The appeals chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled by a majority that former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo will stay in detention as judges consider a prosecution appeal against his acquittal.
In a ruling issued today, judges cited the prosecution submission that Gbagbo might abscond from the court if freed. They scheduled a hearing on the appeal starting on February 1.
Judges Howard Morrison and Piotr Hofmanski disagreed with keeping the 73-year-old former head of state in detention while judges Chile Eboe-Osuji, Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza, and Solomy Balungi Bossa ruled in favor.
On January 15, Trial Chamber I acquitted Gbagbo and his former cabinet minister Charles Blé Goudé, after determining that there was no need for them to present their evidence since the prosecution had failed to satisfy the burden of proof in relation to several core elements of the case. The next day, the trial chamber ordered their unconditional release.
The prosecutor then moved to the appeals chamber to halt the release of the accused. She argued that, were Gbagbo and Blé Goudé to abscond, the purpose of the appeal could be defeated.
Appeals judges said whether the trial chamber erred in assessing the prosecution’s submission that the accused were a “concrete flight risk” was likely to be an important aspect of the prosecutor’s current appeal. They also noted that Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were acquitted by a majority, with one judge dissenting.
They said there were therefore “strong reasons” for the appeals chamber to exercise its discretion and suspend their release “because Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Blé Goudé might no longer be available to be tried before the Court.”
In the dissenting opinion, judges Morrison and Hofmanski argued that placing suspending an acquittal decision violates the fundamental right to liberty for an accused person.
Gbagbo has been in ICC detention for seven years and two months, having been transferred to The Hague in November 2011. His trial for four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and persecution, commenced in January 2016 and saw the prosecution call 82 witnesses, the last of whom testified last January.
In dismissing the prosecution’s appeal to keep the accused in detention pending the appeal, two of three Trial Chamber I judges on January 16 found that Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were not a flight risk, and dismissed prosecution arguments that there was a high probability that the appeal against their acquittal would succeed. Delivering the ruling, Judge Cuno Tarfusser said acquittal of the accused before they presented their evidence showed, in the view of the majority, “how exceptionally weak the prosecution evidence is.”
The acquittals followed no case to answer motions in which the defense counsel argued that the prosecution’s case hinges on “the uncorroborated testimony of a few patently incredible witnesses, and an inordinate amount of hearsay evidence” whose credibility and reliability judges are unable to evaluate
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had suggested that, if judges were to authorize the release of the accused, they should impose stringent conditions on them, such as release to a country in Europe near The Hague to facilitate their continued attendance at trial, requiring them to provide their addresses and contact information, not moving from these addresses or to other countries without court’s authorization, and surrender of their passports.
Bensouda also proposed that judges could also order the accused not to make any contact with any prosecution witnesses or anybody interviewed in ongoing investigations in Ivory Coast; and not to make any public statements concerning the case.
(Senior Law Lecturer in transitional justice and human rights, Queen’s University Belfast)
Just less than three years into their trial former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the youth militia, have been acquitted and ordered to be released by the International Criminal Court (ICC). They were both faced four charges of crimes against humanity. These were murder, rape, inhumane acts and persecution of opponents in the aftermath of the election in Côte d’Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011. The conflict left over 3,000 people dead.
This is not the first time that judges at the ICC have ordered the release of a person on trial. In 2008 and 2010 the Court ordered the release of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. The reason cited was the prosecutor’s failure to disclose evidence which, it was argued, undermined the defendant’s right to a fair trial. This judgment was rejected on appeal and the court later convicted him in 2012.
In the Gbagbo and Blé case the issues seem to be more substantive. The oral decision suggests that the prosecution had not satisfied the judges that there was sufficient evidence of Gbabgo being part of a plan to keep him in power involving attacks against civilians.
This is a bigger blow for the image of the ICC than the Appeals Chamber of the Court’s decision in June last year to quash the conviction of former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba after a six year trial.
Twenty years since states agreed to create the ICC, only three individuals have been convicted, all members of rebel groups. No government or senior official has ever been convicted before the Court.
The Gbagbo and Blé case may give further weight to criticisms of the Court that it has unfairly targeted African countries. But this decision, plus Bemba’s acquittal, indicates a deeper problem with the way in which the Court’s prosecution investigates and collects evidence.
The Gbagbo and Blé decision shows that, on the one hand it is ensuring the rights of defendants – albeit belatedly. On the other hand it denies justice for victims.
A blow for victims
When President Alassane Ouattara took power in Côte d’Ivoire in 2012, his government agreed a package of measures to deal with the past. These included special investigations, a commission of inquiry, a truth and reconciliation commission and a national compensation commission. But in recent years attention and political will have faltered and failed to deliver redress to victims. If Gbagbo and Blé are released, the 727 victims participating in the case at the ICC would no longer be eligible for reparations through the Court. This would effectively close another door on them for redress.
Simone Gbagbo, the former president’s wife, was also supposed to be on trial at the ICC. But she was convicted in an Ivorian court and sentenced to 20 years in 2015 for her role in the post-election violence. While trials have been taking place in Cote d’Ivoire, they have mostly been against Gbagbo’s supporters, with little accountability for violations committed by Ouattaran forces. However, in August 2018 President Ouattara pardoned 800 persons as part of a broader effort to ensure reconciliation in the country. This included the release of Mrs Gbagbo. If her husband and Blé return to Côte d’Ivoire they could be eligible for exactly the same amnesty. Again, in turn, denying justice for many victims.
Immediate release not likely
There will be ongoing hearings at the Court on the schedule for the release of the two men, but not before the prosecutor and victims have their say to the judges and challenge the decision through appeal.
The decision for release was only agreed by two of the three judges, a majority being sufficient. Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia disagreed from the majority on the standard they used to reach such their decision. She argued that the reasons for the decision should have been set out in writing. So while Gbagbo supporters may be cheering today’s decision, the outcome of proceedings is not yet certain.
Whatever the outcome fundamental questions need to be asked about the way in which cases are prosecuted at the ICC, how best to balance defendants’ and victims’ rights, and more broadly in dealing with international crimes.
In November 2018 the UK questioned whether the Court was worth all the money being spent on it. It pointed out that the Court had cost €1.5 billion over 15 years, but that only three low level perpetrators had been convicted.
The order of the release of Gbagbo and Blé suggests greater attention needs to be paid to two things: how the ICC investigates and prosecutes such cases, and secondly how states deal with such crimes themselves in the first instance, rather for long and costly proceedings at the international level.
The ICC is meant to be a Court of last resort, to ensure justice for victims and end impunity for international crimes where states are unwilling or unable to address such crimes. Yet the potential release of Gbagbo and Blé shows the difficulties in ensuring justice after conflict, in which victims ultimately continue to suffer the cost.
By Dan De Luce and Courtney Kube, Dec. 10, 2018 / 4:49 AM EST
Beijing has made deep inroads across the continent and now Russia is also trying to plant its flag.
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on Nov. 23, 2017.Jason Lee / Reuters file
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to unveil a new strategy for Africa this week focusing on countering China’s growing influence on the continent, as well as Russia’s attempts to gain footholds in resource-rich, unstable countries, two senior U.S. officials told NBC News.
The strategy will call for bolstering U.S. ties with countries deemed potentially vulnerable to overtures from China and Russia, as well as seeking to fend off attempts by North Korea and Iran to make inroads through economic investments or arms sales, said the senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The plan, drafted by the White House National Security Council and due to be presented this week at a Washington think tank, will signal a shift by the administration — already underway — that emphasizes America’s rivalry with China and Russia as a top priority rather than an exclusive focus on fighting terrorist threats, the officials said.
“Counterterrorism is no longer the organizing principle,” said one senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
“It’s about geopolitics and countering the influence of China and others.”
Trump’s gaffes, travel bans and derogatory remarks about Africa have created friction with African governments. In January, Trump referred to Haiti and African states as “s—hole countries” and last year in a meeting with several African leaders, the president referredto Namibia as “Nambia.”
Former U.S. diplomats and regional experts say the strategy is long overdue. Until now, the Trump administration has made few public statements on Africa and appeared preoccupied with nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, trade disputes with China and reimposing sanctions on Iran. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, the president has announced no signature initiatives for Africa so far.
It took more than a year for Trump to meet an African head of state and to fill key U.S. diplomatic posts for Africa, with some ambassadorships still vacant. African governments have interpreted the slow pace of appointments as a sign that the White House places little importance on Africa, experts and former U.S. diplomats said.
The planned Africa strategy does not call for devoting more funding for U.S. diplomacy, intelligence gathering or aid, but instead argues for using existing resources more effectively, an administration official and a defense official said.
Given that the White House has no plans to dramatically expand U.S. resources devoted to Africa, it’s not clear how the administration will succeed in countering China, Russia or other adversaries, experts said.
The White House strategy is expected to name several countries as anchors for the U.S. strategy, and experts close to the administration expect the list to include Kenya, a longstanding U.S. ally. For U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the administration will seek to continue a number of key partnerships, including with Somalia, Libya and Mali, officials said.
Experts say Washington is lagging behind China in Africa, where Beijing has invested billions in infrastructure projects and used its economic might to boost its security interests. China has built a sprawling military base in Djibouti, just miles from where the U.S. has an important base that serves as a launching pad for U.S. special operations forces. American lawmakers and senior military officers are worried about the future of the U.S. base and that China could soon oversee operations at a key port in the country formerly run by a Dubai firm, giving it a crucial perch at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.
China has built roads, laid down fiber-optic cables and delivered other massive infrastructure projects over the past decade, but often under loan terms that have left some impoverished governments saddled with large-scale debt, giving Beijing decisive leverage in coming years.
“The Chinese government or its state-owned companies have extraordinary power to dictate to these African countries,” said Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, adding that China is “the most consequential foreign actor in Africa.”
Apart from China’s well-documented rise as Africa’s top trading partner, Russia has moved swiftly over the past year to cultivate ties across the continent, with high-level delegations negotiating arms sales and military cooperation deals. In September, Moscow announced an agreement to build a logistics base in Eritrea on the Red Sea and Russian companies have clinched mineral deals in Sudan.
The most extraordinary example of Russia’s rapidly growing presence is in the Central African Republic, where military and civilian advisers are helping train the government’s security forces and Russian officials are negotiating access to the country’s diamond, gold and other minerals. A Russian national, Valery Zakharov, serves as an adviser to the CAR government, and the Wagner private security firm, which is believed to have ties to the Kremlin, is reportedly securing mining sites and helping train President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s security guards.
China and Russia also are looking to reap diplomatic benefits from stronger ties with African states, as the countries’ votes at the United Nations can serve as a counterweight to opposition from the U.S. and other Western governments.
THE U.S. MILITARY SCALES BACK IN AFRICA
While Russia is looking to expand its military assistance and presence, the U.S. military has begun to scale back its forces on the continent and is weighing further reductions as the tempo of counterterrorism efforts slows and priorities shift, a defense official and an administration official said.
In recent months, separate from the drafting of the new Africa strategy, the U.S. has been considering a plan to draw down some of the Special Operations missions in Africa, as part of what the Pentagon calls an optimization strategy. The plan, which has not yet been approved, calls for a cut of up to 50 percent in troops in West Africa, defense officials said.
One U.S. official, who is an expert on Africa and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the possible cut in the American military presence could not only jeopardize security in the region but also hurt U.S. relationships with local governments and damage Washington’s ability to collect intelligence about foreign influence.
With its emphasis on great power competition, the strategy for Africa is likely to fuel criticism that President Donald Trump has given human rights and democracy promotion a lower priority in his foreign policy.
Blaine Johnson, a senior analyst at the Center for American Progress, a left-of-center think tank, said that by concentrating on countering China and other powers, the administration runs the risk of alienating Africans who have looked to Washington to support human rights, open markets, free trade and democratic reforms.
“In our engagement in Africa, we need to provide a contrast with China and Russia, based on who we are and what we value,” Johnson said.
“The U.S. should compete in Africa by doing what’s consistent with American values and not engaging in some realpolitik.”
When Iddris Sandu was in high school, he developed a mobile software that would later gain the attention of former U.S. president Barack Obama and land him at the White House, where he received the honorary presidential scholar award.
He was only 16 years old. Now 21, the Los Angeles-based young man is the unconventional tech guru who has accomplished many incredible feats, including being responsible for algorithms that have made Uber, Instagram and Snapchat what they are today.
Born and raised in Harbor City, California with parents from Ghana, Sandu would never forget a harrowing experience he had when he was eight – his father had wanted to take him on a trip to Ghana.
“But on the fourth day of the trip, he abandoned me in this village, took my passport and came back to the States,” Sandu told Oxford University’s Music and Style Magzine, adding that he was abandoned for almost nine months before getting into contact with an NGO which helped him travel back home.
He got back to the U.S. when the first-ever iPhone was unveiled, and this started his journey into the tech world.
“I just got super inspired. I thought – this device is going to change the world. The reason why the iPhone was so important was because it was the first time when regular consumers could develop for other regular consumers. Before, you really had to work at a tech company for multiple years to be able to offer any sort of input or to create an app. But Apple made it so mainstream. I knew it was the future,” he said.
Just 10 years old then, Sandu started learning programming on his own for the next two years at a public library and this was where he got spotted by a designer from Google, who offered him an internship opportunity at the company’s headquarters.
At age 13, he got his first experience with programming and worked on many projects such as the initial Google blogger, Google Plus, among others.
Yet, Sandu was determined to affect change, hence, at the age of 15, he designed an app for his high school that gave students turn by turn directions to navigate their classrooms.
Being the only school in California that had an app made by a student, Sandu received wide acclaim that would later afford him a meeting with former President Obama.
During that same period, Sandu wrote an algorithm that he would go on to sell to Instagram and by the age of 18, he was already consulting for Snapchat before landing at Uber, where he created a software (Autonomous Collision Detection Interface) for its self-driving cars.
With the passion to bridge the gap between the informed and uninformed, and to inculcate into young people like him the need for invention and creativity, he left major tech companies to bring that change.
“Information is one of the highest forms of class. And that is what keeps people divided. You should be able to think on a higher level, instead of being strictly consumers. And people of colour in particular are more likely to be consumers than creators. It’s really hard to get out of poverty or to change the structure of economic power if you’re always going to be a consumer rather than creating. Shifting that narrative is what I’ve been trying to do. And thus far, it’s worked, it’s successful.”
From encouraging the study of STEM subjects in schools and at higher levels, Sandu, in 2017, met rapper Nipsey Hussle at local Starbucks, and in three weeks, they had transformed an abandoned storefront in Los Angeles into the Marathon Clothing Store.
The smart store offers exclusive music and other content to customers who have downloaded an app, said The New York Times.
The store leveraged Iddris’ tech and design background and Nipsey’s cultural influences, sparking the interests of many journalists as well as hip hop and cultural icons like Russell Westbrook, Vegas Jones of Roc Nation, among others.
In an interview with the CNBC, Sandu said the store has helped him bridge the gap between culture and technology, and would love others to do same.
“We are living in the digital revolution,” he said. Although “we are all constantly exposing ourselves to content in real-time.”
“We need to address the largest issues affecting communities and build infrastructure on that,” Sandu said.
The tech wizard has since partnered with Kanye West and Jaden Smith on some future businesses, clothing lines and disaster relief projects that are set to launch in 2019, according to CNBC.
Having created his own music, putting together the sonics and instrumentals in just 3 days to form a full album, the creative technologist is working on a book about recent initiators, including Kanye West; Robi Reed, a casting director; and Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue.
With the drive to use all his networks to empower young people in America to make a positive impact in their communities, the unconventional tech genius is already on his way to become a leader for the next generation of influencers and entrepreneurs.
Even with the contradictory and violent policies of many African contexts, is emigration to the continent from toxic, racist, rightwing Brazil a viable option for Afro-Brazilians?
In early October 2018, just after the first round of voting in Brazil, I got a message from a comrade in Salvador, Bahia. He wrote:
How do you think that we here in Brasil can organize a real program of repatriation to Kenya? You think that is possible? We are here very close to living under a president that is racist and fascist. You believe that we here can move a serious project to Africa, or even a refugee program?
Since I had not spoken to this friend in a while, I was surprised to get this message. But in view of recent events in Brazil—the coup against President Dilma Rousseff (she was impeached and then removed from office on flimsy grounds), the imprisonment of her predecessor, Lula (to prevent him from running for president again), the still unresolved murders of indigenous and black activists, including former congresswoman Marielle Franco—perhaps I should not have been.
I had known this comrade—let’s call him Zumbi—since I was first in Brazil in 2006. Having intentionally “escaped” the privileged position of being a recently graduated international student in Canada, I went to Bahia for reasons that are still not always quite clear to me now (and is also a tale I rarely tell). Inevitably, these motives then became a mixture of every possible cliché you have heard about why people go to Brazil. At different points it was lessons in Afro-Brazilian culture, “escaping Babylon,” left wing politics, tumultuous and tempestuous romance (of a scale rivaled by no other country in the world), deluded hippie aspirations and young and dumb twenty-something lessons in unbridled surrender. Yet, even against the transience of these motivations, there was always something immaterial and raw that turned my head, my heart, my whole body, towards an ancestral sentience in Bahia that I am grateful to have felt and continue trying to understand.
But I was not deluded by the “racial paradise” narrative that persisted and still persists; my African passport and places of residence made sure of that (also is it just me who feels that white supremacy in Latin America is another level of vitriolic?). And so it was in these movements living in Salvador and trying to understand Africa in Brazil that I first met Zumbi, an Afro-Brazilian educator, historian and writer.
