Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Egyptians Demand the British Museum Return the Rosetta Stone

An undated photo provided by the British Museum, shows the Rosetta Stone, the centerpiece of a new exhibition at London’s largest museum celebrating the 200th anniversary.

Africa News and AP

A priceless black granite slab. The Rosetta stone, a multi-translated inscription brought the seminal breakthrough in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Over 2 centuries after forces of the British Empire brought it to Great Britain from Egypt, growing calls demand its restitution. Monica Hana, is the organizer of one two petitions demanding the return of the stone.

"I think all nations have the right to ask back for their heritage," the dean at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport says.

"In the 19th century, there was also - slavery was legal, child labor was legal and women had no rights. Today, we are in the 21st century and we have to correct the mistakes of the past and correct the mistakes of the history because we cannot change it."

The British Museum refutes the stone was seized illegally; arguing an 1801 treaty includes the signature of a representative of Egypt who fought alongside the British against the French to rule the north African territory.

"Symbol of colonialism"

The Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul was nominally the ruler of Egypt at the time of Napoleon’s invasion.

A French soldier had found the black slab near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles east of Alexandria.

"The Rosetta Stone for me, is a symbol of western colonialism over my culture. It represents a spoil of war, it represents cultural violence", Monica Hana explained.

"I’m not only asking for it’s restitutional repatriation, I’m also training generations of students who will become researchers to continue the fight until the Rosetta Stone is back in Egypt."

Western museums have long pointed to better equipped facilities and larger crowd draws to justify their holding of world treasures.

Some institutions are returning ownership of artifacts but the majority remains in their collections. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation for example agreed with Nigeria to keep one-third of the artefacts on loan.

"My message to the British Museum is that it’s about time that you find a new role for your museum in the 21st century. The British Museum is still locked up as a cabinet of curiosity in the 19th century. They need to find a new vision and a new philosophy for their role as a museum, and restitution and repatriation is at the heart of this new philosophy."

The Museum said Egypt’s government has not submitted a request for the return of the Rosetta stone which was carved in the 2nd century B.C.

The granite slab is one of more than 100,000 Egyptian and Sudanese relics housed in the British Museum.

Isabel dos Santos Says She Feels “Politically Persecuted” in Angola

Africa News with AFP

Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, targeted by the justice of her country, says she is the victim of "political persecution" led by President Joao Lourenço.

She said this in an interview on Portuguese television Tuesday (November 29) evening.

"There is no doubt that we are in a context of political persecution," said the daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, who died in July after 38 years of political rule in this former Portuguese colony in hydrocarbon-rich southern Africa.

"The Attorney General of the Republic receives his orders directly from the President," she added in front of the TVI / CNN Portugal channel cameras.

The head of the Angolan prosecutor's office, Helder Pitta Gros, confirmed to the media in his country on Monday that he had asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for Isabel dos Santos.

In her interview with CNN Portugal, the 49-year-old businesswoman claims not to be aware of the "official document".

But, according to a draft version of an international arrest warrant published by Portuguese media, Isabel dos Santos is wanted by Angolan authorities for fraud against the state, money laundering, and criminal association.

According to this document, she is suspected of having siphoned off funds from Angola's national oil company, Sonangol, which she headed before Joao Lourenço succeeded her father as head of Angola.

While Angolan authorities say they do not know where Isabel dos Santos is, the Interpol warrant says she is likely to be staying in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.

Targeted by the "Luanda Leaks" investigation published in 2020 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on the dubious origins of her fortune, Isabel dos Santos is also on the radar of justice in other countries than her own., including Portugal.

"Portugal is trying to understand whether the allegations published by the press are true or false", she acknowledged in her interview, while affirming that the "Luanda Leaks" were a fabrication "of the Angolan State, of the President Joao Lourenço in particular".

Nigeria Police Chief Usman Baba Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

Nigeria's Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba at the naval dockyard in Lagos, on December 9, 2021

Africa News with Agencies

Nigeria’s Federal High Court has sentenced the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to three months in prison for flouting a 2011 court order.

According to local media reports, the IGP’s sentence followed a suit that was filed by a police officer, Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force.

The court also ordered the payment of N10 million to the applicant, being special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal, and unconstitutional denial of his (Patrick’s) rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.

In a ruling delivered on Tuesday (November 29) Justice M. O. Olajuwon, held that the police chief should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until his office obeys an order made by the court since October 21, 2011.

Olajuwon noted that though the Police Service Commission recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the NPF, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP’s office, refused to comply with the order.

Olajuwon said, “If at the end of the three months, the contemnor remains recalcitrant and still refuses to purge his contempt, he shall be committed for another period and until he purges his contempt.” The punchng quoted in a report.

The force is yet to respond to the sentence.

4 Appear in Court over Terror Attack at Ivory Coast Beach


FILE- In this March. 13, 2016 file photo, a body lays on the beach were gunmen attacked people in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. The attack claimed 19 people: 11 Ivorians, four French, one German, one Lebanese, one Macedonian and one Nigerian. The trial for the suspects in the beach attack opens Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Christin Roby, file )

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Four of the defendants arrested in connection with a 2016 Islamic extremist attack that killed 19 people on an Ivory Coast tourist beach appeared in court Wednesday to face murder and terrorism charges.

Authorities last week had released the names of 18 defendants accused in the Grand-Bassam killings, which were later claimed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

It was the nation’s first terror attack of its kind, and deepened fears that Islamic extremism was spreading further south from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. In the year after the killings, suspects also were arrested in those countries as well as in Senegal.

Prosecutors did not address where the other defendants were on Wednesday or whether they might appear at a later date.

Prosper Kouassi, a defense lawyer representing the detainees, could not provide an explanation either.

“We were presented the four people, it is the four people we will defend,” Kouassi said.

Grand-Bassam is linked by highway to Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial hub, and was a popular weekend destination for beach-goers. The victims that day included 11 Ivorians, four French, one German, one Lebanese, one Macedonian and one Nigerian.

When gunfire broke out on the beach on that Sunday afternoon in 2016, many holidaymakers initially thought they were hearing fireworks. As the jihadis approached closer with their Kalashnikov assault rifles, terrified tourists and workers at the beachside bars and restaurants tried to seek refuge in nearby hotels. Some beachgoers who were in the ocean at the time of the attack were able to swim out against the waves to safety.

Among those in the courthouse to watch the proceedings Wednesday was Odile Koko Kouamenan, whose son was there that day in 2016 and has never been the same since, she said.

“The scene happened in front of him,” she recalled, “He was a witness on the ground and so traumatized that he left the city and went to the village for a year.”

Her son needs follow-up care, which he hasn’t gotten, she added.

“If the state can face him and help him, that’s all a mother wishes for her child.”


Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Spain Insists No Deaths on Its Soil During Melilla Tragedy


Migrants run on Spanish territory after crossing the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla, Spain, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Javier Bernardo)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain’s interior minister on Wednesday flatly rejected new media allegations of possible deaths on Spanish soil during a June storming by migrants of the border fence separating its north African enclave of Melilla from Morocco when at least 23 people died.

“We did not have to lament any loss of human life in our national territory. The tragic events occurred outside our country,” minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told Spain’s Parliament in Madrid. “The insinuation that I have heard and read that our security forces would have permitted that these tragic events occur in our country is a grave irresponsibility.”

It was the second time that Grande-Marlaska spoke at length on the tragedy to the Parliament. His message did not waver despite growing pressure from fellow politicians, media reports and official investigations that cast doubt on the official version of events.

