Ethiopia: Thousands protest ethnic-based violence

AFRICA

The Ethiopian government has denounced overnight ethnic-based violence on the outskirts of the capital. Thousands of Ethiopians took to the streets to demonstrate on Monday.

    
Protest in Addis Abeba (picture-alliance/AA/M.W. Hailu)

As democratic reforms launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government slowly take shape in Ethiopia, several areas surrounding the capital Addis Ababa were hit by what is the latest round of violence in the country.

Thousands of angry Ethiopians took to the streets of Addis Ababa in protest on Monday after a weekend of ethnically motivated attacks that saw 23 people killed and dozens arrested on the outskirts of the capital over the weekend.

Chris Stein

@ChrisJStein

Groups of protesters passing through Meskel Square

Fighting broke out in the wake of the return of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) leaders — once banned and termed terrorists by the government — to the country, invited back by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“We demand justice,” some of the rally-goers chanted. “The government’s task is to protect its citizens, not to send condolences after they are butchered.”

Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, condemned the killings.

Fitsum Arega

@fitsumaregaa

PM Abiy Ahmed strongly condemns the killings & acts of violence against innocent citizens around Ashawa Meda, Kataa & Fili Doro last night. These cowardly attacks represent a grave concern to the unity & solidarity of our people & will be met with appropriate response.

The nearby town of Burayu also reportedly faced ethnically-motivated violence, according to theReporter Ethiopia news website, including deaths and thousands of displaced. The news platform says people are still fleeing their homes, with many headed to Addis Ababa.

The Reporter@TheReporterET

Sources added that women have been raped and many have been displaced and sought refuge in a church, a school and Red Cross erected tents in Addis Ababa.https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/conflict-burayu-surrounding-claims-lives 

Conflict in Burayu, surrounding claims lives

Ethnically charged conflict in Burayu and surrounding towns has claimed the lives of unknown number of people and displaced thousands of others, The Reporter learnt.

thereporterethiopia.com

On Monday in the capital, the protesters headed to Meskel Square, where just two days earlier thousands had gathered to welcome some 1,500 OLF fighters returning to Ethiopia from their base in neighboring Eritrea. The group has for decades advocated the “right to national self-determination” for the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Their return was preceded by scuffles between rival groups.

Ethiopia's Oromo people gather to celebrate the return of the Oromo Liberation Front in Addis AbabaA woman joins celebrations in Addis Ababa for the return of the formerly banned Oromo Liberation FrontDawud Ibsa, chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front, now back in Addis AbabaEthiopia's Oromo people gather in Addis Ababa for the return of the formerly banned Oromo Liberation Front

AFP Africa@AFPAfrica

For years they were banned as a terror group but following changes introduced by Ethiopia’s reformist PM Abiy Ahmed, rebels from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have returned home, bringing thousands onto the streets of Addis to celebrate @AFP http://u.afp.com/o6QV 

The OLF return comes amid sweeping government reforms to bring opposition groups back into politics. In a first step earlier this year, the OLF was one of the groups removed from a list of terror groups. Tensions in restive areas dramatically declined when the Abiy government released several thousand prisoners, unblocked websites and welcomed opposition voices.

Government welcomes OLF

The government also welcomed the returnees.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Fitsum Arega

@fitsumaregaa

We welcome warmly the leadership & members of OLF to . A peaceful contest of ideas will move us from a culture of conflict into a culture of peace. In a pluralistic society, all of us need to respect our rich diversity.Rule of law is the virtue that makes peace possible.

“I’m happy to be here after 26 years of struggle from outside of Ethiopia,” the OLF leader Dawud Ibsa told reporters, adding that the OLF has struggled to bring the changes that are happening now in Ethiopia. “We are now seeing positive signs that include the respect for rule of law: That’s why we came here,” he said.

Deal to ease cros-border tensions after decades of hostilities

Just one day after the OLF returned to their native country, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an agreement at a summit in Saudi Arabia. The deal is aimed at bolstering a historic peace accord between the two former Horn of Africa enemies. In July, Abiy and Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki had signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” that formally restored diplomatic relations. Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.

“There is a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

COURTESY: DW

Skyscrapers, trains and roads: How Addis Ababa came to look like a Chinese city

Design

Updated 3rd September 2018

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 billion.

Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN

Skyscrapers, trains and roads: How Addis Ababa came to look like a Chinese city
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Written byJenni Marsh, CNNAddis Ababa, Ethiopia
When Wang Yijun put Ethiopia’s most expensive real estate project on the market, he experienced a strange phenomenon. People preferred the lowest floors over those with panoramic city views. “Power cuts mean elevators in this city often don’t work,” explains Wang, the site manager. “So the bottom-floor flats became the most valuable. You won’t see this pricing in any Chinese city.”
Replicating China’s urban model in Africa has its challenges, but with limited developable space in Addis Ababa — the capital is surrounded by protected farmland — Wang believes high-rise living, such as Tsehay Real Estate’s $60 million Poli Lotus development, is inevitable.

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 million.

The Poli Lotus estate on the outskirts of Addis Ababa cost Chinese firm Tsehay Real Estate $60 million. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
Theodros Amdeberhan, an Ethiopian lawyer, last year bought a three-bedroom, fifth-floor apartment here for about 3.5 million birr ($127,000). “Local developers never deliver on time,” says Amdeberhan. The complex opened in 2016, and so far 70% of lots have sold. “When Mr Wang offered me a good price, I didn’t hesitate,” he says.
With red lanterns swaying over its entrance, the palm-tree peppered compound of 13 towers could easily be in Shenzhen, Chongqing or the suburbs of Shanghai. It’s the sort of Chinese-ification that permeates much of Addis.

