Sunday, January 26, 2020

Angola Businesswoman Denies Allegations of Illegal Money Transfers
Prosecutors say they will use 'all possible' means to force return of businesswoman and daughter of ex-president.

21 Jan 2020

Authorities in Angola have said they will use "all possible" means to bring back Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of the country's former president, after thousands of leaked documents revealed new allegations she siphoned off hundreds of millions in public money.

Dubbed Africa's richest woman, dos Santos is accused of using her father's backing to plunder state funds from the oil-rich but impoverished southern African country and - with the help of Western consulting firms - move the money offshore.

She stopped living in Angola after her father Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the country for nearly 40 years, stepped down in 2017 and was replaced by Joao Lourenco.

The 46-year-old dos Santos, who spends her time between London and Dubai, has rejected the allegations made against her as "completely unfounded".

Speaking on public radio on Monday, Helder Pitra Gros, Angola's prosecutor general, said: "We will use all possible means and activate international mechanisms to bring Isabel dos Santos back to the country."

He added: "We have asked for international support from Portugal, Dubai and other countries."

The remarks came after a trove of hundreds of thousands of files, dubbed the "Luanda Leaks", on Sunday showed how the eldest daughter of the former president allegedly moved the vast sums into overseas assets.

The award-winning New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which was behind the release, alleged the international system has allowed powerful individuals like her to move assets around the world, without questions.

"Based on a trove of more than 715,000 files, our investigation highlights a broken international regulatory system that allows professional services firms to serve the powerful with almost no questions asked," the ICIJ wrote.

The group said its team of 120 reporters in 20 countries was able to trace "how an army of Western financial firms, lawyers, accountants, government officials and management companies helped [dos Santos and her husband] hide assets from tax authorities".

Dos Santos took to Twitter to deny the claims, launching a salvo of about 30 tweets in Portuguese and English, accusing journalists involved in the investigation of telling "lies".

"My fortune is built on my character, my intelligence, education, capacity for work, perseverance," she wrote.

Dos Santos was named Africa's first female billionaire in 2013 by Forbes, which estimates her current wealth at more than $2bn.

Her lawyer dismissed the ICIJ findings as a "highly coordinated attack" orchestrated by Angola's current rulers, in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper.

Dos Santos herself told BBC Africa the file dump was part of a "witch-hunt" meant to discredit her and her father.

She was appointed to run Angola's national oil company Sonangol in 2016, but was removed from the job by Lourenco the following year.

"Red flags really went up when she was appointed head of the state oil company at a time when her father still had significant influence," said Daniel Bruce, who heads the UK branch of anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International.

"You could see there were major conflicts of interest starting to emerge," he added.

Dos Santos is already being investigated as part of an anti-corruption campaign launched by Lourenco, who has pledged to root out corruption.

Prosecutors last month froze bank accounts and holdings owned by the businesswoman and her Congolese-Danish husband Sindika Dokolo, a move dos Santos described as motivated by a groundless political vendetta.

Angola Has Charged Africa’s Richest Woman With Embezzlement and Money Laundering
Chidinma Irene Nwoye
January 24, 2020

State prosecutors in Angola have indicted Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of Angola’s former president, on fraud-related charges for mismanaging and embezzling funds during her 18-month stint as chair of the state’s oil firm, Sonangol.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Angola’s attorney general, Helder Pitta Gros, said the state was formally charging dos Santos in the criminal lawsuit with “money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management…forgery of documents, among other economic crimes.” The government is now trying to recover $1.1 billion from dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo.

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The indictment comes only days after the Luanda Leaks investigation, led by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists and the Paris-based Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa along with 36 media houses including Quartz, revealed how dos Santos and Dokolo siphoned public funds from Angola to tax havens abroad.

But the pair didn’t act alone. The leaks, which comprised of over 700,000 confidential financial and business records, also uncovered a sprawling network of notable Western bankers, lawyers, accountants and consultants, including PwC and Boston Consulting Group, whose services helped dos Santos to amass and conceal her fortune, now estimated by Forbes at $2.1 billion.

On the same day the charges were publicly announced, a Portuguese banker implicated in the corruption case, Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, was found dead at his house in Lisbon. Da Cunha was head of private banking at EuroBic, the Portuguese bank where dos Santos was a main shareholder; (the bank ended its relationship with dos Santos on Monday). He also managed Sonangol’s account at the bank. Da Cunha died in the wake of the Bank of Portugal’s investigation into Eurobic’s procedures against money laundering.

While several investigations have attributed the roots of dos Santos’s fortune to strategic deals her father, José Eduardo, made during his 38-year presidency, the billionaire has maintained she is a self-made entrepreneur. She has repeatedly denied the state’s allegations against her, insisting she has “always operated within the law” and all her “commercial transactions have been approved by lawyers, banks, auditors and regulators.”

In addition to the denials, dos Santos recently signed two contracts worth $2.2 million over a year with Sonoran Policy Group, a DC-based lobbying firm with close ties to the Trump administration, and infamous for representing dubious clients, including arms dealers.

Firms affiliated with dos Santos are reeling from the aftermath of the Luanda Leaks. Portugal’s market regulator, the Portuguese Securities Market Commission, has launched open inquiries into the two companies where dos Santos holds stakes, oil company Galp Energia and telecommunications firm, NOS. The head of PwC’s tax advisory team for Angola and Portugal, Jaime Esteves, stepped down.

Dos Santos currently lives abroad and Angola’s Attorney General Pitta Gros has vowed to use “all possible means” to bring her back to the country to face justice, including enlisting the help of Interpol.

Angola—a country ranked 149 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index—rose seven points in Transparency International’s recently released 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index and was tagged a “significant improver” owing to current president Joao Lourenço’s intent to crackdown on corruption. Last month the state recovered more than $5 billion in stolen assets.
Southern Times
Jan 24, 2020
Sinikiwe Marodza

Harare - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique are the only two countries generating and producing surplus power to trade with other countries in Southern Africa, Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) co-ordination centre manager Steven Dihwa has revealed.

After going through a severe drought in 2018/19 that left Kariba Dam and other hydro-electricity power sources with insufficient water to generate electricity, most countries in the SADC region are struggling to generate electricity that meets their specific demands.

According to a report from the SAPP co-ordination centre, ever since the Zambezi River Authority’s (ZRA) move to reduce water supply for Zimbabwe and Zambia’s hydro-electricity generation from the Kariba Dam last year, power generation and supply within the region has been down, since Mozambique was the only country meeting the demand in their country and trading surplus with other countries.

The demand on Mozambique’s surplus has, however, been high since most countries were depending on the surplus from Mozambique, leaving SAPP with no option than looking at another SADC country with a capacity to trade with others, hence the coming in of DRC.

“The demand on Mozambique’s surplus was high, and so we had to look for an alternative, that is when we realised DRC is doing well in terms of power generation,” Dihwa said.

He said the DRC, through its vast power generation sources namely fossil fuels, water power and renewable energy, has been managing to produce enough electricity and surplus but they were not trading with other countries in the SADC region due to lack of knowledge.

“DRC was not trading with other SADC countries and we recently had some workshops with them. We gave them a few lessons and now they have started trading with countries from within the SADC region.

“Unfortunately, the way our market operates is different from how other markets operate, so we cannot tell which countries are trading with DRC. What happens is, they just bring their surplus to our bid basket, and those who are willing to buy, buy and that’s it.

“DRC is doing well in terms of power generation, their fossil, nuclear, water and even renewable energy sources are doing very well,” he said.

However, power generation in Zimbabwe and Zambia could soon change a bit as there are some reports indicating that water levels at Kariba Dam are rising.

The ZRA last week noted an increase in the water flow at Kariba’s major water flow stations, Victoria Falls, Ngonye, Chavuma and Nana’s farm, and that could bring hope for hydro power stations that depend on the dam.

The SAPP co-ordination centre manager, however, said the fact that an increase in water flow was noted was not enough to give hope for improved hydro power generation in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

According to SAPP, it only when the ZRA issues a report indicating a rise in water in Kariba or when the water allocated for hydro electricity generation is increased that  people should celebrated.

“Yes, there are some reports saying that water levels at the Kariba Dam are rising, but as long as there is no official report from the Zambezi River Authority there is nothing much to celebrate about.

“We still need to hear from the Zambezi River Authority, so far what is official is the fact that an increase in the water flow at Kariba’s major water flow stations was noted and that is one positive step to what we want to hear exactly,” Dihwa said.
Four Killed in Mozambique Health Center Assault: Witnesses
2020-01-22 23:05

Four people were killed in central Mozambique after assailants targeted a health centre, witnesses said Wednesday, the first attack since President Filipe Nyusi began his second term last week.

Mozambique's government has blamed factions of the former guerilla group and opposition movement Renamo for attacks in the centre of the country in violation of last year's peace deal.

Attackers hit the health centre in a village in central Sofala province on Tuesday night, where they "fired several shots and entered the health centre and stole all the medicines," a local nurse told AFP.

"The people who died were at the health centre and were hit by stray bullets," she said.

Mozambique's recent unrest began after October's disputed election won by Nyusi and following a peace deal between his ruling Frelimo party and Renamo.

Frelimo and Renamo, whose 1976-92 civil war left one million dead in the former Portuguese colony, agreed to the deal in August under which Renamo has promised to disarm its fighters.

Tuesday's attack was the first on a health centre as armed groups have previously targeted vehicles passing along a central highway.

"We suspect they wanted medicines as they didn't target homes but only the health centre in Macorococho village, in Nhamatanda district," a local community leader said.


Maria Maunze, a resident of the village, told AFP that the attackers emerged from the bush, and started shooting into the air to disperse the population.

"I left the pots on the fire and ran away. But they wanted the medicines at the health centre," Maunze said.

The attack, which occurred in the area where a police vehicle was recently attacked and a police officer murdered, has not yet been claimed by any group.

But villagers and local officials blamed a Renamo military faction, which has dismissed the accusations.

