Saturday, November 30, 2019

Regional Women Group Calls to Review Further Laws to Ensure Gender Equality in Sudan
November 29, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - A regional network for women groups, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), urged to review the Sudanese criminal code to discrimination against women, stressing that the abolished Public Order Act was one of its emanations.

The Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers, in a joint meeting on 28 November endorsed a law repealing the Public Law Act which is directed particularly against women presence in public spaces.

During the rule of the former regime, the public order police had extensive powers in accordance with this law to arrest any person, particularly targeting women for dancing at parties, vending on the streets, and begging.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, SIHA "relieved" by the repeal of the act which created a discriminatory regulation directed against women in term what they can or cannot dress besides other forms of discrimination that are incompatible with women’s empowerment.

"However there is still worry that the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 – the source of terror and discrimination- is still active. Thus, there are minimal reasons to celebrate," further said the women organisation.

"The Sudan Criminal Act – part of the Public Order Regime was drafted based on terror laws in order to instil fear in Sudanese people," further said the group.
With the Criminal code which is based on Islamic legislation, women rights remain restricted in other areas as their right to give evidence before a court is limited and their testimony is considered to be worth half that of a man’s testimony.

The group called to review the whole criminal code in order to fit with the international and regional legal framework adding that without such reform the volatility of gender discrimination will continue

"The signing and ratification of both CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol are integral to stopping the unlawful discrimination against women in the country, as well as protecting their rights and dignity," further emphasized the group.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango hailed the repeal of Public Order Act and called on the government to ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished.

" Amnesty International calls on the government of Sudan to go further and ratify important instruments related to women’s rights including the Maputo Protocol governing the rights of women in Africa, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)" Magango further said.

IGAD Elects Sudan as Chair, Endorses Juba’s Mediation for Peace Talks
Sudan's PM Abdallah Hamdok and his FM Asma Abdallah at the IGAS Assembly of Head of State and Government meeting on 29 November 2019 (SUNA Photo)

November 30, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - IGAD leaders elected Sudan for the first time for the chairmanship of the East African block and endorsed South Sudan as the mediator of the Sudan peace process.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had been chaired by Ethiopian since 2008. Sudan had never taken the chairmanship of the regional body as its former leadership was rejected by the international community.

The decision to elect as the head of the regional organisation was announced at the end of the IGAD annual meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa on Friday.

"Elected Sudan as the Chair of IGAD, and expressed its confidence that under the leadership of Sudan, IGAD will reach new heights in realizing regional integration and political cooperation," reads a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister, Asmaa Abdallah, praised Sudan election for the chairmanship of the IGAD, pointing that it shows the regional support for its new government and a recognition of what it can offer it various fields.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok led the Sudanese delegation to the meeting which was attended by, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Djiboutian President Ismail Guelleh, President Salva Kiir Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and Kenyan Foreign Minister Monica Juma.

The ordinary regional summit also endorsed the South Sudanese mediation for the peace talks between the transitional government and the armed groups in Sudan.

"Commended the Government and people of Sudan for transitioning into the civilian rule and for their resilience and determination, and in this regard endorsed the role of the Republic of South Sudan in mediating the peace talks in Juba;" said the statement.

The endorsement by the regional body provides a regional cover for the ongoing process which should resume in Juba on 10 December.

Also, it comes after a recent meeting between the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) with the South Sudanese officials where it was agreed to provide a technical secretariat for the mediation.

The statement called on the international community to lift the "crippling economic sanctions" imposed on Sudan and South Sudan.

In addition, the IGAD head of states praised the commitment of the South Sudanese parties to the ceasefire agreement for more than a year and urged the Parties to accomplish "the pre-transitional tasks within the extended hundred days and form the R-TGoNU by the end of the extended period.

The U.S. top diplomat for Africa, Tobor Nagy was the first to congratulate Hamdok for his election at the head of the IGAD

"Congratulations to Sudan PM Hamdokon assuming the chair of IGAD," Nagy wrote in a tweet he posted few hours after his election.

"The U.S. looks forward to continuing our work with IGAD secretariat and Sudan on regional issues, especially the peace process in South Sudan," he added.

International Community Urged to Show a Unified Front in South Sudan Peace Process
2019/11/28 14:56:03

The international community should present a common front to help South Sudan implement the 2018 peace deal, monitors tasked with overseeing the fragile pact said Wednesday.

Augostino Njoroge, chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), told a stakeholder meeting in Juba that time has come for the international community to speak with one voice and salvage the shaky pact from unraveling.

"With the 100 days already ticking, I urge the region and the international community to present a unified voice in support of the full and timely implementation of the peace agreement as we move forward," Njoroge said.

The call came days after the U.S. recalled its envoy to South Sudan after the parties to the September 2018 agreement failed to meet the Nov. 12 deadline to a form unity government.

Njoroge said financial assistance and in-kind support is urgently needed to help the former foes to implement pending issues dragging back the agreement.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Machar leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to both leaders.
China Summons US Ambassador to Lodge Representations, Protest Against US Signing of Hong Kong-related Act Into Law
2019/11/28 17:39:38

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng on Thursday summoned U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to lodge stern representations and strong protest against the United States signing of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 into law.

"China strongly urges the U.S. to correct its mistake and make a fresh start, not to put the Act into effect, and immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs or interfering in China's other internal affairs so as to avoid making further damages to bilateral ties and cooperation in important areas between China and the United States," Le demanded.

As for the wrong move taken by the United States, China will take countermeasures in response and the U.S. must bear all the consequences that may ensue, he said.

The United States' signing of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 into law is a severe interference in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs. It is also in serious violation of the international law and basic norms governing international relations. It is a gross hegemonic move, Le said, noting that the Chinese government and the people express strong indignation and firm opposition against it.

Hong Kong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, brooking no interference from any foreign government or force, he said.

The Chinese government has unswerving determination to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement "one country, two systems" principle and oppose any external force in interfering in Hong Kong affairs, Le stressed.
Cuba, EU Dialogue on Unilateral Coercive Measures
2019/11/30 13:56:10

 Delegations from Cuba and the European Union (EU) met on Friday in Havana for the Second Dialogue on Unilateral Coercive Measures.

During the closed-door meeting, which examined the use of coercive measures as a means of putting political and economic pressure on member states, the Cuban delegation denounced the US blockade against the island that has existed for more than half a century.

"It is an issue of the greatest importance for Cuba, because over the last period, there has been a significant resurgence of the blockade and of similar hostile measures against our country," said Rodolfo Reyes, general director of multilateral affairs and international law at Cuba's Foreign Ministry.

The diplomat called attention to the recent decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to put into effect Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US lawsuits against foreign companies operating in Cuba with assets nationalized or expropriated following the 1959 Revolution.

The lawsuits could threaten many European companies, especially Spanish tourism chains like Iberostar, Melia and NH, which have investments in Cuba. EU businesses operating in the country could face difficulties ranging from opening bank accounts to importing materials from abroad.

Katja Afheldt, head of Division for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean at the European External Action Service, said that countries that want to do legitimate business with Cuba are now facing a significant legal risk.

