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Eastern Africa

Tanzania in Plans to Get Zimbabwe Sanctions Lifted

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Tanzania, the new chair of the South African Development Community (SADC), is already pledging to push Western powers to ease sanctions against Zimbabwe, which is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade.

The sanctions, imposed over alleged human-rights abuses during the reign of former president Robert Mugabe, who was removed from power in 2017, are still in place despite a democratic change of leadership.

TRADE BARRIERS

This past week, Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi, who now heads the SADC Council of Ministers, said that the country, in its capacity as chair of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest regional blocs, will prioritise efforts to push the international community to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe so that trade barriers are removed from the landlocked country and its current economic crisis can be alleviated.

Mr Kabudi made the pledge after taking over from Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Relations Minister Netumbo Ndaitwah, ahead of the SADC heads of state summit to be held in Dar es Salaam this weekend.

The European Union imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002, citing issues like harassment of independent media and intimidation of political opponents. The sanctions include an international arms embargo, wide-ranging assets freeze and a travel ban on Mugabe-era government officials to EU countries.

The sanctions affect most leaders of the ZANU-PF ruling party, top military figures and some government-owned firms.

The EU’s decision later received the backing of the US, and earlier this year President Donald Trump extended them by another year despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over as leader of Zimbabwe.

Although President Mnangagwa took over from Mr Mugabe in a bloodless coup in November 2017, the Trump administration says the policies of the new administration continue to pose an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to US foreign policy.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Tanzania’s intervention may be seen as controversial, given that its own human-rights record is in the spotlight over allegations of a government crackdown on opposition, squeezing of the political space, and passing of controversial laws over the past two years.

The country has recently been accused by the US and some EU nations of high-handedness, especially after the arrest and detention of journalists, most recently Erick Kabendera, on what some say are politically motivated charges. Mr Kabendera was arraigned for alleged money laundering, among other charges.

Zimbabwe is low in cash reserves, and is battling severe fuel shortages. In January, the government announced a 150 per cent increase in fuel prices, which led to widespread social discontent and violent demonstrations.

The Council of Ministers’ meeting came up with 107 recommendations to be tabled before the 16 heads of State for consideration.

Other tasks high on President John Magufuli’s agenda are to increase trade volumes within the bloc.

Tanzania also intends to establish Kiswahili as one of the bloc’s official languages on the basis that it was the main language used during liberation struggles led by Tanzania for Southern African countries such as Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Currently the official languages are English, French and Portuguese.

Tanzania will also supervise the implementation of a sustainable SADC industrial development programme introduced by founders of the community, and push for serious discussion of Burundi’s application for SADC membership.

Eastern Africa

Uganda: UN Commission On Human Rights Begin 7th Field Mission to South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia

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Juba — The Commissioners intend to visit camps and settlements for internally displaced persons across South Sudan, including the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian sites, to meet the people living there, community leaders and civil society organizations including women organizations.

The three Commissioners taking part in the mission, Yasmin Sooka (chairperson), Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako will spend six days in South Sudan (19 to 24 August). They are expected to meet Government officials, including key ministers, members of civil society, religious leaders, diplomats and UN agencies and UNMISS staff, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, to discuss the current human rights situation in the country.

The Commissioners will hold a press conference on Friday 23 August 2019 at 1100 hrs in the UNMISS Tomping Base.

From 25 to 29 August 2019, the Commissioners will separately visit Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, where they will engage with refugees who have been recently displaced from South Sudan. In Ethiopia, they will hold meetings with African Union leaders, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), senior UN officials, as well as other members of the international community.

The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is an independent body mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to, among other things; determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability. The Commission will present an oral update on the human rights situation in South Sudan to the Human Rights Council on 16 September 2019 and a comprehensive written report in March 2020.

Media outlets attending the press conference are kindly asked to come with a valid press card/ID and arrive no later than 10:30 hrs to facilitate security clearance and entry into UNMISS Tomping Camp. For planning purposes, please kindly confirm your participation by email or phone to the following:

Peter Mwesigwa (in Juba) + 211 (0) 912 166229 / pmwesigwa@ohchr.org

Joseph Bonsu (in Addis Ababa) +251 955 331 837 / jbonsu@ohchr.org

For more information about the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, please see:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/CoHSouthSudan/Pages/Index.aspx

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Ethiopia

Ethiopian authorities arrest journalist Mesganaw Getachew after he films outside court – Zehabesha – Latest Ethiopian News Provider

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        <aside class="mashsb-container mashsb-main ">
            </aside><!-- Share buttons by mashshare.net - Version: 3.6.8--><strong>August 20, 2019 </strong>

Authorities in Ethiopia should unconditionally release journalist Mesganaw Getachew, who was arrested on August 9 after recording an interview outside a court in Addis Ababa, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Mesganaw, who reports for the privately owned Ethiopis weekly, was arrested shortly after he interviewed a lawyer, Henok Aklilu, outside the Arada First Instance court in Addis Ababa, and is now facing allegations of contravening Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, Henok and Mesganaw’s editor, Eskinder Nega, told CPJ.

