Thursday, December 14, 2017

Congo: Justice Served!


Justice Served

Human rights campaigners applauded a court ruling that sentenced 11 members of a Congolese militia to life in prison for raping dozens of young girls as a landmark for justice in a country where such crimes often go unpunished.
The fighters from Djeshi ya Yesu – the Army of Jesus – militia were accused of raping at least 37 girls near the village of Kavumu in Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu province between 2013 and 2016, Reuters reported.
The prosecution alleged that a spiritual adviser to the group – which is helmed by provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike – told the fighters that raping very young children would give them mystical protection against their enemies.
Batumike and other militia members were also convicted of murder, membership in a rebel movement and illegal weapons possession, and the court ruled that the rapes and murders amounted to crimes against humanity. The crimes had caused an international outcry and rights workers had criticized the government for its slow response.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Zimbabwe: Hope In Africa.


Hope in Africa

Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo wrote a special message on Facebook for children born on Nov. 21, the day former President Robert Mugabe left office after almost 40 years in power.
“You’re our most precious, most untarnished promise, may you never see what we’ve seen,” wrote Bulawayo, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “May you know, finally, a Great Zimbabwe.”
The man who replaced Mugabe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is no angel. Once a close ally of Mugabe, he’s a former secret police director who stands accused of committing genocide in the 1980s.
But change is nonetheless in the air in this south African country.
Authorities are permitting a white farmer to return to his farm after Mugabe evicted him in June as part of “post-colonial” reforms widely viewed as an effort to distract the public from the country’s moribund economy.
The development was a sign that the new government was serious about restoring property rights and the rule of law, Reuters said.
“All citizens who had a claim to land by birthright, we want them to feel they belong and we want them to build a new country because this economy is shattered,” presidential advisor Chris Mutsvangwa told the news agency.
Government housecleaning is underway. Prosecutors, for example, have charged former Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo with corruption. While he oversaw an economic collapse in a resource-rich country, Chombo somehow acquired at least 100 homes in Zimbabwe alone.
Writing to Mnangagwa to appeal for mercy, Chombo said he was learning “a few hard lessons,” local news outlets reported.
Meanwhile, the country’s new finance minister recently unveiled a proposed budget that Agence France-Presse said was designed to “reestablish its credibility with global financiers in order to relieve chronic cash shortages, a dearth of foreign exchange and a gaping budget deficit.”
Not everything can change quickly. Zimbabwe is likely to continue permitting big game hunters to seek trophies in the country’s sprawling wilderness. Conservationists might grouse, but hunting and safari tourism are among the country’s strongest assets.
“Zimbabwe is on its knees because of economic downturn, yet the international community expects our poor country to look after elephants and lions when we can’t even feed our nation,” Zimbabwean zoologist Victor Muposhi told the New York Times.
Muposhi has a point.
But at least now Zimbabweans have license to imagine a day in the future when they as well as elephants and lions in their country can go happily about their business.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Kenya: Conflicting Coronations


Conflicting Coronations

Kenya’s opposition postponed an alternative swearing-in ceremony for its leader Raila Odinga, raising hopes that the political crisis resulting from a disputed presidential election may be fading.
The opposition coalition, NASA, had planned an alternative inauguration for Tuesday, Kenyan independence day, a move that the attorney general said would amount to treason.
NASA said in a statement it would postpone the swearing-in after “consultations and engagement with a wide range of national and international interlocutors,” Reuters reported. But it said it would soon announce a new date for the ceremony.
On Oct. 26, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta easily won a repeat election, which Odinga boycotted, after the Supreme Court nullified the results of the first election in August. The political uncertainty has stymied private investment, and election-related violence has claimed more than 70 lives.
“He (Raila) doesn’t want to throw the country into turmoil and he has reasoned with those asking him to shelve the plan,” a NASA insider told Kenya’s Standard newspaper.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Steinhoff shares bounce off 14-year low in volatile trade

Steinhoff shares bounce off 14-year low in volatile trade: Steinhoff shares plunged another 50 percent on Friday, before recovering as traders booked profits on short positions taken out after the South African retailer disclosed accounting irregularities earlier this week. More than $12 billion has been wiped off the market value of the owner of Conforama furniture stores and Poundland discount shops since Wednesday, when it announced an independent investigation into its accounts and said its CEO was leaving.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Steinhoff identifies €1bn noncore assets to boost liquidity

Steinhoff identifies €1bn noncore assets to boost liquidity: In the grip of an accounting scandal that led to it indefinitely postponing the release of its 2017 financial results, JSE-listed retail multinational Steinhoff  noted on Thursday that it had received expressions of interest in noncore assets that will release a minimum of €1-billion of liquidity. Further, Africa-focused subsidiary Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) will today formally commit to refinancing its long-term liabilities due to the company. It is expected that the STAR refinancing will be concluded on better terms than those applicable to STAR’s current liabilities due to Steinhoff, given the strong cash flow inherent in its business.

