Friday, 22 September 2017
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (692)

Senegal's ruling party has won a large parliamentary majority, according to official provisional results, following an election last Sunday that opposition leaders say was tainted by fraud.

President Macky Sall's ruling coalition took 125 seats in the 165-seat National Assembly after winning nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to the results announced on national television late on Friday.

The coalition of 91-year-old former president Abdoulaye Wade, whom Sall defeated in a 2012 presidential election that cemented Senegal's reputation as one of West Africa's most stable democracies, won 19 seats. A coalition led by jailed Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall won seven seats.

Last Sunday's vote was marred by delays in issuing biometric identity cards that prevented hundreds of voters from casting their ballots, part of what opposition leaders said was an intensifying clampdown on political opposition.

Posted On Saturday, 05 August 2017 13:17 Written by

The Gambia has revoked the diplomatic passports of ex-leader Yahya Jammeh and his associates, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as the new government pursues former regime figures it believes embezzled state funds.

Jammeh plundered an estimated $50 million before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power, the country’s justice minister announced in May, promising a commission would trace the money.

The Gambian government revoked “the diplomatic passports of members of the former regime and this includes President Yahya Jammeh, his wife Zeinab Jammeh and cabinet ministers,” ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Saikou Ceesay told AFP.

“The list consists of 271 people who no longer enjoy diplomatic immunities. They should have returned their passports when they ceased to be Gambian diplomats,” Ceesay added.

The government already froze Jammeh and his associates’ assets in May and said it had begun tracking down bank accounts and businesses linked to the former strongman.

Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his long tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain, as well as overseeing widespread rights abuses by his security forces, according to the new government.

He only left the country under threat of a west African military intervention after losing to President Adama Barrow in a December election and refusing for weeks to acknowledge the result.

Barrow said in an interview with AFP last month that although Jammeh was now in Equatorial Guinea, which is not a member state of the International Criminal Court, he believed the former leader would one day find himself in court.

“There are people who committed atrocities and faced justice. They were extradited to face justice. It can also happen with Jammeh,” he said.

Posted On Friday, 04 August 2017 02:51 Written by

South African Airways (SAA) has run out of money and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, according to information given to the country's parliament.

It is thought the national carrier may soon be unable to pay salaries.

The cash-flow statement shown to MPs and seen by the BBC paints a picture of an airline haemorrhaging cash.

It says that matters may improve by October, but only if it gets a 792m-rand (£45m) bailout from the government.

Even then, the situation is expected to deteriorate again by December with a forecast cash outflow in that month of £38m.

The airline has lost money in each of the past seven years. Acting chief executive Musa Zwane, who has led the company for the last 18 months, has been trying to put together a recovery plan since January.

"Essentially insolvent"

Last month, the Treasury paid out £125m to settle a loan from Standard Chartered Bank‚ which the bank had refused to extend.

South Africa's Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has disclosed that SAA asked the Treasury in March for a £560m recapitalisation. He is expected to give an answer by October.

Alf Lees, the deputy finance spokesman of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: "Essentially they are insolvent and should have filed for liquidation.

"We believe that the directors are in breach of the South Africa companies act by continuing to trade recklessly knowing that SAA will not be able to meet its financial commitments and without any guarantee that the shareholder (the South African government) will be prepared to continue to bail them out."

Unions marching

In 2015, consultants Ernst & Young presented a report to the government into 48 of the largest contracts awarded by SAA. The report showed that 28 of them, or 60%, were improperly negotiated, poorly contracted or weakly managed.

The airline is also facing pressure from its unions. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are planning a march on Friday to SAA's Johannesburg headquarters.

An NUMSA spokesperson said: "Corruption at SAA is rife, it's clear that the state owned entity is being looted.

"The report by Ernst & Young paints a picture of rampant mismanagement, fraud and corruption. SAA has lost billions because of tender irregularities."