Henok told CPJ that he had just attended a hearing in another case in which a group of people, including two media workers, are also facing anti-terror charges when Mesganaw and others approached him for updates on the case. The journalist recorded the lawyer via a camera installed in his eyeglasses, according to Eskinder and Henok. Eskinder told CPJ that Mesganaw was afraid of harassment if he filmed openly.

Eskinder told CPJ that police at the scene also arrested another person, Adam Wejera, a member of the Balderas Council, a political movement headed by Eskinder that claims to advocate for the rights of Addis Ababa residents. Eskinder said Adam was also filming. Henok said he did not witness this second arrest.

The federal police told CPJ that Mesganaw was arrested for illegally filming within the court compound, while the federal attorney general’s office said Mesganaw and Adam are suspected of being part of an attempted coup in the Amhara regional state. Both the police and the attorney general’s office said the arrests had nothing to do with journalism.

“The arrest of journalist Mesganaw Getachew, right after he reported on a court case, and the use of an anti-terror law that is a relic of past repression send a message that Ethiopia is reverting to old tools to silence dissent and criticism,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “We call on authorities to release Mesganaw, stop using the Anti-Terror Proclamation against journalists, and ensure that reforms to the law protect freedom of expression and access to information.”

On August 10, police brought Mesganaw and Adam, who are being tried together, to court, where they requested and were granted 28 days to investigate both on allegations of terrorism, in connection to June 2019 events that the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has described as a failed coup in the Amhara region, Henok, who is also Mesganaw’s lawyer, told CPJ. Henok told CPJ that the state has yet to declare its evidence or to formally charge them.

Mesganaw is the latest media worker to be detained in connection to the alleged attempted coup and to face allegations of contravening the Anti-Terror Proclamation, which was under previous governments used to crackdown on political dissent and which is going through reform, with ministers recently submitting a new draft law to parliament for consideration, according to CPJresearch and media reports.

CPJ last month documented the arrest and detention of two media workers with the privately owned Amharic language Satellite Radio and Television (ASRAT) media, Berihun Adane and Getachew Ambachew. Henok told CPJ that prior to Mesganaw’s arrest, he was briefing the journalist about a hearing connected to the ASRAT media case. CPJ is also investigating whether the arrest of another journalist and Balderas movement member, Elias Gebru, also facing terrorism charges, is connected to his journalism. Over 200 people were arrested in connection to the June incident, according to media reports.

In an August 19 email, Zinabu Tunu, the spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, told CPJ that there was “credible suspicion that [Mesganaw and Adam] have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the regional administration of the Amhara Regional State as well as the death of the Chief of Staff the Armed Forces,” which, according to reports, was one of the assassinations that the government has described as part of the attempted coup. He said the arrests had nothing to do with “opinions they might have expressed or reports that they might have published.”

However, Federal Police Spokesperson Jeylan Abdi said Mesganaw was using an eyeglass camera to film without permission in the court’s compound, rousing the suspicion of the police officers who arrested him.

On May 22, police assaulted, arrested, and briefly detained Mesganaw while he was reporting on the demolition of homes in Arat Kilo, a neighborhood in Addis Ababa, according to CPJ reporting. He was released on bail.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Nairobi (CPJ)

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Ethiopia

Ethiopia: New Directive Eases Passport Application Process

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Ethiopian citizens who hold kebele identification cards and birth certificates can now obtain a passport from the Immigration, Nationality & Vital Events Agency.

Ethiopian citizens who hold kebele identification cards and birth certificates can now obtain a passport from the Immigration, Nationality & Vital Events Agency.

Over the past 11 months, the Agency was requiring passport applicants to present documents that prove their travel plans. The applicants had to submit documents proving that they have either been allowed to study or work overseas, hotel bookings, certificates of competence from accredited employment agencies to acquire a passport or medical documents to show they were travelling to receive treatment.

Issued on August 8, 2019, the new directive lifted this requirement, which was put in place due to the foreign currency shortage that limited the Agency from printing the passports in France. On average, the Agency spends an average of five million dollars to print passports.

The Agency, which was issuing an average of 12,700 passports daily before it passed the restriction, had downsized the number to 2,000 after the mandatory requirement.