Twelve years after our first conversations about Africa and Brazil and the exchanges and “returns” needed, and against the backdrop of a possible Bolsonaro win, he was writing to me asking if and how he could come back “home.”
In his next message this was more explicit:
Yes sister, so we will begin to organize ourselves for a reconnaissance visit. There are two points I want you to think about with us: 1) A repatriation program for 5-10 families who can live and work in Kenya (and this is a project to develop in 5-7 years); 2) An urgent refugee program, in case it is necessary next year, for some of us that shall eventually need this kind of support. It is just a calling to think together. We are really concerned about the terrible things happening these days, and it can really be worse if this wannabe Trump is elected.
Unfortunately, this “wannabe Trump” was elected, and so Zumbi’s final message to me in late October was: “and so we elected a nazi fascist president.” These words were accompanied by an image in which Brazil’s national territory and flag are overlaid with a Nazi flag.
Yet, it seems to many that things, in the time of Bolsonaro (and his degenerate kin proliferating in other parts of the globe), are really getting worse. Though there are and were many concerns one could have with Lula and his party, Partido dos Trabalhadores [the Workers’ Party], and Lula himself was not a saint (see, as but one example, Brazil’s role in Haiti during his tenure), there seemed, then, a spirit that continued and was very palpable, which energized many movements to keep fighting. My recent conversations highlight that many of those who have always been animating these struggles in their communities are in disbelief, are exhausted and are expressing the desire to just leave. Though these feelings may be temporary, their weight in the present is profound.
Another academic and activist sister in Sao Paulo, who I also spoke with recently, conveyed the fear that she and her friends—mostly black, female and queer—felt in the streets, the suffocation, and how this was affecting her mental health so much so that she just wanted to get away.
Mourning the killing of much loved and celebrated capoeira master, Mestre Moa Do Katende, by a Bolsonaro supporter a few hours after the first round of voting on October 7 2018, others expressed that “the 12 stab wounds that killed Moa Do Katendê came from the mouth of Bolsonaro.”
And the violence keeps coming from Bolsonaro’s mouth: in the first few hours of his presidency Bolsonaro has already worked to reverse landmark land gains that indigenous and black Quilombola [maroon] communities had fought for over many years. These are rights to identify and set aside new areas for them, and, likely informed by Bolsonaro’s wanting to conduct commercial mining and farming in indigenous reserves, any land claim decisions will now be adjudicated by the Agriculture Ministry and not the Ministry of Justice.
When we last spoke I told Zumbi that I was not quite sure that Kenya would be an alternative safe place, especially for a refugee program: my country, in many senses, remains highly colonial and anti-African.
For sure Kenya has many merits, but it continues to have a super problematic bromance with Israel, even as it continues to deport Africans. What’s more its legacy of hosting refugees, despite the official narrative, is not unscathed. In addition, like Brazil, our police force continues to kill many young poor people, and one tip of the iceberg survey tallies at least 803 people killed by the police between 2013–2016.
Naturally, I suggested Ghana and Tanzania since they have more progressive histories of recognizing diasporans. But with Magufuli wanting to keep pregnant schoolgirls out of school, and his authoritarian ways, maybe Tanzania is not such a good idea. Although, Kanye West may disagree, I was not even going to say anything about Museveni’s Uganda. Things were not looking good for Zumbi’s refugee program.
All the same, recent events have shown that, even with the contradictory and violent policies of many African contexts, it just may be the right time for Afro-Brazilians to “voltar a Africa.”
A comprehensive analysis of the business, economic, and public-health impact finds the potential for local production of pharmaceuticals to be a mixed bag.
With imports comprising as much as 70 to 90 percent of drugs consumed in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, many governments are considering whether it’s time to promote more local production. Drug imports, including both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, do considerably exceed those into China and India—where comparable populations import around 5 percent and 20 percent, respectively. And it does put strain on government and household budgets and already limited foreign exchanges.
To better understand the realities of promoting local drug production, we undertook a systematic analysis of the current state of the market. The analysis focused on simple, small molecules, such as generic drugs, since the economics and technical challenges would vary for more complex products, such as combination drugs, injectables, and vaccines. We evaluated the costs and benefits of increasing production not only in economic terms but also in their impact on the wider economy and on public health systems. We then compared that to local measures of feasibility, including government will, demand, investment attractiveness, and implementation capacity, especially with respect to quality (Exhibit 1).
The analysis depicts an opportunity that varies from country to country. In some countries, a manufacturing hub is unlikely to be economical. In a half dozen or so others, such a hub could be viable if it can overcome structural obstacles—a relatively small, if growing, market; a global excess of manufacturing capability for some kinds of drugs; unreliable infrastructure; and an underdeveloped talent base. For those countries, a local industry might make drugs modestly more affordable—an important factor in an area where out-of-pocket drug costs can be a significant impediment for all but the most wealthy consumers. It could also improve public health, enhancing access to drugs at a time when the donor programs that have long provided drugs in some countries are facing flat or declining budgets. Even there, however, the effect of local production on jobs and GDP would likely be minimal relative to the size of these economies overall.
Pharmaceutical production in sub-Saharan Africa lags behind comparable regions
Some African countries have a handful of local companies who produce for the domestic market. Most do not—and are currently uncompetitive for local drug production (Exhibit 2). The continent overall has roughly 375 drug makers, most in North Africa, to serve a population of around 1.3 billion people. Those in sub-Saharan Africa are largely clustered in just nine of 46 countries, and they’re mostly small, with operations that do not meet international standards. By comparison, China and India, each with roughly 1.4 billion in population, have as many as 5,000 and 10,500 drug manufacturers, respectively. And the sub-Saharan market’s value is still relatively small, at roughly $14 billion compared with roughly $120 billion overall in China and $19 billion in India.1
In sub-Saharan Africa, only Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa have a relatively sizable industry, with dozens of companies that produce for their local markets and, in some cases, for export to neighboring countries. Local producers also play in a limited range of the value chain. Almost all of them are drug-product manufacturers—that is, they purchase active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from other manufacturers and formulate them into finished pills, syrups, creams, capsules, and other finished drugs. Up to a hundred manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa are limited to packaging: purchasing pills and other finished drugs in bulk and repackaging them into consumer-facing packs. Only three—two in South Africa, and one in Ghana—are producing APIs, and none have significant R&D activity.
What’s the value of increased local drug production?
Developing a local drug industry in sub-Saharan Africa would take decades of sustained and careful effort. Examining the value of such an undertaking involves more than the economics of individual-company-level business. Because pharmaceutical products have such wide-ranging effects, country governments and citizens often think about the industry’s impact in broader economic terms, including economic growth and job creation, and in terms of public health, such as access to medicines and preparedness in the event of disease outbreaks. To examine which dimensions really matter, we disaggregated the notion of impact into affordability, health impact, and economic impact.2
More affordable drugs
We frequently encounter public-health officials and potential investors who argue variously that locally manufactured drugs would be cheaper once all the costs are factored in—as well as others who take it for granted that it’s cheaper to produce drugs in India than it would be in Africa. The analysis suggests some truth to both arguments: drugs today are cheaper when imported, but with comparable facilities some drugs tomorrow could be cost competitive or even cheaper than imports from India. This is more likely true of basic oral solids than more advanced and larger-molecule drugs.
Consider our modeling of comparable plants producing one common over-the-counter drug, for example. We found that when imported, the drug’s landed price in Ethiopia consists of the manufacturer’s price in India plus a more-than-20-percent markup as a result of freight, duties, and value-added tax (Exhibit 3). If the same drug were manufactured in Ethiopia: the raw materials would still be imported, but the import costs would be lower because of their relatively low value. Adding the local conversion cost due to lower manufacturing efficiency and the producer margin to the total leads to a price that is higher than in India, but the lower transport cost to reach the distributor means that the locally manufactured product is still more affordable at the point of entry into the local supply chain. In fact, for a range of products, including tablets, capsules, and creams, costs for most drugs produced in Ethiopia and Nigeria tend to be about 5 to 15 percent lower than the landed price of imports from India.
For most countries in sub-Saharan Africa today, this is largely a theoretical scenario. With current facilities, costs there today are typically higher because production facilities generally have less capacity and lower utilization rates than plants in India. Moreover, the affordability of drugs also depends on the structure of local supply chains, which differs between regions. Supply chains in anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa are more informal than in francophone countries. Markups and pricing are often unregulated in the former and also feature substantial numbers of informal stores.
Improved public health
Increased pharmaceutical manufacturing can affect a population’s health in various ways, such as its access to, awareness of, and availability of needed medicines. It can also impact the systems that regulate quality and safety. These effects will vary country by country because they are influenced heavily by each country’s configuration of the health system and health market. Yet our analysis for Ethiopia and Nigeria highlighted some effects that may be applicable for other countries as well.
Access to medicines, for example, is often limited to outdated drugs because global drug originators, or patent holders, lack incentives to undertake the cumbersome process of registering and promoting all their products for each small African country market. As a result, many African countries still use drugs older than what is recommended by the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) essential drug list. Local manufacturers often have the incentives and resources to introduce newer generation generics into smaller African markets. In Ethiopia, when one local player became the first in the country to produce a newer-generation antibiotic, the government added it for the first time to the list of products available to public health facilities. In Nigeria, regulations allow local drug manufacturers to also be drug importers. Many of the leading local drug manufacturers are also representatives of global drug originators, and hence have a strong incentive to invest in local drug registration and the introduction of lucrative new products. That said, few markets in Africa are as potentially lucrative as Nigeria. Therefore, we expect the impact of increased local drug manufacturing in most other countries to more closely resemble the economics in Ethiopia than in Nigeria.
Another arena in which we expect increased local drug production to have positive effects is in the regulation and quality assurance of drugs in local African markets. In Ethiopia, for example, the government’s desire to spur local drug manufacturing has come hand in hand with a commitment to strengthen its national drug regulator, the Food, Medicine, and Health Care Administration and Control Authority. The government has also committed to reducing delays in product registration, ferreting out counterfeit drugs, and pushing manufacturers to meet standards required for exports. Overall, Ethiopia is investing ahead of the curve in regulatory capacity. Although its pharma market is only valued at approximately $600 million, its regulator’s budget is $6.6 million, a higher ratio than observed in Brazil, Russia, and Turkey.
Proponents of local drug manufacturing in sub-Saharan Africa often express their argument in economic terms: economic diversification, GDP growth, the impact on the balance of trade, and job creation. However, our analysis suggests that pharmaceuticals would remain a relatively small sector of the overall economy, even assuming significant growth. The effect on annual GDP growth would likely be negligible—on the order of $190 million per year by 2027 for Ethiopia and $230 million per year for Nigeria, over a period when we project annual growth for the two countries could be on the order of $14 billion and $27 billion, respectively.
The largest effect would be on the balance of trade. If Ethiopia and Nigeria were to increase their local share of production from roughly 15 to 20 percent to around 40 to 45 percent, both countries could expect to see their trade balances improve by $150 million to $200 million annually. In Ethiopia, trade imbalances have been a critical issue for several years as the country has dealt with a severe shortage of foreign exchange. A swing of a couple of hundred million dollars in a decade’s time would certainly be welcome. But it would be hard to feel, since it amounts to less than 5 percent of Ethiopia’s projected foreign currency needs—not including the additional capital investments needed to build industrial parks and upgrade national regulators.
An increase in local production would not create many jobs. Modern pharmaceutical plants employ only a few hundred workers. New entrants tend to be even leaner: the two new Chinese entrants into the Ethiopian market, for example, are building more automated production facilities and hence employ only around 200 workers on average. Altogether, the total job creation affected by increased local pharmaceutical production is likely to be on the order of a few thousand jobs at best—even including any impact it has on jobs upstream and downstream, in its suppliers and distributors.
Is it feasible?
The feasibility of building an industry in any country is influenced by both private- and public-sector factors. On the private side, the inherent market dynamics, and the attractiveness of available investments, will determine whether there is a strong business case for putting money into the pharmaceutical sector. These include, for example, whether there’s enough unmet demand to make a sizeable plant competitive and the practicalities of exporting excess production. On the public side, governments have several potential levers to encourage local production. These include local production incentives in national tenders, subsidies and tax breaks, investment in special economic zones, and talent- and skill-building programs. The availability of these levers varies across countries, and individual governments’ attitudes toward the pharmaceutical industry influence their willingness to employ these levers.
Overall, our analysis convinced us that increased local drug production is feasible in about a half dozen sub-Saharan African countries at current and projected demand levels. While only South Africa is currently as attractive to private-sector pharmaceutical investors as Brazil and India, other countries are rapidly improving their investment climate. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses relative to Brazil, China, and India. Some are stronger in areas like logistics, business climate, and tax policies. Others might do well in some areas, such as tax policy, logistics, and technology, but show weaknesses in government and business climate. Still others could quickly become attractive to international investors with continued improvement.
Creating a sustainable pharma sector in sub-Saharan Africa
In those countries where increased local production of pharmaceuticals would be both feasible and have a positive impact, the question is how to do it. Through our research, we have distilled five lessons that could help them do so in a way that contributes most to the health of their people and the well-being of their economies. These include a focus on quality, production capacity (or scale), regional hubs, drug-product formulation, and value-chain effects.
Focus on quality
Regulatory standards and enforcement across sub-Saharan Africa typically lag behind global standards. There are only six companies operating in the region that have achieved WHO prequalification.3 The fight against counterfeit, expired, and substandard drugs is improving, but it is still common in some countries in the region.
As sub-Saharan Africa develops its local pharmaceutical industry, it is imperative that countries continuously upgrade their quality standards and enforcement. Beyond saving lives, a stronger regulatory system would allow for a fair and competitive playing field, eliminating low-priced, substandard products from the market. To do so, country leaders may need to commit to ongoing funding for their regulatory agencies in accordance with established global benchmarks or perhaps consider continent-wide efforts such as those in Europe. This would allow regulators to address some of the existing gaps in training, capabilities, and manpower in regulatory oversight and quality control. Another priority should be cultivating and sustaining a healthy pipeline of regulatory talent, since turnover is brisk for many agencies as trained staff quickly leave for private-sector jobs.
Build plants with sufficient production capacity
Any theoretical production-cost advantages that countries in sub-Saharan Africa might enjoy could be outweighed by their lower production capacity and utilization relative to India. Most production in the region today is in small plants with low capacity—plants need to be big enough and have enough capacity to get the benefits of scale economics. And utilization is affected by unreliable infrastructure, frequent power interruptions, and high logistics costs.
At what point would manufacturing plants there become competitive with imports? According to our analysis, production volume—that is, the plant’s capacity times utilization—affects economics and affordability disproportionately more than other commonly cited concerns, such as labor productivity and electricity costs. The cutoff for output depends on product type, but for a tablet-based product it would be around 500 million tablets (Exhibit 4). Smaller plants are unlikely to be competitive with imports, even running at full utilization, and plants operating below the cutoff today may not be sustainable over the long term.
Thus, as old plants get upgraded and new plants get built, companies in sub-Saharan Africa should ensure that they will meet a certain threshold of production while ensuring that there is sufficient market demand to maintain health utilization. Companies should estimate the necessary break point for their specific mix of products and location, and plan their investments accordingly. Country governments might also reconsider incentives to companies that meet competitive levels of production.
Create regional hubs that include smaller countries
Given the minimum production requirements and the fact that there are only a few countries where pharmaceutical manufacturing is feasible, sub-Saharan African countries could work together to encourage a handful of globally competitive industry clusters. These clusters have a better chance of producing affordable, high-quality drugs than if efforts were dissipated across a larger number of subscale investment attempts throughout the continent. With proper regulatory harmonization, smaller countries could experience faster lead times and more responsive supply chains because they could be served by local, and not overseas, suppliers.
There is already a broader movement to create freer trade across Africa. The newly established Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) seeks to bring the 55 members of the African Union together. By spring 2018, 44 states had formally joined CFTA. Predating the CFTA, regional economic communities have also been working on removing tariff and nontariff barriers to trade.
Yet these efforts are not enough to enable the creation of regional hubs for pharmaceuticals, since drugs are such a highly specialized product. The African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization effort has yielded noteworthy results, with the East Africa Community countries at the stage of conducting joint assessments and inspections. However, it is still not possible for companies to file a single registration that is recognized by neighboring countries anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa today. Until that happens, no at-scale company can realistically serve multiple countries.
Focus on drug-product formulation, but keep an eye on new technology
Focusing on the right part of the value chain will be critical to the success of a pharma sector in sub-Saharan Africa. APIs today are very scale sensitive and hard to manufacture. Most countries in the region lack the requisite chemicals sector for API production, which our modeling suggests would already be 10 to 15 percent costlier than imports from India. That makes drug-product formulation the better bet, while continuing to import APIs—for now, at least.
Looking ahead, this focus could evolve. New technologies could lower API costs—whether by changing the scale economics needed to keep prices competitive, making manufacturing easier, or improving quality. Indeed, one advantage that sub-Saharan Africa has is the opportunity to adopt cutting-edge technologies without worrying about replacing existing technologies in legacy plants. Some of the most promising technologies on the horizon include improved process chemistry, continuous manufacturing, and modular plant design. Using Ethiopia as an example, employing improved chemical-synthesis processes could reduce costs by approximately 5 to 35 percent, and continuous production could cut costs by another 10 to 25 percent, if the right molecules are chosen for production. In addition, modular plant design could speed construction of these plants and ensure tighter quality assurance.
