Magufuli orders Tanzanians to join monthly clean up campaigns

Magufuli orders Tanzanians to join monthly clean up campaigns

The Magufuli whirlwind continues with the new President’s latest public service announcement. The East African reports that the Tanzanian government has ordered all Tanzanians to join in clean up campaigns on the first Saturday of every month. The article reports:

Mr Luhaga Mpina, the deputy minister in the office of the vice president ((Union matters and Environment) issued the directive Wednesday saying the intention was to rid the streets of diseased like cholera and “inculcate a culture of self-responsibility in conserving the environment.” 

President Magufuli orders Tanzanians to join monthly clean up campaigns

President Magufuli orders Tanzanians to join monthly clean up campaigns

He said the ministry has prepared a strategic plan that will help in smooth implementation of the order including thorough follow-up in every locality across the country.

Mr Mpina said cholera cases in 2015 increased to nearly 12,000 with 194 deaths compared to 3,989 that occurred in 2014.

Cholera spreads through contaminated food and drinking water and causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. It is fatal if not treated.

Public clean ups: a recurring theme in Magufuli policy

This move comes hot on the heels Magufuli’s cancellation of the annual Uhuru (Freedom) Day celebrations in December. Instead, the President himself joined in a clean up operation, as reported by the Nation (Kenya):

“Dozens of fishermen joined in the clean-up with their president, who shovelled leaves and plastic rubbish close to a fish market near the presidential palace as a crowd of hundreds looked on.

Let us work together to keep our country, cities, homes and workplaces clean, safe and healthy,” the smiling Magufuli said, as he picked up litter with his hands.

Street cleaning took place across the economic capital Dar es Salaam, with plumes of smoke rising into the sky as residents burned piles of litter.

Former World Bank official appointed Finance Minister

While these measures are popular in Tanzania, we perhaps learned a bit more about Magufuli’s politics following the announcement of the new Finance minister. Reuters reports:

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has appointed former World Bank economist Philip Mpango as minister for finance and planning, the presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.

Mpango is currently acting chief of the Tanzania Revenue Authority, after Magufuli suspended the previous head pending investigations into alleged corruption. He has also headed the presidential Economic Advisory Unit.

The new Tanzania Finance minister is former World Bank official, Philip Mpango

The new Tanzania Finance minister is former World Bank official, Philip Mpango

The World Bank has had a mixed history with Africa over the past few decades. In the 1980s, they pushed African countries to cut public spending and adopt ‘free market’ reforms, which many commentators argue had some disastrous results.

You could argue that Magufuli’s drive to cut public spending lines up perfectly with the ideology of the Bretton-Woods institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund), and the appointment of Mpango is perhaps an indication that this will be a key component of Government policy under Magufuli’s leadership.

Nigerian diaspora sent $21 billion in remittances in 2015

Nigerians diaspora sent $21 billion in remittances in 2015

Recently-released data shows that in 2015, Nigerians living and working outside the country sent home $21 billion in remittances, underlying the critical importance of remittances in African development. The Premium Times (Nigeria) reports:

With about $21 billion sent home by Nigerians in diaspora in 2015, the country is the sixth largest receiver of remittances in the world, the Migration of Remittance Factbook 2016 has shown.

The country is also by far the largest receiver of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa, receiving a total of $34.8 billion this year.”

Nigerians in the diaspora send home billions of dollars in remittances each year

Nigerians in the diaspora send home billions of dollars in remittances each year

To begin to understand the significance of these figures, consider the following. In 2014 Nigeria received $353 million in AID from the UK, according to official figures from the UK Department for International Development (DfID). This compares with a whopping $3.7 billion sent by Nigerians living in Britain in 2015 – more than ten times the previous year’s Aid sent by the UK government. This underlines the fact that Nigerians in the diaspora are playing an enormous role in their home country, as are expats from other African countries.