"They are the ones who have been attacking in the region," Mario Zeca, local leader of the ruling Frelimo party, told AFP. "The government must agree with Renamo to end the attacks."

Police declined to comment on the attack, saying investigations were still under way.

Mozambique's Minister of Defence, Jaime Neto, told AFP the military was "working hard" to restore tranquility in these regions.

In addition to the ambushes in the centre of the country, northern Mozambique is in the grip of a two-year-old Islamist insurgency that has claimed several hundred lives.
Credit Suisse Says Mozambique Liable for $622 Million Loan at Heart of Bribery Scandal
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) has hit back against Mozambique in a case in Britain’s High Court, arguing a government guarantee for a $622 million loan - part of a $2 billion debt scandal - is valid and that it is entitled to claim damages.

Mozambique sued the investment bank last year, alongside a number of other defendants, in a bid to cancel the guarantee and seek compensation for losses related to the debt saga, which tipped its economy into crisis.

Credit Suisse rejected Mozambique’s arguments in its defense papers and submitted a counter claim, dated Jan. 21, requesting the court declare the guarantee binding and arguing it is entitled to seek interest and damages, namely the money it says it is owed.

“The claims against CSI and CSLB are denied in their entirety,” the papers said, referring to Credit Suisse International and its London branch. “CSI and CSLB are not liable to pay any damages, compensation or indemnity.”

Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB (VTBR.MM) bank provided or helped arrange financing, granted in 2013 and 2014, for a project spanning tuna fishing, maritime security and shipyard development, which U.S. authorities now say was an elaborate front for a bribery and kickback scheme. Hundreds of millions of dollars went missing.

Mozambique is trying to claim hefty sums that the country has paid or still owes under the agreements, which also included an $850 million eurobond, now restructured, and a $535 million loan from VTB (VTBR.MM), as well as compensation for economic losses.

A series of court cases spanning three continents has ensnared three former Credit Suisse bankers, Mozambique’s former finance minister and its former president’s son. However, Mozambique’s action against Credit Suisse is the only one to target the bank itself.

The country says Credit Suisse employees, and therefore the bank, knew that large bribes were being paid and that guarantees for the loans exceeded limits set out in law, or were wilfully blind to it.

Mozambique’s Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

VTB earlier this month lodged its own lawsuit in Britain’s High Court suing a Mozambique state-owned company over the $535 million loan.

All of the lending for the project was guaranteed by Mozambique’s government, though some of it was not disclosed. The International Monetary Fund and other donors cut off support to Mozambique when the additional borrowing came to light in 2016, triggering a currency collapse and debt default it is yet to fully recover from.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
Debate Lingers Over National Flag Use
New Era

WINDHOEK – Constitutional Law expert Professor Nico Horn feels there is a need for more interpretation on the National Symbols Act of 2018, which also states the usage of national flags.

This follows a directive from Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa who asked police chief Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga to ensure the 2018 law on national symbols is adhered to. 
The directive is specifically directed on the use of the Namibian national flag by political parties, entities, and candidates for political purposes. 

However, Horn believes it would have assisted the nation if Simataa in his letter to the police chief had explained a little more on how broad the article should be interpreted.

“Some sport fans are afraid that handing out miniature flags to primary school children to wave during an Independence Day celebration may be a criminal offence. Or fans who wave small Namibian flags during an international football, hockey or rugby match may find themselves in court the Monday after the match,” Horn observed.

However, he noted sub-article 6.6 of the National Symbols Act seems to refer to the use of the national flag to further the economic interests of private individuals. Hence, he argued, waving a small flag by children or sports fans is not meant to further any private or economic interests.

“Neither is it done to deceive observers. No one will presume that a group of fans waving flags at sport matches or celebrating independence represent some economic interest,” Horn indicated. Approached for comment, Ndeitunga feels if there is a law that protects the national symbols and how it should be utilised, where and when, all citizens should respect those provisions of the law.

“I am not too sure if the law is crystal clear in most of the issues, but the national flag is the umbrella of all citizens of this country - independently of their political inclination. The national symbols are the symbol of the state and they are not supposed to be utilised to identify a specific political grouping. They are supposed to be used as a unifying symbol of all citizens of the country,” Ndeitunga argued.

He, however, said the law seems to be silent on the use of the national flag. He called for more consultation and debates to ensure there is no ambiguity in the effort of addressing the issue. “This is a symbol for all of us. All Namibian patriots identify with national symbols and the coat of arms. One should not try to own it if you belong to a certain political candidate and political party. The flag should embrace everyone. If you own it, then you are inhibiting other citizens from owning it,” Ndeitunga explained. 

He said they are still trying to follow the avenue of consultation and striving to find an amicable solution accepted by all citizens to ensure that all symbols are used for what they are meant for. Meanwhile, minister of information Stanley Simataa said the national flag is a symbol for unity and should not be used to gain political exposure, political leaders and their supporters have been using their own flags, which identifies them by their party affiliation.

“The law is very clear. The national flag can be used at national events such as sport, but not for political engagements,” Simataa reacted. 
Itula Warned Against Politicizing National Flag 
New Era

WINDHOEK - Dr Panduleni Itula, who last year contested the presidency as an independent candidate, has been warned against using the national flag for political purposes.

Namibian Police Deputy Inspector General for Operations Major-General Oscar Embubulu told New Era yesterday that Itula was informed about the use of the national flag last Friday.

This follows a directive from Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa who asked police chief Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga to ensure the law on national symbols of 2018 is adhered to.
The directive is specifically directed on the use of the Namibian national flag by political parties, entities and candidates for political purposes.

According to Embubulu, Khomas regional commander, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, relayed the message to Itula after the court challenge hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday.
Embubulu also said all offices, ministries, and agencies have been furnished with the directive from Simataa on the use of the national flag by political parties, entities and candidates for political purposes.

Itula and his supporters have been using the national flag for their campaigns since last year. According to Simataa, the National symbols of the Republic of Namibia Act of 2018 is clear on the usage of the national flag. He said Section 6 of the said Act outlines the use and display of the national symbols, including the national flag.

Amongst others, he explained the national flag is used only at national events, including sports and at national institutions and cannot be used by individual persons and or political purposes. “Therefore, it is imperative for the institutions of the state, including the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the Act is fully implemented,” Simataa directed. The National symbols of the Republic of Namibia Act of 2018 reads: “A person may not, without the prior written approval by the President or a person designated by the President for such purpose, use or display a national symbol or any depiction so closely resembling a national symbol, in manner likely to cause confusion in connection with any trade, business, profession or occupation or in connection with any mark or description applied by him or her or in relation to, goods made, produced or sold by such person.” In November last year, information minister Stanley Simataa also pleaded with Namibians to stop using the national flag for political campaign activities. He maintained that this had the potential to cause confusion in terms of the nobility of the national flag as a representative national and unifying symbol for all Namibians. Attempts to reach Itula proved futile yesterday as his phone went unanswered. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Poll Re-run May Cause Chaos - Mokhare … Applicants Question Selective Promulgation of Act
New Era

WINDHOEK - If the Supreme Court nullifies the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, it may cause untold chaos in the country.

This was one of the arguments of William Mokhare, the senior counsel representing the respondents, including the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) in the unfolding election court challenge. Mokhare is representing the minister of urban and rural development, the attorney general, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and its chairperson in a legal battle over the legality of using Electronic Voter Machines (EVMs) without a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during last year’s general election. 

Mokhare argued that the nullification of the 2019 election results would also affect the legitimacy of the 2014 presidential election in which EVMs were also used without a VVPAT.

“The court is also entitled to make an order that the declaration of invalidity will operate prospectively and not retrospectively, otherwise it will cause untold chaos in the administration of justice and the state,” said Mokhare. In addition, Mokhare said that a fresh re-run of the elections would have major financial implications. Independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula and four other candidates who contested the presidency last year, approached the Supreme Court on an urgent basis, asking the court to declare that the selective promulgation of parts of section 97 of the Act is unconstitutional; that the outcome of the 2019 presidential election is invalid; and an order directing the ECN to conduct a fresh election in compliance with the constitution and the law within a reasonable time to be prescribed by the court. During oral arguments, the applicants’ senior counsel Jeremy Gauntlett argued that the minister of urban and rural development did not have the powers to decide that the part of the Electoral Act requiring a verifiable paper trial for electronic voting machines should not be implemented with the rest of the Act in 2014.

Thus, the selective promulgation was invalid. “Hence one sub-provision cannot be put into operation or applied without complying with the condition imposed by the subsequent sub-provisions. Parliament’s permission to use EVMs depends on the conditions contained in and hence requires the pari passu promulgation of sub-sections (3) and (4),” explained Gauntlett. Gauntlett further argued that despite the importance attached to the paper trail by the ECN and legislature, the EVMs used during the 2019 presidential elections did not produce a paper trail. Hence the use of EVMs themselves was inconsistent with the Act, and accordingly also unconstitutional. The 2014 Electoral Act allows the use of electronic voting machines in elections, but specifically states it is subject to the existence of a VVPAT for each vote cast. “The 2019 presidential elections were not conducted in accordance with the principles and procedures as determined by the Act of Parliament. Nor was there any compliance with article 28(4) of the Constitution, which requires that the procedures to be followed for all matters necessary and incidental to ensure the free, fair and effective election of a President shall be determined by the Act of Parliament,” argued Gauntlett. In the midst of it all, Chief Justice Peter Shivute noted that parliament ordained that EVMs may be used, subject to a paper trail for votes. The decision not to implement the part of the law on a paper trail effectively undid what parliament decided, Shivute noted. Ad-hoc judge of appeal Bess Nkabinde was in agreement with Justice Shivute stating that parliament speaks for the people, including the president signing the legislation into law. She queried whether it could be considered acceptable that someone then decides to implement only parts of the law.  “It seems the separation of power has been breached,” said Nkabinde. 