Upgrade the value chain
Though the focus may be on drug-product manufacturing, countries might also consider upgrading the value chain beyond just manufacturers. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have a highly fragmented landscape of distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, who all add their individual markups to the product. In some countries, for example, it’s not unheard of for a drug to be marked up by nearly double the manufacturer’s price by the time it reaches the end consumer. In addition to raising the price of drugs, this system also has the effect of compromising quality assurance, since each additional step creates the potential for improper storage, tampering, or delay, even as drugs near their expiration dates.
To get the value chain under control, governments might better enforce quality standards in distribution, wholesaling, and retailing, for example. Many tiny unregulated shops today don’t meet standards already on the books. If they did, it may encourage some industry consolidation and encouraging discipline that will also lead to better patient outcomes.
There are some who have questioned the ability of the countries in sub-Saharan African to build a local pharmaceuticals industry, and others who question the wisdom of doing so. To those skeptics, the analyses presented here should provide comfort that the potential for building a robust local industry could be real in some countries under the right conditions. It is now for public- and private-sector leaders in the region to decide whether to try.
Dr. Charles Thomas Walker was born into slavery on a plantation near Hephzibah in January 1858. He was the son of Hannah and Tom Walker. Hannah and Tom Walker were founding members of the Franklin CovenantChurch, a black Baptist church built before the Civil War on A. T. C. Walker’s plantation at Hephzibah. Tom Walker was buried the day before Dr. Walker was born and his mother died in 1866, just one year after she and her children got their first taste of political freedom. Virtually nothing else is known about Dr. Walker’s childhood until a hot day in June 1873, when the 15 year old was hoeing cotton. On that day, while his hoe broke the sand around the cotton stalks, Dr. Walker decided to find reconciliation with Jesus. He laid the hoe down and went back into the woods where he fasted for 4 days before seeking out his Uncle Nathan and declaring his desire to be baptized. He was baptized a month later in a nearby creek.His uncle enrolled him in the Augusta Theological Institute, housed in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church. Dr. Walker had only six dollars but he was determined to stay in school as long as he could feed himself, so he limited his meals to one each on Wednesday and Saturday. He finally ran out of money and was walking out of the school when he met Springfield’s Reverend E. K. Love. Reverend Love temporarily provided Charles’s room and board, and then worked with the president of the school to find him a permanent sponsor. Three men from Dayton, Ohio took sponsorship of Dr. Walker and in 1876, at the age of 18, he was licensed to preach. Two years after his ordination and upon completing his studies at Augusta Institute, he was called back to Franklin Covenant. He married Violette Franklin and they had four children, but only two of them lived to adulthood.
In 1884 at the age of only 26, he was called back to Augusta to pastor Beulah Baptist Church on Ellis Street. Within a few days he had the church renamed Tabernacle Baptist and the congregation began looking for a new church home. Property was found on Gwinnett Street, today’s Laney-Walker Blvd., which was named for educator Lucy C. Laney and Reverend Walker. The congregation began raising money for the new church from Augustans, both black and white. Dr. Walker played a very active role in the city of Augusta and throughout the state. He was also very well known for his preaching across the country. In 1891, he went to visit the Holy Land for three months. He was the first black clergyman in the United States to be sponsored on such a trip by his congregation. He also toured England during this time and found out that the people there enjoyed more equal treatment than those in the U.S. He wrote letters back that were eventually published in a book entitled,A Colored Man’s Trip Aboard, edited by Reverend Silas X. Floyd. Charles opened a school, the Walker Institute of Theology.
Dr. Walker did many things to help bring the black and white people in Augusta closer together. He was respected by prominent people all over the U.S. Many people came to Augusta just to hear him preach. Some of them were President
William Taft and John D. Rockefeller. In 1900, Dr. Walker moved to New York City to pastor Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. He was there for two years and built the congregation to more than 1500 members, making it the largest black church in the U.S. Then he moved back to Augusta and Tabernacle Baptist Church. He died in 1921.
C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School
C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School has a long proud history dating back to 1934. The school originally housed grades one through seven and was built to relieve overcrowding and population shifts for both black and white students in Richmond County. The building was constructed with federal financial assistance through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The school opened with an enrollment of 1500; this was 500 more than building specifications.
As the schools were integrated in Richmond County in the early 1970’s, student enrollment patterns changed. Consequently, C.T. Walker’s enrollment decreased to less than 500 students. Court-ordered busing was instituted to ensure racial balances in student population and to remedy fluctuating enrollment patterns. This made it possible for students from all areas of the county to attend C.T. Walker.
C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, with grades kindergarten through five, was formed in 1980. It attracted black and white students throughout Richmond County and maintained a racial balance of 50/50. The magnet school concept brought changes in structural organization, teaching strategies, philosophy of teaching and learning, and expectations in both academics and discipline. With the new curriculum, policies changed dramatically. Promotion was based solely upon mastery of skills. Students were required to pass all basic courses in the curriculum for promotion. Enrollment required an equal representation of both black and white staff, as well as in the student population.
During the first year as a magnet school, C.T. Walker housed 400 students who were admitted on the basis of a lottery that was conducted by community leaders and school officials for grades kindergarten through five. Beginning with the 1981 school year, the sixth grade was added to the school structure at the behest of parents who wanted their children to continue at C.T. Walker through the middle school years. The following year seventh grade was added; the next year the eighth grade addition completed the kindergarten through eighth structure which exists today. During the 1999/2000 school term C.T. Walker celebrated its twentieth anniversary as a magnet school. Today students arrive on twenty-four buses from all areas of Richmond County and /or are transported in private vehicles. Very few students reside within walking distance of the school. Today we boast a Fall 2015 enrollment of 870 students.
COSTA RICA VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT EPSY CAMPBELL BARR. (FACEBOOK)
The people of Costa Rica elected Carlos Alvarado as the country’s new president on Sunday — and his running mate, Epsy Campbell Barr, has made history by becoming the first black female vice president in the Americas.
According to Newsweek, Campbell is a highly accomplished economist who has written extensively about sexism, racism and people of African descent and economic participation. She is also the co-founder of Costa Rica’s ruling Citizen’s Action Party.
Alvarado, also a member of the party, won a solid majority over Fabricio Alvarado, an evangelical who ran on a vociferously anti-gay marriage platform. Carlos Alvarado and Campbell Barr, on the other hand, promoted unity, infrastructure and the bridging of inequality, Jezebel reports.
Campbell Barr has previously played leading roles in the Center for Women of African Descent, the Alliance of Leaders of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Black Parliament of the Americas organizations. She also founded the Women’s Forum of Central American Integration. One of her central campaign promises was to reduce the wage gap in Costa Rica.
“It will be a responsibility not only to represent people of African descent but to represent all women and men in the country, a country that gives us all the same opportunities,” Campbell Barr told website crHoy prior to the election, according to Newsweek. “It would not be the first only in Costa Rica, but in Latin America. And eventually, if the president leaves the country, [I would be] the first woman of African descent to assume the presidency of the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility.”
Carlos Alvarado won Costa Rica’s presidential election Sunday by a large margin against evangelical singer Fabricio Alvarado (no relation), who ran an anti-same-sex-marriage campaign. But equally important was the election of Alvarado’s running mate, Epsy Campbell Barr, as the first black female vice president in the Americas.
She will join the ranks of such other trailblazers as Victoria Garrón, the country’s first female vice president (1986-90); Thelma Curling, the first Afro-Costa Rican legislator (1982-86); and Laura Chinchilla, who became the first female president in the Central American nation (2010-14).
“It will be a responsibility not only to represent people of African descent but to represent all women and men in the country, a country that gives us all the same opportunities,” Campbell Barr told website CRHoy. “It would not be the first only in Costa Rica but in Latin America. And eventually, if the president leaves the country, [I would be] the first woman of African descent to assume the presidency of the entire American continent. It’s a big responsibility.”
According to local reports, Campbell Barr is an economist who helped found the ruling Citizens’ Action Party in 2000. She was named “Epsy” after her paternal grandmother, who hailed from Jamaica. Campbell Barr, 54, was born in Costa Rica’s capital city of San José on July 4, 1963. She’s the fourth child in a family of two sons and two daughters.
The vice president-elect has published books and articles on economic participation, democracy, sexism, racism and people of African descent, among other topics. She has also remained active in Afro-Caribbean affairs and in 1996 founded the Women’s Forum of Central American Integration, an initiative she coordinated until 2001. The mother of two daughters, Campbell Barr received a master’s in international cooperation and development and advanced management techniques and political decision.
The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States, led by former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana, lauded Costa Rica’s electoral process. “The Mission appreciated the early recognition of the electoral results by the candidate Fabricio Alvarado and highlighted the display of political maturity from both contenders once the preliminary results of the second presidential round were announced,” the organization said in a statement.
“[The Mission] congratulated President-elect Carlos Alvarado for his victory in the elections on April 1st, and the people of Costa Rica for their civic spirit demonstrated during the election day,” the statement added.
Pretoria – The national watchdog on religious practices in South Africa, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights (CLR), on Thursday said it had begun a mediation process to bring the Shepherd Bushiri-led Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) to the negotiating table.
“After extensive deliberations, the parties agreed on the following – the immediate cessation of all hostilities from both sides, the CRL Commission will pursue negotiations with the church for possible support for the bereaved families,” said spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo.
The parties also agreed that a follow-up press briefing be arranged where “further announcements” will be made about the support process
Sanco was given time to consult and update its constituency regarding the ongoing mediation.
“The CRL Rights Commission reiterates its call for the full enforcement of the by-laws in the country,” said Mkholo.
Three women were killed in an apparent stampede at the ECG church, which is hosted at the Pretoria showgrounds, during a service on December 28. Nine other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.
The three deceased women were identified as Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi.
The Sanco protests began last week, with the community members calling for the ECG church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds forthwith.
On Thursday, Sanco Tshwane regional chairperson Abram Mashishi told the African News Agency (ANA) that the mediation meeting had brought the parties under one roof, but the negotiations were still ongoing.
Bushiri’s spokesperson, Maynard Manyowa, said the ECG welcomes the recommendations of the CRL Commission, and was committed to the mediation process.
“We would like to express gratitude to the entire commission and representatives of Sanco who attended the mediation [meeting]. We remain committed to engaging any and all stakeholders in the country,” said Manyowa.
“We totally regret the death of Nondumiso Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala and Lehlogaholo Maria Segodi and again reiterate that we remain a ministry in mourning. We are committed to ensuring we support members of the family.”
Earlier on Thursday, Christians of South Africa (Cosa) criticised Sanco over its attacks against Bushiri.
“These misguided attacks against the church by Sanco is evidence enough to prove that faith in South Africa is under attack and Christians should prepare themselves for a volcano of persecution, perpetuated by the ANC government,” Cosa president Pastor Derick Mosoana said.
“South Africa is not immune to stampedes and it is only normal that in every uncontrolled crowd a stampede is unavoidable. South Africans died during soccer matches and concerts but none of these agents of satan ever lobbied support against the affected artists or soccer teams.”
Ghana’s former president Jerry John Rawlings has hailed the acquittal of ex- Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo by the International Criminal Court, describing the eight year trial as a waste of Gbagbo’s his life.
“A true African patriot is free,” he tweeted few minutes after the international court in The Hague exonerated and ordered the immediate release of Gbagbgo who was accused crimes against humanity.
Gbagbo was captured in 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara.
His refusal to cede power after losing the 2010 Ivorian elections to Alassane Ouattara led to a five-month crisis which killed more than 3,000 people and displaced more than 5,000 people in the West African nation.
He was put on trial by ICC prosecutors but the judges Tuesday ruled he had no case to answer because the prosecution failed to prove the several charges against him.
The BBC reported the presiding Judge, Cuno Tarfusser, said the prosecution had “failed to demonstrate that public speeches by Gbagbo constituted ordering or inducing the alleged crimes”.
Welcoming Gbagbo’s exoneration by the ICC Tuesday, Mr. Rawlings said Gbagbo did not deserve to spend eight years of his life going through the trial which he claimed was masterminded by France and its former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Lauren Gbagbo, despite his human weaknesses, did not deserve to have eight years of his life wasted by the machinations of France and Sarkozy, and their western allies,” Rawlings asserted in the Tuesday tweet.
He said while “we celebrate” it is important to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for “the true emancipation of Africa.
“I hope this will serve as a new beginning for Cote d’Ivoire – a source of unity, not division; strength, not weakness!
A United Nations report issued in October 2012 alleged some of Gbagbo loyalists have set up a “strategic command” base, from where they were planning to overthrow the Ouattara government.
This was at a time that one of Gbagbo’s key allies, Justin Kone Katinan, who was arrested on August 24, 2012 on an Ivorian warrant for economic crimes he allegedly committed, was going through extradition proceedings.
Ghana disputed the UN’s findings, but the then President, John Dramani Mahama pledged that the country will not be used as a haven for any coup plotters.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo freed by International Criminal Court
By Samuel Quashie-Idun, for CNN / Updated 7:52 AM ET, Tue January 15, 2019
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019.
(CNN) The former President of Cote d’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo has been acquitted of all charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, an ICC press officer tells CNN.
Gbagbo, who ruled the West African country from 2000 till his arrest in 2011, had been on trial for violence in the country following the 2010 elections.
The Netherlands court said prosecutors were not able to prove his guilt nor that of his co-accused Charles Ble Goude, a former minister in the country.
The prosecutor may request that he remains in detention, the court press officer says. The ICC judges will hear that possible request Wednesday morning at 4am ET.
Ivory Coast suffered months of violence when Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent, refused to step down after Ouattara was declared the winner.
Thousands of people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced during the civil war that broke out.
Gbagbo was arrested a few months later and taken to the ICC court where he faced charges of crimes against humanity in the West African country, also known as Cote d’Ivoire.
Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director reacted to the ruling, calling it a “crushing disappointment” to the victims.
“The acquittal of Gbagbo and Ble Goude will be seen as a crushing disappointment to victims of post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire,” she said in a statement.
“However, the judges found that the Office of the Prosecutor had not presented evidence needed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt… This ICC ruling reminds us that fair trial and due process must be at the heart of international criminal justice.”
A few years ago, Cheryl Benedict, an education administrator and historian from Virginia and my first cousin, discovered on Ancestry.com that our great-great-great-grandfather, a Texas farmer named Augustus Foscue, had owned 41 slaves.
I was saddened, not surprised. Although I grew up in Brussels, the child of American musicians who did not inherit great wealth, my family is white and middle class, with branches rooted among the pre-revolutionary English immigrants who accepted slave-holding as a way of life.
My first thought was that I should research our family history more—and then write about it. My ancestors had done something wrong. It had not been known. Now it was. Shining a light on the truth, followed by some sort of atonement, seemed the right thing to do, especially at a time of rising and relegitimized white supremacy in the United States. Truth-telling as atonement.
It would also be an education. Growing up, I attended Belgium’s écoles communales. In school, I did not learn about U.S. history. For me, as a kid, America was more cultural and commercial than political or historical: baseball and Mark Twain, musicals and McDonald’s.
My mistake, typical of white Americans, was treating slavery as if it were a mystery buried in the past.
My attitude was naïve and ill-considered. As editors rejected draft after draft, it became clear that I was getting something important wrong.
My mistake, typical of white Americans, was treating slavery as if it were a mystery buried in the past. I had not known about my ancestor Augustus. My family had not talked about slavery. Now we did.
But confession is not atonement. And as one African-American historian or economist after another pointed out to me, slavery is not a mystery, and it is not past. What white Americans treat as a historical curiosity—something to investigate if we choose to—is to black Americans a cruel, unavoidable ghost that haunts this nation’s cities, schools, hospitals and prisons.
There is a small but growing group of descendants of slave-owners conducting private efforts at atonement.
This lack of understanding about slavery’s immanence is why white acts of private atonement are considered “conscience salves that do little to close the black-white gap,” William Darity, an economist at Duke University, told me. He calls symbolic actions “laissez-faire reparations” and argues that people who discover they have slave-owning ancestors are morally obliged to campaign for national reparations.
Because slavery was a societal institution, enshrined in the Constitution, and had societal consequences that have not been fixed, its reparation must be societal.
Still, with the internet revolution unveiling more family histories and efforts at a federal reparations movement stalled, there is a small but growing group of descendants of slave-owners conducting private efforts at atonement.
People I talked to are funding scholarships for black youths, putting up plaques in honor of people their families enslaved and engaging in dialogue aimed at promoting racial healing. They are writing books and making movies and documenting how the devastating inequalities set up by slavery were maintained during Reconstruction and the establishment of Jim Crow laws and the post-civil rights era. Universities, banks and other institutions are owning up to their past involvement with slavery.
People I talked to are funding scholarships for black youths, putting up plaques in honor of people their families enslaved and engaging in dialogue aimed at promoting racial healing.
What to make of their efforts? Are they really useless? Isn’t something better than nothing? Do good intentions count for anything?
Guy Mount Emerson, an African-American historian who is part of the scholarly team that recently uncovered the University of Chicago’s historical ties to slavery, says that “symbolic action, even if it’s symbolic, may have the potential to heal current relationships.”
But Mr. Emerson, who has lectured on reparations at the University of Chicago, says that according to reparations theory, it is up to the people who were harmed to determine what might constitute sufficient restorative action. “It’s up to black folks to say when this is enough,” says Mr. Emerson. “It’s a very hard question: How do you forgive the unforgivable? How do you repair the irreparable?”
Under President Trump, white interest in private reparation efforts has been on the rise, says Tom DeWolf, a director at Coming to the Table, a non-profit based at Eastern Mennonite University that brings together the descendants of slave-owners and enslaved people. Since the 2016 election, the number of monthly visitors to the organization’s website has increased from 3,000 a month to over 13,000. The number of affiliated working groups has multiplied. They aim to inject more awareness into the public space about links between slavery and current inequalities.