Sky-high cost of sending money

The Premium Times report also highlights the sky-high costs that Africans in the diaspora need to pay to send money home:

“[T]he cost of sending money within Africa is the second most expensive in the world (the most expensive being the cost of sending money between Australia to the South Pacific country of Vanuatu).

For every $200 remitted from South Africa to Zambia, senders are charged 19 per cent. The cost is 17.4 per cent to send the same amount from South Africa- Botswana and 17.3 per cent from Tanzania to Uganda.

In comparison, it cost just 0.6 per cent to send the same amount of money from Saudi Arabia to Nepal and 3.1 per cent from the United Arab Emirate to anywhere in the world.”

What this means is that African countries such as Nigeria are missing out on enormous amounts of funding that could be used to drive advances in education, healthcare, nutrition, businesses, and so on.

Africans paying for a lack of free market in remittance services

The Overseas Development Institute highlights what it sees as the main causes for the high costs:

Weak competition, concentration of market power and flawed financial regulation all contribute to high remittance charges. Just two money transfer operators (MTOs) – Western Union and MoneyGram – account for two-thirds of remittance transfers…[and].. $586 million of the loss associated with the remittance ‘super tax’, part of it through opaque foreign currency charges. ‘Exclusivity agreements’ between MTOs, their agents and banks restrict competition and drive up prices, as do African financial regulations favouring banks over other remittance payment options.

In other words, it’s because there a few companies have a monopoly on the business of sending remittances to Africa. A great example of this is how Barclays Bank are the last remaining provider of services for transfers to Somalia. If Barclays decides to stop providing this service, as they almost did in 2013, then the Somali diaspora will have no way of sending money home.

Remittances from Diasporan Somalis like Mo Farrah play a big role in their home country's development

Remittances from Diasporan Somalis like Mo Farrah play a big role in their home country’s development

It is essential that African people at home and abroad, multilateral organisations and governments overhaul the entire industry to unlock the development capability of Africans in the diaspora. The ODI gives four recommendations on how to get this done:

“● Investigation of global MTOs by anti-trust bodies in the EU and the US to identify areas in which market concentration and commercial practices are artificially inflating charges.

● Greater transparency in the provision of information on foreign-exchange conversion charges, drawing on the example of Dodd-Frank legislation in the United States.

● Regulatory reform in Africa to revoke ‘exclusivity agreements’ between MTOs on the one side, and banks and agents on the other, and promote the use of micro-finance institutions and post offices as remittance pay-out agencies. Governments and MTOs should work to promote mobile banking as a strategy to support the development of more inclusive financial systems.

● Engagement by Africa’s diaspora and wider civil society groups to put remittances at the centre of the development agenda. The public interests represented by Africa’s diaspora and remittance receivers should be placed above the commercial interests of MTOs and banks.” 

Diaspora Africans – Don’t just passively send money, get Involved!

The last point is of particular interest to those of us in the Diaspora. We have enormous potential influence here in countries like the UK and US. We are perfectly-placed to build dialogue with relevant stakeholders such as local MPs and other elected officials, as well as officials in international banks. Mo Farah got involved in putting pressure on Barclays to postpone its planned exit from money transfer to Somalia. We may not be globally-recognised figures like Mo, but we can surely make up for it in our numbers – espcially the millions of Nigerians our here!

The South African politician who refuses to speak English

The South African politician who refuses to speak English

Makoti Sibongile Khawula is a South African politician and member of Julius Malema’s political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This is nice to know, but what is especially interesting about her, is that she refuses to speak in English when in Parliament. News24 reports:

Makoti Sibongile Khawula, the South African politician who refuses to speak English

Makoti Sibongile Khawula, the South African politician who refuses to speak English

“”MaKhawula”, as she is as known in the gleaming corridors of Parliament, says people are tired of others arriving in their communities and making changes that affect them without explaining what they are doing.

So, she says she will speak the language of her constituency – Maphumulo, in the Ilembe district of KwaZulu-Natal – so people can understand what is being said about and for them. For her, it is important that people understood the details of matters that affect their lives.”

