Zambia – Xenophobic Violence

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Spate of ritual killings leads to retaliatory attacks directed largely at foreign nationals in the region.

On April 7th a murder was reported in the capital Lusaka’s Matero constituency, the body showing signs of mutilation, with the heart and genital area removed. This incident marked the sixth case in a growing number of suspected ritual murders, reported Zambia Reports.

Over a week later, on April 18th, security services claimed they had arrested four people in connection with the attacks, with reports suggesting they may have been found with body parts. President Edgar Lungu commented that the motivations were surely something outside of the national Christian religion, reported Zambia Reports.

On the same day, in protest against the killings, locals looted shops in Zingalume, George and Matero townships; residents accused foreigners of being behind the six killings in the Zingalume area. Police spokesperson Charity Chanda confirmed that houses and shops belonging to foreigners had been destroyed and looted, reported the Times of Zambia.

In Chawama residents took to the streets in protest demanding that the government facilitate the deportation of foreigners in the area, particularly Rwandan nationals who are widely accused of involvement.

On April 19th the East African stated that as many as 200 people had been arrested in Lusaka during the protests. The most affected areas include George, Lilanda, Chunga and Zingalume in the west, and parts of Matero, Chaisa, Kabanana, Mandevu and Chipata in the north.

By April 20th as many as 62 shops had been looted and the figure of arrestees in connection to the violence had risen to 256.

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Lusaka

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative Ms Laura Lo Castro said, “we would like to urge Zambians to continue maintaining the unblemished high reputation, respected by the international community, of being hospitable to foreigners, including refugees,” reported the Herald.

Around 20 Rwandan nationals had approached the Rwandan High Commission in Lusaka for protection after the spate of xenophobic attacks, claimed Rwandan New Times.

The Rwanda High Commission’s interventions advised Rwandans in Lusaka that once threatened they should go to the nearest Police Station for safety but remain alert and avoid unnecessary movements; advising nationals to strictly abide and observe the national laws of the host country.

According to the Times of Zambia the recent levels of xenophobic violence are some of the worst since independence, with violence against Rwandans, Lebanese and Chinese residents on the rise. Analysts have also suggested that foreigners are usually engaged in business in Lusaka and have a higher financial status than many locals; the protests and riots were reportedly more common in the shanty towns than middle and higher class neighbourhoods.

According to the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana, there are over 10,000 Rwandan refugees in Zambia, mainly those who fled the 1994 Genocide. The Rwandan government has been attempting to lure some of those refugees back, by demonstrating the progress the country has made.

However, a majority of Rwandans in Zambia remain there for “economic reasons” with over 6,500 Rwandans running businesses in the capital Lusaka, reported the East African. On April 24th 13 Rwandans were flown out of Zambia after loosing property and lifetime savings in the attacks.

Charge d’Affaires at the High Commission of Rwanda in Zambia, Abel Buhungu, said on April 24th that the situation had calmed slightly as security forces were deployed in restive suburbs.

Find out more in the African Research Bulletin:

Zambia – Politician Arrested
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20930B

ZAMBIA: Election Date
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.1, Pp.20851A–20851C

SOUTH AFRICA: Xenophobic Violence
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20524C–20526A

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Nigeria – Privatisation Concerns

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As the government pushes forward with wide-ranging privatisation measures, rights groups remain apprehensive. 

Wide ranging privatisation measures are taking place in Nigeria, particularly within the water and power sectors, in a bid to ease pressure on already scarce resources and funds. However, according to one commentator, from the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) , the privatisation of the power sector was leading to the casualisation of the workforce, job insecurity, unemployment, and an increased cost of living.

“To date, companies in the power sector have adopted all manners of anti-labour practices, including denial of salaries and sacking without fair hearing,” the source said, reported the Daily Trust.

Earlier, on March 22nd, the Daily Trust also reported that three years after the privatisation of the sector was begun, a number of conflicts over employee settlements have yet to be resolved. Meetings were held in 2013 between the government and the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE). While around 90% of workers stated they did received payments, many, including most from the Enugu Distribution Company, said they had yet to see anything.

In Lagos, rights groups, including Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), have expressed concerns over the drive towards public private partnerships (PPPs) for water concessions in the state. The group had launched a campaign in 2014, entitled ‘Our Water, Our Right‘.

“As we have said time and again, the failure of the Lagos State government to open up on the controversial water PPP gives room for us to suspect that something is in the offing and the people are deliberately being kept in the dark,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Director at ERA/FoEN.

“Worse is the fact that the Lagos State government is toying with a failed model of PPP that the World Bank private arm – International Finance Corporation (IFC)  advised it to embark upon even with documented failures in Manila and Nagpur, in the Philippines and India respectively,” said Oluwafemi cited by the Premium Times.

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Source – Nigeria Electricity

A United States (US) lawmaker, Gwen Moore – a representative for Wisconsin -, and also a member of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, penned a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, which stated that the Bank and its finance arm the IFC had inadequately considered the conflicts of interest it had created upon taking stakes in water corporations.

“I am increasingly uneasy with water resource privatisation in developing countries and do not believe that the current ring-fencing policies separating the investment and advising functions of the IFC are adequate‎.”

“I would respectfully urge the World Bank and IFC to cease promoting and funding privatisation of water resources, including so-called PPPs in the water sector, until there has been a robust outside evaluation of the IFC’s conflicts policy and practices”; Moore said that the trends of water privatisation indicated an “improper mingling” of the World Bank and IFC advisory and investment functions.

In March many women marched in Lagos against the proposed plans to privatise the Lagos public water works, reported the Premium Times.

In the airline sector, the former Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Managing Director Richard Aisuebeogun has urged the federal government to privatise the 22 federal airports under the auspices of the agency. He claimed that privatisation would enhance income generation and boost efficiency.

Aisuebeogun explained that the airports should be encouraged to look to aeronautical revenues to make them “more business minded, rather just being operations…we need to encourage private investments to cone into the airports and develop it in terms of non-aeronautical activities, so that the unviable airports will become Strategic Business Units (SBUs).”

In recent years there has been great demand for the privatisation of air facilities, due to scarce resources and demand in other sectors, particularly education, health, road and rail infrastructure, reported This Day.

According to campaigns and advocacy group Global Justice Now, there are serious concerns not only with the increasing informalisation, casualisation and increasing precariousness of the workforce engendered under privatisation, but also the huge amounts of money that are being directed at the move, which some have said is doomed to failure. According to the report the United Kingdom (UK) has contributed £50m towards the privatisation of Nigeria’s energy sector.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

NIGERIA: Rising Hopes, Falling Revenues
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20811A–20812B

POWER: General
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.2, Pp.20727A–20729C

Nigeria’s Forgotten Crisis
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20634A–20634B

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Sudan – Darfur Referendum

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Voting will determine whether Darfur’s states are to be unified or kept as separate entities, although many boycott proceedings.

On April 13th voting concluded in a three-day referendum to decide as to whether to keep the current state divisions or to unite the Darfur area into one semi-autonomous administration; the vote was said to involve around 1.4m citizens and more than 500 voting centres in 18 localities, although many opposition groups did not participate and accused the government of rigging.

The referendum had been condemned by the United States (US), claiming it would undermine the peace process. According to the US government, due to the ongoing conflict in Darfur, the insecurity would mean that many would be unable to participate in the vote.

According to the Sudan News Agency (SNA) around 2500 observers participated in overseeing the vote. Chairman of the National Group for Civil Society Organisations, Ibrahim Shaglawi, said that they provided logistical support across Darfur during the referendum, and affirmed the neutrality of all observers.

A united Darfur has long been the aim of the rebels fighting the Sudanese state but they have largely denounced this referendum as unfair. The referendum was initially supposed to take place in 2011 following the Doha Agreement, signed between the Sudanese government and rebel groups.

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However analysts have stated that the result is likely to favour the current five-state system, as this reportedly gives Khartoum greater control.

Since January there have been reports of heavy fighting in the Jebel Marra region, and according to some analysts, the government, by holding this referendum, just wants to show the rest of the world that nothing untoward is happening.

“You have this picture being painted that Darfur is coming together,” said Ahmed Soliman, a political analyst from the UK-based Chatham House, reported by RFI.

Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations (UN) Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said “there’s been reports of gender-based violence mass rapes…and on top of all that, you have a dire humanitarian crisis, millions who still live in camps, further displaced. And people who are now being displaced,” reported RFI.

Many local leaders and activists called for a boycott of the vote, calling for people to stay at home and not to recognise the results. In North Darfur, activist Zahra Abdelnaim said that “the government has already identified the outcome of the referendum in advance.”