The Metro train passes through central Addis Ababa.

The Metro train passes through central Addis Ababa. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
Cars chug through the city on smooth Chinese roadsChinese cranes lift the skyline, sewing machines hum in Chinese factories in Chinese-owned industrial parks, tourists arrive at the Chinese-upgraded airport and commuters ride modern Chinese trains to work.
Simply put, Addis Ababa is becoming the city that China built — but at what diplomatic and economic cost?

A city without addresses

Located 2,355 meters above sea level, Addis Ababa is one of the highest capitals in the world. Officials say 2.7 million people call it home, but that’s based on a census from 2007. The real number is surely far bigger. Few buildings here have addresses, so taxi drivers operate by landmarks. And because Ethiopia was never colonized, barring a brief Italian occupation between 1936 and 1941, Addis lacks the European infrastructure that underpins many African metropolises. “It was never planned to be a city,” says Alexandra Thorer, an architect who lived in Addis as a child, and wrote her thesis on the city’s urbanization.
Road in Addis ababa that China d

Addis development

Old Addis – New Addis
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
By the turn of the 21st century, Addis’ population had swelled and its dirt roads badly needed upgrading. At the same time, China was pursuing stronger ties with African nations — in 2000, Beijing held the inaugural Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, now a triennial deal-making pow wow.
The Ethiopian government saw China as a model for development and courted it for infrastructure, says Ian Taylor, a professor in African political economics at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

A sign outlining the plan for Chinese constructed roads in Addis Ababa.

A sign outlining the plan for Chinese constructed roads in Addis Ababa. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
In two decades, the Chinese provided Addis with an $86 million ring road, the Gotera Intersection ($12.7 million), Ethiopia’s first six-lane highway ($800 million), and the Ethio-Djibouti Railway line ($4 billion), which connects the landlocked country to the sea, to cite a sprinkle of projects. The speed at which Addis grew, says Thorer, mirrored the pace of 21st-century urban explosion in China.
China also built the first Metro system in Sub-Saharan Africa in Addis. Its two lines cut through the heart of the city, and carry at least 30,000 passengersan hour, who pay 6 birr ($0.30) a ride. “I thought it would fail quite quickly,” says Thorer, “but actually it’s really well used.”
“Addis has been radically transformed,” says Taylor. “Huge skyscrapers are changing the whole profile of the city.” A 46-story glass tower will be the tallest in Ethiopia when finished in 2020 by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

The Chinese-built African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2018.

The Chinese-built African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August 2018. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
The city’s most symbolic skyscraper is, of course, the futuristic African Union (AU) headquarters. Gifted to Addis by Beijing in 2012, the $200 million structure resembles nothing in Ethiopia.
“I didn’t realize how Chinese it was until I went to China,” says Janet Faith Adhiambo Ochieng, communications officer at the African Union. “Then I was like: ‘Wow.'”

Getting in the red

In the early 2000s, Irish singer-songwriter Bono was part of a chorus of celebrities asking Western countries to cancel African debt, which was costing some governments three times more than healthcare. When the G8 agreed to waive $55 billion from mostly African accounts in 2005, Bono called it “a little piece of history.”
Fast forward a decade, and Africa owes China about $130 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative — money which has mainly been used to fund transport, power and mining projects.
The continent lags behind other developing regions in virtually all infrastructure sectors, be it electricity, road or railroad performance. “Western companies and organizations such as the IMF and World Bank weren’t offering money for that type of stuff,” Taylor says.
LRT Addis Ababa

LRT Addis Ababa China

The light rail train arrives / Inside the packed train
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
China’s credit line to Africa has provoked criticism. Earlier this year, Rex Tillerson, then US Secretary of State, said that China’s “predatory loan practices” in Africa “mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth.
Ethiopia has taken at least $12.1 billion from Chinese creditors since 2000. But overall the country is $29 billion in the red — it owes more collectively to the Middle East, the World Bank and others than to China. The same is true for the majority of African countries.
A report published this month by the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative found that Chinese loans are “not currently a major contributor to debt distress in Africa.”
“We’re emerging into a new phase of a China-centric world order,” says Solange Chatelard, academic and research associate at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. “The former hegemonic powers are having a hard time adjusting to their decline.”
Lina Benebdallah, assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, however, cautions that the China-Africa relationship is “asymmetric.” In 2016, for example, China exported $88 billion in goods to Africa, but only imported $40 billion from the continent.
And there are countries with worrying amounts of Chinese debt. In Djibouti,China holds 77% of national debt, while Zambia’s $6.4 billion in Chinese loans represents the lion share of its commitments. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) told CNN via email that China has paid “high attention” to African debt situation, and is dedicated to “sustainable development.”

Twisting Ethiopia’s arm?

One of the big concerns around Chinese loans is debt-trap diplomacy — the idea that Beijing will pressure countries that can’t pay into exploitative deals.
At the imposing prime minister’s office building in Addis Ababa, Arkebe Oqubay, a senior government minister, is adamant that Ethiopia hasn’t seen any arm-twisting from China. “One of the unique things that makes Chinese funding quite attractive is they practice non-intervention in local politics,” he says.