This is such an important move because it ensures that the people at the fringes of society, who often cannot speak English, will be able to know what their political representative is doing. And it seems that this is no superficial gesture. The article makes clear that Khawula is also committed to bringing about real change in living standards for her constituents in an impoverished South African region:

“People are crying. There is no water. They say they are going to put (out) tanks, but now they don’t put in the tanks.”

For her, it is not the environment that is making people thirsty, it is people who are forgetting to do the basics.

“The mountains that brought us water, they are still there,” she says, waving a hand at a picture of a lush valley, taken before the drought.

Basic infrastructure is being neglected. Water disappears through leaks, and promised projects do not materialise. Water tankers arrive in the middle of the night and if people do not get up to fetch some, there is nothing left by morning.

Poisons flow into rivers, people “go to the toilet” in rivers, she continues. Her record at committees shows a litany of complaints over basic issues, such as making sure emerging black sugar cane farmers get the same access to water as their white counterparts.”

We look forward to hearing more on the progress of Khawula, who was elected in 2015. Perhaps her actions can encourage other politicians in South Africa and the continent more widely to commit themselves to defending and promoting the interests of their constituents. For the full story, visit the News24 website.


Ghana president bans first class travel for officials

Ghana president bans first class travel for officials

Ghana’s President John Mahama has banned public officials from First Class air travel, Reuters reports:

“The presidency issued the directive this week asking all ministers and other top officials to avoid “unwarranted” foreign trips on the public purse, Communications Minister Edward Omane Boamah told Reuters… 

Ghana's President John Mahama is tackling state spending

Ghana’s President John Mahama is tackling state spending

Finance Minister Seth Terkper told Reuters on Tuesday the cabinet is also discussing a financial accountability bill which would impose penalties such as dismissal or jail time for public officials who are found to violate it.”

In addition, the Government has also ordered officials to cut all non-essential foreign travel. Ghanaweb reports:

“It is needless to emphasise the serious impact the current frequent travels abroad by Ministers and public officials are having on Government finances.

“To arrest the situation, all Ministers are reminded to restrict foreign travels in their sectors to mandatory international assignments only.

“All non-essential travels are to be stopped. All ministers are to take notice of the foregoing directive for strict compliance.”

These moves will surely be welcomed by Ghanaians who will be pleased to see state officials finally being asked to live less like royalty and more like the public servants they are meant to be. But Mahama has a long way to go before he can reach the kind of levels of social-media adulation and global media coverage that Tanzania’s John Magufuli has garnered through his cost-cutting measures. Perhaps President Mahama has been keeping track of the #WhatWouldMagufuliDo hashtag!

Biafra activist Nnamdi Kanu hit with new charges

Biafra activist Nnamdi Kanu hit with new charges

Nnamdi Kanu, the UK-based leader of IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) has been hit with new charges by the Nigerian government. Kanu was arrested and charged in October after arriving in Nigeria, a move which saw an intenstification of secessionist protests among pro-Biafra activists. He was accused of a range of crimes including sedition and ethnic incitement. His arrest has led to intense protests by Biafra activists including a demonstration in Onitsha, Anambra state which left at least 10 people dead, including 2 soldiers.

Biafra agitator Nnamdi Kanu faces fresh charges having had previous ones dropped just days ago

Biafra agitator Nnamdi Kanu faces fresh charges having had previous ones dropped just days ago

On December 17th, the High Court of Nigeria ordered Kanu’s unconditional release, though it appears he did not actually leave custody. Celebrations in Onitsha ended in tragedy as, according to reports, Nigerian soldiers shot live bullets into the crowd, killing up to 10 people. In the latest twist to the saga, theKanu now faces fresh charges, according to his counsel Vincent Obeta. The Premium Times reports:

The fresh six-count charge, Mr. Obeta said, concerns allegations of treasonable felony, maintaining an unlawful society and illegal possession of items, among others.

The charges were filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, and signed by the federal Director of Public Prosecution, Mohammed Diri.

