“What Did I get Myself into?”
Extracted from Zapiro cartoon 141221st
Extracted from Zapiro cartoon 141221st
(KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese official concluded a visit to China this week after which he announced that the two countries reached new understandings to reschedule Khartoum’s debts allowing it to repay under a more convenient timeline.
The minister of state at the Ministry of Finance Abdel Rahman Dirar made the revelation in press statements following his return from Beijing on Saturday but declined to disclose any details on the new terms of agreement.
The minister attributed the delay in Sudan paying its debts to the secession of South Sudan, and also announced an agreement between Khartoum and Beijing to resume the flow of financing and remittances from China to a number of development projects in Sudan by directing banks to facilitate the procedures.
Last year, the IMF said that Sudan’s debt will hit $44.7 billion in 2013 which amounts to 87.6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It urged Sudan at the time to work with South Sudan on the issue of debt that existed under the pre-secession Sudan, which has currently been inherited by Khartoum.
On December 12th, the Sudanese minister of minerals Ahmed Mohamed Sadiq al-Karuri who chaired his country’s in meetings of the Sudanese-Russian Joint Ministerial Committee, declared that Moscow agreed to write off $17 million debt owed by Khartoum.
In a related issue, the state minister of finance said he signed agreement with Chinese SZZ corporation for constructing the new Khartoum airport in three years for $700 million to be repaid by Sudan in 20 years including a five years grace period.
He pointed out that this amount is the largest Sudan ever received in one lump sum adding that they also reached an agreement on several other development projects in the areas of roads and electricity that is funded separately.
The official also revealed an agreement with CNBC corporation that specialises in manufacturing trains to forge partnerships in the areas of trade and the agreement with the China Import and Export Bank to facilitate the work of the joint ventures.
South Africa’s Zuma says in ‘perfect’ health after post-election fatigue
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma said he was in “perfect” condition after recovering from a bout of fatigue that left him hospitalised in June, playing down reports of health problems.
Zuma, 72, has noticeably lost weight since coming to power in 2009. He was hospitalised for two days of tests following what his office said was a demanding schedule in the run-up to May’s national election.
“I think we did overstretch ourselves, I think there was fatigue thereafter,” Zuma said in an interview with national broadcaster SABC that was aired on Sunday.
“There was a period where I really took it easy. I couldn’t say my health was in perfect condition — I’m in perfect condition now — but at that time, one could feel the strain of elections.”
The Sunday Times newspaper reported in June that Zuma’s hospitalisation was triggered by heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. His spokesman later dismissed the report, saying Zuma was fine.
Worries about Zuma’s health have raised some speculation he may not see out the full five years of his second term. His ruling African National Congress (ANC) won a 62 percent majority in the May polls, its narrowest victory since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Nigeria: Niger, Benin, Mali, Cameroun More Prosperous Than Nigeria – Global Report
The report, published by UK-based Legatum Institute, a research organization that documents annual prosperity indicators around the world, listed Nigeria as the 125th out of 142 countries surveyed.
Remarkably, Nigeria failed to make the list of Africa’s top 10 most prosperous countries, a league dominated by Botswana and South Africa.
Other countries in that bracket, listed from third and below, are Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.
Nigeria fell to 27 in Africa in 2014, nose-diving 22 places from its ranking in 2011, the report said.
In between the top 10 countries and Nigeria are Benin, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Egypt, Tanzania, Malawi, Djibouti, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Republic, Zimbabwe, and Mauritania.
“The 2014 Prosperity Index provides a lens through which to view a comprehensive assessment of national success. The Index measures the broad set of indicators that tell us not only how nations perform economically but in vital areas of education, health, freedom, opportunity, social capital,” said Executive Director of Legatum Institute, Sain Hansen.
Other indicators measured by the institute are, governance and safety and security.
For each of the indices assessed, Nigeria performed woefully, highlighting how life in Nigeria is perhaps among the harshest in the world despite the country’s oil and mineral wealth.
Nigeria’s best ranking was in the economy group, where it was ranked 97th out of 142 countries in the survey.
Elsewhere, Nigeria ranked 114th, 130th, 123th, 132th, 137th, 106th, and 108th in entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom and social capital respectively.
The leading African country, Botswana, ranked 75th globally, and has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $15,147. The country is among the biggest proportional spender in the world as its government spends 8 percent of its GDP on Education.
The least ranked country in the survey is Central African Republic, barely unexpected as the country has be ravaged by internal ethno-religious conflict in the past few years.
Norway is ranked as the most prosperous country in the world followed by Switzerland.
LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s ruling party has settled on Defence Minister Edgar Lungu as its presidential candidate, it emerged on Saturday, ending months of in-fighting that had threatened its chances at a Jan. 20 election.
After President Michael Sata died in October, his Patriotic Front (PF) was rocked by a leadership battle between Lungu and a faction led by the acting president, Guy Scott, who is himself ineligible to run.
The power struggle was seen as potentially clearing the way for an opposition candidate to win, creating political uncertainty in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.
“We are going in full force as one political party now,” Lungu told reporters after filing his nomination papers on Saturday, in the presence of Scott, showing the rift had been healed.
Scott, who was Sata’s vice president, is ineligible to run as his parents were born abroad. This week, a majority of cabinet members called on Scott to resign, accusing him of working against the interests of the party by trying to promote his own candidate, a demand he rejected.
The race for the presidency is now clearly between Lungu, a lawyer who is seen as having strong grassroots support, and economist Hakainde Hichilema who leads a loose alliance of opposition members of parliament.
Mail and Guardian
Documents raise major questions about the suspension of two top Sars officials
New doubts have been cast on the decision by South African Revenue Service (Sars) boss Tom Moyane, recently appointed by President Jacob Zuma, to suspend his deputy, Ivan Pillay, and another key official.
Documents seen by amaBhungane show that allegations that Pillay and Peter Richer presided over a rogue Sars intelligence unit that spied on political luminaries have been recycled – and rebutted by Sars, repeatedly, since 2009.
Moyane faced an embarrassing climb-down on Wednesday when Sars was forced to agree to revoke Richer’s suspension after the two men challenged the decision in the labour court. On Thursday Judge Annelie Basson ruled Pillay’s suspension was illegal and she ordered Moyane to reinstate him with immediate effect.
The documents include Pillay’s extensive submission to the Sikhakhane panel of inquiry into Sars’s head of investigations, Johann van Loggerenberg, and Pillay’s 34-page response to the panel’s final report.
The documents suggest the claims of a rogue unit only gained purchase after Moyane took over in September and they show that Pillay argued strongly that the allegations were given spurious credibility by the inquiry panel, led by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane.
Moyane suspended Pillay and Richer on December 5, after having received the panel’s report a month before.
The Sikhakhane panel was appointed by Pillay himself, who was acting as commissioner before Moyane’s appointment, to investigate allegations made against Van Loggerenberg by his estranged lover, former State Security Agency agent Belinda Walter.
Walter alleged Van Loggerenberg had conducted illegal surveillance of her and others and had disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
But, following media reports about the existence of an alleged rogue unit in Sars, the panel expanded its own mandate to investigate the establishment and legality of the so-called national research group (NRG).
The unit, established by Pillay and Richer in 2007, and later managed by Van Loggerenberg, was intended to investigate high-risk tax and customs offences, particularly relating to organised crime.
The Sikhakhane panel found the establishment of the unit was unlawful and that it “may have abused its power … by engaging in activities that reside in the other agencies of government, and which it had no lawful authority to perform”.
The documents reveal that:
Pillay is scathing about the panel report.
Evidence, he noted, was “not simply allegation, but factual material”. He argued that the panel had relied on unnamed sources, failed to weigh up the veracity of evidence, and had indulged in “facile psychological commentary that should have been avoided”.
He stated: “The panel, for instance, refers to how Sars were ‘hypnotised’ by Van Loggerenberg’s perceived power and charm. It also refers to … entering the world of ‘intrigue, deceit and subterfuge’, and to an atmosphere of fear that the existence of former intelligence operatives induced in Sars. No facts are proffered to support these observations.”
The panel, Pillay disclosed, took a decision to extend its mandate to investigate the unit based on what was reported in the media.
A Sunday Times report claimed that the unit had planted a listening device in Zuma’s Forest Town home in Johannesburg and had illegally carried out covert intelligence gathering.
Despite finding no evidence that Zuma or anyone else had been bugged, the panel ruled its activities were covert and therefore illegal in terms of applicable intelligence laws.
But Pillay argued the panel failed to deal with the factual and legal technicalities of whether Sars could engage in legal intelligence gathering of a “departmental” nature, which the National Strategic Intelligence Act allows.
In his critique, Pillay said: “The report states that the NRG operated as a covert unit or had elements of a covert unit. Nowhere in the report does the panel explain its definition of ‘covert’ …”
Pillay said, in reaching this conclusion, the panel had probably made three errors. First, it relied on untested allegations. Second, it conflated the unit as planned in 2007, when it was originally to be housed within the National Intelligence Agency, with the unit that was established after the NIA pulled out. Third, the panel did not distinguish between “discreet” investigation of legitimate Sars targets as opposed to the covert gathering of national security intelligence, which was the preserve of the statutory services.
