South Sudan dismisses UN experts’ fear of return to civil war
South Sudan has dismissed a United Nations report alleging a return to full-scale war in the country. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Makol Mawien said the UN was misleading the world on the situation in the country. United Nations Human Rights experts early last week expressed fear over the potential return to full-scale war in South Sudan. The experts put out a statement in the media that there was some risk that hardliners could sabotage progress towards implementation of the 2018 peace agreement.
Kenyan High Court to rule on shift to new currency
Did Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) violate the Constitution in including the statue of founding president Jomo Kenyatta on the new generation bank notes? The answer to this question, and its effect, is at the heart of a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah and whose verdict is expected from the High Court on September 27. The ruling will come only days to the expiry of the CBK deadline of September 30th for return of the old Ksh 1, 000 bank notes that are set to be withdrawn from circulation. Chief Justice David Maraga appointed judges George Kanyi Kimondo, Anthony Charo Murima and Lady Justice Asenath Nyaboke Ongeri to handle the case.
Second Ebola vaccine to be introduced in DRC in mid-October: WHO
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, the World Health Organization said Monday. The announcement came as the aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) accused the WHO of rationing the first Ebola vaccine in the DRC. “The health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have announced plans to introduce a second experimental Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, from mid-October,” the global health body said in a statement. “This vaccine, which is given as a 2-dose course, 56 days apart, will be provided under approved protocols to targeted at-risk populations in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission as an additional tool to extend protection against the virus.”
Low returns from bonds affect Uganda’s NSSF
Uganda’s state controlled social security fund has come under pressure from falling interest rates earned on treasury bonds and toxic stock market conditions. Declining yields earned on treasury bonds slowed down overall growth in total revenues earned by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) between July 2018 and June 2019. Weighted interest rates earned on Ugandan treasury bonds fell from 15.6 per cent in 2017/18 to 14 per cent in 2018/19 financial year while indicative rates for treasury bills dropped to around 8.8 per cent during the same period, according to data provided by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
‘Rand extends losses amid global risk-off sentiment
The rand extended losses for the third day against the dollar on Monday morning with risk appetite subdued as investors assess geopolitical risks. The US and China have described their latest meeting as “productive” after the two economic superpowers resumed talks late last week, while markets remain uncertain that the two will reach a deal soon. Tension in the Middle East has escalated after last week’s attack on Saudi oil facilities. The US said at the weekend that it will deploy more troops to the Gulf area.
Iran doubts it can avoid war in the Middle East
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif refused to rule out military conflict in the Middle East after the US sent more troops and weapons to Saudi Arabia in response to an attack on oilfields that the US has blamed on the Islamic Republic. “I’m not confident that we can avoid a war,” Zarif said in an interview with CBS in New York. “I’m confident that we will not start one, but I’m confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it.” When asked to elaborate, Zarif said: “That means that there won’t be a limited war.” Zarif was interviewed in New York, where he will attend the UN general assembly session. The US said on Friday it will send a “moderate” number of troops to the Middle East and missile defence capabilities to the Saudis in response to last weekend’s attack on oil facilities.
JSE could open lower as global risk appetite wanes
The JSE could open in negative territory as Asian markets remain subdued amid rising tension in the Hong Kong protests, and markets await more direction in the US-China trade war. Protesters clashed with police in Hong Kong at the weekend with demonstrators vandalising a shopping mall. The protests have been continuing for more than three months. Tension in the Middle East reached new heights with the US ordering more troops to be deployed in the Gulf area, weighing on oil prices. The US and China resumed talks late last week with the latter’s commerce ministry saying that the talks were “constructive” as the two economic superpowers prepare for high-level talks in October.