Government minister Arkebe Oqubaby at the prime minister's office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Government minister Arkebe Oqubaby at the prime minister’s office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Credit: Jenni Marsh/CNN
And Beijing has been demanding that African nations cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, under its “One China Policy,” for decades he says — debt or no debt.
Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Studies, sees it differently. He cites the example of Sri Lanka as the “canary in the coal mine.”
In 2010, Beijing invested $1.5 billion to build the Hambantota port. When Sri Lanka couldn’t repay the debt, it signed a 99-year lease of the port with a Chinese state-owned company to service some of the billions it owed.
“If developing countries do not pay greater attention to how they manage their debt with China, we’re going to see a growing number selling off large stakes in key sovereign assets,” Patey says.
Unplanned Addis

New Addis

Urban sprawl / Urban planning
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
Another concern is national security. Earlier this year, French news outlet, Le Monde, alleged that Beijing had spied on the African Union through the computer systems it helped install. China’s foreign ministry said the report was based on “groundless accusations” and the AU disregarded the allegations as “baseless.” But the rumors raised eyebrows, as China builds symbolic political facilities across Africa.
“The Germans could have bugged that building,” Ochieng says, pointing to the far more modest Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel’s government gifted the AU in 2016. “But will the story that the Germans are watching Africa sell as well?”

The Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel's government gifted the AU in 2016.

The Peace and Security facility Angela Merkel’s government gifted the AU in 2016. Credit: Jenni marsh/CNN
When Western powers see a city like Addis Ababa awash with Chinese influence, there is the knee-jerk reaction that “China has an ulterior motive,” says Benebdallah. But it’s often the case, says Taylor, that Chinese companies don’t face Western competition for construction contracts. Once Chinese firms have shipped their equipment, they may as well stay put and capitalize.
For Patey it’s not that simple. When China finances roads, railways, and hydropower dams, he says, it stipulates that Chinese construction companies build them with Chinese concrete and steel. “Africa has served as a launching pad for Chinese … companies to gain overseas experience,” he adds. “It’s where China Inc cuts its international teeth.”
A MOFA spokesperson told CNN via email that Chinese companies in Africa operate “independently” and that the Chinese government is “committed to equal negotiations,” and had no interest in “lecturing countries.”
Poli Lotus

Inside Poli Lotus

The Poli Lotus complex / Inside an apartment
Credits: Jenni Marsh/CNN. Jenni Marsh/CNN
On a Friday afternoon at Poli Lotus, Theodros Amdeberhan’s teenage son plays FIFA on the wide-screen TV, while the maid roasts coffee and a picture of the Eiffel Tower hangs over the sofa in their Chinese-built apartment.
When asked how he feels about the Chinese molding Addis Ababa in their country’s own image, Amdeberhan says: “I once went to China and noticed that they have this way of building city centers that can incorporate all the needs of the people.” With the higgledy piggledy chaos of unplanned Addis just beyond his window, he says it’s an appealing concept.
COURTESY: CNN

Migrant crisis: Scores drown off Libyan coast

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Migrants are seen in a rubber dinghy as they are rescued by Libyan coast guards off the coast of Libya, 15 January 2015Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionOver 1,500 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year

More than 100 migrants died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coastline earlier this month, an aid agency says.

Two rubber boats set off on 1 September but one of the vessels deflated and sank, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says.

The 276 survivors were eventually taken to the Libyan port city of Khoms, around 100 km (62 miles) to the south-east of the capital Tripoli.

MSF says the group is now being held in “arbitrary detention”.

The survivors, including pregnant women, children and infants, have been treated by MSF for pneumonia or burns from leaked fuel.

It appears to be the largest migrant death toll in the Mediterranean in several months.

In early June, 112 people reportedly drowned after a boat sank off the Tunisian coast. Later the same month, the UNHCR said that 220 people had died in three separate incidents over the course of two days.

Over 1,500 migrants have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Bar chart showing number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean since 2014

Many more have been rescued, although Italy, a primary destination for migrants travelling from Libya, has recently started to refuse entry to migrant ships.

The numbers of those crossing the Mediterranean has fallen from the peak of over one million in 2015, but the journey is becoming deadlier: while fewer deaths have been reported, more people are dying as a proportion of those who reach Europe.

Although these numbers do not include the increasing numbers who are now being returned to Libya, the rise can be explained by the shift from the shorter sea route between Turkey and Greece in 2014-15 to the much longer and more dangerous route between Italy and Libya.

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

Meanwhile, concerns remain for migrants who remain in Libya, with reports emerging late last year of sub-Saharan African migrants being kidnapped for ransom or sold as slaves in the northern African country.

Libya remains unstable since the overthrow of long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Hundreds of migrants held in detention had to be moved after deadly clashes broke out in the Tripoli in late August, while gunmen also attacked the National Oil Corporation on 10 September.

Related Topics

The road to peace? Diplomatic ties strengthen in the Horn of Africa

AFRICA

Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia established a joint cooperation agreement this week, in another major step towards achieving stability in the conflict-ridden region. So is peace finally on the horizon?

    
The outline of two doves with the colors of Ethiopia and Eritrea flags

The decades-long conflict between states in the Horn of Africa seemed all but forgotten this week as leaders from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia worked to strengthen long-lost diplomatic ties during a tripartite summit in Asmara.

