Félicen Kabuga, the Hutu financier of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, has been captured after 26 years in hiding. More than 800,000 Rwandans, primarily Tutsis, were slaughtered by their countrymen in 100 days of genocide.

Kabuga was arrested by French police in a sting operation in a suburb of Paris on May 17. They were acting on an indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997. Despite a global arrest warrant accompanied by a $5 million bounty, Kabuga avoided authorities for 26 years.

He owned and operated Radio Mille Collines, which broadcast messages of hatred. This included the notorious command to “kill the cockroaches” before and during the genocide. He allegedly imported and distributed the hundreds of thousands of machetes that were instruments of the genocide.

Despite the arrest, there are a number of reasons that Kabuga’s case does not represent a simple triumph for justice.

First, the long anticipated trial that would shed light on how Rwanda’s genocide was organised may not come to pass. Kabuga is at least 84 years old. There is already a fight heating up about where he should be tried: France, Tanzania, or Rwanda. After this question has been resolved, we should expect that his attorneys will argue he is too frail to stand trial. Thus Kabuga’s advanced age and the slow speed of international justice mean that he may never see trial.

Second, his arrest revisits the contested success of transitional justice in Rwanda, and showcases the mixed record of international justice more generally.

The legacy of a tribunal

Based in Arusha, Tanzania, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up in 1994. It operated until 2015. It indicted 93 individuals, and heard 55 cases. Since its closure, outstanding work and cases are handled by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Trials, which has branches in The Hague and Arusha. It handles only ongoing cases or outstanding warrants, and has no power to bring new indictments.

International criminal justice faces a number of criticisms. These include that it is slow and expensive, replicates colonial power relations and is overtly political.

In addition to these standard criticisms, during its working lifetime the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda faced multiple corruption allegations.

Kabuga was one of nine indicted individuals long at large, an ongoing reminder of the limitations of international criminal justice. Lacking their own police force, international courts rely on the cooperation of states to produce wanted individuals.

In Kabuga’s case, the capture was made possible by the investigative work of a special French office that pursues violators of international criminal law.

That the French followed up on this 26-year-old, cold, indictment is significant. International cooperation and institutional validation can have useful spillover effects for other international criminal justice institutions, specifically the International Criminal Court. It has struggled massively to convince member states to enforce its warrants.

Kabuga’s arrest, and the international cooperation that brought it about, is a reminder of the promise, and premise, that underwrote the tribunal. His alleged participation in the Rwandan genocide is the type of criminality that international justice seeks to prosecute: leaders and enablers who have not personally committed atrocity, but who were central to its deadly reach.

Kabuga’s arrest is thus also a victory against impunity. His trial should reiterate an insistence on rule of law norms making violations of international criminal law prosecutable.

Rwanda’s contentious transitional process

Accountability for international crime is a central component of “transitional justice”. This is a policy designed to substitute liberal, rule of law values in place of ethnic, nationalist, authoritarian or murderous rule.

In the case of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, “reconciliation” was embedded in the UN Resolution setting it up.

But Rwandan President Paul Kagame has rejected this model of transitional justice. Instead, a firm line is drawn between Tutsis, the victims of the genocide, and Hutus, the perpetrators of the genocide. This erases many facts, such as moderate Hutu victimisation or Tutsi-organised crimes.

Attempts to address facts outside of those officially sanctioned are decisively suppressed by the state. This has included imprisonment and assassination.

One of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s biggest failures was arguably its inability to challenge Kagame’s ethnically divisive narrative.

In the first years of its work, prosecutors began investigating crimes associated with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi forces led by Kagame. In retaliation, Kagame stopped cooperating with the court and had its prosecutor, Carle del Ponte, removed. No RPF members, or Tutsis, were ever indicted by the tribunal.

Kagame is often praised for his stewardship over Rwanda’s economic recovery. Increasingly, however, observers speculate that his authoritarianism will interrupt this economic success. More worryingly, scholars in the area fear that Kagame’s ethnicity-based governance risks future repetitions of cyclical ethnic violence in Rwanda.

Insistence on rule of law norms

In the wake of Kabuga’s arrest, some international criminal justice scholars have supported Rwanda’s call to have him tried in the country, instead of sending him to the tribunal in Arusha.

This call should be resisted.

Present-day Rwanda is a country in which opposition figures die – in jail or otherwise – with alarming regularity. International institutions as well as state governments should demand higher rule of law standards, particularly in a country that has been the recipient of sustained, multifaceted international assistance.The Conversation

 

Kerstin Carlson, Associate Professor International Law, University of Southern Denmark

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

One of the main points of discussion around the various responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is governance. Different countries have reacted to the pandemic in different ways. These differences are informed by varying styles of leadership and governance around the globe.

Countries with open and transparent governing styles have taken a more hands-on approach by engaging diverse stakeholders. Scholars who examined the COVID-19 responses in China, Japan and South Korea, for example, found that there was systematic evidence that different governance decisions led to different results.

In the case of Tanzania, I argue that COVID-19 has revealed, rather than informed, the governance style under the current administration.

Writing about India’s handling of the new coronavirus, Amartya Sen – professor of economics and 1998 economics Nobel laureate – said:

tackling a social calamity is not like fighting a war, which works best when a leader can use top-down power to order everyone to do what the leader wants — with no need for consultation.

In line with this thinking, being transparent and engaging diverse groups, including both loyalists and critics, is crucial for governments in the fight against the virus.

In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has taken the opposite view. He has framed COVID-19 as a war and not a health calamity requiring scientific consultation. As a result the handling of the pandemic has been at the whim of the president.

Since Magufuli expressed his doubts on the professionalism of the national laboratory, no more updates on COVID-19 have been made. It’s no longer easy to tell if data being released by the government is grounded in science, or whether it is simply that the president wants lower figures reported.

Magufuli’s COVID-19 response is typical. He is a president who has always taken an idiosyncratic view of leadership. Since his election in 2015, he has acted unilaterally. This has divided the country, while consolidating power in the presidency. Even his own ruling party has become a casualty of his autocratic style of leadership.

Idiosyncratic response to COVID-19

Magufuli has downplayed the pandemic’s threat and encouraged the use of local and home remedies such as drinking ginger and lemon tea, and steam therapy as a way to prevent infection.

He publicly questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 tests used in Tanzania’s laboratories. He then promised to send a plane to collect Madagascar’s traditional remedy for the virus.

This statement marked the end of the health minister’s daily updates on the country’s COVID-19 response. It was followed by a presidential proclamation that that God was answering the prayers of Tanzanians against the pandemic.

The president then appointed a new deputy health minister, probably because the previous one had questioned the use of steaming therapy to manage the virus.

Two weeks earlier, the president had appointed a new Constitutional and Legal Affairs minister, following the sudden death of his predecessor. The new minister was given the unusual task of investigating the activities of the national laboratory and its handling of COVID-19 testing.

Both men had previously supported Magufuli’s response to the pandemic.

These appointments give the real impression that loyalty to the president is very important in Tanzania. Dissenters are not tolerated. It’s no surprise that the official leader of opposition in parliament was rebuffed when he extended an offer to work with the government to fight the virus.

Civil society organisations have also been sidelined. But faith-based organisations have been won over by the government’s decision to keep places of worship open. Religion has been framed as a more appropriate response to COVID-19 than science.

History of intransigence and excesses

In 2017, Magufuli banned pregnant school girls from continuing school despite calls to the contrary. As a result the World Bank delayed the release of a $500 million education loan.

Eventually, Magufuli bowed to the pressure and lifted the ban.

Another example of Magufuli’s intransigence was his reaction to a planned countrywide protest organised by the opposition Chadema party. The police threatened to use force to stop citizens from participating. Eventually, the opposition called off the demonstration after faith leaders and civil society called for dialogue.

To date, there has not been any dialogue between the government and Chadema.

The absence of dialogue, and discrimination against Chadema and other opposition parties, has led to further polarisation between the Magufuli administration and dissenters.

The state response to COVID-19 is well within Magufuli’s playbook. He acts unilaterally, while polarising the nation and consolidating power in the presidency. This is often to the detriment of the Chama cha Mapinduzi ruling party. Power is centralised in the executive. Party organs and members do not have the agency to hold the president to account.

Critics within the ruling party have been punished and expelled.

The executive’s autocracy has forced the opposition party to strengthen its institutions from the ground up. It now appears that Chadema is becoming a stronger party institutionally. In response, the ruling party has resorted to using force to maintain its grip on power.

To understand how Magufuli centralised power, one structural move he took in the beginning of his administration is illustrative. He removed the Regional Administration and Local Governments office from the office of the prime minister and put it in the office of the president.

The office is responsible for administering education, health, and development projects within local districts across the country.

Thus, local government matters are reported directly to the president’s office and are managed from the very core of the executive branch. This structural change has diverted revenue collection to the central government. The president has also used local government political appointees to silence dissenters.

It is apparent, therefore, that he will decide whether cases of COVID-19 in Tanzania have declined or increased, no matter what the science says.

The real fate of the country, however, is in the hands of Tanzanians. Only they can take their power back.The Conversation

 

Aikande Clement Kwayu, Independent researcher & Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Jun 01, 2020

The death of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has sparked protests across the country.

It has reignited a centuries-long conversation around racism in America and the horrendous ways black people are often treated by police. And it came amid a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting people of color.

On May 25, Floyd, who had recently lost his job as a restaurant bouncer due to coronavirus-related closures, died after being pinned down under a police officer’s knee for several minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, ignored Floyd’s pleas of distress as three other officers looked on and bystanders begged Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck.

A video taken by a bystander and posted online spread quickly on social media. It shows that by the time Chauvin stopped holding Floyd down, he was silent and motionless. According to a criminal complaint filed against Chauvin, an officer on the scene checked for Floyd’s pulse before Chauvin removed his knee and could not find it. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident were fired on Tuesday, and on Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The incident has rightly prompted outrage across the country, and thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Minneapolis — and in cities across America. While many of these protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent, with police clashes, burning buildings, and looting.

The protests have been focused on policing, but come during a 2020 that has been acutely painful for people of color. The coronavirus crisis has disproportionately affected black and Latino Americans, who have become sick and died of Covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The economic turmoil brought on by stay-at-home measures has also hit people of color especially hard — they’ve lost more jobs, and they were less likely to be financially stable in the first place.

Add to that a cascade of headlines of black Americans whose lives have been cut short by white violence and by police in recent weeks — Breonna TaylorAhmaud Arbery, and, most recently, Floyd. As Americans were grappling with these tragic headlines, a video of a white woman feigning an attack by a black man bird-watching in New York’s Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog went viral. It was a reminder that beyond concerns over state violence, systematic racism creates potentially dangerous situations for black Americans doing even the most mundane things.

The protests spawned by the deaths of Floyd and others are hardly a new development in the United States — the deaths of Trayvon MartinMichael BrownSandra Bland, and countless others have led to significant public outcry in recent years. Four years before Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis, Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop in a nearby Minnesota suburb. Floyd told the officer who kept his knee on his neck, “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of Eric Garner who died after being held in a chokehold in a police encounter in New York in 2014.

If it feels like we’ve seen this crisis before, it’s because we have. And still so many things haven’t changed.

Floyd died on Monday; Chauvin was charged on Friday

Floyd grew up in Houston and moved to Minneapolis in 2014 to look for work, according to CBS Minnesota. He got a position as a security guard at a Salvation Army store downtown, and then later began to work two jobs as a truck driver and a bouncer. He had a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother. In the weeks before his death, he’d been laid off due to Minnesota’s stay-at-home order.

Vox’s Catherine Kim explained the circumstances of his May 25 encounter with police following a purchase at a convenience store and, ultimately, his death, as shown by video footage captured of the incident:

Although the video doesn’t capture the moments leading to the arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department said they were responding to a call that a man was trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill, according to the Star Tribune. In a statement, the police department said officers arrived at the scene to find Floyd — who matched the description of the suspect — sitting on a car and appearing to be intoxicated. They added that Floyd physically resisted the police and seemed to be “suffering medical distress,” which is why they had called for an ambulance.

The police’s excessive use of force seemingly has no excuse: The department does not permit the technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The four officers involved were fired on Tuesday, May 26, and the next day, Mayor Frey called for Chauvin to face criminal charges. Local officials on Thursday said they were investigating Floyd’s death “as expeditiously, as thoroughly, and as completely as justice demands” and asked for patience from the public. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the Justice Department said it would investigate Floyd’s death as well. Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce, and his bail has been set at $500,000.

The day the officers involved were fired, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement that all video of the incident should be reviewed, and called for waiting on the medical examiner’s report. “Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,” the federation said.

According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin released on Friday, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds during which Floyd was “non-responsive.” Officer J.A. Keung — another of the four officers fired — tried to find Floyd’s pulse shortly after he became unresponsive, and could not.

The county medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy findings say there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and said that the “combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” Floyd’s family is seeking an independent autopsy.

The reaction to Floyd’s death has been massive

The public reaction to Floyd’s death has been swift and enormous.

Politicians, celebrities, athletes, and multiple other public figures have spoken out. Former President Barack Obama released a lengthy statement calling for the country to work for a “new normal” for black Americans. “This shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America,” he wrote.

Former Vice President Joe Biden called the moment a “national crisis” and one that necessitates “leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.” President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family and said he spoke with them.

Even members of law enforcement spoke out condemning the circumstances in which Floyd was killed. “To be honest with you, it was very difficult to watch,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told local news outlet WBRC. He continued, “It degrades the trust in all law enforcement, not just one area. When things like this happen, it spreads throughout the country. It makes all of us go back and check our relationships and make sure we are doing things the right way.”

Protests have been ignited in Minneapolis — and across the country — as people express their outrage not only about Floyd’s death, but about the underlying racism and inequality that renders being black in America dangerous, particularly at the hands of police.

Minneapolis has seen days of unrest. There have been a number of peaceful protests, but some businesses there have also been looted, including Target and TJ Maxx; other businesses have been vandalized, and police stations and other buildings burned down. Demonstrations have become increasingly volatile as local officials have asked the public for peace. The governor has called for the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.

Uprisings have also spread across the country. On Friday, protests in Atlanta grew tense and violent — cars were set ablaze, and windows at the CNN building were smashed in. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with protesters for calm: “If you care about this city, then go home,” she said at a press conference.

Rapper Killer Mike, in a speech at the same press conference, struck a similar tone. “I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn down your own house for anger with an enemy,” he said.

Protesters and police also clashed in Brooklyn on Friday evening. Cars were set on fire and windshields were smashed, and both protesters and police were harmed. According to ABC 7, there were more than 200 arrests reported. Some disturbing videos emerged online of the evening, including one of an officer pushing a woman to the ground and another of a police car door hitting a protester.

In San Jose, California, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and dozens of cities across the country, protests and arrests are taking place. Crowds of protesters have gathered outside of the White House as well. In Louisville, police officers shot pepper balls at a reporter.

Some of the details of the protests have been a little bit murky. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said that about 80 percent of people arrested were from outside the region, and Mayor Frey said many people protesting are not from the city as well. But media reports cast doubt on claims that most of those arrested were from out of state. There has been some suggestion that white supremacists or cartels may be involved, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said on Saturday.

New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who took part in the Brooklyn, New York, protests on Friday, noted he saw “non-black allies in particular” escalating the situation. “That decision should not be yours to make,” he warned. He also spoke out about the “heavy police presence” at the outset of the protests on Friday, before anyone was outside. “We are dealing with people who are grieving and who are angry. The response to that cannot be a show of force,” he said.

Some states have mobilized the National Guard to respond, and mayors have enacted curfews to try to tamp down demonstrations. It is not clear how effective these will be at stemming the protests — a Friday night curfew in Minneapolis was ignored by many, for example.

President Trump isn’t exactly helping the situation. Overnight on Thursday, Trump tweeted out an apparent threat to protesters declaring, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” mirroring language used by segregationist law enforcement officials during the civil rights era. In the same tweet, the president called demonstrators “THUGS.” Twitter put a warning on the tweet saying it glorifies violence, fueling the fire of the president’s battle with the social media platform.

Trump later walked back the tweet, saying he was trying to warn that looting could lead to shootings because it intensifies the situation.

Into the weekend, the president weighed in online on the protests, suggesting they’re driven by antifascists and the “Radical Left,” and lashing out at CNN for its coverage of the demonstrations. He also commended the Secret Service for protecting him from White House protests — and suggested Saturday night should be “MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE.”

The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???

79.6K people are talking about this
 
 

This isn’t about the protests, it’s about what the protests are about

Beyond the debates about the tactics demonstrators are using and who is and isn’t involved, there is a much deeper issue here that must remain in focus: the way black people are treated in the United States.

As Vox’s Dylan Scott put it, violent protests aren’t the story right now, police violence is:

Of course the protests are about George Floyd’s death. Political leaders fear violence at the protests — and any destruction of property or bodily harm is, of course, worrisome — but their concerns actually demonstrate the fundamental asymmetry that the protesters are pushing back against. The state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and it is often directed at young black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice — the list goes on. When they die, the police officers responsible too frequently face no repercussions because they are protected by the law. If the men who killed George Floyd go to prison for their actions, they will be exceptions that prove that longstanding rule.

As Scott lays out, there are countless data points on how black Americans are targeted and mistreated by law enforcement. Black men have 1 in 1,000 odds of being killed by the police. Black people are twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police, and they’re likelier to be searched. When they’re murdered, their murders are less likely to be solved. They’re sent to prison more often, and they are given longer prison sentences.

And for black Americans, these aren’t data points — they are real and lived situations each and every day.

And racial disparities are not just limited to criminal justice. Inequities are present in so many aspects of American life. Just look at the coronavirus crisis: The disease is disproportionately sickening and killing people of color, and it’s hitting in areas where minorities live harder. That’s true in Minnesota, where Floyd lived. Women of color are disproportionately essential workers who are putting themselves at risk, often for low-paid jobs with no health insurance. Black and Hispanic people are likelier to be laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. That’s what happened to Floyd.

In the flurry of news around the protests of Floyd’s death, on top of everything else, it can be easy to lose sight of the real problem: The centuries of racism in the bedrock of American society continue to do enormous damage. And that damage is borne in large part by black Americans.

Credit: vox.com

Jun 01, 2020

Zoom is working on end-to-end encryption to protect privacy on its increasingly popular video chat service, but the company will make it a premium feature not available to free accounts. 

Alex Stamos, a Zoom security consultant and former chief security officer for Yahoo, told Reuters the company could include exceptions like nonprofits or political dissidents, though.

Zoom encrypts connections between the company's servers and the devices of people using its service. End-to-end encryption, though, secures connections all the way from each device to every other device on a call. It's available in some Zoom alternatives, like Apple FacetTime.

The company's business has surged with the coronavirus pandemic and resulting orders to stay home that increased the demand for online work and personal videoconferencing. However, the increased scrutiny revealed several Zoom security problems and the fact that an earlier Zoom boast of end-to-end encryption was baseless.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption approach "is very much a work in progress -- everything from our draft cryptographic design, which was just published last week, to our continued discussions around which customers it would apply to," the company said in a statement.

End-to-end encryption will only be for paid accounts, Zoom said in a blog post this week. Even where that protection isn't being used, though, Zoom is moving all its users to stronger encryption, 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) using GCM, or Galois/Counter Mode.

Zoom 5.0 added GCM encryption as an option in April, but on Saturday, it became mandatory for anyone to join a Zoom meetings to improve security. The earlier Zoom approach, in contrast, was a "bad idea," according to Citizen Lab security researchers who found some of the earlier Zoom shortcomings.