Grande-Marlaska spoke a day after Spanish newspaper El País and other major European newspapers in collaboration with the NGO Lighthouse Reports concluded that at least one death could have occurred on Spanish soil.

Videos published in a joint investigation by the NGO, El País and other media organizations Tuesday, as well a separate BBC investigation published on Nov. 1 show the gruesome details of the events on June 24th. Hundreds of men, some wielding sticks and other items, climbed over a fence on the Moroccan side and were corralled into a border crossing area. When they managed to break through the gate to the Spanish side, it appears a stampede led to the crushing of several people.

Moroccan police launched tear gas and beat men with batons, even when some were prone on the ground. Spanish guards surrounded a group that managed to get through before apparently sending them back.

The clash ended with African men, clearly injured or even dead, piled on top of one another while Moroccan police in riot gear looked on. Many were reportedly refugees from Sudan.

Grande-Marlaska maintained his position that the response by police was “appropriate” to handle a group of around 1,700 migrants who used clubs, sticks, axes and saws to violently force their way across.

“I know of no country that would accept a violent attack on its frontier,” Grande-Marlaska said. “Even though I empathize with the underlying cause (of the migrants), that does not justify either directly or indirectly a direct, violent attack on our frontier with the hypothetical motive to exercise the right (to asylum).”

The barrier surrounds Melilla, a town of 85,000 separated from Spain’s mainland by the Strait of Gibraltar that has been in Spanish hands since the 15th century. Melilla and its sister enclave of Ceuta have become crossing points for African migrants prepared to risk their lives to flee war and poverty. Often the very poorest who cannot pay for a spot in a tiny boat to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean try their luck at storming the 12-meter (29-feet) iron double fence.

Nonprofit groups dedicated to helping migrants in northern African accuse European Union officials of essentially paying Morocco and other countries on Europe’s southern flank to stem migration flows. The impact of migration to Spain’s enclaves, along with the disputed Western Sahara region, are critical issues in the recently rocky relations between Madrid and Rabat.

Spain’s state prosecutors and Ombudsman’s office have both opened probes into the Melilla incident, while Spanish parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have said Grande-Marlaska must resign. Human rights watchdog Council of Europe has also voiced concern.

Spain’s Ombudsman said in preliminary findings issued in October that 470 people who had managed to cross to the Spanish side were sent back across “with no consideration for their national or international legal provisions.”

Daniel Howden, an official at Lighthouse Reports, said at a press conference at the European Parliament on Wednesday that Spanish and Moroccan officials failed to succor the injured.

“Many of the people who were pushed back across the border were then dumped like carcasses and then left for up to three hours in the sun with no medical treatment whatsoever,” he said. “Now, we don’t have autopsies which would allow us to be definite about the cause of ... the 23 known deaths, but what we can say is that there is no evidence of medical treatment being offered.”

Grande-Marlaska told lawmakers that “there was no lack of medical attention” and that 11 migrants were treated in hospital, with one transferred to the mainland. He said 50 police officers were also treated.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, a Socialist, has stood firmly behind Grande-Marlaska, an investigative magistrate known for his handling of high-profile cases including the violent Basque separatist group ETA, which had targeted him for assassination.

In his ministerial post since 2018, the 60-year-old Grande-Marlaska is one of the leading members of the left-wing coalition government. One of his first acts was to remove the razor wire from the border fences at Melilla and Ceuta. The razor wire remains on the Moroccan side.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Post Provincial Executive Committee Statement: Justice for Chris Hani and Liberation Forces; Socio-economic Justice for the Working Class!

29 November 2022

The SACP Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in the Western Cape held its last ordinary plenary meeting for the current year on Saturday, 26 November 2022, in Bellville, Cape Town. As per our established tradition and practice, the meeting was extended to our respective Districts and the Young Communist League (YCL) and of course with the pre-eminent participation of our Central Committee deployee, Comrade Barry Mitchell.

The meeting received and considered political, organisational and financial reports which provided an indication of the growing strength and influence of our Party in society in general.

The SACP remains concerned about the self-inflicted weaknesses plaguing the African National Congress in the Western Cape, in particular, which leads to debilitating paralysis.

On the international front, the meeting expressed extreme concern about the growing provocative and reckless posture of the United States in world affairs. The US, European Union and NATO’s provocative stance against the Russian Federation, China and Iran, risk plunging the world into chaos.

Justice for Chris Hani, apartheid victims, his family and the entire liberation movement

Our PEC meeting was preceded by the protest action outside Khayelitsha magistrate Court against the unconscionable premature constitutional ruling to release, on parole, Chris Hani’s assassin Janusz Waluś. This was the second action in the province following a joint ANC Youth League and SACP programme on Thursday, 24 November 2022 outside the Cape High Court. The SACP views the judgment as fatally unjust and predicated on poor interpretation of the law and the centrality of justice. A just ruling would take into account the complexities and nuances of our history and the danger the release poses on the fragility of our path of reconciliation.

We are gravely concerned about the insensitive nature of the judgment towards the Hani Family and the liberation movement. The family and the people of South Africa deserve the truth in order for the deep wounds to heal and justice to prevail. It is our strongly held belief that law and justice are not always synonymous. The Justices of the constitutional court placed emphasis on law in a mechanical fashion and ignored the need for justice hence this judgment is completely unacceptable.

Therefore, having launched our Chris Hani Campaign in the province, our demonstrations shall continue until 10 April 2023 and beyond calling for re-opening of Chris Hani inquest and rejection of the release of the racist Janusz Waluś. Against this background, the SACP in the province shall use the State of the Nation Address as a platform to further picket outside parliament and present the memorandum to the President and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The untenable socio-economic situation in the Western Cape

In the recent past, the SACP witnessed a devastating strike by SANTACO due to unreasonable withdrawal of the Blue Dot programme and incessant impounding of taxis. The Western Cape Government treats the taxi industry with absolute disdain to the detriment of throngs of working-class communities who depend on this service for their daily commute to and from work.

The discriminatory treatment against the taxi industry perpetrated by the DA administration is not only undermining the taxi industry but compromises the job security of the users.

Against this background, the SACP calls on SANTACO to intensify the struggle for the transformation not only of the taxi industry but of the entire public transport system. In this struggle, the SACP resolved to join the taxi industry as an active participant in the struggle for the transformation of the taxi industry, a critical sector of our economy. Thus, in the new year 2023, we shall have a bilateral meeting with SANTACO as the basis for plans for the mounting of further mass actions.

Re-affirm our longstanding call for large-scale commission of inquiry into the police

Recently, the SACP also learned about the infiltration of the higher echelons of the police in the Western Cape by criminal gangs. We are neither shocked nor surprised by these revelations, on the contrary, we feel vindicated because we have long pointed out that the tentacles of the rot run deep in the police in this province. We have seen gangs running top cops and other criminal syndicates hence the bravado that culminated in the killing of a former police General Kinear, amongst others.

Against this background, we reaffirm our position that the police service in the Western Cape, in particular, and National, in general, must be subjected to a commission of inquiry because in its current form, the SAPS has no capacity to effectively prevent, combat and investigate crime. This is the only possible solution to root out bad elements within the police.

Devastating recurring fire disasters in Masiphumelele and other working-class communities

The community of Masiphumelele in Fish Hoek is once again engulfed by a devastating fire disaster that destroyed personal belongings, displaced hundreds and even loss of livelihoods. These recurring disasters are purely a consequence of gross neglect by the Democratic Alliance Government not only towards the poor residents of Masiphumelele but all working-class communities from Du Noon, Philippi, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Imizamo Yethu to mention a few.