SA’s poultry producers cry fowl
SA’s poultry industry is locked into something of a chicken-or-egg conundrum: is the country a net importer of poultry because local producers are inefficient, or have foreign imports rendered them unable to meet demand? It’s a perennial debate that resurfaced earlier this year, when the SA Poultry Association (Sapa), representing large listed producers such as Astral Foods and RCL Foods, applied to the International Trade Administration Commission of SA (Itac) for a tariff increase. It asked that tariffs be increased to 82% — the maximum allowed under World Trade Organisation rules — from the current 37% for frozen bone-in pieces and 12% for frozen boneless cuts. The application was prompted by a widening gap between consumption and local production and by steadily increasing imports. According to a recent report from business advisory FTI Consulting, chicken imports doubled between 2010 and 2018. Over much the same period, there has been little increase in local output, says Catherine Grant Makokera, a director at Tutwa Consulting Group. The result is that SA producers currently meet only about 70% of local demand, says the Association of Meat Importers & Exporters (AMIE). The rest is satisfied through imports — about 540,000t of chicken last year, by Sapa estimates, more than 60% of it from Brazil.
‘How would this be achieved?’: Naledi Pandor on compensation for xenophobic attacks
International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said the looting and xenophobic violence that rocked the country was not purely directed at Nigerians. Pandor, speaking to SABC news from New York, where she will attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, was responding to calls for compensation to be paid to the victims of xenophobic attacks. “We need to really have a full assessment of what happened and assess where the particular harm was directed. An impression has been created that primarily the focus of the mob was businesses that were owned by Nigerians. This is not the case. Many South African-owned small businesses were the subject of the looting,” she said. “It was African people and it was South African blacks, as well as black people from other African countries. All of it was wrong. So I’m not sure from whom we would seek this compensation because we have arrested 794 people.”
Municipality spends R2m a month on security
A Limpopo municipality in SA is spending nearly R2m a month on private security to protect its employees, councillors and senior managers from the public it is meant to serve. The Greater Tzaneen municipality last week hired Ulawazi Security Group to strengthen security of councillors and senior managers to the value of over R700, 000 a month. The municipality already spends R1m a month, paying MBS Security to render services to protect its employees until 2021. The appointment of Ulwazi was made last week after a group of contractors stormed into a special council meeting and attacked municipal manager Thapelo Matlala and other councillors. A group of sub-contractors invaded a council meeting after months of non-payment for their services.
World Health Organisation says Tanzania not sharing information on Ebola
Tanzania has declined to provide detailed information on suspected Ebola cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, posing a challenge in efforts to fight the outbreak. Despite several requests “to date, clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed … have not been communicated to WHO,” the UN health agency said in a statement seen by Reuters on Sunday. Authorities in east and central Africa have been on high alert for possible spill overs of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo where a year-long outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people. Fears about the possible spread of the outbreak in Tanzania started this month after a woman died from an unknown illness following Ebola-like symptoms. On Wednesday, Tanzania formally notified the WHO it had no cases of Ebola, but it declined to share detailed data on suspected cases. Last week, the US health secretary, Alex Azar, also criticised Tanzania for its failure to share information on the possible outbreak saying authorities there had not made samples available or allowed testing of the index case.
Suspension of five officials from medical schemes watchdog welcomed in South Africa
Health minister Zweli Mkhize has welcomed the suspension of five officials from the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS). Last week‚ the CMS announced that as a precaution‚ it had suspended two executives and three senior managers following “anonymous tip-offs” from its hotline. The allegations were of corruption and unethical conduct. Mkhize also welcomed the CMS’s establishment of the investigation into allegations of racial profiling by healthcare providers in the medical scheme sector.
Report: Electronic Payment Transactions Rise to N231tn in Nigeria
The total value of transactions through various electronic payment (e-payment) channels in the country has risen sharply by 103 per cent to a total of N231.247 trillion as at June 2019, compared with the N138.672 trillion recorded in the whole of 2018. Also, the volume of transactions jumped by 42 per cent in the period under review, from a total of 2,163,779,156 recorded in 2018, to 3,068,922,121 in the first six months of 2019. The figures were contained in the latest industry e-payment data for the half year 2019 obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
$6.9bn Judgement Debt: Nigerian Delegation Departs for UK
The Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), disclosed Sunday night that the Nigerian delegation had left for the United Kingdom to discuss with the legal team the possible strategies on how to deal with the $9.6bn judgment debt. The minister who gave an update on the judgement debt awarded by a UK Commercial Court to Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) spoke on whether the Nigerian delegation leaving for UK would file a new case based on the new realities of the contract or would build on the previous judgement.
Yoruba Group, Falana Kick against Increase in VAT
The Yoruba Summit Group, the umbrella body for all Yoruba groups, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana have kicked against the proposed increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from the current five per cent to 7.5 per cent. In a statement issued at the weekend, the Yoruba group stressed that the present and recent developments concerning the administration of VAT regime needed closer interrogation.
Social Safety Nets: FG, W’Bank Differ on Spending in Nigeria
The federal government and the World Bank have differed on the spending on social safety net in Nigeria. The bank has advised the federal government to increase its budget for social safety net programme in order to have significant impact on poverty alleviation. According to the bank, the social investments have become a core part of the social contract in Africa; the bank stressed that the country’s current investment in social safety nets stood at only about 0.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that this was well below the regional average of 1.06 per cent of GDP. The bank, specifically noted that financing of social protection programmes in the country had remained a challenge as government has mainly relied on funding support from development partners to implement the scheme.
Guatemala Praises Morocco’s Western Sahara Autonomy Plan, South-South Commitment
Guatemala has joined an expanding cohort of Latin American countries to extol the merits and legitimacy of Morocco’s Western Sahara stance. In remarks following a working visit to Morocco this week, Guatemala’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Fernando Carranza Cifuentes, said his country supports Morocco’s autonomy proposal and its commitment to territorial integrity. “The government of the Republic of Guatemala supports Morocco’s efforts to find a political solution to this regional dispute and considers that the autonomy initiative presented by the Kingdom of Morocco in 2007 constitutes the realistic, credible and serious basis for achieving a negotiated outcome between the parties, in the context of respect for Morocco’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” the minister said at a joint press conference with Morocco’s Nasser Bourita on Friday, September 20. Cifuentes lauded Morocco’s “credible” and “serious” efforts for a negotiated settlement in the longstanding conflict. Guatemala joined a growing trend of countries in its region supporting Morocco’s position in the decades-long conflict. The past months marked a wave of Latin American support for Morocco’s territorial integrity in its southern provinces.
Royal Air Maroc Official Carrier of Luanda Biennial Symposium
Morocco’s flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) is the official carrier of the first biennial Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace, which opened in Luanda, Angola on September 18. Moroccan television channel 2M reported that the plan to make Royal Air Maroc the official carrier for the event is part of the 2015 partnership between the airline and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The event in Angola is held under the auspices of the UNESCO. According to this UN body, the first version of the Pan-African Forum seeks to bring together representatives of governments, the private sector, and scientific and artistic communities, as well as academic institutions.
Swissport International to Manage Services at 15 Moroccan Airports
The Moroccan Airports Office (ONDA) has granted the Chinese-owned aviation services company Swissport International a license to operate in 15 Moroccan airports, reports Aviation Pros. The seven-year license allows Swissport to manage the airports of Agadir, Al Hoceima, Casablanca, Dakhla, Errachidia, Essaouira, Fez, Laayoune, Marrakech, Nador, Ouarzazate, Oujda, Rabat, Tangier, and Tetouan.
British Company Makes Significant Gas Discovery in Morocco
Chariot Oil & Gas has made new gas discoveries in its ‘Lixus’ Offshore License in the Mohammedia-Kenitra region. In the Competent Persons Report on Additional Prospects, published on September 18 by Netherland Sewell & Associates Inc. (NSAI), the company stated that the research carried out on five gas wells proved conclusive. Research revealed strong gas exploitation potential. NSAI tests, conducted on behalf of Chariot Oil & Gas, affirmed the potential of the “Anchois Discovery” and “Anchois Satellite” wells, as well as five other wells, which far exceed the British company’s expectations.