Items filtered by date: Saturday, 28 October 2017

Kenya's election commission has postponed plans to hold delayed elections in some western constituencies where voting has not taken place. Protests and security concerns for staff are the main reasons for the delay.

Wafula Chebukati, head of the election commission, has postponed plans to restage the presidential election in areas hit by polling-day protests. They would be delayed "to a further date," he said on Friday.

"The commission has deliberated on the various incidents happening in some parts of the country and has postponed the elections scheduled to take place tomorrow, Saturday, to a further date to be announced in the coming days," Chebukati said.

In the western port city of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, police clashes with demonstrators turned deadly on Thursday afternoon. Protesters blocked streets, started fires and threw stones at security officers, who used tear gas and then fired into the crowds. Four people were killed and at least 50 others injured. Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o said that his government would not cooperate with the resumption of the vote on Saturday while the region was in "mourning."

Low turnout

Only 6.55 million Kenyans went to the polls for the country's re-run vote, Chebukati said on Friday, meaning turnout was a dismal 34.5 percent. Turnout for the August ballot that was annulled by the Supreme Court had been 80 percent.
The low turnout was likely due to a boycott of the vote by most of the country's 19 million registered voters, including opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who called it "a sham election." The deeply divisive election on Thursday was marred by protests and violence that left at least four people dead and dozens more wounded.

Opposition boycott

The first election in August 8 ended with a victory for incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta with 54 percent of the vote. Violence broke out after the opposition accused Kenyatta of vote tampering, leaving 37 people dead in a country still divided by ethnic loyalties.

However, a few weeks later, on August 28, Kenya's Supreme Court listened to arguments presented by Odinga on alleged irregularities and allowed an audit of the vote. The results of the audit led to the court voiding the election. Although he was instrumental in having the vote annulled, Odinga announced on October 10 that he was boycotting the second election, citing fraud within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which is run by Chebukati.

Elections in Kenya have often been tense affairs, with many avoiding the polls for fear of violence. Widespread unrest after the country's 2007 election led to months of bloodshed that cost some 1,300 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.


es/ks (AFP, Reuters)

Published in Economy

The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark At said it had consulted and treated at least 6,000 people during its eight-day stay in Angola.

The mission's commander, Guan Bailin, on Thursday in Luanda said during its stay which ended on Thursday, 14 surgeries were carried out on the ship. He said the most sought specialities were ophthalmology, cardiology and orthopedics.

Prior to Angola, the ship had visited Djibouti, Gabon, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Congo. It will later travel to Mozambique and Tanzania. Guan stressed that it is the objective of the ship to reinforce the existing cooperation between the Angolan and Chinese navies.

The Peace Ark is equipped with a ship-based medical helicopter, and its medical crew comprises more than 110 medical staff from 21 institutions including the Naval Medical University and the Navy General Hospital.

Published in World

Jumia Nigeria has announced the dates and partners for its biggest sales event of the year, Jumia Black Friday 2017!

This year’s event is billed as the Jumia Black Friday Festival and will run for 31 days from November 13th to December 13th 2017 on www.Jumia.com.ng. It will be the largest shopping event in Nigeria with up to 1 million amazing deals and discounts on offer at up to 80% off.

To bring customers the best deals, the e-commerce giant has partnered with Intel, Pampers, Infinix, Philips, Fero, HP, MTN, AirFrance-KLM and about 1,000 top brands.

The 2017 Jumia Black Friday will feature a first-of-its-kind event for shoppers as Jumia partners with music entertainment TV station, TRACE Naija to create the Trace Jumia MAD (Music and Deals) Fest. It’s a live event that will offer the explosive combination of Nigerian music and Black Friday frenzy for customers and attendees alike. The Trace Jumia MAD Fest will place on the 18th of November 2017 at the King’s College grounds in Victoria Island, Lagos. While registration is required, attendance is free.

Performers at the TraceJumia MAD Fest include Falz, Simi, 9ice, Mayorkun, Niniola, Lil Kesh, Sound Sultan, Skales, Pencil, DJ Xlusive, Wande Coal DJ Consequence, Nedu and a host of comedians, and musical acts will be thrilling the customers to incredible app flash sales and lots of giveaways.

Included in this year’s Jumia Black Friday shopping activities is an online wheel of fortune which churns out exclusive shopping vouchers. Also on the line-up are hourly flash sales and app-only deals with super low prices. Customers will have the opportunity to also enjoy discounts from Jumia Food and Jumia Travel.

As part of the 31 days of Jumia Black Friday, customers will have the chance to enter a lottery to win one of the five FREE AirFrance-KLM return tickets to London, 20 discounted AirFrance-KLM tickets at 35% off, and a brand new Ford Figo courtesy of Coscharis Nigeria Limited. Shoppers on www.Jumia.com.ng will also enjoy 10% discount off when payment is made with an FCMB bank account via JumiaPay.

While commenting on Jumia Black Friday 2017, Chief Executive Officer, Juliet Anammah stated, “We know customers are always on the lookout for the best deals. I can assure you that the Jumia Black Friday Festival 2017 will not just meet those expectations, but also provide shoppers with seamless customer experience and protections.”

Anammah said that the Jumia website would see a significant increase in inventory across all categories including: fashion, electronics, phones, computers, home, baby, health, beauty, travel and food, with up to 80% discount on regular prices on up to 1,0000,000 products from 15,000 vendor merchants.

Customers who download the Jumia mall app will also receive special vouchers and access to flash sales in addition to instant push notifications when deals go live.

Black Friday is marked around the world on the fourth Friday in November after the American Thanksgiving Day holiday. Both offline and online stores offer exclusive deals on that day. It has since become an iconic shopping event where consumers have been known to go to extremes in order to secure the best deals.

 

APO

Published in Business
Saturday, 28 October 2017 06:35

Hyperinflation threat returns to Zimbabwe

Less than a decade after hyperinflation obliterated Zimbabwe's dollar along with its pensions and savings, the southern African nation is suffering a return to precipitous price rises.

Zimbabwe adopted the U.S. dollar in 2009, along with Britain's pound and the South African rand, to tame inflation that topped out at 500 billion percent. But the relative financial stability of the last eight years has unravelled in the last two months as acute foreign exchange shortages have led to sharp price increases. Meanwhile money in banks is losing value fast.

The situation is still a far cry from 2008 when the central bank printed a Zimbabwe $100 trillion note.

But Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, said in paper published this week that hyperinflation - defined as monthly inflation above 50 percent for at least 30 consecutive days - had returned. 

Zimbabwe's real inflation rate, measured by purchasing power parity and taking into account its de facto exchange rate, was 313 percent a year and 112 percent on a monthly basis, said Hanke, who has written a book about the country's 2008 crisis. He dismissed official statistics that put year-on-year inflation at just 0.78 percent in September as a "truly fantastical piece of artwork".

"Zimbabwe, welcome back to the record books! You have once again entered the inglorious world of hyperinflation. It is a world of economic chaos, wrenching poverty and death," he said. "Its purveyors should be incarcerated and the keys should be thrown away," he concluded, taking a swipe at the government of 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Other economists said Hanke's figures might be a bit steep but also dismissed the official numbers as fantasy.

University of Zimbabwe economist Tony Hawkins said an increase in money supply through massive treasury bill issuance this year and depreciation of the domestic currency pointed to inflation as high as 40 percent or more in the next two years. Locally-based Econometer Global Capital put the September inflation figure at 65 percent.

However, Mutasa Dzinotizei, who heads the Zimstats statistics agency, dismissed the alternative calculations. His organisation's methodology, based on domestic dollars taken at face value, was sound, he told Reuters.

"Inflation is reflected at the retail end of the market. We don't go to the stock exchange or look at the exchange rate. I have never seen it done anywhere in this world," he said.

Aside from locally-produced staples such as maize meal and bread, prices of imported goods on Harare supermarket shelves have shot up 30-150 percent in the last two months. Importers attribute the increases to the price of foreign exchange, which they have to buy on the black market at a premium.

WHAT PRICE A DOLLAR?

Assessing the true value of U.S. dollar balances in Harare banks, known locally as "zollars", is difficult but on the black market they were trading at a 65 percent discount to cash this week. Economists including Hanke have used another gauge of value from the old hyperinflation days - the Old Mutual Implied Rate - to try to measure the extent and pace of Zimbabwe's financial collapse.

The Old Mutual rate, based on the relative values of shares in insurance firm Old Mutual in Harare and London, suggested a discount of as much as 80 percent this week after the Harare shares hit $14.29 compared with $2.44 in London.

In effect, this means $100 in a bank in Harare is actually worth less than $20. With Zimbabweans piling into any asset they think might retain value, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin have soared. On the local bitcoin exchange, Golix (golix.io), bitcoins were at $9,800 compared with a spot rate of $5,820.

"There is far greater demand for bitcoin in Zimbabwe than supply because people see bitcoin as a store of value for their money in the bank," one Harare Bitcoin trader said.

 

Credit: Reuters

Published in Economy

At an international conference on non-communicable diseases, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation director general, recently named Zimbabwe president, Robert Mugabe, as a new WHO “goodwill ambassador” on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for Africa.

Following international uproar the accolade was rescinded – but the debacle showed both misguided good intention and the importance of internal communication.

Ghebreyesus (or Tedros, as he likes to be known) was elected to lead the WHO in May. He has a strong record of global health leadership, having previously served as chair of the board for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. From 2005-2012 he served as Ethiopia’s minister of health, winning plaudits for reforming the health system, improving outcomes, and widening access to care. He has his critics – at the same time as he was reducing maternal mortality by 60% – his government was accused of covering up three cholera epidemics. Ghebreyesus dismissed these “smears” and was supported by several independent public health leaders. Nevertheless, he did serve in a senior position in a government that has been criticised for human rights abuses.

Inclusivity? A difficult line to tread. Martial Trezzini/EPA-EFE, CC BY

Tedros trained at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and completed his PhD in community health at Nottingham University. He is generally well regarded, and is the first non-medic and the first African to hold the WHO’s top job.

Mugabe’s reputation

You probably know about Mugabe already. The 93-year-old has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years. The US imposed sanctions against him for his human rights abuses, and the UK’s monarch stripped him of an honorary knighthood in 2008 for violently repressing political opposition. Amnesty International accuses his government of corruption, of ruining the economy, crushing democratic opposition, and of illegally detaining and torturing journalists and political activists. Under his watch rampant hyperinflation and gross mismanagement has devastated the economy in the country once referred to as “the breadbasket of Africa”.

The 93-year-old is one of the world’s most controversial leaders. Aaron Ufumeli/EPA, CC BY

The health system in Zimbabwe has collapsed under his rule and he does not trust his own hospitals, flying to Singapore for medical care three times since January. In total he spent US$53m on foreign trips last year – an amount equal to a fifth of the entire health budget.

On paper, the health system is well designed – built on the principles of universal access, health promotion, and strong primary care. However, by the WHO’s own assessment chronic underfunding has led to poor outcomes (Zimbabwe comes 180th out of 193 countries for life expectancy - a dismal 59 years).

So what happened?

On October 18th Tedros made the following announcemt mid-way through his speech: “Today I am also honoured to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador on NCDs for Africa to influence his peers in his region to prioritise NCDs” (The full transcript of his statement is available here.)

I work as a consultant for the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs, based at the HQ in Geneva. This unit instigated the conference. It does not seem that the Director General shared his intention with any senior WHO staff; my colleagues were as dumbfounded as the international community. There also isn’t any evidence to suggest that the decision was anything more than a terrible and uncharacteristic political misstep. But there is past precedent to help explain what he might have been thinking.

Tedros built his platform on universal health coverage: encouraging countries to extend an increasing range of health services to a greater proportion of the population while improving financial protection for people, for example through health insurance, when they fall ill.

His focus on universal health coverage is microcosmic – he has also championed a more universal vision of global health and has put real effort into inviting all members of the global community to support his goals. During his candidacy he visited a huge number of member states, and an article in the China Daily is indicative of his efforts to court all countries regardless of their political record.

His years of experience pragmatically overseeing significant health improvements within an oppressive government may explain his willingness to engage with other unsavoury regimes. This is a difficult line to tread. Non-communicable diseases advocates sympathise with his inclusive inclinations, but have drawn the line at having Mugabe as their figurehead.

Who you pick really does matter. United States Mission Geneva/flickr, CC BY

Awareness of NCDs

A few good things have come out of the debacle. The international uproar has applied fresh diplomatic pressure on Mugabe and served to highlight the plight of his people. The episode also put non-communicable diseases into headlines; NCDs are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide but they are misunderstood, under-funded, and under-researched. The swift cancellation of the accolade was also a victory for civil society, and a rare example of a leader who is willing to listen and change their mind when wrong.

The unforced clanger has badly tarnished the WHO’s reputation, undermined its credibility, and raised serious questions about the new director’s judgement. Seen in the context of his efforts to “seek broad support” and “high-level political leadership for health” his error is perhaps more understandable. However, commendable efforts to include everyone on the journey to truly universal healthcare cannot come at the cost of condoning and legitimising despots and oppressive regimes. Violence, political oppression, and corruption are anathema to the founding principles of the WHO: promoting the highest standards of mental, physical, and social well-being for all.

 

Luke Allen, Researcher, Global Health Policy, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

  1. Opinions and Analysis

Calender

« October 2017 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31