Sunday, May 20, 2018

IGAD Meets South Sudan Parties on Governance, Security Matters
May 16, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has convened a meeting that brings together South Sudanese warring parties to discuss governance and security issues ahead of a new round of peace talks scheduled for May 17.

The consultation session taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from May 15 to 16 reportedly aims a providing the various South Sudanese parties with key information to enable them to identify optimal security arrangements, power-sharing options and challenges in relation to the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

“In the intervening period between Phase II of the HLRF [High Level Revitalization Forum] and today [Wednesday], IGAD Council of Ministers has been engaging with your respective parties in Juba, Addis Ababa, and Pretoria, in order to bridge the gaps in your divergent views on the outstanding substantive issues”, said IGAD’s Director of Peace and Security Division, Tewolde Gebremeskel.

According to Tewolde, IGAD arranged the current seminar to stimulate insightful discussions and broaden participants’ perspectives, expressing optimism that the outcome will contribute to the deliberations at the next phase of the HLRF starting on 17 May.

The two-say seminar, the regional bloc said, provides an opportunity for the key representatives of the parties, leading on governance and security issues, to revisit general principles and practices relating to governance and security issues during political transitions.

The session on South Sudan’s governance system and security situations will be followed by a new HLRF, which according to IGAD officials, seeks to ensure a peace agreement is signed the warring parties involved in the conflict that has displaced millions of people.

“While the sessions are not for negotiation, the case studies and presentations are meant to enable participants to reflect, in a non-adversarial environment, on the specific challenges of transitioning in the South Sudanese context,” the regional bloc said in a statement.

The security and governance issues workshop is expected to, among others, better understanding of the challenges of permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, created common understanding of the key concepts and options for transitional security arrangements as well as enhance knowledge that enables the participants to think creatively about solutions to the challenges of permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 when internal wrangles within its ruling party (SPLM) turned violent. The conflict, now in its fifth year, has seen tens of thousands of people killed.

(ST).
Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo Spreads
May 17, 2018

Congolese Health Ministry officials arrange the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 16, 2018.

by VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported another case of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

WHO officials said on Thursday the case was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city of more than one million people, in the country’s northwest.

Mbandaka is about 150 kilometers from Bikoro, a rural area where Ebola was found earlier this month.

The appearance of the deadly virus in the city has raised fears of a new Ebola epidemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was a concerning development.

A total of 44 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of the disease have been reported since the Ebola outbreak was discovered. Officials say at least 23 people of those patients are now dead.

The WHO says it is sending about 30 experts to Mbandaka. The first shipment of 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines arrived Wednesday in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. The vaccine will be given to health care workers and those who have had contact with the virus.

Drug company Merck, the vaccine’s manufacturer, has told the WHO it will supply whatever is needed for this outbreak.

International reaction

There are a few similarities between the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC and one the that struck West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

For one, the World Health Organization is already involved. Doctor Tedros led a delegation to Congo on May 13. He and others went there to study the early reaction to the outbreak and meet with Congo’s president and health minister.

Stephen Morrison is head of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He led research on the West African outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people.

Morrison says he is closely watching the latest outbreak in the DRC.

“I thought it was very commendable and a great sign of the change of outlook that Dr. Tedros himself was personally there, and that was very important.”

Efforts to stop the disease

Another difference from 2014 is that the WHO has set aside emergency money to get experts in place to contain a new outbreak. WHO experts and teams from Doctors Without Borders have been in Bikoro, where the outbreak was first reported. The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has people in the DRC.

In addition, the World Food Program is providing several flights a day to get the vaccine and supplies to the affected area. Workers have set up treatment centers that quarantine the sick from other people. The centers have hand-washing stations, where water mixed with bleach kills the virus.

'A lot of learning'

Morrison told VOA what is happening in Central Africa “shows a lot of learning and a different…response” from earlier outbreaks. He added that it is very different from the delayed response over a six month period in the West Africa outbreak.

Morrison points out that the DRC has a lot of experience dealing with Ebola, but the deadly virus was new to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014.

Morrison says a lot was learned from that epidemic.

“We are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario." Peter Salama of the WHO is Deputy Director-General for emergency preparedness and response.

In the worst case scenario, the virus could travel to heavily populated cities and get out of control. Bikoro is on a lake that feeds into rivers that connect to Kinshasa, Brazzaville and other cities. In Congo, the government, WHO and others are working to make sure this does not happen.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in the DRC since 1974, when the country was named Zaire.

I'm Susan Shand.

Carol Pearson reported this story for VOA News. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Why Does Ebola Keep Showing Up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
The country has been roiled by nine outbreaks of the disease

By Dina Fine Maron
Scientific American
May 11, 2018

When news broke this week that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing yet another Ebola outbreak, many public health experts were not surprised. The vast central African country has dealt with more outbreaks of this often-fatal hemorrhagic disease than any other nation. Yet exactly why the DRC is hit so often remains an unanswered question.

The DRC Ministry of Health announced the latest outbreak this week after laboratory testing confirmed two cases had occurred in the northwestern part of the country, near the its border with the similarly named Republic of the Congo. This is DRC’s ninth Ebola outbreak since scientists first identified the disease.

Most of the country’s outbreaks burn out quickly because they occur in relatively remote areas—but each has had a high fatality rate. The world’s first-known Ebola cases occurred in the DRC in 1976 (when the country was called Zaire), killing 280 of the 318 people known to have been infected. Last year eight cases were reported, and half of the infected people died.

The disease spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. It can be transmitted via sexual contact. It can also spread to people who encounter the bodily fluids or viscera of infected primates or bats, such as when someone prepares these animals for food. Most outbreaks have originated in Africa or from lab accidents elsewhere, and have remained small—but people traveling from sites of a 2014 outbreak that roiled west Africa led to isolated cases in locations including the U.K., Italy, Spain and the U.S.

Ebola experts have various suspicions about why the DRC remains so vulnerable. Most theories involve the country’s large forested areas, and the possibility that infected fruit bats—widely believed to be the primary reservoir animal for the disease—are common in the affected areas. “If you live or work in a forest where bats roost, you may have the bad luck to be in touch with bat guano from an infected animal. Or perhaps you encountered saliva or guano on a piece of fruit which an infected fruit bat was involved with,” says Daniel Bausch, a veteran Ebola responder and director of the U.K. Public Health Rapid Support Team. In certain areas of the DRC—including where Ebola has been reported recently—the disease can now be considered endemic in reservoir animals, he says.

During the massive Ebola crisis that gripped west Africa from 2014 to 2016, researchers were told about a bat-filled roosting tree in Guinea they suspected may have been ground zero for that outbreak. Rounding up some of those bats could have given scientists a chance to test the animals and confirm them as a main reservoir for the disease. But the tree burned down and the bats were reduced to char, destroying the opportunity to search for much evidence—although researchers were able to use trace DNA fragments to pinpoint that they were Mops condylurus, an insect-eating species common across central and west Africa.

Whether experts will be able to find infected bats during the latest DRC outbreak remains unknown, partly because there may have been undetected cases of the disease dating back months; any culprit bat colony may have moved on by now. “If the outbreak started last month, then yes, it would be interesting to sample the bats. But if it started in December, then no, the best thing to do may be come to back next December” (when the same type of bats may return to the area), says Pierre Rollin, an Ebola expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has responded to most known Ebola outbreaks.

Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was part of the team that originally discovered the virus in 1976, also believes people’s interactions with infected bats may be behind the repeated outbreaks there. “Due to its huge swathes of forest, the DRC is a reservoir for the virus, making the country particularly susceptible to outbreaks of Ebola,” he says. “Occasionally people living in these rural areas will come into contact with infected animals, and the transmission cycle begins.” Some experts also suspect deforestation could be a factor, bringing infected animals and people together in the area when they may cut down trees or butcher infected bats for food. DRC is about the size of Greenland—almost a million square miles—and much of it has long been forested, notes Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

The extent to which individual countries can detect, confirm and report the disease may also affect scientists’ understanding of why it occurs where it does. Whether or not the DRC is truly seeing the disease much more than some of its neighbors is debatable, Rollin says. “I think there could be surveillance bias—it’s difficult to say,” he says, noting the neighboring Republic of the Congo had multiple Ebola outbreaks in the early 2000s, although none have been reported since 2003. “The reservoir [animal] is in DRC, Gabon and the Republic of [the] Congo,” he says. So what’s different? The DRC has more robust Ebola surveillance and lab testing capacity in place, he says, and that may be a factor.

The U.K.’s rapid response team and the CDC are both standing by to help respond to the latest outbreak, and are consulting with the World Health Organization and the DRC’s Ministry of Health. But the British and U.S. organizations are not yet part of the formal response on the ground.  The formal response team—WHO, Doctors Without Borders and the DRC health ministry—have just arrived in the area, Rollin says, so there are still many unknowns.

In the latest DRC outbreak, “it is concerning that of the 21 reported cases so far, 17 are fatal. That makes me think this is the tip of the iceberg. But how large the iceberg is right now, it’s too early to say. It is appropriate to be taking this seriously and mounting a firm response,” Bausch says. “The village at the heart of the current outbreak is remote by land but it is on a major river with access to major population centers via the water route. And there is always concern about connections between populations.”

Dina Fine Maron is an award-winning journalist and an editor at Scientific American covering medicine and health. She is based in Washington, D.C.
DRC: Experimental Ebola Vaccine to Be Administered in Mbandaka
Campaign aims to prevent spread of disease into other parts of DRC and neighbouring countries

Jason Burke Africa correspondent
Sun 20 May 2018 19.20 EDT

 People arrive at the Wangata Reference hospital in Mbandaka. Photograph: Kenny Katombe/Reuters
Health authorities and NGOs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will begin administering an experimental Ebola vaccine on Monday in Mbandaka, the north-western city of 1.2 million people

The campaign aims to “ringfence” the outbreak. The risk of Ebola spreading within DRC is very high and the disease could move into nine neighbouring countries, the World Health Organization has said.

The death toll has risen to 26, with one new fatality and three new suspected cases declared on Saturday evening. Only one of these was in Mbandaka, raising hopes that the spread of the often lethal and highly contagious disease in the city could be contained. Forty-six people are now known to have been infected.

Oly Ilunga, the country’s minister of health, said the vaccine would initially target “the health staff, the contacts of the sick and the contacts of the contacts,”

The vaccine, developed by Merck, is not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in west Africa, where the biggest recorded outbreak of Ebola killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016. More than 4,000 doses are in DRC and more are on the way, according to officials.

The vaccination campaign would be a major challenge even for medical services in developed countries, but the DRC is one of the world’s poorest. Four times the size of France, the country has been  since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Hospitals, roads and electricity have problems, especially in remote areas. A major challenge will be keeping the vaccines cold.

In Mbandaka, a busy traffic corridor that lies on the Congo River and is an hour’s flight from the capital, Kinshasha, medical staff have been issued with infrared pistol thermometers to check travellers for high temperatures, as well as soap, basins of water and logbooks for recording visitors’ names and addresses.

Schools in Mbandaka are implementing preventive measures by instructing students not to greet each other by shaking hands or kissing. “We pray that this epidemic does not take place here,” said teacher Jean Mopono.

Soap dispensers have been put outside some businesses so people can wash their hands before entering. Meat sales at riverside markets have dropped off, traders say, because of the fear of eating contaminated bushmeat, which can pass Ebola on to humans.

Towns across the province of Equateur have been placed under surveillance, as have centres of population upstream and downstream of the outbreak.

River transport is the primary means of movement in much of DRC. This slows the spread of the disease but also makes it difficult to access remote places where outbreaks occur, experts say.

The WHO has stopped short of declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, saying there should not be restrictions to international travel or trade.

Ebola has been recorded nine times in the DRC since the disease first appeared near the northern Ebola River in the 1970s. It can cause internal and external bleeding. It has twice reached Kinshasa but, on both occasions, has been contained.

There is “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control,” said Robert Steffen, who chaired the WHO expert meeting last week. But without a vigorous response, the situation was likely to deteriorate significantly, he said.

Nahid Bhadelia, an expert in highly communicable infectious diseases at the Boston University School of Medicine, with frontline experience of the 2014 outbreak, warned against complacency. She said: “The vaccine is a powerful tool but you still need other tools. You still need to find the contacts. This outbreak has multiple epicentres that are some distance apart and include a big city … Then you need some kind of infrastructure to follow up.”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Joint Efforts of China, EU Needed to Fight Unilateralism
By Ai Jun
Global Times
2018/5/17 22:13:40

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday in Paris, the first stop of his ongoing European tour. He will also visit Spain and Portugal in coming days. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Wang's trip will launch a period of frequent interactions between the two sides. Meanwhile, recent moves from the US also provide China and the European Union with another reason to collaborate.

One day before Wang's visit, European Council President Donald Tusk blasted US President Donald Trump saying, "Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions. We realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."

He said this after Washington announced it was prepared to impose sanctions on European companies for doing business with Iran following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Previously the EU had been trying hard to grit its teeth and keep smiling at Trump's willfulness. Brussels wanted to safeguard its investment and security guarantee from the US, as well as boost its own confidence through a US-EU alliance against the backdrop of Brexit and growing discord within the block. But Trump did not think so. All he wanted to do was cast off international responsibilities, erect protectionist walls and break up trading partnerships. Europe finally realized it was pure folly to fantasize that the US could be in any way dependable.

"America first" has provided Trump with sufficient impetus to threaten EU enterprises while raising harsh terms against Beijing during the Sino-US trade negotiations. It is no exaggeration to say that Trump is posing an enormous risk to optimum distribution of resources, technical progress and the welfare of global consumers, all the benefits that come with globalization, free trade, market competition and the survival of the fittest.

Tusk argued the EU was confronting global challenges created by Trump's unreliability.

Europe is not alone in standing up to US unilateralism. Over the years, China has devoted itself to protecting multilateralism, pursuing an opening policy, proactively participating in global affairs and supporting the UN in playing a leading role in global governance. It has also promoted joint work with the EU in counter-terrorism, climate change and third-party cooperation.

Nevertheless, apart from bilateral trade, collaboration used to lack an intrinsic motivation. Consensus was in most cases reached by external stimulation, especially from the US. Facing pressure from Washington, China and the EU's first reaction was not to stick together, but to negotiate with the US separately. This deserves some introspection.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, has noted that "Now we have a leaderless, multipolar world. While we may talk about the G7, G8 or G20, the more apt description is G-Zero. We will have to learn how to live, and thrive, in this new world."

This is the part where Beijing and Brussels carefully deliberate how to enhance their cooperation, which is not simply aimed at easing the stress brought on by the US, but at maintaining and improving the current global order. 
Despite Global Mess, There is No Cold War II
By Liu Zhiqin
Global Times
2018/5/17 22:23:40

Some international scholars believe the world is in the midst of "Cold War II" when they assess the global vicissitudes of the decade and especially what the Donald Trump administration has done in the past year. In their writings, they create an illusion that the Cold War is back and call on people to stay vigilant.