Religious leader Sheikh Younis Matar described the referendum as “aiming to turn the ownership of the province over to new settlers bought from West Africa”. A development expert and consultant, El Walid Adam Musa Madibo said that it “aims to divide Darfur and legalise tribalism,” reported Radio Dabanga.

On April 13th, one man was arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) for drawing offensive caricatures mocking the lack of turnout in the voting process. On April the 12th two people were detained protesting in Khartoum, while on April 11th, three students were detained at El Fasher University, reported Radio Dabanga.

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Zam Zam IDP camp, Darfur CC 2007

In 1994 the Sudanese government decided to split Darfur into three states, fuelling unrest that eventually led to fighting, with many rebels from the Fur tribe, the largest tribe in the Darfur region, claiming that the split into states helped the central government enact greater control.

In 2003 the conflict in Darfur began when largely non-Arab tribes rose against the Arab-led government under current President Omar al-Bashir. According to the UN more than 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, 4.4m need assistance and more than 2.5m have been displaced.

The two main rebel groups fighting in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), have accused the government of rigging the vote to keep Darfur split into several states, reported Reuters.

Al-Bashir himself, continues to rule in Sudan despite an 2009 indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

The vote is one step in a long and drawn out peace process that was originally negotiated in Doha; rebels have for many years requested more regional powers. However the recent upsurge in violence and widespread allegations of vote fraud, suggest that the peace process is a long way from being concluded.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

SUDAN: Darfur Fighting Continues
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20942C–20943B

SUDAN: Peace Talks End without Deal
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.20797C–20798A

SUDAN: Further Attempts at Dialogue
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.10, Pp.20762A–20762B

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Africa – ‘Panama Papers’

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As global reverberations are felt following unprecedented leaks, some of the most pressing concerns are in Africa.

A number of high profile African leaders and businessmen have been named in the recent ‘Panama Papers‘ leak involving the Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca, detailing the global scale of tax avoidance and evasion; top officials from at least 15 African countries have been named.

The leaks have added to the calls, made in an African Union (AU) and UN Economic Commission for Africa report in 2015 that African money kept in foreign banks should be repatriated to the continent. At a conference in 2015, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said that Africa was loosing US$50 billion through illicit cash flows, more than double the Official Development Assistance (ODA) the continent receives, although a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put the amount higher at $150bn, reported Deutschewelle.

The information released in the leaks strongly correlates with findings of the report and confirms the existence of a network of offshore accounts and investment vehicles, driving tax avoidance and evasion. According to a report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, it is an undeniable fact that these illicit financial flows deserve our full attention continentally and globally.

“There are illicit funds from Africa in European banks. We started discussions with the European Union (EU) some years ago to bring back these funds. We find it morally and economically good for the banks to send the funds back,” said the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

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In July 2015, at the UN Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African nations led the G77 bloc of developing countries who offered to forego international aid if western countries closed tax loopholes and shut down tax havens, reported the Daily Maverick.

The leaks are not entirely new revelations as many in Africa have been pushing for the global tax system to be overhauled, pointing to the billions that is lost from the continent each year. However it is the scale of the networks of financial secrecy, essentially set up to be unaccountable, that is becoming clear, and the intricate and murky connections between world leaders and businessmen.

Journalists have yet to make their way through but a tiny fraction of the 11-million documents and the high profile and politically connected nature of the African individuals implicated, seems to indicate that more are yet to come.

The leak was obtained from Mossack Fonesca by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung who worked in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and around 106 worldwide news organisations. Mossack Fonseca is a leading creator of shell companies, corporate entities that are used to hide asset ownership. The leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories.

A full breakdown of findings from the ICIJ are available here.

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African Public Officials Implicated – ICIJ

Country Level Findings

Botswana

The President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ian Kirby, has been named in the leaked files, being said to hold shares in up to five offshore companies mainly in the UK, although he has insisted that all of these are legal. Much of Botswana’s wealth comes from diamond mining, and has been noted to have checks and balances in place to avoid illicit flows of wealth. However, commentators said that it was a worrying sign that many wealthy people in Botswana were considering to invest offshore, reported Deutschewelle.