The allegations include a plot by Mr. Kanu and some persons now at large to cause crises that might force the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to concede certain parts of Nigeria to a purported Biafra nation.

Mr. Kanu was also alleged to have been maintaining unlawful society and retaining items belonging to IPOB, among others.”

For the full story, visit the Premium Times website.


Arrest warrant for Blaise Compaoré over Thomas Sankara

Warrant ‘issued’ for Blaise Compaoré over Thomas Sankara

Former President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré has had an warrant issued for his arrest, according to reports. Reuters reported:

“Burkina Faso has issued an international arrest warrant for ousted leader Blaise Compaore in connection with the murder of former President Thomas Sankara, judicial sources told Reuters on Monday.” 

The agency quoted Prosper Farama, a lawyer for Sankara’s family, as saying “I confirm that an international arrest warrant was issued against (ex-)President Blaise Compaore by the investigating judge.” 

Reports claim that former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore has had a warrant issued for his arrest over Sankara's death.

Reports claim that former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore has had a warrant issued for his arrest over Sankara’s death.

If confirmed, this will be the latest in a series of stunning developments in the Sahel nation over this last year. Compaoré stepped down after popular protests against his plans to extend his decades-long rule. In July of this year, an ally of Compaoré, Gilbert Diendéré, staged a failed military coup. In early December, Diendéré was arrested and charged over Thomas Sankara’s ousting, with rumours at the time indicating Compaoré would be next.

Compaoré ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years after he deposed his former friend and ally Sankara in 1987. Sankara himself had come to power following a coup in 1984 and had built up a largely positive reputation for his commitment to making life better for the poor masses of the country. The documentary “Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man” gives a good overview of his time in power.

Buganda’s Mutesa II helped finance Kenya’s Mau Mau

Kabaka Mutesa II helped finance the Mau Mau war

The East African has recently carried a fascinating story telling of how the late Kabaka (King) of the Baganda people helped to fund the Mau Mau guerilla movement in Kenya. Drawing on comments from former high ranking figures in Mengo (the political heart of the Buganda establishment), the paper reveals that the support Sir Edward Mutessa I gave to the movement was due partly to his strong friendship with Jomo Kenyatta:

“In the run-up to the Mau Mau war, there was a secret friendship and understanding between Mutesa and Kenyatta, co-ordinated by Muganda revolutionary Semakula Mulumba.

This friendship saw Mutesa’s government facilitate the education of many Kikuyus in Ugandan schools such as the Kings College Budo, Namilyango College, St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Luwule Secondary School and Seeta College. 

The late Sir Edward Mutesa II of Buganda assisted the Mau Mau struggle

The late Sir Edward Mutesa II of Buganda assisted the Mau Mau struggle

Mulumba met Kenyatta in the United Kingdom in 1945 and the latter connected him to other African revolutionaries such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi.

Together, this group organised the first 1945 Pan African Conference in Manchester City, which sparked off the struggle for Africa’s Independence after a strong resolution that all African countries be liberated from colonialism.

Upon return to their countries, the freedom fighters started the struggles for uhuru. Jomo Kenyatta and Mulumba returned together in the same ship in 1946, and the struggle to liberate Kenya started.

At the time of Uganda’s Independence, Mulumba told this reporter that in 1946, the future first president of independent Kenya told him that he was going to launch the Mau Mau war, but the problem was money to finance the struggle.

It was then that Mulumba assured Kenyatta that he would approach Mutesa and request him to finance the war.

For the full story and to comment on this news, visit the East African website here.

Alikiba & Christian Bella release video for Nagharamia

Alikiba & Christian Bella – Nagharamia (Official Music Video)

You would expect a combination between Tanzania’s Alikiba and DRC’s Christian Bella to be a silky-smooth and super-catchy. And Nagharamia doesn’t disappoint. My limited and rusty grasp of Kiswahili doesn’t allow me to give a synopsis of the song, but it’s evidently some sort of love triangle between the two singers and a pretty girl with an OTT blonde weave. Not the greatest video you’ll ever see, but check it out just to hear the song which is excellent. The video has already racked up an impressive 100,000 views in a couple of days, so it seems a lot of people agree with me.