However, despite some apparent symptoms, such an inference does not stand up to careful analysis.

As we know, the Cold War refers to estranged relations leading to a "neither-war-nor-peace" paradigm between the former Soviet Union-led socialist camp and the US-led Western capitalist camp. The phrase "Cold war intertwined with cold peace" could best interpret the world situation back then, which actually created a relatively closed, independent and tranquil environment for both sides to achieve development. In the Cold War, the iconic building was the Berlin Wall, and the iconic struggle was a tit-for-tat row over differing ideologies.

Technology and people-to-people exchanges were severed, and foreign trade was only carried out within the same camp. There was no so-called "globalization." In economy, the East and the West established the Council for Mutual Economic Aid and the Organization for European Economic Co-Operation to take charge of trade relations within each of their camps. In military, NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization were founded, regularly showing off their muscle with military drills. But when a contingency occurred, they could do no more than putting on a fierce look. That was why the Cold War lasted for nearly four decades.

Look at the situation now and we can find numerous contradictions but almost nothing similar to the Cold War of the past century.

In the first place, the international disputes have yet to split the world into "East and West" in the traditional sense: There's neither a socialist camp nor a new capitalist one. Confrontation between the two camps is key to a Cold War taking shape.

When it comes to ideology, nations have adopted divergent governing philosophies, which nonetheless, lend themselves to control. Ideological confrontation is the theoretical foundation of a Cold War. The "community of common destiny" initiative envisioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping has been gaining more understanding and support from most countries in the world. It demonstrates that no new ideological cold war is being waged.

Furthermore, no military groups have been founded in response to each other's formation, neither have economic councils. In contrast, all countries endorse the United Nations and the World Trade Organization for their respective roles.

Therefore, it's right to say that the world is undergoing dramatic changes but in no way has it ushered in a new "Cold War" as claimed by certain experts.

It's more accurate to say that modern society is gradually entering a "tangled warfare" cycle, which includes the confrontation between unilateralism and multilateralism, and skirmishes among small blocks, as shown by some European countries. Moreover, the US leads several partners and rivals against the international community. For instance, Washington keeps roiling the waters over the South China Sea territorial disputes and adopt the Indo-Pacific strategy. The world's biggest power also disagrees with most Western countries and truly became a loner on the world stage.

In such "tangled warfare," no permanent partnerships will come into being; what we will see is the temporary adjustment and regrouping of various interest relationships, which has added to the difficulty of global governance.

Protectionism under the Trump administration has gone to the extreme. Then, extreme protectionism will precipitate new "trade terrorism" to launch retaliatory attacks on other countries, thus expediting other forms of "tangled warfare."

Now there's neither the creeping chill of the Cold War era nor the projected row between different thoughts or ideologies. The world today is characterized by contention among countries for their own development interests. The values and credit systems revered by Western states have already been fragmented by their own destructive behavior.

In Europe, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, the Indian Ocean or the Asia-Pacific region, we are indeed mired in the muddy waters of "tangled warfare."

In this world-class melee, the US is seen everywhere. It's still bustling about even though it has reached its "physiological limit." That Washington attempts to show its presence in every corner of the world constitutes the fundamental reason for the "tangled warfare."

Fortunately, China has stayed calm and stable in this warfare and assumed its role in bringing about tranquility in the world. For the rest of the world, China is an honest, law-abiding and responsible large country as well as a trustworthy partner. What will ultimately lead the world is integrity and sincerity, not fighter jets and guided missiles.

The author is a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn
China Air Force Lands Bombers on South China Sea Island
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s air force has landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region, it said in a statement.

“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organized multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” it said in the statement issued on Friday.

It said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

The notice, published on the PLAAF’s Weibo microblogging account, did not provide the precise location of the exercise.

The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

“The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan told Reuters.

“We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region.”

Reporting by David Stanway and Winni Zhou; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON; Editing by Kim Coghill
Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola Virus Disease - External Situation Report 3, 18 May 2018
REPORT from World Health Organization
Relief Web
Published on 18 May 2018

Grade 3
Cases 45
Deaths 25
CFR 56%

Context

On 3 May 2018, the Provincial Health Division of Equateur reported 21 cases of fever with haemorrhagic signs including 17 community deaths in the Ikoko-Impenge Health Area in this region. A team from the Ministry of Health, supported by WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited the Ikoko-Impenge Health Area on 5 May 2018 and detected five active cases, two of whom were admitted to Bikoro General Hospital and three who were admitted in the health centre in Ikoko-Impenge. Samples were taken from each of the five active cases and sent for analysis at the Institute National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB), Kinshasa on 6 May 2018. Of these, two tested positive for Ebola virus, Zaire ebolavirus species, by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on 7 May 2018 and the outbreak was officially declared on 8 May 2018. The index case has not yet been identified and investigations are on-going including laboratory testing.

Update

Since the last situation report, four additional cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) including three suspected and one probable case were reported from Bikoro and Wangata (Mbandaka City) health zones in Equateur Province as of 16 May 2018. In addition, 12 previously identified suspected cases were laboratory confirmed for EVD including one case from Wangata health zone in Mbandaka City – an urban centre with a population of more than 1 million people. No new health zones reported cases since the last situation report.

As of 16 May 2017, a cumulative total of 45 EVD cases including 25 deaths (case fatality rate = 56%) have been reported from three health zones in Equateur Province. The total includes 14 confirmed, 21 probable and 10 suspected cases in Bikoro (n=36), Iboko (n=5) and Wangata (4) health zones. Bikoro health zone remains the epidemic centre of the outbreak, reporting 80% of the total cases and 93% of the confirmed cases. Approximately 51% of the cases in Bikoro health zone were have reported from Ikoko-Impenge health area – the area from where the first cases were reported.

A total of 532 contacts are being followed in Bikoro (n=330), Iboko (n=120) and Wangata (n=52) health zones. As of 16 May, 18 samples have been collected of which 14 tested positive by PCR – 13 from Bikoro and one from Wangata. Eleven of the confirmed cases were tested in the mobile laboratory installed by INRB in Bikoro – the remaining three were tested at the INRB, Kinshasa.

Friday, May 18, 2018

South Africa Warns of Possible World Nuclear Conflict
Southern Times
May18,2018
By Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has warned that the world might be at risk of a possible nuclear confrontation if tensions between most countries remain unresolved.

Sisulu was speaking during the budget vote for her department in Parliament. She said the continued aggression by bigger powers as well as terrorism is a great threat to global stability.

“Our global reality presents an unpredictable, dangerous environment. An eminent US opinion-shaper, the Atlantic Council predicted in 2016 that between 2020 and 2030 the world will be characterised by spiralling inequality and perpetual war and insecurity.

“This world will be ‘marked by the breakdown of order, widespread violent extremism and aggressive larger states.

The world situation will be driven by unpredicted and unpredictable events including the possibility of a nuclear exchange’. This lays the foundation of what we should avoid,” said Sisulu.

Sisulu added that tension continues to grow among various nations, which is a terrible threat to world peace.

“The growing tensions between the US and China, the growing tensions between NATO and Russia, the escalating war in Syria, the growing tensions with Iran, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; all could lead to a nuclear confrontation between major powers, which threatens the very essence and existence of humanity as we know it,” she added.

The minister also highlighted the important role of lobbying for peace and security that South Africa would play in the United Nations Security Council.

