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.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kenya: Costs Of Contention


Costs of Contention

The political crisis engendered by Kenya’s disputed presidential election has hit the country where it hurts, adding to the impact of a drought to drag economic growth down to its slowest pace in five years, according to the World Bank.
The World Bank this week cut its 2017 growth estimate for Kenya’s economy to 4.9 percent from an April forecast of 5.5 percent, Reuters reported.
After the Supreme Court nullified the Aug. 8 poll re-electing incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and ordered a re-run that was boycotted by the opposition, private investment has slowed due to political risk. Meanwhile, a drought has already driven up inflation and reduced consumer demand, the bank said.
The crisis isn’t over yet. While Kenyatta has been sworn in for a second five-year term, opposition leader Raila Odinga has said he will hold a parallel “swearing-in” ceremony next week.
Nevertheless, the bank expects the economy to rebound to 5.5 percent in 2018 and 5.9 percent in 2019.

In Praise Of An Incredible African Warrior, Author, and Tactician-Tim Bax

Jack Waldbewohner You are a class man who enjoys the finer things in life. I once had an employer who was a retired USAF transport pilot with adventures like flying Colonel "Mad Mike" Hoare around the Congo in the 1960's. Back in the 80's, you would always see me dressed in Burberry's suits imported from Glasgow, hand-made Church shoes from London, an Omega Speedmaster Moon Walk watch, and a Burberry's trench coat. James C. Lewis was the employer. He once told me: "Jack, you're head to toe class. You look like a real 'merc.' I see you as a retired major in the SAS who went into private security." Tim, Jim could be describing you. On top of all those accolades, you were an incredible warrior in combat that I never was. And you have incredible tactical skills that I sort of had.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A New African Tradition For Hanukkah

Meskerem Gebreyohannes prepares dinner at her restaurant, Taste of Ethiopia, in Southfield, Mich.CreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times
For Meskerem Gebreyohannes, all of the Jewish holidays bring doro wat, a luxurious chicken dish she makes with slowly cooked onions and a red chile sauce layered with flavors from the African spice trail.
Despite growing up in a Jewish family in Harar, a city in Ethiopia a few hours by car from Somalia, she never celebrated “modern” holidays like Hanukkah.
Mrs. Gebreyohannes, 58, is the chef and an owner, with her husband, Kassa, of Taste of Ethiopia, a small restaurant in Southfield, Mich. She is like many other Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia, who did not learn the story of the Maccabees defeating the Greeks. It appears in the oral Torah that was written down around A.D. 200, a time when much of the world was unaware of the existence of a Jewish community in Ethiopia.
Separated from Israel and the Diaspora for more than 2,000 years, Ethiopian Jews followed the Old Testament, which does not include the Hanukkah story, as a source for holiday customs. Mrs. Gebreyohannes fled Ethiopia in 1981 as a refugee to Djibouti, then went to Canada in 1982, where she started observing the custom of lighting a menorah for eight days. She settled in Michigan in 2004.
Now, her Hanukkah traditions include candle lighting with tofe (a homemade Ethiopian beeswax candle with a big flame) as well as the doro wat, “chicken with sauce” in Amharic, a dish eaten by all Ethiopians. For her celebrations, Mrs. Gebreyohannes serves it with dabo, a holiday bread made with flour, or injera, the daily bread made of teff.
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“In Ethiopia, we were always surrounded by cooking,” she said earlier this fall, while pulverizing the onions and garlic for her doro wat.
Ms. Gebreyohannes uses oil rather than the more traditional ghee used in the dish. Bright red berbere — she uses a chile spice mix from Ethiopia that includes cardamom, ginger, fenugreek and thyme — lends more than color to the sauce.
“When you smell a good berbere, you can taste the spices are there, and you don’t need to add anything else,” she said. “The spices act like cornstarch or flour to give the sauce substance.”
Mrs. Gebreyohannes learned in Ethiopia to use every part of the chicken: the bones for soups and the skin to enrich the sauces. She nostalgically refers to the birds from her home as “sacred.”
“We say that when a woman knows how to pull apart the 12 parts of a whole chicken, she has become a full woman and is ready to marry,” she said. (For the record, that’s a pair each of drumsticks, thighs, breasts and wings, and the chest, neck, ribs and giblets.) “As a child, I learned to prepare meals and dishes for many people. The idea of making a meal for less than 10 people is American.”
Her doro wat recipe may not last for all eight nights of Hanukkah. But it will add warmth, and a new holiday tradition, for one.
Recipe: Doro Wat (Ethiopian-Style Spicy Chicken)
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Correction: December 4, 2017 
An earlier version of this article misstated the date when the oral Torah was written. It was around A.D. 200, not 200 B.C.
Continue reading the main story