However, Judge Sylvester Mainga said he was apprehensive to run to the conclusion that the minister was wrong when he decided not to bring the Electoral Act’s requirement of a paper trail for EVMs into operation.  Mokhare replied by stating that the court should give an order that would allow the minister the opportunity to rectify the defects in his determination rather than nullifying the election results, which would consequently call for a fresh election.  In addition, the use of EVMs without a paper trail during elections has already been challenged in the High Court, which found that ‘there was nothing unlawful in the bringing into operation of the Electoral Act with the exception of section 97(3)(4), and that the usage of EVMs without paper trail in election does not infringe the right to free, fair and credible election’. Mokhare argued the ECN cannot contravene a provision that has not yet been put into operation, as such provision has not yet become a law. Judgement was reserved in the matter on Friday at least until 6 February 2020.

 Maria Amakali
 2020-01-20 08:14:08
Namibia Government External Debt Up to N$32.4bn
New Era

WINDHOEK - Namibia’s external debt stock rose by 13 percent annually to N$32.4 billion at the end of the second quarter of the 2019/20 financial year, Bank of Namibia governor Ipumbu Shiimi said.

Shiimi said the rise was mainly driven by the N$3 billion disbursement of the second tranche of a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), coupled with exchange rate depreciation against major international currencies.

AfDB in 2018 approved the second tranche budget support loan of N$3 billion for Namibia.
The total loan package consists of N$10 billion, of which N$6 billion is budget support (2017/18 and 2018/19) and N$4 billion for project financing over a five-year period. Government applied for the loan at the beginning of 2017.

According to local economic analyst, Klaus Schade, the country’s level of external debt depends on how the debt was used.

“If the external debt was used for consumption then it is not very good. However, if it was used for infrastructure development, then it is good because of the return on investment,” said Schade. He added an assessment before the infrastructure development would normally indicate the potential return on the investment.

Meanwhile, Shiimi in the BoN’s latest quarterly bulletin said “on a quarterly basis, central government external debt rose by 4.2 percent during the period under review, mainly due to the depreciation of the local currency against mainly the US Dollar”.

As a percentage of GDP, Shiimi said external debt rose both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter by 1.4 percentage points and 0.7 percentage point, respectively, to 16.4 percent.

“External debt service rose by 24.3 percent to N$484 million, during the quarter under review. As a percentage of revenue, external debt service rose slightly to 0.8 percent during the quarter under review from 0.7 percent during the corresponding quarter in the previous fiscal year,” he said.

Shiimi also said in the report the central government’s debt stock rose both on a yearly and quarterly basis during the second quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year.

He said during the same time, government debt stock stood at N$91.4 billion at the end of September 2019, representing yearly and quarterly increases of 13.4 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.
“The yearly and quarterly increases were reflected in both domestic and foreign loans as a result of issuance of both Treasury Bills (TBs) and Internal Registered Stock (IRS), as well as the disbursement of the second tranche of the African Development Bank (AfDB) loan,” he said.

According to him, most of the TBs were allotted to the banking sector, while the IRS were allotted to the non-banking financial institutions.

“Total debt as a percentage of GDP stood at 49.3 percent at the end of September 2019, representing a yearly and quarterly increase of 4.1 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points respectively,” he said, adding that the ratio of debt to GDP remained above the central government debt ceiling of 35 percent of GDP.

On domestic debt, Shiimi said the total domestic debt rose both on a yearly and quarterly basis during the quarter under review, as mirrored in the allotments for TBs and IRS.

He said government’s total domestic debt increased, both yearly and quarterly, by 13.7 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively, to N$59.0 billion at the end of the second quarter of this financial year.
He said the yearly increase was reflected in both the TBs and IRS, which rose by 8.5 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively, during the period under review.

According to him this was attributed to the borrowing requirements to finance the central government budget deficit during the period under review.

Furthermore, he said on a quarterly basis, TBs and IRS rose by 4.0 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

“As a percentage of GDP, domestic debt increased both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter by 2.7 percentage points and 1.2 percentage points, respectively, to 29.8 percent,” said the governor.

 Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
 2020-01-23 07:30:10 
Namibia Remains Top Tourist Destination
New Era

WINDHOEK - Namibia remains a tourist destination of choice for many foreign visitors. Over 1.5 million tourists visited Namibia in 2018, compared to roughly 1.49 million visitors who arrived in the country in 2017, the minister of tourism Pohamba Shifeta announced yesterday.

According to Shifeta, the number of arrivals increased by an impressive 3.2 percent from 2017 to 2018, while tourist figures increased by 3.9 percent during the same period. In 2018, the statistics show that the number of tourist arrivals increased by 3.9 percent to 1 557.279 from 1 499.442 visitors recorded in 2017.

The top countries with the largest number of tourists who visited Namibia in 2018 were Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, Zimbabwe, Botswana, France, United Kingdom, United States and the Netherlands.

Shifeta launched the delayed 2018 tourist statistical report yesterday. He attributed the launch delay to various factors but promised to release the latest report of 2019 by August this year. According to the 2018 report, Namibia’s top ten tourist market is Angola with 489 013 arrivals, followed by South Africa with 299 319, then Zambia that brought in 242 160 visitors, while 124 622 Germans came to the country. 

Furthermore, 60 689 Zimbabweans came to Namibia, with 50 056 visitors coming from Botswana, while 30 576 came from France.

Visitors from the United Kingdom totalled 30 520, while 28 030 were from the USA and 22 898 from the Netherlands.

The tourists came to Namibia for various reasons such as visiting friends or relatives, holiday, business and other purposes. Shifeta noted the growth was mainly driven by the continuous increase of visitors from European source markets.

“The tourism sector has experienced an upward trend since 2012. The rise in international tourists is the lifeline of many African countries including Namibia, as money is injected into the economy. This rise gives a positive indication that the tourism sector will remain thriving for economic growth during this economic crisis as being experienced globally,” he said.

Most tourist arrivals for 2018 were via airlines, with Air Namibia topping the list with 41.1 percent, compared to 37.3 per cent in 2017. Shifeta maintained the increase in the tourist arrivals augurs well for the tourism sector to contribute massively to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and providing job opportunities across its wide value chain.

“What makes our sector unique is its multiplying effects in contributing to the GDP of the economy. Tourism touches every aspect of our society, with its impact felt in rural areas of our country,” Shifeta said.

 Albertina Nakale

Friday, January 24, 2020

Flashpoint on the Nile: Egypt Destabilizes Ethiopia
Aklog Birara (Dr.)
January 21, 2020

A flashpoint in current diplomatic relations in Africa today that can potentially lead to war is Egypt’s continued assertion that it will continue to exercise its hegemony over the Nile.

Historically, Egypt’s relations with Ethiopia has been characterized by mutual mistrust and suspicion. The core policy issue behind this intractable problem is Egypt’s belief that its hegemony over Nile waters is dependent on Ethiopia’s internal ethnic and religious divisions, its continued socioeconomic, technological, national security and defense backwardness; and its adversarial relations with its neighbors, especially Eritrea and the rest of the Horn.

The Islamist regime led by Mohammed Morsi echoed Egyptian anxieties and mistrust of Ethiopia, called on Egyptians to prepare for war against Ethiopia; and vowed to ensure that Egyptian hegemony over the Nile will continue unchallenged.

Egypt’s ultranationalist zeal and warmongering posture towards Ethiopia went against all of the new norms that upstream and downstream African nations were discussing and negotiating under the auspices of multilateral agencies including the UN, the African Union, the World Bank, UNDP and others.

I recall vividly that, at the time, the World Bank had established a special Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) unit at its Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The unit housed volumes of documents and reference materials on the subject. Experts familiar with the subject used to tell me that a new cooperative agreement was in the works. A new paradigm of thinking in in public diplomacy seemed to emerge. Peaceful resolution of conflicts on the Nile seemed possible.

Mohammed Morsi was overthrown and replaced by General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Unlike the fundamentalist and ultranationalist that he replaced, General El-Sisi offered a refreshing and new perspective that took into account fundamental changes that had taken place in the rest of Africa, especially Ethiopia. He called for a new diplomatic relationship with Ethiopia that is “informed by cooperation and love, not hatred and belligerence,” as captured by the Ethiopian Reporter in 2015.

By projecting this statesmanship posture, General El-Sisi seemed to embrace dialogue, discussion and negotiation rather than warmongering and belligerence against Ethiopia. This new spirit of cooperation and mutuality was welcomed by Ethiopia because it differed radically from previous positions Egypt held. It was implicit that El-Sisi had acknowledged Ethiopia’s legitimate rights to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). He also declared that Egypt will henceforth stop supporting proxy wars with the intent of destabilizing Ethiopia.

This new attitude on the part of Egypt was further bolstered by a welcome people to people relations that had begun to strengthen mutual cooperation and reduce mistrust and mutual suspicion. Bilateral agreements on trade and investment were reached.

Whether adversarial or friendly, Ethio-Egyptian relations go back to Pharaonic times. A special feature in this contentious relationship is the tie or link between the Ethiopian and Egyptian Orthodox faiths. Egypt has leveraged this connection to advance its penetration of Ethiopian society and to influence public policy.

In the light of this historical, cultural and religious connection, His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church paid a visit to Egypt and renewed relations between the sister faiths interrupted by the Socialist Military regime before the TPLF/EPRDF took power in 1991.

It is important to note that the interruption was prompted by open Egyptian military, armaments, logistics and intelligence support to secessionist groups including the Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (EPLF), the Tigray People’s Liberator Front (TPLF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromo Liberation (OLF) and other fronts.

For many decades, Egypt and other Arab countries had vowed to dislodge Ethiopia from its red-sea ports. This scheme required Egyptian interventions on multiple fronts including faith.

El-Sisi pronounced that change in relations would serve both Ethiopia and Egypt. The question in my mind is whether this posture is another Egyptian ploy or more fundamental.

In my view, Egypt’s desire to strengthen its relations with Ethiopia on multiple fronts—faith, investment, tourism, trade etch— has much more to do with its determination to apply new and sophisticated surveillance and spying techniques on the ground than the advancement of Ethiopia’s development. Egypt still wants a fragmented, weak and underdeveloped Ethiopia.