"This affects economic relations between the EU and Cuba, and for this reason, member countries voted unanimously in favor of Cuba's resolution against the blockade at the United Nations," the diplomat added.
China’s Economic Growth Can Maintain Stability in 2020 Amid Global Slowdown
By Lian Ping
Global Times
2019/11/28 22:18:40

China's economic growth slowed further in 2019 due to structural, cyclical and external factors. Nevertheless, the economy is expected to maintain a medium-high rate of growth - likely around 6 percent - in 2020, if China can reach a phase one agreement with the US over the year-long trade war and adopt more powerful counter-cyclical measures to boost the economy.

The drive from exports is expected to weaken further in the next year, and pressure has been mounting on China in this regard. There are several major factors that will influence exports in 2020. First, the global economy has hit the top of its current round of growth. Second, the reform direction of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is still unclear, and the multilateral trade rules continue to face major challenges. Third, the negative impacts from the $250 billion in tariffs the US imposed on Chinese goods are expected to be aggravated in the first half of 2020. If an initial agreement is reached by China and the US, the situation will improve in the second half of 2020. Despite this possibility, the whole-year performance of exports is unlikely to see significant improvement compared with 2019.

China is expected to see varying increase levels in investments in different sectors. Investment in the infrastructure sector is expected to recover gradually in 2020, with the expansion of special debts. Investment in manufacturing is expected to grow more slowly due to weaker export expectations, production moving overseas and higher environmental protection demands. However, investment growth in manufacturing is expected to bottom out in 2020 and see faster overall growth compared with 2019.

Consumption will make a bigger contribution to China's economic growth in 2020, and the country will expedite reforms. In 2020, consumption in the automobile industry is expected to recover. Overall consumption will remain stable for the whole year and grow faster than investments and exports. It is likely to make a contribution of more than 70 percent to the national economy.

The difference between China's consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) has expanded in 2019. Under the influences of the pig production cycle and the African swine fever (ASF) epidemic, China's production and supply of pork have seen a sharp drop this year. Pig production is expected to recover as soon as the second quarter of 2020, which means the price of pork will continue to rise in the first quarter of 2020. The CPI rise, however, is just a temporary phenomenon. It will drop after the second quarter of 2020, when it is expected to be controlled at around 3 percent. If exports recover to some extent in the next year, the conditions of manufacturing may also be improved, thereby promoting the PPI to remain stable after the second quarter.

China's economy needs to maintain a certain growth speed while promoting its transformation next year. The country needs to accomplish its goal achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Although the China-US trade war is approaching a phase one agreement, impacts from earlier tariffs continue to appear.

The world economy is expected to slow down in 2020, providing unfavorable external conditions for China's economy. During this economic transformation, former economic drives including exports, infrastructure and real estate are taking on smaller roles, but they continue to make contributions alongside emerging sectors like the digital economy and new consumption.

China's economy needs to overturn the slowdown in a timely manner so as to better manage market expectations, maintain market confidence and offer positive prospects for all sectors. Its whole-year growth goal can be set at 6 percent, which is entirely achievable if external pressure is relieved and more effective counter-cyclical measures are adopted to boost the economy. If the external environment worsens beyond expectations, China's economy may perform slightly below its goal.

In order to prevent further slowdown in economic growth and maintain stable growth, it is important for China to take more forward-looking, counter-cyclical measures and employ more precisely targeted policies to improve efficiency.

In general, China needs to create more positive fiscal policy, raising the fiscal deficit to 3 percent or above. Its monetary policy needs to provide commercial banks more liquidity and improve financial institutions' activities and ability to issue loans. The balance between supply and demand should be maintained in the pork market. A basically stable yuan exchange rate and cross-border capital flows need to be maintained.

The author is chief economist with Bank of Communications.
US Cannot Cut Off HK from the World
Global Times
2019/11/29 23:43:40

After US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (US time) signed the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, some US politicians who had instigated the act excitedly made fanatical remarks on social media, and some Western media also participated in the chorus. Some people in the US and other Western countries have been deeply caught in an ideological frenzy. Their goal is not just Hong Kong. They try to make Hong Kong a pawn for them to contain the Chinese mainland.

Chinese public opinion has generally been tough and calm. Chinese people support the central government's pushback to such serious interference in China's internal affairs, warning the US that the move only leads to a dead end.

The calmness comes from Chinese people's clear understanding of Hong Kong's history and future and the great strength of China, making it impossible for Hong Kong to be a pawn of the US or the West. If some US politicians insist on walking toward a dead end, they will ruin US interests in the city. Although this may bring some trouble to China's development, it can never prevent China from rising.

The "one country, two systems" principle is not only in line with the interests of the mainland and Hong Kong, but also connects China with the West and with the world. It was an exploration and effort of all parties to reach a win-win situation under the mainland's relatively isolated condition at that time. Judging from Hong Kong's development and its current global status, the effort has been successful. The interaction between the mainland and Hong Kong is closer, and their connection with the world is wider. Development of global finance, economy and trade needs such connection.

It is extremely irrational for the US to launch the act. The US will also be a loser, and it does not lose any less than the Chinese mainland. According to the Congressional Research Service, the US had the largest trade surplus with Hong Kong in 2018 - $31.1 billion. About 290 US companies had regional headquarters in Hong Kong and another 434 had regional offices. This means the US has real interests in Hong Kong.

If the US is unwilling to pursue such common interests, Hong Kong may as well go another way that leads to prosperity. Hong Kong's status today was not given by the US, and the US cannot cut off Hong Kong's connection with the world. China is a large economy. Cities in the mainland such as Shanghai and Shenzhen have their unique positions in the global economic and trade pattern, and Hong Kong will also have huge room for improvement.

Today's US politics have somewhat been abducted by its extreme ideology. The US has become increasingly furious as it finds no way to improve its competitiveness. US Senator Marco Rubio, for example, is the most extreme nationalist and ideological fanatic. A person like him will not be welcomed by Chinese public opinion. However, such an extremist actually becomes a US senator, and US policy toward China is led by these people's sentiments. Social media is exacerbating such frenzy. US mainstream elites are also becoming tougher. These may drag China-US relations into a vicious circle.

The current anti-China sentiment in the US exceeds the anti-US sentiment in China. China knows well that the US is going to suppress it and we feel angry on some specific issues. However, China has not formed a comprehensive anti-US sentiment yet, nor has China launched policies to allow bilateral relations to deteriorate. China is not prepared to do so, either. Indeed, China will pay close attention to how far the US goes in this frenzy.

This is no longer the world in the early days after the end of the Cold War. The US cannot cut off China's connection with the world. Even if the US breaks relations with China, US allies will not follow it and most countries will keep developing relations with China. If the US insists on unilateralism and zero-sum game, it is choosing an irreversible decline for itself.
China, US Should Cooperate on Climate Change
By Li Qingqing
Global Times
2019/11/28 19:48:40

China's State Council Information Office released an annual report titled "China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2019)" on Wednesday. The report said China has basically reversed the situation of the country's rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Tuesday released its Emissions Gap Report 2019, saying greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise in the last decade. The report said, "Despite contributing significantly to the slowdown in global emissions from 2014 to 2016," China's emissions are now rising again.

But the UN should see that although China's emissions are rising, the trend of rapid growth has been reversed. Despite the recent rebound in China's coal power demand, China has adhered to a clean coal power supply system with strict standards. China is marching toward its target of net zero emissions, but this needs to be gradually accomplished.

China has been actively dealing with climate change and taking responsibility as a major power. This is completely different from the US stand. Since Chinese Premier Li Keqiang "declared war" on pollution in 2014, China has been improving its industrial efficiency and increasing investment in renewable energy. China has also been fulfilling its promises under the Paris Agreement. These are all outstanding accomplishments that should be applauded.

But it seems that the US has not shouldered its obligations at all. In the UNEP report, the US greenhouse gas emission per capita in 2018 was still much higher than that of the global average. In early November, US President Donald Trump formally started the process of withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement. Trump also skipped a session devoted to climate change at the G7 summit in August, saying that he is not going to lose the "tremendous wealth" of the US "on dreams" and "on windmills."

But can that "tremendous wealth" help the US escape the extreme weather and natural disasters worldwide? No. In January, extreme cold weather hit Midwestern US, causing tens of deaths and many frostbite victims. In July, millions of Americans suffered from a dangerous and widespread heat wave, leading to power outages in the country. Such extreme weather not only hurts people, but also costs US companies more for repairs. Right now that climate change also harms the US economy. Is the Trump administration still not going to do anything about it? No country is an island when facing climate change. If the US insists on caring about nothing but its own short-term interests, it will be ruining its own future as well as that of others.

China-US cooperation has faced many difficulties after Trump assumed office. But the two countries still have opportunities to cooperate on climate change and many other hot global issues. As the 25th UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Spain on Monday, we hope the US, as a superpower and the largest economy, can meet China halfway on climate change.

China and the US have the common need to deal with climate change. The two countries now have different understandings of their responsibilities, but the Trump administration still should understand that when facing extreme weather, cooperation is the only way out. This is not only for the sake of the American people, but more importantly, for the future of mankind.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Fired Zimbabwe Doctors Were Offside, Says Health Services Board
29 NOV, 2019 - 00:11
Herald Reporter

Doctors being dismissed from public health service violated multiple labour provisions, leaving the Government with no option but to institute disciplinary action, the Health Services Board (HSB) has said. The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) withdrew their labour starting on September 3, 2019 citing incapacitation.

Chronicling events that led to the current disciplinary action, board chairman Dr Paulinus Sikosana said on August 27, 2019, the Government through the Bipartite Negotiating Panel offered to review all health workers’ basic salaries by 50 to 76 percent on a sliding scale, effective August 1, 2019.

All health workers, junior doctors included, agreed to this by signing the collective bargaining agreement on the understanding that negotiations centred on reviewing allowances, those that were health specific, plus those for transport and housing, would continue.

Government also committed to look into the provision of buses for health workers and further review the cost of living adjustment in the fourth quarter of the year.

However, the ZHDA later backtracked and disowned the agreement. The doctors then pulled out of the Health Apex Council, which represented not only them, but the rest of health workers in the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel.

The panel’s establishment and composition is clearly spelt out in Statutory Instrument 111 of 2006 and is a replica of the Public Service Tripartite Negotiating Forum. It only recognises talks with workers through the Health Apex Council.

Dr Sikosana said on September 2, 2019, they met with the ZHDA in an effort to dissuade them from withdrawing their labour as well as advising them that since they had not registered any dissent to the collective barganining agreement, they were automatically bound by its provisions.

“The board reminded the ZHDA that failure to report for duty without official leave or authorisation gives the employer no choice but to invoke the provisions of the Labour Act,” said Dr Sikosana.

However, he said the doctors stuck to their position of incapacitation and refused to report for work.

According to the board, by September 20, 2019, 62 percent of all junior doctors had withdrawn their labour, forcing the board to stop paying their salaries, a standard procedure laid down in the Labour Act.

He said through the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel, Government made another offer of a 30 percent increase on all health sector specific allowances, which the workers rejected, before offering on 4 October to double the allowances.

“Unfortunately, ZHDA did not attend the meeting, having stated that they had lost faith in the Apex Council, demanding that Government must create a separate negotiating platform for doctors only,” said Dr Sikosana.

On October 18, 2019, a meeting with just the junior doctors was held again where Government repeated its offer to double all health sector allowances.

“ZHDA attended the meeting but walked out before it ended. The other health workers signed a collective bargaining agreement, having reluctantly accepted the offer, on condition that the reviewed allowances would be paid in October 2019,” said Dr Sikosana.

The HSB then approached the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare seeking a show cause order against the doctors, which was granted on October 2, 2019.

He said in terms of Section 107 of the Labour Act, the board proceeded to apply for disposal of the order against the doctors at the Labour Court.

“The disposal order hearing was heard before the Labour Court on October 9, 2019 and the Labour Court subsequently issued the disposal order on October 11, 2019, which declared the collective job action unlawful and gave the ZHDA members a 48-hour ultimatum to report for duty and that the dispute be referred for arbitration in terms of Arbitration Act,” said Dr Sikosana.

He said, most of the doctors however defied the 48-hour ultimatum, nullifying the provision for arbitration and thereby forcing the employer to institute disciplinary action for absence from work for 5 or more days after the expiry of the ultimatum.

“Disciplinary proceedings started on October 21, 2019, which led to the dismissal of those found guilty and were still absent from duty by the date of the hearing.

“Those found guilty but had returned to work by the date of the hearing were given written warnings,” said Dr Sikosana.

Most of the doctors also boycotted the disciplinary hearings resulting in dismissals in absentia.

In total, 516 of the 1 601 doctors who work in the public health sector are expected to appear before the   hearings.

Although Government has called on all those wishing to continue serving in the public health sector to reapply, the doctors said they will not do so arguing that they were never on strike but “simply incapacitated”.

Some members of the Zimbabwe Senior Doctors’ Association (ZSDA) have since withdrawn their services demanding reinstatement of the fired defiant junior doctors.

In a statement released yesterday, the ZSDA maintained that they were forced to act as the situation in hospitals had deteriorated to the point where there were no bandages, gloves and syringes. It said the action of its members was meant to highlight the dire situation publicly.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care assured us that the situation was due to shortcomings at hospital management level. The matter also caught the attention of His Excellency, who generously availed hard-earned taxpayers’ money to buy drugs and equipment,” the association said.

The association argued that the intervention was, however, not enough and since then the situation had not changed.

“We are not greedy mercenaries. We deserve proper tools of the trade, a living wage and a safe working environment. The citizens of Zimbabwe deserve a health system they can trust,” read the statement.
Zimbabwe Patients Call for Doctors to Return
30 NOV, 2019 - 00:11
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals
Herald Reporters

Patients seeking treatment from public health institutions countrywide have pleaded with junior doctors to end their impasse with the Government over salaries and find it in their hearts to assist them.