This situation of vulnerability and insecurity is a direct consequence of the flagrant failure to provide decent houses in keeping with the population growth of the province.

Further, the present crisis the working class faces in these squatter camps are as a result of the neo-liberal and austerity trajectory the DA government is pursuing of key amongst other things putting profits before people. The SACP demands the provision of shelter, sanitation, and safe drinking water for the people of Masiphumele, Du Noon, Khayelitsha, Phillippi to mention but a few.

The untenable situation in the Western Cape Revolutionary Alliance

As the SACP we have worked tirelessly to ensure a vibrant, dynamic and campaigning Alliance in the Western Cape. We have embarked on several joint programmes with the Trade Union Federation, our principal Ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions. We continue to cement this revolutionary responsibility of rolling back the tyranny of the market and austerity forces. Our campaigns are about forging working class unity, working across federations and civil society organisations to bring about socio-economic justice in this province.

We remain extremely concerned, however, about not only stagnation but paralysis besetting the African National Congress. The ANC remains paralysed and weakened to a point that in the legislature the ANC is limping due to incapacity to act against those who are supposed to be expelled from the ANC. On this question, the SACP calls for all those who are charged with serious crimes to be removed as public representatives. In essence, keeping members who are charged with serious crimes undermines the ideals of the renewal of our movement.

Let us intensify the struggle to roll-back neo-liberalism and austerity-call for the unity of working-class organisations.

The PEC discussed and analysed the wage and salary negotiations and deadlocks across all sectors of the economy. The present situations in these wage and salary negotiations confirms what appears as an intersection between capitalist market forces and the state. The below inflation salary offers from either the state or private sector such as Makro is one classical example of this intersection. Against this background, the SACP calls on the trade union movement to not backdown from the fight. The present salary and wage increase must be linked with the broader struggle against neo-liberalism and austerity. The Party in the province shall remain committed to pledge solidarity with the workers across sectors and looking forward to a new date of the public sector march to parliament for the salary increases of public sector workers.

Safe and joyous festive season

The SACP Western Cape PEC wishes all the citizens of the Western Cape a restful, safe and joyous festive break which is well deserved by the toiling masses of our people who continue to bear the brunt of austerity and economic hardships. We appeal to our people to enjoy the festivities responsibly and importantly remain safe on the roads and in places of entertainment.

Best wishes for the 2022 Matriculants

The PEC took time to wish those writing matric well in their exams and trust that they have adequately prepared for their exams and the future that lies ahead. The opportunities within the higher education landscape await and therefore encourages the matriculants to seize such opportunities to improve the quality of life for the better in future.

High number of unplaced learners for 2023.

The PEC is concerned about the reported unplaced learners estimated to approximately 17 000 in the province. We call on the department to ensure that these learners are placed before the re-opening of schools in 2023. There cannot be a crisis of unplaced learners in the province on the basis that the same DA led government closed a number of schools. If these learners are not placed, the SACP will mobilise society and fight these injustices for our people.

Issued by the SACP Western Cape Provincial Executive Committee


Benson Ngqentsu

SACP Western Cape Provincial Secretary


Disang Mocumi

Provincial Media Liaison




Dr Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo,

Central Committee and Political Bureau Member:

Spokesperson and Secretary for Policy and Research


Hlengiwe Nkonyane

Communications Officer: Media Liaison and Digital Platforms Co-ordinator

Mobile: +27 66 473 4819


Office: +2711 339 3621/2


Facebook Page: South African Communist Party

Twitter: SACP1921

Convicted Assassin of Chris Hani Stabbed in Prison


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The convicted killer of South African anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani has been stabbed in prison, two days before he was due to be released on parole, prison authorities said Tuesday.

Janusz Walus, a 69-year-old Polish national, was set to be released on Thursday after the country’s Constitutional Court last week ordered his release on parole within 10 days.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for Hani’s 1993 murder, which took place during a volatile political climate ahead of the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy and almost plunged the country into political violence.

Correctional services department spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed in a statement that Walus allegedly was stabbed by a fellow inmate.

“The Department of Correctional Services is able to confirm an unfortunate stabbing incident involving inmate Janusz Walus. A detailed incident report is to be provided at a later stage,” Nxumalo said.

He said Walus was currently stable and receiving medical attention from the prison medical services.

News of Walus’ pending release has been met with anger and disappointment from various sectors of society, including from the South African Communist Party, which Hani was leading at the time of his death.

Several marches were planned this week over the court’s decision to release Walus.

On Monday, the government announced that Walus would be granted an exemption for residence in the country so that he could serve the rest of his sentence on parole in South Africa and would not be deported to his native Poland.

His South African citizenship was revoked in 2017 while he was in prison.

Anti-apartheid Icon Chris Hani's Grave Vandalized

Chris Hani, leader of the Communist Party, outside the Rand Supreme Court in Johannesburg.

Africa News with AFP

The grave of anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani was vandalized in South Africa, a week after the controversial announcement of the early release of his killer, sources from the municipality of Ekurhuleni where the monument dedicated to his memory said on Tuesday (November 29).

"The monument was vandalized overnight from Saturday to Sunday. One of the pillars is badly damaged. One side collapsed and the lighting system was stolen," spokesperson Zweli Dlamini told AFP of the city located east of Johannesburg. An investigation was opened for theft and vandalism.

The monument consists of four marble columns symbolizing the pillars of the struggle against white power led by the African National Congress (ANC), in power since the advent of democracy in 1994.

A demonstration against the release of the assassin of Chris Hani, in the Hall of Heroes of the Anti-Apartheid Struggle and whose disappearance is commemorated each year in South Africa, gathered dozens of people on Saturday at the call of the ANC.

The ANC said in a statement "deeply saddened by the vandalism and desecration" of the monument.

Communist leader and senior member of the armed wing of the Liberation Party, Chris Hani, 50, was killed at close range in his driveway on April 10, 1993, by the Polish immigrant linked to the far-right white Afrikaner, Janusz Walus.

At the time, delicate negotiations with the white power in view of the first democratic elections in the country were underway. The assassination exacerbates racial tensions and provokes violent riots in the townships of South Africa shaken by the last gasps of the racist regime. In a vibrant televised speech, Nelson Mandela calls for calm.

Janusz Walus, now 69, had been sentenced to death but the new regime abolished capital punishment in 1994, and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

After several refusals, the court granted him conditional release on November 21. He must be released from prison no later than December 1. Chris Hani's widow has denounced a "diabolical judgment".

Resurgent Interest in Art of Calligraphy in Morocco

Moroccan calligraphy student Fatima Azzahra uses a metal pen for writing.

By Lauriane Noelle Vofo Kana and AP


In his Fez office, Moroccan calligrapher Mohamed Serghini creates inscriptions.

The award-winning craftsman keeps alive a type of calligraphy that appeared in his country in the first Hijri century, the 7th century AD.

"Moroccan calligraphy" finds its "origin is the Kufic script," he explains. However, "a group of scripts branched out from it. There is the Maghrebized Mashreqi script, which is called the Moroccan Thuluth script, and there is the Moroccan Mabsut script, in which the Qur'ans are written," he adds. 

"Then there is another Moroccan script, called the Mujawher script. This is the script in which manuscripts and letters are written, and the royal [offices] are also specialized in it."

Still in northern Morocco, a small workshop has been established to teach Moroccan and Arabic calligraphy to children and younger people.

It's supervised by calligrapher Mohamed Charqaoui.