This year, Coming to the Table released a 21-page guide on how to atone privately for slavery. It has over 100 suggestions, including donating to the United Negro College Fund, hiring African-American lawyers and doctors and contributing family archives to genealogy websites like Our Black Ancestry and AfriGeneas. African-American genealogies are often incomplete because enslaved peoples generally were not named in census documents until 1870.
“We suggest that before acting, European Americans should take their cues from African Americans as to when and how to approach and implement reparations,” the guide suggests. “African Americans may wish to engage in some of these activities so as to ensure that trust, healing and true reparations of the harms are achieved.”
The reparations guide also recommends supporting H.R. 40, a bill for which former Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, campaigned since the 1980s. The bill, named after the 40 acres of land that newly emancipated African-Americans were promised and never given after the Civil War, would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and suggest remedies.
Mr. DeWolf, who has written two books on the subject, is a descendant of a Rhode Island family that once controlled one of the country’s biggest slave-trading enterprises. Since the DeWolfs shipped 10,000 people from West Africa, they shaped the ancestries of as many as 500,000 African-Americans. In 2008, a DeWolf family member named Katrina Browne released “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” a riveting documentary that highlights slavery in Northern states and chronicles members of the family traveling to New England, Ghana and Cuba and their anguished debates over privilege, legacy and reparations.
“We suggest that before acting, European Americans should take their cues from African Americans as to when and how to approach and implement reparations.”
“White people should think of reparations as a poker game where somebody has been cheating,” says Ms. Browne. “If somebody said I’ve been cheating the whole game and now I’m going to stop cheating, wouldn’t you want your money back?”
Whether your family owned slaves is “a question that anybody with Southern roots should probably ask themselves,” says Christa Cowan, who has researched slavery for Ancestry.com. The 1850 and 1860 censuses, available online, are valuable because they include so-called “Slave Schedules” that list the numbers, genders and ages of enslaved people. “Even if your family wasn’t wealthy, it’s worth checking,” says Ms. Cowan, who is white and discovered her own slave-owning ancestry and black cousins through census records. It is also a question for Americans from Northern states: In the 17th and 18th centuries, millions of Northerners owned slaves.
To be sure, even if the truth is available, many white Americans still do not like to confront slavery—and, when they do, they do not feel guilty about it. “Everybody likes to talk about how their ancestors fought in the Confederacy, but nobody likes to talk about how they owned slaves,” Bruce Levine, the author of The Fall of the House of Dixie, a history of the 19th-century South, tells me. “You can’t have one without the other.” A survey in 2016 by political scientists found that 72.4 percent of white Americans questioned felt “not guilty at all” about “the privileges and benefits” they “received as white Americans.”
Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, Phoebe Kilby never heard about her slave-owning ancestors. A decade ago, she found documents online that proved that her family had owned enslaved peoples. Further research led her to meeting several descendants of people her family had owned as slaves, including people to whom she was genetically related. She has befriended her black relatives, helped obtain funding for a Virginia State historical highway sign that honors civil rights activists in the family and endowed scholarships for their grandchildren. “We could wait for Congress, or we can listen to the expressed desires of our African-American cousins and respond directly ourselves,” she says.
The African-American writer Betty Kilby, one of Phoebe’s relatives and a plaintiff in a school desegregation case in Virginia in the 1950s, says she had “mixed emotions” when Phoebe contacted her, “but I had promised to fight against hate, so I had to meet her.” They are now close friends and speak together at churches, colleges and community groups. Ms. Kilby says she supports national economic reparations and says private initiatives could offer a template for a wider political initiative. “What Phoebe has done is provide scholarships for the descendants of the people her family enslaved, that is restitution,” she says. “Maybe that’s the model nationally.”
Some black thinkers say symbolic gestures are meaningless if not accompanied by a demand for political and economic reparations.
“It’s not a matter of personal guilt, it’s a matter of national responsibility,” says Mr. Darity, the Duke University economist. The persistent structural inequality in the United States is why even white Americans not descended from slave-owners should support reparations, because they have benefitted, says Mr. Darity. Reparations, he says, “should go to anybody who has an ancestor who was enslaved and anybody who has identified as black for 10 years or more.”
A growing body of academic research has firmed up the links between slavery and current inequalities. A lot of racism in the United States “developed after slavery,” says Sven Beckert, the author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History and a professor at Harvard. African-Americans “were free, but they faced harsh discrimination in labor, property and education markets, among other things.” Mr. Beckert compares the slow and still unfilled reckoning of American whites with slavery to that of Germany’s resolution of its guilt over Nazism after World War II.
The difference, says Mr. Darity, is that “the U.S. is not a defeated nation in the aftermath of a great war seeking to restore its legitimacy in the international community.”
In a recent paper, “Slavery, Education, and Inequality,” two European academics, Graziella Bertocchi and Arcangelo Dimico, studied the influence of slavery across U.S. counties.
They found that counties that once had rates of high slave ownership are not always poorer, but that they consistently had unequal rates of educational attainment. Current inequality, they wrote, “is primarily influenced by slavery through the unequal education attainment of blacks and whites.”
Over time, Ms. Bertocchi tells me, “even after accounting for many other factors, slavery remains a persistent determinant of today’s inequality. ”
There is no mystery: Our wrong is present.
Clarification, Nov, 30: This article updated to note that John Conyers is a former congressman.
This article also appeared in print, under the headline “Grappling with an Unholy (Family) History ,” in the December 10, 2018 issue.
John W. MillerJohn W. Miller is a Pittsburgh-based writer and former staff reporter and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Here is a list of websites which, at one point, published fake news on Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major 1). The public should be very careful and/or stay away from the content of these controversial websites, at least as far as Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major 1) is concerned:
The documents most closely associated with the creation of the United States—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—present a problem with which Americans have been contending from the country’s beginning: how to reconcile the values espoused in those texts with the United States’ original sin of slavery, the flaw that marred the country’s creation, warped its prospects, and eventually plunged it into civil war. The Declaration of Independence had a specific purpose: to cut the ties between the American colonies and Great Britain and establish a new country that would take its place among the nations of the world. But thanks to the vaulting language of its famous preamble, the document instantly came to mean more than that. Its confident statement that “all men are created equal,” with “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” put notions of freedom and equality at the heart of the American experiment. Yet it was written by a slave owner, Thomas Jefferson, and released into 13 colonies that all, to one degree or another, allowed slavery.
The Constitution, which united the colonies turned states, was no less tainted. It came into existence only after a heated argument over—and fateful compromise on—the institution of slavery. Members of the revolutionary generation often cast that institution as a necessary evil that would eventually die of its own accord, and they made their peace with it to hold together the new nation. The document they fought over and signed in 1787, revered almost as a sacred text by many Americans, directly protected slavery. It gave slave owners the right to capture fugitive slaves who crossed state lines, counted each enslaved person as three-fifths of a free person for the purpose of apportioning members of the House of Representatives, and prohibited the abolition of the slave trade before 1808.
As citizens of a young country, Americans have a close enough connection to the founding generation that they look to the founders as objects of praise. There might well have been no United States without George Washington, behind whom 13 fractious colonies united. Jefferson’s language in the Declaration of Independence has been taken up by every marginalized group seeking an equal place in American society. It has influenced people searching for freedom in other parts of the world, as well.
American slavery was tied inexorably to white dominance.
Yet the founders are increasingly objects of condemnation, too. Both Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. They, along with James Madison, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson, the other three slave-owning presidents of the early republic, shaped the first decades of the United States. Any desire to celebrate the country’s beginning quickly runs into the tragic aspects of that moment. Those who wish to revel without reservation in good feelings about their country feel threatened by those who note the tragedies and oppression that lay at the heart of this period. Those descended from people who were cast as inferior beings, whose labor and lives were taken for the enrichment of others, and those with empathy for the enslaved feel insulted by unreflective celebration. Learning how to strike the right balance has proved one of the most difficult problems for American society.
WHY SLAVERY’S LEGACY ENDURES
The issue, however, goes far beyond the ways Americans think and talk about their history. The most significant fact about American slavery, one it did not share with other prominent ancient slave systems, was its basis in race. Slavery in the United States created a defined, recognizable group of people and placed them outside society. And unlike the indentured servitude of European immigrants to North America, slavery was an inherited condition.
As a result, American slavery was tied inexorably to white dominance. Even people of African descent who were freed for one reason or another suffered under the weight of the white supremacy that racially based slavery entrenched in American society. In the few places where free blacks had some form of state citizenship, their rights were circumscribed in ways that emphasized their inferior status—to them and to all observers. State laws in both the so-called Free States and the slave states served as blueprints for a system of white supremacy. Just as blackness was associated with inferiority and a lack of freedom—in some jurisdictions, black skin created the legal presumption of an enslaved status—whiteness was associated with superiority and freedom.
The historian Edmund Morgan explained what this meant for the development of American attitudes about slavery, freedom, and race—indeed, for American culture overall. Morgan argued that racially based slavery, rather than being a contradiction in a country that prided itself on freedom, made the freedom of white people possible. The system that put black people at the bottom of the social heap tamped down class divisions among whites. Without a large group of people who would always rank below the level of even the poorest, most disaffected white person, white unity could not have persisted. Grappling with the legacy of slavery, therefore, requires grappling with the white supremacy that preceded the founding of the United States and persisted after the end of legalized slavery.
Racially based slavery, rather than being a contradiction in a country that prided itself on freedom, made the freedom of white people possible.
Consider, by contrast, what might have happened had there been Irish chattel slavery in North America. The Irish suffered pervasive discrimination and were subjected to crude and cruel stereotypes about their alleged inferiority, but they were never kept as slaves. Had they been enslaved and then freed, there is every reason to believe that they would have had an easier time assimilating into American culture than have African Americans. Their enslavement would be a major historical fact, but it would likely not have created a legacy so firmly tying the past to the present as did African chattel slavery. Indeed, the descendants of white indentured servants blended into society and today suffer no stigma because of their ancestors’ social condition.
That is because the ability to append enslaved status to a set of generally identifiable physical characteristics—skin color, hair, facial features—made it easy to tell who was eligible for slavery and to maintain a system of social control over the enslaved. It also made it easy to continue organized oppression after the 13th Amendment ended legal slavery in 1865. There was no incentive for whites to change their attitudes about race even when slavery no longer existed. Whiteness still amounted to a value, unmoored from economic or social status. Blackness still had to be devalued to ensure white superiority. This calculus operated in Northern states as well as Southern ones.
The framers of the Confederate States of America understood this well. Race played a specific and pivotal role in their conception of the society they wished to create. If members of the revolutionary generation presented themselves as opponents of a doomed system and, in Jefferson’s case, cast baleful views of race as mere “suspicions,” their Confederate grandchildren voiced their full-throated support for slavery as a perpetual institution, based on their openly expressed belief in black inferiority. The founding documents of the Confederacy, under which the purported citizens of that entity lived, just as Americans live under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, announced that African slavery would form the “cornerstone” of the country they would create after winning the Civil War. In 1861, a few weeks before the war began, Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, put things plainly:
The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast had anticipated this as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. . . . The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. . . . Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.
Despite the clarity of Stephens’ words, millions of Americans today are unaware of—or perhaps unwilling to learn about—the aims of those who rallied to the Confederate cause. That ignorance has led many to fall prey to the romantic notion of “the rebels,” ignoring that these rebels had a cause. Modern Americans may fret about the hypocrisy and weakness of the founding generation, but there was no such hesitancy among the leading Confederates on matters of slavery and race. That they were not successful on the battlefield does not mean that their philosophy should be ignored in favor of abstract notions of “duty,” “honor,” and “nobility”; Americans should not engage in the debate that the former Confederates chose after the war ended and slavery, finally, acquired a bad name.
It has taken until well into the twenty-first century for many Americans to begin to reject the idea of erecting statues of men who fought to construct an explicitly white supremacist society. For too long, the United States has postponed a reckoning with the corrosive ideas about race that have destroyed the lives and wasted the talents of millions of people who could have contributed to their country. To confront the legacy of slavery without openly challenging the racial attitudes that created and shaped the institution is to leave the most important variable out of the equation. And yet discussions of race, particularly of one’s own racial attitudes, are among the hardest conversations Americans are called on to have.
For too long, the United States has postponed a reckoning with corrosive ideas about race.
This issue of the Confederacy’s legacy was made tragically prominent in 2015, when the white supremacist Dylann Roof shot 12 black parishioners in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine of them. History had given the worshipers in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church every reason to be suspicious of the young man who appeared at their doorstep that day, yet they invited him in to their prayer meeting. Although they had, Roof said, been “nice” to him, they had to die because they (as representatives of the black race) were, in his words, raping “our women” and “taking over our country.” Their openness and faith were set against the images, later revealed, of Roof posing with what has come to be known as the Confederate flag and other white supremacist iconography. The core meaning of the Confederacy was made heartbreakingly vivid. From that moment on, inaction on the question of the display of the Confederate flag was, for many, no longer an option. Bree Newsome, the activist who, ten days after the shooting, scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina State House and removed the Confederate flag that flew there, represented the new spirit: displaying symbols of white supremacy in public spaces was no longer tolerable.
And those symbols went far beyond flags. Monuments to people who, in one way or another, promoted the idea of white supremacy are scattered across the country. Statues of Confederate officials and generals dot parks and public buildings. Yet proposals to take them down have drawn sharp opposition. Few who resist the removal of the statues openly praise the aims of the Confederacy, whatever their private thoughts on the matter. Instead, they raise the specter of a slippery slope: today, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee; tomorrow, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Yet dealing with such slopes is part of everyday life. The problem with the Confederacy is not just that its leaders owned slaves. The problem is that they tried to destroy the Union and did so in adherence to an explicit doctrine of slavery and white supremacy. By contrast, the founding generation, for all its faults, left behind them principles and documents that have allowed American society to expand in directions opposite to the values of the South’s slave society and the Confederacy.
It is not surprising that colleges and universities, ideally the site of inquiry and intellectual contest, have grappled most prominently with this new national discussion. Many of the most prestigious American universities have benefited from the institution of slavery or have buildings named after people who promoted white supremacy. Brown, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have, by starting conversations on campus, carrying out programs of historical self-study, and setting up commissions, contributed to greater public understanding of the past and of how the country might move ahead. Their work serves as a template for the ways in which other institutions should engage with these issues in a serious fashion.
For all the criticism that has been leveled at him for the insufficient radicalism of his racial politics, Abraham Lincoln understood that the central question for the United States after the Civil War was whether blacks could be fully incorporated into American society. Attempting to go forward after the carnage, he returned to first principles. In the Gettysburg Address, he used the words of the Declaration of Independence as an argument for the emancipation of blacks and their inclusion in the country’s “new birth of freedom.” What Lincoln meant by this, how far he was prepared to take matters, will remain unknown. What is clear is that Reconstruction, the brief period of hope among four million emancipated African Americans, when black men were given the right to vote, when the freedmen married, sought education, and became elected officials in the South, was seen as a nightmare by many white Southerners. Most of them had not owned slaves. But slavery was only part of the wider picture. They continued to rely on the racial hierarchy that had obtained since the early 1600s, when the first Africans arrived in North America’s British colonies. Rather than bring free blacks into society, with the hope of moving the entire region forward, they chose to move backward, to a situation as close to slavery as legally possible. Northern whites, tired of “the Negro problem,” abandoned Reconstruction and left black people to the mercy of those who had before the war seen them as property and after it as lost possessions.
The historian David Blight has described how the post–Civil War desire for reconciliation between white Northerners and white Southerners left African Americans behind, in ways that continue to shape American society. The South had no monopoly on adherents to the doctrine of white supremacy. Despite all that had happened, the racial hierarchy took precedence over the ambitious plan to bring black Americans into full citizenship expressed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. In a reversal of the maxim that history is written by the victors, the losing side in the Civil War got to tell the story of their slave society in ways favorable to them, through books, movies, and other popular entertainment. American culture accepted the story that apologists for the Confederacy told about Southern whites and Southern blacks.
That did not begin to change until the second half of the twentieth century. It took the development of modern scholarship on slavery and Reconstruction and a civil rights movement composed of blacks, whites, and other groups from across the country to begin moving the needle on the question of white supremacy’s role in American society.
Since then, black Americans have made many social and economic gains, but there is still far to go. De jure segregation is dead, but de facto segregation is firmly in place in much of the country. The United States twice elected a black president and had a black first family, but the next presidential election expressed, in part, a backlash. African Americans are present in all walks of life, up and down the economic scale. But overall, black wealth is a mere fraction of white wealth. Police brutality and racialized law enforcement tactics have shown that the Fourth Amendment does not apply with equal force to black Americans. And the killing of armed black men in open-carry states by police has called into question black rights under the Second Amendment. To understand these problems, look not only to slavery itself but also to its most lasting legacy: the maintenance of white supremacy. Americans must come to grips with both if they are to make their country live up to its founding creed.
Israel wants to exploit the benefits of a potential relationship with Africa. But it does not want Africans to come to Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame met in September 2018 and decided on two practical steps – opening embassies in each other’s countries and starting direct flights between Tel Aviv and Kigali.
This step supports Israel’s ambition to have closer relations with several states in the African continent – most recently Sudan and Chad.
But how friendly is Israel towards Africa and its people?
Israel’s relations with Africa
Israel’s Africa policy is a two-pronged strategy.
