Wednesday, July 08, 2020

First Virtual Meetings of Standing Committees of SADC PF Begin
06 JUL, 2020 - 14:07
SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma.
Photo: Contributed

By Moses Magadza
Zimbabwe Herald

WINDHOEK- In what is being hailed as a novel initiative in the history of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Standing Committees of the regional inter-parliamentary body yesterday began virtually holding their statutory meetings.

SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma yesterday confirmed that Members of Parliament from different SADC Member States belonging to the Standing Committees on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights (DGHR); Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR); and Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) would meet virtually throughout this week.

Ongoing Covid-19 restrictions do not allow MPs to travel and meet face to face. This has prompted the SADC PF to innovate and enable the parliamentarians from across the SADC Region to carry out their mandate which now has new dimensions due to Covid-19.

Sekgoma said as the world wakes up to the stark realities brought about by Covid-19, it was imperative that parliaments be strengthened to be able to effectively carry out their mandate during the restrictions occasioned by the pandemic. In some instances states of emergencies were imposed as part of the public health and safety measures and it important that parliaments step up their oversight role to ensure that this is done in a manner that ensures accountability and the upholding of human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism.

“During this Covid-19 crisis parliaments need to step in and enhance their oversight role. This week’s meetings will take place against that background. The meetings will in this respect, provide a platform for sharing of experiences so that parliaments can learn from each other within the context of the SADC PF’s mandate to promote inter-parliamentary cooperation in the SADC Region,” Sekgoma said.

Parliaments are mandated by national constitutions of Member States to provide oversight including with respect to the budget and to make laws and represent citizens, many of who have grave concerns in this era of Covid-19. This is so because some restrictions that Member States have put in place curtail normal economic activity, thus rendering significant proportions of citizens vulnerable.

There are, therefore, concerns about how Member States are responding to Covid-19 in terms of putting in place social safety nets to ease the plight of the vulnerable. In some instances some countries have come up with stimulus packages and parliaments have the responsibility to ensure that the intended purpose and reach are realized or that resources are utilised for intended purposes.

Sekgoma commended national parliaments for facilitating the virtual participation of their MPs through the provision of the necessary software and hardware to support the meetings.

Typically, SADC PF Standing Committees include a Member of Parliament from each of the 15 Member Parliaments of SADC Member States as well as representatives of stakeholders and partner organisations. The other two Standing Committees of the Forum and the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) met in March.

The Standing Committees that are meeting this week have their work cut out. In the Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights, focus is set to be on accelerated domestication of the SADC Model Law on Elections which was developed as a tool to assist Member States to rapidly domesticate the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections adopted by SADC in 2015.

The Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights’ meeting will take place in the wake of a landmark decision by the Constitutional Court of Malawi that annulled results of a presidential election and ordered a run-off following a dispute related to the manner in which the elections had been managed.

The SADC PF did not deploy election observers due to Covid-19 restrictions and this week’s meeting will enable MPs to discuss the management of elections in the era of Covid-19 while delivering on electoral and transitional justice.

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Standing Committee is set to discuss food insecurity occasioned by Covid-19. It is noteworthy that prior to the onset of Covid-19, the SADC Region was already facing a number of climatic challenges which were impacting on food security.
Sekgoma said the roles of parliaments and Members of Parliaments would be game-changing as the region builds resilience in the area of food security and the natural extractive sector.

“Members of Parliament can make specific policy recommendations in this respect.”

As the Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) Standing Committee meets, discussions are expected to revolve around the impact of Covid-19 on trade and the informal sector. This, in the wake of the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The MPs are expected to exchange views ongoing closure of national borders and the impact on accessing markets, the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic and reflect on local responses.

Sekgoma expressed gratitude to the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ); the Austrian Development Agency (ADA); the Trade Law Centre) (tralac); the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation; the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation; the Amnesty International Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa; and the SADC Lawyers Association for supporting these meetings.
SACP Free State Statement of the 11th Provincial Executive Committee Plenary Session of the 7th Provincial Congress
30 June 2020

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State Province held its 11th Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting virtually on 28 June 2020. This is the date on which our late General Secretary of the SACP Comrade Chris Hani was born 78 years ago. The PEC accordingly wished him a happy birthday posthumously.

The PEC received and discussed political inputs from our Party’s Central Committee and a political report as well as organisational report from the Provincial Secretariat. The PEC discussions focused primarily on strengthening Party structures and refocussing the work of SACP Districts in this period characterised by Covid-19 and lockdown regulations and associated heightened socio-economic challenges, particularly on the working class and poor.

Flatten the curve and restore working class biased post-Covid-19 economic recovery

The PEC acknowledged that the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is linked to the crisis of capitalism. Whilst human beings’ relationship with nature is ancient, this relationship has, overtime, led to growing ecological disturbances and the degradation of the environment.  It is under the capitalist mode of production that this ecological and environmental degradation reached its zenith thus leading to more cyclical or flash disasters and/or pandemics.

Covid-19 has, overall, exposed the general crisis associated with capitalism on all fronts. In South Africa, the pandemic has worsened the many deep-rooted structural and systemic crisis that reproduces high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The PEC welcomed the Strategic Perspective release by our Central Committee which offers a programmatic response to the post Covid-19 sustainable recovery and development in affirming the fact that “we cannot go back to the crisis before the crisis”. In support of this intervention, the PEC agreed to update and share its existing provincial economic development strategy to cater for the post-Covid-19 working class biased recovery path.

In support of post Covid-19 recovery, the PEC affirmed the need for the revitalisation and reindustrialisation of various industrial nodes in the province – which have become inactive – through resuscitating traditional industries that were consistently the pillars of our provincial or district economic activity. Such revitalisation, which must also integrate new industries, must be predicated on building local productive capacity and bias towards high employment absorption potential and space for cooperatives involvement. The PEC raised the reality that the strategic location of the Free State province remains heavily underutilised. The PEC feels this geographic advantage needs to be harnessed through a focused infrastructure development programme that at the same time addresses the skewed and disjointed historical spatial development framework. The infrastructure development programme must seek to address both intra-provincial and inter-provincial linkages that unlock further upstream and downstream integrated economic activity.

Covid-19 has also compounded the crisis of social reproduction and aggravated the grievous crisis of gender-based violence (GBV) in our communities, worsening the challenges faced mostly by women in our society. The PEC condemned the escalating GBV and agreed on a need for programmatic interventions that also target both the boy and girl child. The crisis of social reproduction has prejudicially condemned women to such activities as maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in the home and workplace. However, with the associated economic opportunities presented by the need to maintain good hygiene and cleanliness in response to the spread of Covid-19, males, as well as companies owned by males, are suddenly specialists in hygiene, disinfection and cleaning activities – pushing women to the margins. The PEC decided to take the lead in building a broad front, working with relevant stakeholders and the Alliance, to actively confront these prejudices.