Students are taught how to write a point using bamboo pens.

"The advancement of social media, the internet and modern technology is the reason why manual skills began to become extinct,"  Charqaoui analyses.

"There have been attempts to revive this art in Morocco through the establishment of two educational institutions in Casablanca and in Fez. In Fez, there is the Sahrij School in the old city. There is a turnout from some young people who still consider calligraphy more than just writing letters."

After years in the shadows, calligraphy is getting increasingly popular among women.

Women calligraphers

Fatima Azzahra Sennaa attends the Sahrij School.

She got inspiration from her father, a calligrapher who teaches at the same school.

Calligraphy may consist of a Quranic verse, or famous sayings or lessons.

"Since my childhood, I always saw my father writing and making paintings. This is what attracted me towards calligraphy. I liked learning calligraphy as well. That is why I always sat near him and learned gradually. I started with drawing, and then after that, calligraphy."

The importance of the art was officially recognized internationally last year, when UNESCO added Arabic calligraphy to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Most learners gain their skills through practices passed down by generations.

Thanks to their efforts and innovation, Moroccan calligraphy remains a living and developing tradition.

Namibia to Have First Woman President?

Namibian Foreign Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah

Africa News with Agencies

Namibia's Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is an inch closer to becoming the southwestern country's first female president.

Namibia’s ruling party on Monday (November 28) elected Nandi-Ndaitwah as its vice president, making her the frontrunner to lead the party into the country’s upcoming national elections in 2024.

The 70-year-old edged out Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta in the race for the No. 2 position in the South West African People’s Organization.

President Hage Geingob, who is due to step down at the end of his current term, refused to endorse a successor as his predecessors had done.

“We have made history by electing the first female president come 2024,” Geingob said in a speech Monday in the capital, Windhoek. “I would like to tell her your task going ahead is heavy.”, Bloomberg quoted in a report.

Swapo has led Namibia since independence in 1990 and remains the country’s biggest political party, but its popularity has recently waned because of discontent over rampant unemployment and a graft scandal that led to the arrests of former cabinet ministers and businessmen linked to the party.

The party lost its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in the last general election in 2019, and Geingob’s share of the vote fell to just over 50%, from 87% five years earlier.

Unknown Aircraft Targets Wagner Base in Central African Republic


BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Authorities in Central African Republic have opened an investigation after a low-flying fighter jet dropped explosives near a base for Russian military consultants working with the country’s military.

The attack took place in the early hours of Monday at the Cotenaf base in Bossangoa, where witnesses said both the base used by Russia’s Wagner Group and surrounding homes had been hit.

“The Russian paramilitaries showed their indignation very early by shooting in the air from 5 to 6 o’clock. For the moment the city is quiet, the shops are not yet open and people are afraid to go about their business,” said Robert Faradanga, a local community journalist.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the aircraft that dropped the explosives.

Information Minister Serge Ghislain Djorie said in a statement that the unknown aircraft headed north after the incident before leaving the country’s airspace.

“This despicable act perpetrated by the enemies of peace will not go unpunished,” Djorie said.

In Central African Republic, Wagner fighters ride around the capital Bangui in unmarked military vehicles and guard the country’s gold and diamond mines. They have helped to hold off armed rebel groups and to keep President Faustin-Archange Touadera in power.

However, the mercenary group also has been accused of committing human rights violations. A report released earlier this year by the U.N.’s independent expert on the human rights situation in Central African Republic cited a number of attacks it said were reportedly carried out on the orders of the country’s armed forces and their Wagner Group allies.

In one instance, Russian mercenaries prevented U.N. peacekeepers from accessing a village where the country’s armed forces and the Russians had “reportedly opened fire on civilians indiscriminately.”

In one of the attacks reportedly ordered by the Russians, militants went to the village of Boyo and killed 19 male civilians. The report by Yao Agbetse, the U.N.’s independent expert, also stated that wounded people had been buried alive.

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Nigerian Stowaways Found on Ship’s Rudder in Canary Islands


In this photo released by Spain's Maritime Safety and Rescue Society on Tuesday Nov. 29, 2022, three men are photographed on an oil tanker anchored in the port of the Canary Islands, Spain. Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it has rescued three stowaways traveling on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria. The men were found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port. (Salvamento Maritimo via AP)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Three stowaways were found on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after an 11-day ocean voyage from Nigeria, Spain’s maritime rescue service said.

The men found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port on Monday afternoon appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred to hospitals on the island for medical attention, according to Spain’s Maritime Safety and Rescue Society.

The survivors were all from Nigeria, the Spanish government’s delegation in the Canary Islands told The Associated Press. One of them remained hospitalized Tuesday.

The maritime rescue agency, known in Spain as Salvamento Marítimo. shared a photo of the three men sitting on top of the rudder under the ship’s massive hull with their feet hanging only a few centimeters (inches) from the water.

According to the MarineTraffic tracking website, the Malta-flagged vessel left Lagos, Nigeria on Nov. 17 and arrived in Las Palmas on Monday. The distance between the ports is roughly 4,600 kilometers (2,800 miles).

Other people were previously discovered clinging to rudders while risking their lives to reach the Spanish islands located off northwest Africa. Salvamento Maritimo has dealt with six similar cases in the last two years, according to Sofía Hernández who heads the service’s coordination center in Las Palmas.

Migrants may seek cover inside the box-like structure around the rudder, Hernández explained, but are still vulnerable to bad weather and rough seas. “It is very dangerous,” she told the AP.

A ship’s fluctuating draft level - the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull- is another hazard for such stowaways. The levels vary depending on the weight of the cargo onboard.

“We are talking about several meters difference. This part could have been perfectly submerged in the water,” Hernández said.

In 2020 14-year-old Nigerian boy was interviewed by Spain’s El País newspaper after surviving two weeks on a ship’s rudder. He had also departed from Lagos.

“It’s not the first time nor will it be the last,” tweeted Txema Santana, a journalist and migration advisor to the regional government of the Canary Islands.

In cases like these, the ship owner is responsible for bringing the stowaways back to their point of departure, according to the Spanish government delegation in the islands.

Thousands of migrants and refugees from North and West Africa have reached the Canary Islands irregularly in recent years. Most make the dangerous Atlantic crossing on crowded boats after departing from the coast of Morocco, the Western Sahara, Mauritania and even Senegal.

More than 11,600 people have reached the Spanish islands by boat so far this year, according to figures released by Spain’s Interior Ministry.

Spanish Government Presents Bill to Fight Human Trafficking


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain’s government presented a new bill Tuesday with the goal of providing better protection for economically vulnerable migrants who are in the clutches of international human trafficking rings.

The proposed legislation was designed to help victims of different types of trafficking, from sexual exploitation and forced labor to the illegal sale of human organs, involuntary marriages and other criminal activities, Spanish Justice Minister Pilar Llop said.

Once a court confirms a person’s status as a potential victim, that individual would receive personalized and free legal assistance, Llop said, along with the ability to seek economic aid and help with housing. The bill also would create a new National Police surveillance office devoted to trafficking victims.

Spain’s Interior Ministry says Spanish police freed more than 1,000 victims from human exploitation rings last year. A large majority of the victims of sexual exploitation were women from Colombia, Paraguay, Romania and Venezuela. Police also freed two girls from Romania from forced marriages.

The legislation also would allow potential victims to seek assistance without having to accuse anyone allegedly involved in their trafficking. The provision is intended to reduce the fear of reprisals and to assuage concerns that migrants without permission to stay in Spain might face trouble from immigration authorities.

“There is nothing more important than the protection of the most vulnerable persons,” Llop said during a news conference in Madrid. “This is an ethical and democratic commitment of the first order.”

The junior member of Spain’s left-wing coalition government has criticized the bill as not going far enough. It wants all potential victims to receive permits to legally reside and work in Spain.

Llop acknowledged the proposal would likely undergo modifications before Spain’s Parliament votes on it.

The differing viewpoints among members of the governing coalition comes amid a drawn-out debate in Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Cabinet on a delayed transgender rights bill.

Saudi Arabia Extends Terms of $5 Billion in Aid to Egypt

FILE - People crowd a street a few hours ahead of curfew in Cairo, Egypt on April 14, 2020. Saudi Arabia agreed Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, to extend the terms of a $5 billion aid package to Egypt in March, Saudi state media said, in a move aimed at bolstering the North African country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund. The Egyptian economy has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Saudi Arabia agreed Tuesday to extend the terms of a $5 billion aid package to Egypt that took effect in March, Saudi state media said. The move was aimed at bolstering the North African country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency said the extension would allow Egypt to open ‘’new financing channels with regional and international organizations″ and help the completion of a preliminary $3 billion agreement the Middle East’s most populous country reached with the IMF in October.

Saudi Arabia provided no further details on the terms of the extension, including how long. Egyptian state media have not commented on the announcement.

The Egyptian economy has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, most of which came from Russia and Ukraine. In the fallout of the war in Eastern Europe, Egypt has struggled to combat surging inflation, which peaked at over 16% in October.

Egypt’s “staff level agreement” with the IMF last month is set to last for 46 months and aims to tackle Egypt’s inflation problem and restructure its ailing economy. The terms of the preliminary agreement saw Egypt’s government introduce a series of immediate economic reforms including a hike in its key interest rates and a shift towards a flexible exchange rate.

Egypt received a $12 billion bailout from the IMF in 2016, as President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s government embarked on an ambitious reform program that saw prices surge.

In recent years, regional allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have injected billions of dollars into Egypt helping shore up its economy battered by years of political turmoil that gripped the country following the removal of long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 revolution.

About a third of Egypt’s 104 million people live in poverty, according to government figures.

As UK Premier Polishes His “Brand Rishi” Image, the Country Slides into Recession

By Nizar K Visram

When British Conservative Party MPs anointed Rishi Sunak, in October this year, as their new prime minister, he effectually came to power without people having the chance to vote. He took over from Liz Truss who lasted for only 45 days. In fact he was the third prime minister in two months, inheriting a crisis-ridden government. Many demanded general election to end the “musical chairs at the top of government” 

This was Sunak whose family avoided paying tax in Britain before he put up taxes on everyone else, the same Sunak whose wife, Akshata Murty, was forced to start paying British taxes after exposure that she had “non-dom” status. Non-doms are individuals who are resident in the UK, but who claim on their tax return that their permanent “domicile” is abroad. 

Sunak and his tech heiress wife are worth an estimated US$884 million. Their net worth is thus    almost twice that of King Charles’ personal fortune estimated at $ 448 million. This makes Sunak the richest prime minister in British history.

While doing MBA at Stanford University, he met influential personalities in the multi-billion US tech industry that "left a mark" on him. It was here that Sunak met his wife-to-be Akshata, daughter of Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy who co-founded an IT company. Her shares in that firm are worth $520m, which makes her wealthier than the British monarch.

Back in London, Sunak spent time working at hedge funds. As a partner with hedge fund management firm the Children's Investment Fund (TCI) he reportedly made millions from a campaign that triggered the 2008 financial crisis. TCI is owned by a company registered in the Cayman Islands. During the first year of the pandemic TCI's founder paid himself a whopping $ 415m.

Sunak then left TCI to find his own firm Theleme, registered in Cayman Islands, with an initial fund of $649m. He listed his London flat and the fact that his wife owns a venture capital investment company, Catamaran Ventures, which the couple founded in 2013. 

As a cabinet minister Sunak had to declare the financial interests of his family (including in-laws) that might give rise to a conflict of interest. Yet, according to the Guardian, Sunak declared only one of the companies that his wife owned. He did not declare other family assets, including a $1,090m joint venture with Amazon in India, owned by his father-in-law.

As finance minister Sunak was condemned after he cut a $24 weekly increase to Universal Credit that was supposed to help the poorest families through the pandemic. More than 200,000 would have fallen into abject poverty as a result of the cut.  Yet few weeks before that Sunaks asked for permission to build a private swimming pool, gym and tennis court at their Georgian mansion where they threw parties with attendants pouring champagne. 

They also own other properties such as the $8.5m five-bedroom house in Kensington (west London), an apartment, also in Kensington, that the Sunaks keep "just for visiting relatives", as well as an apartment in Santa Monica, California. 

In certain circles Sunak has been hailed as a victory for diversity in Britain. As first Britain prime minister of south Asian descent, he is seen as representing ethnic minority. 

Of course Sunak does represent a minority, not Britain’s black or brown community but his minority class of plutocrats. Privately educated and super wealthy, he is ideologically committed avant-garde for Britain’s oligarchs such as bankers, hedge fund bosses and tycoons whose combined wealth has in recent times shot up by $61bn.

For the broad masses of the underprivileged and vulnerable Sunak only promises widening inequality, frozen wages, escalating cost of living, increased rent and energy prices, food scarcity and ailing National Health Service (NHS). Unsurprisingly, thousands took part in the “Britain is Broken” protest march through central London, organised by The People’s Assembly.

Sunak’s cabinet and Tory front benches are characteristically filled with multimillionaires. He is the richest of the lot, prominent for their class homogeneity. Sunak voted with them to not extend free school meals for Britain’s poor children going hungry at school. Millions are already turning to food bank to feed their children.

The Centre for Cities think tank says nearly 95,000 residents of Burnley (Lancashire) are most exposed to the tremors ripping through the economy.  One elderly couple in their 70’s say they have cut down to roughly two meals a day. Watching television in blankets to cut down on the energy bill is how they envisage their coming winter. 

Sunak thus entered 10 Downing at a time when workers are pushing for industrial action. More than 300,000 members of Britain's largest nursing union voted on taking strike action in a dispute over pay which is lagging behind spiralling inflation. It is the biggest ballot in its 106-year history.

In fact multiple sectors, ranging from education, transportation, and the postal to legal services, as well as ports and telecommunications, have gone on strikes in Britain this year. Over 70-thousand postal workers as well as university staff and teachers walked out of their jobs in Scotland and England. Rail workers staged several strikes this year, including the country's biggest rail strike in decades during the summer.

While inflation is surging and industrial unrest is picking up, finance minister Jeremy Hunt said the country is already in a state of recession. Annual food inflation in the UK hit 16.2% in October, the highest level since 1977, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Cautious of surging deficits, the UK government adopted a policy of austerity, with disastrous consequences. Real wages fell consecutively for six years. In fact the real wages in Britain are lower compared to 15 years ago, while the corporate media stirs up an image of bogyman asylum seekers and immigrants.  

Robots are blamed for taking jobs, yet between 2003 and 2018, the number of automatic car washers declined by 50 percent, while the number of manual car washers increased by 50 percent. It’s rather the people are taking the robots’ jobs. The average UK robot density per manufacturing workers in 2020 was below that of Slovenia and Slovakia. And so the first nation to industrialize with the help of colonial plunder is now the first to deindustrialize. London has turned into a sanctuary for oligarchs from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

Rishi Sunak is now aiming at “replacing Real Health Professionals with Robots” with the likely layoff of thousands of health workers and the de facto privatization of Britain’s national healthcare system. He has urged the NHS to embrace the use of robots to cut its workforce by half in a drastic effort to cut costs.