 

Credit: cnet.com

May 29, 2020

All taxi motos operating in Kigali will from June 1, use only cashless payment platforms when charging their clients, according to Rwanda UtilitiesRegulatory Authority (RURA).

This is part of the efforts to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 throug cash handling.

With taxi motos expected to resume operations on June 1, after they were temporarily suspended to curb the pandemic, RURA has issued a new set of guidelines on operations in the sector.

Operators and their clients have an option from the two telcos providing mobile money payment platforms, MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda and will rely on installed meters to determine the cost of trips.

This is also in line with government plans to transform payment systems for taxi moto operators to cashless which was to be executed in the first half of this year after the postponement of from a deadline previously set at July 2019.

The development is part of the national motorcycle transport strategy to introduce a cashless based payment system for taxi-moto operators building on the success of "Tap-and-go" payment system, which is deployed on public commuter buses in Kigali.

Firms such as Yego Moto, Pascal Technology, and Mara Phone had already commenced rolling out the technology.

The new cashless payment system will see the 146 moto co-operatives across the country equip their fleet with GPS-enabled devices that calculate distance covered and the fare which will allow regulation of prices. 

This could also reduce the common haggling for fares between taxi-moto riders and passengers often blamed for overcharging trips.

The development could further edge the country towards its cashless ambitions owing to the popularity of the mode of transport and frequency of use.

Only motorcyclists operating in provinces are exempted from meters for now but are expected to use cashless payment for trips.

As was the case prior to halting their operations, passengers will be required to have a piece of cloth to wrap their heads before putting on a helmet to reduce physical contact with the protective gear which is shared by passengers.

RURA is also urging passengers who can afford their own helmets to procure them for use when using the common means of transport.

Maintenance of hygiene measures such as sanitizing hands and helmets were also highlighted in the RURA directive as well as social distancing in parking locations. Face masks also remain mandatory for both passengers and riders.

Resumption of moto operations is expected to greatly improve transport operations across the city with the means is largely preferred for its convenience, flexibility and affordability in comparison to cabs.

With moto operators soon to resume work, about 1,000 of them have been tested for Covid-19 as the baseline, in a move government says is to ensure there is no vulnerability.

 
 

Credit: New Times

May 29, 2020

Zimbabwe's Health Ministry has announced that all local and foreign investors venturing into the production of cannabis will be offered 100% ownership of their farms and licences to improve competitiveness.

In 2018, the Zimbabwean government approved the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Last year, it announced that 37 local and private investors had shown interest in cannabis farming.

In a letter addressed to cannabis licencees by Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, the offer is with immediate effect.

"Following Cabinet decision and high-level meeting, a policy change enabling investors to hold 100% ownership of Medicinal Cannabis licences was made in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector both regionally and globally," Moyo said.

"At the same meeting, it was also agreed that investors had the option to utilise private land for cannabis project.

"In order to regularise the policy changes a draft Investment Stabilisation agreement is being reviewed by the Attorney General's office. The finalisation has been delayed somewhat due to the focus in controlling the global Covid-19 pandemic." 

One company, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a joint venture between the government and a private firm has seen the State ceding its 40% to the former.

Government directors seconded to AHO board have also been ordered to resign with immediate effect leaving the private firm in total control of the entity.

"Having noted the need for pragmatism in this matter, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a government company which is being administratively managed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC), will initiate the termination of Joint Venture Agreements, ceding 40% ownership and the resignation of AHO directors from the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) with immediate effect.

"On the completion of the processes amendment of the licence would be required."

An Investor for cannabis farming will be issued with a five-year renewal licence.

Previously, production and possession of the drug was illegal and attracted a sentence of up to 12 years.

However, the recreational use or possession of the drug remains illegal.

 
 

Source: New Zimbabwe

May 29, 2020

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, has revealed more details on why the U.S. government may be deliberately pushing for a fresh probe of allegations of impropriety and fraud against him.

The United States' insistence is despite the clean bill of health given to Mr Adesina by the board of directors of the bank.

Mr Adesina, in a memo seen by PREMIUM TIMES, said the move to get him out, perhaps at all costs, is linked to his re-election bid and not as a result of any fraudulent action on his part.

Background

On May 5, the ethics committee of the board of directors of the continental bank said in its report that Mr Adesina was not guilty of any of the 16 allegations contained in a petition brought before it by a "Group of Concerned Staff" of the Bank.

The committee headed by Takuji Yano, the institution's Japanese Executive Director charged with the responsibility of investigating the allegations, described as "spurious and unfounded" claims that Mr Adesina violated the code of conduct of the Bank.

In its petition sent to the committee on January 19, 2020, the "concerned staff members" accused Mr Adesina of 16 breaches of the bank's code of conduct, including "unethical conduct, private gain, an impediment to efficiency, preferential treatment, and involvement in political activities."

Copies of the petition were also sent to both the Director of the Integrity & Anti-Corruption office (PIAC) of the Bank, and the Chairperson of the Audit & Finance Committee (AUFI) in line with the Bank's "Whistleblowing and Complaints Handling Policy".

