Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV World News: 'France In Above Its Head In CAR'

France is way in above its head in CAR: A. Azikiwe

Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe

Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:54PM GMT

To watch this Press TV World News interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan African News Wire from Detroit, about the crisis in Central African Republic, French intervention and its impact on the population.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: French troops are in the Central African Republic to supposedly restore law and order there, but how much can foreign military intervention help resolve the crisis; and how much is this intervention for real?

Azikiwe: Obviously the intervention by France as well as Chad has worsened the political and social situation inside the Central African Republic.

We believe very strongly that France is way in above their heads. That’s why yesterday they made an international appeal, again, to the United Nations Security Council to provide additional troops to go into the Central African Republic. But they have no overall strategy for normalizing the situation inside the country.

And what we’re seeing now is general panic among large segments of the population with people trying to flee the country to get away from the escalating fighting that is going on.

France has alienated a large segment of the population there. There have been demonstrations over the last seven days against France and their role inside the capital of Bangui and other areas of the country.

Press TV: We’re seeing African countries again becoming the target of Western countries – we have the Central African Republic and Mali being the target of French colonialism once again. What is the long term plan and how will this have an effect on the economy?

Azikiwe: I think it speaks directly to the economic crisis that’s been plaguing Europe particularly for the last five years.

We have a situation in France where the majority of the population is totally opposed to Francois Hollande’s government’s intervention into the Central African Republic; and in all likelihood in Mali as well as Somalia and other areas on the African continent.

They are there to advance their own national interests in relationship to the ruling interests in France; but at the same time creating an untenable situation in various African countries.

And until the African Union gets strong enough to where it can deploy its own peacekeeping forces independent of France and the United States, we are going to continue to have these false starts in Africa that are largely based upon the interests that are going on in all these Western industrialized states.

Chad, which is allied with France, has created a lot of anger as well inside the Central African Republic – several Chadian troops were killed just two days ago in an ambush. So the situation is not getting any better inside that country.

South Sudan Ousted Vice President Ready for Talks

South Sudan rebel leader ready for talks

January 1, 2014 International

JUBA-UNITED NATIONS. — South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar said yesterday he was sending a delegation for peace talks with the government and was not yet ready for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. Machar also ruled out an immediate ceasefire, saying this “needed to be negotiated” and that in the meantime the rebels would continue to fight.

“Our forces are still marching on Juba, there is no cessation of hostilities yet,” Machar said, speaking by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location inside South Sudan.

“That is what the delegation is going to Addis Ababa to discuss and to negotiate.”

He said troops loyal to him had recaptured the town of Bor yesterrday, some 200 kilometres north of the capital Juba.

Machar said he was not yet ready for face-to-face talks with Juba’s leadership.

“It depends on how the negotiations go,” he said.

“I will follow later, once the negotiations have resulted in a cessation of hostilities. It depends on if and when that is achieved,” he added.

“We did not ask for this battle, it was forced upon us,” Machar said, again dismissing Kiir’s allegations that he started the fighting by attempting a coup.

Machar is sending a three person team of senior leaders, including Rebecca Garang, a respected Dinka leader and widow of former South Sudan’s founding father John Garang.

The other two in the delegation are Taban Deng Gai, a former governor of oil-rich Unity state, large parts of which are under rebel control, and Hussein Mar, former deputy governor of Jonglei.

But he also demanded Juba release several key leaders arrested following the outbreak of fighting on December 15, especially Pagan Amum, the former secretary-general of the ruling party.

“They must release the prisoners,” Machar said, adding that Amum was needed to head the rebel delegation at any peace talks.
Meanwhile, the African Union has said it will impose “targeted sanctions” over violence in war-torn South Sudan, where two weeks of fighting is feared to have left thousands dead.

The pan-African bloc’s Peace and Security Council said in a statement it would “take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite people to violence, including along ethnic lines”.

The AU, meeting in Banjul in The Gambia on Monday, expressed “Africa’s dismay and disappointment that the continent’s newest nation should descend so quickly into civil strife, with the potential of rapidly deteriorating into ethnic clashes and a full-fledged civil war”.

The AU called on all sides to “immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities”, and said it would work with IGAD to prepare sanctions.

The UN Security Council on Monday also urged all parties in South Sudan to immediately cease hostilities and engage in “direct talks without preconditions” to peacefully resolve the ongoing crisis.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at the situation in South Sudan, in particular the devastating impact of the crisis on South Sudan’s civilian population and the continuing threat to civilians,” said a press statement issued here by the 15-nation body.

The statement came after the Security Council was briefed via videoconference by the secretary-general’s special representative in South Sudan Hilde Johnson and commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Maj. Gen. Delali Johnson Sakyi.

In the statement, the Council repeated its call for “an immediate cessation of hostilities and for President Salva Kiir Mayardit, former Vice President Riek Machar and other political leaders to engage urgently in direct talks without preconditions.”

— AFP-Xinhua.

Rebel Pastor on the Run From DRC

Accused pastor on the run from DRC

January 1, 2014 International

KINSHASA. — A pastor whose supporters have claimed a wave of attacks across DRC is “on the run” and has fled the country, government spokesman Lambert Mende said yesterday, adding that the death toll from the violence had risen to over 100. Pastor Joseph Mukungubila Mutombo “has vanished . . . He himself does not believe that his cause is right, a cause for which he is claiming responsibility in phone calls from a neighbouring country, or not too far away from ours,” Mende told a news conference.

“This man is a fugitive, he’s on the run.”

Mende said the final toll from Monday’s attacks was “very heavy”, with “103 people dead including 95 terrorist assailants and eight members of the DRC armed forces”.

Congolese security forces on Monday repelled seemingly coordinated attacks in the capital Kinshasa and other cities, in fierce gun battles.

Armed youths believed to be loyal to the pastor who challenged President Joseph Kabila in elections seven years ago stormed the state television station, the international airport and the military headquarters.

Mende said several of the men who carried out the attacks had been involved in earlier violence and could not expect an amnesty.
“The identification (of killed assailants) has established . . . that most attackers are recidivists who have been amnestied before, which is why this time they will feel the full force of the law,” he said.

“They have benefitted from an amnesty law before, there will not be a second chance!”
Mende also stressed that no members of the police or the military were part of the “terrorists”.

– AFP.

DRC Security Forces Repel Attacks

DRC security forces repel attacks

January 1, 2014 International

KINSHASA. — Congolese security forces repelled a wave of coordinated attacks in the capital Kinshasa and other cities on Monday, in fierce gun battles that left more than 100 assailants and three troops dead, the government said. Armed youths believed to be loyal to a pastor who challenged President Joseph Kabila in elections seven years ago stormed the state television station, the international airport and the military headquarters.

A government spokesman said more than 103 attackers had been killed, 52 of them in Kinshasa, while three troops had died in the fighting in the capital.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said on state television that “39 terrorists were captured, including two wounded who were given medical treatment” and that nine civilians were also injured. Defence Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo told journalists the situation was now “totally under control” and an investigation was under way

“Now we have to find out who the assailants are,” he said, as he inspected the sites targeted in Monday’s attacks.

Ntambo sought to downplay the attacks, saying many residents of the capital “didn’t even notice anything was happening”.

However, the United Nations said its troops in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo had been placed on alert following the violence in the capital, the second city Lubumbashi, and the eastern town of Kindu.

UN spokesman Martin Niersky said UN troops stationed at the airport had engaged the gunmen at the airport, where a staff member was wounded during the exchange of fire.

The capital has by contrast remained relatively calm, apart from an apparent coup bid in 2003 blamed by police on troops loyal to ousted dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown by Laurent-Desire Kabila in 1997.

The attempt was quickly quashed.