“It is within this unpredictable, highly volatile environment that we have to constantly recalibrate our foreign policy, but never lose the central thrust of peace, human rights and equality.

“Driven by this desire to moderate extremes, we have opted to stand for the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council, through which we hope to collaborate with all countries committed to the objective of peace and security.

We do not do this out of vanity, but pure rugged, brutal necessity and the willingness to lend a hand to keep peace. Our track record when we held this position previously speaks for itself,” said Sisulu.
Ebola Outbreak: Botswana Issues Travel Alert to DRC
Southern Times
May18,2018
By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana has issued a travel advisory informing its citizens not to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following confirmation of 17 Ebola virus-related deaths and 21 suspected cases in that country last week.

Giving reasons why it was not safe for her compatriots to travel to DRC, the Director of Health services Dr Khumo Seipone said Ebola is a highly contagious and virulent disease that currently has no cure.

She warned that the disease can be transmitted via human contact with the body fluids of an infected person and is fatal.

“Ministry of Health and Wellness advises the public to avoid or postpone travel to the DRC, especially affected provinces in the DRC. Travellers are further advised to take all the necessary precautions,” said Seipone.

 She said her ministry would continue to monitor the situation at all levels and will update the public as the epidemic unfolds.

 According to Seipone, symptoms of Ebola virus disease include a fever of acute onset (37.5oC) with unexplained bleeding tendencies from the nose (epistasis), gums, vagina, skin or eyes, bloody stools, vomiting and coughing blood, diarrhoea, deterioration of vision or decreased consciousness.

Meanwhile, the public relations officer in the same ministry, Doreen Motshegwa, said their health officials are on high alert and have put measures in place to ward off the spread of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

Motshegwa said following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola in the DRC, her ministry has put measures in place at points of entry.

She said the government will increase surveillance at points of entry and has already put in place rapid response teams and port health officers to detect any Ebola threats. It is the ninth time Ebola outbreak that has been recorded in the DRC, whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s, and the outbreak comes less than a year after one that killed eight people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was preparing for the “worst case scenario”, as it responds to the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

It added that it also considered the risk of the Ebola epidemic spreading high, though current cases are limited to the Bikoro region in the Equateur province, a pretty remote area of the country.

Reports also indicate that 32 people are suspected to have been infected with Ebola viral disease, including three health care workers. Eighteen of those who have died, including a health care worker.

But WHO advised against any restriction of travel and trade to the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on the currently available information. WHO noted that it continues to monitor travel and trade measures in relation to this event, and currently there are no restrictions on international traffic in place.

Currently, WHO said it considers the public health risk to be high at the national level, moderate at the regional level and low at the international level.

“As further information becomes available, the risk assessment will be reviewed. At present, this event does not meet the criteria of a public health event of international concern,” who said. 
Botswana in Panic as Masisi Asserts His Authority
By Southern Times
May13,2018
Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana’s civil service and allies of former President Ian Khama have reportedly been thrown into panic mode following the sacking of the Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Isaac Kgosi by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

The development has jolted Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi to coble up a statement allaying fears that civil servants were not being hunted down by the new political dispensation seeking to weed out all suspected corrupt officials in the public service.

Kgosi, who has been linked to a string of corrupt activities and has strong links to Khama, was fired by Masisi in what has the trappings of a coup last week.

He was handed a letter of dismissal by Morupisi at the Office of the President in the presence of his heavily armed juniors, who later escorted him to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) headquarters to handover government property among them service rifles.

Observers say while Kgosi’s sacking could have triggered panic in the public service, it signals how Masisi’s administration intends to fight growing levels of corruption in the public service. It also indicates how the president intends to assert himself as Botswana’s fifth president and thwart Khama’s perceived plans to retain a grip on power even after retiring.

Reports indicate that a few months before his retirement, Khama had locked Masisi into a five-year contract with Kgosi.

Kgosi was due to retire a few months after Khama stepped down from the presidency but decided to extend his stay, as intelligence chief for five more years.

The two men have been close since their days at the army until Khama joined politics as Vice President of Botswana.

He then roped Kgosi in and appointed him as his private secretary and later elevated him to head the DIS when it was set up.

In a statement, Morupisi said whenever there is an executive transition from one Head of State to another, it is inevitable that there will be changes in personnel at both Cabinet and senior government official level, as well as in administrative structures to deliver on its mandate.

“On behalf of the government, I, therefore, wish to take this opportunity to reassure the public that such changes will, where necessary, occur in the context of our longstanding commitment and frameworks for good governance,” said Morupisi.

It is, therefore, the responsibility of the President to ensure that he has a team in place to deliver on his mandate, Morupisi said.

This should not, however, Morupisi added be construed to mean that those who may have been either redeployed and or relieved in their duties have been found personally wanting.

“The public may also be reassured that there is no on-going witch-hunt in government, as has been alleged in some quarters in the media. Neither should such administrative changes be seen as a judgment on any previous administration,” he said.

Kgosi, who recently told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that he does not account to anybody including the President, was quoted as saying he believes Masisi was infuriated by his decision to lend Khama a DIS helicopter to fly to his home in Mosu.

This was after Masisi had reportedly instructed officials at the Office of the President to refuse to lend one of the presidential jets to Khama to use for travel to the village, in central Botswana.

Kgosi reportedly mocked Masisi’s decision to replace him with former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander of Ground Forces Brigadier Peter Magosi suggesting that he is not clean either.

Magosi was the head of the BDF Military Intelligence when four soldiers from the same unit gunned down a wanted suspect John Kalafatis in Gaborone in 2009.

“Who was the head of BDF military intelligence when John Kalafatis was shot dead,” Kgosi shot back when asked to comment on the fact that he had been replaced by Magosi, who was fired by Khama under controversial circumstances in 2016.

The former army men’s relationship soured back in 2015 when Kgosi allegedly reported Brigadier Magosi to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Although the DCEC found no dirt on Magosi, Kgosi was to later launch an investigation against Magosi for the alleged disappearance of the BDF intelligence surveillance equipment.

Reports indicate that Kgosi has been accused by many of abusing his powers as the head of intelligence and using his office to misuse government money.

Described by the local media as the most powerful person in Botswana, the 59-year-old former spy chief is also linked to the mystery surrounding P250 million  (about US$25 million) that was intended for the construction of fuel storage tanks that ended up in Israel, attracting the attention of financial watchdogs and corruption-busting agency, the DCEC.

Kgosi had initially requested the money to build fuel containers for security agencies but it allegedly ended up being transferred to Israel to pay for military, anti-poaching and surveillance equipment.

The case relating to the P250 million is expected to open a can of worms as asset manager Bakang Seretse, whose company managed the money on behalf of DIS claims that Khama and Masisi benefited from the proceeds of the money.

Both Masisi and Khama have rubbished claims that they are linked to the money.

But Seretse, through his lawyer Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae, told a magistrate’s court in the capital Gaborone that Khama used cash from the proceeds of the P250 million allegedly stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) to build a house and buy himself a caravan.

He did not disclose the amount of money that Khama allegedly got for the personal properties.

The court heard that Masisi was also one of the top politicians who benefitted from NPF, as he allegedly pocketed about P3 million (around US$300,000).

When asked if he was aware that Khama and Masisi benefited from the alleged stolen money, the investigating officer from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, Andre German, confirmed that he had interviewed Masisi and that he only got to know about Khama’s involvement in court.

Seretse is facing charges of fraud after the prosecution alleged that P250 million from the NPF was illegally spent.

But Seretse argues that Kgosi authorised all transactions and that he was acting on instructions from the former spy boss.

Seretse and his business associate, Botho Leburu, and former director of minerals Kenneth Kerekang are facing fraud and theft charges relating to the P250 million in question.

The case has seen investigators widening their probe to South Africa, Italy and the United Kingdom amid allegations that some of the stolen funds may have been laundered in these countries.

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), through the treasurer Satar Dada and secretary-general Mpho Balopi, has also moved swiftly to distance itself from the claims that it benefited from the funds.

“While we would ordinarily not comment on a matter still before the courts, the allegations made against the party are far-reaching, and, in the interest of the party, its supporters and the nation at large, we would like to set the record straight,” Dada and Balopi said in a joint statement.
Marenica Adds to Namibia’s Uranium Portfolio
Southern Times
May18,2018
By Esmarie Swanepoel

Perth – ASX-listed uranium company Marenica Energy has struck a deal with fellow listed Metals Australia to acquire the Mile 72 uranium project in Namibia.

Under the terms of the agreement, Marenica will pay A$30,000 (US$22,512) in cash and a preferential dividend of 1 percent of gross production from the project.

“We are excited about the acquisition of Mile 72 as we build a portfolio of uranium assets at the bottom of the uranium price cycle, assets in which our proprietary U-pgrade process is expected to add significant value,” said Marenica MD, Murray Hill.

“Mile 72 has been underexplored for calcrete uranium mineralisation and presents a great opportunity for the company to potentially delineate a high-grade resource, in a world-class uranium province.”

Hill pointed out that the mineralisation at Mile 72 was very similar to the Marenica uranium project, as well as the Langer Heinrich project and the Tumas deposits, all in Namibia.

Past test work on these projects has confirmed the amenability of U-pgrade, and indicated that the process could potentially reduce development costs by about 50 percent and the operating costs by about 50 percent.

Metals Australia director Gino D’Anna meanwhile said that the divestment of the Mile 72 project was in line with the change in the company’s strategy to position itself to become a developer of key commodities for the growing lithium-ion battery and energy storage markets.

“Marenica Energy already holds other uranium projects in Namibia and is well positioned to continue the exploration of the project. Furthermore, Marenica has developed a proprietary technology for processing of surficial uranium deposits. Consequently, Marenica is also more favourably positioned to undertake the development of any uranium deposits that may be discovered.”

The agreement is subject to obtaining any regulatory approvals that will be required in Australia and Namibia.

– Miningweekly.com
PAP Re-elects Cameroonian as President
Southern Times
May18,2018 
By Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg ‑ The Pan African Parliament has re-elected Roger Nkodo Dang, from Cameroon, for another term as president of the continental parliamentary body.

In elections held last week, Nkodo Dang retained his presidential seat after polling 133 votes, beating Zimbabwe’s Chief Fortune Charumbira who polled 47 votes, while Mostafa El Gendy from Egypt got 44.

Chief Charumbira was representing the SADC region, having garnered support from across the region to wrestle the PAP presidency from West Africa. His campaign team included Namibian parliamentarian McHenry Venaani.

Nkodo Dang said Africans should embrace democracy and unite. 

“I am hoping this is a lesson to my fellow Africans across the continent that democratic processes must be embraced and appreciated,” he said.

Chief Charumbira conceded defeat and congratulated Nkodo Dang for his victory.

“This is a process in a democracy. The will of the people has been seen through the numbers. I congratulate Honourable Nkodo Dang for being trusted to head parliament for another term,” said Charumbira.

However, the re-election of Nkodo Dang has been critisised as a threat to the idea of rotational leadership in the organisation.

“We condemn such behaviour. The PAP needs to ensure that it fully implements the rotational system to ensure that each region is afforded the opportunity to serve in the presidency,” said South African MP Mandla Mandela.

Felix Okot Ogong of Uganda supported Mandela’s sentiments. “The unwritten law in the PAP is that the presidency should be rotational. I think we now need to amend our rules to make the presidency rotational so that other regions get to the helm of leadership at the PAP,” said Ogong.

The PAP president is, however, under fire following allegations of corruption and marginalising staff from other regions.

His critics want a wide-ranging forensic audit to investigate allegations of mismanagement of funds, and suspicion that the president used PAP resources to campaign in 31 countries over three months purporting to do work for the parliament.

Meanwhile, the PAP and the United Nations, through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have partnered to address food security and malnutrition challenges across the continent.

Speaking during the sixth ordinary session of the fourth PAP parliament in Midrand, South Africa, head of PAP’s committee on rural economy, agriculture, natural resources and environment, who is also the first vice-president of the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA-FSN), Jacqueline Amongin, said stakeholders from PAP and FAO attended an inception workshop to emphasis the important role that politicians play in the fight against hunger.

“The inception workshop was meant to build our members’ capacity and awareness on food and nutrition security in Africa, including kick-starting the activities as per the memorandum of understanding between PAP and FAO in championing the agenda on ending hunger by 2021 through the smart legislative engagements,” said Amongin.

The workshop was held under the theme “Strengthening capacities of parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for food security and nutrition including the right to adequate food”.

The gathering was a follow-up to a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) signed between FAO and PAP titled “Strengthening capacities of parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for Food Security and Nutrition,” last October.

Also in attendance were government representatives from the four project pilot countries of the African Union (AU), namely Cameroon, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Overall, it is envisaged that the TCP project would strengthen the capacities of the members of the PAP to position food security and nutrition at the highest levels of the political and legislative agendas.

FAO country representative in South Africa, Lewis Hove, said parliamentarians play a critical role in addressing issues of food security.

“Evidence has shown that food security and nutrition policies and frameworks that are anchored in legislation are more effective and sustainable. Parliamentarians are, therefore, critical partners in the fight to eradicate poverty and malnutrition given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles, among others,” said Hove.

The project, with funding of US$350,000, started in October 2017 and is expected to end in October 2019.

The region is affected by the multiple burdens of malnutrition and is not on course to meet most of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Nutrition targets for the next decade, even though for some countries the prospects are better.

African leaders in 2014, through the Malabo Declaration and its implementation strategy and roadmap, committed themselves to reducing malnutrition to below 10% in Africa and underweight in children under 5 years to below 5% by 2025, with the aim of eliminating hunger in Africa in the next decade.

The TCP is designed to enhance the capacities of parliamentarians to prioritise the eradication of malnutrition and elimination of all forms of hunger on the continent.

 Additionally, it seeks to reinforce consensus on the importance of addressing the structural challenges to achieving food security and nutrition through a human rights-based approach, and strengthen national capacities to create the enabling legal and institutional environment for improved food security and nutrition.

The project supports FAO Strategic Objective 1: Contribute to the Eradication of Hunger, Food Insecurity and Malnutrition, and Regional Initiative 1: Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025.
Namibia, Angola to Abandon Currency Conversion Pact
By Southern Times
May18,2018 
Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – Bank of Namibia (BoN) will no longer allow the exchange of Angolan kwanzas through commercial banks in Oshikango, even if Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) settles its debt next month.

This is a big blow to a deal, which was once hailed as a landmark bargain meant to revive business at the border towns of Oshikango in Namibia and Santa Clara in Angola.

The deal, which was inked in 2015, allowed for the exchange of Angolan kwanzas at the border town of Oshikango through commercial banks but the deal went south after BNA experienced difficulties in repaying the debt, which accrued to R5 billion.

