Nairobi — Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua have been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to contest for in August 9 presidential polls. Odinga was handed the clearance certificate by IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya on Sunday. Speaking after the exercise, Odinga called on the electoral agency to play its role in a free and just manner to ensure credibility in the national elections. Odinga further called on Kenyans to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the electioneering period even as he defended the media's coverage of presidential campaigns as objective amid concerns of skewed reporting by a section of media houses
Maputo — The Mozambican government has prohibited, as of Wednesday of the current week, the import of animals, and animal products and by-products from Zimbabwe
due to the resurgence of cases of foot-and-mouth disease in that country. The measure comes after the Zimbabwean Tax Authority notified the Mozambican authorities last Friday, about the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Mashonaland Central province, Mbire district, which borders Mozambique. The government has also decided to ban the import wild ungulates, and of fodder for cattle, goats, pigs and sheep. The Mozambican government is also carrying out the supervision of the movement of animals and targeted products along the main borders and other road entry points into the country. In the districts bordering on Zimbabwe, it will be compulsory to perform a visual inspection, examination of the mouth cavity and hooves of all cattle, goats, sheep and pigs on a monthly basis. Nevertheless, according to note from the independent daily "O País", the entry of pasteurized dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and cream, processed meats (canned goods and sausages), trophies and pharmaceutical substances is continuing. Foot and mouth disease is classified as one of the most dangerous livestock diseases in the world because of its rapid transmission and spread, with very negative economic impacts.
The Central Bank of Nigeria recently announced an increase in the interest rate, from 11.5% to 13%, a 1.5 percentage point hike that took effect immediately. Whenever the Central Bank changes the monetary policy rate, otherwise known as the discount or interest rate, deposit and other financial institutions follow suit. Banks will therefore be raising their lending rates, which will increase the cost of borrowing and reduce the demand for money. The accepted logic is that this will lead to a reduction in consumption and investment, thereby cooling off the overheated economy. According to the Central Bank, the interest rate was raised to reduce inflationary pressure, narrow the negative real interest rate margin, restore investor confidence and boost remittances. Nigeria's inflation rate was about 16.8% as of April 2022. The rate was at an all-time high of about 18% a year ago, but dropped to 15% in November 2021. It has been on an upward trend since then, which explains why the Central Bank took a pre-emptive measure to tame it. But in my view, we shouldn't assume that monetary policy will work in Nigeria the way it works in other countries. Firstly, its effectiveness in curtailing inflation in Nigeria is blunted because price increases are caused mainly by supply constraints. These include insecurity in food-producing areas of the country, poor infrastructure, the war in Ukraine which has pushed up the price of commodities such as wheat, and falling imports due to currency depreciation. In addition, Nigeria's large informal sector has very weak linkages with the formal financial sector. About 80% of Nigerians are employed in the informal sector. Unlike households in developed countries, many Nigerians will not change their economic decision-making because of the interest rate increase. There are also concerns about the timing of the increase. Nigeria is facing high levels of unemployment and poverty. Higher rates will have knock-on effects in the broader economy. For example, the manufacturers association of Nigeria's big worry is that the rate hike would increase input costs and weaken the demand for manufactured goods. How compelling are these concerns? Should the poor and working class in Nigeria be perturbed by the Central Bank's decision? Who shouldn't be worried? The rate increase will not have significant effects on most low-income Nigerians for a few reasons. First, domestic credit to the private sector in Nigeria is very low. It was just 12% of gross domestic product (GPD) in 2020, compared with an average of 40% for sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is one of the 20 or so countries in the world with a domestic credit to private sector ratio of below 15% of GDP. Credit allocation to individuals and households is also low. This is because banks usually impose onerous conditions that make it nearly impossible for many Nigerians to obtain loans. As of May 2021, for instance, consumer credit accounted for only 10.2% of total credit to the private sector. Unable to obtain credit from financial institutions, many Nigerians use loan sharks. The inability