Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 09 October 2018

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Monday a new tax on electronic payments was a painful but necessary part of the government’s attempts to revive the economy, his first comments since the imposition of the levy last week sparked a public outcry.

After narrowly winning a disputed presidential vote in July, Mnangagwa is trying to put back on track an economy that all but collapsed under the near four decade rule of Robert Mugabe which ended after an army coup last November.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube on Oct. 1 announced the 2 percent tax, saying the money raised would be used in the roads, health and education sectors.

The tax will apply on mobile and card payments and bank transfers above $10 with exceptions for foreign payments and transfer of government funds.

However business and citizens objected, saying they would be paying for the government’s profligate spending.

Economic analysts said the tax would raise nearly $2 billion annually.

Oil companies temporarily stopped delivering fuel because of the impact of the tax, causing shortages. The price of some basic goods and medical drugs have shot up in the last few days.

To improve the economy, the government would have “to take measures that are going to be painful and this is one of such measures” Mnangagwa told a business meeting in Harare.

“In our quest to leapfrog and cover the period of two decades of stagnation, these things have become necessary.”

A 388-page government economic plan released by Finance Minister Ncube on Friday shows the government plans cuts in spending, borrowing and the amount it spends on the civil service. The report also outlines plans for privatisation and the closure of state-owned firms, among several other reforms to improve the economy.

Zimbabwe is facing acute shortages of U.S. dollars, which the country adopted in 2009 when it abandoned its own currency after hyperinflation made it worthless.

The shortages have fanned a black market where the premium for dollars increased to more than 200 percent on Monday, up from 165 percent on Saturday. – Reuters

Published in Economy

The official results of Cameroon’s October 7, 2018 presidential election are due in two weeks. But they’re not expected to yield any surprises. Paul Biya (85), who became president in 1982, is almost certain to retain power for a seventh term.

If he wins and stays in power until 2025 – the end of his next term – he would have run the country for a whopping 43 years. His overextended rule has been marked by corruption, patronage politics, and a largely absent president.

The election has taken place amid a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity. Municipal and legislative elections were postponed by a year because of too volatile a space, though government cited more technical reasons. Only senatorial elections were held in March 2018.

The biggest tensions have been between the English-speaking – which represent 20% of the population – and French-speaking parts of the country. After the presidential polls opened on Sunday, violent confrontations broke out in English speaking regions of the North West and the South West. Almost no polling took place in these regions following calls by separatists for a lockdown (stay at home), which would mean in effect that no people would leave their houses to vote.

Biya is almost certain to return to power given the government’s well-oiled election machine and its use of the security sector to manage dissent. Elections over the past 10 years have been marred by accusations of fraud. These elections will be no different.

Nevertheless, Biya’s credibility and legitimacy are increasingly being tarnished. And there is growing support for alternative candidates.

The election is a reminder of the importance of defined term limits for presidents. Although Cameroon’s 1996 Constitution limited presidential mandates to two seven-year terms, Biya’s party repealed the term limits in 2008 so that he could extend his stay.

The main contenders

This year’s election has pitted Biya against eight opposition candidates. The major contenders are Joshua Osih of the Social Democratic Front; Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement; Cabral Libii Li Ngue candidate for Univers party, and Akere Tabeng Muna of the Popular Front for Development.

The Social Democratic Front has become a household name in Cameroon since its inception in 1990 and its candidate, Osih, is popular.

For his part, Kamto who heads up the Cameroon Renaissance Movement was a former minister in Biya’s regime. He resigned from government in 2011 to form his own political party. He draws his support from the western region and the urban middle class.

Cabral is a young university lecturer who has been outspoken in his criticism of the regime and has captured the imagination of young Cameroonians. Muna is the son of the former vice president and an international jurist. He aligned with Kamto two days before the election.

Kamto and Cabral attracted large crowds at their rallies. But they are unlikely to gain a majority of votes given that the state’s machinery is stacked against them.

The issues

Three major issues dominated the run up to the elections: political transition, the economy, and security.

After 36 years as president, the opposition and other observers view Biya’s exit as long overdue. But he is unlikely to step down as has been the case of other African leaders who have overstayed their terms. And the opposition forces are not yet strong enough to force a change in leadership.

Cameroon is central Africa’s largest economy, producing oil, gas, timber, and cocoa. Nevertheless, it faces a range of major economic challenges. These include stagnant per capita income, inequitable distribution of income, corruption, nepotism and a large informal economy. It also has substantial debt, constituting 35% of its GDP.

Of all the issues affecting the election, security is the biggest. For nearly two years there have been protests in the North West and South West against what Anglophones describe as general marginalisation as well as the “Frenchification” of their courts and schools. The protests have been met with a brutal crackdown which in turn triggered an armed pro-independence insurgency.

On top of this Cameroon has been challenged by the violence of Boko-Haram in the North, the instability of the Central Africa Republic in the East and the separatist movement in the South. Clashes with the separatists have already left 400 people dead and 20 000 displaced as refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

Implications for African politics

Some commentators have pointed to the problem of “choiceless democracies” in Africa. Leading economist Thandika Mkandawire has noted that “African leaders exhibit a wide array of unethical ways when it comes to capturing, retention, and exercising of political power, the long-term result being the tendency by a people denied the right to a free choice of their leaders to write electoral lists in blood.”

This is once again playing out in Cameroon. The country has a president who has captured the state to the detriment of many of his people. And people increasingly see violence as the only means through which they can have their voices heard and their needs taken into account.

Across Africa pessimism is replacing the mood of the 1990s when multi-party democracy was on the rise. Old tendencies of authoritarian leaders remaining in power beyond their term, corruption and the pillaging of public resources persist. These in turn is leading to a rise in conflict.

The African Union (AU) and regional intergovernmental institutions seem unable to hold leaders like Biya to account. This despite the AU’s proclamations of “silencing the guns” in Africa by 2020, and creating an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law by 2063. All Africans need to take a principled stand on presidential term limits as it is impacting on the development, peace and security of the continent.The Conversation

 

Cheryl Hendricks, Executive director, Africa Institute of South Africa, Human Sciences Research Council and Gabriel Ngah Kiven, PhD candidate in Political Studies at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

United Arab Emirates-based global satellite operator, Yahsat on Monday launched its flagship satellite broadband service YahClick in partnership local ISP, Dandemutande in a move that could lower prices of data by as much as 70 percent.

The cost of data is an emotive issue in the region, notably in Zimbabwe and South Africa where it sparked off the #DataMustFall.

A recent report by Ecobank showed that Zimbabwe has the second most expensive mobile data in sub-Saharan Africa after Equatorial Guinea at $25 for one gigabyte

Yahsat is a subsidiary of Mubadala, the investment vehicle of the United Arab Emirates government and already operates in most African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Angola and Zambia.

Kevin Viret, Yasat’s director business development for Africa said, with internet penetration still at 52 percent, Zimbabwe had potential for growth

“We have 50 percent more power than the traditional satellite. The African continent doesn’t suffer from the lack of broadband or internet connectivity but it suffers from lack of a quality service that’s reliable and cost effective,” he said.

YahClick uses the Ka-band powered by high throughput satellite spot beam technology on which Yahsat rides on to provide high performance broadband.

Viret said the company’s technologies will allow the country to enjoy fast internet at affordable rates.

Dandemutande chief executive, Never Ncube said the cheapest package has been pegged at $33 for 5 gig of data.

 

- The Source

Published in Telecoms

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