And their efforts already seem to be paying off. Shortly after the three countries formally agreed to enhance economic, political, social, cultural, and security cooperation, Ethiopia opened its first embassy in 20 years in Eritrea on Thursday, less than two months after Eritrea reopened its own embassy in Addis Ababa.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Yemane G. Meskel@hawelti

Re-opening of the Ethiopian Embassy in Asmara today: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki hoist Ethiopian Flag. (Eritrean Embassy in Addis Abeba was re-opened in similar fashion on 16 July 2018)

Meanwhile, Wednesday marked the formal reopening of Eritrea’s ports to Ethiopian trade — another major step in the peace process. An Ethiopian cargo ship docked in Eritrea’s Massawa port as it prepared to transport zinc to China.

Yemane G. Meskel@hawelti

Foreign Ministers of Eritrea, Ethiopia & Somalia are travelling to Djibouti today. The visit is the first initiative of the Joint High-Level Committee established by the three countries at the Tripartite Summit and the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation signed thereof

Ethiopia taking the lead

Ethiopia’s new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is widely credited for pursing peace talks with Eritrea and opening up the possibility of diplomatic thaws between neighboring states in the Horn of Africa.

Eritrea and Somalia had agreed to establish diplomatic relations in late July following Eritrea’s rapprochement with Ethiopia, following tensions over Eritrea’s alleged support for Somalia’s extremist rebel group, al-Shabab.

Ethiopia and Eritrea formally cut diplomatic ties following a brutal border war between 1998 and 2000, which claimed the lives of at least 100,000 people on both sides.

A border demarcation backed by the United Nations (UN) in 2002 was meant to settle the dispute for good, however Ethiopia refused to follow its recommendations and continued to hold on to territory meant to be under Eritrean control.

Only two months after taking office, Abiy announced in June that Ethiopia would hand back disputed areas, including the flashpoint town of Badme where the first shots were fired, beginning the border war.

Ethiopian journalist Sisay Woubeshet told DW that the peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea are especially significant for families divided for years as a result of the conflict.

“It’s been a very big and exciting year for Ethiopians,” she says. “Because people have been separated from their families for more than 10, 20 years. Eritreans [in Ethiopia] have been looking for an official and formal way to communicate with their families and friends and this is the first step. The opening of the embassies makes the situation more stable for them.”

It remains unclear however when the heavily militarized Ethiopia-Eritrea border will formally open, or when Ethiopian armed forces will withdraw from the disputed areas.

People emotionally greet each other at the airport in Asmara following the maiden flight from Ethiopian Airlines to EritreaThere were emotional scenes following the maiden commercial flight of Ethiopian Airlines to Asmara in Eritrea in July, where many family reunions took place

A transformation of regional politics?

The rapid peace talks between the former enemies appear to have opened a pathway to pursue further resolutions, potentially changing the landscape of politics in the region.

In the wake of the recent diplomatic breakthrough, Ethiopia and Somalia are now urging Eritrea to begin a dialogue with Djibouti to solve their own border dispute, which occurred back in June 2008 when armed clashes broke out.

On Thursday, the foreign ministers of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia travelled together to Djibouti — the first initiative of the Joint High-Level Committee established by the three countries during the summit.

Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said the visit from his Eritrean counterpart would “open a new era in relations between our two countries. Now is the time for peace.”

Martin Plaut, a fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies who specializes in the Horn of Africa, believes steps to include Djibouti in the peace process could signal the end of longstanding tensions in the region.

“There a still a number of issues which need to be resolved, such as where the border is and the return of bodies and prisoners and so on,” he told DW. “But if this can be resolved, it is frankly the last piece of the puzzle.”

Flashpoint areas still a concern

However, the fact that there a still a number of contested regions along the Ethiopian-Eritrean and Djiboutian-Eritrean borders has observers concerned that the newly forged diplomatic ties could unravel if flashpoint areas are not properly managed.

“All they’ve done is to say ‘we now love each other’,” says Plaut. “But we must now oversee the transfer of villages and areas. How are they going to manage their currencies along the border? What customs points are there going to be?”

“There are still dozens and dozens of complex issues which need to be resolved between them.”

Zipporah Nyambura contibuted to this report. 

Watch video01:28

Eritrean leader pays landmark visit to Ethiopia

COURTESY: DW

Analysis: Putting the farm violence in South Africa in context

Analysis: Putting the farm violence in South Africa in context

Members of the South African civil society organization AfriForum and other civil organization members prepare to march to the Union Buildings to raise awareness on farm attacks on Nov. 25, 2017, in Pretoria, South Africa. Several civil rights organizations and opposition parties took part in a protest march to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum to the state president, to demand the prioritization of farm murders. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Thanks to recent attention from President Donald Trump, some truly horrendous crimes in South Africa have been brought to the attention of the American public.

Depending on whom you ask, the crimes are either a) evidence of a government-sponsored genocide against white people in order to take their land, or b) a hoax perpetrated by President Trump to distract from legal troubles bedeviling his former campaign aides.

As usual, the answer likely lies somewhere between these two extremes. Yes, the violence in South Africa is very real and very terrifying, but there is no evidence that it is either new or increasing, or that it is motivated by the country’s current “land reform” program.

Is the violence real and racially motivated?

It is without a doubt true that South Africa has a horrendous violent crime problem. The country currently has about 44 murders a day. For perspective, the United States averaged about 47 murders per day in 2017.  However, the United States has a population of 325 million, and South Africa has a population of only 55 million, which means that South Africa’s murder rate is about six times worse than the United States, and is far, far above the global average.

In fact, although estimates from many of the most violent countries of the world are based on incomplete data, South Africa is generally accepted to have one of the 10 worst murder rates on the face of the globe.