Africa News Review – Malema, Magufuli, China, Lupita

Africa News Review – Malema, Magufuli, China in Africa, Lupita Nyongo

In this edition of Africa News Review, we look at South African politician Julius Malema’s controversial comments in which he criticised two legends of African liberation, Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe. His comments can be seen as an effort to ally himself with the aspirations of the working class South Africans, while also distancing himself from the excesses of Mugabe’s land reforms which drew the ire of the West.

China in Africa

African News is dominated by Chines President Xi Jinping's visit to the continent.

African News is dominated by Chines President Xi Jinping’s visit to the continent.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is currently touring the continent handing out a lot of money to its leaders. Critics of China will argue that this kind of largesse is less about African development and more about protecting China’s strategic interests. They will point to the rumoured building of China’s first ever military base in the continent, in Djibouti. Meanwhile, an interesting Washington Post article suggests that Chinese aid to Africa leads to increased levels of state violence.

Tanzania President John Magufuli making waves

Africa News Review - John Magufuli of Tanzania is gaining pplaudits with his anti spending measures

Africa News Review – John Magufuli of Tanzania is gaining pplaudits with his anti spending measures

John Magufuli (left), the new president of Tanzania is garnering lots of column inches in global media thanks to his campaign against government spending. This has included banning independence day celebrations and the dinner which usually accompanies the opening of parliament and limiting overseas travels by government officials. His populist measures have drawn applause across the continent including in the East Africa region, as evidenced by this amusing satire piece in the Ugandan Observer.

South Africa-Zimbabwe Trade War looms

South Africa and Zimbabwe are close trading partners, with 70% of South African exports going to the Zimbabwe. With this in mind, news of a looming trade war between the countries will come as a shock. South African businesses have been perturbed by recent hikes in import duties imposed by Zimbabwe. These measures have been in response to South African flooding the Zimbabwean markets following a depreciation of the South African Rand. This is an interesting insight into the complexities of free trade. Those who advocate a continental free trade and free movement of labour, goods and services should be aware that problems can arise if one part of the continent has lower costs of production than another. What will happen is that the latter’s produce will flood the other’s markets, thus putting their businesses out of action.

Lupita Nyong’o in Star Wars rumours

Africa News Review - Mexican-Kenya actress Lupita Nyong'o may or not have had much of her scenes cut from the new Star Wars films

Africa News Review – Mexican-Kenya actress Lupita Nyong’o may or not have had much of her scenes cut from the new Star Wars films “The Force Awakens”

In entertainment, Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o has been in the headlines after allegedly having much of her screen time in the new Star Wars movie cut. Stories have suggested that director JJ Abrams was so unimpressed by Nyong’o’s acting that he removed scenes that she was meant to appear in to a bare minimum. However, the Force Awakens director rejected these rumours, saying that the young star’s performance was ‘spectacular.’ Having said that, he did say “Yes, we tried many approaches, and we finally landed on just what the film needed. She elevated all the scenes she is in.”

Sitya Loss dancing star dies

Africa News Review - Rest in Peace, Alex Ssempijja, star of several videos by Ugandan superstar Eddy Kenzo

Africa News Review – Rest in Peace, Alex Ssempijja, star of several videos by Ugandan superstar Eddy Kenzo

Finally, fans of Ugandan artist Eddy Kenzo’s breakout hit Sitya Loss will be devastated to hear that one of the Ghetto Kids who danced in the original video has died. Alex Ssempijja died in a bicycle accident in the country’s capital Kampala. Our thoughts are with Alex’s family at this tragic time, and we thank them for bringing him into the world and helping to bring joy to millions of people. Fellow ‘Ghetto Kid’ Patricia Nabakooza was also involved in the accident, but she is thankfully about to be discharged from hospital.

That’s all for this edition of Africa News Review. To submit ideas for future editions, leave a comment here or at the Social media links at the bottom of the page.