— AFP.

Ushering In a New Zimbabwe

Editorial Comment: Ushering in a new Zimbabwe

January 1, 2014 Opinion & Analysis

The period from the July 31, 2013 elections to January 1, 2014 has been dominated by a nasty inclination in some sections of the media: fear mongering. But really, it is an inclination that has been consistent with the doomsayers who believe Zimbabwe without the West — or without the rule of the West’s preferred politicians here — will die.

They had this inclination in 1998 when Zimbabwe decided to go into the DRC to assist a fellow African country. Zimbabwe did not die.

They had this inclination in 2000 when Zimbabwe decided to take back its land.

Zimbabwe did not die. They had this inclination in 2002 and 2003 when the European Union and then the United States imposed their economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. Again Zimbabwe did not die.

They had this inclination in 2008 /9 when Zimbabwe embarked on the road to economic empowerment and indigenisation. Zimbabwe did not die.

Now they are singing the same discordant tune after the July 31 elections because their preferred horse once again came up short.

We are getting sage-like premonitions from the fear mongers about how bad 2014 will be. Some are even dreaming of an election this year because Zanu-PF will have run the economy into the ground. Naturally, these merchants of disaster will not tell you that perhaps they are predicting economic collapse because they are actively working towards such a scenario, never mind that they will in all likelihood not win an election in the snowball’s chance in hell event that a poll is called thus year.

What they are trying to do is create a sense of despondency, to breed malaise and lethargy that will sit well with their desire — and efforts — to collapse Zimbabwe.

But Zimbabwe will not die. It did not die in 1998, it will not die in 2014 and it will not die any time after that. Not in this generation and not in the next. This is because Zimbabwe has discovered a resource that no amount of screaming headlines or machination by any doom monger can erode. That resource is self-confidence.

Yes, we have stuttered and stumbled. But we have not fallen. If anything, as a nation we have managed to always regain our bearings and move on stronger than before.

When fast-track land reforms started, some predicted that half the country would die of hunger. They said agriculture in Zimbabwe had been sent to hell in a hand basket.

And now we have eminent scholars telling us that Zimbabwe’s much-maligned “peasant” farmers are producing in remarkable quantities. Not that we need anyone to tell us how our revolution is progressing, but it’s just nice to know that other people around the world can see what is happening on the ground. Indigenisation and economic empowerment has been met with the same unquestioning derision of the fear merchants. But not one foreign company has declared that it has pulled out of Zimbabwe because it is not happy with owning “only” 49 percent of the business.

People all over Zimbabwe are in their own ways contributing to this revolution.
The woman who grows tomatoes and sells them at Mbare Musika, instead of waiting for produce from a foreign farm to take the market through a supermarket, is putting her own nail into the coffin of the old, dying Rhodesian enclave economy.

The young man who is innovating in Internet-based solutions for the services sector rather than being a mere user of what the techies in Silicon Valley throw our way is digging the grave of that old economy.

And the indigenous executive who has thrown away his title of commercial director of a large multinational miner and has opened his own gold mine somewhere in Midlands province is planting the seed of the new Zimbabwe.

It is a Zimbabwe that can boldly face the world on its own terms, a Zimbabwe that knows that it is no less a nation than any other just because it is small and is in the heart of Southern Africa.

Yes, there will be birthing pains, there are birthing pains. But the experience of the last 16-odd years — much like the experience of the 14 years of armed struggle — show us that together we can overcome.

Let 2014 be the year.

We have conquered before, and we shall conquer again.

Government Should Protect Local Economic Players

Govt should protect local economic players

January 1, 2014 Opinion & Analysis
Conrad Gweru

Unfortunately some countries have become mass consumers while others remain mass producers. There are a number of goods that local companies are producing and have the capacity to meet demand and supply.

However, due to limited restrictions on imported goods, global players with their added advantage of mass production have found Zimbabwe to be a fertile market for their products, a situation that has stalled the growth of the local industry at every level.

Zimbabwe has become a dumping ground of some sort.

David Chiweza, author of “Out of the Rabble: Ending the Global Economic Crisis by Understanding the Zimbabwean Experience”, warns against unplanned opening up of the Zimbabwe market to finished goods.

Based on his first-hand experience of living in China during the years 1988-1992, Chiweza argues that far from the pretence of the free markets doctrine, all industrialising nations owe their development to monopolistic markets with China, for example, having imposed a total ban on imports for much of her early development stages.

He argues that markets along with other factors provide an environment necessary for human and industrial development culminating in global competitiveness as was the case with China.

The story of one Wellaz Jings, a specialist in furniture manufacturing in Glen View Area 8 in Harare, sums it up.

In 2006, he joined his brothers in the manufacturing of furniture when the Glen View 8 complex was opened.

Then business was very good.

Each day since 2006, he has witnessed his business slowly getting to its knees and today it is worse with consumers now preferring products from outside the country.

The “home industry” players used to compete with reputable multinational companies, a completely different situation today where he has to compete mainly with low-cost and substandard goods from other countries.

If the situation continues, he will have to close shop.

Brigadier-General (Retired) David Chiweza observes that the SME sector is the major peddler of non-essential imports and hence there is need for Government to consider enacting a general law that restricts imports through licensing, tariff measures or a total ban.

He further observes that “SMEs are just the same as any other company. However, of the SMEs, we must distinguish between manufacturing SMEs and trading SMEs.

“There is a major problem within the family of SMEs in that the two are attacking each other’s interests and thereby stalling the growth of the manufacturing side of SMEs. The one that imports kills the one that manufactures,” says he.

He posits that a general law restricting imports through licensing, especially those that we manufacture locally, is needed. Only 7 percent of SMEs are involved in manufacturing, according to some statistics.

There is need to reverse the tide by pushing the 7 percent to 51 percent. That is the mammoth task ahead. The traders will then be trading on goods made by the local manufacturers.

The book notes that restrictions or protectionist policies will not affect relations that Zimbabwe has with other countries arguing Zimbabwe will continue to trade normally.

Foreign companies that are trading with us are not doing so out of favour but because they are getting value from local goods.

That position will not change because of protectionist policies, says he. Essentially there is need for a balance that sees growth of new companies in domestic markets and allowing those companies that have the capability of excelling in international markets to go ahead of others, which is the natural growth of industrial competitiveness.

It has been argued that not all companies will be ready to go global and they will need to build competencies at home before they can go global.

Other thinkers like Head of Research for Econometer Global Capital Mr Christopher Mugaga believe SMEs can be trained in entrepreneurship and ensure that their products meet international standards and thus can compete with other products on the market.

There are positives to go with protectionism – that is when protectionism is not just protection for the sake of it.

Like Chiweza argues, protectionism must also act as a gate valve which is used to regulate the balance of trade especially in light of an unhealthy balance of trade as a major problem facing our economy today.

Without balancing trade, it will be difficult to introduce a local currency. In this matrix, the local currency is imperative, too.

Says Chiweza critically: “We cannot be a nation that is governed by fear of the pain of the past. Instead we must demonstrate that we are a thinking people and can equally manage the process like other nations have done. Fear should not prevent us from doing the correct thing rather it should ensure that we do the correct thing with due care.

Whatever you fear you handle it with care to ensure success. Therefore instead of shrinking because of fear, we must embrace it as a companion in our quest to reintroduce our currency.”

Nemeso: Telling Our Own Stories in 2014

Nemeso: Telling our own stories in 2014

January 1, 2014 Opinion & Analysis

“Memoirs of an Unsung Legend: Nemeso” and it was written by Munyaradzi Mawere, Cosmas Mukombe and Christopher Mabeza.