Exactly how bad is the violent crime problem in South Africa? Well, let’s put it in perspective. Here in the United States, Chicago gets a lot of publicity for having a shockingly high murder rate. Last year, Chicago had 650 murders in a city with a population of just over 2.7 million, meaning that Chicago had a murder rate of about 24 murders per 100,000 citizens.

The entire country of South Africa had a murder rate of over 33 murders per 100,000, which means that the entire country (including the relatively peaceful portions, which do exist) has a murder rate that’s more than one-third worse than one of the most violent enclaves in the United States.

Within a country that has as much recent racial strife as South Africa, it seems obvious that some portion of this extreme violence is racially motivated. The question is, how much?

The best and most honest answer to this question is that no one knows. Official statistics on the race of victims of murders in South Africa is very hard to find, and even if it were available, the data would still be suspect. That makes it difficult to say with any level of confidence that white people either are or are not being targeted more for murder in South Africa than black people.

What about the farm murders, specifically?

The farm murders have garnered worldwide attention recently due to the shocking brutality of some of the crimes. Credible reports have indicated that some farmers have been decapitated, boiled alive, or otherwise killed in ways that have shocked the sensitivity of the Western press.

As a portion of the overall murders in South Africa, however, they remain comparatively small: according to official South African statistics, farm murders represented only 74 of the 19,016 murders recorded in the most recent reporting year. Notably, while most of the victims of these farm murders were white, not all were, even though the overwhelming majority of farm owners in South Africa are still white.

Complicating the problem, the South African government includes attacks on large, commercial farms including massive conglomerate operations as “farm murders,” which means that it’s anyone’s guess how many of the attacks or murders occurred on the sort of small, freehold farm that you have heard about in the media.

And as cannot be emphasized enough, it’s difficult to place much confidence in the statistics collected by the South African government.

Is the farm murder problem getting worse?

Again, it’s difficult to say with any level of confidence, but it can be said with confidence that the farm murder problem is not new. It has raged in South Africa at least since the end of apartheid, with most NGOs agreeing that the worst farm violence occurred just after the turn of the century, and that it has actually been slowly improving since 2001-02.

Although there is some dispute amongst non-partisan NGOs as to whether this year’s number of murders is slightly higher or lower than last year’s, most estimate that while the number of farm attacks this year is slightly higher than last year’s, the number of murders committed during those attacks has gone down.

What is the government doing about the problem?

By all accounts, the South African government has struggled mightily to control the problem, as you would expect in a country with such an astronomically high murder rate. Some estimates in recent years have indicated that only 10 percent of murderers in South Africa overall are caught and brought to justice, compared to an average of about 60 percent of murders in the United States that are “resolved.”

Obviously, South Africa’s criminal justice system does a horrible job of catching murderers overall, and it’s difficult to quantify whether they are even more horrible when it comes to catching the farm murderers or not. This makes it difficult to say if, aside from their overall ineptitude at stopping murder, the government is winking at the killing of white farmers for political reasons; although a number of the most high profile and especially brutal farm murders have resulted in criminal convictions.

What about the land seizure issue?

This, too, has been an issue since the end of apartheid, although recent political pressure in the country has brought the issue to a head.

Some portions of the currently contested land have been owned by Dutch and/or English farmers for hundreds of years; however, vast portions of South Africa were completely uninhabited or claimed by any identifiable European individual for decades. Over the years, native Africans began to settle this land and farm it as they fled either civil unrest in central Africa or fluctuating drought conditions.

In 1950, the South African government passed the Group Areas Act, which resulted in millions of black South African farmers being forcibly removed from their land and repatriated to racially segregated ghettos in South African cities, a process that took decades to complete. The land thus taken from the black farmers was sold to white farmers for pennies on the dollar.

When apartheid ended in 1994, one of the explicit goals of the ruling ANC was to reverse the effect of the Group Areas Act (and other legislation that resulted in forcible removal of black South Africans from their land). For many years, efforts have been underway to attempt to purchase land from white farmers and give it to black farmers, but white farmers have resisted selling their land or demanded exorbitant prices, such that very little progress has been made on the government’s platform during the last 24 years.

Frustration with the slow pace of redistribution has imperiled the ruling ANC party, which looks increasingly likely to begin seizing land, with or without compensation, in order to avoid losing power. The government issued a draft policy last week, which has not yet been adopted, that called for seizure without compensation, but the issue is very much up in the air politically.

What’s the bottom line?

Neither the problem of rampant violence in South Africa, nor the planned reversal of the land grabs effectuated during Apartheid are new. Nor, specifically, are attacks against farmers, whether white or black.

What is new is the attention that has been brought to the problem by President Trump, which has caused many to erroneously conclude that the government of South Africa is actually involved in these brutal murders or is actively complicit in them as a means of driving white farmers off their land in order to confiscate it.

The truth is that the South African government is continuing a decades-long debate about contested land ownership, and continues to be terrible at deterring violent crime both generally and specifically against rural farmers. Although there has been increased attention to the issue of brutal violence against South African farmers (white farmers in particular), there isn’t good evidence to say that there has been increased violence, and in fact most of the evidence would suggest that the violence is slowly decreasing over time (although it is still at completely unacceptable levels).

By all accounts, relative to the United States, South Africa is not a stable place to live, and the situation of farmers is precarious (although, as noted, urban dwellers in South Africa may have it even worse).

Some white farmers stand to lose property that has been in their family for hundreds of years without compensation, which is offensive to most people’s sense of basic fairness. Some, on the other hand, stand to lose land that was forcibly taken from black farmers relatively recently and given to them at dirt-cheap prices, and it remains possible that they will be compensated for the seizure. Your mileage may vary as to how much this offends your sense of basic fairness, or as to your estimation of the wisdom of this policy from a purely agricultural standpoint: Zimbabwe remains a potent cautionary tale here.

Also, there are definitely extremists who are positioning themselves for the upcoming election by spewing genocidal rhetoric against whites in South Africa, and although they currently stand little chance of coming to power, they threaten to push the ANC into more drastic and unwise measures. In other words, the situation definitely merits monitoring as it could certainly get worse in the near future.

But it’s important to remember, from all the way across the ocean where we get snippets and pieces of the news on social media that are provided without context or history, that we are not witnessing a brand new alarming phenomenon. Instead, we are staring into a morass that has been decades in the making and admits of no easy solution.

Dele Momodu reveals what Saraki told him about Buhari and Tinubu

in 

Ovation Magazine Publisher, Dele Momodu has revealed what he and Senate President Bukola Saraki told him about Buhari and Tinubu.

Both men had the discussion during the Eid El Kabir festival, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Momodu made the revelation on Saturday in an article entitled, “How Saraki plans to defeat Buhari in 2019”.

Momodu said Saraki discussed about the 2019 election, President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Tinubu, among others.

See what Momodu wrote below;

“Saraki’s roadmap to victory is simple. Buhari is going to play the usual ethnic card that only a candidate from North West can win a Presidential election in Nigeria. Saraki feels otherwise. He believes that the pro-restructuring crusaders now have an opportunity to make the Presidency available to other Nigerians. He concedes that it may be difficult for any candidate from North West and North East to compete or beat Buhari hands down, despite the fact that PDP parades more experienced politicians and competent aspirants.

“What is then needed is to keep North Central on lockdown with a popular candidate from that zone. With the support of PDP stalwarts from the other two Northern zones, Buhari’s votes would be whittled down to make up the requisite percentages in terms of spread but no more. He believes that it may be a waste of time and resources trying to compete in the President’s traditional enclave other than to strive to get up to 25%. PDP should instead focus on mobilising the forces from the opposite direction and lockdown four out of the six geo-political zones.

“Saraki says he is well-positioned to make this happen. With one leg in the North and another in the South, especially the South West, the people would have a higher stake in the Presidency and this will galvanise more passionate voters. If the PDP presents just anyone, there may be voter apathy and Buhari would coast home to victory. As to where his deputy will come from, it would have to be from the South-East/South-south axis, since he has already covered the South West, technically. Theoretically, this would ignite enthusiasm in that region. He believes the APC has played into his hands somehow by this calculation.

“According to Saraki, the only reason Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been fighting him is because he wants to take over from Buhari in 2023. “Where does that then leave the Igbo people who have not been able to produce any Vice President or President since Dr Alex Ekwueme in 1979-1983?” In simple Arithmetic “PDP needs a candidate who can block the South West and the South East simultaneously since Buhari will still run with Osinbajo…” This race is getting mathematically interesting and the Saraki option is looking feasible, I thought. However, Saraki said he was only just starting. He said those days are gone when an individual can instruct people to go out and vote as if they have no minds of their own.

“He plans to challenge and tackle Buhari strictly on issues and not pettiness, which he sees to be the current order of the day. He said the world is driven today by knowledge and not by crude force. He said he is better informed on how to resurrect the comatose economy which collapsed because of the over-simplistic and myopic handling of affairs since Buhari took over. “Any student of elementary economics would know that a country can never develop in an atmosphere of obsession for scaremongering, instability, uncertainty, Stone Age policies… Nigeria urgently needs a unifier in deed and not in words… I’m one of the most cosmopolitan leaders around today with every sense of modesty…”

“Saraki is looking forward to a serious debate between him, Buhari and other candidates on every aspect of daily life in Nigeria. “If Buhari likes, he can stay at home and do the debate by Skype or whatever, but moving forward, we must discuss Nigeria publicly…Anyone wanting to lead a country as important as Nigeria in this century must be someone who can ably represent us in the comity of nations and has a grasp of modern ways of life.”

“Saraki says he has matured with time in various offices and his cumulative executive and legislative experiences are almost second to none in the country… ‘You can see this in the way I have conducted the affairs of the Senate, and we are easily the best, but for the occasional and unfortunate distractions from people who see me as serious threat to their personal ambition. They had to feed the President with lies and destroy our relationship. I did all I could to support the government, but I was constantly harassed and treated like a pariah by those desperate to keep a firm grip on Nigeria…’ But he continues to see the positive side of his travails. ‘Perhaps, I would not have declared interest in this race, but they kept pushing me away, demonising me for no reason, but, inadvertently, they made me very popular by their action and some of those who never liked me started pitying me as a victim of oppression.”

Courtesy: Laila’s News.com

Eight politicians with N232bn corruption cases working for Buhari’s re-election

FEATURED

L-R: Yari, Wamakko, Adamu and Akpabio

Eniola Akinkuotu, Gbenro Adeoye, and Jesusegun Alagbe

At least eight out of the politicians working for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 election have pending corruption cases worth N232bn, checks by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

Investigation by our correspondents showed that the amount involved in the various graft cases, which are currently pending before security agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, range from N223m to N100bn for each of the politicians.

READ ALSO: Nigeria needs President with democratic credentials –Bafarawa

Some of the eight politicians, who used to be members of the Peoples Democratic Party and other opposition parties, had allegedly defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress to stop the dangling axe of the EFCC and other security agencies from falling on them.