Dizzy's Restaurant Cape Town

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nigeria-A Spark, A Fire


A Spark, A Fire

When President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, took office in March 2015, he became the first opposition candidate in Nigeria to successfully unseat an incumbent in a democratic election since the nation’s independence in 1960.
But four years out, the optimism of Buhari’s election in Africa’s largest economy has largely subsided, the Financial Times reported.
Instead of spearheading major security and corruption efforts, Buhari’s tenure has mostly been defined by his ailing health and frequent medical trips abroad, along with his attempts to put out political fires.
One such blaze has burned slowly for decades and is threatening to spread into an all-out wildfire: Demands for a breakaway state of Biafra in the nation’s southeast.
Even though Nigeria’s national elections in 2019 are more than a year away, political elites are already drumming up long-dormant ethnic tensions.
Between 1966 and 1970, the Nigerian government fought a brutal civil war against the breakaway Republic of Biafra, the geographic core of the nation’s Igbo ethnic minority. The war killed nearly 1 million people.
As a new generation of Igbo comes of age, many are starting to call once again for the region to secede – sentiments fueled by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatist movement, an opaque distribution of government funds to ethnic groups, and Buhari’s firm hand in trying to squash the rising movement, the Economist reported.
For now, Buhari has pacified a full-scale uprising by jailing IPOB’s leader and using the military to threaten protesters. During recent local elections in the southeastern state of Anambra, an Igbo stronghold, all was quiet at the polls, despite the IPOB’s calls for a boycott and a referendum on independence, Agence France Presse reported.
After it was announced that the local candidate from the president’s All Progressives Congress had been reelected governor, Buhari used the opportunity to dismiss the IPOB’s attempts to derail the poll and expressed hope that national elections in 2019 would run just as smoothly.
Buhari’s ministers quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
“The people of Anambra have shown there is no alternative to democracy and that they believe in one Nigeria and federal system of government,” Nigeria’s minister of information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed told reporters in Abuja. “I think the Anambra election has sounded the death knell on IPOB because they said the election will never hold.”
But the IPOB may yet have an opportunity to gain some footing.
A key ally of President Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, announced he’d likely throw his hat in the ring for the nation’s 2019 presidential elections, signaling dissent in the president’s ranks, Reuters reported.
As the political players begin to emerge for battle in Nigeria, one thing’s for certain, Bismarck Rewane, chief executive of the Financial Derivatives consultancy in Lagos, told the Financial Times: “Effectively, from Dec. 1 this year, Nigeria will be in full campaign and political mode across the country.”

Friday, December 1, 2017

West Africa: Flexing Muscles


Flexing Muscle

French President Emmanuel Macron said he will propose military action against human traffickers in the fight against modern slavery and invited the United States to attend this month’s summit of the new G5 Sahel force, a security alliance comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
Speaking at the African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit in Ivory Coast, Macron said world leaders should cooperate in annihilating those networks and gangs involved in human trafficking, the French Tribune reported. These networks operate across the Sahel region, moving people through Libya across the Mediterranean Sea.
He didn’t elaborate on what kind of military action was proposed, except to say that he was not advocating a war in Libya, a nation still reeling from the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
At the G5 Sahel summit on Dec. 13, the Sahel leaders will meet with officials from the European Union and the African Union to discuss plans for a joint force of 5,000 regional troops supported by 4,000 French soldiers that have been deployed in the area since France’s 2013 intervention in Mali.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nigeria: The Trouble With Graft


The Trouble with Graft

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari became the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent at the ballot box in Nigeria, thanks to a pledge to root out corruption. But two years on, internecine battles are hampering the big fight.
Earlier this month, armed secret policemen stopped the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from arresting former National Intelligence Agency chief Ayodele Oke – whom Buhari sacked for stashing $43 million in cash in his wife’s apartment, Bloomberg reported.
But that’s just the latest in a string of incidents that have raised questions about Buhari’s war on corruption – which has again and again been plagued by inter-agency rivalry. Ibrahim Magu, Buhari’s pick to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has himself been rejected twice by the legislature based on state security police reports of alleged prior wrongdoing.
Critics say the anti-graft campaign has focused on Buhari’s opponents and ignored his supporters. A former defense minister under Buhari’s predecessor, for instance, saw a case accusing him of receiving $13 million in slush funds quashed just before his defection to Buhari’s party.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Two Former Mugabe Allies Held Without Bail In Zimbabwe

South Africa: A Promise Betrayed


A Promise, Betrayed

The imminent fall of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe has raised serious questions about the future of Jacob Zuma, the president of neighboring South Africa.
Both men have presided over corruption and economic decline, and both have lost the confidence of the ruling parties that played key roles in ending the white supremacist regimes that were legacies of British rule on the continent.
Next month, there will be a pivotal moment. The African National Congress will elect a new party leader.
Already, there are calls for Zuma to step down as head of state rather than finish the last two years of his term, party whip Jackson Mthembu told Reuters. That would give the party stalwarts time to reorganize and distance themselves from the president’s perfidy, argued Mthembu.
“You can’t keep him there,” he said.
Those striking comments came amid the buzz surrounding a recent book, “The President’s Keepers,” by investigative journalist Jacques Pauw. The text argues Zuma is more a racketeer than a politician, running a government where bribery and self-dealing have become de rigueur.
Echoing the events leading to Mugabe’s troubles, the damage to Zuma was largely self-inflicted. State security officials attempted to recall the book, while tax authorities threatened a lawsuit against the author. Zuma’s arrogance and stupidity – believing he could suppress the book and that nobody would notice – piqued the public’s interest.
“The book flew off the shelves, selling out by the weekend,” wroteQuartz.
These things have consequences. The South African economy, a vital hub in the region, is tanking. Investors are fleeing the country, reported the Maverick, a respected online newspaper. Debt is skyrocketing. Unemployment is reaching 28 percent. The public utility, Eskom, is on the brink of insolvency, likely necessitating a bailout.
In a compelling news feature, The New York Times described how South Africa’s economy under Zuma has failed to uplift those ground down under Apartheid: the poor blacks living in the country’s sprawling slums.
Meanwhile, the British bank HSBC recently closed accounts belonging to the Gupta clan, a rich family accused of “state capture,” or bribing politicians like Zuma to do their bidding, Bloomberg reported. British regulators are investigating whether the bank facilitated money laundering linked to the Guptas.
The contrast between poor ordinary folks and corrupt leaders is becoming untenable.
“There’s still a very strong, kind of powerful thing around him to try and protect Jacob Zuma, but he’s certainly losing followers by the day,” journalist Kim Cloete told PRI. “I think his time is running out.”
The question, however, is what Zuma might do with the time he has left.