Mukombe is a grandson of the “real” Nemeso, probably the same one on whom the Nemeso of legend is based

Mabasa Sasa Deputy Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

It is from the pagan Roman god of the doorway, Janus, that we get the month of January in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Of course, other countries like China and Ethiopia have their own ways of marking the phases of the moons, as did we before colonialism. Janus is a two-faced (not in the sense of being duplicitous, but in the literal understanding of the phrase: having two faces) deity who looks both forward and backward at the same time. Why January is named after him thus becomes obvious: it is a time to reflect on the year that was and also to look forward to what is ahead.

Several other religions and legends across the world have their own two-faced/two-headed deities. One that immediately comes to mind is the Indian goddess Kali, who represents both life and death.

It is an esoteric — maybe even arcane — area that Christian and non-Christians scholars have assigned differing meaning to for centuries, this whole thing about two-faced, dualistic good-evil, light-dark, life-death deities.

There will never be agreement on these interpretations.

What is interesting though is how pagan deities, festivals, rituals and beliefs have been embraced by Christendom, especially from the time of Constantine, ruler of Rome, back in the Fourth Century AD.

At the same time, the pagan rituals, festivals, deities etc of non-European peoples have been condemned by these very same Christians.

It’s all about the cultural bedrock of conquest.

We were conquered and so were our legends, cultures and belief systems.
That is why I learnt first of a European Janus before I came across a very African character called Nemeso.

For those who know the Shona language, the immediate similarity between Janus and Nemeso is apparent.

Nemeso was so-named because he too had a two faces, one facing forward and the other backward. What’s more, he was not a fictional character but actually lived in this land we call Zimbabwe in the 17th century.

I first came across his story in a book written for children many, many years ago. I have tried to find that little book without any success, but I do remember that after initially being ostracised because of his condition, he was to rise to become a great leader.

Because of the little that has been preserved about Nemeso, his story — in the tradition of legend-keeping — most of what is known about this evidently great man is a blend of fact, fantasy and whatever lies in between the two.

Claude Maredza, that forceful Zimbabwean writer, made an oblique reference to Nemeso in one interview some years ago. He was being interviewed on his engaging book “The Blackness of Black” and he was commenting on the reasons why he had left Christianity and was devoting his energies to rediscovering his roots, the source of his being as an African.

He said, “Why should Christianity be the only way to Heaven if at all there is a Heaven?

Because Christians say so. But Moslems also swear that the only way is through Mohammed. If that is the case, why can’t I go to heaven through Nemeso? Because a Christian or Moslem who imposed his religion on me says Nemeso, my ancestor, is a pagan.”

There is really not much by way of the written word that can be found on Nemeso, and so my search for more information on him continues.

What I have found in my quest to learn more of Nemeso, and pleasantly so at that, is that three Zimbabweans have written a more comprehensive “biography” of this little-known character.

Published in April last year, it is titled “Memoirs of an Unsung Legend: Nemeso” and it was written by Munyaradzi Mawere, Cosmas Mukombe and Christopher Mabeza. Mukombe is a grandson of the “real” Nemeso, probably the same one on whom the Nemeso of legend is based.

Nemeso lived in south-eastern Zimbabwe among the Duma people.

Mawere, Mukombe and Mabeza say one of his lasting, confirmed legacies — is a “delicious dish — of edible stinkbugs locally named harurwa”.

“These insects, believed to be a gift to Nemeso by the ancestors, thrive in a grove (jiri) where no one has been allowed to meddle since the time of Nemeso, the medium through whom the stinkbugs were gifted to the living by the living-dead.

“The insects are a source of livelihood for the Duma people and for people beyond, and serve as a drive for forest conservation in the area.”

The above quotations are not taken from the book itself, but rather from a citation of the book.

Why is that? Quite simply because I do not have the book!

It’s there on online bookshops but not in the bookstores of Zimbabwe.

Kingston’s is dead, the Book Centre is dead and there is not much by way of bookshops in this country that prides itself on being the most literate and best-educated in Africa.

If it wasn’t for the open market at Avondale in Harare, and a thriving subterranean book exchange network encompassing Zimbabweans among themselves and with their colleagues in the Diaspora, only school textbooks would have been left in this country.

This says something about Zimbabweans and how much we value telling our own stories, giving ourselves an identity and preserving, developing and projecting that identity to the rest of the world.

Anyone who has passed through a CNA, Book Den or Exclusive Books shop will know the preponderance of books purportedly detailing the Zimbabwean story, written by non-Zimbabweans or by people with tenuous, NGO-related links to the country.

We are not telling our own stories, and this has massive ramifications on what we think of ourselves and what we think we can — and actually will — achieve going forward.

Other people are telling our stories for us, they are defining us, shaping us and giving us a past, present and future that they want us to have — not that we ourselves want to have.

As we enter 2014, perhaps it is time to take stock of where our story is coming from and where it is going.

Nemeso would not have asked for a more simple task.

Only Fools Can Buy Former Ambassador's Story

Only fools can buy Zwambila’s story

January 1, 2014 Opinion & Analysis
Johannes Chinotimba
Zimbabwe Herald

The recalled Zimbabwean ambassador to Australia, Ms Jacqueline Zwambila made a grave mistake of using a threadbare and overused ploy in her desperate bid to get a protection visa that will allow her to stay in that country. The lame excuse she replayed to apply for political asylum was only effective during the early 2000. It no longer needs someone to be clever to dismiss such stone-aged scheme.

It’s not an offence for a former ambassador to seek residence permit in a country that he or she was posted to. Examples abound of diplomats from Germany, Canada and other countries who settled in Zimbabwe after their tours of duty. It becomes an issue when the country is expediently put into disrepute in the process of acquiring such a status. The diplomats who chose to stay in Zimbabwe never demonised their countries of origin, a scenario that Zwambila should have drawn some lessons from.

Zwambila claimed that she feared for her safety if she returned to this country. She, however, cannot detail the nature of the threat made on her life. This leaves everybody in their right frame of mind concluding that the woman is fabricating the whole issue to justify her stay in Australia.

Her party has distanced itself from the whole drama. This is a clear admission that there is nothing political to attach to this asylum application. The MDC-T leadership knows very well that there is no grain of truth in what Zwambila is claiming. If Zanu-PF was persecuting opposition members as Zwambila is claiming, the MDC-T leadership could have fled the country a long time ago.

The whole leadership of the chief opposition party is living peacefully in the country, with some hobnobbing with Zanu-PF officials in Parliament. Her party’s president is currently staying in a Government house. Thus, Zwambila’s case fails to add up.

With the way the persecution allegations were hyped, everybody, including the MDC-T, is anxious to know the magnitude of Zwambila’s crime. Maybe this woman committed a serious crime that nobody is privy to and she could be suspecting that the Government is now in the know.

It reminds me of a man who caught his wife in bed with another man. Instead of reacting in the expected savagery manner, the man just went away without a word. When he returned, it was business as usual as if nothing ever happened. Tortured by this peculiar reaction, the wife just decided to silently pack her bags and that was the end of it. Is this granny being tortured by the non-reaction of the Government to her diplomatic gaffes?

There is more to Zwambila’s case than meets the eye. Zanu-PF has no record of persecuting opponents, moreso after a thunderous electoral victory. Ian Smith, who butchered tens of thousands of innocent Zimbabweans, was not even arrested after independence. What is so special about Zwambila’s crimes, perceived or real?

A thorough retrospection of the myriad controversies that Zwambila was entangled in during her four-year stay in Australia would still not provide us with reasons for her home-phobia. The controversies do not warrant the so-called indefinite detention that she alleges is waiting for her.

For starters, she is the same woman who, in a fit of rage, stripped naked in front of embassy staff in Canberra. She is the woman who allegedly made sexual advances and ill-treated an MDC-T activist, Felix Machiridza, she had taken to Canberra on the promise she would secure employment for him. She refused to pay US$2 700 to a contractor who made repairs to her house back in Zimbabwe.

Zwambila was in the headlines after she attended a reunion of the former Rhodesian soldiers who were celebrating Rhodesia, an epoch that no sane Zimbabwean would want to remember.

Her attendance was tantamount to endorsing whatever happened during that period.

Unless you are a Satanist, you cannot attend such rituals. During her stay in Australia, Zwambila used to visit Zimbabwe often and nothing happened to her. If the Government has an issue with her, she could have been arrested during those visits.

Her party’s spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora urged the Government to give the ambassador an assurance that her safety is guaranteed. The Government has since done so through the Ministries of Foreign and Home affairs. Nevertheless, Zwambila remained adamant.

Zwambila said the current government was illegitimate, a statement that exposes her double standards. If she is sincere that Zanu-PF government is illegitimate, she should have resigned immediately after the so-called illegitimate government was inaugurated.

Instead, she remained in office representing a leader of an illegitimate government. She continued to receive a salary from an illegitimate government.

Zwambila’s attempt to get political asylum was made after thorough political and economic calculations. She saw how hard times fell on members of her party who were in the inclusive government. She resolved not to fall into the same pit, moreso after she squandered the lucrative opportunity.

But honestly Zwambila must come back and face the hardships brought about by the sanctions her party called for and which she also supported during her diplomatic posting.

All the principals recognised the existence of the sanctions during the Global Political Agreement but Zwambila refused to recognise same.

At least Mr Tsvangirai has learnt that nepotism does not pay. Zwambila had no diplomatic credentials. Diplomatic posting was, therefore, an oversize appointment for her. For that reason, most of the MDC-T supporters hate her with a passion.

Another family appointment that has left egg on Mr Tsvangirai’s face is that of his cousin, Hebson Makuvise, who was the ambassador to Germany. It is believed that he also used the same lame and tired excuse to apply for political asylum.

Mr Tsvangirai handpicked Makuvise for the job ahead of the party favourite, Dr Brighton Chireka who has vast experience of representing the party in Europe.

Makuvise presided over the disappearance of several thousands of British pounds from the party’s bank accounts. He was also involved in the infamous US$1.5 million double dipping scandal which roped in Tsvangirai.

His reluctance to come back home is motivated more by fear of personal humiliation than what he wants us to believe. Germany, which prides itself on democracy, cannot stoop so low as to harbour a criminal.

Only fools can believe these envoys’ spurious stories. We are yet to see if we don’t have one in either Germany or Australia.

What Should Be Government's Top Priority?

What should be Govt’s top priority?

December 31, 2013 Business

Each year universities and other tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe add on at least 30 000 graduates into the ever-growing population of employable citizens, and it is important to devise plans to employ them
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that each of us were asked at least more than once by our primary school teachers and at some point during that time we were asked to write a short descriptive composition of what an ideal life would be in your chosen career.

Back home, parents hoped that their investment in your education would someday pay dividends by way of taking care of them in their old age. The summation of answers by pupils to this question would include, living in their own houses with modern amenities in the urban areas, good salaried jobs that would enable them to give their children a solid and healthy upbringing, and even perhaps owning a small business.

In short, the majority of the class would at least aspire to be part of the thriving middle class of the economy. The middle class is the back bone of any economy because it is the largest contributor to Government personal tax revenue, the largest contributor to national savings (through pension funds and mortgages), and drives consumption which is key for economic growth.

The African Development Bank describes the middle class as those individuals spending between US$2 and US$20 per day. The Zimbabwean middle class since independence had been growing at a steady pace until in the late 90s and early 2000s when the economic hardships in the economy forced them to migrate in search for greener pastures in the diaspora.

As a result the country lost valuable skills as well as its tax base which also contributed to the further decline of industry and overall Government income.

However, in 2009 with the adoption of the multi-currency regime a new middle class began to emerge, which with little credit from Government has been largely responsible for the so called recovery seen by the economy to date, through their hard work and dedication across all sectors of the country.

Each year, around this time, Zimbabwean universities and other tertiary institutions add on at least 30 000 new graduates into the ever-growing population of employable citizens. However, because of economic stagnation over the last decade, the jobs created by the economy have been growing at a slower pace than the rate at which these graduates are being released into the labour market.

After experiencing extreme hyperinflation during the 2000s, the Zimbabwean economy now under the multi-currency regime, is in our opinion currently showing some undesirable deflationary symptoms, which in simple terms is the opposite but worse than inflation.

Deflation relates to the general decline of prices as a result of a reduction in the supply of money or credit. A decrease in Government, personal or investment spending can also cause deflation. Declining prices as reflected by our annual inflation (CPI) which is now close to 0 percent might seem good to the layman as goods and services may be purported to be getting cheaper, but if such a phenomenon persists it has serious negative ramifications for the economy such as, falling corporate profits, closing down of factories because of weak demand, shrinking employment and incomes due to massive wide scale retrenchments, and increasing defaults on loans by companies and individuals, all of which are symptoms currently being experienced in Zimbabwe at this moment.

Experts indicate that ideally manufacturing sector should employ at least 50 percent of the labour force. The 2013 manufacturing sector survey, however, points to the nation moving in the reverse direction with the overall industry capacity utilisation dropping from 44,9 percent in 2012 to 39,6 percent in 2013 due to a cocktail of constraints from lack of financing mechanisms, obsolete machinery and equipment and abundance of cheap imports.

If the manufacturing sector cannot absorb this labour, what shall we make of the existence of an economic middle class in the future? This is probably the reason why the country is faced with an unemployment rate that is currently estimated to be in excess of 80 percent.

The state of the local industry requires a complete re-engineering of the current business models to accommodate technological and global advances as well as ensure competitiveness on the local and international market.

Investment in utilities by Government such as energy and water will go a long way in closing the local supply gap that is being created by uncompetitive prices as well as legacy/pre-dollarisation problems that have resulted in the ballooning of the county’s trade deficit.

A local leading economist has already pointed out the country’s electricity problem if ignored for another five years will have serious negative ramifications across all economic sectors if one looks at the growing demand for power in the country.

In addition, excessive dependence on imports for consumption means that we are exporting jobs to other countries which can only be dealt with if the local industry is producing at com petitive prices.

There has also been a huge outcry on the strain that labour costs have exerted on businesses across all economic sectors. This scenario in our opinion has occurred because of two main reasons firstly; because of an out dated labour law that was crafted post-independence to protect black workers from the then majority white owned and run companies.

The situation 33 years down the road has drastically changed therefore a review of the country’s labour laws to reflect the new realities within the country is imperative as industry cannot thrive under such an expensive labour base and most importantly cannot absorb more labour from our tertiary institutions.

The second reason why labour costs are very high in Zimbabwe is mainly to do with very high expectations that were born out of hyperinflation which dictate that everything should go up in price after a while as was the case during hyperinflation.

According to a leading local economist it is estimated that US dollar used in Zimbabwe is at least 15 percent to 20 percent overvalued compared to the United States, a situation which has also affected labour costs within the country.

The Government is currently spending over 70 percent of its budget on civil servant salaries, therefore through a salary increment scheduled for later this year or early 2014, plans to increase this expenditure to probably between 80 percent and 90 percent of the budget which becomes excessively high.

Leading economists have concluded that although Government wages are an important element to achieve efficiency in the labour market, high Government wages induce too many unemployed to queue for public sector jobs whilst triggering a rise on private sector wages, which lowers job creation in the private sector and raises unemployment.

Against this background, it is our belief that civil servant salary increments, although good for the hard working civil servants, are only going to incite a wage war in the private sector which will further reduce the country’s productive competitiveness whilst also increasing unemployment.

The prevailing high levels of unemployment in the country has given rise to increased activity in the growing informal sector, which is mainly composed of retrenched or unemployed citizens seeking to make a living. Their contribution to the GDP is often underestimated but remains crucial to the economy on the consumption and indirect taxation front of Government revenue.

Most of the businesses in the informal sector never really go anywhere from a growth perspective because of lack of capital and adequate business expertise, but are still very important from a survival of many in this country. This is the plight of most graduates coming out of the country’s tertiary education system.

With massive business closures and retrenchments continuing to take place under the harsh economic environment, the future of many in the country’s middle class is once again under threat as before. Government cannot afford to let the working class of this country die like it did during hyperinflation because it stands to lose more than tax revenue from such a development.

Unemployment remains one of the biggest problems faced by the people of Zimbabwe therefore it is high time that Government prioritised the creation of jobs in its policy framework. The politicians should know what policies need to be implemented and as well as removed from our current policy framework in order to get the economy back on a growth path.

It is important that the population at large begin to understand that many of the decisions made since independence need to be reviewed, because the rest of the world has evolved whilst we have remained stagnant. At the end of the day, the ultimate beneficiaries should be all the Zimbabweans and not a select few. For example, how many jobs have been created since the inception of the indigenisation policy?

Furthermore, what incentives, given the present restrictive labour laws in favour of employees, are there for employers to increase their workforce?

This article was written by Zimnat Asset Management for FinX.

AfrAsia Recovers, Eyes Growth

AfrAsia recovers, eyes growth

December 31, 2013 Business
Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

AFRASIA Holdings Zimbabwe Limited says it is now well positioned to turnaround the group’s fortunes, especially its flagship banking unit after cleaning up the bank’s balance sheet by writing off non-performing loans.Significant liquidity and loan guarantee support injection post equity restructuring following the exit of founding director Mr Nigel Chanakira has allowed the financial services group to also target top end clients.

The group floundered to a US$16,1 million after tax loss for the 18 months to June 2013 largely weighed down by non-performing loans, but says it is starting on a new slate after fully provisioning for the bad loans.

Acting chairman Mr Charles Lawrence Wawn told the company’s annual general meeting yesterday that other factors that weighed down profitability included a staff voluntary separation exercise and the liquidity crunch in the economy.

He said AfrAsia’s results reflected the strain the group endured on the back of non-performing loans, a staff voluntary separation exercise implemented during the period as well as the liquidity crunch pervading the economy.

“The key driver of the bank losses is non-performing loans, a staff voluntary separation exercise implemented during the period as well as the liquidity crunch pervading the economy,” Mr Wawn told shareholders.

In an interview after the AGM group chief executive Mrs Lynn Mukonoweshuro said unlike many financial services companies AfrAsia had decided against rolling over non-performing loans in order to clean up its books.

She said the group took the lead from a market perspective as one of only two institutions that decided that “if you have rolled over a loan, you do need to roll over again, so we made a decision to folly provision and cleaned up.”

AfrAsia Bank has a US$100 million loan book, but Mrs Mukonoweshuro would not reveal the percentage of bad loans, but the national rate stands at 16 percent.

While cleaning up, AfrAsia said it has been underwriting quality loans to ensure it starts performing after poor economic conditions eroded gains since dollarisation.

The AfrAsia CEO said the high rate of non-performing loans did not imply management had been careless, rather she said this reflected the confidence in the new environment at both company and national level at dollarisation.

The group contends it is now well placed to with stand any future turbulence while capitalising on opportunities following some extensive restructuring in terms of both management and internal structural make up.

Major restructuring in the group, unanimously approved by shareholders yesterday, includes appointment of Mrs Jill Penelope, Mr Ritesh Anand, Mr Fungai Ruwende, Mr Henry Nemaire as non-executive directors. Mr Savious Mushosho (Group FD) and Mr Deshmukh (Group deputy CEO) were appointed executive directors.

Mr Calisto Jokonya, Mr Wawn and Mr Simplicius Chihambakwe who were due to retire by rotation, but eligible for re-election opted for another term, were re-elected by a unanimous decision of the shareholders. The full AfrAsia board Zimbabwe will also comprise Mr James Benoit and Mr Kamben Padayachy from AfrAsia Bank.

Exiting the AfrAsia board were nine directors namely outgoing chairperson Ms Sibusisiwe Bango, Mr Brian George Roderick, Mr Anthony Renfric Rowland, Mr Sure Kamhunga, Mr Nigel Chanakira, Mr Frank Kufa, Mr Elfas Chimbera and Mr Clement Ruzengwe stepped down from the board after either retiring or having resigned.

Among the changes has been centralisation of group credit and wider risk control measures after total revamp and centralisation group risk processes to tighten credit management across the new look financial group.

Delivery channels have been rationalised across the group, which resulted in mothballing of branches in Kingdom Bank (renamed AfrAsia Bank) while the group disposed of the licence for stock broking unit.

AfriAsia Holdings Zimbabwe now only operates micro finance, asset management and commercial banking units. The group went through a US$2 million upgrade of its core banking system and stabilisation has now been achieved.

After shareholders approved a US$100 million capital raising initiative by way of a private placement and right issues, Mrs Mukunoweshuro said the initiative, which will raise an initial US$20 million was already underway.

This involves raising of US$5 million through rights issue and the remainder by private placement.

ZANU-PF Scoffs at Former Ambassador to Australia's Claims

Zanu-PF scoffs at Zwambila’s claims

December 31, 2013
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Zanu-PF has accused Zimbabwe’s outgoing Ambassador to Australia, Ms Jacqueline Zwambila, of seeking political relevance by making false claims against Government in her application for asylum in the country she was posted to. The ruling party’s spokesperson, Cde Rugare Gumbo, yesterday said it was Ms Zwambila’s choice to abandon her country.

“As a party we do not have anything against her. We were in the inclusive Government and we respected her as our ambassador to Australia. She, however, turned around from her mandate while in Australia and as such if she wants to remain in Australia so be it. She is a turncoat and we do not have anything to do with her.

“She is just making noise to remain relevant because she knows that she is nobody now. We have systems that function properly and if she has not done anything wrong why is she afraid? We have the police that arrest perpetrators of crime and courts that try them and if they are guilty they go to prison just like in any other society,” Cde Gumbo said.

He added that Zimbabweans should not be diverted from the real issues affecting the country by Ms Zwambila’s antics.

“What we are focusing on right now is implementation of our economic blueprint (Zim-Asset) and uniting the people and we will not be worried by people who just want to make noise for nothing,” Cde Gumbo added.

Ms Zwambila was yesterday quoted by South African media organisations repeating her claims that her life would be in danger in Zimbabwe.

“The decision is based on the fact that I do not feel safe to go back home. My safety is paramount and it is due to actions, which have occurred during my tour of duty here in Australia. I have been subjected to a massive smear campaign by the State agents and I’m not protected by the government.

“I’ve just won a case against one of them and I just do not trust that I will be safe when I go home,” she claimed.

Ms Zwambila said this in reference to a case she sued Herald columnist Mr Reason Wafawarova for defamation following publication of an article alleging she stripped half-naked in front of embassy staff after an argument with them.

Mr Wafawarova lost the case on a technicality after the Australian judge ruled that his papers were not in order. He has stated his intention to appeal against the judgment.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha on Sunday said Government had no issues with Ms Zwambila.

He, however, said she should not tarnish the country’s image to prolong her stay in Australia.

Apart from Ms Zwambila, outgoing Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Germany, Mr Hebson Makuvise, who is said to be a relative to MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, has reportedly also sought asylum in that country.