Firstly to have allies at the United Nations when it comes to the condemnation of Israel by the General Assembly due to Israel’s human rights abuses and the breaking of international law by occupying Palestinian land and expanding colonial settlements.
Israel was the most condemned country by the UN in 2018. Therefore, it needs ‘allies’ to back its ‘injustice’ and ‘crimes’ against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories in Gaza and the West Bank.
Africa has 54 internationally recognised states – which is a huge landscape from which to find politicians and statesmen who could support Israel’s agenda in the Middle East.
African countries as a majority voted against Israel at the UN.
Take for instance the recent UN resolution against the US move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and officially move its embassy. Togo was the single African country that voted against this resolution.
The African Union (AU) gives the State of Palestine observer status in the AU – and Israel has no official status.
Therefore, Israel’s interest in Africa is broader than the continent being an economic and business opportunity.
Israel’s problem with Africans
Although Israel diplomatically struggles to get observer status at the African Union and to get the support of African nations at the UN, Israel’s outreach to African states is distinctly less friendly when it comes to African migrants and refugees in Israel.
As of the end of 2018, around 40,000 African migrants live in Israel, according to the Israeli Immigration Authority. They make up only 0.5 percent of Israel’s total population and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regard most of the African migrants as legitimate asylum seekers and refugees.
However, Israel follows a policy towards African refugees which is unwelcoming and even threatening. Netanyahu has called African migrants “infiltrators”, who have “either the choice to leave the country and take their money or to spend the rest of their life in an Israeli prison”.
Migrants recognised as victims of human trafficking have to give 20 percent of their salaries and their employers another 16 percent to a state fund. The amount is then paid back after the migrants leave the country – a strategy seen by experts as encouraging migrants to leave and “take their money” – as Netanyahu stated.
Interestingly, a similar policy is adopted towards local African Jews who aim to settle in Israel. Despite the fact that Israel opened its borders to thousands of Jews around the world in its early years, including African Jews, it seems that Jews from Africa are not needed anymore.
In the 1950s the objective was to change the demographics of the region in favour of Jews by encouraging Jewish immigrants from all over to world to outnumber Palestinians in what is today Israel and the remaining occupied areas of Palestine.
Now, there is talk about the ‘African menace’ – a term used by Israeli politicians of varying parties when it comes to Africans, regardless of whether they are Jewish or not.
Netanyahu’s words at the Africa-Israel summit in Liberia revealed the wide discrepancy of feeling when it comes to Africa. He told the summit: “I am deeply honoured to be here today and I am grateful for your hospitality.” However, he has also called Africans in Israel “a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the country”.
China is moving away from its traditional approach of easy loans to African nations.
Not long ago, Chinese engineers were putting the finishing touches to two expensive rail projects in east Africa, one linking Djibouti on the Red Sea to landlocked Ethiopia, the other running from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi.
But less than 18 months after both lines were inaugurated with grandiose talk of Chinese-led east African integration, doubts are emerging about their economic viability. The $4.5 billion Djibouti-Addis Ababa line, the first fully electrified cross-border railway in Africa, has run into financial and operational difficulties, while the $3.2 billion Kenya route is losing money and has been plagued by scandal.
Pushback over the viability of these and other projects is driving a change in Beijing’s approach to investment in Africa. After nearly 20 years of pouring money into infrastructure projects across the continent, China’s president, Xi Jinping, said in September that “vanity projects” must be shunned in favor of more carefully conceived initiatives that address proven economic bottlenecks. The following month The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, warned that Beijing should “pay more attention to how projects connect with the development and basic interests of relevant countries.”
WE KNEW FROM THE VERY BEGINNING THAT [THE MOMBASA-NAIROBI LINE] WAS A LEMON OF A PROJECT. JOHN GITHONGO, ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGNER
Railways in east Africa have a long history of problems. The original Mombasa-Nairobi line, built by the British in the late 19th century, was so costly in both money and lives that it became known as the “Lunatic Express.”
Beijing’s reputation is not all that is at stake: Chinese sponsors are losing money. Wang Wen, chief economist at Sinosure, says the Chinese state-owned insurer had been forced to write off $1 billion in losses on the Djibouti-Addis Ababa link. Due diligence on the 718-kilometer railway had been “downright inadequate,” Wang adds.
Wang’s comments come after Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, in September negotiated easier terms with China on $4 billion of railway loans, extending the repayment period from 10 to 30 years. The move followed a foreign exchange crisis that hit Ethiopia’s ability to maintain the railroad and repay its debts to Chinese state creditors, analysts say.
Meanwhile, criticism of the Mombasa-Nairobi line, Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project since it gained independence in 1963, has increased. Three Chinese nationals working for the China Road and Bridge Corp. were last month charged in Kenya with attempting to bribe local officials investigating an alleged ticketing scam that was said to be depriving the railway of $10,000 a day in revenue. The rail line had failed to achieve its goal of cutting congestion on the parallel highway by shifting freight from trucks to trains, says John Githongo, a Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner. The highway is as busy as ever, he adds. Bechtel, a U.S. construction company, even plans to build a $3 billion road along the same route, he says.
“We knew from the very beginning that this was a lemon of a project, and it is simply becoming more and more apparent every day,” Githongo says.
Beijing in September signaled its concern about the economic case for the line, turning down a request to fund an extension toward the Ugandan border until a full feasibility study had been conducted.
China has for years prioritized infrastructure in Africa, building roads, bridges, airports and power stations, from Ghana to Mozambique, for governments keen to emulate the formula that helped kick-start its own rapid development from the 1980s. While the West has long stressed governance and institution-building as engines of development, Beijing has advocated big projects with the potential to link markets, raise productivity and spur industrialization.
However, as in China itself, some have turned out to be white elephants, while others have failed to generate enough return to service the original loans used to fund them.
The Djibouti-Addis line, for example, has been crippled by electricity shortages and lower than expected use. “While its passenger capacity has been growing, on the freight side the uptake of the railway by industrial manufacturers and exporters has been very lackluster,” says Yunnan Chen, a researcher at the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
The railway’s prospects have dimmed further with the signing of a peace deal in July between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which gives Ethiopia access to the Eritrean ports of Assab and Massawa. When the line was originally conceived, it was intended to connect Ethiopia with the port of Djibouti, at that time its sole access to the sea.
Hallelujah Lulie, a regional analyst based in Addis Ababa, concedes that the line is not “fully operational” and that there are “definitely some reservations.” But, he says, in spite of teething problems, the railway — which links Ethiopia’s industrial free trade zones and large-scale farming projects to export markets — made long-term economic sense. “It’s going to be a vital lifeline for the economy,” he adds. “It has issues, but I don’t think there are strong reservations about the project itself.”
China is not the first “big imperium” having difficulty trying to build a railway in Kenya, says Githongo. “But the difficulty is not so much for the Chinese. It is for the poor Kenyans who will have to pay the money back.”
On Monday, November 26, 2018, InSight, a spacecraft belonging to America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) landed the on Mars. According to the New York Times, the spacecraft is expected to study the Mars’ underworld, listening for marsquakes and seeking clues about the dusty world’s formation. While this may ordinarily be an American conquest or achievement, Ghanaians have every right to join in the jubilation. Dr Trebi-Ollenu, the Ghanaian scientist who built InSight, NASA’s latest spacecraft to land on Mars (Photo source: scoopnest.com) Source: UGC READ ALSO: Adom FM presenter Kofi Adomah Nwanwani resigns This is because at the heart of the historic landing on Mars on Monday is the remarkable work of Ghanaian engineer Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu who is the team lead for InSight at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Trebi-Ollennu builds robotic components for planetary exploration, a dream that began as a young child in Ghana. He is in charge of the InSight mission’s robotic arm and hand. Born in Ghana, Dr Trebi-Ollennu has been working at NASA since 1999 and has risen to become the Chief Engineer of Robotics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. READ ALSO: Wild photo of Joselyn Dumas kissing Lil Win drops and fans are excited After completing his secondary education, he moved to the United Kingdom where he had his Bachelors in Engineering (B.Eng.) in Avionics at Queen Mary College, University of London in 1991. He then had his Ph.D. in Control Systems Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Royal Military College Science located at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom in 1996. Apart from his work at NASA, Dr Trebi-Ollennu is also the founder of the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation that won the prestigious Google RISE Award 2013. READ ALSO: First wife storms husband’s secret wedding; pours palm oil on 2nd wife’s gown (Videos) The academy is dedicated to motivating and inspiring young Ghanaians interest and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through hands-on robotics workshops and competitions. Trebi-Ollennu’s granduncle was the barrister and judge, Nii Amaa Ollennu (1906 – 1986), elected the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana during the Second Republic as well as serving as the Chairman of the Presidential Commission and acting President of Ghana from 7 August 1970 to 31 August 1970.
By Jericho [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Non-profit organisation RemitFund has launched an investment fund for African diaspora-led impact businesses.
RemitFund aims to leverage remittances flows for greater social impact on the continent, by enabling Africans in the diaspora to donate a percentage of their remittances to an investment fund.
The African Diaspora Investment Fund (ADIF) will provide investment for African and African diaspora-led businesses that work for the continent’s advancement in SDG-aligned sectors such as agribusiness and clean energy.
“Remittances in the traditional sense are a form of diaspora-driven development and provide a huge safety net for many families,” said RemitFund’s founder and executive director Grace Camara.
“However, without the prospect of sustainable and growing economies, remittances in their current form will not provide sufficient investment to curb the “brain drain” of skilled Africans who struggle to find employment and so look for opportunities abroad. If we do not start creating employment opportunities for Africa’s youth, dysfunctional migration will reach unprecedented levels. We must act now.”
By Sylvie Bello, founder of the Cameroon American Council
On October 30, 2018, in Bamenda which is in the Northwest region of Cameroon, a fellow American and missionary, Charles Wesco of Indiana, was killed. It is believed that Wesco, who was traveling with his wife, Stephanie, in a car being driven by another missionary to the town of Bamnui from the Bamenda suburb of Bambili, where the family has been living. Charles Wesco was in the front seat, and two shots hit the windshield and struck him in the head. No one else was hurt.
It is believed that the incident occurred in the crossfire of Cameroon’s ongoing civil and electoral/voter recount war and unrest.
The following day, Senator Bob Menedez (D-NJ) released a statement, ““I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of an American missionary who sacrificed his life working to improve the lives of the people of Cameroon. As we wait for the details surrounding his death, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends during these difficult moments.”
While we also extend condolences to the Wesco family, we wonder how a man who was in Cameroon for only two weeks as a missionary can be realistically viewed as “working to improve the lives of the people of Cameroon.”
The Cameroon American Council has requested an emergency meeting with Senator Menendez to discuss the full impact of his recent statement along with other issues.
We pointed to the strong ties between Cameroon and New Jersey, including the decades-old sister city relationship between the City Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, and the City of Newark, the largest city in New Jersey.
The significant Cameroonian population in New Jersey is a key aspect of the diaspora of U.S.-based Cameroonians, including those who are recent immigrants to New Jersey as well as many African Americans, like New Jersey’s junior Senator and former Newark Mayor, Cory Booker, who have traced their ancestral heritage and DNA to Cameroon.
Senator Menendez’s statement, in our opinion, was hyperbole, weak, incomplete and borderline racist. We indicated such in our email exchanges to the Senator and shared our views on social media.
The Senator’s office agreed to a November 1st meeting in his Washington, DC office. Their only requirement was that we provide the names of all those who will attend the meeting. We complied and provided the names of those in our party.
At the meeting, we were reprimanded for essentially calling out Senator Menendez on his inaction and lack of response regarding the crisis in Cameroon after many months of soliciting his assistance in resolving the conflict. However, when an American was allegedly targeted and shot by the Cameroon government, Menendez immediately a statement which essentially called the American missionary a ‘White savior’.
The Menendez team abruptly ended the meeting and asked for our phones. We asked them why they needed our phones. We were told that the Senate building is ‘phone-free’ and they proceeded to confiscate our phones and to call the police on us. This was at the end of a meeting when any policy regarding the presence of phones could have been explained at the start of the discussion.
Our team included Blacks, Africans, immigrants and young people. This is the very demographic that Democrats like Menendez claim to court. Yet, the Menendez team has never returned our phones nor explained why they called the police on Black immigrants performing their civic duty.
More than 30 days later, we have still heard nothing from them about the return of our property. We’ve also reached out to Senator Booker for assistance and received no response.
Since the onset of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis, the Cameroon American Council has asked Senator Menendez to make a series of public/visible actions on Cameroon, and he has consistently refused or failed to respond. He has literally pushed us into the arms of the Republicans.
Below are the 5 requests we made to Senator Menendez, which he refused to do, instead his staff called the police and confiscated (and failed to return) our property:
Develop a culturally appropriate U.S. Congressional statement on Cameroon’s civil unrest and references to diaspora. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do this, yet Republican Congresswoman Walorski of Indiana did.
Coordinate a delegation of Congress members (not merely staff) to travel to Cameroon to observe first-hand how our diaspora’s tax dollars are being used to support the Dictatorship of President Paul Biya. Menendez and Senate Democrats failed to do, yet Republican Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma did. (Rep Russell is founding co- chair of the Congressional Cameroon Caucus).
We are a group of U.S. Citizens, permanent residents and immigrants living legally within the U.S. In addition to asking for the return our confiscated phones, we still seek bi-partisan support and ask Senate Democrats to address our 5 requests listed above.
On December 20, 2018, we have a Senate briefing on Cameroon, hosted by, you guessed it, a Republican, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
We are desperate to find resolution, as troops led by Cameroon’s Dictator Paul Biya’s government, continue to burn hundreds of villages, rape, detain and kills thousands of people and suppress the freedom of the press and protesters. The Cameroon American Council has resorted to traveling across the USA to mobilize our community and allies to engage Republicans on Cameroon.
So, why is an organization, led by a Black, African, immigrant, young woman, relying on mainly Republicans to push our advocacy agenda on Cameroon? Well, surprisingly, the Republicans have been more accommodating to working together to establish Cameroon crisis advocacy tools.
Senate Briefing on Cameroon: Crises, Coalition, Congressional Actions.
December 2018 makes two years since the Mancho Coffin revolution which led to the worsening of the Anglophone Crisis. Today, hundreds of thousands of Cameroonians are dead, seeking refuge in Nigeria, and internally displaced.
December 2018 makes two months since the Presidential elections, which African Union, U.S. Department of State and other reputable sources, have requested polling site by poll site election results for transparency and to prevent further uprising.
December 2018, makes two months since a fellow American, Charles Wesco was brutally executed in Cameroon. Also, several missionaries and faith leaders such as Kenyan Priest Cosma were killed in mid-November 2018 by Cameroonian military.
Sylvie Bello is the passionate founder of the Cameroon American Council, the leading African Immigrant advocacy organization. Based in Washington, DC, with affiliates in 30 states; the Washington Post describes the Cameroon American Council as ‘The First Program of its Kind’.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
Without question Africa is a continent that is very much on the move towards democratic governance.
Africa has made incredible progress in the past two decades with many of Africa’s 54 countries now able to be called democratic, holding peaceful and credible elections, enjoying a free press, and governments that are generally accountable to their people. A driving force behind the democratic reform on the continent is Africa’s youthful population that is now coming of age. More than 50% of the population of Africa is under 30 years of age and increasingly educated and connected to the internet, and thus knowledgeable about what is going on elsewhere in Africa and elsewhere around the world. Things have changed dramatically over the past two decades! Sure many daunting problem countries remain, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Togo, Somalia and Sudan, but the tide has turned and without a doubt Africa is moving forward.
We have already seen the faulty election that took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and are anxiously awaiting the surely problematic results. Next month, two more important presidential elections are scheduled to take place that will also be closely watched in Africa and internationally — Nigeria and in Senegal.
In Nigeria, after a very lack-luster first term, President Muhammadu Buhari (76 years old), is running for a second term as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), against politician and business tycoon Atiku Abubakar (72 years) under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who served as the Vice-President of Nigeria under Olusegun Obasanjo. Largely because of his absence from the country on medical leave, very little was accomplished in President Buhari’s first term on the primary issues, which he ran on, anti-corruption and economic development and prosperity. Nigeria, despite it’s great oil wealth, is now on track to becoming one of the poorest countries in the world in the next 25 years if some drastic measures are not taken right away to stem corruption and to establish good governance in the country.
Senegal’s election, also taking place in February, has president Macky Sall (57 years old) seeking to extend his presidency for a second term. Senegal made history recently with the opening of the “awe-inspiring” Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, positioning the country as one the intellectual and cultural capital of the black world.
With a population of 15 million people, in recent years Senegal has had a 6% annual economic growth in 2015, 6.2% in 2016 and a continued growth up to 7.2% in 2017. The 2021 anticipated oil and gas extraction is very likely to give the economy an additional upward boost.
Senegal is widely seen as a beacon of stability and democracy in the West Africa region, never experienced any coup d’état, an image reinforced by a peaceful and well organized 2012 presidential poll when the country faced its first test as previous president, Abdoulaye Wade, ran for a third term and was defeated by Macky Sall.
As a strong United State’s partner, last month Michael R. Pompeo the Secretary of State, reiterated the United States’ commitment to Senegal with the signing of Senegal’s second $600 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact and to maintaining Senegal’s democratic traditions in the upcoming February 2019 election.
With a presidential election in less than two months, concerns are growing that democracy in Senegal, long an example for West Africa, is being subverted. Two important situations are creating political tensions.
First, a new election law approved by the Senegal Parliament in April, requiring 53,000 signatures to qualify to run for presidency caused protests with critics accusing the Macky Sall’s government of a plot to block minor candidates for contesting.