As a result, late in 2015, BoN informed BNA that it was altering the initial agreement. The changes, which came into effect on December 21, 2015, included a cash-based arrangement that did not attract any repayment, unlike before when Angola kwanzas were only exchanged through commercial banks in Namibia.

At the time of negotiating the currency conversion agreement, a barrel of oil then cost about US$100 on the world market. Angola, whose oil is the main source of income, is one of the world’s leading oil producers.

But at the time of implementation, both parties were rocked by the news that the price of oil per barrel had plunged to US$28 per barrel, sending the Angolan economy into headwinds.

Extracting oil is an expensive undertaking and companies need higher crude prices to turn a profit. If oil prices plummet, businesses would have no option but to reduce production and lay off workers to stay afloat while hoping for prices to recover.

Many Angolans lost their income, got stuck with worthless kwanzas until they realised that they could go to Oshikango, dump the kwanzas in the commercial banks then leave with Namibian dollars.

Although they spent the Namibian dollars in Oshikango, the kwanzas in Namibia’s commercial banks at the border town became too much. BoN would then send the kwanzas to BNA for the latter to repay in US dollars but BNA struggled to keep up with the influx of kwanzas and could not simply payback.

The two banks had anticipated that the transfer of the kwanzas from Namibia would total US$20 million per month but weeks later that amount was valued to about US$200 million.

“The two central banks observed some challenges including the exchanging of currencies outside the scope of the agreement,” BoN’s deputy director of corporate communications, Kazembire Zemburuka, told The Southern Times.

Measures (such as deploying police officers to kill the black market) were introduced to address the identified challenges, however, they did not fully address the crisis. As a result, a black market for currency exchange grew and, by the time the two banks agreed to make changes to the agreement, Angola was already owing Namibia about R5 billion.

Despite tough economic conditions in Angola, BNA has been managing to repay back the money and is expected to pay its last instalment of R600 million in June.

The halting of the agreement resulted in the disintegration of Oshikango into a ghost town with many businesses closing down as Angolans no longer flock to the town to do business.

Chairperson of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Northern Branch, Tomas Iindji said they hope to see this agreement in operation again as soon as possible.

He said it was a pity that there was widespread misuse during the brief period when the agreement was operational. He said, unfortunately, dishonesty people quickly found ways to skirt around the rules and black market currency exchanges contributed to the halting of the currency agreement.

“Many NCCI North members in that area cater to the consumer demands of wealthy Angolans looking to purchase goods and services they can’t find in their home markets, as well as Angolan businesses wishing to import products from the bonded warehouses operating along the border.”

Iindji urged the Bank of Namibia and the Banco Nacional de Angola to find a solution that will bring back the use of Angolan kwanzas at Namibia’s border town of Oshikango, saying the agreement has the potential to revive the business side of Oshikango.

Meanwhile, Bank of Namibia has said the Currency Conversion Agreement between Bank of Namibia and Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) is still in place through the implementation mechanism, which commenced on December 21, 2015.

“This entails the Bank of Namibia selling the Namibia dollars to Banco Nacional de Angola. BNA then facilitates currency exchange at commercial banks and Bureau de Changes in Santa Clara in Angola through their normal banking transactions,” said Zemburuka.
OUTCOME OF PORTUGUESE-ANGOLAN CORRUPTION TRIAL
 By João Paulo Batalha, Chair, Transparência e Integridade
(Transparency International Portugal)

A verdict last week by the Lisbon Court of Appeals in the trial of former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente has disappointed hopes for a triumph of legal due process over politics and impunity. It also has worrying implications for the independence of Portugal’s judiciary.

When the trial began in January this year, we called it a historic date in the complicated relationship between Angola and Portugal. Four months later, the outcome is disappointingly familiar.

Manuel Vicente, a current Angolan Member of Parliament who served as vice president until late 2017, was accused of paying more than €760,000 in bribes to Portuguese prosecutor Orlando Figueira in exchange for the dismissal of criminal investigations against him for corruption and money-laundering, among other crimes.

Vicente's lawyers and the Angolan government had pushed for the charges against him to be sent to Angola for trial there. However, lower Portuguese courts resisted this, finding in favour of the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office who argued that it was unlikely Vicente would ever face trial if the charges were sent to Angola.

The Court of Appeal has now over-turned these earlier decisions, and it seems inevitable that Vicente will be protected in his home country by various immunity laws, not to mention an amnesty law introduced in 2016 that will immediately clear him. The Angolan Prosecutor’s Office has even indicated that it would not follow up on the case.

The Portuguese Court of Appeals sent the trial to Angola under judicial cooperation agreements between the two countries. These allow for a person to be tried in their own country for crimes committed in another jurisdiction, as long as there are sufficient guarantees of the sound application of justice. Given that Manuel Vicente is unlikely to ever face prosecution for the criminal charges against him, speculation is rife that this was in fact a political decision. It also seems likely that the outcome of this case will have a bearing on other ongoing investigations against Angolan nationals suspected of money laundering and other offences in Portugal.

Responding to pressure from Angolan president João Lourenço before the outcome of the case, the president and prime minister of Portugal had publicly recognized the difficulties the case was posing to political and diplomatic relations between the countries. Both Portuguese politicians expressed their wish for a swift and satisfactory conclusion. Both welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision.

The likely prospect of  a high-ranking public official such as Vicente escaping with impunity raises questions about the separation of political and judicial powers in Portugal.

This is particularly worrying just now, because the current Prosecutor General’s term expires in October this year and the president and prime minister are the only two people who need to approve the next appointment.

Prime Minister António Costa and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa must make firm public commitments not to politicize the appointment of the next Prosecutor General, and commit to an open public consultation on either the reappointment of Joana Marques Vidal, the current chief prosecutor, or the appointment of her successor.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org
Swiss Make Raids in Probe Linked to Angola Sovereign Wealth Fund
Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities have raided several locations in Switzerland as they ramp up a criminal investigation into suspected money laundering connected to crimes involving Angola’s sovereign wealth fund and its central bank, prosecutors said on Friday.

Switzerland’s Attorney General opened criminal proceedings in April in response to the reports connected with alleged offences involving assets held by the National Bank of Angola and the Fondo Soberano de Angola, the Angolan sovereign wealth fund, the prosecutors said in a statement.

“As part of the criminal proceedings being conducted against persons unknown on suspicion of money laundering, on 16 May 2018, the Office of the Attorney General with support from fedpol (federal police) conducted searches at several locations in Switzerland,” they said.

Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund has been embroiled in a dispute with its former boss, the ex-president’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, and the Swiss-based asset manager contracted to invest money for the fund, Quantum Global.

The fund, which has taken its fight to British courts, has accused Quantum Global of mismanagement and sought a global freeze on its assets as well as an order for banks to reveal information on any accounts held in its name or on its behalf.

Quantum Global, which is led by Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, a long-term business partner of Jose Filomeno dos Santos, denies wrongdoing and has denounced what it calls “intimidating tactics,” saying the money it has under management is accounted for and the fund has violated its long-term contractual obligations.

Swiss authorities declined to specify the locations searched during their probe, and have not specified which entities are currently under investigation. The attorney general said its raids were coordinated with another authority conducting searches on the same day.

The Swiss newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger, citing its own findings, reported that federal tax authorities had conducted raids at Quantum Global’s Zug-based headquarters and Bastos’ Zurich-based Turtle Management on Wednesday.

Quantum Global and Turtle Management did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Federal Tax Administration declined to comment, citing tax privacy laws.