of many Nigerians to access loans from banks means they will not have to worry about paying higher rates on mortgages, credit cards, autos, and student loans. Additionally, the rate hike will not have an impact on the prices of goods and services typically consumed by low-income Nigerians. Hikes in the prices of these basic food stuffs are driven by factors such as insecurity concerns as well as poor infrastructure that makes getting food to markets expensive. What about growth and employment? An increase in interest rate raises borrowing costs. This, in turn, reduces investment, production, and employment. But Nigeria does not fit this narrative. Much of its economic growth is driven, not by the production of goods, but by the export of oil and gas. Though a small percentage of the GDP, oil generates much of the foreign exchange and government revenue needed to support other sectors of the economy. Because credit to the private sector in Nigeria is very low relative to GDP, the impact of the rate increase on real-sector production and employment will not be substantial. Who should be worried Nigerians in the public sector in some states of the federation should be wary of the rate hike. The state governments routinely borrow from banks to cover their huge budget deficits, and government debt has been on the increase over the years. Some have accumulated several months of unpaid salaries, gratuities, and pensions. The interest rate increase will raise the borrowing costs of the government and result in the allocation of a higher proportion of revenue to debt servicing. This will affect the ability of the government to meet its capital and recurrent expenditures. In turn, this could exacerbate the delays in, or non-payment of, salaries, gratuities and pensions. A dysfunctional system If Nigeria was a well-functioning economy, the rate increase would attract investors. According to the purchasing power parity theory of exchange rates, a fall in the inflation rate would shore up the value of the Naira. In addition, the hike would lead to an increase in the value of the Naira through what's called "Carry Trade" - when portfolio investors borrow money from countries with low interest rates and invest the proceeds to take advantage of the spread between Nigeria's high interest rate and low rates in other countries. But Nigeria isn't a well-functioning country. It has high levels of insecurity and political uncertainty. In addition, financial regulation is weak and the financial sector is fragile. It is therefore unlikely that portfolio investors would jump at the bait of high interest rates. If anything, investors are pulling their money out because of these uncertainties, which partly explains why the Naira has been depreciating inexorably. The wrong approach? Only the middle and upper-class Nigerians would gain from any long-term positive payoffs from the interest rate hike. No matter how one views the Central Bank of Nigeria's rate increase, it is hard to fathom how it would benefit most Nigerian
Congolese singer Koffi Olomide has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for the kidnapping of his former dancers. But the sentence was suspended for three years.
The Versailles Court in France pronounced the verdict on 13 December.
But the Congolese singer was acquitted of the charge of sexual assault on the same dancers, who are former members of his Quartier Latin band.
Four former dancers accused the rumba star of sexual assault and kidnapping which happened between 2002 and 2006 in the villa of the singer in Asnières, a town in the Paris region.
The acquittal on the sexual assaults is "given for the benefit of the doubt", explained the president of the 7th Correctional Chamber of the Versailles Court of Appeal, referring in particular to the "evolving, sometimes contradictory statements" of the complainants.
The singer's judicial record is heavy and includes a conviction in 2019 in France for the rape of an under 15 minor and sequestration of four of his dancers.
Initially, the Nanterre court gave him a two-year suspended sentence instead of the seven-year prison sentence requested by the prosecution. The star had appealed against the sentence and the Versailles court's verdict came when the Congolese star had already left France.
The singer rejected the accusations of his former dancers and said that "the dream of the young women who accuse him was to live in France and obtain papers from associations", adding that the "women are very well protected".
Recently, the singer created a buzz by going to the war zones in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo dressed in military uniform. In early November, on his return from Paris where he had attended his first trial, Olomide went to seek solace at the large Kimbanguiste church in Nkamba in the western province of Kongo-Central, where he confessed to the spiritual leader of the church that he was "overwhelmed by problems".
In 2016, Olomide, 65, was expelled from Kenya following a public assault on one of his dancers. The singer apologised, acknowledging "a little moment of distraction".
In 2018, Zambia issued an arrest warrant against him for assaulting a photographer.
Prime Minister Justine Trudeau says Canada will donate ten million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the COVAX kitty for Africa and an additional fifteen million dollars funding for mRNA vaccine production on the continent before the end of 2022.
Trudeau made the announcement in Rome recently during the G20 summit, adding that 200 million of vaccine doses would, in addition, be purchased or donated to COVAX (the global vaccine-sharing project) for low to medium income countries before the end of 2022.
Canada has previously promised to donate 40 million doses from its own contracts, and pay for an estimated 87 million more through more than $500 million in cash donations to COVAX.
Up to now, 3.4 million doses have been delivered from Canada's contracts although it's not kmown yet how many doses have been purchased with Canada's money.
The African Union (AU) has secured an additional 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for the continent.
Together with doses the AU has already reserved and those to be made available via the World Health Organization-backed Covax scheme, this brings the total for Africa to 1.27 billion.
Africa needs about 1.5 billion doses to immunise 60% of inhabitants, the threshold for herd immunity. Most nations have not started vaccinating, lacking funds to do so.
Initiatives to help them have struggled to put in orders as wealthier countries are accused of bulk-buying vaccines.
Earlier this week, South Africa's leading coronavirus expert Salim Abdool Karim said that such behaviour was "unconscionable", warning "no-one is safe until everyone is safe".
The rollout of mass vaccination programmes across Africa may now begin in March, though not all supplies will be available by then. The bulk would arrive later this year and next year, John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said. "I think we're beginning to make very good progress," Dr Nkengasong said.Prime Minister Justine Trudeau says Canada will donate ten million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the COVAX kitty for Africa and an additional fifteen million dollars funding for mRNA vaccine production on the continent before the end of 2022
By Peter Uduehi.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa says he knows why the recent violence in South Africa is happening in his country. While he’s not saying what he knows, many on the continent are already pointing fingers at the ‘why’ question.
Days following the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court, many protesters form his KwaZulu Natal stronghold took to the streets then started looting shops in one of the worst mayhems experienced in th young country’s history. Zuma was ordered jailed because he refused to attend a corruption investigation of his administration. The former president left office in disgrace following allegations of corruption three years ago. But considering the current state of the country’s economy (especially in the midst of a pandemic), and with unemployment among the youth at an abysmal level, it is quite conceivable that many of the protesters are taking advantage of the political turmoil involving their kinsman to commit crimes against innocent small businesspeople.
In his first public remarks since the anti-monarchy protests began last month, Eswatini King Msawti III has described them as "satanic".He said they had taken the country backwards and he announced a $35m (£25m) fund to help pay for repairs to damaged property.At least 50 people died in the disturbances in Africa's last absolute monarchy. On Friday, police fired tear gas and water cannons at pro-democracy protesters in the second biggest city, Manzini. Opposition supporters called for the demonstration despite being invited by King Mswati III to a meeting to discuss their grievances. Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Temba Masuku said the "government has been following these protests" and heard their demands."We will be working with Parliament and all concerned stakeholders to action them accordingly," Eswatini's government quoted Masuku as saying on Twitter.
By Peter Uduehi
Ontario premiere Doug Ford has extended the province’s state of emergency by another 30 days until early May due to the novel coronavirus which produced a scare around the world in late February.
But nobody knows when schools are to realistically reopen given the deadly nature of the Covid-19, the World Health Organisation designation for the virus..
For many African parents, in lockdown with their children during this time, “this has been an eye-opener for me on many levels”, notes Ghanaian-born Toronto resident Joseph Owusu.
He said the restricted movement of persons due to the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise.
“Here in Canada, we work like crazy with little time for family. I love the fact that my children are constantly within an earshot of me these times...I’m cooking...actually doing a lot of cooking for them, doing a lot of things with them, not because I’m the stay-away-dad type, but because I do more things with them now than before and I’m enjoying these moments,” Owusu explains.
“As for my wife, it’s also been a blessing in disguise,” he stressed, adding “these relaxing times have offered us more opportunities to bond more and relate more for the benefit of our relationship.”
Joseph Bandera, Toronto-resident of Zimbabwean extraction, could not agree more.