Meanwhile, the surging NHS waiting lists have left a record 2.5m people unable to work due to long-term illness, with additional 133,000 people falling out of the workforce for health reasons in the three months to September alone.

In the meantime, Sunak has resorted to PR campaign to sanitise his public image. While he was finance minister, he hired the social media wizard Cass Horowitz to manage and promote his public image of “Brand Rishi”. Since then, the contents in his social media channels have resembled a celebrity rather than a prime minister.

As the Telegraph puts it, Sunak is known for his slick social media videos, but there is danger of getting sidetracked by all this digital stuff. After all, Brand Rishi may win friends, but it won't win elections.

Nizar Visram is a commentator from Tanzania. He is reachable at

Monday, November 28, 2022

Nigeria Office of the Electoral Commission Set on Fire

A woman votes during the gubernatorial and state assembly elections at a polling centre.

Africa News with AFP

The Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) said one of its offices was burnt down on Sunday in the southeastern state of Ebonyi, three months ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in Africa's most populous country.

"Our Izzi local government office in Iboko was burnt down," INEC spokesman Festus Okoye said in a statement on Sunday.

The attack by "unidentified" men did not result in any casualties but all materials were destroyed, including many voter cards, he added.

This is the third such incident in November, after the attack on two INEC offices in the southwest, a region usually spared from such violence.

On 25 February, Nigerians will elect a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is not standing for re-election after two terms in office and a record that has been deemed catastrophic both economically and in terms of security, two major issues in the election.

INEC recently warned of the threat of escalating violence during the election campaign, adding that it had recorded at least 50 attacks since the exercise began nearly two months ago.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, southeast Nigeria has seen a large number of attacks attributed to the Indigenous Peoples' Movement of Biafra (IPOB).

The IPOB, which is seeking to revive a separate state for the Igbo ethnic group, has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violence.

According to local media, more than 100 police and other security personnel have been killed since the beginning of last year in targeted attacks.

Nigeria has a long history of election-related unrest and malfeasance. In 2011, more than 800 people were killed in post-election violence in the country.

DRC Relatively Calm but No Withdrawal from M23-held Areas

FARDC soldiers at a checkpoint north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Africa News with AFP


The ceasefire between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army appeared to be holding on Monday in eastern DRC, but no movement to withdraw from areas occupied by the rebellion, as called for by the Luanda summit, appeared to be taking place, according to reports gathered by AFP.

As at the weekend, clashes pitted the Tutsi rebel M23 against Hutu militias, notably the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

"During the night, an M23 vehicle was ambushed" near the village of Kinyandonyi, in Rutshuru territory. Another attack attributed to the same militia took place on Sunday about 30 km away, in the locality of Biruma, according to a local resident.

A hospital source also said that six civilians were killed in clashes on Saturday in the same area between the M23 and "mai-mai" (community militias) in Kisharo .

But no fighting was reported between the M23 and the loyalist army, as the two sides continued to observe each other on the various front lines, including that of Kibumba, the closest - about 20 km - to the major city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

During an offensive launched last month, the rebels quickly approached the town but have not advanced for about two weeks, progressing instead on other fronts, towards the west in the direction of Masisi, and the northeast.

A precarious calm has prevailed since the weekend, suggesting that calls for a ceasefire may have been heeded.

Last Wednesday, a mini-summit in Luanda decided on a cessation of hostilities on Friday evening, followed two days later by the withdrawal of the M23 rebels "from occupied areas" and their "withdrawal to their initial positions" on Sunday.

But no withdrawal was triggered on Monday. "We have always said that we are asking for dialogue with the government and at that time we will discuss this issue," said Willy Ngoma, M23 military spokesman.

The Luanda summit added that if the M23 rebels refused to withdraw, the East African regional force deployed in Goma would "use force to push them into submission".

As long as the M23 occupies parts of Congolese territory, the Kinshasa government refuses to talk to the M23, which it describes as a "terrorist movement" backed by Rwanda.

A new round of talks with armed groups active in eastern DRC opened in Nairobi on Monday, without the M23.

Landslide in Cameroon Kills at Least 14


A landslide in Cameroon's capital Yaounde killed at least 14 people attending a funeral on Sunday.

The victims had gathered at the top of a hill for a memorial service for five people when the ground collapsed under part of the audience.

The search had been suspended late Sunday evening before a planned resumption on Monday morning.

Marie Claire Mendouga, 50, attended the ceremony but her tent was not affected by the landslide.

"We had just started to dance when the ground collapsed," she said.

She said she "went to dig with my hands" to try to get people out from under the earth, and was still covered in the brown clay from the site.

- Frantic search -

The disaster took place in Yaounde's working-class district of Damas, on its eastern outskirts.

Four large white tents were on the hill's summit, at the edge of what seemed to be a ridge, beyond which the ground had disappeared.

Police pick-up trucks were hauling away bodies covered by white sheets early on Sunday evening.

A police cordon prevented journalists from getting closer to the scene.

Emergency services struggled to make their way to the site, as hundreds of people frantically searched for loved ones. Some in the crowd wept as emergency workers scoured the area.

A member of the emergency services who asked not to be named said the death toll remained at 11, and the search for more victims would resume Monday morning.

In the crowd behind the security cordon, tears were streaming down faces.

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to sleep," Mendouga said.

"You are sitting down, you have people behind you and afterwards, they're dead."

Landslides occur relatively frequently in Cameroon, but they are rarely as deadly as Sunday's incident in Yaounde.

Forty-three people were killed in the western city of Bafoussam in 2019 when a landslide triggered by heavy rains swept away a dozen precarious dwellings built on the side of a hill.


Additional sources • AP

Several Chinese Cities Further Refine Measures of Mass COVID Testing

Constant exploration helps China seek more scientific approach to tackle increasing cases

By GT staff reporters

Nov 28, 2022 11:33 PM

Photo: VCG

Several Chinese cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Zhengzhou have further optimized their anti-COVID-19 measures with some places allowing residents without social activities to be free from mass testing. It is a move to take more targeted, science-based actions to curb flare-ups, as the country reported daily new cases of more than 30,000 in the past week.

The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 3,748 local confirmed COVID-19 cases and 36,304 local asymptomatic carriers, according to the National Health Commission on Monday.

Several districts in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province have advised residents to take nucleic acid testing based on their needs. Guangzhou's Yuexiu and Liwan district authorities announced on Sunday night and early Monday morning that the elderly who have been staying at home, students who take daily online classes, employees who work from home and other people without community activities don't need to participate in mass screening on Monday if they don't need to go outside. It aims to reduce infection risks and save resources.

"It was the first time that I saw such an announcement that people without community activities don't need to take part in mass screening, which from an epidemiological point of view is a very scientific approach that other regions can consider similar adoption," Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based medical expert who closely follows public health issues, told the Global Times on Monday.

This measure can help relieve the great pressure on daily testing and reduce the infection risk for those who usually stay at home since group gatherings at testing spots may increase the infection risk, Zhuang said.

Along with Guangzhou, some other cities are optimizing prevention measures in a more precise way. In Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, residents who live communities without positive cases in the latest five days don't need to participate in the latest round of mass nucleic acid testing.

