmental demands of the region. In terms of policy communication, through the continuous high-level exchanges between China and Africa, China's development experience has gradually been accepted and adopted by many African countries.

According to a recent report released by African polling organization Afrobarometer, nearly two-thirds of the respondents surveyed thought China's influence in Africa is quite or very positive. With regards to infrastructure connectivity, in 2017, the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway commenced operations, which effectively promoted the integration process in East Africa. In addition, China is steadily pushing forward with the power connectivity project in East Africa, the power transmission channel project in Central Africa and the cross-border hydropower project in West Africa.

Meanwhile, thanks to the mutually agreeable bilateral trading relationships, China-Africa trade experienced rapid growth, jumping from $10.8 billion in 2001 to $169.75 billion in 2017. The bilateral trade even reached $222 billion in 2014.

Moreover, China has also offered substantial assistance and investment to Africa. According to EY's Attractiveness Program Africa report in 2017, since 2005, China has invested in 293 foreign direct investment projects in Africa, totaling $66.4 billion and creating more than 130,000 jobs.

The China-Africa development cooperation has won wide recognition among African countries. Due to the different national conditions and demands in different African countries, China always combines the needs of the various countries with its capabilities to design a differentiated development cooperation program so as to allocate aid, investment and trade resources in a rational and mutually agreeable manner. Such a development cooperation model with Chinese characteristics has won widespread support from the African people.

Over the past few decades, China has helped Africa build more than 10,000 kilometers of highways, more than 6,000 kilometers of railways and hundreds of airports, ports and power stations, with the construction of numerous hospitals and schools across the continent also aided by China. China has also helped train hundreds of thousands of professionals for various sectors through the human resource development projects.

In addition, the success of China-Africa development cooperation has also drawn attention of the international community to Africa. After the Cold War, the African issues were once again gradually marginalized by the West. It is the continuous expansion of China-Africa development cooperation that has attracted Western attention recently. The reason why Western countries have focused on African affairs in recent years is mainly due to their concerns about "China competition" in the African continent.

China-Africa cooperation is both a historical choice and the requirement of the times, which is not one-sided but a win-win cooperation. Not only does Africa need China, but China also needs Africa. Although the West may not be happy to see China "entering Africa," some major Western powers even see a sharp increase in Chinese activities and the rising Chinese presence of Chinese influence in Africa as a challenge to their interests.

Nevertheless, in the face of the deliberate smearing of China-Africa cooperation, African governments and people disregard such discord and unswervingly adhere to the friendly policy toward China. This is actually the best defense and interpretation of "building a China-Africa community with a shared future."

The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn
Chinese University Lecturer Makes it Fun to Solve Real-world Questions with Marxism
By Li Lei
Global Times
2019/1/17 17:08:40

Professor Huang Lingjun, dean of the School of Marxism of HUST, introduces the course during the first In-depth China class. Photo: Courtesy of HUST

When a group of engineering students voted on a teacher to deliver their last class before graduation, to everyone's surprise, a political education lecturer was elected in a landslide.

Yan Shuai is one of 13 lecturers for In-depth China, a popular public elective political course from the School of Marxism of Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province.

The class soon became the most popular course at the university after it was first offered in March 2018. "We have seen 1,600 students sign up for 200 seats," Yan told the Global Times.

Chinese college students have long been bored by the traditional way of teaching political classes.

"Many knowledge points are introduced in a page or even a sentence in the book, but it's hard to clarify the relationship between these points and current affairs in a sentence or two," Yan told the Global Times.

"I found that students are very interested in what is happening in China, but they are bothered by the lack of a systematic and professional introduction to these events," said Yan.

What did the class do to attract so many students?

Fresh teaching methods

Many topics are discussed in the In-depth China class.

In response to a question related to human rights, Yan illustrated his answer through a story about a bachelor who asked the local government to find him a wife.

A bachelor blamed the government for his single status, because the government failed to vitalize the local economy, and young women had no choice but to work in big cities. "The logic of the bachelor is hilarious, but the local government eventually helped him to develop his own career and solve his life and marital problems," Yan said in the class.

"The case shows that the Chinese government has its own way of helping people live better lives, which is different from what US authorities usually do, but we do solve problems," Yan said.

At least three teachers from different disciplines were invited to every class to help teach the  class through a debate.

"Many questions have more than one answer, and different perspectives may lead to different conclusions," Yan explained to the Global Times. "We hope lecturers from different disciplines can provide new insights to students from the perspective of their own expertise, and students can learn new methodologies to solve problems in the future."

"It (In-depth China) opens a window for us, and inspires us to think about and pay attention to various hot social issues," said Ma Fuwei, a junior at the School of Electronic Information and Communications of HUST.

"Actually, engineering students are interested in State affairs and the development status quo of our country, because they are closely related to us and our families," said Li Jiangshuai, a senior at HUST.

In order to give students a vivid vision of China's current affairs, the class also invited reporters, government officials, organizers of poverty-alleviation programs and villagers to participate.

New technology

Yan told the Global Times that a survey was conducted before the start of the class to make In-depth China more attractive to the younger generation.

Some innovations were made to appeal to the college students of today. Internet and mobile teaching methods have been used in class to keep the attention of these "digital natives." Teachermate, a real-time class interaction platform and "Vdanmu," an application that allows students to send "bullet screens" during class, help students participate. "Bullet screen" or "danmu" in Chinese  allows real-time comments from viewers to fly across the screen.

"Students are allowed to use these tools up to three times and for less than 10 minutes each time in a class, which is fine," said Chen Xunwei, a teacher at HUST.

The course also has a WeChat official account and a chat group. The account releases information about upcoming classes and publishes highlights from past classes, and the group allows students to ask questions at any time.

Yan uses a mobile application to create a lottery system to call on students for questions. Bullet screens and online voting apps are also useful tools for Yan.

At the end of the semester, students finish their class with a dissertation themed "I have a suggestion for my country."

The class has received 400 dissertations and many positive reviews  from the students.

"I was surprised by the insightful opinions in these dissertations," said Huang Lingjun, dean of the School of Marxism of HUST.

After attending a class on China's poverty alleviation, a student said, "Since I have been living in the city, I was confused about why China still calls itself a 'developing country.' After learning the importance of poverty alleviation, I know that our country is right and honest in finding its position, which inspires me to study harder and make an effort to achieve the Chinese dream."