Between February 4 and April 9, 2020, the ethics committee held series of meetings to review documents and presentations as it conducted "preliminary examination" of the allegations against Mr Adesina to establish whether they were "based on any objective and solid facts" pursuant to Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11.

Resolution No. B/BG/2008/11 adopted at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of the Bank held on May 14, 2008 made the Code of Conduct for its Executive Directors and those of the African Development Fund (ADF) also applicable to the President of the Bank Group.

Apart from the petition, other documents reviewed during the series of meetings by the committee included the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina detailing his defence of the allegations against him.

U.S. agenda?

However, despite all the facts, which formed the basis of the committee's submission to the board of governors after its preliminary examination, the U.S government still expressed "deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee's process".

In its letter of May 22, 2020 to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, the U.S. government, through the Secretary, Department of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, faulted the committee's decision to "totally exonerate" Mr Adesina of all allegations.

Noting that it was not yet time to make such a declaration, Mr Mnuchin called for a fresh "in-depth investigation of the allegations against Mr Adesina."

"We have deep reservations about the integrity of the Committee's process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing. We emphasise that undertaking an independent evaluation of facts, at any stage, is not at odds with a presumption of innocence," Mr Mnuchin wrote.

"The allegations set out in the whistleblower complaint submitted on January 19, 2020 raise significant issues that all relevant governing bodies of the Bank must handle with the utmost care, using all tools available to them," he added.

But, a review of the confidential memo submitted by Mr Adesina to the committee on April 8 detailing a point-by-point response to all the 16 allegations, appears to have given an inkling into the possible reasons why the U.S government is insisting on a fresh and deeper probe into the matter.

Mr Adesina's memo obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday suggests the allegations by the "Group of Concerned Staff" may have political undertones linking his bid for re-election in the forthcoming AfDB Presidency elections in August.

'Why I'm being victimised'

In the memo, Mr Adesina accused the petitioners of violating Section 6.7.2 of the Whistle Blowing Policy of the bank by breaching the confidentiality of the proceedings of the matter by making public disclosure of the matter beyond submission to the ethics committee.

He accused the petitioners of disclosing their allegations beyond the committee "by acting in concert with others outside the AfDB system".

"The point about others acting in concert with the whistle-blowers is not speculation. A group of independent Bank staff members apparently wrote a "Disassociation Note" on March 9, 2020, in which they explained that they had been members of a group called "Group of Concerned Staff Members," namely the whistle-blowers behind the Disclosure, but that they had been "manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors behind Mr (Steven) Dowd, not for the good governance of the African Bank of Development, but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election," Mr Adesina said in his memo to the committee.

"Certainly if the Disassociation Note is to be believed, and there is no reason not to believe it, the whistle-blowers' complaint cannot be considered to be in good faith, because it was not designed to expose fraud, corruption or other misconduct. Instead it had another ulterior motive," he added.

Mr Dowd is the U.S. government representative at the bank.

Mr Adesina in a statement Wednesday restated his innocence of the allegations. U.S. in AfDB Group

The United States is one of the Group of seven nations holding 28 per cent investment grade equity in AfDB.

The others include Germany and Japan. About 41 per cent of their Group's shareholding is held by non-regionals and multilateral development finance institutions.

The AfDB Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF).

The United States has been a member of the ADF since 1976 as well as the AfDB since 1983.

In 2008, the U.S. government, through a bilateral cooperation spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank signed with United State Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a five-year partnership.

The pact was in support of African small and medium-sized enterprises to accelerate investment in Africa.

The agreement also provided co-financing arrangements for a shared contribution of 40 per cent for the bank, 10 per cent for USAID and 50 per cent for other partnering banks.

Another Memorandum of Understanding was concluded in May 2016 with the Millennium Challenge Corporation that provides for sharing information and data, particularly in the power sector, focusing on mobilising private investment.

In addition to developing financial assistance, the U.S. government also provides support for productive investment and local development in the member countries of the AfDB.

Besides, USAID and the AfDB are cooperating on to establish a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the agriculture sector, among others.

Under the arrangement, the USAID has committed about $11 million to the Multi-Donor Agriculture Fast Track Fund to facilitate project preparation in the agriculture sector in partnership of the African Legal Support Facility and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

 
 
May 29, 2020

Ex-Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the board of the African Development Bank to ignore calls for an independent investigation of its President, Akinwumi Adesina, by the United States Government.

Obasanjo in a letter dated May 26 to Kaba Niale, Chairman of the AfDB board of governors, urged the organisation to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

He asked African leaders to speak against introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedures, laws, rules and regulations of the bank.

He said, “Unfortunately, the United States Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the Chairman of the board of governors of the bank.

“Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the bank, they called for an independent investigation.

“This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the bank. The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.

“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.

“As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its board of directors to approve a $10bn crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the bank successful launched a $53bn “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75 per cent interest rate.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Adesina maintained his innocence as allegations of corruption and other forms of misconduct against him rise.