Specifically, the politicians who are currently either under probe or prosecution for allegedly diverting government funds have separately vowed to ensure Buhari remains in power untill 2023.

The eight politicians include the senator representing Nasarawa West at the National Assembly, Abdullahi Adamu; the senator representing Sokoto North and former Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko; ex-Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who recently defected from the PDP to the APC; and a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.

Others are the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; the former Governor of Rivers State and Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, Rotimi Amaechi; the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; and former National Chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff.

Abdullahi Adamu (N15bn)

For instance, Adamu, a serving senator and former Governor of Nasarawa State, is one of the President’s allies in the Senate. He is also a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Buhari 2019 Presidential Support Committee.

The lawmaker is being prosecuted alongside 18 others for allegedly stealing N15bn from the treasury through contracts awarded when he was governor for eight years.

His son, Nurianu, was also arraigned by the EFCC in January 2018 for alleged N90m fraud. However, the former governor has been one of the fiercest critics of Senate President Bukola Saraki.

According to Saraki, the former governor has been insulting him in order to get a soft landing.

Saraki had said in July, “I have deliberately ignored the antics of Senator Abdullahi Adamu, especially his constant media attacks on me and the Senate since the EFCC dusted his file on alleged case of corruption and also went ahead to arraign his son in court.”

Aliyu Wamakko (N15bn)

Senator Aliyu Wamakko is in charge of Buhari’s campaign in Sokoto State. A few weeks ago, he held a massive rally on behalf of Buhari in order to prove to the President that Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s defection would be of no effect.

READ ALSO: Herdsmen killed 50 security operatives in Benue in eight months –Ortom

Wamakko, who served as governor from 2007 to 2015, is under investigation over allegations of theft of public funds and money laundering totalling N15bn, an allegation he has vehemently denied.

Spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, had confirmed in April that the commission was investigating allegations contained in a petition against Wammako and that he would soon be invited to defend the allegations.

Godswill Akpabio (N100bn)

The former governor of Akwa Ibom State has been under probe by the EFCC for over three years based on allegations that he  diverted over N100bn from the coffers of the state between 2007 and 2015.

Akpabio was welcomed into the APC by the President himself.

The former governor, who represents Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, recently vowed that the APC would take over Akwa Ibom the way Adolph Hitler invaded Poland.

Akpabio, who on Friday travelled to China with the President is arguably the closest defector to Buhari and has vowed to do everything possible to ensure Buhari is re-elected.

Although he has been grilled by the EFCC, he has not been charged.

Orji Uzor Kalu (N3.2bn)

Kalu, who governed Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was one of the most influential politicians in the South-East during his time in government. After leaving the PDP, he formed the Progressive Peoples Alliance from where he contested and lost a senatorial election in 2015.

The following year, he defected to the APC and has paid several visits to the President since then.

Recently, he visited the President in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, where he was bestowed with the title, ‘Dan Baiwan Hausa’ by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouq.

According to the emir, Kalu was bestowed with the title in appreciation of his “unwavering support for our son, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Bayajida II .”

However, the former governor has been having a running legal battle with the EFCC since leaving office.

The EFCC alleged that Kalu and the others committed fraud between August 2001 and October 2005. It accused Kalu of utilising his company (Slok Nigeria Limited) to retain in the account of First Inland Bank, now First City Monument Bank, the sum of N200m.

The commission said that the sum formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State government. The EFCC also said that the accused retained, in different bank accounts, about N2.5bn belonging to the state government, adding that he diverted about N3.2bn from the coffers of the same government.

Regardless of his travails, the former governor has insisted that he will do all within his power to ensure that Buhari is re-elected.

Babachir Lawal (N223m)

The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, was accused by the Senate ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, led by Senator Shehu Sani, of awarding a N223m consultancy contract for the removal of invasive plant species in Komadugu, Yobe Water Channels to his company, Rholavision Engineering in contravention of Section 43(iii) and (iv) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

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A committee headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo subsequently investigated Lawal and recommended his dismissal in October 2017, a year after he was indicted by the Senate.

Although he is under probe by the EFCC, Babachir is among the key figures running Buhari’s re-election campaign in Adamawa State. He also revealed during a recent interview on Channels Television that he still had direct access to the President.

The former SGF has been having a leadership tussle with Governor Jibrilla Bindow over who should lead Buhari’s campaign in the state.

Rotimi Amaechi (N97bn)

Amaechi, who was the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, has been charged with the task of ensuring that Buhari is elected a second time.

The Minister of Transport, who is the face of the Buhari campaign, was indicted by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the sale of state assets.

He and others were accused of allegedly misappropriating N97bn through the sale of the state valued assets.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had alleged that $150m (N30bn at the time) was spent on Buhari’s campaign in 2015.

Amaechi challenged his indictment but lost at the Appeal Court. Although anti-graft agencies have refused to state if he is under investigation or not, he has yet to clear his name and is still under investigation by the state government.

The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, insisted that Amaechi was not cleared by the panel that indicted him on the sale of some assets belonging to the state.

Also, a top official at the Government House in Port Harcourt, pointed out that at the last count on the matter, the former governor had gone to the Supreme Court.

An appeal filed by Amaechi against the Justice George Omereji-led panel was in May 2017 dismissed by the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt.

READ ALSO: 2019: Why Atiku, Tambuwal, Saraki, others must sign undertaking – PDP

The Appeal Court had said that the refusal of Amaechi to appear before the panel amounted to self-denial.