“Now after working with the National Bank of Ethiopia, we’re currently importing passports,” said Desalegn Teressa, communications director at the Agency, which issued around 361,000 passports and 169,000 visas in the first three quarters of the last fiscal year.

Previously, the Agency, which operates through nine branches in Adama, Semera, Jigjiga, Hawassa, Dire Dawa, Jimma, Dessie, Bahir Dar and Meqelle, was issuing passports in seven days. But last year it was extended to 45 days following the new requirements.

Currently, it takes up to 45 days to get a passport through the normal procedure, which costs 600 Br for 32 pages and 900 Br for a 64-page passport. But, applicants can get their passport in the quicker way between three and five days after paying 2,186 Br.

However, the requirements on job seekers that travel to Middle Eastern countries are still in place and are imposed by a different law passed by the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs.

“While the government respects its citizens’ freedom of movement, it also has a duty to protect them and ensure their safety,” said Desalegn.

Individuals looking to travel to Middle Eastern countries with whom Ethiopia has signed bilateral labour agreements are required to receive a three-month training, acquire certificates of competency and applicants must be at least 21 years of age and must have completed eighth grade.

Bilateral labour agreements between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan were signed to formalise the employment exchange. The government, as part of its job creation scheme, aims to send around 50,000 workers to the Middle Eastern countries, mostly nurses and drivers.

Getachew Assefa (PhD), a constitutional lecturer at Addis Abeba University’s School of Law & Governance, believes the move by the Agency to ease requirements rectifies its past mistake, which was unconstitutional.

Every citizen of Ethiopia has the right to obtain a passport without any requirements, according to Getachew.

“The Agency should have had a different system in place to issue passports if it was faced with a shortage of forex,” said Getachew.

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Eastern Africa

South Africa: Will IMF Bailout Rumours Kickstart Economic Reforms?

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Cape Town — There seems to be a growing consensus that South Africa is heading for an International Monetary Fund bailout as the country’s state-owned enterprises and weak finances project a poor economic outlook, something the National Treasury acknowledged and assured the government would address.

The possibility of a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be the deciding factor in pushing South Africa’s government to introduce the reforms necessary to boost the country’s economy, Bloomberg reports.

This comes as a government bailout for embattled power utility Eskom has put heavy strain on the country’s budget amid the unemployment rate rising to 29%, its highest since 2008.

According to the IMF’s resident representative in South Africa, Montfort Mlachila, simplifying visa rules to bring in people with necessary skills and allocating new broadband spectrum could boost confidence because they are “readily achievable policies”, writes Bloomberg. Labour-market flexibility and leaner state-owned companies are measures that may also help.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour, Lindelwa Dunjwa, said for the economy to improve a collaborative effort is required, especially if unemployment among young people, women and the disabled persons is to be reduced.

“This necessitates that the public and the private sectors must pull together in trying to get the economy to create jobs. It is not going to be easy; but we have a responsibility to walk this path together”, said Ms Dunjwa.

Dr Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist at the African Export/Import Bank, believes the best way to address the “Great-Depression era unemployment rates” is to boost manufacturing output and industrial production.

Dr. Fofack elaborated: “As the most complex and diversified economy on the continent, South Africa is less exposed to commodity cycles … The African Continental Free Trade area will be a great catalyst for the country which is already the champion of intra-African trade and stands to benefit the most from the mega-trade integration reform.”

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Eastern Africa

South Sudan: More Black Gold Struck – 300 Million Barrels, and Counting

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Cape Town — 300 million barrels of recoverable oil has been discovered in South Sudan’s northeastern Upper Nile state, by a consortium comprising the Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DOPC), which includes China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas, Nilepet, Sinopec and Tri-Ocean Energy, according to the African Energy Chamber.

“This is a remarkable achievement for the country,” said Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “Since independence, South Sudan has worked tirelessly to bring back damaged fields to production, and especially encourage exploration”.

South Sudan had earlier in 2019, signed an exploration and production sharing agreement with South Africa’s Strategic Fuel Fund for the highly prospective Block B2. The move was part of South Sudan’s strategy to diversify its basket of investors and encourage further exploration.

While the country sits on over 3.5 billion of proven oil reserves, the third largest in sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of its territory remains under-explored. Among those areas are Jonglei and Warrap, which has also been identified as rich in oil reserves.

South Sudan and Sudan are also in talks on cooperation to re-pump oil from South Sudan at a faster pace.

To boost exploration, South Sudan will be launching a new and much-awaited petroleum licensing round at the upcoming Africa Oil & Power conference in Cape Town on October 9th, 2019.

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