The unions are also threatening strike action over pay, claiming that pilots have been getting generous pay awards while cabin crew, ground staff, cargo staff and technical staff have been refused wage rises.

Posted On Thursday, 03 August 2017 15:10 Written by
 

In the eyes of some voters, Philippe Mpayimana, a fresh-faced former journalist running for president of Rwanda, is just a clown. Otherwise, they ask, why would he be running against longtime President Paul Kagame?

Some of Mpayimana's campaign venues are nearly empty of people, underscoring a widespread belief among Rwandans that Friday's election is just another coronation for Kagame, who won 93 percent of the votes in the last election.

In the tidy capital, Kigali, there is little hint of the coming vote.

Presidential candidates are barred from putting campaign posters in most public places, including schools and hospitals. The electoral commission vets candidates' campaign messages, warning that their social media accounts could be blocked otherwise.

FILE - Presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana speaks to a crowd in Rwanda.
FILE - Presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana speaks to a crowd in Rwanda.

"Some people here even don't know names of candidates running against Kagame," said Chris Munyaneza, a university lecturer who lives in Kigali. "People are not bothered."

"There is no excitement because people knew the winner a long time ago," said another Kigali resident who insisted on anonymity for his safety.

Kagame has been de facto leader or president of the East African nation of 12 million people since his rebels ended its 1994 genocide. While he remains popular for presiding over impressive economic growth, he inspires fear among some Rwandans who say he uses the powers of the state to remove perceived opponents.

Three potential candidates for Friday's election were disqualified by the electoral commission for allegedly failing to fulfil certain requirements, including collecting enough signatures. Two others — Mpayimana and Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda — were cleared to run.

The 59-year-old Kagame has already claimed victory, telling a rally in July that the winner of the election is already known: "The day of the presidential elections will just be a formality." He pointed to a constitutional amendment after a referendum in 2015 that allows him to stay in power until 2034.

'Climate of fear'

Ahead of the polls, tension has been growing following the mass retirement of over 800 army officers — rare before an election — and the reported arrest of at least four senior officers. The arrests include a man related to the late Col. Patrick Karegeya, a former intelligence chief who became a prominent dissident but was found dead in January 2014, apparently strangled, in South Africa.

FILE - Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame gives a speech during a campaign rally, July 31, 2017 in Gakenke, Rwanda, ahead of August 4 presidential election.
FILE - Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame gives a speech during a campaign rally, July 31, 2017 in Gakenke, Rwanda, ahead of August 4 presidential election.

Karegeya's widow, who now lives in the United States, said of Kagame: "I think he is a man with an endless hatred, even to those he has put in the grave like my husband." Leah Karegeya said six family members, including her sister Goretti Kabuto, are in detention in Rwanda because of their ties to her late husband.

Two decades of often deadly attacks on political opponents, journalists and rights activists have created a "climate of fear" ahead of Rwanda's election, Amnesty International said in a report last month.

"There are many unknown prisons in this country, and many people have vanished and died there," said one supporter of opposition candidate Habineza, Charlotte Umutesi. "My brother disappeared for a long time and we didn't find him until much later. We need a change before it is too late."

'Visionary' leader

Rwandan authorities, including Kagame, deny critics' claims that the government targets dissidents for assassination or disappearances.

Others insist the president has widespread support. Eric Ndushabandi, a professor of political science at the National University of Rwanda, said many admire Kagame as a "visionary" leader who united a country scarred by the 1994 genocide, in which over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists.

"People are influenced by the traumatic situation of the genocide and conflictual politics in the past and no one is ready to go back," Ndushabandi said.

Meanwhile, opposition rallies often flop, apparently because some people are afraid to be seen associating with the president's opponents.

FILE - Presidential candidate Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party gestures to supporters at an election campaign rally in Musanze District, Rwanda, July 28, 2017.
FILE - Presidential candidate Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party gestures to supporters at an election campaign rally in Musanze District, Rwanda, July 28, 2017.