Pillay said it appeared the panel had not taken into regard his extensive main submission about the development of Sars’s investigative capacity, including the unit.
Attempts to reach Sikhakhane were unsuccessful. His voicemail said he could not be contacted until the end of January.
In his affidavit before the Labour Court, Pillay said that, when Moyane suspended him on December 5, Pillay again raised his concerns about the Sikhakhane report.
“I said to him that I had given him my written response to the Sikhakhane report and asked him if he had read it. He told me that he did not read it and that he would not read it, as it was just my opinion.”
If the outcome of the case is any measure, it seems Pillay’s opinion still carries some weight – at least for now.
Van Loggerenberg remains suspended and still faces a disciplinary hearing relating to alleged breaches of Sars regulations flowing from his relationship with Walter.
Asked for comment on Thursday, the Sars spokesperson, Marika Muller, said: “Sars respects the decision of the court. We will only be in a position to comment further once we have studied the full ruling.”
* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Click here.
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.
Letter from Africa: Sharing Nigeria’s cake
Nigeria marked 54 years of independence from the UK in October this year
In our series of letters from African journalists, Nigerian writer and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani looks at the clamour for assistance that accompanies a politician’s rise to office.
The political party primaries in Nigeria have drawn to a close and voters now have a clearer picture of whose turn it might be to divide up the national cake after the elections in February 2015.
But the winning candidates won’t be the only ones taking their share of the country’s riches.
In Nigeria, news of a person’s success in an election often travels at the speed of lightning, over rivers and mountains and past fields and forests, to his kindred in all corners of the globe.
Those with no jobs believe their days of unemployment are coming to an end; those with no education think it will soon pose no barrier to climbing the corporate ladder; those in faraway lands begin plans to return home.
Soon, these kith and kin launch their pilgrimage towards the successful candidate.
They ring his phone; they send text messages; they knock at his gate.
They offer to help his campaign in any way they can; they organise prayer sessions for his victory, usually late at night in his living room.
The most unforgivable sin a politician can commit is to forget ‘his people’ after he assumes office”
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
‘Bitter tongues will wag’
A friend of mine who lives in Lagos told me last week that he was travelling to Benin city.
His friend had just “picked up” a spot in the House of Assembly there. Another person he knew was set for another top position.
“He’s a good friend of my elder brother in Florida,” he said. “I’ve already told my brother: ‘You’d better come down and rub minds with him and introduce us to him.'”
Another friend whose husband is a close associate of a winning candidate in one of Nigeria’s choicest states told me her phone did not stop ringing after his victory was announced.
People had been calling to offer congratulations. Indeed, even I had called for that very reason.
In Nigeria, the culture has always been that anyone who gets into power, who suddenly finds himself holding a knife with which to cut the national cake, must invite his clan to both slice and eat it with him.
Friends and family of candidates take to the streets to celebrate if their man is triumphant at the polls
The most unforgivable sin a politician can commit is to forget “his people” after he assumes office.
He must “remember” his sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, friends, schoolmates, and so on.
Preferably through contracts, appointments and jobs.
Failure to do so will lead to taunts and ostracism and on the day his tenure expires, he will find himself completely alone.
Long after his funeral, the bitter tongues will continue wagging.
Local history will forever record him as having denied his kindred their turn.
I have heard several amusing stories regarding the influx of people from the Niger Delta region into Abuja, the Nigerian capital, after their kinsman, Goodluck Jonathan, was elected president in 2011.
One of my favourite tales was told by my British-Nigerian friend who teaches in one of those Abuja schools where the children pay stupendous fees in dollars and make fun of their teachers’ cheap mobile phones.
She was shocked when a particular pupil, during a science lesson, seemed to know more about crustaceans than you would expect of a child his age in the city.
This child stood before the class and described in great detail how the creatures are caught, cleaned and cooked.
It will be tough for Nigeria to tackle its corruption problem while people demand rewards for their votes
At the end, my friend called the boy aside and asked how he knew so much about the topic.
The child explained that he had grown up in the creeks, where his family petty-traded crustaceans for a living.
That is why the news of a candidate’s potential ascension into political office stirs such joy.
In many parts of the world, it requires years of steady progress for one’s economic circumstances to radically transform.
Here in Nigeria, all it takes is an election, and a new political appointment. Suddenly, a child goes from capturing crustaceans in the creeks to an exclusive school in Abuja.
Voracious kith and kin are the main force behind Nigeria’s corruption problem.
Imagine the thousands lined up with outstretched palms behind each political office holder.
Try telling them that you intend to reform the system now that it is finally their turn to eat.