Catholic Bishops this week won doctors a 48-hour moratorium to return to work without reapplying and without questions being asked, while Higher Life Foundation has offered 2 000 doctors incentive payments of up to $5 000 a month plus Vaya coupons for transport and a free smart phone.

This is in addition to the $4 305 in salaries and allowances a month and free accommodation that the Government offered junior doctors last month.

Junior doctors can also benefit from retention allowances from development partners.
The doctors’ leadership appears to want to continue rejecting all these offers although there is speculation that some of their members might break ranks, not having been paid for three months since they first withdrew their labour and having to leave their free accommodation today.

Accident victims and those suffering from chronic diseases are the worst affected.
Doctors withdrew their labour on September 3.

When The Herald visited Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals yesterday, patients could be seen lying under tree shades without any medical assistance.

In separate interviews, the patients said some people were dying before they even consult on their conditions because of the absence of doctors.

Other patients said they were spending over a week at hospitals without being attended to.
Mr Tawanda Goche, a patient who lives out of Harare, was referred to Parirenyatwa Hospital for further checks on his condition, but had not been attended to from yesterday morning to about 5pm when our news team arrived.

“I arrived at Parirenyatwa early in the morning and they had said that they would admit me, but since morning I have not been attended to. I am still waiting and hoping that I will be attended to, even after being admitted.

“There is definitely need for doctors to resume work because people are going to die, especially those involved in accidents,” said Mr Goche.

He said the doctors were being inconsiderate.

“If we had enough funds, we would go to private hospitals, but the situation is bad. We need our doctors back at work so that lives are saved,” he said.

Another visitor, who was waiting to see her grandchild at Harare Central Hospital, said service delivery must return to normalcy to ease challenges faced by patients and their relatives.
She described the state of affairs at the hospital as “sorry”.

“Since I was a child, I used to get my medical attention at Harare Hospital and it pains me when I see that a few people are being treated here because of withdrawal of labour by doctors. I hope that the doctors will return to work so that patients do not get stranded,” she said.

Former deputy minister of Health and Child Care Dr Edwin Muguti also said the deadlock must end soon.

“People need to be serious and respect each other. What is currently happening will not solve anything. Government and doctors must engage for a lasting solution to this challenge,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) expressed concern over the prolonged absence of doctors in health institutions.

“For instance, the prolonged absence of health care professionals in the public sector exposes pregnant women into delivering at home or outside the formal health delivery system. Such practices are harmful, and have immediate and long-term negative sequel to both mothers and their babies,” reads part of their statement.

The junior doctors have turned down Government’s recent offer for a 100 percent review of on call allowances, which would have seen them earning about $4 305 a month with effect from October 1, inclusive of an on call allowance of $2 400.

The doctors are demanding a salary set in US dollars and at least equal to what they were earning before exchange rates started moving and with Zimbabwe dollar payments pegged at the interbank rate to guarantee its value against inflation.

Although some doctors in the private sector are paid between $6 000 and $8 000 a month, elsewhere in the region, doctors are earning between US$2 000 and US$3 000 a month.

In addition to the Government’s offer of $4 305, Higher Life Foundation had offered the junior doctors an extra incentive of at least $5 000 a month, a smart phone, a Vaya carpool voucher to access the hospital for up to three trips per day, and free Wi-Fi at major teaching hospitals. Higher Life also pledged to provide doctors with equipment.

Government had fired 448 doctors for continuously refusing to report for work but after being engaged by the Catholic bishops on Thursday, the Executive acceded to the clergy’s plea and gave the doctors a 48-hour moratorium to return to work.
However, the doctors appear reluctant to take up the offer.

“We appreciate the role played by the Catholic Bishops which has resulted in the doctors being issued a moratorium, valid for the next 48 hours. Sadly, the moratorium has come without a new offer on the table having been communicated to us. Should this moratorium lapse without the formal communication of an offer that is reasonable, it would stand as yet another gracious privilege that is lost,” said the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association yesterday.

But the doctors said they remained open for dialogue although they urged the bishops to first consult them on their expectations.

Both the reprieve and the deadline for applications to benefit from HLF’s incentives, coincides with the end of the month by which all the fired doctors staying in Government accommodation are expected to vacate their flats and houses.

Today, most of the doctors found guilty of absenting themselves from work for five consecutive days or more without official leave are expected to leave staff accommodation.

Salaries of those found guilty were also stopped and by end of November, they will have gone for three months without pay, raising questions on how the doctors are eking a living.

Sources say the decision by ZHDA to continue with the stand-off was likely going to divide the doctors as some desperately need the free accommodation, the salary and additional incentives from HLF.

“The reprieve will actually give some of them, who have been wanting to go back to work, an opportunity to do so without being asked any questions and at the same time apply for the HLF scholarships.

“Remember others are breadwinners and three months without a salary is just too much no matter how little the salary is,” said a source.

Taking into account all sources of income from Government, the foundation and development partners, junior doctors could see their earnings hit $10 000 a month along with their free accommodation.

Some striking doctors are reportedly surviving on locums at their seniors’ surgeries, which is an anomaly since the law permits only those in their second year to do some private practice.
Doctors Reject Government Moratorium, Masiyiwa Incentives
 29 NOV, 2019 - 11:11
Paidamoyo Chipunza
Senior Health Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Junior doctors have vowed not to return to work despite the 48-hour moratorium given by President Mnangagwa yesterday and incentives offered by Higher Life Foundation (HLF) anticipated to commence in January 2020 arguing that both interventions do not preserve the value of their salaries nor guarantee provision of adequate tools of the trade.

In a statement this morning, the doctors through the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said they will only take heed of the 48-hour reprieve if it is accompanied by a new offer from the Employer.

In relation to the incentives offer, the doctors urged HLF to shelve its deal for now until the impasse between them and their employer is solved.

“It was posited that the offer from HLF may be reconsidered once the standoff between the ZHDA and its Employer (HSB) has been resolved. This recognises the sincerity of the donor group and its desire not to interfere with the negotiation process,” reads part of the ZHDA statement.

In relation to the intervention by the Catholic Bishops and subsequent moratorium given by President Mnangagwa, the doctors said: “We appreciate the role played by the Catholic Bishops which has resulted in the doctors being issued a moratorium, valid for the next 48 hours. Sadly, the moratorium has come without a new offer on the table having communicated to us. Should this moratorium lapse without the formal communication of an offer that is reasonable, it would stand as yet another gracious privilege that is lost.”

The doctors however said they were still open for dialogue but urged the Bishops to first consult them on their expectations.
Reprieve for Fired Junior Doctors
29 NOV, 2019 - 00:11

President Mnangagwa and his two Vice Presidents — Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi — meet Catholic Bishop Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu at State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

Tendai Mugabe
Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Fired doctors have 48 hours to return to work without reapplying or being asked many questions, President Mnangagwa has said in response to a request by Catholic bishops. The doctors were dismissed after being found guilty of absenteeism following a court ruling declaring their strike illegal.

Disciplinary hearings were then instituted by the Health Services Board (HSB) against those doctors who failed to report for duty after the ruling, leading to the dismissal of 448 doctors as of November 26.

Government yesterday gave the doctors a reprieve following a meeting between President Mnangagwa and Catholic bishops at State House.

The President told journalists after the meeting that they had a fruitful engagement with the bishops and agreed to their request regarding the sacked doctors.

“The bishops sent us a pastoral letter of issues they were raising across the board and asking to meet us as leadership. We acceded to their request and we have discussed these issues,” he said.

“I think the major issue that we have covered is the health sector and national health delivery, economic situation and social conditions of the people in the country, (the) political situation and the role and relations of political parties and national dialogue and last, Government, churches and civil society interaction.

“We covered all those areas. We found it very fruitful, the contribution by the bishops who came to meet us. Then, they requested for a moratorium on the question of doctors for two days.”

They asked that the doctors come back and rejoin without application.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu echoed, President Mnangagwa’s sentiments saying their discussions covered a wide range of issues.

“We discussed a lot about the issue of striking doctors,” he said.

“What we managed to extract from Government was that they agreed to give (dismissed doctors) a moratorium for two days to report to work without having to reapply. They don’t need to apply as it had been decided by Cabinet. That one, Government has committed to that.

“The second thing is that we are happy to hear the Government say they are going to help us to equip our mission hospitals also provide drugs.

“We discussed, of course, the economic situation, Government explaining the difficulties that are there and the efforts that they are also making and I think that is the main thing.”

On political dialogue, Archbishop Ndlovu said: “I don’t think there is any change.

“The President is still committed to dialogue, and of course he says what is important is that they all come together.

“It is not a question of Zanu-PF and MDC, but all the political players and he is open to that. That is what he said. He said he is still open to anyone including the leader of the MDC-A (Mr Nelson Chamisa).”
The union federation said SOEs were in a crisis and in need of sober analysis and national debate.

Cosatu national leaders briefed the media on 28 November 2019 on the outcomes of their central executive committee meeting. (From R-L) Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali, second deputy-president Louise Thipe, and first deputy-president Mike Shingange. Picture: Twitter/@_cosatu

Cosatu national leaders briefed the media on 28 November 2019 on the outcomes of their central executive committee meeting. (From R-L) Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali, second deputy-president Louise Thipe, and first deputy-president Mike Shingange. Picture: Twitter/@_cosatu
State Capture Cosatu Corruption SOEs State owned entities
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Theto Mahlakoana | a day ago
JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Thursday it was open to discussions on the viability of some state-owned entities (SOEs) while maintaining its anti-privatisation stance.

Conceding that some SOEs were a burden on the economy, the governing African National Congress alliance partner even suggested that some entities be collapsed back into government departments.

Cosatu leaders briefed reporters on the outcomes of its central executive committee meeting this week. The union federation said SOEs were in a crisis and in need of sober analysis and national debate.

Cosatu believed that it was only through a thorough interrogation of the mandates, functions, and developmental role of the over 700 state-owned companies that a decision could be reached about their necessity.

“We can’t be satisfied with the fact that they are not working when they used to be working. Is it because of the growing population or management issues that they are struggling? We need to get to the bottom of why they are not working.

"If we don’t address why SOEs are struggling, whichever solutions you come up with could exacerbate the problems,” said Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi.

In the same breath, Cosatu said SOEs it considered as the “commanding heights” of the economy should remain under state control.

“But what we are clear about as Cosatu is for them to remain under the control of the state, for example, Eskom,” said Cosatu’s first deputy president Mike Shingange.

The federation confirmed that it remained open to strategic partnerships of some SOEs with the private sector.
A full bench in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday dismissed Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a court decision that he should stand trial for fraud, corruption, and racketeering.

Nkosikhona Duma
Eyewitness News

DURBAN - The judges presiding in former President Jacob Zuma’s matter on Friday said allegations of political interference in the case were never been proven and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) would not be convinced that Zuma’s rights were violated.

A full bench in the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a court decision that he should stand trial. The court also found that Zuma’s arguments that he was targeted by his political enemies were not genuine and dismissed his application with costs.

Zuma faces charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering linked to the arms deal together with French arms company Thales.

Judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn, and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati said allegations of political interference in Zuma’s case were baseless because they were not proven. The judges said the SCA would not be persuaded by that argument because Zuma’s lawyers relied on overturned judgments and reports.

The judges also dismissed with costs Thales’ application to appeal the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to reinstate charges against the company.

The company accused former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams of acting irrationally when he brought back charges against the company, but the judges disagreed and said the SCA would also uphold that decision.
Paris Protests, Striking Amazon Workers in Germany Mark Black Friday in Europe
Nov 29, 2019 9:25 a.m. ET

Greenpeace activists unfold a big banner reading "Black Friday - Consumerism = Climate Crisis" on a facade of a building in Gran Via street in Madrid on November 29, 2019.

PARIS (AP) — People don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in France, or Russia, or South Africa - but they do shop on Black Friday.

The U.S. sales phenomenon has spread to retailers across the world in recent years with such force that it’s prompting a backlash from some activists, politicians and even consumers.

Workers at Amazon AMZN, -0.97%   in Germany went on strike for better pay on one of the busiest days of the year. Near Paris, climate demonstrators blocked one of the retail giant’s warehouses to protest over-production they say is killing the planet. Some French lawmakers want to ban Black Friday altogether.

Consumer rights groups in Britain and some other countries say retailers use Black Friday as a slogan to lure in shoppers, but it’s not always clear how real or big the discounts are. Other critics say it hurts small businesses.

Globalized commerce has brought U.S. consumer tastes to shoppers around the world, from Halloween candy to breakfast cereal and peanut butter, sometimes even supplanting local traditions.

To French activists, Black Friday is the epitome of this shift, a purely commercial event designed to boost U.S. retailers ahead of the Christmas holidays, the symbol of capitalism run amok.

“The planet burns, oceans die, and we still want to consume, consume, and therefore produce, produce - until we eradicate all living things? ... We will not betray our children for a 30% discount!” reads a manifesto by groups holding “Block Friday” protests around Paris.

In Britain, where the big winter sales have traditionally been held on the day after Christmas, companies have been adopting Black Friday marketing campaigns since about 2010. After a rise in business on the day in the first years, the volume of shopping has leveled off, with most of it happening online over multiple days.

Research by a U.K. consumer association found that 61% of goods advertised in Black Friday deals last year were cheaper or about the same price both before and after the event.

That echoes similar warnings in other countries. Russia’s consumer watchdog issued a long statement with tips on how to avoid getting fooled, like checking whether prices were raised before Friday to make deals look good or whether delivery costs are inflated.

The Black Friday advertising push has extended beyond the one day to Cyber Monday, with retailers in several countries spreading them across what’s often called “Black Week.”

In the Czech Republic, one electronics chain encourages shoppers - in English, of course - to “Make Black Friday Great Again,” in an ad featuring a suited man wearing the distinctive red cap used by U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

While the phenomenon is less widespread in Asia, some major companies like Japan Airlines use it as a slogan.

Broadcasters in South Africa showed people waiting in line to shop in one of the world’s most socially and economically unequal nations. The respected weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper decried in a scathing editorial how Black Friday is used to enrich big retailers.

“Like no other day, this Friday shows how broken the world we have built is,” it said.

Among other concerns is that Black Friday could hurt small businesses that do not have the vast marketing budgets and online sales presence of big retail chains or multinationals.

In Italy, for example, Black Friday falls outside the season’s strictly defined schedule for when the winter shop sales can be held. This year, sales cannot be held from Dec. 5 until Jan. 4, when stores are allowed to clear out stock. The fashion industry has warned that can hurt smaller retailers in a country that relies on them heavily.

A French legislative committee passed an amendment Monday that proposes prohibiting Black Friday because it causes “resource waste” and “overconsumption.” France’s e-commerce union, whose members are aggressively marketing Black Friday sales throughout November, has condemned the measure.

Dozens of French activists blocked the Amazon warehouse in Bretigny-sur Orge on Thursday, spreading hay and old refrigerators and microwaves on the driveway. They held signs in front of the warehouse gates reading “Amazon: For the climate, for jobs, stop expansion, stop over-production!”

The activists were later dislodged by police.
German Amazon Workers Strike on Black Friday

Hundreds of Amazon workers in Germany have taken strike action on the same day the retailer holds its "Black Friday" sales drive. The union Verdi says tough conditions are making workers ill.

A Verdi union flag outside an Amazon distribution center (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow)
Workers at Amazon distribution centers in Germany walked off the job on Friday, escalating a long-running struggle for better pay and working conditions.

The strike action, which began on the same day that the online giant held its Black Friday sales bonanza, was set to last into early next week.

The powerful Verdi union said it expected the strike to last until Tuesday morning, including Cyber Monday.

Verdi said stoppages were underway at Amazon distribution centers in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Koblenz, Rheinberg, Werne and Graben. The union claims that Amazon is "withholding basic rights" from staff, and forcing them to work under "extreme pressure."

"As a result, many employees become ill," Verdi said.

"Their work cannot be had at rock-bottom prices," the union said in a statement. It demanded a collective labor agreement to ensure "a living wage and good, healthy jobs."

Amazon downplayed the impact of the strike, saying that packages would arrive on time with the majority of its 13,000 employees in Germany at 13 logistics centers working "as normal." The firm has dismissed calls from the union for labor negotiations and has defended its work environment.

Amazon insists it is "one of the best employers in the logistics industry."

Recent years have seen Amazon's Black Friday operations hit by industrial action in various countries, with stoppages by workers in Britain, Germany and Spain.
Read more: France passes law taxing internet giants

In France, the company also faced disruption as activists gathered outside an Amazon headquarters building in the Clichy district of Paris. The protesters — who blame Amazon for excessive consumerism and overproduction — staged a sit-down protest outside the front gates to coincide with Fridays For Future protests across the world.
Chicago Police Investigated for Slamming Man to the Ground
BBC News

Police in Chicago say they are investigating a video that shows an officer body-slamming a man to the ground after he allegedly spat in the officer's face.

In the video, the man lies motionless after his head hits the pavement.

The 29-year-old man, who had been drinking alcohol at a bus stop, became "irate" when police approached him, officials said.

The man was taken to hospital and was said to be in a stable condition.

Neither the police officer, believed to be in his early 30s, nor the man have been identified.

The incident was filmed by Jovanna Alexiss Jamison, who said the incident happened at about 16:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Ms Jamison said the man "didn't do anything aggressive, he just stood there," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"He was standing there using his cellphone. They took away his bottle of liquor and threw it," she said.

The policeman is now being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Police said he performed an "emergency takedown" after being threatened.

Chicago Police have been quoted as saying there are charges pending against the man.
No Current Democratic Contender Can Beat Trump, Billionaire BET Founder Says
Robert Johnson, founder of the television network Black Entertainment Television (BET), became the first African American billionaire after he sold the company to Viacom in 2001. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

By Alex Horton
November 29, 2019 at 8:33 a.m. EST

BET founder Robert Johnson, a lifelong Democrat and America’s first black billionaire, has assessed the Democratic contenders in next year’s presidential election. And he doesn’t like what he sees.

“If you take a snapshot today, I don’t think that group is capable of beating Donald Trump, despite what the polls say,” Johnson told CNBC in an interview.

“I think the president has always been in a position where it’s his to lose.”

Despite his politics, Johnson has praised the Trump economy, particularly a rise in African American employment, though it remains lower than white employment rates.

And he has sided with many conservatives, including Trump, in saying Democratic politicians have moved too far left.

He told CNBC he sees a “double effect” of Trump’s incendiary comments and rhetoric that fires up his base. Democrats react strongly, he said, which puts the president’s supporters on defense and adds to his support.

“I do not see anybody in the Democratic primary race today that is enough in the center where I believe most of the voters are, and particularly where most African Americans are,” Johnson told CNBC.

Johnson sold Black Entertainment Television to Viacom in 2001 and later founded asset management firm RLJ Companies.

His wealth has drawn criticism from activists who say Johnson is out of touch with many African Americans when it comes to their access to wealth and opportunity.

“Bob Johnson is not working class. He does not reflect the issue, nor does he even seem like he has the ability to speak to the issues of the working class,” LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, an organization focused on increasing black voter turnout, told The Washington Post’s Eugene Scott in July.

Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of the BlackPAC, a group working to increase black Americans’ political engagement, told Scott that policies proposed by the current field are aligned with black constituents.

“So while Mr. Johnson may share the interests of millionaires and billionaires, he’s out of step with black voters,” she said.

Trump has sought Johnson’s counsel on engaging with black voters, Johnson said after the 2016 election.

Johnson said Trump hinted at a possible Cabinet position, but Johnson shut down the discussion, telling CNBC then it wasn’t for him.

“As an entrepreneur trying to work in a government structure where you got to go through 15 different layers of decision-making to get what you want done doesn’t fit my mold,” he said.
Geingob Holds Lead in Early Namibian Election Results
By AT editor
28 November 2019 at 11:56 pm

President Hage Geingob was holding an early lead late Thursday as the country’s Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) continued to count votes in this week’s presidential election.

With roughly a fourth of the southern African nation’s constituencies counted, Geingob and his ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) party held 55.8 percent of the vote. His strongest challenger, independent Panduleni Itula, had 21.4 percent of votes cast while the third-place candidate, Bernardus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) was at 7.9 percent.

Geingob has pressed advantage as the candidate to whom SWAPO remains loyal, while fending off concerns over Namibia’s struggling economy and a major corruption scandal that blew up days before the election. Itula, a dentist and longtime SWAPO member, emerged from internal party clashes as a challenger with a progressive, youth-oriented vision for Namibia’s stagnant economy.

The incumbent received 92.5 percent of the vote during 2014 elections, but Namibians are turning to alternatives in this election, which featured 11 candidates. Most of them have attracted less then 3 percent of the tally each.