In the southeastern town of Nyamata, where independent candidate Mpayimana held his first campaign rally, only about 15 people — most of them children — attended. Police last week arrested the mayor of the western district of Rubavu, Jeremie Sinamenye, over allegations that he and some of his staff prevented voters from attending Mpayimana's rallies.

The other candidate running against Kagame, Habineza, called his campaign an act of "hope" despite the obvious risks. The organizing secretary of Habineza's party went missing two years ago and remains unaccounted for. The body of his deputy, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was discovered in 2010 with a severed head in the southern town of Butare.

That killing followed the shooting death of newspaper journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, whose tabloid had been suspended by Rwandan authorities.

"Running against President Kagame comes with courage," Habineza said.

Posted On Wednesday, 02 August 2017 14:51 Written by
 

A gunman and a police officer were killed in an attack on the home of Kenya’s deputy president in the western town of Eldoret, a senior administrator said Sunday, just more than a week before a national election.

Deputy President William Ruto and his family were not at home at the time of the Saturday attack, police said. Ruto is the running mate of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second and final term in office in the Aug. 8 elections.

“From the exchange of fire we thought it was more than one attacker, because he used different firearms, but after we subdued him, we found only one man dead, plus our officer who he had killed,” Wanyama Musiambo, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator, told reporters at the scene Sunday.

FILE- The home of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto in Sugoi village near Eldoret, Kenya, Aug. 4, 2010.
FILE- The home of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto in Sugoi village near Eldoret, Kenya, Aug. 4, 2010.

Musiambo declined to comment when asked about the motive of the attack, or the attacker’s identity. The deputy president’s residence is guarded by an elite paramilitary police unit.

Musiambo said the attacker initially had no gun but managed to break into the police armory once inside the compound.

“I want to say that after the operation we discovered that it was one gunman, but because he was inside there, he could change position and firearms because he had access to the guns. And the guns he was using were ours,” he said. “We have however launched investigations into the issue, to find out if he conducted the attack alone or he was with others who may have escaped.”

Late Saturday, police initially said the attacker was armed with a machete and had injured one police officer before holing himself up in an outbuilding.

Ruto and Kenyatta spent Saturday campaigning in the counties of Kitale, Kericho and Narok, the president’s office said in a statement. Neither commented on the incident.

A Reuters reporter near Ruto’s compound said he saw several police vehicles going in and out of the compound, as well as one armored vehicle in the compound.
The reporter said he also saw one armored vehicle in the compound.

Posted On Monday, 31 July 2017 21:01 Written by

At least eight people were killed and four others wounded Thursday when a car filled with explosives hit a police station in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A reporter for VOA’s Somali Service, Ahmed Hassan Olad, says the attack targeted the Waberi police station along the busy Maka al-Mukaramah road.

Olad, who was near the police station when the attack occurred, says he saw a man driving a Toyota Surf speeding toward the station.

Emergency teams are at the scene trying to help the wounded people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but militant group al-Shabab regularly attacks government buildings and places where government officials are known to congregate.

On Tuesday, an al-Shabab car bomber attacked a local administration building in the Wadajir district, killing at least 10 people.

On June 15, al-Shabab fighters assaulted two popular Mogadishu restaurants. The attack claimed 29 lives, including those of the six assailants.

Posted On Sunday, 30 July 2017 22:41 Written by

Senegal is wrapping up a heated campaign season ahead of Sunday’s legislative polls.

Tear gas filled the air in Dakar’s city center this week as police dispersed an opposition demonstration called by former president Abdoulaye Wade to denounce the organization of the upcoming election.

Wade’s return to the country to lead the main opposition coalition has been just one spark raising the temperature during this campaign period.

Another key political figure, the mayor of Dakar, is leading his "Manko Taxanu Senegal" coalition from prison. Khalifa Sall was arrested in March and charged with embezzling public funds. He demanded temporary release during the campaign period, but his request was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Supporters waited for the verdict outside the court. Mama Gueye, a coordinator for Ande Dollel Khalifa, a political movement supporting the mayor, was among them.