The United States Department of Treasury had called for an independent of the allegations against Adesina despite the AfDB clearing him of all wrongdoing.

He said, “In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.”

 

SAHARAREPORTERS

Racism against Nigerians – and other Africans – is not new in China. Africa-China history is marked by solidarity, but also dented by old and new racism. Nothing at this moment suggests that the current situation will drastically change.

Some recent events are low moments in the ever-oscillating relationship between China and Nigeria.

A video emerged on 10 April of a Nigerian diplomat in China, Razaq Lawal, publicly criticising his compatriots’ maltreatment in Guangzhou by Chinese officials. Lawal protested that Nigerians were kept in COVID-19 quarantine beyond the normal 14 days for Chinese citizens. Chinese officials were also seizing their passports. He pointed out that the Nigerian government did not treat Chinese citizens living in Nigeria any differently from its own citizens.

The video drew the ire of Nigerians and the Nigerian government. The speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, demanded answers from the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian. At about the same time the Nigerian Medical Association was protesting a government decision to invite a Chinese medical team to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Based on my research on relations between the two countries (especially in terms of labour relations) over the past decade, I believe that incidents like this may keep recurring. That’s despite the assertion by Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, that Nigeria would “take definitive steps against China”.

I identify three main reasons.

Why things won’t change

Official relations date back to February 1971, when Nigeria established diplomatic relations with China. But contact between ordinary Nigerians and Chinese predates the 1967-70 Biafran Civil War. Though some argue that China supported the Biafran forces against the Nigerian government, no post-war government in Nigeria has confirmed Beijing’s involvement.

Along with other African countries, Nigeria supported China as the genuine representative of the Chinese people in 1975. This led to the replacement of Taiwan at the United Nations. High-level bilateral visits followed, setting the stage for increased trade. Although accurate figures are difficult to find, Nigeria-China trade galloped from about $1.8 billion in 2003 to $13.5 billion in 2018.

As the relationship grew, more Nigerians established business and other relationships in China.

Nigerians’ maltreatment must, however, be understood within the broader maltreatment of Africans in China. This can be traced to the 1960s, when African students began to arrive in China. It intensified in the 1970s and 1980s when there were protests against – and by – Africans in China.

Coincidentally, a landmark incident that led to the death of a Nigerian happened in 2009 in Guangzhou, where Nigerians were recently maltreated. It led to protests by Nigerians and other Africans, “demanding justice from the Chinese police after officers chased the man out of a high-rise window in a tightening security crackdown on illegal over-stayers in the city this year”.

In 2012, there was another protest by Africans in Guangzhou over the death of a Nigerian in police detention.

It’s my view that Nigeria’s reluctance to call out Chinese actions over the years is the main reason why the status quo persists.

While publicly painting a picture of equality, China continues to dominate relations with Nigeria, as I observed in a 2015 paper co-authored with Bukola Ajayi. We see this in imbalanced trade, Nigeria’s growing dependence on China, and China’s growing importance in Africa. We also drew attention to the issue of counterfeit, adulterated and sub-standard drugs and other products imported from China into Nigeria.

Back then, I commented on Chinese labour relations in Nigeria and the challenges of fostering the International Labour Organisation’s decent work agenda. My paper pointed to the weakness of the Nigerian government to respond to the maltreatment of its citizens by Chinese companies. I argued that this created a space for both civil and uncivil responses by non-state actors.

In April 2020 – five years later – we witnessed another report of maltreatment.

The second reason is due to Chinese investment in Nigeria.

A good number of Chinese multinationals and small companies operate in Nigeria. Chinese companies in Nigeria are building much needed roads and railways, airports, and telecommunications infrastructure. There are currently about 218 registered Chinese firms in Nigeria. They are involved in construction, furniture, food and beverages, beauty, and product assembling plants, among others.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s trade deficit against China remains huge. Between 2015 and 2018, for instance, the trade deficit stood at N6.83 trillion (which exchanges for about $17.5 billion today) in favour of China. This affirms that China benefits more at the moment. Though accurate data remains difficult to get, it is estimated that total trade between both countries between 2015 and 2018 was about $49 billion. This means that goods imported from China into Nigeria in that period were about $17.5 billion more than those exported from Nigeria to China. In any case, a significant amount of Nigeria’s export to China is a primary product: crude oil.

With the crash in the crude oil price and a global economic downturn caused by the new coronavirus, Nigeria needs Chinese investment and loans now more than ever.

The third reason concerns China’s financing of development projects.

China is a major financier of large projects in Nigeria. These include the $874 million, 187km Abuja-Kaduna rail; the $1.2 billion, 312km Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the $1.1 billion Kano-Kaduna railway lines and the $600 airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.

An estimate puts the current cost of Chinese projects at $47 billion. Many of these are financed by Chinese loans. It will be difficult for a country that relies so much on China to take action against Beijing.

With the poor labour standards in China itself and institutions’ weakness in Nigeria to check periodic abuses of Nigerians by Chinese companies, the chances seem low that Nigerian politicians and government will – or can – seriously respond to Nigerians’ maltreatment in China.