Deal decisively with the root causes of bad audit outcomes and build a developmental state

The SACP Free State PEC affirmed the reality that in order to construct a post Covid-19 recovery that confronts the structural and systemic challenges inherent in our economy, a decisive developmental state with capacity and capabilities is crucial. The PEC welcomed embryonic signs of improving Alliance relations in the province and efforts to inclusively organise Alliance discussions on the economy and the state of governance in the provincial and local governments in the province. 

The PEC remains extremely worried by outcomes of the local government audit shared by the Auditor General (AG) which has painted a regressing state of finances and financial viability of our municipalities. The AG summarised the audit outcomes for the province as showing “deliberate lack of accountability by political and administrative leadership”. The SACP is disturbed by this, including the increasing number of municipalities that simply do not submit their audit reports to the AG.

The PEC agreed that in the Free State, decisive leadership and decisions that address the root cause of the deteriorating situation in our government institutions is required. This is a precondition for the success of the District Development model and revival of the local state. The SACP PEC will raise these areas in the planned Alliance Summit.

Build the Party, consolidate left forces, intensify community and working class struggles

The SACP PEC conducted a frank and detailed discussion on the state of Party structures across the province. Whilst welcoming commendable progress in several areas of Party work, the PEC acknowledged areas of subjective weaknesses especially in light of challenges posed by the outbreak of Covid-19.

In order to strengthen the organisational capacity of the Party, the PEC accordingly adopted a set of immediate interventions and a consolidated programme titled “Refocussing districts in the period characterised by Covid-19 and lockdown regulations”. This programme is aimed at strengthening Party structures, cultivating ties with communities and pursuing working class struggles, taking into consideration both constraints and opportunities presented by Covid-19.

The PEC agreed that the struggle for reliable access to quality drinking water must be maintained and extended to other affected areas within the province. Access to water is an essential basic human need and a fundamental human right. In the context of Covid-19, water also plays an important role in maintaining hygiene and contributes significantly in combating the spread of the Covid-19.

The PEC further acknowledged that Covid-19 has highlighted the important necessity of the unity of the Left. Little annoyances must not stand in the way of consolidating working class power necessary for advancing, deepening and defending the national democratic revolution. The working class is facing a bloodbath of job losses with an unprecedented upsurge in number of companies retrenching workers. This onslaught cannot be stopped without the unity of the working class. The PEC agreed on the need for working class unity and to intensify efforts in this regard, based on a common programme that advances interests of the working class.

A befitting tribute to Comrade Jack Simons

The PEC welcomed the important milestone the Party achieved with the General Secretary officially launching the Jack Simons Party School. It is a befitting tribute to name the Party School after Comrade Jack Simmons who dedicated a lot of his time and life to political education. This has also spurred the PEC to reignite the call for the renaming of Glen Agricultural School to “Jack Simons Agricultural School”. 

The PEC also welcomed the 65th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter. In revisiting the Freedom Charter, the SACP in the province will also pay attention to the 60th Anniversary of the Coalbrook disaster. This remains the biggest tragedy in the history of South African mining where 437 mineworkers perished during a mine collapse on 21 January 1960 at the Coalbrook Collieries and could not be retrieved from underground.

Issued by the SACP Free State Province

Contact:

Bheke Stofile
SACP Free State Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 071 600 4899

Phillip Kganyago
SACP Free State Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 071 896 0157
South African Communist Party Statement on Rising, Crisis-high Unemployment
24 June 2020

The South African Communist Party has noted the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday, 23 June 2020. The SACP is deeply concerned about the continuously rising, crisis-high unemployment. According to the survey, the narrow (‘official’) unemployment rate which excludes discouraged work-seekers increased from 29.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2019 to 30.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, affecting approximately 7.1 million active work-seekers. The total (‘expanded’) unemployment rate covering active and discouraged work-seekers increased from 38.7 per cent in the last quarter of 2019 to 39.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. The total unemployed population numbered approximately 10.8 million workers in the first quarter of 2020. The increasing unemployment is driven by numerous structural and cyclical factors.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey was released within two days after our ally the ANC represented by its Secretary-General Cde Ace Magashule released a statement expressing strong disapproval of retrenchments both in the public and private sector. The SACP supports the strong stance against retrenchments and further reiterates its call to organised labour and workers across the economy to unite and face off the jobs bloodbath.

Capital overwhelmingly controls the South African economy and both enjoys and seeks to deepen that monopoly control in favour of profit maximisation without regard to the impact of retrenchments and other workplace restructuring strategies on workers. Capital is increasingly retrenching workers as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state has the responsibility to guarantee the right of all people of working age to work, in terms of the Freedom Charter. Therefore government as well as public entities cannot take its cue from capital. Government has to build a people’s economy – an economy that lifts the working-class out of unemployment, poverty and inequality as well as associated exploitation.

The fact that production and trade in goods and services are meant for maximising profit and capital accumulation and not meeting the needs of the people is the central structural driver of unemployment, and also mass poverty and inequality. The countries constituting the core of the capitalist world-system push the conditions of more unemployment to those located in its outer orbits. Colonialism and its power relations have played a central role in that regard. That unequal relation and its dynamics are still very active through imperialist domination. This is one of the reasons why global unemployment is concentrated in the south.

The SACP has recently released a paper on structural economic transformation to rid our economy of colonial features, advance the right of all people falling in the working-age population to work and radically reduce poverty, unemployment, inequality and unequal development. The SACP reiterates the proposals made in the paper. These include a massive infrastructure rollout programme linked with manufacturing localisation, a transformation of the mining sector to support domestic manufacturing expansion and diversification, a transformation of the financial sector to serve national development imperatives, support for agriculture and its combination with manufacturing through agro-processing, and a high impact employment creation industrial policy.

These and other proposals aimed at advancing our democratic transition into a second radical phase require a change in the macro-economic framework, as the paper asserts. To this end, the ANC May 2019 general election manifesto, the electoral mandate of the current administration, places emphasis on the alignment of the macro-economic framework to support the objectives of the second radical phase of our democratic transition.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP
EST. 1921 AS THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF SOUTH AFRICA | CPSA

Dr Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
Central Committee Member for Media & Communications

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‘Strike for Black Lives’ to Highlight Racism
By AARON MORRISON

FILE - In this June 19, 2020, file photo, people demonstrate in Chicago, to mark Juneteenth. A national coalition of labor unions, along with racial and social justice organizations, will stage a mass walkout from work July 20, as part of an ongoing reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A national coalition of labor unions, along with racial and social justice organizations, will stage a mass walkout from work this month, as part of an ongoing reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.

Dubbed the “Strike for Black Lives,” tens of thousands of fast food, ride-share, nursing home and airport workers in more than 25 cities are expected to walk off the job July 20 for a full day strike. Those who can’t strike for a full day will walk out for about eight minutes — the amount of time prosecutors say a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck — in remembrance of Black men and women who died recently at the hands of police.

The national strike will also include worker-led marches through participating cities, organizers said Wednesday.

According to details shared exclusively with The Associated Press, organizers are demanding sweeping action by corporations and government to confront systemic racism in an economy that chokes off economic mobility and career opportunities for many Black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage. They also stress the need for guaranteed sick pay, affordable health care coverage and better safety measures for low-wage workers who never had the option of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to link these fights in a new and deeper way than ever before,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents over 2 million workers in the U.S. and Canada.