In its negotiations with Ethiopia concerning the GERD, Egypt continues to insist on physical site visits by its technical experts and by so-called independent experts that can do its bidding. 

I shall present a compelling argument why Egypt should not be allowed by Ethiopia to conduct direct and close site visits. The GERD is an Ethiopian project. Ethiopia has sovereignty over the project; and not Egypt. Accordingly, site visits by Egypt contravenes Ethiopia’s sovereign rights. Egyptian authorities must respect this right the same way that they expect other counties including Ethiopia to respect their rights to protect the Aswan Dam or the Suez Canal from global scrutiny. Would they let Israel scrutinize these sites? The answer is no.

Turkey has been building dams on the Tigris and Euphrates River. It is an upstream riparian state. Lebanon and Syria are affected by projects Turkey initiates. It is true that both countries suffer from internal conflict; and do not have the means to fight back.

The principle I wish to underscore is this. If an upstream riparian state such as Turkey is free to construct irrigation of eclectic dams on the Tigris-Euphrates River within its own borders, Ethiopia must enjoy the same sovereign rights as Turkey and or any other country on the planet.

Is there a real change of heart? 

I do not believe that Egypt’s government in particular and Egyptian civil society in general has changed with regard to Egypt’s hegemony over Nile waters. The impasse on the GERD illustrates mistrust.

It is vital for readers in general and the global community to appreciate how we got to this stage in the first place. We must weigh Egypt’s outdated position against dramatic changes in Africa.

Agreements on the Nile were reached in the absence of Black Africa. With the exception of Ethiopia that had remained defiant and independent, all of Africa and the Middle East was under colonial control, with the British dominating most of these two regions. International law and agreements governing waterways were dictated by colonial and imperial powers. For practical purposes, the economic interests of riparian states in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Ethiopia did not feature or matter.

The genesis of the problem

In 1929, the Imperial Government of the United Kingdom that ruled Egypt “exchanged notes” with its clientele regime in Egypt with regard to the use of the “Waters of the River Nile for Irrigation Purposes.” The agreement that allowed Egypt to utilize Nile Rivers—the waters come from Ethiopia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa—for Agric based-industry made an erroneous assumption, namely that Sub-Saharan Africa will remain dormant, colonized and disinterested in shaping its future. 

In 1959, the 1929 Notes were beefed up and formalized into an Agreement between the United Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of Sudan. The mediator, facilitator and crafter of the Agreement on the “Full Utilization of the Nile Waters” was the same power that controlled both countries, namely, the UK.

The 1959 Agreement legitimized Egypt’s “historical and natural rights” claim that remained sacrosanct under successive Egyptian governments. Upon achieving its independence from UK colonial rule in 1956, Sudan renegotiated the 1929 “Notes” to make the bilateral agreement more equitable. The 1959 Agreement to which Ethiopia and the rest of Sub-Saharan non-Arab countries were not parties allocated 55.5 Billion Cubic Meters of water to Egypt and 18.5 Billion Cubic Meters of Water to Sudan. This is the position Egypt holds today.

These allocations of Nile Waters to the two-ex-British colonies offered them a legal and legitimate basis to form a united front against Ethiopia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa legitimizing hegemony over Nile waters, with Egypt dictating terms since. 

Independence has value!

It was about the same time that the rest of Sub-Saharan African colonized states were beginning to rebel against colonialism and imperialism. Ethiopia was therefore no longer the lone star of independence in Africa. It had, in fact, paved the way for the rest to claim freedom and independence from colonialism and imperialism. Freedom entails legitimacy and responsibility to act.

Independence meant that each newly independent African state that is a member of upstream nations would begin to assert its sovereign rights over the use of its water resources. Egypt and Sudan allocated Nile Waters to themselves at the exclusion of Ethiopia and the other upstream riparian states. This anomaly had to be redressed either together or alone. This is the position Ethiopia holds.

The uncontested 1959 Agreement of hegemony over the Nile Waters has now become contestable. My argument is this. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), launched in 1999 is a culmination of the contest to redress an unacceptable and unfair anomaly. Before NBI, each state that was never consulted in 1959 had began to map out strategies and to design programs on the utilization of rivers within its own borders with the intent of advancing its own development via irrigation and or power generation.

It is hard to argue why Ethiopia, that has made very little use of its share of the Abbay River and other rivers within its borders cannot complete the GERD and construct other dams and advance its development. My argument is that it must and it can.

International law, new norms and protocols embedded in NBI’s Cooperative Framework Agreements (CFA)are on Ethiopia’s side.

When the NBI was launched in February 1999, Water Ministers of the countries that share the Nile River—Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea participated.

What is the central or primary objective of the NBI?

In summary, the NBI “seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner, share substantial socioeconomic benefits, and promote regional peace and security.” It also “provides an institutional mechanism, a shared vision, and a set of agreed policy guidelines to provide a framework for cooperative action.”

Almost a decade later, NBI Member States signed the non-binding Khartoum Declaration. Signatories identified “clear environment functions for the permanent Nile River Basin Organization. The nascent NBI Secretariat was charged with the responsibilities of “harmonization of environment management policies; data and information exchange; environmental impact assessment; policy, institutional, and legal analysis; and a coordinating role on climate.” It was also empowered to establish a “cooperative framework agreement (CFA)” replacing bilateral treaties and formalizing “the transformation of the Nile Basin Initiative into a permanent Nile River Basin Commission.”

In April 2010, seven of the Nile Basin states agreed to open the CFA for signature. Egypt and Sudan rejected the Commission. Egypt believes that it is not bound by the CFA. It is my considered opinion that the reason for Egypt’s rejection is that a multilateral agreement will undermine Egypt’s leverage and preponderance. This is the reason why I suggested that Egypt’s leadership is insincere and not truthful.

Egypt and its partner Sudan offered their own alternative suggesting instead that all riparian countries issue a “presidential declaration to launch the River Nile Basin Commission while negotiations on the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA)continue.” Negotiations must have an end.

Out of the 9 member and one Observer status NBI countries–Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea (Observer), three of them, namely, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania signed the CFA almost immediately in 2010, with others following suit, except for Egypt and Sudan. Eritrea continues its membership as an Observer.

I suggest that the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework is a new instrument that has effectively made the 1929 and 1959 Agreements null and void. Egypt’s position is thus, weak and indefensible

To its credit, Ethiopia announced and launched the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) a year after it signed the CFA. In terms of international protocol and new norms that govern waterways, Ethiopia’s GERD initiative is justified.

At the time of its launch by Meles I welcomed this $4 billion project that was conceived by Emperor Haile Selassie but not feasible to implement at the time because global conditions did not favor Ethiopia and the rest of Sub-Saharan African riparian countries. The world has changed since. Ethiopia used the change to advance its national development. Ethiopia has more to gain from harnessing its rivers than most other countries.

Among other things, Ethiopia serves as the origin of 90 percent of Nile waters and has a legitimate right not only to finish the GERD for electric power generation; but also, to construct other dams for irrigation. Food security and self-sufficiency is a priority for Ethiopia.

Egypt’s colonial position of “historical and natural rights” over the Abbay River and other tributaries of the Nile is no longer a winning proposition. Despite “warming relations” between Ethiopia and Egypt, the later has not abandoned its position of hegemony.

In my considered opinion, Egypt and its allies are trying to undermine Ethiopia’s development objectives by weaponizing ethnic and religious divisions. The widespread instability, arms trafficking, robbery, lawlessness and rebellion throughout Ethiopia is deliberate and well financed and is designed to dismantle Ethiopia.

What makes Ethiopia vulnerable is the system itself. The ethnic-federal system and administrative structure that the TPLF with support from other ethnic parties and foreign governments imposed on the Ethiopian people has diminished Ethiopian national identity; and has replaced it with ethnic identity.

Ethiopia is now porous, vulnerable and weak. Its intuitions cater more to ethnic and religious elites and less to Ethiopian national identity and developmental goals. Egyptian society shows a unity of purpose with regard to the Nile. Ethiopians are conflicted.

“Amhara, Oromo, Tigre etc. first” is a mantra that diminishes Ethiopian nationalism and solidarity. This is the reason why Ethiopia in 2020 is identified as a “failing or failed state.” Remember the old adage “You reap what you sow.”  The seeds of fracturing and potential dismantlement were sown when the current nationality and language-based constitution was formalized.

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that incorporated secession. It is the only county in Africa that legalized ethnic political formation, with the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) that has now morphed into the Prosperity Party as Ethiopia’s pioneer in the ethnicization of politics.

While the ethnic coalition may have evolved, its roots, political culture, ideology, structure and institutional making are still intact. This setting diminishes Ethiopia’s capacity and resolve to defend its national interests and promote its development goals. Its adversaries, including Egypt take advantage of this internal fracturing and weakness. 

Despite this disadvantage, I suggest strongly that the most reasonable policy option is for Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to agree on an equitable and fair position that serves all countries in the long-term. A developed and prosperous Ethiopia is much more desirable in the Horn of Africa than a conflict-ridden and poor Ethiopia. Fundamentalism and homegrown terrorism spread like a virus; and Egypt can’t be spared from this virus.

Further, Ethiopia won’t remain weak, fragmented and poor. Accordingly, allowing Ethiopia to finish the GERD is a prerequisite for future win-win options. If Egypt refuses to budge, Ethiopia should revert to other options, including constructions of numerous irrigation dams throughout the country. Irrigation dams will, in fact, have serious and adverse impacts on water volume than hydroelectric dams; and will affect Egypt.

Egypt should stop insisting that the filling of the Dam takes over many decades. This position penalizes Ethiopia and reduces the economic benefits that accrue from Ethiopia’s investment. Ethiopia must not be penalized to mitigate Egyptian fears. The current impasse that the United States, the World Bank and others are trying to mediate should not delay the timely completion of the GERD.

I know that the U.S. has more investments in Egypt compared to Ethiopia. However, this temporary phenomenon underestimates Ethiopia’s long-term potential and strategic importance. Further, Ethiopia’s relations with the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with explosive growth potential, cannot be overlooked by Western economies. 

Sponsors of the NBI including the UN and the World Bank are cognizant of the importance of honoring international law and standards in general and respect for cooperative agreements in administering the interests of riparian states.

What do I conclude?

First and foremost, the government of Ethiopia must be firm and unwavering. It must apply diplomatic pressure on Egypt; and must muster the will and resolve to defend Ethiopian national interests.
Ethiopia’s current efforts to strengthen its national security forces, its intelligence services and defense show promise; and must be bolstered even further. These institutions must be totally and unabashedly loyal to Ethiopia and defend its national interests and its sovereignty.
Ethiopian opposition parties must support the GERD project and express anger and resentment against Egypt’s proxy wars and propaganda.
Irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation or ideology and power, Ethiopians must show a unity of purpose with regard to the GERD.
Ethiopians must recognize that Ethiopia’s rapid growth over the past decade is a source of envy and jealousy among its external adversaries including Egypt.
While I worry about uneven distribution of wealth and income and inequitable investment among regions, it is vital for the government of Ethiopia at all levels to restore personal security, peace and stability and the rule of law.
The World Bank’s projection of decline in Ethiopia’s growth rate is real; and this might be a consequence of ongoing insecurity and instability in the country.
Completion of the GERD is therefore, in part a function of proactive diplomacy; but equally a function of Ethiopia’s internal governance and competent leadership.
January 21, 2020
Ethiopian PM Made New Ministerial Appointments, TPLF Reacted Furiously
TPLF issued a statement saying “intentional and coarse” measures targeting its members in Federal and Addis Ababa City Administration level as Ethiopian prime minister announced new ministerial appointments.

January 22, 2020

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced three ministerial appointments on Wednesday.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reported that Getahun Mekuria (Dr.) would replace Dr. Tilaye Gete Ambaye as Minister for Education of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The next role of the latter is undisclosed.

Melaku Alebel, who has been serving as Industry and Investment Bureau Head in the Amhara regional state, is taking over from Fetlework Gebreegziabhier as Minister for Trace and Industry for the federal government.

Fetlework Gebreegziabhier, a former combatant during the years of TPLF armed struggle, is deputy chairperson of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). It is unclear if she will be getting a position in the Federal government, which still has several months until the Federal election.

And Abraham Belay (Dr.) is appointed as Minister for Innovation and Technology. Getahun Mekuria, now named as Minister for Education, held the position before.

TPLF Reaction

The central committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has issued a statement on Wednesday condemning what it called “intentional and coarse” measures targeting its members in the Federal and Addis Ababa City Administrative positions.

The statement did not explicitly mention Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration.

It recounted why and how the organization parted ways with Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which merged sometime in November 2019 to transform itself into a single national party branding with a new brand “Prosperity Party.”

The central committee of TPLF said that it had expressed its stand that it respects the Federal government t and regional state rights and responsibilities.

“At this point, our members who are in the Federal and Addis Ababa City Administrative position are being removed from their post only because they are TPLF leaders and members…This will never be accepted…” said the statement from TPLF Central Committee.

The statement has also warned that there will be consequences for it: “…the body that is taking this illegal measure will take responsibility for the consequence that follows.” The office of the prime minister is the authority that makes cabinet reshuffles.

Addis Ababa City administration is yet to announce reshuffles. However, it is already rumored on social media this week that Takele Uma appointed acting mayor, bringing sweeping changes to the administration, which is said to affect TPLF members.
Ethiopia: Ruling Prosperity Party Accuses Jawar of Inciting Division, Playing Victim
Taye Dendea. Photo : Social Media

By Teshome M. Borago
January 21, 2020

Spokesman of the Ethiopian ruling party, Taye Dendea, accused Oromo politician Jawar Mohammed of staging an incident to play victim in Oromia on Monday.

Taye is a leading official of the former Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the party of current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Since the Prime Minister transformed his ODP to join an all-inclusive Prosperity Party (PP), Jawar Mohammed has fiercely became a vocal opponent. But some of Jawar’s tactics have become controversial, with activists nationwide blaming him for much of the ethnic and religious violence.

“You are inciting hate by dividing people by ethnicity and religion. But then you blame others when the consequences of your divisive words cause violence,” said Mr. Dendea, in a statement he published online in Afan Oromo.

The latest crisis occurred during the Epiphany (Timket) nationwide Orthodox celebrations in Ethiopia. As a sign of tolerance and co-existence in the diverse nation, this week’s Orthodox festivals were peaceful and colorful in most parts of the country, even in the Somali region’s capital city of Jigjiga where Christians are a very small minority.

But in parts of Oromia, where Jawar Mohammed is mobilizing his supporters against Orthodox Christians who display the Ethiopian flag during the festival, sporadic riots and violence marred the religious celebrations. Such tactics have angered many Ethiopian Christians; especially since both OLF and Oromo traditional flags were used without opposition from non-Oromos during Ireecha festivities.

In and around Harar region, where Oromo nationalists want more administrative control over the local Harari people, anti-Orthodox riots blocked roads as some faithful stayed home to avoid confrontation. Some Orthodox priests and Christians were also forced to remove their clothings that displayed the Green-Yellow-Red colors.

However, instead of calming his supporters, Jawar blamed the government security for ignoring protestors who later threw stones at an office belonging to the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a political organization Jawar recently joined. For this incident, Jawar’s supporters blamed Fano (Amhara youth) and Satenaw, a youth movement that grew out of Dire Dawa and Adama towns of Oromia. Unlike Fano, the Satenaw group is multiethnic and opposes segregation or ethnic-based politics in Ethiopia, similar to the ANTIFA group in the United States.

In response, Taye Dendea blamed Jawar for all of the problems during Timket.

In his latest statement, Mr Taye said:

“We know your routine. Yesterday you use a bunch of unemployed youth to stone your own office and tomorrow you will use your media to play victim and collect money from Oromo diaspora.”

Mr. Taye also accused Jawar of bringing up old Oromo grievances, on Emperor Menelik, referring to ethnic politics rising from development in the 1800s.

“Everytime you lose support from Oromos, you throw the words ‘habesha’ and ‘Menelik’ because this is your business and source of power,” he added.

The next national election in Ethiopia is scheduled for August, 2020. 
African Foreign Ministers Meet in Algeria Over Libya Conflict
Ministers at Algerian forum to call for enforcement of arms embargo and end to foreign meddling in Libya's civil war.

Foreign ministers from nations bordering Libya have been meeting in Algeria to discuss ways of stopping the fighting there.

Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia are among the countries that have been affected by the Libyan conflict.

But the temporary ceasefire is shaky and Libya's warring parties have already met in Berlin, with another meeting planned later in Geneva.

Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reports from Tripoli.
Algeria to Host Six African Foreign Ministers on Libya Conflict
Meeting of ministers from Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad, Mali and Niger follows world leaders' summit on shoring up truce.

22 Jan 2020

Haftar's battle for Tripoli has displaced tens of thousands of people since April 2019 [Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]

Algeria will host foreign affairs ministers from six northern and sub-Saharan African countries on Thursday to discuss the conflict in Libya.

The Algiers meeting of ministers from Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad, Mali and Niger follows a summit in Germany's capital, Berlin, aimed at shoring up a ceasefire.

Algeria, which has a 1,000-km (620-mile) border with Libya, is working to "build consensus to secure the maximum chance for a peace deal" at a proposed future meeting in Algiers, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency.

Algeria maintains good contacts with all sides in Libya. Several other foreign leaders and foreign ministers from Arab and European states and Turkey have all visited Algeria in recent weeks to discuss the crisis.

Already facing its own internal political problems after nearly a year of mass protests that have led to changes in its leadership, Algeria is worried about new security threats arising from any escalation in Libya.

The conflict represents the first major international test for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was elected last month.

Algeria fears attempts by armed groups to enter its territory from Libya to attack its oil and gas facilities.

Rival administrations

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces.

The deeply divided country currently has two rival administrations: the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, and another allied with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the east.

The country's embattled Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj enjoys UN recognition and a Turkish military presence, but has struggled to assert his authority beyond Tripoli.

Haftar has the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. His Libyan National Army controls vast swaths of territory in the oil-rich North African country.

In April, Haftar's forces launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, with clashes so far killing more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters while displacing tens of thousands of people.

On January 12, a fragile ceasefire backed by both Turkey and Russia was put into place.

On Sunday, world leaders agreed at a conference in Berlin to set up a so-called "International Follow-Up Committee", which seeks to implement the goals of the summit, namely to secure a lasting ceasefire and implement a UN arms embargo that has been largely ignored for almost a decade.

A number of European figures further suggested the possibility of deploying peacekeeping troops to Libya if a permanent ceasefire were agreed, though this was not part of the discussions.

The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time in Berlin in mid-February.

Libyan Capital Tripoli 'Red Line': Algerian President
Abdelmadjid Tebboune condemns airstrike on military school in Libyan capital

Gulsen Topcu   |

Libya’s capital Tripoli is a "red line," Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said Monday.

"Algeria regards Tripoli as a red line and expects no one to cross it," Tebboune said following a meeting with Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Algeria’s APS news agency reported that during his meeting with al-Sarraj and his delegation, which arrived in Algeria on an official visit for talks on the Libyan crisis, Tebboune called on the international community and particularly the UN Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities for achieving peace and stability in Libya.

Tebboune said that since the beginning of the Libyan crisis, Algeria has adopted the principle of "finding a political solution to protect the unity of the Libyan people and the territorial integrity of the country without foreign intervention."

He also condemned the weekend airstrike on a military school in Libya’s capital by forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

"The attack on the military school in Tripoli, which caused the deaths of 30 students, is considered a war crime," he said.

At least 30 people were killed and 33 injured in the airstrike Saturday on the school’s dormitory, which mainly targeted students.

Tebboune urged the conflicting parties in the country to end the tensions and called on foreign forces to stop offering them military support.

He also called for the resumption of the dialogue process in order to find a political solution to the crisis.

Al-Sarraj meanwhile thanked Tebboune for his "constructive approach" towards the developments in Libya.

Earlier, the GNA announced that the attack on the military school was carried out by a Chinese-made Wing Loong II drone belonging to the United Arab Emirates.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara
Tunisian President Honors Algerian Resistance Icon
Djamila Bouhired instrumental in resisting French occupation

News Service
11:07 January 24, 2020

Tunisian President Kais Saied honored Algerian legendary nationalist Djamila Bouhired on Thursday, the Tunisian presidency said in a statement.

Saied "received on Wednesday at the Palace of Carthage the great militant Djamila Bouhired, one of the most important symbols of the Algerian revolution," according to the statement.

Saied "granted Bouhired the first degree of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia in appreciation of her standing and long struggle for the liberation of Algeria from French colonialism and her continuous struggle in defense of freedoms," it added.

Bouhired was born in 1935 in Algiers. In 1954, she joined the Algerian National Liberation Front and took up arms to fight the French colonialism that got her arrested in 1957 and she was severely tortured and sentenced to jail.
Algeria Slams the Central African Republic and Sao-Tome for Opening Consulates in Laayoune
On Thursday, Algeria slammed the Central African Republic and Sao-Tome for opening consulates in Laayoune, calling their decision «unilateral».

In a statement quoted by the Algerian news agency (APS), the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the two countries «have violated international laws and the United Nations resolutions».

For the record, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, Nasser Bourita, and his Central African counterpart Sylvie Baïpo-Temon chaired, Thursday in Laayoune, the opening ceremony of the consulate of the Central African Republic.

On the same day, Bourita chaired with his Santomean counterpart, Elsa Teixeira de Barros Pinto, the opening ceremony of the consulate general of Sao Tome and Principe in Laayoune.

CAR and Sao Tome and Principe are the fourth and fifth, respectively, African countries to open diplomatic representations in Laayoune, which hosts an Ivorian honorary consulate, a Comorian consulate general and Gabonese one, inaugurated last week.

...More :
$401m Needed for 'Life-saving Interventions' in Central African Republic: UN
24 JANUARY 2020, 10:18AM

Cape Town - The Central African Republic (CAR) is in need of $401 million to implement "life-saving interventions" as it experiences a humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

About 2.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection – more than half of the population. Among them, more than 50% need immediate assistance to survive.

To meet the needs of the most vulnerable, the government of CAR and the Humanitarian Country Team officially launched the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) this week.

OCHA said that based on a common analysis of humanitarian needs, the HRP aimed to address critical issues related to physical and mental well-being, living conditions and protection of the most vulnerable.

Civilians in CAR continue to bear the brunt of the crisis. Security and access constraints continue to hinder access to vulnerable people.

Last year, 306 security incidents affected humanitarian workers, five humanitarian workers were killed and 42 injured.

The Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Central African Republic, Denise Brown, stressed the importance for humanitarian actors to be able to sustain their efforts and alleviate the suffering of those in need of humanitarian assistance.

“If humanitarian assistance is not provided at scale, the severe humanitarian situation will further deteriorate in 2020,” Brown said.

Through donors, the humanitarian community last year raised$ 300.3 million and assisted more than 1.1 million vulnerable people within the Humanitarian Response Plan framework. 
Fresh Clashes in Key Central African Republic Town
2020-01-23 22:55

Two armed groups who last year joined an agreement aimed at bringing peace to the Central African Republic have clashed in a key northeastern town, the UN said on Thursday.

"The deputy special representative of the United Nations secretary general, Denise Brown, has gone to the area" to assess the situation, the spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission Minusca, Vladimir Monteiro, told AFP.

The fighting broke out on Monday in Birao, a trading town located near the Sudan border, and continued on Tuesday.

Aid workers there, reached by AFP, said the town itself was calm on Thursday but its outskirts were extremely tense.

The clashes involved the Movement of the Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) and the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the CAR (FPRC), which had been fighting sporadically over Birao since July.

Both groups joined other militias in Khartoum last February 6 to sign a peace agreement with the government.

Deeply impoverished despite its mineral wealth, the CAR has been in the grip of violence since 2013.

More than two-thirds of the former French colony lies in the hands of armed groups, who typically claim ethnic or religious affiliations and often fight over the country's mineral resources.

At least 20 people died in fighting in July, according to Minusca figures.

The violence prompted most of the town's inhabitants to shelter in a camp for displaced people located near a peacekeepers' base, aid workers said.

Violence resumed after tension brewed in the camp between the Kara ethnic group, from which the MLCJ is largely drawn, and the Sara and Hausa communities, accused of supporting the FPRC, they said.

On Monday, the CAR government in Bangui said the violence between armed groups in the northeast amounted to "flagrant violations" of the 2019 peace agreement.

According to the UN, 1.6 million out of the country's 4.7 million population are "extremely vulnerable."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Include More Women in Top Posts: Mutsvangwa
24 JAN, 2020 - 00:01

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa addresses the media during a post- Cabinet briefing in Harare.

Cletus Mushanawani
Senior Writer
Zimbabwe Herald

THE inclusion of more women in influential positions both in the public and private sectors will ensure peace, unity and the economic development of any country.

This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa in an interview with CBS News at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.

“As a Minister, I feel we need more women ministers. More women up there, both in public and private sectors will be able to bring about good issues as they are passionate about social issues.

“Women are known as peace lovers and if we have more women in Government, there will be more peace and development. The economy will be much better. Where there is peace and unity, there is economic development.

“The majority of the electorate in Africa are women. They contribute a lot in the production sector, be it the fields or agriculture. You cannot afford to leave them behind. We have to move together.

“Every president who wants to remain in power will not leave behind 52 percent of the country’s population,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe was one of the six countries in the world which has a constitution which talks to gender equity.

“Gender equity is no longer a human right issue, but a developmental issue. The number of women in politics has gone up, although much more needs to be done to ensure that we have more representation. The Constitution talks about 50-50 representation and that is the way we need to go,” she said.

She called on organisers of international events like the World Economic Forum to invite more women from across the globe to enable them to share their experiences.

Minister Mutsvangwa reiterated President Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is open for business policy and said the country was blessed with a lot of mineral resources.

“We have a lot of mineral resources in our country. Tourism is the best thing you can enjoy in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is in Zimbabwe. The country is just beautiful, with some of the best tourist attractions.

“It has beautiful people who are very peaceful. You can enjoy your stay without any security problems,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa was invited to Davos by the International Political Women Leaders Organisation as a panellist. She is a member of the organisation.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister and United Nations Development partner, Ms Helen Clark chairs the International Political Women Leaders Organisation and was the facilitator.

Other panellists were Anne Cairns, (vice-chair of Mastercard) and Jose Manuel Barroso (chairman of Goldman Sachs International).
SACP Salutes the ANC on Its 108th Founding Anniversary
8 January 2020

The South African Communist Party (SACP) salutes the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest liberation organisation on the African continent, on this important occasion, its 108th founding anniversary.

Our alliance with the ANC dates back to the late 1920s following the adoption of the historic Resolution on the South African Question by the Communist International in the second half of 1928. The Communist Party ratified the resolution a few months later at its annual conference held in January 1929 in Johannesburg. We have since dedicated our efforts on building the alliance as an active expression of unity against colonial oppression and imperialist domination. The ANC played a leading role in our liberation struggle, for the most part in alliance with the Communist Party as well as the progressive trade union movement.

Together we fought against colonialism, imperialism and the apartheid regime which came to power in 1948. The gallant efforts of our people, and their invaluable activism and support, including in the formation of the mass democratic movement, delivered the death knell of the apartheid regime in the early 1990s.

Together we rallied behind the organisational leadership of the ANC in elections since the first democratic general election held in April 1994, mindful of the great importance of unity as the weapon of victory and the consequences of disunity. We defeated colonial, apartheid, imperialist and post-1994 attacks aimed at disintegrating our alliance.

The SACP reaffirms its commitment to our principled and programmatic unity and therefore to the alliance as well as its reconfiguration process across the board – that is, at all levels. Our shared objective for the reconfiguration is to deepen the alliance’s strategic relevance both in theory and practice, thus move with the times, and rebuild our movement as a whole towards completing the course of liberation, achieving social emancipation and securing collective prosperity with and for our people. 

Since 1994, our successive democratically elected ANC-led governments advanced important social programmes, including massive rollouts of access to housing, electrification, clean drinking water, education at all levels and social grants. These and other social advances benefitting millions of our people, especially the working class and the poor, were anchored in the culture of the human rights our national liberation movement enshrined in our country’s Constitution.

Working together, we can achieve more.

We are currently in the midst of high rates of inequality, poverty and unemployment. At present, unemployment affects 10.3 million active and discouraged work seekers. All these problems are the direct results of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. Their material basis and daily reproduction are however firmly anchored in the system of capitalism and its endemic crisis. As if that were not enough, state capture and other forms of corruption have become a serious threat to our democratic dispensation and national development. Associated with the problem is the malady of factionalism. To overcome these problems, we must go to the root, rather than merely focus on the effects.

Working together we must move the national democratic revolution, our shared programme of national transformation and development, into a second radical phase. We must give the national democratic revolution profound expression in policy making and content and advance, deepen and defend the democratic transition to the end. It is important to build strategic discipline in our movement and the state and hold to account those entrusted with organisational and public power. In particular, we must deal a decisive blow to corrupt elements.

The SACP wishes the ANC many more revolutionary years to come.