Second, leaders from the two historical political parties, Karim Wade (50 years old), the son of the former President Abdoulaye Wade (Senegalese Democratic Party) and popular former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall of Socialist Party( 63 years old) met that requirements but see their candidacies at stake because of criminal charges against them. Some political players in Senegal believe those trials are politically motivated.
Despite his condemnation, the fiercest opponent, Khalifa Sall, is still contesting while going through the appeals process. He is actually running his campaign from his jail cell! The Senegal Supreme Court dismissed his appeal on Thursday, January 3. Khalifa Sall’s supporters believe that the Macky Sall’s government is targeting him because of his potential strong candidacy!
In a report last year, Amnesty International criticized the Senegalese government for cracking down on peaceful demonstrations and said the judiciary handling Khalifa’s case “showed a lack of independence”.
Senegalese inside the country and in the Diaspora are mobilized to bring the international community’s attention to the situation they characterize as “democracy in danger” and are calling all stakeholders to help sustain Senegal’s democracy by ensuring the independence of the justice system, allowing all political candidates to contest and by conducting a transparent, free and fair elections.
Even though Senegal has made significant economic and political progress, President Macky Sall’s eventual victory could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many citizens, should the other two main historical political parties not be allowed to contest freely. All Senegalese-followers will be focused on January 21, the date the Constitutional Council will release the final list of approved presidential candidates.
Both elections in Nigeria and Senegal promise to be noisy and hotly contested in many ways! That’s why West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS has also recently urged Nigeria and Senegal to ensure peaceful, free and transparent elections. It is our hope that personal ambitions will not supersede the will of the people, and may democracy win!
A team of leading African scientists organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) recently visited Israel to explore the possibility of establishing an Israel-Africa Agriculture Innovation Center. The African scientists were from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia. The African delegation was hosted by the Volcani Institute in Israel. The purpose of the proposed center would be to develop, together with African partners, new solutions designed for Africa’s smallholder farmers and determine which Israeli technologies would be the most appropriate to Africa’s diverse and unique agro-ecological conditions. Then the big challenge will be to determine how best to transfer these technologies.
Africa’s increased production, adoption, and continent-wide distribution of agricultural technologies, including improved and high yielding seed varieties, irrigation and appropriate fertilizer application, has created progress in the lives of millions of people but the potential is still huge. The momentum thus far is leading to even greater aspirations for the years ahead with many African nations pushing to achieve middle income status in the next 30 years, with others gunning for high income status. To meet this demand, organizations like AGRA and its partners continue to build partnerships with other regions to identify relevant technologies and best practices that can be applied by African farmers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.
Israel, widely acknowledged as a world leader in agricultural development, especially in arid areas, is coming forward to develop, adapt and transfer appropriate technologies and practices to partners across Africa.
“It’s a win-win for both Israel and Africa,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s President and the former Agriculture Commissioner from Rwanda, adding that “Africa could benefit from Israel’s technical expertise in agriculture and at the same time the Innovation Center could create an opportunity for trade and mutual market opportunities between Africa and Israel.” Of interest to the African scientists were the Israeli’s expertise growing vegetables, wheat and cassavas among other crops as well as their expertise with irrigation and reducing post-harvest loss.
African delegation tours Israel
The Volcani Agricultural Institute, Israel’s premier agricultural research and development institute together with Volcani’s non-profit partner, Volcani International Partnerships, is dedicated to supporting Volcani and maximizing their impact abroad. Volcani is primarily responsible for Israel being able to feed itself out of a desert and in addition export $2.5 billion in agriculture products.
Start-Up Nation Central, an Israeli tech NGO that connects companies, countries and organizations with relevant Israeli innovations as well as the Tony Blair Institute, the Syngenta Foundation, and the Israeli Government are also deeply engaged in exploring the possibility of an Israel-Africa Agriculture Innovation Center.
On July 23, 2018 Israel passed a Resolution Israel Resolution No 4021.pdf to strengthen Israel’s “activity in the field of international development.” Israel will focus on areas where they have a “comparative advantage.” Professor Eli Feinerman, Head of the Volcani Center, noted “Israel’s expertise in agriculture innovations can be of great assistance to Africa.”
Israel now ranks within the top 20 nations in the world on the latest report of the UN’s Human Development Index, which places it in the category of “Very Highly Developed”. According to their newly passed Resolution they will “focus on Israel’s potential contribution to reaching the sustainable development goals as defined by the United Nations.” This resolution has the potential to greatly impact Africa.
AGRA, founded in 2006 by the late UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, advances food security and inclusive rural development in Africa putting smallholder farmers at the center of Africa ́s growing economy. It is a farmer-centered, African-led, partnerships-driven institution that is transforming smallholder farming. Through their work, over 15 million farm families now have access to inputs, training, financing, and markets. AGRA has also helped to establish thousands of local African agriculture businesses, including 112 African seed companies. AGRA-funded work with regional and national plant scientists has generated over 650 new crop varieties.
In its current strategy for 2017-2021, AGRA is focused on catalyzing and sustaining an inclusive agricultural transformation in 11 African priority countries to improve the food security and incomes of 30 million farm families. The future of Africa’s economy depends on improving agriculture production. That is the key. The African Development Bank is focusing more on agriculture for that reason. An increase in Israeli-African agriculture cooperation could greatly assist African smallholder farmers, particularly in arid climates.
Dr. Kalibata concluded “We are delighted to participate in the effort to establish an Israel-Africa Agriculture Innovation Center. Global partnerships like the proposed Innovation Center will help supercharge the continent’s growth trajectory through a technology-backed agricultural sector.”
About the author: Marshall Matz is an attorney at OFW Law in Washington, D.C. He has long specialized in agriculture and specifically global food security. After serving as Counsel to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and crafting nutrition legislation for Senators George McGovern (D-SD) and Bob Dole (R-KS) he was the Founding Chairman of the Board of the World Food Program—USA. email@example.com
1. LIE: Through its regional chairperson, Abraham Mashinini, SANCO (South African National Civic Organisation) says that Pastor Bushiri, from Nigeria, is a magician and runs a bogus church in Pretoria. Because of this he must leave South Africa and go back to his home in Nigeria.
FACT: There is no Pastor Bushiri but Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major 1). He is from Malawi not Nigeria. Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church is not a bogus church. It is registered and operates legally. ECG Church is the world’s #1 fastest growing church and its founder, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, is not a magician but a powerful man of God respected by countless throughout the world.
2. LIE: Mashinini says that there are four people, instead of three, that lost their lives during the Friday December 28, 2018 incident at church. The goal is to project ECG as a lying church.
FACT: Three people, something confirmed by the police, lost their lives during the incident. Police has even said in public that it doesn’t know anything about the fourth body.
3. LIE: Mashinini says Prophet Bushiri said South Africans, unlike other countries, flock to ECG because they believe in magic and miracles.
FACT: Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has never said something to that effect. In fact, he challenges anybody who has a recording to that effect to bring it forward for evidence and challenge.
4. LIE: Mashinini says Prophet Bushiri killed people at his church and also hid them from police.
FACT: The three members of the ECG died following a stampede that happened at Church that resulted after hundreds of members run for shelter amidst an unexpected thunderstorm. Prophet Shepherd Bushiri came to church 7 hours after the incident and he only got a confirmation of the deaths a day later from the police’s report. Everything about the processes on how the incident was managed was done by the paramedics which the church outsourced. Further, to establish the truth, Prophet Bushiri instructed the church to do an internal investigation. He even agreed with the church’s decision to suspend the resident pastor pending investigations.
5. LIE: Mashinini says some South Africans have lost from 10 to 13 million at ECG church and some have even given all their pensions to help grow the church.
FACT: ECG is a church, not a business. No money is made or lost at church. Further, just like in any church, people willingly give offerings and tithe to help meet church’s expenses. In fact, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri mostly uses money from his business to cover incurred deficits of church’s expenses.
6. LIE: Mashinini says ECG must leave [Pretoria] Showground because it doesn’t have capacity to provide safety for its people.
FACT: The Friday 28th incident was an unfortunate incident that none planned—it was an accident. However, since it came to the Pretoria Showgrounds in 2015, ECG manages crowds of more than 70,000 people every week and no death-related incident has even been recorded. ECG is a compliant church and everyday, it meets and reports to JOC officials and the City of Tshwane on every safety development.
7. LIE: Mashinini says Prophet Bushiri takes money from the poor and enriches himself.
FACT: Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is a successful business. He does not live on proceeds of tithe and offerings. In fact, as said earlier, he is always the key financier of the ministry.
8. LIE: Mashinini says Prophet Bushiri must leave Pretoria Showgrounds because he has monopolized it and communities are failing to use it for other recreational facilities.
FACT: ECG has a lease contract with the City of Tshwane to use part, not all, of the Showgrounds for prayers. That is why the public still uses other part of the showgrounds for, instance, writing examinations. In fact, if the landlord, City Tshwane, wants the place for other activities, it always communicates with ECG about it. For instance, in 2016, the City of Tshwane asked ECG to go on a recess for two weeks so that the place is used by sporting activities——something the church obliged.
9. LIE: Mashinini says the Pretoria Showgrounds is not being used for intended purposes.
FACT: The Showgrounds was put in place to serve the community. To mean, its legal use for prayers means communities are being served. For instance, 90 percent of people that pray at ECG comes from around Showgrounds. That entails that the place is being used for, of course, one of its many intended purposes.
10. LIE: Mashinini says they need to close ECG, send Prophet Bushiri home, so that they should protect the interest of South Africans.
FACT: ECG is a legally registered church in South Africa and 95 percent of its membership come from South African people. It’s mostly South Africans who are members and followers of ECG. To mean, when you close ECG, you are not punishing Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, you are only punishing fellow South Africans by denying them their freedom of religion.
You can see for yourself that ECG has done everything expected to make things after the incident. However, instead of constructive engagements with ECG, Mr Mashinini is trying so hard to bring Prophet Shepherd Bushiri into the entire incident. Because he knows it’s entirely difficult to bring Prophet Shepherd Bushiri into this, he has resorted to use outright lies and incredible falsities. It won’t work.
Under the Leadership of Pastor Brian Ngambi (National Pastor and Coordinator of ECG America) and Pastor Jerry Bonney (Assistant National Pastor of ECG America), the Sons and Daughters of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major 1) in America will not be silent – Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Forward ever
What Prophet Friday Musonda Thinks about Prophet Shepherd Bushiri
“My name is Friday Musonda, a Prophet by calling and I’m running my church, Euaggelion Christian Center here in Chingola Zambia.
I’m not here to argue or agree with anyone, I will speak from my spirit. It’s well known as it is the talk of the universe that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is going through thick and thin. I want everyone to know that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is not my family member, he’s not my spiritual father and I’m not his church member but I’ve been following him and his ministry from the time he was in Malawi and I’m openly saying I have been spiritually mentored by his ministration and his life in so many ways, I must submit that some of the things I do I have learnt from him.
I may not know what he has done, wrong or right but this is what I have to say;
Christianity is a family and we love and support one another in everything, that is; when one man is fought we are all fought, only fake Christians can deny this fact.
South Africa is blessed but South African pastors Who are after the man of God are totally wrong, ignorant and dull, I must say they are spiritually and academically blind, look at this;
How many people are doing business outside the church when the service is going on who are South Africans and probably not his church members? How many families are being saved by those businesses? Some parents are there doing business outside the church, through that they are managing their children’s schools and taking care of their homes.
How many tourists have been coming into the nation leaving their money to support the economy of the nation as they come to his church?
Many parents are happy because through his prayers and ministration their children are free from addictions, fighting and are delivered from many challenges.
How many people have come to know how to pray and worship, leaving their prostitution and witchcraft because of the anointing upon him?
How many people especially young men have learnt to Work hard because of him?
He has been running businesses and his companies there that have employed so many people which I believe most of them are south Africans.
I have seen him helping schools, feeding the needy and inspiring the youths to live a better life, and not only that but also has been standing in the gap praying for the peace of South Africa.
My point is, it’s not really Prophet Shepherd Bushiri being fought, it’s the people he’s helping that are troubled, their faith is at risk and truly fought because some will backslide, lose jobs and go back to their old dirty lives if he had to leave the country now.
People should know these things and especially my fellow ministers of the gospel, everyone who has been called by God knows that after Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has been fought they are next to be fought, so there is no sensible man or woman of God who can celebrate when another man in the same Kingdom is attacked because the body of Christ is being persecuted.
I therefore call upon every true believer to do a fasting, praying for the body of Christ and including the very Prophet in our fasting that the God who has fought his battles all this time will grant him victory even now.
I and my church are praying for him and even entering the fasting, we are praying and fasting for him, his family and church on Wednesday after tomorrow, I invite everyone to join us.
If you know what I’m talking about please do this to shame the enemy”.
Type “I’M PRAYING FOR THE PROPHET.” And share this post as many times as possible.”
The President of Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, on his adoration for Africa as a continent filled with unlimited potential and talent.
The tall man in sport, Masai Ujiri, is a name in professional basketball far beyond the borders of Africa and his native Nigeria.
Born in England but having grown up in Zaria in Africa’s most populous country, Ujiri’s adoration for Africa sees him on the continent often, inspiring the youth.
“Africa is no more afraid. We are not afraid of anybody anymore. The continent is bold. The people are bold,” says Ujiri, when FORBES AFRICA meets him in Johannesburg in November at the Africa Investment Forum in which he participated.
The continent has a special place in his heart.
The President of the Toronto Raptors in the National Basketball Association (NBA), also founded Giants of Africa (GOA) in 2003, as a way of harnessing budding, untapped talent.
“As long as I am in a position where I am able to, we have to give the youth a chance. We have to pave a path for them and there is nothing I can’t do. I have to do everything, it is an obligation, I have to be an example for them by creating that pathway,” he says.
Ujiri, who started playing basketball at the age of 13, travels to Africa every August to visit the GOA camps across seven countries on the continent, training young boys and girls to be leaders in both sport and everyday life.
He says he draws inspiration from each and every country in Africa, and the feeling is inexplicable.
The history and culture are a constant reminder of his years growing up in Africa.
Whether it is in Kenya, where his mother was born, or the lasting friendships in Rwanda, Senegal or Nigeria, each country holds special memories.
Apart from the numerous trips in and out of the continent, 2018 granted Ujiri a rare once-in-a-lifetime moment.
This was in July when Barack Obama, the former president of the United States, visited Kenya, and with him, Ujiri opened a basketball court in the country.
Ujiri’s outreach program GOA launched it at the Sauti Kuu Foundation Sports, Resources and Vocational Centre in Alego; familiar ground for both leaders.
Managed by Auma Obama, Sauti Kuu, much like GOA, is focused on youth development.
“To spend that time with somebody that Africa means so much to, meant so much to me and so much to Auma. We are trying to inspire youth, we built a court that is going to impact the youth and that was special,” says Ujiri.
Being able to scout African talent is what is imperative for Ujiri, and it all comes down to building facilities to help the youth play basketball.
Ultimately, his dream for Africa is not only to see material wealth but for talent to go beyond what he has achieved.
“My dream is to have one of the youth become bigger than me, and bigger than everybody. People think I always dream of building this and doing that but I want one of these kids to take everything that they learn and do better in each and everything.
“I love the continent; I love the culture of different places. I am almost like Anthony Bourdain [the late American celebrity chef], that is how it really is with basketball, with the culture, the people and the food,” says Ujiri.
Staying true to his African roots, when we meet him, Ujiri speaks about his favorite yam and stew dish that he says reminds him of his childhood.
It’s such memories that see him taking the long-haul flight out of Toronto to Africa each year.
ENLIGHTENED CHRISTIAN GATHERING (ECG) CHURCH
For immediate release
Pretoria, South Africa
The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church has noted, accepted and welcomes statements attributed to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on issues surrounding the unfortunate loss of lives and injuries suffered by beloved members of our family on the 28th of December 2018 in Pretoria.
Since 2015, we have been hosting between 60,000 to 70,000 people three times a week at the Showgrounds. We have done so without encountering failures in crowd control.
Members of our family, and even visitors have enjoyed frequenting our church to worship, fellowship and accept the gospel of good news in an environment that is safe, calming and clean.
Two days after the tragic loss of lives, with heavy hearts, and a thick cloud of grief hovering above us, we held a very successful crossover service at the very same Showgrounds with no recorded incidents of crowd control failure, violence, theft or crime.
We agree with the ANC that safety ought to be a primary consideration at our church. We also accept their stance that we must take full responsibility for the tragedy and render assistance to all victims within our family.
We agree with them unequivocally and with no reservation. We accept their advice and are working flat out as a ministry to ensure that we implement their recommendations.
We have stated before that this is something we do not want to ever happen again, and we are working with officials to ensure that any compliance and public safety loopholes are closed.
ECG Pretoria Branch has over 1000 trained professionals working at every service in the area of health, safety, security and operations. While there have been no incidents for 99.99% and over a period of over 4 years, the church takes this incident seriously and is doing everything to improve systems.
We have utmost confidence that our systems are safe, but are taking measures nonetheless to improve them. We believe we cannot stop getting better.
It is with this understanding that have undertaken and engaged local external experts and analysts and consultants to asses our crowd control measures and make recommendations.
We would also like to reiterate that we remain a family in mourning, and are overwhelmed by a sense of deep grief.
However we are committed to honouring the memory of our departed family members whom we truly loved, uncovering the exact nature of what transpired on the fateful day, as well as improving our systems.
Joint statement issued by Maynard Manyowa, External Media Relations Manager for ECG Church and Terrance Baloyi, Spokesperson for Enlightened Christian Gathering Church
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir addresses supporters during a visit to the Darfur region. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to many of the world’s longest-ruling heads of state. Some leaders in the 1960s and 1970s sought to become “president for life,” with several postcolonial leaders managing to remain in power for three or more terms. By the turn of the twenty-first century, the trend of entrenched leadership had spread across the region, spurring corruption, instability, societal fractures, and economic stagnation. But the trend may be reversing, in part due to sustained pressure by civil society groups and regional blocs.
How prevalent is this trend?
Many African countries struggled with transfers of power in their first half century after independence. Leaders who gained recognition during national movements for independence consolidated power and bound their own positions in office with their countries’ national identities. By late 2017, three African heads of state had been in power for more than three decades: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea, Paul Biya in Cameroon, and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. More than a dozen other heads of state had been in power for at least ten years. In August of that year, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down after thirty-eight years in office, and in November, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe resigned after thirty-seven years amid a military-led coup.
Military coups were once common [PDF] as a means to seize power, with both Mbasogo and Museveni entering their presidencies this way. These have declined during the last two decades; there were seventy-two from 1970 to 1982, but only thirty-three from 2000 to 2012.
What has been its impact on growth and stability?
Strong correlations exist between sub-Saharan Africa’s entrenched leadership and developmental and security challenges, including conflict or instability, stagnant or declining economies, and democratic backsliding.
Zimbabwe. Once one of the continent’s richest nations, Zimbabwe tumbled under Mugabe to a place of chronic underdevelopment with a long-struggling economy. Mugabe’s alleged misuse of federal funds was linked to underfunded or dysfunctional government departments and programs. In the wake of a slew of constitutional amendments granting Mugabe broad power, the country experienced drops in life expectancy and per capita income between 1990 and 2005, as well as a notable decline in its ranking [PDF] on the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index (HDI).
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Under the three-decade-long dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, the DRC suffered from gross corruption, embezzlement, and neglect of public infrastructure. An economy based almost exclusively on extraction of the nation’s mineral wealth deteriorated as Mobutu forced out foreign-owned companies and embezzled government funds. Laurent Kabila overthrew Mobutu in 1997, but was assassinated in 2001; his son, Joseph, succeeded him, amassing a fortune by stealing state funds and effectively disregarding the provision of services to Congolese citizens. A war in the country’s east, considered the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, has continued under his presidency. Reports of security forces killing some 180 civilians in late 2016 followed mass protests against Kabila remaining in office.
Sudan. Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989 after a military coup ousted the democratically elected prime minister. He has remained in office ever since despite allegations by international and domestic observers of widespread electoral irregularities and fraud. He presided over a decades-long civil war that ended with the south seceding to become the new state of South Sudan. Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for involvement in attacks on civilian groups in Darfur.
Extended terms in office have also contributed to the slowing down of democratization that the continent saw in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Economist’s 2016 Democracy Index categorizes more than twenty countries in sub-Saharan Africaas having authoritarian governments.
Rights abuses in the countries with the longest-serving leaders have included secret or arbitrary arrests and detentions, tight restrictions on freedom of expression, and policy brutality, according to monitoring groups. Human Rights Watch reported that the situation in Burundi has “deteriorated significantly since 2015,” when demonstrations broke out in protest of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term and the government’s crackdown on dissent deepened.
Why has the problem persisted?
Leaders are increasingly securing longer terms through “constitutional coups,” proposing amendments for approval by the legislature or judiciary, or in national referenda, that allow for additional terms in office. This practice gained intensity after 2000, when many postcolonial leaders were nearing the ends of their constitutional term limits.
Since then, at least seventeen heads of state have tried to remain in power by tweaking their countries’ constitutions. Namibian President Sam Nujoma did so in 1998, followed by Eyadema Gnassingbe, the president of Togo, in 2002. One year later, the Gabonese parliament voted to remove term limits from its constitution, allowing President Omar Bongo to run for a sixth term. Following these initial instances, attempts to extend terms became fairly regular occurrences, popping up every one to two years on the continent in countries including Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda.
Angola’s dos Santos and former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, among others, claimed they were eligible to run for additional terms because the constitutions containing term limits were passed during their mandates; thus, they argued, the limits would only apply to future presidential terms. Burundi’s Nkurunziza made a similar claim in 2015, saying that his first term, which he won by a parliamentary vote rather than a national one, did not count toward the limit. Uganda’s Museveni paired the elimination of term limits with the introduction of multiparty politics to pass a constitutional amendment in 2005, and his party eliminated the presidential age limit in a 2017 amendment.
Many experts say that countries lacking effective political opposition are vulnerable to constitutional coups. Though several countries across sub-Saharan Africa tout themselves as multiparty states, some, like Cameroon and Rwanda, remain de facto one-party states. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who has effectively been the country’s leader since 1994, secured another seven-year term in August 2017, with the electoral commission reporting he had the support of almost 99 percent of voters. “Executives are able to act with impunity because there is no strong, organized opposition to challenge entrenched incumbents and push them toward a genuine political opening,” writes Adrienne LeBas [PDF], a professor at American University.
Kleptocratic incumbents have even more incentives to stay in office; they could lose their wealth if they were to lose power and potentially face prosecution. The network of businesses that Kabila and his family have built in and beyond the DRC has brought them hundreds of millions of dollars. Angola’s dos Santos was long accused of funneling government funds to a small group of elites, as well as to his own family. His daughter, Isabel, is the wealthiest woman on the continent and was named head of the state oil company by her father in late 2016. However, leaders are rarely assured that they can hold on to the wealth they accumulated while in power once they step down.
“Very few African countries—in fact almost none—have any kind of pension or security scheme for former presidents or heads of state. So out of power means out of money,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, then Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Africa, told Newsweek. Dos Santos’s successor, former Defense Minister Joao Lourenco, said his administration would crack down on corruption and removed Isabel dos Santos from the national oil company in November 2017, but some analysts say going after dos Santos’s family or allies may prove difficult as long as he remains head of the ruling party.
Mugabe called the push for term limits a Western attempt to “place a yoke around the necks of African leaders,” and some politicians who concur with him point to Western democracies, including the United Kingdom and Canada, that have no such provisions.
When have leaders failed to extend their rule?
Zambian President Frederick Chiluba’s and Malawian President Bakili Muluzi’s proposals to extend presidential term limits in 2001 and 2003, respectively, were stopped after opposition and civil society groups formed alliances with lawmakers from the countries’ ruling parties. In 2006, Nigeria’s senate rejected an amendment put forth by President Olusegun Obasanjo that would have allowed third terms.
Citizens have often opposed constitutional coup attempts through protest, at times successfully halting proposals. In 2012, large protests in Senegal led to an electoral defeat for Wade, who was running for a disputed third term. After weeks of demonstrations in October 2014, Burkinabe citizens stopped Blaise Compaore from repealing the constitutional provision on term limits and forced his resignation. Polling by Afrobarometer found that roughly 75 percent of citizens surveyed in thirty-four African countries between 2011 and 2013 believed leaders should be limited to two terms in office.
Gambia’s small size and geography reduced former President Jammeh’s chances of remaining in power, argues Virginia Comolli, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The country is surrounded by Senegal, which supported opposition candidate and election winner Adama Barrow.
How have regional and international actors responded?
The African Union (AU) has prevented some military coups by threatening countries with suspending their membership, sanctions, or military intervention, but has been criticized for not taking similar actions against attempts at extending presidential terms. In 2012, it ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance [PDF], which calls on member states to identify illegal means of accessing power or staying in office, including refusals “to relinquish power after free, fair, and transparent elections” and constitutional amendments that infringe upon “the principles of democratic changes of power.” In January 2017, the AU stated it would not recognize Jammeh beyond his mandate.
West Africa’s bloc, ECOWAS, has also become active in some cases. A military offensive by ECOWAS troops forced Jammeh to step down and leave the country. The body also deployed observers to help ensure free and fair elections in 2015 in Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso. ECOWAS leaders discussed a proposal to ban presidents from seeking third terms at a 2015 regional summit, but the bloc postponed a decision due to opposition from Togo and Gambia.
The United Nations and European Union have imposed sanctions on several African countries, including Burundi, the DRC, and Zimbabwe, in response to impeded political transitions or fair elections. The UN endorsed ECOWAS military action in Gambia and threatened sanctions if Jammeh refused to leave. Millions in EU development aid to Gambia had been frozen since December 2014 due to human rights concerns under Jammeh; following Jammeh’s departure, the bloc announced it would release the funds.
In the DRC, the Roman Catholic Church and opposition groups have advocated for a deal with Kabila to hold elections in 2017, but the government has rejected the proposal, citing high costs and logistical hurdles.
What is U.S. policy toward extended mandates?
The Trump administration has not yet provided plans for Africa policy, but previous administrations cited democracy advancement as a U.S. priority on the continent. President Barack Obama said in a 2012 brief on U.S. strategy in sub-Saharan Africa that the United States would “not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes.” In an address to AU leaders three years later, Obama urged the body to ensure that heads of state comply with term limits.
The United States has imposed economic sanctions, including bans on travel to the United States and business transactions with U.S. nationals, on individuals who have engaged in actions or policies that “undermine democratic processes.” The United States issued sanctions against Mugabe [PDF] and other Zimbabwean officials in 2003. The United States sanctioned top officials from the DRC in December 2016, after Kabila refused to schedule a presidential election by the end of his mandate, citing interference in the nation’s democratic process and advising Kabila to step down.
Former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa Princeton N. Lyman argues that U.S. sanctions aimed at pressuring leaders [PDF] to leave office are often unsuccessful. “Only in combination with engagement and organized and effective domestic democratic pressure can sanctions help lead to transitions to democracy,” he said during a 2016 U.S. Senate hearing.
The United States has at times prioritized security interests over concerns about prolonged rule, choosing not to penalize long-serving leaders of partners, such as Cameroon, Chad, and Uganda. The U.S. military, whose operations are headed by the regional military command AFRICOM, has worked with these countries on training their military forces, sharing intelligence, and helping troops to combat Islamist rebel groups on the continent, including al-Shabab in Kenya and Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
LONDON — The Catholic Church, one of the few trusted institutions in Congo, has determined that a leading opposition candidate won this week’s presidential elections, a senior Western official and a presidential adviser said on Friday, setting up a potential confrontation with the Congolese government.
The candidate, Martin Fayulu, a United States and French-educated oil executive, had led President Joseph Kabila’s handpicked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, by nearly 30 points in recent polls. The Western official, who had talked to church officials, spoke on condition of anonymity, citing diplomatic protocol.
The Kabila government also confirmed that the church had identified Mr. Fayulu as the winner. Kikaya Bin Karubi, a diplomatic adviser to the president, said in an interview on Friday that the governing coalition party was “aware” that the church had “chosen to publish the winning candidate as Martin Fayulu.”
Mr. Kikaya said the church was breaking constitutional and electoral laws and was looking to start a “popular revolt that it will end up being responsible for.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission, the only body legally mandated to announce the election results, has not announced a winner and said this week that the counting had not been completed. The commission is seen by many Congolese as being close to Mr. Kabila, whose autocratic rule has spanned nearly two decades.
But a Catholic bishops’ group, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, said it had deployed 40,000 observers to polling stations who had access to vote counts. The group said on Thursday that those vote counts showed an undisputed winner, though it stopped short of identifying the candidate, partly because it lacked the legal authority but also for fear of unleashing violence.
An electoral campaign banner of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, former Congolese interior minister and presidential candidate. Credit Baz Ratner/Reuters
An electoral campaign banner of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, former Congolese interior minister and presidential candidate. CreditBaz Ratner/Reuters
Given widespread concerns that Mr. Kabila is unlikely to accept a winner other than Mr. Shadary, “the Catholic Church is on collision course with the Congolese government,” said Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group at New York University, which conducted the latest opinion surveys.
“The Catholic Church has raised the stakes, stating clearly that they will publish what they consider to be true results of the elections and will defy the government if necessary,” Mr. Stearns said.
President Trump said Friday night that he had sent around 80 troops to Gabon, within close reach of the Congo in case the election dispute made it necessary to evacuate Americans. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said the troops were deployed “to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa,” the capital.
Mr. Trump said the first troops to Gabon arrived on Wednesday “with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft.” Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, and later, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, if it becomes necessary, he said. The troops will remain in the region until the security situation becomes such that their presence is no longer needed, he said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, a country of 80 million that is almost as big as Western Europe, has never had a transfer of power through the ballot box since independence from Belgium in 1960. Violent protests followed two previous elections, in 2006 and 2011, when Mr. Kabila was declared the winner in votes that critics dismissed as rigged.
Last year, Mr. Kabila stunned the nation by agreeing to step down after nearly 18 years in power, though he had already overstayed his constitutionally mandated two-term limit by two years. In an interview last month, however, he did not rule out returning to power in the future.
Mr. Stearns said there were any number of potential outcomes from the vote, and much would depend on the international community.
Election clerks count votes at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Catholic Church has determined that the opposition won the vote.CreditStefan Kleinowitz/EPA, via Shutterstock
Election clerks count votes at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Catholic Church has determined that the opposition won the vote. Credit Stefan Kleinowitz/EPA, via Shutterstock
“There are many options for the Congolese government at the moment, ranging from repression to trying to co-opt part of the opposition, all the while banking on the relative apathy or complicity of foreign governments,” he said.
The latest developments came as the United Nations Security Council held closed-door meetings on Friday ahead of the official preliminary results, initially for release on Sunday but since delayed. The country’s electoral commission said on Wednesday, three days after the vote, that counting centers were still waiting for 80 percent of the tallies.
On Friday, the commission’s president, Corneille Nangaa, sent a letter to church officials condemning their actions. “The announcement of tendencies is of such a nature as to poison the population by preparing a revolt” that the church will be responsible for, he wrote.
The United States State Department on Thursday threatened sanctions against Congo unless accurate results were published. “Those who undermine the democratic process, threaten the peace, security or stability of the D.R.C., or benefit from corruption may find themselves not welcome in the United States and cut off from the U.S. financial system,” a statement read.
On Thursday, the Catholic bishops’ group said that the Congolese people had expressed a “clear choice at the ballot box.” The Rev. Donatien Nshole, its secretary general, urged the electoral commission to “publish in all responsibility the results of the election in respect of truth and justice.”
Many Congolese and other observers had interpreted Father Nshole’s words as a clear indication that Mr. Fayulu had overwhelmingly carried the vote.
Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, is stepping down, but analysts worry whether he will accept an opposition victory. Credit Thomas Nicolon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, is stepping down, but analysts worry whether he will accept an opposition victory. Credit Thomas Nicolon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Until he emerged as the primary opposition candidate, Mr. Fayulu was a relative unknown. He worked for Exxon in Africa in the 1980s and 1990s, before being elected to Parliament in 2006. With the backing of two of Mr. Kabila’s most prominent opponents — both barred from running for president — he was chosen last year as the candidate to confront Mr. Shadary.
In an interview last month, Mr. Kabila insisted that he would accept an opposition victory. But many observers have doubted that, given the extraordinary wealth that he and his entourage have amassed over the years.
A victory by Mr. Fayulu would hardly be a surprise, given the Congolese public’s frustration with Mr. Kabila, who has done little to lift his country out of poverty even though it is extraordinarily rich in natural resources. Congo is by far the world’s leading producer of cobalt, used in smartphones and electric cars. But very little of the nation’s wealth has trickled down to ordinary people, most of whom live on less than $1.25 a day.
Under Mr. Kabila’s rule, the government has either overseen or conducted serious human rights violations, cracking down on opponents and letting ethnic conflicts rage in parts of the country, causing thousands of deaths, according to international observers and human rights groups.
Mr. Shadary, a former interior minister, was recently placed on a sanctions list by the European Union for brutally suppressing anti-government protesters in 2017. In retaliation, the government last week threw the bloc’s envoy out of the country.
During the campaign, Mr. Shadary enjoyed overwhelming financial support and greater airtime on television and radio.
After the elections, the government shut down the internet and cut off access to social media in what a government official said was an effort to preserve public order after “fictitious results” were circulated on social media. The government on Thursday blocked the signals of Congo Canal, an opposition television station.
“We are not going to let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results,” Lambert Mende, the government spokesman, told Agence France-Presse.
Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest opposition party said its leader was the “presumed” winner of last week’s election and encouraged talks with the nation’s outgoing president to prepare a transition.
Union for Democracy and Social Progress head Felix Tshisekedi is one of three candidates in with a chance of succeeding Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the world’s biggest cobalt producer since 2001. He’s competing against rival opposition leader Martin Fayulu and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Kabila’s handpicked protege.
Congo’s National Independent Electoral Commission, known as CENI, postponed announcing the results of the Dec. 30 vote indefinitely on Sunday, intensifying speculation about the counting process and the outcome. UDPS Secretary-General Marc Kabund said there had been rumors that Tshisekedi and Kabila’s camps may be considering a post-election power-sharing arrangement.
“As for rumors stating a rapprochement between outgoing President Joseph Kabila and the presumed winning candidate of elections on Dec. 30, 2018, in this case, Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the UDPS wants to clarify that must be seen in the context of national reconciliation,” Kabund told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Kinshasa. “The two personalities have an interest in meeting to prepare a peaceful and civilized transfer of power.”
The body that represents Congo’s Catholic bishops said on Thursday the results collected on election day by its 40,000-strong observer mission showed there was a clear winner, without identifying the person. The New York Times cited a senior adviser to Kabila as saying the Catholic group believes Fayulu won comfortably.