Zhengzhou in Central China's Henan Province has scientifically classified high-risk regions and suspended centralized screening in other low-risk regions. In Shanghai, free and normalized nucleic acid detection has been extended to December 31 this year. For the convenience of local residents, communities are required to arrange testing services at least twice a week for them.

A Wuhan resident surnamed Lin told the Global Times on Monday that she and many of her friends living in the districts of Jianghan and Jiang'an felt free to get in and out of their residential compounds. "From this morning, some residential compounds declared the end of static management," Lin said.

These moves are hailed by experts and residents, who said that the constant exploration of local authorities and heated discussion of experts and the public can help China seek more a scientific approach to tackle increasing cases.

China released a circular on further optimizing COVID-19 responses, announcing 20 prevention and control measures on November 11. The authorities have stressed that optimizing and adjusting the measures does not mean loosening prevention and control, nor is it a lifting of COVID-19 restrictions or "lying flat" in fighting the virus.

In regions with no infections, nucleic acid tests should be conducted among people in high-risk positions or in key groups based on the ninth edition of China's COVID-19 control protocols, and it is not allowed to expand test coverage, according to the circular.

Beijing will resolutely implement the ninth edition of the COVID-19 control protocols and 20 prevention and control measures, to carry out targeted and classified prevention and control measures based on the different epidemic situations to curb the virus in a scientific and precise manner, Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Government, said at Monday's press briefing.

All efforts have been made to put people and their lives above everything else. In the face of Omicron BF.7, which has the strongest infection ability across the family of Omicron sub-variants in China, Beijing has adopted optimized measures in community COVID-19 prevention and control. The temporary control will be carried out for no more than 24 hours in principle, and it is strictly prohibited to block firefighting access and community entrances with hard fences, Beijing authorities said on Sunday.

The topic of "several regions adjusting COVID-19 screening policies" gained wide attention on social media, getting more than 650 million views on Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday as of press time. The optimized policies were welcomed by many netizens. There were also some other discussions such as whether COVID-19 positive cases should be quarantined at home.

The ninth edition of the protocols said positive cases should be placed under centralized quarantine or sent to designated hospitals for treatment.

Li Dongzeng, a medical expert at Beijing's Xiaotangshan Hospital, has seen some elderly people who were infected with COVID-19 and developed severe symptoms, exacerbating their underlying conditions, according to the Beijing Daily on Monday.

For asymptomatic carriers, most people are willing to stay at home for medical observation, Li said.

It would be ideal if the policy is able to be targeted to one specific family or individual, Li said. However, it requires health workers to assess the community environment, household ventilation, sewerage and waste treatment factors to ensure that surrounding residents are safe, Li noted.

"The reality is that there is no reliable method for assessment and many communities are not able to do so, meaning the strategy of centralized quarantine is a practical consideration," Li said.

Zimbabwe First Lady Appointed Cotton Development Trust Patron

24 NOVEMBER 2022

The Herald (Harare)

By Tendai Rupapa

FIRST Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa was yesterday officially announced as patron of Zimbabwe Women in Cotton Development Trust (ZWCDT), a move aimed at boosting women participation in cotton production to improve livelihoods.

Dr Mnangagwa has a passion for the economic empowerment of women.

Chairlady of the Zimbabwe Women in Cotton Development Trust, Mrs Patience Zhakata, said the trust appointed Dr Mnangagwa as its patron last year and had been working closely with her ever since.

To show their appreciation for her teachings, guidance and hard work, the trust donated cooking oil to Angel of Hope Foundation which was made from their produce for onward distribution to the less privileged.

Mrs Zhakata highlighted payment challenges women cotton growers previously experienced as they would sometimes get paltry sums or be paid in groceries that included green bar soap or soya chunks.

This, she said, discouraged the farmers hence reduced participation by women in cotton production.

However, the First Lady yesterday brought together growers and other stakeholders in the industry, including buyers, to iron out grey areas and give an assurance that the farmers will be paid well for their produce next season.

"We chose you Amai to be our patron so that you lead us as we spearhead development as women in the cotton industry. We have been working with you so well and have come to officially announce so that the nation knows that you are our patron.

"As we work closely with you, people should know that you are our patron as Zimbabwe women in cotton development trust. We thank you for all the things you are doing for us a women farmers countrywide, for all the teachings and guidance you always give us.

"We see the beauty of your interventions because as mothers we were crying as our children were now getting into drugs.

"Our daughters were rushing into marriage, but since you came up with your Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme, we started seeing changes in our children who are now joining us in farmers. They are now appreciating working hard using their hands. With your guidance Amai, we are seeing our cotton production projects succeeding," Mrs Zhakata said.

"We can now work with our children planning our things as a family. We want to thank you for doing splendid work for us as women and for our children. We had lost dignity but since you came in, you restored our confidence.

"We thank you immensely because people had lost hope and dumped cotton production because of the meagre payments we were getting. We were being paid with a bar of laundry soap and chunks which was not taking us anywhere.

"Today you have made it possible for us to meet our partners like Cottco and other international partners. I am delighted that now we can move forward because our partners have explained that from now on things will be moving in a good direction.

"As Zimbabwe women development trust, taking a leaf from you and what you taught us, we saw it fit to hand you boxes of cooking oil so that you help the needy in your philanthropy as the mother of the nation. We are grateful Amai," she said.

In her acceptance speech, the First Lady encouraged women farmers countrywide to continue working hard to achieve success.

"I want to thank the women who saw it fit to appoint me as their patron focusing on women in cotton production in Zimbabwe. Pane basa ndipo pandinofarira.

"I accept the patronal role. Women we are hardworkers therefore ndinoti munhukadzi wese mumunda. We do not want to see women pulling each other down, we want to see results. I am ready, therefore, I am calling all women in cotton production to work hard for the development of their families, communities and the nation at large," she said.

She thanked the trust for the cooking oil donation.

"I am very much impressed to accept this tremendous donation in recognition of my philanthropic work and your support in women empowerment programmes.

"By giving me this donation, this will give me a good footing as a mother and hand over to the needy products made from the work of your hands. I thank you.

All this is evidence that if well empowered women can uplift their livelihoods and that of their families, communities and the nation at large. It is my duty therefore to ensure that this donation reaches the intended beneficiaries who are also your fellow women and the marginalised groups out there," she said.

The First Lady said it was heartening to note that as women, they had the courage to work with the private sector in the empowerment drive.

"This should inspire women to follow your footsteps and knock on the private sector doors to boost their projects. Let me once again thank you for this timely donation and implore you to pass on your experiences to fellow women in your local communities for the betterment of your livelihoods as mothers," she said.

Chairman of the Cottco board, Mr Sifelani Jabangwe who was represented by the company's head of finance Ms Jacqueline Dube said his organisation was committed to women empowerment.

"On behalf of the board and management of Cottco, I would like to assure the Zimbabwe women in cotton development trust that as Cottco we are committed to working with you.

"In fact if you look at the way that we distribute inputs and the way that we have been doing so we are ensuring that women are getting an equitable share of inputs.

"Right now inputs are being distributed across the country and I would like to call upon all women to go and access the inputs we are giving to a husband and his wife to ensure that everybody is receiving their share of inputs.

"We would like to thank Amai for bringing us together this morning. It was a very profitable discussion where we got to understand the challenges that women were facing.

"In particular there were issues to do with the payment modalities that were there in 2020 when some women received payment in the form of groceries.

"We would like to assure every woman that we are paying in us dollars and in EcoCash. We are paying 75 percent of your product in US dollar cash so I encourage every woman to go out there and farm.