SACP’s response to the National Treasury’s ‘... economic Strategy for South Africa’:


Dr Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
Central Committee Member and Spokesperson


Hlengiwe Nkonyane
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SACP 25th Joe Slovo Annual Commemoration Statement
6 January 2020, Avalon Cemetery, Soweto

Delivered by SACP General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande

This year marks the 25th year since Joe Slovo passed way. At the time of his death, on 6 January 1995, Slovo was the SACP National Chairperson, having previously served as our General Secretary. He was a long-standing member of our Central Committee and its Politburo. He was a member of the national executive and working committees of the ANC, and was serving as the first Minister of Housing.

A great theoretician, strategist and tactician of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Slovo was also a man of practical action. His development of theory, strategy and tactics, was anchored in practice. He was a founding commander of our liberation army, uMkhonto weSizwe, the MK, along with Nelson Mandela. His last responsibility in the MK was as Chief of Staff. He was succeeded by Chris Hani in both this position and that of the General Secretary of our Party, the SACP.

Slovo was involved in the drafting of all major documents that defined our vision, theory and practice of struggle against apartheid, beginning with the Freedom Charter, adopted by the Congress of the People in 1955. The other historic documents include the popular SACP programme adopted underground in 1962, The Road to South African Freedom, and the widely embraced,  first Strategy and Tactics document of the ANC, adopted in 1969 in Morogoro, Tanzania. Slovo’s major works became influential. These include the South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution, which he produced in 1988. 

The significance of Slovo’s intervention in 1988 remains as relevant as ever, more so in this period where as the SACP we are pursuing a programme to build popular Left and widest possible patriotic fronts, and to work together with our allies to deepen the strategic relevance of the ANC-headed Alliance in theory as well as in practice. Some of the negative tendencies that Slovo examined and cautioned against in his intervention still exist. Our task is to overcome them and forge wider working class and broader revolutionary unity. These include a tendency he described as workerist, which sought to divorce the working class from our national liberation movement and expunge the essence of the national democratic revolution. Slovo had the following to say about the tendency, especially its disruption of unity in favour of separatism and therefore disunity:

“A transitional stage of struggle, involving inter-class alliances, is alleged to lead to an abandonment of socialist perspectives and to a surrender of working class leadership. The economic struggles between workers and bosses at the point of production (which inevitably spill over into the broader political arena) is claimed to be the ‘class struggle’. This is sometimes coupled with a view that the trade union movement is the main political representative of the working class.”

Our broad movement is also facing difficulties from within. It is precisely during this time that communists must deepen their role in the broad movement. Hence the focus of our Special National Congress held in December 2019 that we must rebuild our movement.

Yes, rebuilding our movement means paying particular attention to the ANC, but most importantly to our revolutionary movement as a whole, not least attaching great importance to the working class – the main motive force of the national democratic revolution, the most direct route to socialism in our historical conditions.

That is the vanguard role of the SACP, that of pointing the way forward, rather than being the chief mourner and lamenter about the problems facing the movement. That is what Joe Slovo stood for!

The SACP strongly condemns imperialist United States aggression and attacks in the Middle East 

We are remembering Slovo at a time when the United States government is once again embarking on dangerous acts of provocation and threatening war in the Middle East.

The SACP strongly condemns the acts of aggression by the United States against both Iranian and Iraqi people. These attacks amount to a violation of the two countries’ rights to national sovereignty and self-determination. The flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereign airspace is one of the many examples which prove that the imperialist regime of the US has never cared about the freedom of the people in any region or country and is prepared to violate international law whenever it wants to.

It is a well-documented fact that the US’ involvement in the Middle East has nothing to do with peace for the people in that region. Neither does it have anything to do with the promotion of international peace and security. Like in Venezuela, the US’ intention in the Middle East is to achieve control of natural resources, particularly oil, as well as its global market, and the promotion of the US dollar.

In the Middle East, in the year 2000 for instance Iraq decided to use the Euro for its oil exports, but since the illegal military invasion of Iraq by the US in 2003 and the occupation that followed, Iraq was coerced back to the US dollar. It is also no mystery why Iran, with 10 per cent of the world’s oil production, would attract the imperialist US’ violence. The surrounding of the region with US military bases has all the imperialist trappings against which the working class must unite. This is our call.

As part of its strategy of geo-political hegemony, the US also acts to change the balance of forces in the Middle East in favour of its ally, the apartheid, Zionist state of Israel. All peace loving people need to also strongly condemn the habit of all US Presidents to assert their authority through foreign aggression and particularly Trump’s attempt to divert attention from his impeachment process by spilling blood in the Middle East.

The SACP calls for an intensification of internationalist work from the working class, and upon all peace loving people globally to wage a relentless struggle against imperialism. The world’s working class movement must unite in defence of the peace loving and democratic people of Iraq, Iran and the broader Middle East. The SACP is calling for an end to military escalation, militarisation of the Middle East and imperialist occupation in the region and elsewhere.

The SACP further calls upon the Iranian authorities, too, to uphold the human and democratic rights of the people of Iran. These include political rights, including the right to free democratic political expression.

Let us celebrate our national achievements and unite to tackle our societal challenges

This year April will mark the 26th anniversary of our victory over the apartheid regime in April 1994. We stand tall today, in our commemoration of Slovo, in view of the massive social progress we have made, benefiting millions of our people, starting with our enshrinement of the Bill of Rights in our country’s Constitution.

Since 1994, we have massively expanded access to housing, electricity, clean drinking water, health care and built clinics and roads in communities that were previously marginalised.

We have massively expanded access to education all levels.

To alleviate poverty, we have placed millions of people on social grants.

It is a historical fact that life in South Africa is better now than before our victory over the apartheid regime in 1994. This is not just a national reality. It is also an international reality. South Africa is an attractive destination to people from other countries where conditions are comparatively far more difficult.

However, unresolved contradictions and increasing challenges are undermining our achievements. In particular we are severely affected by the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, coupled with factors such as bad governance, poor oversight, state capture and other forms of corruption, in a world dominated by the imperialist agenda of neoliberalism and global capitalist crisis.

Lack of successful national development planning, failures to complete infrastructure and other development projects in time, and a lack of proper quality control also undermine the massive progress we have made since 1994. If he were alive, Slovo would, for instance, certainly be unhappy about load shedding, poor quality or dilapidating RDP houses, and skyrocketing cost overruns in development projects.

Moreover, the crisis of social reproduction, caused by systemic inequality, structural unemployment and entrenched poverty, has plunged many families and communities into distress. Simply put, the crisis of social reproduction refers to the intense difficulty that has crippled the ability of many families to make ends meet.

As if that were not enough, gender-based violence, underpinned by both the economic crisis of capitalism and the historical legacy of patriarchy, has become entrenched. This is a patriarchy that was sharpened and anchored into the capitalist system and its structures of the economic exploitation of labour by capital. It is a patriarchy behind the high levels of gendered inequality, unemployment, poverty, violence and social insecurity.

The SACP is calling for maximum unity of South Africans to overcome the vicious impact of the crisis of social reproduction, patriarchy and gender-based violence, and to confront state capture and other forms of corruption. To this end the working class as the main motive force of our revolution has a crucial role to play.

One of our key objectives this year is precisely to rebuild our movement, inclusive of the ANC, and to move the national democratic revolution, our national transformation and development programme, into a second, more radical phase. Our aim is to advance and defend the democratic transition and deepen the advance to socialism.

We call upon the progressive trade union movement, starting with our ally, COSATU, to convene an all-embracing national summit this year. The objective of the consultative conference should be to discuss the conditions of the workers, come up with a joint programme of action and put co-operation into practice. Unity will not fall from the sky. It has to be worked for and forged from the ground, in the common interests of the workers.

The joint progressive trade union movement campaign should include a dedicated focus on achieving a turnaround of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and other public entities. The SACP will support the programme of action by deepening its efforts to forge popular Left and patriotic fronts, and through direct participation and working with our allies to achieve reconfiguration.  United worker actions, trade union and broader unity are important also to defeat both state capture and neoliberal networks.

Down with neoliberalism and state capture networks

In South Africa post-1994 aspirant capitalist strata (“capitalist without capital”) from within the ranks of the formerly oppressed acquired a degree of hegemony through the language of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). Two varieties of primitive accumulation were driven in the state on behalf of these emergent capitalist aspirants.

The first generation was the narrow BEE accumulation strata, which were an inherent part of the 1996 GEAR class project. In this version of primitive accumulation, state power was used to regulate (legally) established corporations. Procurement by the state was used as a policy instrument to enforce BEE share-holding quotas.

Established monopoly capital with varying degrees of moaning, played along with this narrow BEE primitive accumulation, seeing it as a better way of managing change without having to substantially change. The new BEE elite were quickly absorbed, usually as passive and junior partners, into the life-styles of the established capitalist class. The ethos of primitive accumulation filtered all the way down to grassroots with petty accumulation for micro-entrepreneurs. Steadily from the mid-1990s, organisational machinery shifted from popular struggle to a narrow electoralism, and then, in a further debasement, to winning elections in order to occupy office with the primary intention of reproducing and expanding primitive accumulation. 

The first generation narrow BEE was largely played out within the rules of the capitalist system in general. While non-market forces were used (state regulatory power), the empowerment followed the “rules”. Narrow BEE beneficiaries received indebted shares and were expected to repay the loans.

Generally, established monopoly capital played along with, and often actively promoted, this agenda, seeing it as a key means to advance its interests by deepening capitalism in South Africa against “radical” threats.

However, for many reasons, this agenda proved unstable and unleashed many contradictions and rivalries, including within state institutions. Not all aspirant capitalist strata could be accommodated within the 1996 GEAR class project’s inner BEE circle.

Enter the looting class, the second generation of the post-1994 primitive accumulation.

What we loosely described as “state capture”, is a second wave of accumulation using positions within the state and politics. But this second wave no longer played within the parameters of a “capitalist rule of law”. It involved direct looting (expropriation) of public resources (and particularly of key SOEs and other public entities), aided and abetted by gangster/lumpen-capitalists/bourgeoisie – the new dangerous class.