“My wife and I are relaxing more too and taking our time to know each other better instead of the rush-rush rat race we were in before coronavirus lockdown,” he said. He added: “these days make it better to listen to each other more and I feel like this is how life should be anyway”.
In the meantime, some children (engaged now for several weeks with schoolwork at home via the internet as they respond to challenges from their teachers), are getting acquainted with distant learning.
“One new thing I learned about my son is that he is smarter than I thought he was before Covid-19 shutdown,” says Bandera.
“With this shutdown,” he continued, “ have e had enough time to give a critical analysis of many things around me,” noting: “usually I would do the things I needed to do around the house and in life because they were things I just needed to do, like taking my kids to school, preparing lunch for them, making sure their homework is done, etcetera...but now I am involved in the process of their education because they’re full-time at home with me. And I can see that my son is smarter that I thought.” he reiterated. “Process makes a difference and this shutdown is giving me a lot to process.”
Still, many school children, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are having an emotional rough-going because of the current pandemic, especially as “all of a sudden...you can’t go on play dates or have sleepovers...and your March break was certainly different than what you’ve hoped for. I get it from my kids as well”, he said in a special message to Canada’s kids.
“The Prime Minister is right. It’s true that things can change in life in an instant,” says Bola Idowu, a Mississauga resident. She said for a long time she has not had the time to teach her 11-year-old daughter how to cook certain Nigerian meals she likes, but that this resting period has given her the opportunity to do just that. “My daughter is like a chef now,” she said with a lot of laughter on the phone. “She’s now perfect at preparing the coveted okra soup,” Idowu adds. “There’s always a silver lining in certain rough situations,” she said.
Owusu’s silver lining, and quite the eye-opener, is that “socalled religious pastors or men of God...as they call themselves...are swindlers and crooks.
“They don't really care about your wellbeing.” Asked why the harsh criticism of certain pastors, he said it is downright offensive for a pastor to ask members of his congregation to continue to pay tithes to the coffers of the church at a time when everyone is in shutdown mode and out of work.
“They (the pastors) develop an online process for their members to remind them of their duty to give a-tenth of their salaries to the church when most of them cannot earn a living wage at this time.
“They (the pastors) are trying to impress upon their members the notion that those who are poor (or out of pocket due to the shutdown) should still give tithes because God, through some miraculous way, will always provide them with money. Why don’t the pastors believe the same notion that God will provide them money miraculously?” Owusu asked, stressing that the restrictions brought on by the pandemic has been very revealing of the relationship between religious leaders and their flock.
“I have changed my concept of religion. Covid-19 shutdown has given me the opportunity to know what to accept and what not to accept. I have decided that it’s important to look after oneself first rather than concentrate my energies on people who don’t really care about your wellbeing,” he said, adding: I think meditation is my new concept for higher spirituality.”
Spiritual care coordinator Rev. Augustus Oku (pictured left) and pastor of the York Memorial Presbyterian Church in North York says “it’s embarrassing to hear what fellow pastors are asking of their members at this hour of economic downturn and need.
He said members of his predominantly Nigerian congregation know not to expect any financial demands from him because this is the time churches should be giving back to their members.
“If I had a lot of money, and my church were a rich church, we would be giving a lot of money out instead of taking in money. Religion is not about money. It’s about providing hope,” he said.
“This Covid-19 lockdown has also taught me important lessons about the clergy and religion, because I am finding out that some of these so-called pastors behave like criminals. It’s wrong what some of them are doing in the name of God,” Oku, who has been a chaplain for prisons in the past, opined.
In a scathing indictment, Kalu opined that “most governments on the continent just do no have what it takes to readily test and identify cases”, noting that governments that cannot provide basic infrastructure for its citizens cannot be proactive in a pandemic like this. The hospitals are in a sorry state and most of the leaders do not even depend on the decrepit hospitals for their own health needs. They prefer to fly abroad for treatments and medical check-ups. I just hope there will be a new order at the end of this pandemic”.
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