What to do?

The latest treatment of Nigerians in China is a dent on Nigeria-China relations. But if relations are to make progress, at least two important issues must be addressed. First, the Chinese government must do more to educate its people, making ordinary Chinese sensitive to issues of racism.

Second, Chinese citizens in China must understand that their actions could have implications for their compatriots in Africa. This could affect China’s long-term relevance in Africa as a partner.

But these issues concern not just ordinary Chinese citizens. Racism may be a symptom of much bigger problems for the Chinese government. This could be an opportunity for the Xi Jinping government to learn, and more importantly act.The Conversation

 

Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi, Faculty member, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University

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

May 28, 2020

These are uncertain times, for Africa as much as for Britain. Will they prove each others’ friend in need? Or will circumstances pull the UK and African countries apart? It will all depend on what priority each gives to the other.

For many years following the independence of its former African colonies after the second world war, Britain continued to play an outsize role in African affairs – as an economic partner, a place of education and as a donor. Still, the failure to resolve Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965 and Britain’s continuing close relations with apartheid South Africa soured the political relationship with the rest of Africa.

But links remained strong, and between 1992 and 2010, Britain had prime ministers who clearly cared about Africa and supported it politically, economically and internationally. Relations with Britain and the influential role of the Department for International Development (DFID), played a part in the “Africa Rising” narrative of the early 2000s.

Since 2010, the climate has changed. This seems strange, as on the face of it Britain’s policies have not. The UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on aid has been enshrined in legislation. The Commonwealth remains a central part of foreign policy. Britain has been active on international issues affecting Africa, such as climate change, terrorism, Somalia and piracy in the Gulf of Aden. It has also remained one of Africa’s biggest trade and investment partners, with imports of fruit, vegetables and flowers growing fast and major outward investments in oil, mining and telecoms on the continent.


Read more: The Commonwealth and Britain: the trouble with 'Empire 2.0'


Neglect and retreat

But many Africans I speak to, in all walks of life from Senegal to Kenya and Egypt to South Africa, see it differently. What they feel is political neglect and commercial retreat. British prime ministers have visited rarely, at least compared with those from China, France, Germany and the US. British Airways has pulled out of a number of African routes, the British Council has shrunk from culture into just English language teaching and British brands have disappeared with Land Rovers being replaced by Toyotas. Meanwhile, visas to visit the UK are ever more expensive and harder to get.

For the young African generation, Britain is seen as part of the past not the future. Many students tell me that for business they prefer to go to China, for education to the US, Canada or India, for fun to Dubai. For older Africans there is still an affection, even respect, especially for the Royal Family, the BBC and for London – but also a growing feeling of distance.

And many are puzzled by Brexit: why would Britain do this and make itself weaker? Still, many also see it as a golden opportunity to create a more balanced relationship between Britain and Africa – one that includes aid with fewer strings, more advantageous terms of trade, bigger investments, easier visas, cheaper education and, above all, more and higher-level political attention. Respect, in short.

Can Britain respond? The government of the former prime minister, Theresa May, made a useful start by recognising the problem, identifying five strategic shifts that would help reposition Britain on the continent, and visiting Africa to signal this change. Her speech in Cape Town in August 2019 raised hopes of a new start.

Her successor, Boris Johnson carried through on the first part of that plan, holding a well-attended UK-Africa Investment Summit in London in January 2020, and expanding Britain’s diplomatic footprint in Africa. The perpetually rotating position of the UK’s Africa minister has at last fallen to someone, in James Duddridge, who knows Africa well from a pre-politics career in finance.

Coronavirus crisis

Then came the coronavirus pandemic. The health impact in Africa is so far limited – thanks, not least, the swift response of African governments in locking down and preparing their people, who know well enough the perils of infectious diseases. But the economic impact has been immediate and dramatic. Export prices have fallen off a cliff and some exports, including flowers, stopped completely. Tourists have disappeared.

Remittances – normally three times the volume of aid – have fallen by 20-50% world wide, according to the World Bank. In some African countries, lockdowns and transport restrictions are making it harder for the poor to access food.


Read more: Coronavirus pandemic could hit the billions migrant workers send home in cash


To reinforce its future partnership with the continent, Britain must step up as Africa’s friend in need. African governments need liquidity to replace lost revenue, debt relief to give them breathing space, as well as reinforcement for their health sectors and help with developing and disseminating a vaccine.

Britain has already provided £744 million to support debt relief and developing countries’ efforts to combat COVID-19, as well as to provide humanitarian aid and immediate budget support for cash-strapped governments. The government need not be shy of explaining why it is helping others even while Britons are struggling too.

That will help open the door, once Britain’s relations with the EU are defined, to mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements with African countries and relations with the continent. When the coronavirus passes, Africa is still likely to have the world’s fastest growing population and several of its fastest growing economies. Britain will need Africa as a partner, as much as vice versa. So now is the time to commit.The Conversation

 

Nicholas Westcott, Research Associate, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London

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

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