Moreover, it was no longer in the interests of capital, or monopoly capital in general – quite the opposite. While for the “state capture” networks, looting the likes of Eskom and Transnet into near-death experiences is their core business, established capital (and the broader South Africa community, not least the working class and the poor) require functioning, mostly low cost (mainly publicly) supplied energy and logistics systems.

The SACP has used the term “state capture” and even played a leading role in popularising it, while clearly understanding that it was a short-hand term for popular use. We have also sometimes preferred to speak of “corporate-capture” in general or, regarding the state, “corporate state capture” (or “corporate capture of the state).

“State capture” has caused enormous damage to economic infrastructure, the finances of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), other state-owned entities and broadly the South African economy. It further weakened our capacity as a country to face the increasingly hostile global economic environment due to the compromised nature of some of our instruments for economic transformation and development like the SOEs and key institutions such as the South African Revenue Services, SARS. 

Neither state capture nor the neoliberal agenda

Our fight against the corporate state capture networks was in no way intended to make way for a re-assertion of the neoliberal agenda and its policy regime. Similarly, our fight against the neoliberal agenda and its policy regime is in no way intended to give any quarter to the parasitic networks associated with state capture to rebound and resume looting.

The choice between looters and neoliberals is no choice at all. The advocates of the neoliberal agenda use public power and the policy-making space to facilitate and legitimise the transfer of productive state resources to exploitation by private wealth accumulation interests, while the state capture parasites use public power but follow crude, smash-and-grab or outright high-jacking tactics to achieve the same results.

What is the way forward?

A people’s economy and a democratic development state

The necessity for South Africa is to establish a people’s economy and a democratic developmental state.

In other words, without the national democratic revolution being reflected in economic policy, not only will we fail to resolve the immanent capitalist crisis we find ourselves in. We will also inevitably move towards a more complex and prolonged crisis. The unfolding crisis of capitalism, which is global but has specific features in South Africa based on our historical conditions, is certainly generating more crises. These systemic crises are not only economic. They are also social, political and ecological.

Rather than a piecemeal approach and a narrow focus on the effects without paying attention and going to the root of the problem, what our country needs is a comprehensive approach – radical structural transformation. This must build, expand, diversify and raise the levels of national production, benefit the majority of the people and reverse the catastrophic tide of climate change. The national democratic revolution must pursue new ways of production and forge alternative patterns of consumption to protect the environment from degradation. If we do not, future generations, fauna and flora will not survive in our environment.

Already our country and many areas in Southern Africa and other parts of our continent and the world are experiencing the worst drought ever recorded. There is an increase in the number of natural disasters as a result of climate change. The average temperatures increase year by year globally. Australia, one of the world’s relatively developed countries, was on fire this week. Major cities were affected. Certain areas in some small towns have been burned to the ground. These are not the “acts of God” but a direct result of capitalists not caring about anything other than immediate profit. The main cause of the problem is the capitalist mode of production, appropriation of wealth and patterns of consumption.

But part of our struggle to protect our environment must include intensifying educational and ideological work against climate change denialism. It was deeply disturbing yesterday when one of our TV stations was giving a platform to a climate change denialist. Yes, we will defend freedom of the press, but please do not take us back to denialism – whether AIDS or climate change denialism.

It is absolutely important to also take into account the fact that in our country, the colonial character of the capitalist economic foundations, including its legacy of apartheid, remains unresolved. Despite having defeated the apartheid regime in 1994, the hard reality that we are faced with, 25 years after the democratic breakthrough, is that economic control still decisively rests with the old order capitalist economic ruling class. It is a capitalist order whose fundamental character is as a subordinate and semi-peripheral component of the imperialist global economy. It was partly for this reason that narrow BEE, located deeply in this economic framework, could only serve a minority, even with the best intentions to make it broad-based. Interestingly, the first ANC Strategy and Tactics document warned against this:

“…our nationalism must not be confused with chauvinism or narrow nationalism of a previous epoch. It must not be confused with the classical drive by an elitist group among the oppressed people to gain ascendancy so that they can replace the oppressor in the exploitation of the mass.”

The ANC Morogoro Strategy and Tactics document was embraced by the entire Alliance during the time of the most intense struggle against oppression. The document called for the liberation of the oppressed to “extend beyond mere formal political control and encompass the element which makes such control meaningful – economic emancipation.” This historical mission remains essential to the completion of the liberation of South Africa. The working class must unite and pursue it rigorously. To this end we must strengthen and play our vanguard role as the SACP.

Those who have abandoned the course of liberation – for which countless revolutionaries, ordinary South Africans and people in the surrounding countries sacrificed – have embarked on a path of narrow nationalism. Others have branded themselves as champions of “radical economic transformation”, when all they have become are radical looters or advocates of neoliberalism.

It is in this context that privatisation, outsourcing and tenderisation – that is, division of the functions and roles of the state into tenders even where it is unnecessary – were used as the policy instruments of narrow BEE, narrow nationalism and state capture associated looting.

What we need is to move our economy on to a new and qualitatively different growth path that places the needs of the people at the centre of everything.

We must improve the conditions of the workers. In this regard the pursuit of the decent work agenda is important in the present period.

We must push policies that will create productive work for the unemployed to make a living and lead a decent life.

However, while the importance of being employed cannot be overemphasised compared to being unemployed, the reality in our country is that merely being employed does not automatically lift one out of poverty and inequality. This is why millions of workers, primarily because of labour exploitation by capital, remain poor despite being employed. We therefore must push policies with a focus dedicated to lifting people out of poverty through work, systematically reducing inequality and tackling economic exploitation.   

On this basis, and arising out of our Special National Congress held in December 2019, we put forward and pledge to push the following democratic developmental programmes:

Financial sector transformation

Financial sector transformation, including low cost banking and financial services. This also requires systematic elimination of financial exploitation.
A publicly controlled developmental banking and financial sector.
A co-operatively-owned banking and financial sector.
Strict regulation and management of the capital account, among others to protect our economy against volatility and stem the tide against illicit capital flows.
Prescribed assets for productive and developmental purpose.
A sovereign wealth fund to support national development by increasing the levels of public investment, among others in economic and social infrastructure, such as roads, rail, telecommunication, clean drinking water and sewage infrastructure, renewable and cleaner energy production, integrated communities, sports and arts facilities.

Broader economic transformation

A high impact, comprehensive industrial policy, including digital industrial and innovation strategies, aimed at developing our domestic productive capacity and creating decent work.
A comprehensive socio-economic policy approach, and therefore a development-oriented poverty eradication strategy, with emphasis on support for productive activities and sustainable livelihoods.
Revitalisation of the publicly-owned sector of our economy, in particular but not exclusively a turnaround of our SOEs and adequate support for the whole sector to grow and thrive. Our Special National Congress resolutely rejected privatisation of SOEs. Our objective this year, and going forward, is to firmly advance this rejection into practical action. SOEs must be under state-led democratic control on behalf of the people as a whole.   
Combating state capture and other forms of corruption in the public sector as well as across the economy on an intensified basis. Our objective this year is to drive this fight to the finish. What we want to see are real results, including evidence-led prosecution, asset forfeiture and long-term prison sentences for the perpetrators.
Acceleration of land redistribution and support for productive land use, especially for the poor and the working class. We call upon Parliament to complete the process of amending section 25 of the Constitution to make land expropriation without compensation categorical in the interest of advancing productive land use and ending land hunger in our country.
Land and agrarian reform, with focus on but not exclusively women and youth empowerment as well as rural development.
As part of our strategy to act against global warming, a drive to plant millions of trees across the country.
A stimulus package focusing on developing our domestic productive capacity and turning around our economy.
Review of the fiscal policy framework to boost state revenue to support industrialisation and development. This should include the introduction of a wealth tax.
A state-owned pharmaceutical company.

Overall macro-economic policy framework alignment

In line with the commitment made by the Alliance in the ANC May 2019 general election manifesto, overall alignment of our macro-economy policy framework, including the above, and aimed at supporting the objectives of the second radical phase of our democratic transition, the other commitments made in the manifesto, and the measures that follow.
Expansion of the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank to explicitly target maximum sustainable employment, and an explicit balanced and sustainable inclusive high growth target.
Sustainable livelihoods and social protection

Adequate social protection, including social grants that are sensitive to inflation pressures and responsive to the already existing economic and social reproduction crises.
An economic empowerment programme directly linked to production development support for the broad masses, including a targeted focus on fostering worker ownership and a thriving co-operatives sector.
Promulgation of a local economic development eco-system as an integral part of social protection and sustainable development.
Transformation of the public and community works programmes to make them the employer of last resort on the basis of the decent work agenda and a training space for the unskilled.
Forging ahead with the introduction of the National Health Insurance to ensure quality health care for all, especially the poor and working people.
International solidarity

Slovo gained his first fighting experience as an internationalist, long before the founding of the MK, in the Second World War against the forces of Adolf Hitler and fascism.

We take this opportunity, in memory of Slovo, to congratulate the Zimbabwe Communist Party for holding its first Congress in December 2019.

We pledge our revolutionary solidarity with the people of Swaziland in their struggle for democracy.

We call on Morocco to unconditionally end its occupation of Western Sahara and pledge our revolutionary solidarity with the Saharawi people in their struggle for self-determination.

We congratulate the Sudanese people for their overthrow of Omar al-Bashir and pledge our support for their struggle for democracy.

We strongly condemn the apartheid regime of Israel for its human rights violations in Palestine and pledge our revolutionary solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We congratulate the people of Cuba for the milestone of the 61st anniversary of the 1 January 1959 Cuban revolution. We condemn the imperialist regime of the United States for its blockade of Cuba and history of atrocities in Cuba, Latin America and the rest of the world.

We call upon the United States to unconditionally end its illegal blockade of Cuba, occupation of Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay, and aggression and destabilisation in Latin America broadly.

In particular, we pledge our solidarity with the people of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Chile, among others, who have continued to suffer the US imperialist offensive. We strongly condemn the racist, right-wing and imperialist backed coup in Bolivia and pledge our solidarity with resistance led by President Evo Morales.