She said the verdict will not affect the "Manko" campaign. “We will continue the battle until he is released,” she said. “Our objective is to see him live and become the next president in 2019.”

Police arrest a protester on Place de l'Independance, in Dakar, Senegal, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)
Police arrest a protester on Place de l'Independance, in Dakar, Senegal, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)

​There are 165 seats to be filled in the National Assembly, and voters on Sunday will choose from a record 47 lists, casting their ballots by party rather than for individual candidates.

Many see the vote as a sort of referendum on the current government of President Macky Sall and a preview of his potential challengers for the top job in 2019, although analysts say it is unlikely the ruling party will lose its majority in parliament.

There has been some violence during campaigning.

In and around Dakar, supporters of Sall’s ‘Manko’ coalition have clashed several times with members of the president’s Benno Bokk Yaakaar coalition, which is led by the current prime minister.

Senegalese political analyst Aly Fary Ndiaye says the mayor’s coalition has made his continued detention work for them.

“It is a tactic to put pressure on the government,” he said, “to question the independence of the justice system and remind Senegalese citizens of the injustice [they say] Khalifa Sall is suffering,” Ndiaye said.

Abdoulaye Wade supporters gather in Dakar's city center to protest against what they say is a poor organization of upcoming legislative elections, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)
Abdoulaye Wade supporters gather in Dakar's city center to protest against what they say is a poor organization of upcoming legislative elections, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)

New ID card system

Meanwhile, former president Wade has joined civil society groups in condemning delays in the introduction of new biometric identity cards. The new ID cards were officially launched by the government in October last year, and also are meant to function as voting cards.

Sadikh Niass, Secretary-General of the NGO African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, says there have been delays in getting the cards out to voters, adding that as of July 19, many voting cards had yet to be printed. He also said those that have been issued are not reaching voters because the distribution system is poorly organized.

His organization estimated that with three weeks to go before the vote, only about 40 percent of voters had collected their cards.

Presidential spokesman Hamidou Kasse told VOA the situation is not as bad as reported.

“In distribution centers there are hundreds of thousands of cards waiting for their owners. In Senegal, we have the habit of waiting until the last minute before collecting our cards,” Kasse said.

Tear gas is used to disperse protesters gathered in Dakar's city center to protest against what they claim is a poor organization of upcoming legislative elections, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)
Tear gas is used to disperse protesters gathered in Dakar's city center to protest against what they claim is a poor organization of upcoming legislative elections, July 25, 2017. (S. Christensen/VOA)

On Thursday, local media reported that the Constitutional Court approved a request from the presidency to allow citizens without new biometric cards to vote using other forms of identification.

Legislative elections in Senegal typically do not witness high voter turnout. But with all the excitement during campaigning, this time could be different.

Still, Abdou El Mazide Ndiaye president of Gradec, a research group promoting democracy and good governance in Africa, says the anticipation of long lines could still be a turn-off.

“Lines at the polls will be long because there are 47 lists. People will be completely discouraged by the wait,” said Mazide.

That’s almost double the number of lists that voters had to choose from during the last legislative elections in 2012, and there are concerns it could lead to some confusion at the polls Sunday.

 
Posted On Saturday, 29 July 2017 05:59 Written by

Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria has been ranked the fourth wealthiest city in Africa.

With no other Nigerian cities listed in the ten-city fortune club, the nation’s commercial nerve-centre automatically clinches the wealthiest spot among Nigerian major cities.

In a report by AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth, Lagos, considered to be home to

US$120 billion Africa’s wealth, is only topped by two South-African cities; Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as Egyptian city of Cairo.

The Nigerian state is unofficially believed to be most populous too in the country.

Four billionaires in dollars are mentioned to be resident in Lagos, with 360 multi-millionaires and 6,800 millionaires.