“Our members have been on a journey … to understanding why we cannot win economic justice without racial justice. This strike for Black lives is a way to take our members’ understanding about that into the streets,” Henry told the AP.

Among the strikers’ specific demands are that corporations and government declare unequivocally that “Black lives matter.” Elected officials at every level must use executive and legislative power to pass laws that guarantee people of all races can thrive, according to a list of demands. Employers must also raise wages and allow workers to unionize to negotiate better health care, sick leave and child care support.

The service workers union has partnered with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, United Farm Workers and the Fight for $15 and a Union, which was launched in 2012 by American fast food workers to push for a higher minimum wage.

Social and racial justice groups taking part include March On, the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of over 150 organizations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, a strike organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, said corporate giants that have come out in support of the BLM movement amid nationwide protests over police brutality have also profited from racial injustice and inequity.

“They claim to support Black lives, but their business model functions by exploiting Black labor — passing off pennies as ‘living wages’ and pretending to be shocked when COVID-19 sickens those Black people who make up their essential workers,” said Henderson, co-executive director of Tennessee-based Highlander Research and Education Center.

“Corporate power is a threat to racial justice, and the only way to usher in a new economy is by tackling those forces that aren’t fully committed to dismantling racism,” she said in a statement

Trece Andrews, a Black nursing home worker for a Ciena Healthcare-managed retirement home in the Detroit area, said she feels dejected after years of being passed over for promotions. The 49-year-old believes racial discrimination plays a part in her career stagnation.

“I’ve got 20 years in the game and I’m only at $15.81 (per hour),” she said in a phone interview.

As the single mother of a 13-year-old daughter and caregiver to her father, a cancer survivor, Andrews said inadequate personal protective gear makes her afraid of bringing the coronavirus home from her job.

“We’ve got the coronavirus going on, plus we’ve got this thing with racism going on,” Andrews said. “They’re tied together, like some type of segregation, like we didn’t have our ancestors and Martin Luther King fighting against these types of things. It’s still alive out here, and it’s time for somebody to be held accountable. It’s time to take action.”

The strike continues a decades-old labor rights movement tradition. Most notably, organizers have drawn inspiration from the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike over low wages, benefits disparity between Black and white employees, and inhumane working conditions that contributed to the deaths of two Black workers in 1968. At the end of that two-month strike, some 1,300 mostly Black sanitation workers bargained collectively for better wages.

“Strike for Black Lives” organizers say they want to disrupt a multi-generational cycle of poverty perpetuated by anti-union and other policies that make it difficult to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.

Systemic poverty affects 140 million people in the U.S, with 62 million people working for less than a living wage, according to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a strike partnering organization. An estimated 54% of Black workers and 63% of Hispanic workers fall into that category, compared to 37% of white workers and 40% of Asian American workers, the group said.

“The reason why, on July 20th, you’re going to see strikes and protests and the walk-offs and socially distanced sit-ins and voter registration outreach is because thousands and thousands of poor, low-wage workers of every race, creed and color understand that racial, economic, health care, immigration, climate and other justice fights are all connected,” the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said in a telephone interview.

“If in fact we are going to take on police violence that kills, then certainly we have to take on economic violence that also kills,” he said.

Organizers said some striking workers will do more than walk off the job on July 20. In Missouri, participants will rally at a McDonald’s in Ferguson, a key landmark in the protest movement sparked by the death of Michael Brown, a Black teenager who was killed by police in 2014. The strikers will then march to a memorial site located on the spot where Brown was shot and killed.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed on May 25, nursing home workers will participate in a caravan that will include a stop at the airport. They’ll be joined by wheelchair attendants and cabin cleaners demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage, organizers said.

Angely Rodriguez Lambert, a 26-year-old McDonald’s worker in Oakland, California, and leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union, said she and several co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 after employees weren’t initially provided proper protective equipment. As an immigrant from Honduras, Lambert said she also understands the Black community’s urgent fight against police brutality.

“Our message is that we’re all human and we should be treated like humans — we’re demanding justice for Black and Latino lives,” she told the AP.

“We’re taking action because words are no longer bringing the results that we need,” she said. “Now is the moment to see changes.”
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Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.
Minneapolis Council Members Pledge Thoughtful Police Revamp
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Members of the Minneapolis City Council are pledging a thoughtful approach to their proposal to dismantle the city’s police department following the killing of George Floyd.

Council members sought Wednesday to reassure the Minneapolis Charter Commission, with some commissioners expressing concerns that the council was rushing to push through the proposal so voters can decide it in the November election.

The proposal would eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new agency, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The commission needs to sign off on the question by Aug. 21 for it to be possible to make the November ballot.

Council member Alondra Cano told the Charter Commission that the council has tried to reform the police department for the past five years, and she saw all of that work “go down the drain” when Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd’s death sparked protests around the world.

Commissioner Andrea Rubenstein asked how the council would address people’s fears that the process is rushed and lacks details and planning.

“What we’re actually describing is a much more planful and intentional process than has often been portrayed,” answered council member Steve Fletcher, a co-author of the proposal. He said council staff should come back July 24 with a plan for engaging the public on the proposal.

Council member Jeremiah Ellison said the proposed charter amendment would “allow us to reimagine public safety entirely” and would “change the culture of public safety” by deemphasizing the “use of armed force as a response to every situation.”

Commissioner Dan Cohen said the Charter Commission should hear from the police rank-and-file and its union representative. The amendment would still allow for armed police officers as part of a division of licensed peace officers who would answer to the new department’s director.

“I don’t think this should be framed as an anti-police initiative,” Cano said. She said officers are welcome to be part of the conversation.

The 15-member commission will hold two public hearings on the amendment, including one on July 15.
Officer to Floyd: ‘It Takes ... a Lot of Oxygen to Talk’
By AMY FORLITI

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As George Floyd told Minneapolis police officers that he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times in the moments before he died, the officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck dismissed his pleas, saying “it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk,” according to transcripts of body camera video recordings made public Wednesday.

The transcripts for the body camera videos of officers Thomas Lane and J. Kueng provide the most detailed account yet of what happened as police were taking Floyd into custody on May 25, and reveal more of what was said after Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, was put on the ground.

“You’re going to kill me, man,” Floyd said, according to a transcript of Lane’s body camera video.

“Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk,” said Derek Chauvin, the white officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, even after Floyd stopped moving.

“They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” Floyd said.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, had no immediate comment Wednesday.

The transcripts were made public Wednesday as part of Lane’s request to have the case against him dismissed. Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said in a memorandum that there isn’t probable cause to charge his client, based on all of the evidence and the law.

Gray painted an image of a rookie officer who trusted Chauvin, a senior officer, after Floyd had been acting erratically, struggling and hurting himself during an arrest. Gray said that once Floyd was on the ground, Lane had asked twice if officers should roll Floyd on his side, and Chauvin said no.

Gray also submitted the body camera footage itself, but that was not immediately made public. The transcripts show Floyd appearing cooperative at times but becoming agitated as he begged not to be put in a squad car, saying repeatedly he was claustrophobic.

“Oh man, God don’t leave me man, please man, please man,” he begged, later adding: “I’ll do anything y’ll tell me to, man. ... I’m just claustrophobic, that’s it.”

Gray wrote that Floyd started to thrash back and forth and was “hitting his face on the glass in the squad and began to bleed from his mouth.” Officers brought Floyd to the ground and, “the plan was to restrain him so he couldn’t move and hurt himself anymore,” Gray wrote.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane was holding Floyd’s legs at the time, Kueng was at Floyd’s midsection and Thao was watching nearby bystanders. All four officers were fired.

A message left with an attorney for Floyd’s family wan’t immediately returned. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said prosecutors plan to oppose the motion to dismiss.

As part of his court filing, Gray also submitted a transcript of Lane’s interview with state investigators and police department training materials on restraint holds. Gray wrote that all of the evidence exonerates his client and that it is not “fair or reasonable” for Lane to stand trial.

Gray said in a memorandum that his client’s body camera video shows the encounter with Floyd from the time Lane got on the scene to the point where Floyd was put into an ambulance; Lane went in the ambulance and helped with CPR, according to the transcript.

Lane repeatedly told Floyd to show his hands, and he told investigators he drew his gun at first because Floyd was reaching for something, but holstered it once Floyd showed his hands. Body camera video transcripts show Floyd initially said he had been shot before, and begged police not to shoot him.

Gray said Floyd was acting erratically and had foam at his mouth. According to the body camera video transcripts, when asked about the foam and whether he was on something, Floyd said he was scared and had been playing basketball.

As officers struggled to get Floyd into the squad car, Floyd said: “I can’t breathe” and “I want to lay on the ground,” the transcripts say.

Once Floyd was on the ground, Lane told the other officers “he’s got to be on something.” and he asked twice whether officers should roll Floyd onto his side — Chauvin said no.

“Lane had no basis to believe Chauvin was wrong in making that decision,” Gray wrote.

Bystanders told officers repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, and after Kueng did he said, “I can’t find one.”

“Huh?” Chauvin said, according to the transcript of Keung’s body camera video.

Lane told state investigators that Chauvin was not Lane’s field training officer, but that he had trained Kueng and was someone Lane had previously gone to for guidance. According to a transcript of that interview, one investigator said it seemed like Lane’s gut was telling him something wasn’t right with the way Floyd was being restrained.

“Yeah. I would say felt like it maybe could have been handled differently or we should be reassessing what we’re doing, I think is what I was kind of coming to,” Lane said.

Gray argued in his memorandum that in order to charge Lane with aiding and abetting, prosecutors must show Lane played a knowing role in committing a crime. He said there’s no evidence Lane played an intentional role or knew Chauvin was committing a crime, namely assault.

“The decision to restrain Floyd was reasonably justified,” Gray wrote, adding: “Based on Floyd’s actions up to this point, the officers had no idea what he would do next – hurt himself, hurt the officers, flee, or anything else, but he was not cooperating.”

Gray wrote that Lane’s trust in Chauvin was “reasonable and not criminal.”
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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti
Black Lives Matter Protesters Face Rare Leak Charge in Iowa
By RYAN J. FOLEY
July 7, 2020

This July 2, 2020 photo provided by the Polk County Jail in Des Moines, Iowa., shows Viet Tran. Prosecutors have filed a rare charge against Tran, a Black Lives Matter protester _ unauthorized dissemination of intelligence data _ for allegedly displaying and discussing a stolen Des Moines police document during an interview broadcast on a local television station. (Polk County Jail via AP)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Prosecutors in Iowa have filed a rarely used leak charge against Black Lives Matter protesters accused of stealing a confidential police document and displaying it during a television news broadcast.

Two protesters are charged with unauthorized dissemination of intelligence data, a felony that carries up to five years in prison.

The Iowa Judicial Branch says it’s only the second time that the charge has been filed since 2010. It’s intended to punish officers and others who share information that could undermine criminal investigations or violate privacy protections.

The document in question was a Des Moines Police Department bulletin that officers and state troopers had with them while patrolling a July 1 protest at the Iowa Capitol. The bulletin included photos of suspects who were wanted in the destruction of a Des Moines police car during a June 20 protest.

Alexandria Dea, 26, took the intelligence bulletin from an officer’s back pocket during a confrontation between officers and protesters, which began after officers arrested three of the suspects inside the Capitol, the criminal complaint against her alleges.

Protesters later gathered at the Polk County Jail to demand the release of those arrested during the clash. While there, 21-year-old Viet Tran discussed and displayed the bulletin during an interview that was broadcast on WOI-TV, an ABC affiliate, according to a complaint.

The first page of the four-page document has a notice warning that it shouldn’t be shared or released publicly, and that doing so would violate Iowa code.

Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said it was difficult to assess whether any harm resulted from its dissemination. But he said such bulletins contain confidential information such as driver’s license numbers that must be protected under the law.

“This is my first experience with it ever being applied to anyone outside law enforcement, but obviously the circumstances were pretty unique,” Parizek said. “Those documents are not supposed to be shared. It’s actually written on them. As soon as they did that, the charge was appropriate.”

Tran remained jailed Tuesday on a complaint alleging he violated the terms of his probation from an assault case when he interfered with officers at the July 1 protest.

The television story didn’t show the name or face of the person speaking about the document, but Parizek said police identified the source as Tran.

The reporter who included the bulletin in her story and tweeted photos of the document has not been charged.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate to hold a reporter accountable for trying to do their job,” Parizek said. “They get more leeway than the average person would.”

Reporter Eva Andersen and the station declined comment.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, a long-serving Democrat whose office filed the charges, didn’t return a phone message.

His office also charged Dea with felony theft for allegedly stealing the bulletin and throwing an officer’s radio that had fallen to the ground. That charge carries up to 10 years in prison.

Dea, who is free after posting $15,000 bond, declined comment. But her friend and fellow protester Jaylen Cavil said the charges were baseless.

“They are attempting to scare and silence us by stacking these fabricated felony charges on young people,” he said. “They know that this can ruin people’s lives, and that’s why they’re doing it.”

The law defines intelligence data as information “compiled in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor possible criminal activity.” Anyone who improperly obtains or shares it can be charged.

In the last time the law was used, a Wayne County sheriff’s office employee was charged in 2016 with leaking information to suspects in drug and drunk driving cases. Ultimately, prosecutors dropped two counts and she pleaded guilty to interference with official acts.
Protester at Trump’s Mount Rushmore Event Faces 5 Charges
July 6, 2020

Protesters form a blockade of vans and bodies on the highway leading to Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3, 2020, in Keystone, S.D. President Donald Trump spoke at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (Erin Bormett/The Argus Leader via AP)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — One of the leaders of a protest before President Donald Trump’s pre-Independence Day appearance at Mount Rushmore was charged Monday for allegedly stealing a shield from a law enforcement officer.

Nick Tilsen, 38, of Porcupine, South Dakota, is charged with second-degree robbery and simple assault, both felonies, and three other charges stemming from Friday’s demonstration that drew more than 100 protesters in 95-degree heat.

Tilsen is a a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective.

Tilsen was one of about 15 people who remained in the street near an entrance to the event knowing they would be arrested after a 30-minute warning to vacate, the Rapid City Journal reported. Prosecutors say Tilsen’s actions made a law enforcement officer “frightened for her life.”

Tilsen’s lawyer, Bruce Ellison, and family believe law enforcement and the state’s attorney office are targeting Tilsen for his role at the protest.

“He’s been treated in an usual manner” because “he’s been identified as someone who had a leadership role,” Ellison said after the hearing, noting that Tilsen could have been released over the weekend like the other protesters who were arrested.

Tilsen was released from jail Monday on $2,000 bond.
Trump to US Schools: Reopen or You May Lose Federal Funds
By COLLIN BINKLEY

Determined to reopen America’s schools despite coronavirus worries, President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall. He complained that his own public health officials’ safety guidelines are impractical and too expensive.

Shortly afterward, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be issuing new guidance next week “that will give all new tools to our schools.” The recommendations will keep students safe, he said, but “the president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough. ”

Despite Trump’s increased pressure on state and local officials, New York City announced that most of its students would return to classrooms only two or three days a week and would learn online in between. “Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For a nation that prides itself on its public school system, it’s an extraordinary situation in this pandemic year.

With millions of the nation’s parents anxious about their children’s safety in the fall — and their own work interruptions if they must stay home — Trump continued to inject politics into public health. He accused Democrats yet again of wanting to keep schools closed for election-year reasons rather than health concerns. And he issued a veiled threat to CDC officials over their reopening guidelines, tweeting, “I will be meeting with them!!!”

Elsewhere in the nation, many states continued to confront a resurgence of the the virus, which has claimed more than 130,000 lives in the U.S. But safety obstacles in schools can be surmounted, Trump insisted, and reopening “is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

He did not say what funding he would pull, but Pence suggested at a coronavirus task force briefing that future COVID-19 relief bills could be tied to reopening schools as one way “to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back in school.”

On Twitter, Trump argued that countries including Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools “with no problems.”

Germany did begin to reopen its schools in May, but in many cases students are taking turns going to school and studying at home for half the week — just the thing administration officials have criticized. Germany authorities are aiming for classes to resume in close to normal fashion after the summer vacation.

Trump’s Twitter warnings drew backlash from some governors who said he has no authority over schools’ fall plans. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said officials will reopen when it’s safe to do so.

“School reopenings are a state decision, period,” he said at a news conference. “That is the law, and that is the way we are going to proceed. It’s not up to the president of the United States.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Our schools & child care providers need MORE federal funding — not less — to be able to safely open.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made reopening schools a priority to help parents get back to work, and he said Wednesday he supports CDC guidance to help that happen.

Senate Democrats have proposed $430 billion for schools and child care providers as part of the next aid package to be debated in Congress later this month. McConnell, too, has suggested more money for schools will be needed.

Trump made his threat a day after launching an all-out effort pressing state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall. At a White House event Tuesday, health and education officials argued that keeping students out for the fall semester would pose greater health risks than any tied to the coronavirus.

Among those pushing for a fall reopening was the chief of the CDC. But Trump on Wednesday complained the agency’s school opening guidelines were too tough and costly.

“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things,” Trump wrote.

The CDC’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, has emphasized that his agency’s guidelines are only recommendations.

“I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed,” he said at Wednesday’s coronavirus task force briefing, which was held at the Education Department.

The CDC’s guidance recommends that students and teachers wear masks whenever feasible, spread out desks, stagger schedules, eat meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria and add physical barriers between bathroom sinks.

Trump did not clarify which of the guidelines he opposed. But a White House spokeswoman later offered an example, saying the president takes issue with the CDC’s suggestion that students bring their own meals to school when feasible.

“There are 22 million children in this country who depend on these meals at schools, who depend on access to nutrition in schools,” Kayleigh McEnany said.

Democrats slammed the president over his threats and warned him to keep out of the CDC’s work. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, ranking Democrat on the Education Committee, said the agency needs to be trusted to make decisions based on scientific evidence, “not on President Trump’s Twitter outbursts.”

At the task force briefing, and a day earlier in a call with the nation’s governors, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said anything less than a full reopening would be a failure for students and taxpayers. But some of the nation’s largest districts plan to bring back limited numbers of students for only a few days a week, saying it would be unsafe for all to return at once.

DeVos singled out Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, which are asking families to decide between fully remote instruction or two days a week at school.

“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” she said, according to audio of the call with governors obtained by The Associated Press.

In announcing New York City’s plan for in-person instruction two or three days a week, de Blasio said schools can’t accommodate all their students at any one time while maintaining social distancing. The city’s public school system, with 1.1 million students, is by far the nation’s largest.

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said, “Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued guidelines suggesting that districts aim to start the academic year with students “physically present in school.” Keeping students at home can lead to social isolation, the organization said, and prevent schools from identifying learning deficits, abuse, depression and other issues.
___

Associated Press writers Kevin Freking in Washington and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
Health Official: Trump Rally ‘Likely’ Source of Virus Surge
By SEAN MURPHY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.

Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.

Although the health department’s policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings “more than likely” contributed to the spike.

“In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said.

Trump’s Tulsa rally, his first since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., attracted thousands of people from around the country. About 6,200 people gathered inside the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena — far fewer than was expected.

Dart had urged the campaign to consider pushing back the date of the rally, fearing a potential surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the campaign went to great lengths to ensure that those who attended the rally were protected.

“There were literally no health precautions to speak of as thousands looted, rioted, and protested in the streets and the media reported that it did not lead to a rise in coronavirus cases,” Murtaugh said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the President’s rally was 18 days ago, all attendees had their temperature checked, everyone was provided a mask, and there was plenty of hand sanitizer available for all.

“It’s obvious that the media’s concern about large gatherings begins and ends with Trump rallies,” he said.

Although masks were provided to rally goers, there was no requirement that participants wear them, and most didn’t.

A reporter who attended the Trump rally is among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, along with six of Trump’s campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service who worked in advance of the rally.

Statewide, Oklahoma health officials on Wednesday reported 673 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, the state’s second-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.

The new cases reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health follow a record high of 858 cases that were reported on Tuesday and bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 17,893. The actual number of infections is thought to be much higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.

The health department also reported three additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 407.

In response to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, the cities of Norman and Stillwater have approved mandates that people must wear masks in public. Norman approved its ordinance Tuesday night after a five-hour city council meeting during which citizens on both sides of the issue spoke out.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Ethiopia Will Continue Diplomatic Effort on GERD, Says Abiy Ahmed
Borkena
July 7, 2020

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared in the parliament on Tuesday. The 2013 Ethiopian budget was the agenda item but he also faced questions related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Some parliamentarians noted that Egypt has been making an effort to disrupt Ethiopia’s development, at times through the agency of political forces in the country that are inimical to Ethiopia.

In video footage from state Media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, one parliamentarian is seen posting the question to the Prime Minister.

“…using water from Abay [the Nile River] is a matter of survival for Ethiopia. Where are we in terms of the diplomatic effort and what is the future plan in that direction?” he said. The level of project completion is another question posed to the prime minister.

Abiy said that negotiation with lower riparian countries is not halted. He also said that Ethiopia will continue to have a talk with countries from the lower and upper course of the Nile River.

In terms of negotiation strategy, he painted the “African problem with African solution”, which is a reference to the involvement of the African Union as a mediator, as a sort of success story for Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia will continue to uphold the principle of equitable use of the water by all riparian countries,” he reiterated.

The Prime Minister seems to have a positivist view of project completion.  It is extricated from poor management after the new leadership, he asserted.  To demonstrate that, he said that the dam is currently at 560 meters high which is 35 meters up from what it was when he took over power.

Meanwhile, the state media reported that preparation for filling the initial stages of the water is completed and will start filling some time in mid-July.

On June 29, 2020, Hachalu Hundessa, an Ethiopian singer who is popular for his Oromo songs, was killed in the capital. A preliminary investigation from fourteen suspects, as disclosed by the Attorney General, reveals that the killing was orchestrated to trigger a civil war in Ethiopia. And the government claims that the internal and external enemies of Ethiopia took part in the planning.

Egypt covertly implicated in the assassination. For most Ethiopians, Egypt has always been looking for a means to destabilize Ethiopia, and extremists Oromo nationalists are perceived to have links with Egypt. In the 19th century, Egypt attempted to directly engage Ethiopia militarily but failed twice after losing battles in Gundet and Gura. Since then Egypt has rather been trying to destabilize Ethiopia indirectly.  There is a growing bitterness towards Egypt due to what many believe to be Egyptian relentless effort to destabilize Ethiopia exploiting internal fissures. 
Cholera Outbreak Kills 26 in Somalia Since January: UN
2020-07-08 00:07:40|Editor: huaxia

MOGADISHU, July 7 (Xinhua) -- An outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhea in Somalia had killed 26 people in the past six months, a UN health agency said on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest joint report with the ministry of health on the outbreak in Somalia that a total of 4,787 suspected cases were reported from 25 districts in Somalia.

"A total of 26 associated deaths were also reported during the same period," said the WHO, noting that districts with the highest number of cases are in Banadir, South West State, and Hirshabelle.

The current cholera outbreak started in December 2017 following floods that affected districts in the basins of Jubba and Shabelle rivers.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease, usually spread by contaminated water and food, and can cause severe diarrhea that, in extreme cases, can lead to fatal dehydration and kidney failure within hours.
Somalia Covid-19 Cases Exceed 3,000, Death Toll Stands at 92
SomaliAffairs
July 6, 2020

Somalia’s Covid-19 cases have surpassed 3,000, the latest Ministry of Health report has indicated.

The country registered nine cases in the last 24 hours, the ministry said in its report. This brings the country’s Covid-19 tally to 3,006.

Five of the 9 cases are from Banadir region, 3 from Somaliland and 1 from Jubbaland. All but one of the new cases are male.

Meanwhile, 37 more people have fully recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,051. The death toll still stands at 92.
Malawi: President Laz Cancels Malawi Independence Celebrations Amidst COVID-19 Threat
5 JULY 2020
Nyasa Times (Leeds)
By Wongani Chiuta

Newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera was set to be inaugurated this Monday at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe during a ceremony which would have also marked 56th Malawi Independence Celebration have been cancelled amidst threat of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic due to rapid increase of virus cases the country has so far registered.

Chakwera, was already sworn in as Malawi's sixth President at the Malawi Square in Lilongwe alongside Vice-President Saulos Chilima last week.

But the President who also expected to deliver his inauguration speech, will address the nation on Sunday.

Chakwera's predecessors have used the inauguration speech to provide policy direction, especially on the economy, in the coming five years in a country that is clocking 56 years of independence on July 6, but has remained one of the poorest in the world, relying on donors for 40 percent of its recurrent budget and 80 percent of the development budget.

President Chakwera inherits a country deeply divided, politically, regionally and ethnically. With an economy not much better than it was at independence in 1964, with poverty deeply entrenched, with a government steeped in corruption. And with a Covid-19 pandemic spreading.

On Saturday, Chakwera assured the nation of a transparent and consultative process in formulating and implementing strategies to fight against the Coronavirus.

There has been over 1, 400 recorded Covid-19 cases in the country with the majority being local transmissions.

Chakwera defeated immediate former president Peter Mutharika by around 59% to 40% in the 23 June election which was a rerun ordered by the courts of the elections held in May 2019. Mutharika won that election but then Malawi's Constitutional Court annulled it in February 2020 because of extensive vote rigging.

It was only the second known time in Africa's history that a court had annulled an election and certainly one which the incumbent leader had won. The first was in Kenya in 2017.

On being sworn in last Sunday, Chakwera promised "a government that serves, not a government that rules; a government that inspires, not a government that infuriates; a government that listens, not a government that shouts; a government that fights for you, not against you".
Malawi's New President Urges All to Root Out Corruption
Malawi’s newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera has been inaugurated Monday at small ceremony, following a last-minute change from a stadium event, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Associated Press
July 6, 2020, at 4:02 p.m.

BY GREGORY GONDWE, Associated Press

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Malawi’s newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera has been inaugurated Monday in a small ceremony, following a last-minute change from a stadium event in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead of a ceremony at the 40,000-seat stadium, about 100 people attended the swearing-in at Kamuzu Barracks in the capital, Lilongwe.

Chakwera said Malawi must rid itself of corruption, in a speech that was broadcast on national television.

“We must clear the rubble of impunity, for it has left our governance institutions in ruins,” he said.

He said all Malawians must work to build a new nation free from maladministration.

“I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed guilty of ruining this country are those who lost the recent election,” said Chakwera. “I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed responsible for fixing this country are those who won the recent election.”

Chakwera said he canceled the stadium celebrations that coincided with the country's Independence Day festivities after receiving news that the number of COVID-19 was rising rapidly. The southern African country had 1,742 as of Monday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I know that this is a frightening time for us as a nation ... but I want you to know that if we each use what we have, to do our part where we are, we are going to win this fight,” said Chakwera.

Chakwera was first sworn in as Malawi’s sixth president on June 28 after the announcement that he won the southern African country’s rerun elections. Monday's ceremony was the formal inauguration.

He won the historic election held on June 23, the first time a court-overturned vote in Africa has resulted in the defeat of an incumbent leader. Chakwera won with 58.57% of votes cast, according to official results announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission.
Covid-19 May Forever Spoil Angola’s Plans to Rebuild Its Declining Oil Production
Oil & Companies News
08/07/2020

Angola’s oil output averaged 1.38 million barrels per day (bpd) last year and was forecast to reach 1.4 million bpd in 2020. Despite its robust level, the country has long realized that its existing production is on track for years of consecutive decline – deepening from 2021 – and introduced a new royalty and tax regime to attract investments from the majors.

The incentives were set to help Angola recover its declining production and add a peak of 750,000 new bpd in 2029, Rystad Energy estimates. The extra barrels, together with what remains from the country’s current production, would have driven total output very close to 2020 levels.

However, Covid-19-induced capital spending cuts may have thrown a wrench into the country’s plan for a bright oil and gas future. Projects which were in the pipeline have now been delayed and exploration plans are being shelved. And in the current market situation, Angola faces stiff competition from the other deepwater markets such as Brazil and Guyana.

Because of the new market reality, Rystad Energy now estimates that instead of rebuilding Angola’s lost output by 2029, the country will likely never manage to produce at current levels again. As a result, the estimated peak of new cumulative output will shrink to 650,000 bpd, and will only be reached in 2032, at which time output from currently-producing projects will have continued to fall from 2029 levels.

Angola added over half a billion barrels of recoverable crude oil volumes to the country’s coffers in 2018 and 2019. Projects in the country, along with many other Western African nations, were among the first to be put on hold since these were relatively high-cost offshore projects. The same projects which were deemed profitable under the new tax incentives have now been put on the backburner.

When it comes to exploration, Angola had grand plans. The National Agency for Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels (ANPG), was created as an industry regulator in the country in 2019 and plans were formulated to offer 10 frontier offshore acreages in the Namibe and Benguela basins at the end of 2019. A six-year (2019-2025) licensing strategy where 55 blocks were to be put on offer was created. Additional licensing in different modes was also in the works.

Instead, ANPG has decided to postpone the country’s 2020 licensing round, which was originally supposed to be launched by May 2020. Adding insult to injury, the oil price crash has led all the majors operating in Angola to ditch or leave their drilling rigs idle.

“Angola desperately needs to accelerate its new developments to reduce its declining production and must undertake more exploration to replace its depleted reserves. Despite the government’s efforts to make operations in the country more operator-friendly, investors may quit Angola unless the government acts swiftly,” says Siva Prasad, senior upstream analyst in Rystad Energy.

It remains to be seen how the government responds and whether it offers any additional motivation in the form of fiscal changes and operational incentives to keep investors interested.

For more analysis, insights and reports, clients and non-clients can apply for access to Rystad Energy’s Free Solutions and get a taste of our data and analytics universe.

Source: Rystad Energy
Former Petroleum Minister to Cooperate in Angola Corruption Probe
By Henrique Almeida
July 6, 2020, 8:28 AM EDT
Bloomberg

Dos Santos wants to clear her reputation, find out the truth

Isabel dos Santos, who is accused of causing billions of dollars in losses to the Angolan government during her father’s 38-year rule, said she is available to cooperate with authorities to clear her name and find out the truth.

“What I want to resolve as quickly as possible are the attacks on my reputation and my good name,” Dos Santos said in an emailed statement on Monday. “I’m available, as I always have been, to cooperate with justice and to provide all the necessary clarifications so that the truth prevails.”

Dos Santos currently faces several civil and criminal cases in which the Angolan government claims more than $5 billion, Angola’s prosecutor general’s office said on May 12. The 47-year-old’s assets in Angola were frozen last year after authorities accused her of engaging in deals that caused losses to the Angolan state during the rule of her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, that ended in 2017.

Last week, the Portuguese government took control of Dos Santos’s 72% stake in Efacec Power Solutions SGPS SA, a producer of electrical equipment, and is currently looking for a buyer for that. The move came after Portuguese prosecutors froze Dos Santos’s accounts in the country that’s home to a sizable portion of her estimated $2.4 billion fortune, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dos Santos, who is Africa’s richest woman, has been living outside Angola since 2018. She said it’s false that Angolan authorities are unaware of her whereabouts or unable to contact her, according to her statement on Monday. Dos Santos has denied any wrongdoing and says the allegations against her are politically motivated.
Angola National Bank to Release New Banknotes
2020-07-07 20:47:46|Editor: huaxia

LUANDA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A new series of banknotes made of polymer are due to enter into circulation in Angola from July 30, the governor of the National Bank of Angola (BNA) Jose Lima Massano said on Tuesday.

The governor explained that the new banknotes, including 200 (0.35 U.S. dollars), 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 Kwanza, would enter into circulation gradually from July 30.

Despite the legal provision, the 10,000 Kwanza banknotes are not expected to enter into circulation unless it proves necessary, said Massanbo.

The entry into service will be progressive in order to allow people to understand its characteristics and ensure that it is available in national territory, he said.

The new banknotes will coexist with the existing ones of the 2012 series until December 31, 2021.

The BNA will publish the timetable for the withdrawal of the older banknotes; in the meantime, the coins will remain in circulation without any change.

Massano explained that with the polymer banknotes there is the possibility of better usage and financial savings in the management of currency circulation.

"No less important is the fact that the new substrate is recyclable, making them more environmentally friendly", Massano said.
South Africa Coronavirus: Over 200,000 Cases, 41% of Africa's Caseload
By Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

South Africa has become a COVID-19 model for the continent in many ways since it confirmed its index case on 5th March, 2020. From the area of testing through to record number of recoveries, South Africa has been praised for pro-activeness in combating the virus.

The economic intervention measures rolled out by President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been classed as one of the most comprehensive across the continent. South Africa was one of the earliest to roll out such measures.

That President Ramaphosa is also the current Chairperson of the African Union, AU; means he has the delicate task of juggling national tasks withe the continental as Africa seeks global support to combat the pandemic.

Key statistics as at July 7
The total number of confirmed cases = 205,721
The total number of tests so far = 1,864,111
Total death toll = 3,310
Total recoveries = 97,848
Most impacted provinces = Guateng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa Zulu-Natal
July 7: Cases pass 200,000 mark

South Africa is Africa’s most impacted nation by a mile even as government continues to reopen the economy and schools across the country. As of Monday July 1, coronavirus cases in the country had crossed the 200,000 mark. The figure represents over 41.7% of Africa’s total caseload which stood at 492,805 cases as at July 7, 2020 at 10:00 GMT according to John Hopkins University tallies.

According to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, four provinces – Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – which were at risk of a surge could be locked down to better control spread.

The country has consistently recorded thousands of new cases daily. Government has defended a strict lockdown stating that it was key to spread of the virus.

South Africa has also run over 1.8 million tests, the only African country to reach that figure. The death toll has passed 3,000 with over 97,000 recoveries. Concerns have been raised about the health system – one of Africa’s most developed, being overwhelmed by cases.

The closest country in terms of cases is Egypt with over 76,000 cases whiles Nigeria is going towards the 30,000 mark. Ghana breached 20,000 recently whiles Algeria with 16,000 plus cases completes the top five.

South Africa, Africa’s most industrialized nation is also involved in the human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University.
Coronavirus: How Fast Is It Spreading In Africa?
By Peter Mwai and Christopher Giles
BBC Reality Check

Africa is seeing coronavirus cases rapidly increasing and deaths rising, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

We've looked at the situation across the continent, and examined which countries are of most concern.