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Malema slams Mandela AND Mugabe!

Malema slams Mandela and Mugabe!

Julius Malema is a South African politician who is notorious for making explosive and divisive comments on a range of issues. Some see him as nothing more than a self-publicist while others think of him as a true man of the people, championing the cause of the ordinary African in the streets of Soweto, Cape Town and Durban. Malema’s latest comments in which he criticised both Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe are in keeping with his reputation.

Malema has been seen as an ally of Mugabe but his recent comments will put a strain on their relationship

Malema has been seen as an ally of Mugabe but his recent comments will put a strain on their relationship

Mugabe’s land reform was bloody and ‘opportunistic’

Speaking at Oxford University on his latest International tour, Malema argued that the land reforms of the ruling Zanu PF administration in Zimbabwe were only to save Mugabe from losing power and were done in a bloody and violent manner. The Daily Zim quotes him as saying:

“We are not going to do what the Zimbabweans have done; of drawing the blood of innocent people. There’s nothing wrong with Mugabe’s policy on land, but there’s everything wrong with the method used to obtain the land. We cannot have people killed, injured because you want your land back.

“Mugabe had more than 25 years to pass legislation through democratic means that would systematically take the land back, he did not do anything about it. He only introduced that policy at a time when he was losing power, it was opportunistic.

“You ought to pass legislation through parliament in line with your constitution that will take land back to the hands of people.”

These comments will be music to the ears of people like Tony Blair and the British political establishment who steadfastly opposed Mugabe. The UK still has sanctions in place against Zimbabwe though the EU has recently lifted its measures. Interestingly though, Mugabe himself has recently spoken of flaws in the land reform which resulted in low productivity.  And in a startling turn of events, ZANU PF is now considering halting the continued appropriation of White-owned farms, and even returning some seized farms to previous White owners. So perhaps Mugabe himself might not disagree too much with Malema’s comments!

Mandela sold-out the people of South Africa

Malema is somewhat of a darling among Panafrican circles, who also laud Mugabe for his Black nationalism. So they will be horrified to hear such comments from the former ANC Youth Wing leader who now heads the Economic Freedom Fighters party. However, such people will be happier with Malema’s comments on the late Nelson Mandela who, though holding near-saintly status in the global public sphere, has been criticised for failing to deliver real liberation to the masses of South Africa. Malema repeats this line of attack by saying:

“The deviation from the Freedom Charter was the beginning of selling out of the revolution. When Mandela returned from prison he got separated from Winnie Mandela and went to stay in a house of a rich white man, he was looked after by the Oppenheimers, Mandela used to attend those club meetings of those white men who owned the South African economy.

“He stayed in one of their houses, they had access to him 24hours. They told him what he represented would not be achieved, that’s when he turned against himself.

“The Nelson we celebrate now is a stage-managed Mandela who compromised the principles of the revolution, which are captured in the Freedom Charter.

“The Freedom Charter is the Bible of the South African revolution. Any deviation from that is a sell-out position. We normally don’t use phrases like Mandela sold out, he was too old, he was tired, he left it to us.

“We have to pick it up from where he left it. That’s why he said the struggle is not over, political freedom is incomplete without economic freedom. I will say Nelson took us to a point and left it to us to take it further.”

Brave move taking on two giants of African liberation struggle

Attacking two heavyweights of the African liberation struggle in this way is an interesting move by Malema. His comments on both Mugabe and Mandela send a message to the people of South Africa that he recognises the need for economic liberation and that this forms a key part of his vision.  However, by criticising so strongly the methods of Mugabe and ZANU PF, Malema also sends a message to the International community and especially Britain that they need not fear a repeat of the kind of violence and bloodshed seen in Zimbabwe a decade and half ago. This intriguing combination of revolutionary zeal and appeal to the principles of moderation and democracy will cause considerable discomfort in the power centres of Harare and especially Johannesburg, at a time when ANC support is plummeting following their re-election in 2014.