Switzerland’s financial watchdog said it was currently making inquiries into the matter, but declined to provide further details.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Richard Balmforth
Mozambique, Uganda Identify Multiple Sectors for Cooperation
2018-05-18 06:35:30

MAPUTO, May 17 (Xinhua) -- President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, leading a delegation composed of high ranking officials from his government, said on Thursday that his three-day state visit to Mozambique is aimed at reinforcing cooperation between the two African countries.

Museveni held talks with the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi and both expressed interest to reinforce cooperation as well as to promote a much more prosperous experience exchange between the two countries in different domains particularly the business sector.

After talks between the two heads of State, Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Pacheco said that the two countries identified five sectors of priority for cooperation namely politics and diplomacy, defense and security, agriculture, industry and trade, and tourism.

"In the defense sector both countries will cooperate in the establishment of a mechanism for exchanging information, in use of their capacity. On the other hand Mozambique particularly expressed interest to have its staff trained in the domain of mineral resources," said Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

Pacheco said that in the sector of food security both countries will explore their advantages and a specific memorandum in the agriculture sector will also be considered.

Uganda expressed interest to import mineral coal produced in Mozambique a process that is expected to take effect immediately.

On Thursday both countries signed two agreements namely the General Cooperation Agreement and the Specific Agreement. To concretize the agreement, a joint ministerial commission will meet in Kampala in August this year.

Editor: Chengcheng
Angola and Mozambique: Economies With Many Short-term Challenges
By Southern Times
May18,2018

Angola and Mozambique, the two largest Portuguese-speaking African economies, are facing high short-term economic and political challenges, according to the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index (BTI 2018).

Economic transformation is the aspect in which Angola has a lower rating in BTI 2018 (3.68 points on a scale of 1 to 10, ranking the country in 108th place out of 129), but was better classified in terms of political transformation and the governance index in which the country is in 105th place, with 3.94 points.

BTI 2018 said in the current context of economic and financial crisis, the ruling MPLA party, which has led the country since independence, must “seize the opportunity created by the appointment of João Lourenço”, to the president of the republic to strengthen political dialogue and transparency, as well as introduce measures against corruption.

A “peaceful” transition to the new leadership may require a serious commitment to a comprehensive reform programme, in order to reduce waste of public resources, inefficiency, and corruption.

All this would allow “the government to keep its promises of diversification of the economy,” it being “crucial that it moves away from dependence on oil revenues and reinvest revenues in the social sector to mitigate growing social tensions,” said BTI 2018.

In Angola’s case, freeing up resources for economic diversification is crucial, but Mozambique’s challenge is to restore external trust, shaken by the US$2 billion “illegal debt” case, whose discovery led to the suspension of aid by Western partners in 2016, worsening the economic and financial situation, with public debt close to 120% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

BTI 2018 argues that the government will have to “seek international assistance to restructure public debt while establishing transparent accountability mechanisms”.

The recovery of donor trust, he says, requires the adoption of International Monetary Fund recommendations in the case, which involve the accountability of the government officials who led the process.

Another challenge highlighted by BTI 2018 is the stimulation of investor confidence and the attractiveness of the economy, which requires “a reduction of bureaucratic requirements for setting up and running businesses, while at the same time finding a balance between promoting a favourable environment for investment and generation of public revenues.

The document, along with considering that Mozambique needs to diversify the economy, said there are other economic challenges, such as reducing the rate of inflation and adopting policies that foster agricultural production and reduce poverty.

Mozambique has ranked 10 places ahead of Angola in 95th place in BTI 2018, with 4.31 points on a scale of 1 to 10, with political transformation being the strongest indicator (83rd overall) and economic transformation the weakest (101st).

- Macauhub
Hundreds of Imo APC Women Protest Against Congress
MAY 18, 20182:23 
By Chinonso Alozie Owerri
Nigeria Vanguard

Hundreds of women of the Imo state All Progreeives Congress, APC, Friday, protested against the APC congresses held in the state.

This was, as the state chairman, of the APC, Mr. Hilary Eke, confirmed to Vanguard in Owerri, that the LGA congress will hold on Saturday.

The women who gatherd at the Victory chapel Imo government House, and also marched to the police headquarters, said they were demanding for a new date to be fixed for the congress, and prosecution of those were involved in the alleged irregularities in the congresses.

In a communique signed by 27 APC women leaders, led by Ugochi Nnanna Okoro, said: “We condemn in its entirely the actions of some fraudsters whose actions/inactions truncated the ward congresses scheduled for 5th May, 2018 and subsequently congresses.

“We condemn and do not accept the hijacking of electoral sensitive materials meant for the ward congresses. “We demand for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Chief Inibehe Okori, Osita Izunaso, Ifeanyi Araraume, Theodore Ekechi, Kelechi Nwagwu, for bolting away with electoral materials they received for the ward congresses.

“Imo women henceforth will not tolerate snatching, hiding of electoral materials, or violence within subsequent elections. “We demand a new date for a new congress which should be free and fair. We are ready to go to the field with anybody in test of popularity. We affirm our loyalty to the party and observance of the rule of law as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

But According to Eke, “The APC, state Congress will hold on Saturday, no going back. The leadership of APC, has directed that the congress will take place.

When asked the venue for the Congress, since the party was burnt he said: “There will be stakeholders meeting and in that meeting the stakeholders will decide the venue. I am not the congress chairman to decide where the congress will take place.

“So, the stakeholders will come together and the decision will be taken. It is not the state chairman that will say where the congress will hold.”

Imo APC women protesting in Owerri, against the congresses held in the state.

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/05/hundreds-imo-apc-women-protest-congress/
36% of Nigerians’ Health Needs Are Met, Says Survey
By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Matthew Ogune (Abuja) and Adaku Onyenucheya (Lagos)
Nigeria Guardian
18 May 2018   |   4:24 am
PHOTO: nigeriahealthwatch.com

• Aisha Buhari, decries drug abuse, tasks pharmacists
• Expert seeks investment in research to stop under-five death

A recent survey conducted by Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, on the current state of Nigeria’s health system, shows that only 36 per cent of Nigerians’ health needs are met.

The survey, aimed at understanding the future of health in Nigeria and other associated health challenges, stated that the estimated percentage highlights a clear discrepancy between the expectation of Nigerians and the reality of the healthcare system.

The survey, released in Lagos at ‘The Future of Health’ summit, in association with Forbes and CNBC Africa, showed that with more than half of Nigerians leaning on hospital facilities for minor ailments, there is a clear need for improved access to primary care practitioners, local health facilities, tracking health indicators and a wider availability of information about health, nutrition and fitness.

Chief Executive Officer of Philips Africa, Jasper Westerlinks, who spoke on the findings, said: “This study highlights the need for a greater focus on preventive healthcare for a sustainable health system, especially given the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In a related development, wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has decried the frequent abuse of prescription drugs, especially by women and youths.

The First Lady, who spoke while receiving members of Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALP) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said government had done well by banning importation of codeine for the preparation of cough syrups as well as retailing of codeine containing cough syrups without prescription.

She, therefore, called on pharmacists to play their part in the ongoing effort to protect women and youths from drug abuse, saying: “There is the need for pharmacists to comply with the enforcement directive. Lady pharmacists, as mothers, have a special role in protecting women and youths against drug abuse.”

The National Chairman of ALP, Zainab Ujudud Shariff, commended the efforts of Mrs. Buhari in the area of IDPs’ women and youth empowerment.

Mrs. Shariff posited that drug abuse is indeed a huge challenge that requires input from all stakeholders, and as lady pharmacists, they have a special reason to lead the war at homes, markets, schools and elsewhere.