How fast is coronavirus spreading?

In terms of overall numbers, Africa currently accounts for only a small proportion of total global cases, but the acceleration in rates of infection in some countries is of increasing concern to health authorities in the region.

While it took nearly 100 days for Africa to reach an initial 100,000 cases, it took only 18 days for that to double to 200,000. It doubled again to 400,000 cases over the next 20 days.

The upward trend in Africa is starting to resemble other parts of the world that have been badly hit by the coronavirus. Most African countries are now experiencing community transmission, according to the WHO.

This is when a person gets Covid-19 without having been in contact with a known case from abroad or a confirmed domestic case, which makes it hard for for the authorities to track down the source of a local outbreak.

Where are Africa's hotspots?

The two countries with the highest numbers of cases are South Africa and Egypt. They accounted for over 60% of all the new cases reported in late June.

South Africa has the highest recorded number of total cases, while Egypt has the largest number of recorded coronavirus deaths.

South Africa, which imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in late March, has seen cases rise steadily after this was relaxed in early May.

The Western Cape province (where Cape Town is located), accounts for nearly half of all cases in the country and more than half of the deaths. But cases are steadily rising in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg.

Egypt has seen case numbers rising rapidly since mid-May, but there are indications that this may now have reached a peak with recorded new infections levelling off slightly in early July.

There is also concern about what is happening in Nigeria, which recorded the second-highest increase in deaths from Covid-19 after South Africa in the WHO report for 1 July.

Coronavirus mapped
Zoom to
Africa
Show
419,812
cases

8,273
deaths
2,900,000290,000
Circles show number of confirmed coronavirus cases per country.
Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies

Figures last updated 7 July 2020, 08:59 BST

Note: Data for Egypt can be found by selecting the Middle East region from the drop-down menu in both the map and country table below.

Mauritania has also seen a steep increase in cases in recent weeks.

It's worth stressing that parts of the continent have seen relatively few cases, such as some areas of East Africa.

In fact, the latest WHO Africa region report said just 10 countries accounted for more than 80% of all the reported cases on the continent.

How many people are dying in Africa?

The reported death rate per capita has been low compared to other parts of the world, despite the poor health infrastructure in many African countries.

Coronavirus
data in detail
Scroll table to see more data
*Deaths per 100,000 people

Filter:

Africa
Country
Deaths
Death rate*
Total Cases

New Cases
0
10
100
1k
5k
**
South Africa 3,310 5.7 205,721
24 JAN
06 JUL
Algeria 959 2.3 16,404
Nigeria 654 0.3 29,286
Sudan 616 1.5 9,894
Cameroon 359 1.4 14,916
Morocco 237 0.7 14,379
DR Congo 182 0.2 7,432
Kenya 164 0.3 8,067
Senegal 136 0.9 7,478
Mauritania 133 3.0 4,948
Ghana 129 0.4 21,077
Mali 119 0.6 2,331
Ethiopia 103 0.1 5,846
Somalia 92 0.6 3,006
Ivory Coast 75 0.3 10,966
Chad 74 0.5 872
Niger 68 0.3 1,093
Sierra Leone 62 0.8 1,547
Djibouti 55 5.7 4,822
Burkina Faso 53 0.3 1,000
Central African Republic 52 1.1 4,033
Equatorial Guinea 51 3.9 3,071
Tunisia 50 0.4 1,199
Gabon 46 2.2 5,743
Congo 44 0.8 1,557
Liberia 39 0.8 891
South Sudan 38 0.3 2,021
Guinea 34 0.3 5,610
Mayotte 34 13.1 2,679
Libya 34 0.5 1,117
Madagascar 33 0.1 3,250
Zambia 30 0.2 1,632
Guinea-Bissau 25 1.3 1,790
Benin 21 0.2 1,199
Tanzania 21 0.0 509
Malawi 19 0.1 1,742
Angola 19 0.1 346
Cape Verde 17 3.1 1,463
Togo 15 0.2 680
Eswatini 13 1.1 1,011
Sao Tome and Principe 13 6.2 721
Mauritius 10 0.8 342
Zimbabwe 9 0.1 734
Mozambique 8 0.0 1,012
Comoros 7 0.8 311
Rwanda 3 0.0 1,113
Gambia 3 0.1 61
Réunion 2 0.2 550
Botswana 1 0.0 314
Burundi 1 0.0 191
Western Sahara 1 0.2 10
Uganda 0 0.0 953
Namibia 0 0.0 485
Eritrea 0 0.0 215
Lesotho 0 0.0 91
Seychelles 0 0.0 81
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This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

** The past data for new cases is a three day rolling average. Due to revisions in the number of cases, an average cannot be calculated for this date.

Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies and UN population data

Figures last updated: 7 July 2020, 08:59 BST

The WHO says this could be partly because of the relatively young population in Africa - more than 60% under the age of 25. Covid-19 is known to have a higher mortality rate for older age groups.

Another way to look at death rates is to see what proportion of people who get Covid-19 go on to die.

On this basis, there are five countries with death rates that are comparable to or higher than the most recent global average rate of just under 5%:

Chad (8.5%)
Algeria (6.6%)
Niger (6.2%)
Burkina Faso (5.5%)
Mali (5.3)

But Githinji Gitahi, the head of Amref Health Africa, an NGO which specialises in health matters, says the higher rates could be an indication of much higher infection levels than those being recorded, and that it could be down to low levels of testing.

The fewer tests you carry out, the fewer cases you find, and so the number of deaths appears relatively high.

Different methods of reporting deaths may also affect the number.

For example, where community health workers and other frontline staff record Covid-19 deaths, such as in Chad, you could get a higher death rate.

Ten countries account for about 80% of the total tests conducted - South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda.

There are wide variations in testing rates, with South Africa doing the most and Nigeria doing relatively few, according to Our World in Data, a UK-based project which collates Covid-19 information.

On 4 July, South Africa was doing just over 30 tests per 1,000 people, compared with 72 in the UK and 105 in the US.

Nigeria is achieving 0.7 tests per 1,000 people, Ghana 10 and Kenya 3.

It's worth pointing out that for some African countries, it is impossible to know what exactly is happening due to a lack of any data or data being incomplete.

"We have to take the numbers with a pinch of salt," says Chiedo Nwankwor, a lecturer in African affairs at Johns Hopkins University in the US.

In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has voiced doubts about the validity of virus testing results at the national laboratory, and has allowed only limited data on infection rates and testing to be made public.

Equatorial Guinea had a row with the WHO after accusing its country representative of inflating the number of Covid-19 cases. For a while it held back its data, but has now started sharing it again.

And in Kano state in northern Nigeria, an unusual spike of close to 1,000 deaths was reported in late April, but the government has not still confirmed how many were due to Covid-19.

Note: The graphics in this page use a different source for figures for France from that used by Johns Hopkins University, which results in a slightly lower overall total. US figures do not include Puerto Rico, Guam or the US Virgin Islands.