Two Forbes-recognized wealthiest Nigerians, Femi Otedola of Zenon Oil and Mike Adenuga of Globacom reside in Lagos.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote also has investment in the city.

The report says by “Total wealth”, it refers to the “private wealth held by all the individuals living in each city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities and business interests) less any liabilities. We exclude government funds from our figures.”

Cities ranked below Lagos include, Nairobi in Kenya, Luanda, Durban, Pretoria, Casablanca and Accra.

While Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, Angola and Kenya have a city each to their fortune consideration, South-Africa has five of its cities listed, making it the richest country in Africa.

Highlight of the report;

Johannesburg: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$245 billion. Home to 18,200 millionaires (HNWIs), 970 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Our figures for Johannesburg include Sandton. Major sectors in the city include: financial services (banks, accountancies, insurance), professional services (law firms), construction, telecoms and basic materials.

Cairo: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$140 billion. Home to 8,900 millionaires, 480 multi-millionaires and 5 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, financial services and basic materials.

Cape Town: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$135 billion. Home to 8,200 millionaires, 440 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate, financial services (fund management), retail and tourism. Cape Town is also a second home hotspot for the wealthy with over 1,500 multi-millionaires living in the city during peak holiday months (many of these individuals are from outside South Africa).

Lagos: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$120 billion. Home to 6,800 millionaires, 360 multi-millionaires and 4 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, telecoms, transport, financial services and basic materials.

Nairobi: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$55 billion. Home to 6,800 millionaires and 280 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: financial services, real estate & construction, retail, tourism, FMCG, telecoms and basic materials.

Luanda: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$48 billion. Home to 4,100 millionaires, 240 multi-millionaires and one billionaire. Major sectors in the city include: real estate & construction, transport and basic materials (oil & gas).

Durban: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$46 billion. Home to 3,200 millionaires, 130 multi-millionaires and one billionaire. Our figures for Durban include Umhlanga, Ballito, Zimbali and La Lucia. Major sectors in the city include: real estate, finance, healthcare, construction, retail and transport.

Pretoria: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$42 billion. Home to 2,600 millionaires and 110 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.

Casablanca: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$40 billion. Home to 2,300 millionaires, 110 multi-millionaires and 2 billionaires. Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.

Accra: Total wealth held in the city amounts to US$35 billion. Home to 2,300 millionaires and 100 multi-millionaires (no billionaires). Major sectors in the city include: basic materials, manufacturing and financial services.”Ni

Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 16:24 Written by

Shocking images showing the bodies of dead migrants highlight the desperation of people who risk everything in the hope of improving their lives.

Some can be seen sitting on the edge of a rubber boat while 13 corpses fill the centre of the dinghy.

The dead included pregnant women and children, according to the Spanish charity that rescued those who survived the journey.

Rescuers from Proactiva Open Arms managed to rescue 167 people, including 40 women and six children, the charity’s spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said.

The boat was found drifting in the Mediterranean Sea, 15 miles north of the Libyan coast.

Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
The picture shows the desperation of migrants (Picture: AP)
Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
A vast majority survived the journey and were rescued (Picture: AP)
Horrific picture shows pile of dead bodies found in migrants' boat
More than 2,200 migrants have died already this year (Picture: AP)

In a separate incident, Save the Children rescued 90 migrants on board a small boat, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Both rescue operations were co-ordinated by the Italian coastguard.

Shockingly, more than 2,200 migrants have died while trying to reach Europe so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration said.

The number includes at least 25 people who drowned near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Tuesday.

The Libyan Red Crescent said some corpses were washed up on a beach while others were found on rocks in a state of decomposition.



Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 02:19 Written by

Seven state governors on Wednesday met ailing President Muhammadu Buhari in London.

The team was led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and the Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari.

Other governors on the delegation include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Umar Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

Here are the photos of the visit.

Buhari-with-gov1 Buhari-with-gov2 Buhari-with-gov3 Buhari-with-gov4

Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:25 Written by
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