The two were recalled together with 20 other ambassadors from various diplomatic missions but are said to be afraid to return home because of fears they could be prosecuted on charges of misappropriation of funds in their private capacities.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi has said Government has no intentions of harming Ms Zwambila and advised her to report any threats on her life to the responsible authorities.

Ethanol Blending Cuts Fuel Import Bill by US$20 Million in Zimbabwe

Ethanol blending cuts fuel import bill by us$20m

January 1, 2014
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

The first three months of mandatory ethanol blending of petrol saw Zimbabwe’s fuel import bill cut by nearly us$20 million with larger savings now expected since this was the period when blending rose in steps from 5 percent to 15 percent. By March, Government expects the ethanol percentage in petrol to reach 20 percent.

Zimbabwe has been importing more than it exports since the switch to multiple currencies.

Wealth created by Zimbabwean economic activities has thus been exported, rather than retained to boost economic expansion.

The negative trade balance has delayed the rebuilding of Zimbabwe’s savings and has severely limited the amount of money available for investment and productive lending by banks.

Arda chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza said in an interview yesterday that “apart from reducing fuel imports, the Green Fuel project produced 18 megawatts of electricity.”

Mr Nyabadza said only 4MW out of the 18MW went to the national grid as the power line connecting the station at Chisumbanje was still being upgraded.

He said the implementation of Green Fuel project, which is spearheading the production of ethanol, was successfully completed.
Under the first phase, which started in 2008, Green Fuel managed to reach a target of production of 120 million litres of ethanol and employed 5 500 people.

At least 1 000 hectares of irrigated cane was developed and they are benefiting more than 4 000 families.

Mr Nyabadza said the second phase of the project, which is starting this year, will result in a significant increase in the company’s work force to 7 700, while reducing the fuel import bill by us$9 million per month. He said other downstream benefits targeted this year included increasing irrigation hectrage for the community to 1 500 hectares that would benefit 6 000 families.

“Following the overwhelming support that we get from the Government, we are planning to increase blending levels to E20 and establish flex fuel conversion centres in other cities such as Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare,” he said.

“Foreign Direct Investment levels will also increase to about US$260 million.”
Flex fuel conversion is done on particular vehicles so that they are able to efficiently use much higher ethanol levels in blended fuel.

Mr Nyabadza said a grand business tour of the ethanol plant in Chisumbanje was on the cards before the end of this month.

He said the tour would enable those in other sectors to see how they could tap other benefits that accrue from the large project.
Sources said the project was a game changer in Zimbabwe’s economy as efforts were already under way to resuscitate Quest Motors in Mutare to assemble flex fuel vehicles.

“This project is not just about Green Fuel and ethanol production only,” said the source. “It is about changing the whole economic system because there are vast downstream benefits that are coming with it. The plan is to resuscitate Quest Motors in Mutare and change the whole economic system.”

Apart from the most obvious benefits, investment in sugar would greatly boost the standards of living among small-scale farmers, whose participation is important to enhance more production. With land reform, cane production in the Lowveld has largely switched from estate grown cane to smallholders but with investors owning the costly sugar mills and now the modern ethanol plant and buying cane from the farmers, often in contract schemes that see the farmers obtain inputs, including the costs of irrigation, from the eventual buyers of the cane.

The Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant is jointly owned by Government through Arda and two private investors Macdom Investments and Ratings.

The US$600 million project was hampered by serious political bickering during the tenure of the inclusive Government, with the MDC-T side of Government branding the project a Zanu-PF project.

After the July 31 harmonised elections, the new Zanu-PF Government quickly moved in and introduced mandatory blending.

In the 1980s an older-technology ethanol plant in Triangle saw Zimbabwe’s petrol contain about 20 percent ethanol. After almost a decade at this level the plant went out of commission during the worst drought on record at the the start of the 1990s.

Nigerian Military Clamps Down on Boko Haram in Bornu

Military clamps down on insurgents in Borno

Monday, 30 December 2013 21:13
Written by From Njadvara Musa, Maiduguri
Nigerian Guardian

Gunmen kill three

SOME suspected Boko Haram sect members have attacked four villages on the Bama-Gwoza road axis, torching a primary school, quarry plant, and several houses in Kiva and Warabe communities where they killed three residents even as the military claimed to have carried out a major clampdown on the hoodlums.

The gunmen, according to an eyewitness, also attacked Alafa and Pulka villages, 21 kilometres east of the Sambisa Forest and Bama township, 78 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri, the state capital.

Speaking on the incident yesterday in Maiduguri, the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, Captain Aliyu Danja, said in continuation with the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, troops of 7 Division of Nigerian Army, supported by Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets have launched intense attacks on fleeing terror suspects in Alafa general area near the forest.

He said the 30-minute joint aerial and ground bombardments in the affected area and Sambisa Forest hideouts, led to the killing of 56 terrorists, while others fled with gunshot wounds.

On casualties of clashes, Capt. Danja said: “A lot of weapons, equipment and vehicles belonging to the terrorists were also destroyed by the troops on ground and from multiple air strikes of Alfa jets that reinforced the massive repulsion and killings of insurgents. Two of our soldiers sustained injuries in Saturday’s operations against Boko Haram insurgency in this state.

“The multiple attacks against the insurgents at Alafa village and three others on the Bama-Gwoza road axis are part of the ongoing operations conducted by the military to ensure peaceful Christmas and New Year celebrations in Borno State,” Danja said.

He said for cooperating with the military to end the insurgency, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Obidah Ethan felicitates with the good people of Borno and urged them to continue to cooperate and assist the military by providing useful information on the modus operandi of insurgents.”

Breakthrough Likely Soon Over Crude Oil Search in North East Nigeria

Breakthrough likely soon over crude oil search in North East

Monday, 30 December 2013 21:40
Written by From Mathias Okwe, (Assistant Business Editor, Abuja)

crude-oil• Minister declares zone is most beneficiary of govt’s projects

• Says Yobe alone has over 80

NIGERIA is set to record a breakthrough in its search for oil mineral resources in the Lake Chad Basin of the North East region of the country.

The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has in the last two years invested N26 billion in this effort.

The Minister of State, Finance, Yerima Lawal Ngama, disclosed this in an interview with reporters in Abuja while speaking on the Federal Government’s projects in the zone, particularly in Yobe and Borno states in the wake of the devastation visited on the area by Boko Haram insurgents.

He said that the exploration, which had passed the sixth phase out of 12 phases, indicated a high probability of a rich mineral deposit in the area.

He noted that the commencement of oil production in the zone would be the best panacea to the insurgency in the zone.

The minister who is from Yobe, one of the crisis-ridden states in the zone said that contrary to insinuations in certain quarters, the N2 billion Federal Government’s budget item for intervention in Yobe and Borno states to remedy the devastation by the insurgents in the area did not represent the total sum for the initiative but just a take-off grant pending the proper constitution of a committee to assess the extent of damage.

In fact, he revealed that the Federal Government’s intervention in the zone was a five-year plan and not just a 2014 scheme.

He said that he would shed more light on the oil mineral prospecting activities in the zone and otherFederal Government’s interventions in the North East zone and particularly Yobe which he said had attracted over 80 federal projects .

The minister said : “ The Government of President Goodluck Jonathan has done what nobody in the history of Nigeria has done, that is the exploration of oil and gas in the zone. We know how much is being provided, before it was just talk and talk. But this government came, first year, it made provision of N16 billion to explore oil in Lake Chad and then it was followed by another N10 billion . When you are looking for oil, there are 12 phases. Right now, we are in phase six, ….the scanning has been done , all the information has been interpreted , … Go to NAPIMS, it is handling the Lake Chad Basin …, when you come to Gombe, you have ELF, you have Shell and you have Chevron, to explore oil and gas that can completely change the economy of the region . And this government has really invested much in this venture…”

Still on projects, the minister said : “ This is important because before now, many people have been insinuating that the North East has been neglected in terms of projects, which as far as I am concerned is not true. Some of the biggest projects in the country today are located in the North East. Today, if you talk in terms of road network, the most expensive road in the country is the East-West Road because of the number of bridges and the terrain. The second most expensive road is the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, and that is in the North East and government has already invested in a 330KVA line to Maiduguri from Gombe. This will ensure that the entire zone has high grid electricity supply . And right now another 132KVA line is to link Damaturu to the northern part of Yobe. This will ensure that we have constant electricity supply. This is a Federal Government’s project . The 330 KVA line has been finished. The sub-station was almost finished before all this insurgency began. Apart from that, government is doing enough in terms of other road networks. We have other several roads in all the states of the North East region. There is no state in the North East that does not have serious Federal Government’s presence or engage in the construction of at least two major roads now. And then we have the Kashimbilla Dam, we have the Daushi Sarkin Dam which is also being constructed not to talk of Mambilla . Mambilla will be one of the biggest projects in Nigeria .

“ This is the only government since independence that has provided a roof over the almajiris. During our time, we sat on bare floor with dirty clothes playing with sand. But today they have uniforms and they are being treated like normal school children. And this is a very big contribution and we are very grateful to President Goodluck Jonathan for introducing the almajiri school. In Yobe alone we have six almajiri schools. Again, just recently we signed a $97 million loan with the Islamic Development Bank for states in the zone that want to establish more almajiri schools. “

On the Federal Government’s initiative in the zone, Ngawa said: “ The President has an initiative for the North East particularly states under emergency rule that have been devastated by the activities of Boko Haram. You know that the insurgency has caused destruction of schools, offices and people’s ways of life. Many people have fled those places and government has been investing a lot and doing a lot to the North East, that nobody can contradict.

“ While government is working on the peace initiatives it has to look at the root causes of what is happening. Principally those behind these Boko Haram youths, youths that find themselves in a hopeless situation . And if we don’t have hopeless youths they may find it difficult to recruit. The fact that they found a fertile ground in hopeless youths, that makes it easier for them to recruit people. And therefore, while peace is being restored government also has to work to alleviate the economic condition of the people in the North East especially the youth, the women and those people who you can say are commoners: people involved in one craft or another to try to ensure that they have a decent living . They can earn a decent income and this will help prevent such kind of unfortunate situation.

“While government is working on this , the President and his team thought it necessary to come up with a kind of intervention . The President visited both Borno and Yobe early this year and in the discussion he had with the people of Borno and Yobe everybody talked about massive intervention in the unfortunate situation these two states find themselves, in particular Yobe . Because if you look at all the development indices you find that the states are completely at the base and therefore government has to come to their aid not only to restore the schools that have been destroyed but they must try to make sure that they have a cushion life and that’s why the Federal Government thought of the initiative in those states. We are putting a committee in place. In fact, I wrote to the Head of Service to find somebody who is very competent, somebody who has experience in this kind of intervention to come and serve as the secretary of that initiative. I am yet to receive a response. However, we have a small committee and contact group, we are meeting with all the multilateral agencies and other development partners. Of course, they too have interest in assisting towards bringing economic prosperity to these areas.

“ This is a programme that is being conceived over time. Nobody has said that this is a 2014 programme. In fact, the programme is just taking off in 2014. The committee will be put in place in earnest in 2014 when the Head of Service has nominated a secretary. Nobody said all the Federal Government is doing in the North East is N2 billion. That’s wrong. Nobody said that. You have seen a budget line and you saw N2 billion for North East intervention, if you don’t understand come and ask us in the Federal Ministry of Finance and we would tell you what it is and give you the details and the arrangement. Right now, many parts of Adamawa Borno and Yobe, you can’t go. So how can you determine how much is required to intervene? Some local governments in Yobe, you can’t go. Is it even the right time to even go and assess? Of course we know a lot has been achieved but we hope that within this year, we can get to a point where everything will be normalised and people will go to assess the extent of damage and what is needed in terms of intervention in education, intervention in health care, intervention in water supply and all those things .

“ The N2 billion in question is just one item that we think we can do even at this initial stage before we put the entire intervention proper in place which we would now present to the President and say this has been done and this is what is needed and we can do it.”

US-Backed Somalian Forces Advance to Al-Shabab Areas

Government advances to al-Shabab controlled areas in Somalia

Dec 29, 2013 | By Somalicurrent

Somali government troops backed by Ethiopian forces have taken control of al-Shabab controlled areas in Bardale district of Somalia’s Bay region, officials said on Sunday.

Bardale commissioner Mohamed Isaq Arra-ase told local reporters that the government forces backed by Ethiopian troops have successfully conducted an operation to eliminate al-Shabab out of locations in the town.

“Somalia government troops have today conducted an operation and took control of Moro-waraabe, Walaq iyo Is-koris in Bardale district of Bay region,” Mohamed said.

“The operation is part of wider operations to eliminate al-Shabab out of the region (Bay), we will continue [the operation] until the militants are eradicated from the district.” He added.

No casualties have been reported.

Al-Shabab still controls Dinsor, Ufurow and parts of Bardale district in Bay region.

Four Somalian Police Officers Injured in Landmine Explosion

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Somalia: Four Police Officers Injured in Landmine Explosion

30 DECEMBER 2013

Four police officers were injured on Monday morning in Dagahaley when a landmine detonated underneath the vehicle they were travelling in.

Police spokesman Masoud Munyi said that the officers were in a convoy that was escorting humanitarian aid workers for an assignment when the incident occured.

A police aircraft has been dispatched to airlift two of the officers to Nairobi for specialised treatment. Police say the explosive extensively damaged the police vehicle.

Most parts of North Eastern Kenya have been prone to attacks where officers have lost their lives or sustained injuries when patrol cars run over the improvised explosive devices (IEDs). However in Dagahaley, the last incident of a similar nature was reported in May, 2012 where one officer was killed and three others injured.

The attacks, according to the police records, mainly target security forces.

IEDs have been a weapon of choice for Al-Shabaab militias in the region since the Kenya Defence Forces moved into Somalia to fight the terror group in October 2011.

Will the New Somalian Prime Minister Lead?

Somalia: Will the new Prime Minister Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed lead?

Posted on December 29, 2013
Mohamed A. Hussein
December 29th 2013


Somali president nominated new prime minister Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed after the previous prime minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Sacid was ousted by the parliament over what they considered lack of performance and corruption, but it was widely known the real reason behind the impeachment of the prime minister Sacid was conflict between him and the president.

It was reported that the disagreement between the president and the prime Minster was based on over the selection of the new ministers after one year of corruption and mismanagement and lack of accomplishing the goal set for the begging of the year.

Somali people were very disappointed because the conflict between the top leaders of the government continued after the Somali government was finally recognized by international community and after the president himself declared that the days of the president and prime Minister fighting is over soon after he was elected.

New prime Minister was approved overwhelmingly by the parliament and so far most of the political analysts and Somali people in general are waiting the government Prime Minister Abdiwali will form before they conclude whether he will lead or not. The answer to that question depends on whether he will nominate some of the previous ministers whom everyone knows are the president’s close friend who were basically responsible for the failure of the previous government.

If this government is about to succeed, the consensus is that new Prime Minister Abdiwali is expected to nominate capable ministers, show leadership and implement constitution; all three activities were what previous government accused to be lacking.

First Prime Minister Abdiwali should nominate capable ministers independently. These ministers should not be included any of the previous ministers who were responsible of the failure of the previous government. It was reported that most of those ministers were selected by the president and list of their names was handed to the previous Prime Minister Sacid to work with.

As result, after one year later, ex-prime minister Sacid realized that most of ministers were loyal to president instead of him. It was reported the day when the conflict between president and prime minister came to light, only three ministers showed in the weekly meeting held by the prime minister while the rest of the ministers were in villa Somalia with the president planning how to oust their boss.

Some analyst already pointed out that president is determined to include some of his friends from previous list into the new cabinets and that is why some critics already pointed out, instead of working on selecting capable ministers for time being, new prime minister is busy working on with previous ministers by visiting Mogadishu seaports and attending event for opening high school in Mogadishu while president is preparing the list of the ministers.

If some of those ministers return to the scene, then the perception would be that this new Prime Minister Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed was given the list of the ministers he should work with by the president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and he may end up in the same situation ex-prime minister Sacid found himself a year later.

Second, new prime minister must show a leadership as soon as his government is approved by the parliament. The previous government was accused that the president was doing the prime minister’s task while the prime minister was acting like a mayor of Mogadishu. There was one time when even the mayor of Mogadishu and the president were attending London conference with international community to discuss how Somalia would move forward while the prime minister stayed behind to attend ceremony held in Mogadishu where it suited by the mayor to attend.

It is all known that the president and prime minister’s task is declared in the constitution and there is no confusion. People who know the new prime minister so far stated that he is a man who has quality of leadership, but like ex-prime minister Ali Gedi said in an interview that he has not deal with Abdiwali as being prime minister yet, but as far as he knows he get that leadership quality. This meaning that knowing the president who likes to act like prime minister, it is doubt full that Abdiwali Ahmed Mohamed will be free to act independently.

Third, the new prime minister should implement the constitution as agreed upon year ago when the transitional government was ended. As soon as transition government was ended, it was reported that the constitution was changed by the president’s group and the words were exchange via media by Somali government and other states which accused that government is trying to centralize the power into Mogadishu.

Right now the whole constitution is in confusion for example, the provisional constitution declares that any two states or more can form a state being part of the federal government. The previous governments with the leadership of the president wasted over one year breaking up jubaland administration, then agreeing to an interim administration consist of three states while the speaker of the parliament urged his home land Baydhabo to form regional administration consist of six states including the three already the government recognized as interim administration of Jubba.

In order to avoid Such a confusion, the government should hold reconciliation meeting where all the stakeholders attend to discuss how to proceed forming emerging states in order to building states from the bottom up. Somali people cannot afford wasting another three years of confusion where everyone interpret the constitution the way suits them.

Somali people have seen the leadership of the president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for the one year he was running the government as he was the prime minister and the failure as result of that leadership. The only hope of this government to Success depends on the new prime minister, Abdiwali Ahmed Mohamed how he select capable ministers, show leadership skill those who know him said he bosses and clarify constitution and implement it as agreed upon. Within few weeks, Somali people would know whether they are moving forward or returning to the square one.

The Opinion expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Raxanreeb Online editorial policy

Puntland Names New MPs to Elect Next President

Agence France-Presse December 31, 2013 11:31am

Somalia's Puntland names new MPs to elect next president


Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region has named a new parliament whose members will next week vote in a new president, amid widespread fears the poll will trigger violence.

The lawmakers -- 65 men and one woman -- were appointed by clan elders, and will choose the next president on January 8.

Poverty-stricken Puntland forms the tip of the Horn of Africa and makes up around a third of Somalia's territory.

It is struggling to rebuild after years of war as well as to stamp out pirate bases along its lawless coast and to battle Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

"After checking the names submitted by the council of elders, the Puntland parliament vetting committee has approved the new list of MPs," a statement said Tuesday.

The eight members of the committee are all presidential appointees.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) warned in a report this month that the presidential vote will likely bring "complex territorial and political issues to the fore, exacerbating clan cleavages and providing opportunities for extremists."

Elections were originally due to have been held in July, but they were postponed by the government, which at the time said the risk of violence was too great.

Puntland set up its own government in 1998, but unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared full independence.

At least 17 candidates are in the running for the top job, but incumbent president Abdurahman Mohamed Farole, in power since 2009, is seen as likely to retain his post.

However, key rivals include Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a recent former prime minister of united Somalia, who has accused him of corruption.

The new president will lead Puntland for the next four years.

Somalia has been riven by civil war since the collapse of the central government in 1991.

The Shebab have been driven out of Somalia's major towns by a UN-mandated African Union force.

However, the insurgents still control large swathes of southern Somalia as well as pockets of Puntland.

Somalia-Kenya: President Mohamud, President Kenyatta: Foes or Friends?

Somalia – Kenya: President Mohamud,
President Kenyatta: Foes or Friends?

Posted on December 28, 2013
Ahmed Said (Abwaan Kuluc)


A popular Somali website published an article stating that during Somali President’s recent visit to Nairobi Kenya, the Somali president did not receive a proper presidential welcome at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Airport. Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was visiting Kenya for talks over a border dispute between the two countries. However, according to the website, Kenya and Somalia did not comment on the incident.

Somalia took a federal system in 2004 and the current Somali Federal Government is based on that. Although it is the mandate of the Somali government to help build Somali States, there is a lot of work ahead. Puntland, Jubaland, and Somaliland are the only operational local Somali States in Somalia. Nevertheless, Somaliland declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

But Jubaland (currently and officially known as Jubba) was at loggerheads in this year, 2013, with the Federal Government of Somalia because the Federal Government of Somalia refused to recognize Jubaland citing grounds that the Jubaland State was not inclusive at the State level at that time and was a puppet of Kenya as Kenyan troops were in Jubaland after a long battle aimed at ousting Al-Shabab. It was only recently when the government of Somalia officially recognized Jubaland as Jubba. However, Somalia’s diplomatic wrangle with Kenya over Jubba State seems to have not completely healed in the sense that Kenya has more influences on Jubba instead of Somalia’s Federal Government having the influences.

Somalia-Kenya border dispute is marital dispute and over the years, there were unconfirmed reports that the two countries were negotiating to solve the sea dispute problem.

There were also claims that Kenya is using Somalia’s Juba State bordering it as a baffo zone to repel Al-Shabab and to advance its interests as Kenya explores oil in its territories bordering Somalia. Kenya also wants to harness potential oil wealth in the seas close to Somalia and allegedly beyond in Somali territories.

If you look at different fronts, Somalia and Kenya share interests as two neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa. In contrast, the two countries seems to be in almost secret loathing as Kenyan troops are still in Southern Somalia and became a part of the African Union Force known as UNISOM which currently guards the weak Somali Federal Government against being toppled by Al-Shabab. Maybe ‘secret loathing’ is the right word because Somalia’s Federal Government is still suspicious of Kenya’s national interests as Kenya is a close ally of Somalia’s Jubba State.

In the article published by the above mentioned Somali website, there is a picture showing Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta talking at same time with hand gestures and body language sending the message that the two leaders were not interested in each others’ point. The two leaders should know that leading the two countries to the right paths is the only right path…because for both leaders, they have already got too many problems on their plates facing them in their countries: Somalia has earned the sobriquet of ‘failed state’ and it is the responsibility of president Hassan sheikh mohamud to change that and it is no time for him to turn President Uhuru Kenyatta from a friend into a rival: in recent years, Kenya underwent Election violence and president Uhuru Kenyatta currently faces crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court at the Hague for inciting the violence; he has no time either to turn president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from a friend into a rival: their working together is the true interests of both leaders and both countries.
Ahmed Said (Abwaan Kuluc) is a Somali American Writer based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, United States. He can be reached at abdinassirsomalia@gmail.com .