Also, an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemical Sciences, Redeemers University Ede, Osun State, Dr. Emmanuel Unuabonah, has urged the Federal Government to invest more in research and mentoring to raise scientists capable of bringing about the desirable change in the country.

Unuabonah, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at the induction of fellows and presentation of 2017 Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) gold medal to deserving associates by the NAS, said: “Research is going to save the lives of millions of Nigerians, especially children who are under five because they have the worst cases when it comes to water-borne diseases. If we take the research seriously, we will be on the right part to save millions of Nigerians.”
Nigeria Targets First Nuclear Energy Plant by Mid 2020s
By Tobi Awodipe, Sochi, Russia
Nigeria Guardian
18 May 2018   |   4:29 am

Nigeria will get its first nuclear energy plant by the mid 2020s.

The President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (Nigatom), Simon Pesco Mallam, made the disclosure at the just-concluded 2018 AtomExpo in Sochi, Russia.

Mallam told The Guardian exclusively: “We have a roadmap and that is by the mid 2020s. We hope we can get a commercial plant and add three more in five to 10 years.”

As to whether Nigeria would be partnering with Russia or not, he said: “We have a good agreement with Russia, but we have not signed any contractual agreements yet. We have signed operational agreements, project development agreements, but not any commercial contractual agreements.”

On when the deal could become reality, he said: “I can’t give a particular time, so you don’t come back and say I promised you so and so date. But just know that it is in the works, and in a few years, we will all see the results.”

Mallam refuted reports that Nigeria had signed multi-billion dollar agreements. “Some newspapers (not The Guardian) have been claiming that we signed a $20 billion contract with Russia. But I want to tell you categorically that this is not true. We have only cooperation agreement with Russia, and we are hoping that if all works well, we would develop the infrastructure and eventually sign a contractual agreement with them. But we are not closing our doors to other partners that may be interested and are ready to work with them. If we work with Russia, fine. But if we need to work with others, we are fine with that as well,” he said.

Mallam’s rebuttal was of the story that Nigeria in October 2017 signed a deal with Russia for the construction of two nuclear power plants. It claimed: Nigeria began talks with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, in April 2015 to collaborate on design, construction and operation of four nuclear power plants by 2035, the first of which will be in operation by 2025. In June 2015, Nigeria selected two sites for the planned construction of the nuclear plants. Neither the Nigerian government nor Rosatom would disclose the specific locations of the sites, but it is believed that the plants would be sited in the states of Akwa Ibom and Kogi.

Nuclear energy is the future for Nigeria, said Mallam. “Power generation is still very poor in the country, and even gas that was touted as better has now become problematic. We can’t supply gas to our IPPs and gas pipes are being sabotaged daily. We need to move from the former way of doing things into the future,” he added.

But Zambia might already have stepped into tomorrow as it signed a contract for the construction of a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology with Rosatom.

The centre will be located 10 kilometres from the capital, Lusaka. It will include a nuclear research facility based on a multipurpose research water-cooled reactor of up to 10 MW, a state-of-the-art laboratory complex, multipurpose irradiation centre as well as a cyclotron-based nuclear medicine centre.

The project will be implemented in several stages within three to six years from the work commencement date stated in the contract.

The General Director of State Specialised Design Institute JSC (GSPI), Vyacheslav Galushkov, signed the document on behalf of Russia, while the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education of the Republic of Zambia, Mabvuto Sakala, signed on behalf of his country. The General Director of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev and Minister of Energy of the Republic of Zambia, Mathew Nkhuwa, witnessed the signing.

The construction of the centre is the first joint project between both countries in the field of nuclear technology.
Economic Council Directs NNPC, Others to Refund N8tr
By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
18 May 2018   |   4:35 am

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Excess crude account now $1.803 billion

The National Economic Council (NEC) has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other agencies in the country to refund unremitted revenues in the sum of N8trillion (about $21billion) and another N526billion into the Federation Account.

The council, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, consists of governors of the 36 states of the federation, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and minister of finance.

The directive came yesterday, following the adoption of a report by auditing firm, KPMG.

Recall that following suspected cases of revenue leakages, NEC in August 2015 had constituted an ad-hoc committee to audit some government agencies allegedly remitting dollar revenue in naira into the national treasury.

The committee was initially chaired by former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, who handed over to Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.

Briefing State House correspondents after yesterday’s meeting, Dankwambo said the presentations and reports by KPMG and recommendations resolved to identify instances where there appeared to have been criminal infringements, and forward the same to the attorney general of the federation and the legal committee of NEC for further action.

He said council also resolved to pursue measures that would strengthen NNPC’s governance structure, to prevent recurrence of gross under remittance by the revenue generating agencies.

According to Dankwambo, after receiving the report, Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun recommended that the agencies refund the money to government’s coffers.

Dankwambo said the organisations audited included the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Ports Authority and Nigeria Customs Service.

He was joined by the governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdul’ Aziz Yari; Governor of Osun State Rauf Aregbesola; and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma.

Dankwambo said: “We are talking about Federation Account because those that paid by law to the Federal Government are the responsibility of the Federal Government. So, all the entities in the budget that are supposed to pay revenues into government’s coffers were checked from 2010 to June 2015. One of the resolutions of NEC, today, is to extend the audit to June 2017. So, the audit will continue for the remaining agencies. These are NNPC, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR), Customs, Federal Internal Revenue Services and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). All the revenue generating agencies and the details of the infringement are contained in the report.

“The most important decision that was taken is that a sub-committee will be set up, which will be an arm of the legal committee of NEC that will look into the details of these kinds of infringements and make sure that those issues that are criminal and require prosecution would be handled by the office of the attorney general of the federation.

“We are not looking for a company that is doing well. Accountability does not mean you are doing well. The mirror is very big. And how you look at the mirror is how you will see yourself. So, it is an exception report. We are not looking at the good boys; we were looking for exceptions. And to go further, it is a forensic audit detailing this kind of shortcomings.”

In his remarks, the Zamfara State governor said NEC also discussed the idea of states determining how much is paid as subsidy by government and not the NNPC.

He said: “The item was brought up for discussion, but it was referred back to the sub-committee for remittances, of which I’m chair. We are doing the nitty-gritty with NNPC in terms of remittances. Don’t forget that the reason we got it right in 2016 on the NNPC side was because oil prices were too low. It was easy for everyone to get fuel into the country and make profit. So, when the price started going up, the marketers began adjusting, because they needed to have a template of cost recovery and how they are going to make up the difference from the pump price to the landing cost of what they are importing.

“Our problem is the volume; the quantity of consumption which is not acceptable. Working with the governors, so many decisions were taken. By next month, we are going to adopt that position; either the governors to take responsibility for the subsidy in their states based on the consumption or we look at other ways.

“For instance, if you say we paid N800 billion subsidy, you will ask who we are paying the subsidy to? And if you look at infrastructure development and capital programme of the Federal Government, it is about N1.1trillion, almost 70 per cent of what you are spending for developing the economy.

“If there is no infrastructure development, then you cannot talk about development of the economy. N800 billion is a huge amount. We must look at it and ask who is benefiting from it. So, we are coming up with a strategy. We are going to meet in the month of May and June. By the next meeting, we will definitely come up with a position of the government at both the levels of the volume of what is being brought into the country and what the state and Federal Government collaborate to check.”

The council said the balance in the Natural Resources Development Fund as at May 14, 2018 was N116.104 billion. Also, the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at same date was  $1.830billion.