Fayulu urged CENI to release the results as soon as possible. The outcome may be announced within the next 48 hours, Politico.cd, a Kinshasa-based news website, reported on Wednesday.
“We call on CENI to publish in the shortest timeframe the provisional results of the presidential election,” Fayulu told reporters in Kinshasa. “We warn CENI against any attempt to twist the truth of the ballot box.”
SYMOCEL, a Congo-based observer group, said in a report released on Tuesday that there had been major irregularities in the tabulation process so far. In 16 percent of monitored centers, manually counted tally sheets weren’t taken into account in the compilation of results, as required under Congolese electoral law.
“This was noted mainly in Maniema,” it said. Maniema is Shadary’s home province.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country, has never witnessed a democratic transfer of power. Joseph Kabila inherited the presidency of the resource-rich nation from his father, Laurent-Desire, who was assassinated in 2001, four years after he led a rebel army to overthrow long-serving dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Hopes for an uncontested transition following the most recent election, held on Dec. 30, are dimming.
1. Who won the election?
That’s not yet clear. Provisional results were supposed to be released on Jan. 6, but the National Independent Electoral Commission postponed the announcement, saying just over half the ballots from polling stations had reached counting centers. The commission hasn’t said when tallying will be completed. Martin Fayulu, an opposition leader, said he feared moves may be afoot to rig the contest in favor of Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary.
2. Who else is in the running?
Along with Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil Corp. manager who heads a small party in the National Assembly and is backed by several heavyweight politicians, the other main opposition candidate is Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the second-biggest party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress. A body representing Congo’s Catholic bishops said results collected by its 40,000-strong observer mission showed there was a clear winner but didn’t identify who it was. The New York Times cited a senior adviser to Kabila as saying the Catholic organization believes Fayulu won. Shadary’s campaign and the electoral commission rebuked the bishops and told everyone to wait for the official announcement. The government has sought to limit speculation about the outcome by cutting off the internet the day after the vote.
3. What are the concerns about the vote’s credibility?
The electoral commission postponed balloting in three regions until March, citing concerns about an Ebola outbreak and militia violence, which effectively deprived 1.2 million people in opposition strongholds from having a say on who will be the next president. Also, despite the presence of more than 16,000 United Nations peacekeepers, Congo’s government refused logistical support from the UN and financial assistance from international donors to organize the vote, which was initially supposed to be in late 2016. While the vote was largely peaceful, the opposition said the process was badly flawed, with broken voting machines, delays and vote-buying. The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time of the election described it as “neither free nor fair.” But electoral commission chief Corneille Nangaa said most polling stations opened on time and voting machines worked well, and an observer mission from the Southern African Development Community said in a preliminary report that the elections “were relatively well managed and the electoral process unfolded relatively well.” An African Union team also endorsed the handling of the vote.
4. What are the risks going forward?
While the electoral commission is likely to announce the results later this month, there’s a strong possibility they may be rejected by the losers. That could lead to legal challenges and a prolonged period of political uncertainty — the last thing that’s needed in a nation that was already confronting insecurity, particularly in the eastern regions, and rampant poverty. There also may be further fallout from the claim by the Catholic bishops’ organization that it already knows of a clear winner: the electoral commission and Shadary’s campaign have accused the group of violating the constitution and the law in a manner that could spark a popular revolt.
5. What are investors watching?
Congo, a nation of about 81 million, accounts for two-thirds of global production of cobalt, a metal used in rechargeable batteries, and has deposits of gold, diamonds, tin and coltan, an ore that contains a metal used in mobile phones. Glencore Plc, China Molybdenum Co. and Randgold Resources Ltd. are among companies operating in the country. Shadary, if elected, is likely to stick with a new law that’s sharply raised costs for all mineral producers and imposes a 10 percent royalty on cobalt exports. Should one of the opposition candidates prevail, he may be more sympathetic to mining companies that oppose the additional levies. The economy is forecast to grow 3.8 percent this year, and an average of 4.3 percent annually over the next three years, according to the International Monetary Fund.
6. What’s the ruling party candidate pledged to do?
Shadary, the permanent secretary of Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and a former interior minister, has pledged to almost triple government spending to raise civil servants’ salaries, create jobs and improve health and education. He’s also undertaken to improve security, especially in the country’s east, which has been wracked by inter-communal violence for more than two decades. He intends to fund his plans by raising more tax revenue from companies exporting Congo’s natural resources.
7. What about the opposition candidates?
Fayulu and Tshisekedi have both said they would clamp down on rampant corruption, enhance security and promote development. Tshisekedi has the backing of Vital Kamerhe, who finished third in a 2011 vote, and they’ve agreed that Tshisekedi would serve as president and Kamerhe as his prime minister, swapping roles after the next election in 2023.
BY MILDRED EUROPA TAYLOR, at 11:00 am, December 13, 2018, NEWS
Somalia gives up fishing rights to China. Pic credit: Adeso
At a time when local fishermen in Somalia are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China.
Since assuming power last year, this is the first time that Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has given fishing rights to foreigners, news site BBC reports.
Under the new development, the China Overseas Fisheries Association, which represents 150 companies, will be allowed to fish for tuna in Somali waters.
The country’s fisheries ministry is hopeful that the move would ensure that resources are exploited legally.
Over the years, local fishermen and coastal communities in Somalia who survive on fishing have appealed for assistance from the government to keep larger, foreign boats out of the country’s territorial waters.
Illegal fishing along the Somali coastline intensified after the disintegration of Somalia into clan-based fiefdoms following the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.
Foreign ships took advantage of a lack of a central government to use prohibited fishing methods like drifts, dynamiting, breaking coral reefs and destroying the coral habitats where lobsters and other coralfish live, reports the Inter Press Service News Agency.
These foreign vessels were mostly from India, Yemen, Spain, Japan and Pakistan and accrued a lot of revenue from their activities while the local people suffered in terms of depletion of seafood resources, lack of jobs and environmental degradation.
Since then, the practice has been ongoing, with many of these larger boats not regarding laws governing Somalia’s fishing seasons and others not having licenses at all to operate.
Some buy permits from Somali officials but this is usually done under dubious means.
In 2009, a Time magazine article highlighted the fact that Somali waters have become a “free-for-all” fishing site where international fleets illegally collected more than $300 million worth of seafood.
About ten years ago, some local fishermen in the Horn of Africa nation decided to take up arms in hopes of retrieving their waters from the foreign vessels but in the process, many of these fisher folks turned violent – they became pirates who began attacking and hijacking these outside vessels.
At one point, pirate gangs were seizing more than 40 vessels per year and holding hundreds of sailors hostage for ransom, news site VOA reported.
There is at the moment local navies such as the Puntland Maritime Police Force, which patrols the waters off Bosaso and other bodies but these have not been able to keep the foreign vessels out of Somali waters.
Many have attributed this to the fact that many these outside vessels are larger with improved technology as compared to the local ones.
In effect, China getting fishing rights in the fragile state of Somalia has been of grave concern especially with regards to the plight of local fishermen and stocks but the fisheries minister Abdirahman Ahmed has assured that all is well.
According to him, up to 24 nautical miles (44km) off the coast are reserved for local fishermen and per the license agreement, his outfit can call the ships to the port anytime for inspections.
While some ignorant scorn the Cameroonian diaspora and call it undocumented, Cameroonian intellectuals shine in Europe, Asia and the United States. Associate professors, doctors, lawyers, journalists, engineers, they excel in all fields like Dr. Ernest SIMO, the first African to be admitted to an American astronaut program of NASA. He is the one who installed the first VSAT in the world.
Dr. Ernest Simo has already made history as the first African to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and was twice a finalist in NASA’s Astronaut Program in 1994 and 1996. Yet nothing was easy for his career and he never benefited from the support of the Cameroonian state.
Born in 1956, originally from the western region of Cameroon, Ernest Simo was educated in Yaoundé, in the Central region. First at the Ekoudou elementary school in the Briqueterie district, a ghetto where all the street children and thugs roam. Nevertheless, in this environment where school rhymes with success, he will manage to get out of it and to join the Leclerc high school where he will obtain the scientific Bac C series, in 1974. It flies thereafter towards England which it has offered a scholarship. In 1979, he graduated with a degree in satellite telecommunications from the University of Essex. In 1983, he obtained a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.
Very ambitious and convinced of his potential, he flew to the United States to offer his know-how. He is recruited by the American company Hughes Network Systems (HNS) where he develops technology Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT). In 1984, he will be in Memphis at Federal Express Headquarters, the first person to install a VSAT. He will join NASA a few years later. He was also a member of the committee that put together the CDMA technology. This technology is currently used for cellular communications in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Asia.
Dr. Simo has trained more than 10,000 telecommunications executives and engineers in the United States and around the world (China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile) , Canada and Ireland). He is also CEO of the company Space 2000 which he is founder.
The American magazine USBE (US Black Engainer & IT, January / February 2004, p.28) ranked it in 2004 among the 50 best African-American Engineers in the United States in the field of technology.
During the Days of Excellence of Scientific Research and Innovation in Cameroon in November 2015 in Yaounde, he launched the following message to the Cameroonian scientific community: “Go very high, target the moon, because even though you are miss, you will find yourself among the stars “.
But instead of targeting the moon using his genius NASA, the Cameroonian regime has instead preferred to target lower by entrusting the making of cardboard computers to Chinese apprentices for a cost of 500 billion. And it is the professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education, expert in ghostly letters, who comes to explain to the students that these toys will lead them directly to the moon.
By dint of scorning his diaspora and denying him any recognition, the Cameroonian regime has led the country to the age of stone cut.
This economic slavery is important for the development of the French economy.Whenever this traffic is likely to fail, France is ready for anything to reconquer it.If a leader of the CFA zone no longer meets the requirements of France, Paris is blocking its foreign exchange reserves and more, France closes the banks in this country considered “rebel”.This was the case of Côte d’Ivoire with Laurent Gbagbo.
A German newspaper accuses France of looting 440 billion euros each year to Africans through the CFA Franc.
“The French government collects from its former colonies each year 440 billion euros of taxes. France relies on the revenues coming from Africa, not to sink into economic insignificance, warns the former president Jacques Chirac.
In the 1950s and 60s, France decided the French colonies of Africa to become independent.Although the Paris government accepted formal declarations of independence, it called on African countries to sign a so-called “pact for the continuation of colonization.”They agreed to introduce the French colonial currency FCFA (“Franc for the French colonies in Africa”), to maintain the French schools and military system, and to establish French as an official language. The CFA franc is the denomination of the common currency of 14 African countries members of the Franc zone.This currency, which constitutes a brake on the emergence of these countries, was created in 1945, when France ratified the Bretton Woods agreements and proceeded to implement its first declaration of parity to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) .This was called “Franc of the French Colonies of Africa”.
Under this law, 14 African countries are still obliged to store about 85 per cent of their foreign exchange reserves at the Banque de France in Paris.They are under the direct control of the French Treasury.The countries concerned do not have access to this part of their reserves.As the 15 per cent of reserves are insufficient for their needs, they must borrow additional funds from the French Treasury at market prices.Since 1961, Paris controls all foreign exchange reserves in Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
In addition, these countries must each year transfer their “colonial debt” for infrastructure built in France to Paris as Silicon Africa 3 reported in detail.France takes around 440 billion euros a year.The government in Paris also has a right of first refusal on all newly discovered natural resources in African countries.Finally, French companies must have priority in awarding contracts in former colonies.As a result, there is the most assets in the fields of supply, finance, transport, energy and agriculture in the hands of French companies.
The ruling elite in each African country must fulfill these compulsory claims without any other choice.African leaders who refuse are threatened with assassination or overthrow of their government.Over the past 50 years, there have been 67 coups d’état in 26 African countries.16 of these 26 countries were former colonies of France.
An example is the first president of Togo West Africa, Sylvanus Olympio, overthrown by a coup.He had refused to sign the “Pact for the Continuation of Settlement”.But France insisted that Togo pay the compensation for the infrastructures that had been built by the French during the colonial period.The sum is equivalent to about 40 per cent of households in Togo in 1963, requiring the fairly independent country to reach its economic limits quickly.
In addition, the new president of Togo decided to remove and print his own national currency, the French colonial currency FCFA.Three days after this decision, the new government was overthrown by a group of former foreign legionaries and the President killed.The head of the Legionaries, Gnassingbe Eyadema, received 550 euros from the French embassy for the attack, according to the British Telegraph. Four years later Eyadema was promoted with the support of Paris, the new president of Togo.He established a tyrannical dictatorship in this West African country and remained in power until his death in 2005.
In the following years, the Paris government kept the link with the former legionaries to overthrow unpopular governments in its former colonies.This was the case of the first president of the Central African Republic, David Dacko, overthrown by former members of the Foreign Legion in 1966. The same thing happened to the President of Burkina Faso, Maurice Yaméogo, and with the President of Benin, Mathieu Kérékou, the author of a coup d’état.This was also the case of the first President of the Republic of Mali Modiba Keita, who was also the victim of a coup by former legionnaires in 1968. The reason, a few years earlier, he had simply decided to part with the French colonial currency.“
As a proof to this accusations by the German Newspaper, South Africa’s EFF leader, Julius Malema earlier in the year also attest to the fact that up until now, the French nation still getting Tax from African states and that everyone must accept that.
Bloomberg also reported that a hoard of cash sits in the Bank of France: $20 billion in African money held in trust by the French government and earning just 0.75 percent interest. Now economists and politicians from 14 Central and West African countries say they want their funds returned and an arrangement dating back to the days of France’s colonial empire ended.
France holds the money to guarantee that the CFA franc, the currency used in the 14 nations, stays convertible into euros at a fixed exchange rate of 655.957. The compulsory deposits started more than half a century ago, when the then-colonies had to place all their financial reserves in the French Treasury. The deposit requirement has dropped over the decades: Today the African members entrust 50 percent of their reserves to Paris.
France’s Colonial Tax Still Enforced for Africa. “Bleeding Africa and Feeding France”
When Guinea demanded independence from French colonial rule in 1958, the French unleashed their fury with more than 3,000 leaving the country taking their enteire property. In addition, they destroyed anything that couldn’t be taken – destroying schools, nurseries, public administration buildings, cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged, animals killed and food in warehouses were burned or poisoned. In effect they were sending a message to all other colonies that the consqueences for jrejecting France would be high.
Colonialism as an enduring stain in Africa’s history, and economic oppression continue to exist. An article by Mawuna Remarque Koutonin, peace activist and editor of SiliconAfrica.com addressed this practice.
The article called attention to an ongoing practice by which former African countries are forced to pay a colonial tax to France – even today. In fact, France continues to thrive on the practice, which extracts approximately 500 billion dollars from African countries each year.
After the French destroyed Guinea who had sought independence, the alternative was to pay a tax. No African country could estimate the effect this had on 14 different countries.
As Koutonin notes, this outrageous tax deprives African economies of much needed funds, exacerbates debt, and strips their authority over their own natural reserves. But the detriments are more than just economic, as the ills of colonialism manifest in social ways that are equally devastating to the dignity and identity of the African people:
Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo, instead of signing the colonisation continuation pact with De Gaulle, instead agreed to pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits of French colonisation. This prevented the French not destroying the country before they left however the amount estimated by France was so big that the reimbursement of the so called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country budget in 1963. Olympio’s dream was to build an independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant country but the French had him killed by a seargeant who was given a $612 bounty by the French embassy.
History has shown that despite years of African fighting to liberate themselves, France repeatedly used many exForeign legionnaires to carry out coups against elected presidents. This included Jean-Bedel Bokassa who assassinated David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic. In the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups has occurred in 26 African countries, of which 16 are ex-French colonies. This indicates that France is desperate to hold on to whatever land it has in Africa.
In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said:
“Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power” and that Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that:
“Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”.
Night Of Open Doors / Opening 2019 Doors on 12/31/2018 was great.
Here is what Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (Major 1) said about it on 1/2/2019:
“If there are still some out there who questions the resilient move of God in our ministry and how it impacts on His people, then our 2018/2019 Crossover Night provides a good answer.
Ten of thousands, I am told about 100 000, filled Pretoria Showgrounds just to be part of our Night of Open Doors prayers against circumstances that should have made them not to come.
It rained heavily throughout the day but this could not stop the young and the old, the disabled and the sick to come and seek the face of God as they crossed over from 2018 to 2019.
I was so touched to see thousands, some in covered halls and others on open grounds, braving not just the drench but also the bad publicity against us just to be part of this moment.
I prayed and asked God why is this happening and He said: “These are my people. They have come here for me. Pray for them and give them hope. Tell them I have heard their prayers and I have opened their doors.”
Against every pain our ministry suffered in 2018, the 2018/19 Crossover Night gave me renewed energy and faith in our people, in our ministry and in our God. Indeed, God is still speaking to His people today.
I will preach again to the world. I will prophesy again to millions. I will give again to the less fortunate. I will continue serving God with all my heart and soul.
————————— Allow me, also, to extend my condolences to the family of the three members of our church who lost their life during the unfortunate Friday 28 2018 incident that happened at our Pretoria Branch church.
I am also extending a message of uplift to the 17 that also got injured during the same incident.
It was an unfortunate incident that should not have happened. But it is in moments like these when, instead of asking why God, we should learn to understand that the ways of God are not our ways.
I am confident in the leadership of our church and I have instructed them to do everything possible to ensure that those dead are identified and given proper burial; and, again, the 17 injured are taken care of.
With these remarks, I want to thank everybody who stood with our ministry in 2018 and I am praying that God should continue to strengthen your resolve in 2019.