But Okah said that the matter was currently at the Supreme Court.

“He (Amaechi) went to court against the panel and the matter is still in the Supreme Court. The state government has not cleared him on the matter concerning the sale of valued assets belonging to the state,” he said.

Amaechi could not be reached for comments, as he did not answer calls to his mobile phone.

A text message sent to him on the matter did not get any reply.

However, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Transportation told our correspondent that the minister was out of the country.

The official, who also works directly with the minister, stated he (the official) was not aware of the said allegations against Amaechi.

“I have not seen it (the report) and can’t speak on it. However, the minister is in China right now,” the official, who pleaded to be anonymous, said.

Abdul’aziz Yari (N680m)

Yari has been engaged in a fierce battle with the EFCC for over a year following allegations that he diverted nearly N700m which formed part of the Paris Club refund due to his state.

In July last  year, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered an interim forfeiture of the sums of N500m and $500,000 (N180m) said to have been looted from the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.

The sums of money said to have been recovered from two firms, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited, were allegedly linked to the governor.

The EFCC also alleged, in an affidavit filed in support of its ex parte application seeking the interim forfeiture of the sums of money, that the N500m was diverted to offset Yari’s personal loan obtained from the First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited.

In July, the Presidential Support Committee of Buhari 2019 appointed Sheriff as the director-general.

The National Secretary of the group, Kassim Kassim, said in a statement that the conglomerate of about 300 Buhari supporters’ groups unanimously endorsed Sheriff to lead the Presidential Support Committee, Buhari 2019 and not the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation for the 2019 election.

He said groups that made up the Presidential Support Committee were all registered with the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters.

Sheriff and others are under investigation for allegedly receiving N450m out of the N23bn ($115m) bribe allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 elections.

He has been grilled several times by the EFCC but was never charged. His private jet was also impounded by the commission but later released to him.

Sagay, EFCC react

Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said joining the President’s camp would not save any politician from probe or prosecution.

He said those whose cases had already been taken to court would continue to face prosecution.

Sagay, however, said there was room for plea bargain, an option he said stubborn people would never use.

He said, “I know Akpabio is still under probe and if he is found culpable, he would be invited and prosecuted. For me, the only import of him joining the President’s campaign is that he can be persuaded to make a plea bargain quickly, which everyone is entitled to, but the stubborn ones will not take that option

“As for allegations against Amaechi, he was indicted by a fake and useless judicial panel set up by Wike, who is himself under investigation for corruption. He set up a kangaroo panel, which Amaechi refused to answer to.”

When asked about the Appeal Court ruling which ordered Amaechi to answer to the panel, Sagay added, “he doesn’t have to answer to rubbish. Judges who allow themselves to engage in injustice deserve to be disregarded. Amaechi is innocent. All the charges were trumped up.”

Also speaking with our correspondent, the EFCC Spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said joining the President’s camp would not translate to immunity from prosecution.

Uwujaren said, “The EFCC neither closes cases nor clears people. Also, being in the President’s party does not give anyone immunity from prosecution.”

Buhari, who later won the presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had consistently accused the then ruling party, the PDP of engaging in mind-boggling corrupt practices.

“If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” Buhari had said repeatedly during the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

However, no sooner had he been declared winner than some politicians from the same corrupt party began defecting to the President’s own party.

While some of the allegedly corrupt persons were kept at arm’s length, others became very close to the President, constantly appearing in pictures with the professed anti-corruption champion and sending mixed signals to Nigerians.

SERAP, CACOL react

The Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, however, said it would be wrong to condemn the President for being supported by people alleged to be corrupt if there was no proof that he had prevented anti-corruption agencies from prosecuting such people.

He said, “Unless you want to tell me that the anti-corruption agencies will not do anything unless they are prompted or unless somebody says they should do it, I don’t want to believe rumours. Allegations must be backed by concrete evidence for it to be substantiated. I don’t want to think that somebody with convincing evidence against him will be prevented from facing the music simply because he supports the President. For example, Kalu still has his case in court.”

Similarly, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said it would be wrong to presume people guilty because they have corruption allegations against them and that the President could not have stopped anyone from supporting him, in any case.

He said, “You can’t prevent sinners from going to a religious place, what you don’t have to allow is for them to take over the pulpit to preach the doctrine of the crimes that they have been committing. From our recent experience, defecting to the ruling party has not, in practical terms, stopped the trial of some of politicians. For instance, Kalu’s case is still in court.

“And as of now, Akpabio has yet to be convicted and until someone is convicted, you cannot say they have committed a crime. Even Kalu, whose case is in court, cannot be said to be guilty of the offence until he is convicted. So, it is a moral question and the moral suasion has its limit.”

But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Onueze Okocha, said President Buhari was sending a dangerous and negative signal to Nigerians by allowing people with pending corruption cases to work for his re-election.

He said, “The whole thing sends a dangerous and unhappy signal to all of us that the so-called anti-corruption war is not whole. We can all see that only those in the opposition are mainly those investigated of corruption while those in the ruling party are regarded as sacred cows.

“It’s what we’ve always known; there is no effectiveness in the anti-corruption war. Look at Akpabio, for instance, shortly after he was elected to the Senate, the EFCC raided his house and found lots of cash. Now that he has defected to the APC, what happens to him?

“Babachir Lawal, though has been sacked, is still free to walk around. Look at the issue of fake National Youth Service Corps certificate held by Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, all these tell us there are sacred cows in the anti-corruption war.”

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