A Criminal Trial For Jacob Zuma Or Donald Trump?

A Criminal Trial For Jacob Zuma Or Donald Trump?
  Recently I gave you my take on what happened in the regime change in Zimbabwe. To briefly summarize, those wishing to remove Mugabe from power were “stuck between a rock and a hard place” as follows:
1)    They did not have the 2/3’s majority in the parliament to affect a legal impeachment.
2)    A forceful removal of Mugabe by the military would have brought in the South African Defense Forces who would have put Mugabe back into power after major disruptions and loss of life.
     Those wishing change were forced to “make Mugabe a deal that he could not refuse.” He walked out of office with no criminal or civil liability in Zimbabwe.
      Let us go back over 43 years when Richard M. Nixon was forced to resign as president of the USA. On the day that Nixon left office, he rode on Air Force One and landed at a US Air Forced base in Southern California. Much to everyone’s surprise, a crowd of over 50,000 supporters and well wishers greeted him as he stepped from the plane. (Please keep this thought in mind as we move forward.)
    Then President Gerald R. Ford got the bad news from the US Justice Department that a criminal trial of Richard M. Nixon would take up to two years. The country would be paralyzed as the trial went forward. The costs of such a trial would be staggering. President Ford decided that the only solution was to pardon Nixon. The disgraced president was handed a huge income tax bill over a tax fraud. His wealthy supporters paid the bill, by the way.
     Let us fast forward to today. Eventually Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump are going to be confronted with overwhelming evidence of their guilt in financial and political wrong doing. In both the US and South Africa here is the dilemma that authorities will have to face as follows:
1)    Any criminal trial of Jacob Zuma or Donald Trump would literally be “the O.J. Simpson murder trials (1994-1995) on steroids.” Each trial would cost billions of Rands or billions of dollars. Such money would be much better spent on social programs, etc. As the old saying goes: “The lawyers would end up getting all the money.”
2)    Today we have televised trials and massive proliferation of mobile devices where people can watch television from almost anywhere. As such trials unfolded, people in offices, schools, working here and there, and in the home would be mesmerized as the criminal trials went forward. South Africa and The USA would suffer a paralysis that would last up to two years.
3)    Regardless of how much objective evidence proving wrong doing is presented in either country, there will be a large group of people who still support these men and refuse to believe that they are guilty. (Please refer to my comments about the greeting that Richard M. Nixon got in August of 1974.) Such criminal trials would literally “spiritually tear apart both South Africa and the United States.”
4)    Both Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump have both shown how good they are at “beating criminal charges in court, etc.”
    Those seeking a regime change will take note of this dilemma. At the end of the thought process, negotiations will begin to make either man “an offer that he cannot refuse.” It will be a pardon for all wrong doing for them and any family members involved with them in the wrong doing. They will go back to private life as free men and enjoy their wealth. Other people charged in this wrong doing will see the inside of jail; some for a long time.
    Regardless of what country one lives in and what language one speaks, our parents teach us as little children the difference between right and wrong. We are taught that if we do wrong, we will be punished. We are taught that we are to expect moral and ethical conduct from our political leaders.

    The moral of this story is what is supposed to happen in this world and what actually happens are two different things.

Zimbabwe: A New Leaf


A New Leaf

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa pledged to re-engage with international lenders, curb spending and attract investors to revive its battered economy on Thursday, as he introduced the first budget since a new government replaced ousted President Robert Mugabe.
Chinamasa also announced that the government would amend Mugabe’s controversial indigenization laws, limiting the requirement of 51 percent indigenous ownership to the platinum and diamond sectors, Reuters reported. Designed to increase black Zimbabweans’ share of the economy, the laws had been misused by corrupt leaders, undermining investor confidence.
The government will also further defer a 15 percent export tax on raw platinum to 2019, retire all civil servants aged over 65 and close some overseas diplomatic missions to reduce the budget deficit.
Under Mugabe, who relied on patronage to maintain power until a de facto coup replaced him with President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month, the deficit rose to around 10 percent of GDP – with more than 90 percent of government spending devoted to civil servant salaries. The country’s economy collapsed following the seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms.