South Africa – huge blaze on Cape Town’s mountains


South African firefighters battle blaze on Cape Town mountains

A firefighter tries to stop a blaze in Noordhoek Manor old age home, Cape Town, South Africa, 02 March 2015Residents of the Cape Peninsula region have been forced to evacuate the area

More than 100 South African firefighters are battling wildfires on the mountains around Cape Town.

Thousands of hectares of vegetation have been reduced to ashes on Chapman’s Peak, while several homes and a holiday lodge have been destroyed.

More than 50 people – residents of a retirement home – have been treated for smoke inhalation, officials say.

The fire started on Sunday and was fanned by strong winds, causing it to spread rapidly.

A runaway fire on Chapman's Peak, Cape Town A fire fanned by gale force south-easterly winds has raged across the south peninsula of Cape Town
A fire-fighter tries to stop a blaze in Noordhoek Manor old age home, Cape Town, South Africa, 02 March 2015Dense, dark smoke can still be seen rising from the mountain.

Roads in the area have been closed because of poor visibility.

Four helicopters are on the scene, water-bombing the area.

Three mass care centres have been set up to accommodate those who have had to flee their homes.

Such fires are common in the area from November to May, when weather conditions are hot and windy, but it has been hotter than usual in recent weeks.

Birds fly in front of a fire-fighting helicopter over a bush fire in Silvermine, Cape Town, South Africa 02 March 2015Helicopters have been water-bombing the fires
A firefighters tries to stop a blaze in Noordhoek Manor old age home, Cape Town, South Africa, 02 March 2015 One firefighter has been injured and treated for burn wounds

Namibia’s Pohamba gets Mo Ibrahim leadership prize

I would suggest people read Henning Malber’s excellent Understanding Namibia,  and take this award decision with a hefty pinch of salt. KS 


Africa: Major Leadership Prize Awarded to Pohamba of Namibia

Photo: Namibian

President Hifikepunye Pohamba at the polls.

Cape Town — The outgoing president of Namibia, Hifikepunye Pohamba, has been awarded Africa’s premier prize for achievement in leadership, worth U.S. $5 million over ten years.

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, awarded only four times since it was inaugurated in 2007, usually recognises leaders who have stepped down voluntarily at the end of their terms.

President Pohamba joins former presidents Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in receiving the prize.

It was established by the Sudanese-born entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, to “recognise… and celebrate… African leaders who have developed their countries, lifted people out of poverty and paved the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity.”

Announcing the award in Nairobi on Monday, prize committee chair Salim Ahmed Salim said that during the 10 years of Pohamba’s presidency, “Namibia’s reputation has been cemented as a well-governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights…

“President Pohamba’s focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the ‎Prize Committee.

“His ability to command the confidence and the trust of his people is exemplary. During the decade of his Presidential mandate, he demonstrated sound and wise leadership. At the same time, he maintained his humility throughout his Presidency.”

The prize money of $5 million is paid over 10 years, followed by $200,000 a year for life.

Nigeria – fuel shortages hit Lagos and Abuja


Fuel scarcity hits Lagos, worsens in Abuja, others


Fuel scarcity hits Lagos, worsens in Abuja, others

Entrances to many filling stations in Lagos and other parts of the country remained shut to motorists on Sunday following a sharp drop in the supply of petrol to the market.

Findings by The PUNCH revealed that oil marketers were no longer interested in importing the product mainly because of the rising exchange rate of the dollar to the Naira.

The other factors responsible for the marketers’ action are delayed subsidy payments and rising interests on loans from banks.

An official of a major marketing firm, who declined to have his name in print, said, “I am afraid that we cannot continue to import petrol because it costs more now to do so owing to the recent devaluation of the Naira. The rising amount of petrol subsidy arrears payable to us coupled with the high interests on loans   from financial institutions, are still major issues in our hands.”

Another marketer told one of our correspondents that an exchange rate of N226 per dollar was demanded on import duties contrary to the inter-bank exchange rate of N198 posted on the website of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency for the pricing template of PMS approved on February 19, 2015.

The major marketers import close to 60 per cent of petrol consumed in the country while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation imports the balance.

Our correspondents observed on Sunday that the states hit badly by scarcity of petrol were Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Ekiti, Kaduna, Delta, Plateau, Akwa-Ibom.   Abuja, the nation’s capital, appeared to be the worst hit by the shortage.

The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said the depots did not have enough products   to serve filling stations   across the country.

“If there were enough to go round, tanker drivers, of course, would move products to the areas of need. Nigerians should not be surprised that this is happening now. It is really unfortunate,” he said.

In Lagos, many filling stations did not sell petrol but those that were open for business had long queues of motorists to contend with.

Although their pump prices remained N87 per litre, black market operators sold 10 litres for N1,200, i.e N120 per litre.

Drivers of commercial buses capitalised on the situation to increase their fares.     For instance, fare for Ojodu-Berger to Magboro, which hitherto was N50, was   N100 on Sunday.

One motorist told one of our correspondents in Lagos that, “If our fuel finishes now, we will go and queue to get another fuel. Now that we have fuel, passengers would have to pay more until the situation improves.

It was a Herculean task   for motorists in   Sango-Ota, Ijebu Ode and Abeokuta in Ogun State to purchase petrol from the stations.

Although most of the stations sold petrol at the regulated price of N87 per litre, the Oando Filling Station in Ijoko, Ota sold it for N100.

A motorist, who bought from the said station demanded for and was issued a receipt which she forwarded to one of our correspondents.

In Ibadan, Oyo State, one of our correspondents had learnt on Friday that the scarcity was due to unsubstantiated information that petrol price would go down to N65 per litre.

A   manager at one of the   stations in the Mokola area of the city, said   the rumour seemed to be gaining ground and that the marketers were   studying the situation.

He said, “No businessman wants to run at a loss. The product we have now was purchased at the old price. We have not added any price to the stipulated N87 per litre of petrol but the queue is long because many people are not sure of the availability of the product in a few day’s time or why some fuel stations are not selling.

“Those who are not selling must have exhausted their product and are unwilling to buy more at the old price because of the fear that the rumour of a new price of N65 per litre could be true. If we buy today at the current price and government slashes price tomorrow, who pays for the deficit?”

The situation was the same   in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State on Sunday as many filling stations rationed the product.

A station along Adebayo Road which on Saturday sold the product for only two hours in the evening and did not on Sunday.

Motorists and commercial transport operators   went to the hinterland where petrol sold at a higher price but readily available. The price ranged between N100 and N105 per litre.

The shortage which was noticeable in   Warri, Sapele, Ughelli and other parts of Delta State thinned out on Sunday.

But the pump price of the product remained high in Asaba as motorists   paid between N95 and N100 per litre.

The attendants said the directive to sell at prices higher than   N87   was given by their bosses, who they said claimed to have bought the product at a higher price .

The scarcity in Ondo State which began on Thursday worsened on Sunday.   Petrol also sold   for between N95 and N110 per litre in filling stations that were operational.

Checks by our correspondent in the state showed that most of the stations were still locked .

The Chairman, Independent Marketers Branch, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Ore, Mr. Olakunle Ajulo, attributed the scarcity to the failure of government to pay subsidy claims.

He expressed hope that the matter would soon be resolved as stakeholders were already tackling the issue.

Ajulo blamed the shortage in Ondo and Ekiti states on the fact that the Ore Depot was not functioning.

There was also   scarcity in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Apart from a few filling stations and the NNPC mega filling stations, others did not sell the product.

Some motorists   spoken to said it was only the NNPC mega stations that sold petrol   for N87.

A motorist, who gave his name simply as Femi, said he bought a litre for   N90.

The product also sold for between   N110 and N120 per litre in Jos,   Bukuru and its environs in Plateau State.

An attendant at one of the stations, who identified herself as Yeni, said, “We have product, but the manager asked us to lock up the station.”

Many filling stations in Uyo, Akwa Ibom on Sunday were selling petrol at N110 per litre as against N140 to N150 per litre which was prevalent price for a litre of fuel last week.

Motorists and commuters in Kaduna State continued to groan in pain in the wake of fuel scarcity that hit the metropolis and its environs since Friday.

The   Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, told our correspondent on the telephone that the Federal Government had injected fresh 680 million litres of petrol to boost the product supply base.

He said the effect of the injection which was done at   the weekend would be felt from Monday(today).

He advised Nigerians to desist from panic buying of petrol because there was no need for such.

Meanwhile, the   Presidential Campaign of the All Progressives Congress has said that the return of queues at filling stations is a confirmation that the policies of the Goodluck Jonathan administration are founded on deceit and insincerity.

According to the APC campaign, it is now evident that the recent reduction in cost of petrol   was borne out of political expediency, rather than compassion.

It also condemned the poor electricity supply across the country by power firms, describing it as a sad reminder of the failure of the PDP-led Federal Government.

The group, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity,   Mallam Garba Shehu,   wondered how a political party which has been in power for 16 years, could still feel confident to seek another term in office.

The statement partly read,“The issue is that being unable to set up even one new refinery in the past five years and unable to get existing refineries to function up to 50 per cent capacity, the people of Nigeria surely need another set of people to be in charge of affairs.

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – ARG calls for return to first republic federal structure

Premium Times

Nigeria must return to First Republic structure to progress – ARG


The Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, has called for a return to the First Republic’s regional political structure or the constitution of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones into federating units.

In the First Republic, Nigeria practised a true federalist system with three regions, Western, Eastern, and Northern, as federating units and each being quite semi-autonomous.

The ARG, a Yoruba Socio-cultural pressure group, argued that Nigeria can no longer afford the cost of running the present political structure.

The group made this call in its ‘Nigerian Democratic Governance Report,’ subtitled: ‘Curbing Political Instability and Extravagance.’

It argued that the country is over-governed with 36 states and 774 local governments and 1 Federal Capital Territory and said with the prevailing dire economic situation the country can no longer afford to maintain the alarming cost of government bureaucracy.

The group said the reason for the infrastructure decay in the country is that a huge part of government revenue in all tiers of government is used to service the bureaucracy of government that merely covers 3 per cent of the entire population.

“When budgets of all these government tiers are collated, more than 60 per cent of all public expenditure in Nigeria goes to service these bureaucracies that consist of less than 3 per cent of Nigeria’s population. This high cost of governance is the reason we cannot fund the delivery of critical infrastructure and social programmes. High cost of governance contributes to high cost of doing business, which in turn reduces Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global market.

“Unfortunately, current economic realities show that Nigeria can no longer fund these bureaucracies as some states now owe workers as much as four months’ wages, with no respite in sight. One would not be a Prophet of Doom to say there is a high probability that two-third of states in Nigeria might not be able to pay salaries in 2015. This is another threat to political stability as social vices and malfeasances would increase.”

The group also advocated the devolution of power, and the restructuring of the revenue allocation formula where states are made to control the resources in their domain and percentage contributed to the government at the centre. For instance, it frowned at the where Lagos is not earning derivable funds for the thousands of ships that berth at its coastline yearly.

“When will Lagos and other suffering South-West States have access to derivable funds, be it on import/export duties, corporate taxes, and VATs being carted away therefrom? Arising therefore, as revenue from other regions is not faithfully remitted to the nation’s coffer, can the South-West region pursue means through which a per cent of revenues generated from its area can be kept or taken up as other regions are doing?”

The group, which also did an assessment of governance in the last 15 years, concluded that there are no appreciable differences in the manner the country was governed during military rule and during the 15 years of democratic rule.

Using the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators from 1996 to 2013, ARG argued that regulatory quality, government effectiveness, rule of law, and corruption have largely remained what it was during military rule and throughout the current democratic dispensation.

Failed Administration

The report also shows a deep disappointment in the manner the present administration has run the country.

ARG said the Goodluck Jonathan Administration has failed in key governance indicators such as job creation and poverty rate, electricity, anti-corruption, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), political leadership, and special intervention funds.

For instance, it said the government has expended over N2 trillion on a myriad of Special Intervention Funds with only appreciable results in Nollywood and the textile industry. It concluded that most of the funds have either been stolen or diverted to other uses.

Despite anchoring the 2014 budget on “Job Creation and Inclusive Growth” ARG said the number of jobs created is a far cry from the number of new additions into the labour market. It said the number of unemployed youth in the country is a recipe for trouble.

“Such dire situation is bound to promote crime and aggression, evidence of which includes the stampede that led to deaths during the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment exercise. Rather than confronting the issue of job creation and poverty frontally, Mr. President and his government faulted the World Bank’s report saying “If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.”

ARG also said that President Jonathan has also allowed corruption especially in the oil sector, to fester while corrupt officials acts with impunity with the tacit support of the president.

“Why is the oil industry in Nigeria such an opaque box? Why can’t the government investigate the claim of Berne Declaration that NNPC in connivance with some Swiss traders swindled Nigeria’s government of about $6.8bn?”

It, however, commended the government for removing corruption in the fertiliser distribution system.

Lesotho – Prime Minister takes early lead in vote count

Mail and Guardian

Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention took an early lead in Lesotho’s snap elections as counting continued on Sunday.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane's All Basotho Convention took an early lead in the mountain kingdom's snap elections as counting continued on Sunday. (AFP)

The results of Lesotho’s snap election following an alleged coup attempt last year trickled in slowly on Sunday, with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane taking an early lead with nearly two thirds of the vote tallied.

Saturday’s parliamentary poll, which was called two years ahead of schedule, passed without incident according to observers.

But hampered by manual counting and Lesotho’s mountainous terrain, the results were slow to come in Sunday.

The small mountain kingdom has been in crisis since June 2014, when Thabane suspended parliament to avoid a motion that would have seen him ousted from power after his fragile coalition government fell apart.

On August 30, soldiers attacked police headquarters, looting weapons and killing one officer.

Thabane described the violence as a coup attempt fuelled by the opposition and fled to neighbouring South Africa.

Both the military and opposition denied any bid to seize power.

Observers from both SADC and the African Union have been monitoring the election, and 475 police from neighbouring countries have been deployed to keep the peace.

The army was confined to barracks during Saturday’s vote.

Counting closed at 7pm on Sunday, with 47 of the 80 constituencies up for grabs officially declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Thabane’s All Basotho Convention took an early lead with 35 seats.

The Democratic Congress, led by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, held 10.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy party of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, whose differences with Thabane fractured their coalition, had two seats.

Lesotho has a mixed parliamentary system. Eighty lawmakers are voted into power by their constituents, while another 40 seats are distributed proportionally after the final results to ensure all parties are represented in parliament.

A party needs 61 of the 120 seats available to rule without being forced into a coalition.

Before the vote, analysts warned that an outright win by a single party could result in violence – particularly if the winner was the prime minister’s All Basotho Convention party (ABC).

The capital Maseru, an urban stronghold for Thabane, remained quiet on Sunday.

Political posters had been taken down days before and the usually busy city centre was calm.

But as the city’s results were announced in the ABC’s favour, a convoy of supporters made their way through the streets in yellow party T-shirts, honking their horns and waving flags.

“In Lesotho, we don’t count the votes electronically, we count them manually,” IEC official Rethabile Pholo said of the slow count.

He said the process was made more difficult by Lesotho’s mountainous terrain, often requiring the use of helicopters.

Earlier, the IEC had said helicopters had been able to reach all of the most remote districts. But by late on Sunday they said the weather had hampered some operations and several results were still to be collected from the most isolated areas.

About the size of Belgium and completely landlocked by its larger neighbour South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries with its economy heavily dependent on South Africa, to whom it exports water and hydroelectric power. – AFP

Cameroon – thousands march to support government over Nigeria’s Boko Haram


Reuters) – Thousands of people marched in Cameroon’s capital on Saturday to protest against Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency and support the Central African nation’s army, which is fighting alongside regional neighbours to defeat the Islamist group.

The march in Yaounde was aimed at informing the public, especially in the southern regions, about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which has carried out regular cross-border raids in the far north, one of the organisers said.

Yaounde is located in the central region of the country.

“It was important to tell Cameroonians that we are at war and a part of the country is suffering,” said Gubai Gatama, a newspaper editor who was among the march’s organisers. “About 150,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.”

In addition to its own citizens forced to flee the violence, thousands of refugees have poured into Cameroon from northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is seeking to carve out an Islamist emirate.

“Some 170 schools in Cameroon’s northern region have been closed,” Gatama said.

Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria has spread to neighbouring countries, where the group has launched attacks over the past year, burning villages and kidnapping residents.

The Lake Chad region nations threatened by Boko Haram, Nigeria along with Cameroon, Niger and Chad, have launched a joint offensive to quell the rebellion and claim to have retaken territory from group in recent weeks.

Muhamadou Labara Awal, 27, was among the 5,000 people who organisers estimated marched on the May. 20 boulevard in Yaounde, chanting and waving the flags of the regional coalition.

“It was important for me to be here because I’m not a soldier to be deployed to Fotokol. The only way I could pay homage to our troops was to be here,” Awal said, referring to a northern town regularly targeted by Boko Haram.

Zimbabwe – Mugabe may seize more white-owned farmland

New Zimbabwe

Mugabe vows to expel more white farmers
by Staff Reporter
We don’t need white people to guide us … President Robert Mugabe

WHITE farmers still occupying pieces of land in the country must brace for more farm seizures after President Robert Mugabe revealed Saturday his government was investigating how many of them survived the violent and anti-white land seizures since 2000.

“We don’t need a white man to continue to guide us. No. We are now equipped with skills,” Mugabe told thousands of guests to the lavish celebrations for his 91st birthday held at Victoria Falls on Saturday.

The veteran leader further said his government may consider reducing the size of some farms owned by black beneficiaries to benefit upcoming generations of youths who need to go into farming.

Mugabe singled out ousted Zanu PF Mashonaland East chair Ray Kaukonde for allegedly harbouring more than 160 white farmers in the agriculturally rich province.

This, he said, was revealed to him by the lands minister last Thursday, adding that the probe was spreading to the entire country.

“In Goromonzi alone there are still 40; from Goromonzi to Mutoko, Murehwa further there; 123 mind you, this is Mashonaland East,” President Mugabe in a speech which was televised live on national television.

“Some of our leaders were hiding them in farms and saying the farms had been given, so l said let’s stop here, 40 and a hundred and twenty three in just a small district of our country.

“…they (whites) are still in the farms hiding. How many farms are those; a hundred and twenty three farms plus 40 that is a hundred and sixty three farms that were being hidden by the likes of Kaukonde.”

Mugabe said Zimbabwe was endowed with precious animals like elephants and lions but the safaris were still being occupied by whites who clandestinely organise with friends from abroad to exploit the wildlife for their own good.

“They still have farms and privately they arrange with visitors in America to come,” he said, “they do their hunting and pay themselves, kill animals, carry trophies with themselves.

“We don’t know all that. There is no sufficient supervision but we are now going to invade these forests.

“Our people cannot be suffering and even suffering from sanctions by the United States when the United States has lots of land occupied by their people as safari owners.”

He added: “They can’t have it both ways, if they want to be friends they must be friends with us in total and we allow them to have some safaris on friendly terms but they cannot say ‘allow our people to visit, allow our people to have safaris to kill our lions and take trophies to America’.”


Zimbabwe’s sole leader for the past 34 years is accused of running down the once prosperous country through populist policies among them the land reform process which ruined its mainstay agricultural sector.