"We would also like to thank the First Lady for the value addition initiative. As Cottco we want to see our communities being transformed and our theme is transforming communities. We want to see women in the rural areas value adding cotton products so that we can see cooking oil being distributed among the communities.

"In addition as Cottco we would like to see spinning taking place in the communities, sewing taking place within the communities. So these are some of the initiatives that as Cottco we are also partnering with women across the country to ensure that women are uplifted. We also want to see our youths employed so as Cottco we are also allowing youths to plant seed cotton.

"We have one cry, we are asking all farmers out there to not sell fertilisers. It's important for us as a country to be able to grow seed cotton so that we get all these by-products and they develop our communities.

"We would also like to thank all our international partners that have availed funding in the past and that have offered us funding in the forthcoming buying season.

"The paperwork that is required for those funds to come through is being put in place so that farmers next year will experience timeous payments," she said.

Surface Wilmar's group corporate affairs executive Mr Sylvester Dendere also indicated willingness to work with women in cotton production and supporting them fully.

"Our business in the cotton value chain is ready to crush. When the women farmers visited us some time, they indicated that they were interested in getting the final product or for us to process the ginned cotton seed under a toll arrangement.

"We did this year and we managed to present to them 320 boxes of cooking oil. There are 500 more boxes coming through once this structure has been completed. But what I want to assure the women cotton farmers is that Surface Wilmar is available.

"It will always crush any product, any amount of cotton that they will bring and this hopefully will be an incentive for them to produce more cotton. More cotton for us to crush so that we are able to supply them with more oil for their work.

"We also will support Cottco in the event that they need local pre-finance to enable them to buy cotton from farmers. We are there to support farmers, we are there to support everyone in the cotton value chain.

"We have got enough capacity on the ground to crush all the cotton that can be grown in this country and obviously the products can be exported. At that stage, we would have fulfilled the ideals of what Amai has been pushing so the women farmers will be supported by us. The children will be involved in setting up small businesses, maybe to sell oil. It's really up to the farming community to determine," Mr Dendere said.

In his remarks, Mr Maxwell Chard, the local representative of the international partners, consortium of international cotton buyers based in Europe and the Middle East who have been trading with Cottco for the past six years expressed desire to back the First Lady's initiatives.

"We have seen the initiative of the First Lady. As international buyers of cotton we have seen her work with the women cotton farmer and in line with the international cotton association's theme of supporting women in cotton we decided to partner with Cottco to ensure that the women farmer is supported financially, that Cottco has the capacity to pay the farmer timeously.

"We have previously arranged such a facility with Cottco in 2017 for US$10million which was successful and having seen the initiative of the First Lady, how she has been working supporting the woman cotton farmer we have now pledged to support this work with a pre-finance facility which we are offering Cottco to support its buy-back scheme so that they will be able to support the woman cotton farmer. We believe that this will increase and motivate the farmer to produce more.

"As international buyers, we are here to reassure the nation that we will support the woman cotton farmer and even the Zimbabwe Women Cotton Development Trust when it was established we have been financing that trust to ensure that they undertake the projects which they have envisaged to do in the past 12 months.

"We would like to congratulate the mother of the nation for being appointed patron of women in cotton production. We are pleased to work with her," he said.

Water Levels in Zimbabwe’s Biggest Dam Too Low for Power


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Electricity shortages that have been plaguing Zimbabwe are set to worsen after an authority that manages the country’s biggest dam said water levels are now too low to continue power generation activities.

The Zambezi River Authority, which runs the Kariba Dam jointly owned by Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia, said in a letter dated Nov. 25 that water levels are at a record low and electricity generation must stop.

The Kariba South Hydro Power Station provides Zimbabwe with about 70% of its electricity and has been producing significantly less than its capacity of 1,050 megawatts in recent years due to receding water levels caused by droughts. The Kariba plant has been generating 572 megawatts of the 782 megawatts of electricity produced in the country, according to the website of the state-run power firm, Zimbabwe Power Company.

The dam “no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations,” said the authority’s chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, in a letter to the Zimbabwe Power Company. The authority “is left with no choice” except to “wholly suspend” power generation activities pending a review in January when water levels are expected to have improved, said Munodawafa in the letter seen by The Associated Press and widely reported.

The authority has been reporting low levels of water at Kariba Dam during this period preceding the rainy season in recent years, but not enough to shut down power generation activities.

Coal fired power stations that also provide some electricity are unreliable due to aging infrastructure that constantly breaks down, while the country’s solar potential is yet to be fully developed to meaningfully augment supply. Households and industries have been going for hours, and at times days, without electricity due to shortages in recent months.

The State-run Herald newspaper reported on Monday that an ongoing expansion of a major coal-fired power station, Hwange, could help plug the shortages exacerbated by the Kariba plant shutdown if it goes live by year-end as scheduled.

Talks Begin on Disarmament of Rebel Groups in Eastern DR Congo


Kenya's President William Ruto, left, Burundi's President and summit chairperson Evariste Ndayishimiye, center, and Kenya's former President and summit facilitator Uhuru Kenyatta, right, pose for a group photograph ahead of the Third Inter-Congolese Consultations of the Nairobi Peace Process, the political track, Nairobi III, at a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. The East African Community (EAC) led summit aims to find solutions to the ongoing armed conflict in Eastern Congo. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The third round of Congo peace talks facilitated by the East Africa regional bloc opened in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday with a plan to discuss reforms that will facilitate disarmament of rebel groups.

Kenyan President William Ruto and Burundi’s Évariste Ndayishimiye attended the Monday opening session in person, while the presidents of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda attended virtually.

The leaders reiterated their commitment to support and ensure lasting peace in Congo.

The facilitator of the talks, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, said the aim was to discuss political process and institutional reforms that will ensure an environment that is conducive to the disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration of armed groups in Congo.

Leaders who attended a summit in Angola last week called for a cease-fire followed by a rebel withdrawal from the major towns that are currently under the control of the M23 rebel group.

While M23 was not formally a party to the talks in Angola, it has said it will accept the cease-fire. But it also says it doesn’t trust the Congolese government to honor the deal and end hostilities.

The East Africa regional bloc secretary general, Peter Mathuki, said some of the groups were present in Monday’s talks, but did not specify which ones.

The facilitator plans to identify the root cause of conflict in Congo’s five provinces and discuss the restoration of state leadership in the provinces to facilitate lasting peace.

The full deployment of regional forces made up of soldiers from the member states will also be discussed.

A contingent of Kenyan troops has already been deployed to eastern Congo as part of a regional force that includes troops from Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Kenyatta emphasized that the region could only facilitate the peace process. In the end it is the Congolese people who will ensure peace and have the huge responsibility of maintaining peace.

“I look forward to opportunities that will enable the region to continue working closely to enhance and strengthen the bonds of purposeful friendship and strategic cooperation for the mutual benefit of all citizens of East Africa,” he said.

The M23 rebel group rose to prominence a decade ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in Congo’s east, which sits along the border with Rwanda. After a peace deal, many of M23′s fighters were integrated into the national military.

The group re-emerged last November, saying the government had failed to live up to its decade-long promises. By June, M23 had seized the strategic town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda.

M23 has been a sticking point in deteriorating relations between Congo and Rwanda. Many of the rebel fighters are Congolese ethnic Tutsis and Rwanda’s president is of Rwandan Tutsi descent.

When formed more than a decade ago, M23 was fighting to protect the rights of Congo’s ethnic Tutsis. But many observers say M23 and other armed groups operating in eastern Congo are now seeking control of the region’s vast mineral wealth.