The process has been peaceful, with a number of African Union and Southern African Development Community observers on hand. The SADC, which said it sent 53 observers from eight member nations, plans a press conference to discuss election observations in Windhoek on Friday.
SWAPO Takes Early Lead… Geingob Ahead of Itula in Presidential Race
New Era 

The ruling Swapo Party has taken a commanding lead in this year’s National Assembly elections, while President Hage Geingob was slightly ahead of independent candidate Dr Panduleni Itula in the presidential race.

According to provisional results released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) yesterday, Geingob won most of the constituencies in Omaheke, including  Kalahari, Okorukambe, Epukiro and Gobabis. Swapo also snapped up most of the constituencies in Omaheke, according to provisional results.

At the time of going to print yesterday, the ECN had declared less than 20 percent of the votes for the presidential election, while for the National Assembly, over 20 percent of the votes were declared.  nated poll results in Kavango East and West as well as the Zambezi region, provisional results indicated that Itula won most of the constituencies in Khomas. For Windhoek West alone, Itula took a lion’s share of 11 707 compared to Geingob’s 6 366, while for Windhoek East, the independent candidate scooped 11 666, whereas Geingob had 5 672 votes. PDM president McHenry Venaani came third in both constituencies.

Itula also performed well in Windhoek Rural constituency where he received 7 047 votes, while Geingob got 5 383 votes. He was followed by Venaani who got 1 073 and Bernadus Swartbooi of LPM who secured 817 votes.

Itula also did well in Samora Machel where he received 10 214 votes, while Geingob received 6 328 votes.

In John Pandeni and Khomasdal constituencies, Itula, according to provisional results came out tops, followed by Geingob and Venaani. Geingob was, however, the popular candidate in Tobias Hainyeko constituency where he secured 5 461 votes, while Itula received 4 704.

In the south, confirmed results showed that Swartbooi won both the Keetmanshoop Urban and Rural constituencies, while Geingob and Swapo retained !Nami#nus, amid a strong challenge from Itula in the presidential election.

Geingob also won most of the constituencies in Hardap, including Rehoboth East where he got 53.4 percent of the vote, while Venaani came second at 15.59 percent.

In Rehoboth East, the popular vote was won by Venaani who gained about 43 percent, compared to Geingob’s 22.7 percent.

In Erongo, Itula dominated the presidential vote according to provisional results, with a good showing in both Walvis Bay Urban and Rural and Swakopmund. Itula also narrowly won Arandis constituency, according to the provisional results.

Swapo retained its control in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis but with a reduced majority as the PDM also made serious inroads in the ruling party’s stronghold.

However, Geingob cruised to victory in Karibib, Omaruru as well as Daures constituency, which saw a serious challenge from Apius !Auchab of UDF.

In Kunene, Geingob and Swapo were also in a commanding lead, but faced a serious challenge from UDF and PDM. In fact, Venaani and PDM , according to provisional results, won the Epupa and Opuwo Rural constituencies.

In Oshikoto, Geingob and Swapo retained their dominance in many areas including Tsumeb, Guinas, Onyaanya, Onayena and Oniipa, among others. However,  Olukonda constituency delivered a mixed bag, with Itula narrowly winning the popular vote.

In Otjozondjupa, according to confirmed results, Geingob received 5 713 votes, while Itula came second with 2 779 votes.

Another interesting race was observed at Okakakara where Nudo and its candidate Esther Muinjangue faced an onslaught from PDM. However, Muinjangue prevailed and retained arguably their strongest voting block with 2 300 votes, compared to Venaani’s 2 290.

Geingob came in third with 1 763 votes, while Itula got 426 votes. Most of the results from Omusati, Oshana and many parts of Ohangwena were not yet confirmed at the time of going to print. However, preliminary results indicated that Geingob and Swapo were expected to win the majority of constituencies in the north.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Namibia Elections at a Glance Presidential Candidates 2019
News | 2019-11-28
The Namibian

HUNDREDS of thousands of voters headed to the polls yesterday to elect the country's next president, with many hoping that the polls will bring political stability, unity and economic emancipation.

The 2019 presidential hopefuls are as follows:

Hage Gottfried Geingob, (78).

• Third and current President of Namibia since 21 March 2015

• Country's prime minister from 21 March 1990 to 28 August 2002, and served as prime minister again from 04 December 2012 to 20 March 2015.

• Between 2008 and 2012, Geingob served as minister of trade and industry.

• He is also the president of the ruling Swapo Party since his election to the position in November 2017.

• Geingob won the previous presidential election with 87% votes in 2014.

• He holds a BA degree from Fordham University in New York, and an MA degree in international relations from the graduate faculty of The New School in New York.

Panduleni Fillemon Bango Itula (62)

• Independent candidate for presidential election

• He is a politician, dentist, lawyer, and former chief dentist at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, as well as a former lecturer at the Swapo party school.

McHenry Venaani (42)

• Venaani is president of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)

• At the time of his appointment in 2002, he was Namibia's youngest member of parliament.

• Venaani studied at the University of Wolverhampton.

• At the 2013 DTA elective central committee meeting, Venaani defeated then party leader Katuutire Kaura to take over the reins.

Bernadus Clinton Swartbooi (42)

• Bernadus Swartbooi is a politician and former governor of the //Kharas region before his appointment as deputy minister of land reform in 2015, a position he was subsequently forced to resign from in 2017.

• Swartbooi also holds a basic education teaching diploma from the Windhoek College of Education, and a B Juris as well as a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Namibia.

• In 2017, Swartbooi was removed from parliament and resigned from Swapo, after which he formed the Landless People's Movement (LPM).

Mike Kavekotora (63)

• Kavekotora is the president of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), an opposition party which was launched in 2007.

• He is the chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, the only opposition party member chairing a parliamentary standing committee.

• Kavekotora holds a master of arts in developmental economics from Long Island University in New York, United States, and a BSc degree in accounting from Mercy College, also in New York.

Esther Utjiua Muinjangue (57)

• Muinjangue is the president of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo).

• She became the party's first elected female president, and the first female to lead a political movement, in Namibia's history in March this year.

• Muinjangue is a trained social worker, and worked in the ministry of health for many years. She also lectured at the University of Namibia (Unam).

• She has been instrumental in the call for genocide reparation negotiations between the German and Namibian governments.

Tangeni Iijambo (?)

• Iiyambo is a politician, and has been the president of the South West Africa National Union (Swanu) since 2017.

• He is the party's fourth president, and also lectured at Unam.

• Swanu was founded in 1959.

• Iiyambo has served in the National Assembly of Namibia since 2018.

Apius Auchab (60)

• President of UDF since 2013.

• Former regional councillor of the Daures constituency in the Erongo region.

• Vice President of UDF, (2009 - 2014); Community Activist, (1990 - 1998); Teacher, (1981 – 1990);

Participating political parties

1. All People's Party (APP)

2. Christian Democratic Voice (CDV)

3. Congress of Democrats (COD)

4. Landless People's Movement (LPM)

5. Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF)

6. Namibia Patriotic Front (NPF)

7. National Democratic Party (NDP)

8. National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO)

9. Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)

10. Rally for Democracy

and Progress (RDP)

11. Republican Party (RP)

12. SWANU of Namibia (SWANU)

13. SWAPO Party of Namibia (SWAPO)

14. United Democratic Front

of Namibia (UDF)

15. Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP)
Namibia Awaits Election Result Amid Economic Doldrums
Justina Crabtree
Namibia's capital Windhoek /VCG Photo

Voters in Namibia are awaiting the result of Wednesday's election, which will determine who runs the southern African country for the next five years as it faces a corruption scandal, drought and troubled economic fundamentals.

Incumbent President Hage Geingob, Namibia's third leader since its independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990, is fighting for a second term. His party, the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), has ruled the country since its breakaway nearly three decades ago.

Arid and sparsely populated Namibia has 1.3 million registered voters, according to Reuters. The presidential race and simultaneous legislative polls to elect 96 members of parliament will put SWAPO's comfortable majority, in which it holds 77 seats, to the test. Results are expected by Friday.

"I campaigned like hell"

"I campaigned like hell but if I lose I will accept that. I am a democrat," Geingob told reporters shortly after casting his vote.

But, Namibia's incumbent leader faces a colorful selection of challengers.

Also with his name on the ticket is Panduleni Itula, a dentist turned politician who is a member of the ruling SWAPO party but is running in the presidential race as an independent. Itula has won the support of Namibia's youth, almost half of whom are jobless.

Also contesting the presidency is Namibia's first female candidate, academic and social worker Esther Muinjangue. If successful, she would make the short list of female heads-of-state ever to have held office in Africa, a continent dominated by male leaders.

But Namibia's political system may face floundering public confidence and voter apathy following two headaches that have arisen in recent weeks.

On Monday, a court in the capital Windhoek dismissed a case which sought to prevent the use of electronic voting machines, which some of Geingob's opponents fear could be used to rig the result.

Earlier this month, two ministers resigned following a leak, which revealed that certain fishing rights were given to Iceland's biggest fishing firm Samherji in exchange for bribes.

But, the news need not be seen as totally negative. "It is rare in the region to witness government ministers stepping down when linked to bribery and corruption allegations, so at one level the actions of Ministers Shanghala and Esau are to be commended – even if their alleged transgressions remain abhorrent," said a note earlier this month by Gary van Staden, senior political analyst at South Africa-based insight firm NKC African Economics.

Youth unemployment at nearly 50 percent

Whoever wins the election must fix Namibia's economic problems.

The Namibia Statistics Agency, as reported by Xinhua, showed that 46.1 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 34 were unemployed by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile the Bank of Namibia, cited by Reuters, anticipates that the national economy will shrink by 1.7 percent in 2019, contracting for a third consecutive year.

Despite SWAPO's successes at reducing poverty in Namibia, the ailing national economy has been hit by the effects of a drought that has devastated agricultural export crops, as well as unprofitably low prices for the country's main hard commodities of diamonds and uranium.

A uranium mine in Namibia is handed over from Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto to China's National Nuclear Corporation at a ceremony on July 25, 2019, near the town of Swakopmund in the west of the country. /Xinhua

Economic management, and not the impact of political scandal, is likely to be important to Geingob's potential victory. "Swapo's support base remains overwhelmingly rural and, in many respects, isolated from daily developments," van Staden wrote. Nonetheless, the ruling party is "expected to romp to another overwhelming victory," he added.

China's relationship with Namibia has diversified in recent years.

China owns stakes in Namibia's uranium production as the world's second largest economy seeks alternatives to fossil fuels. Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto officially handed over Namibian uranium miner Rossing to its new majority shareholder, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), in July of this year, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, Namibia recorded nearly 15,000 tourist arrivals from China in 2017, an increase of 16.6 percent year-on-year, the country's 2017 Tourist Statistical Report said, with growth outpacing that from European and North American markets.

On Monday this week, a Chinese delegation visited the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, the country's national broadcaster, to explore ties and help Namibia improve its television production. 10 Chinese programs, dubbed in English, were authorized to be shown to local audiences, according to Xinhua.

(With input from Reuters and Xinhua)
UN Appreciates Angola's Influence in Great Lakes
Luanda, ANGOLA, November 28 - The United Nations (UN) recognizes the important role that Angola plays in the Great Lakes region, thus encouraging it to pursue its efforts for peace and total stability in the region.

The fact was expressed this Thursday, in Luanda, by the UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region, the Chinese Huang Xia, following the audience granted to him by the President of the Republic, João Lourenço.

Speaking to the press, Huang Xia said he had discussed with the Head of State aspects related to the pacification of this region and Central Africa.

"There is relative stability in the Great Lakes region," the UN diplomat acknowledged, but regretted the fact that armed actions are still taking place in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Great Lakes region includes Angola, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Angolan Heavy Sweet Crude Values Float Above Nigerian Light Sweets
Oil & Companies News

The sweet crude market is turning on its head with heavy sweet crudes like those from Angola trading at small premiums over light sweet crudes from Nigeria.

This trend has gathered pace in recent months as the oil market prepares itself for the January 1 introduction of a 0.5% sulfur cap for marine fuels as mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Refiners are seeking to buy more heavy/medium sweet crudes to adhere to these stricter shipping rules, and sweet crudes, especially those from Angola and other parts of West Africa, are seeing a demand boom.

Nigerian crudes are largely low in sulfur (sweet) and yield a generous amount of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline (light), which are the profit-making products for global refineries, and would generally trade at significant premiums over light crude benchmarks.

Angola, on the other hand, produces almost 1.40 million b/d of medium and heavy but sweet crude oil — oil that is low in sulfur, but, when refined, yields a lot of fuel oil and gasoil.

This barrel has also emerged as a must-buy crude for those refiners that want to produce marine gasoil due to its fuel oil yields that are very low in sulfur.


This oil has generally traded at a discount to Platts Dated Brent, but in recent times prices for some grades have strengthened due to the supply tightness of such crudes globally.

“Overall medium/heavy sweet is still privileged against lighter grades … usually these are the ones that go first,” said a trader active in the West African crude market.

The trader added that as the diesel market starts to strengthen further ahead of IMO 2020, Nigerian light sweet crude differentials could also start to surge.

Since July, Angola’s Dalia has been at a premium over Nigeria’s Bonny Light as refiners scramble to find heavy sweet barrels.

In 2014 and 2018 Angola’s Dalia was at average discount of $4.58/b and $2.20/b to Bonny Light, according to S&P Global Platts data.

This week Dalia has been trading at a premium of $1.30/b over Platts Dated Brent while Bonny Light has been heard at Dated Brent plus $1.05/b, Platts data showed.

“I think a lot of people expected stronger distillate cracks with IMO and this has not materialized as much as expected,” another WAF crude trader said, adding that that had put some pressure on Nigerian crudes. “Has it been overhyped or will there be a spike [in diesel]?”