DR Congo

A leading financial institution with close connections to the gold mining industry, Rawbank, has been implicated in the leaks, which show that the Rawji family, the shareholders of the bank, make extensive use of tax havens and shell companies, maintaining a web of offshore structures such as Khazana Holdings and Hurricane Investments in the British Virgin Islands, Pix Business and Trading Mamu Investments in Panama, and many more. Each of the entities are connected to many other shell companies, which lead to a complex and illusory network of financial connections. There have been concerns that with Dubai’s rise as a gold buyer, a destination for around 70% of DR Congo’s gold, coupled with its financial secrecy, illicit financial flows are growing, reported the Daily Vox.

Jaynet Desiree Kabila Kyungu – twin sister of President Joseph Kabila – considered one of the most influential people in the country, owns a media company together with a Congolese businessman, who were both co-heads of an offshore company in the South Pacific, said to have shares in mobile telecoms operators in DR Congo, reported Deutschewelle.

Egypt

The son of the overthrown President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was named; Pan World Investments INC, owned by his son Alaa Mubarak, was managed by Credit Suisse in the British Virgin Islands. After the toppling of Mubarak authorities asked Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World’s assets, although it is claimed that this was never fully implemented, reported Aswat Masriya.

Ghana

Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufour ‘s eldest son, John Addo Kufour, allegedly controlled a bank account in Panama worth US$75,000. They appointed Mossack Fonseca, to manage the fund, reported Deutschewelle.

Guinea

Mamadie Toure, widow of Guinea’s late president, Lansana Conte, was allegedly granted the power of attorney to Matinda Partners and Co Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, in November 2006. Authorities in the US claimed that Toure received $5.3 million to help a mining company win a mining concession from President Conte just before he died in 2008, reported Deutschewelle.

Kenya

The company which recently bought a controlling stake in the Raila Odinga’s molasses plant in Kisumu – Energem Resources Inc – has been linked to many dubious diamond mining companies in West and Southern Africa and tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.

Kalpana Rawal, Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice was implicated in several business deals linked to two companies based in British Virgin Islands. The documents revealed Rawal’s involvement in real estate in the UK through offshore companies. Kenya’s constitution bars public servants from owning a bank account outside the country, reported Deutschewelle.

Separately, a Danish national, who has previously been accused of land grabbing in Kajiado Country, has been accused of running Avon Developments Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Daily Nation.

Namibia

The leaks have revealed details about the Sicilian Mafia’s business network between Italians and Namibian businessman Zacky Nujoma, the youngest son of founding President Sam Nujoma. According to reports even though much of the criminal syndicate is imprisoned, the empire – with connections to Namibia, Italy and South Africa – has used financial secrecy companies in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Namibian.

Nigeria

Former Delta State governor, James Ibori, who has already been implicated for embezzling up to $75m in London property, has been named in the leak, leading to concerns that the true amount involved could be much higher.

Senate Bukola Saraki, said to be the third most powerful person in the country, has been named as failing to declare offshore assets in his wife’s name.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and his half-brother Sayyu Dantata, have also been linked to Mossack Fonseca’s shell companies. The two are said to have repeatedly bought and sold shares in 13 companies, mainly in the Seychelles, reported Deutschewelle.

Theophilus Danjuma, a retired army general and former defence minister, is one of Nigeria’s richest people, due to ownership of one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocs. The leaks exposed another of his companies – Eastcoast Investments Inc – which he incorporated in Nassau, in the Bahamas, reported the Premium Times.

South Africa

President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Clive Khulubuse has been mentioned in the leaks, as being authorised to represent the offshore company Caprikat Limited, which purchased oil blocks in the DR Congo. According to reports the leak showed that he did not directly benefit from the deal which “deepens the mystery as to what he was doing there. The question arises why would they use him and what benefits would he have gained from that?” Sam Sole, from the investigative team at South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian said.

Zimbabwe

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called for an investigation after the Panama Papers brought to light links between two wealthy Zimbabwean business men, and the Zimbabwean regime. Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp were named as engaging in widespread tax avoidance and externalising huge sums of money outside the country. PDP spokesman Jacob Mafume said “Bredenkamp is an arms dealer and mining tycoon while Rautenbach is the owner of GreenFuels and is involved in diamond mining”, both well known funders of the ZANU-PF ruling regime.

“As a result of the controversial links between Rautenbach and Zanu PF, major shareholders in fuel retail companies such as Sakunda and Redan have been elbowed out of business as the Zanu PF cartel has moved in to create a total monopoly in the fuel sector and thus keep consumers hostage to high fuel prices…What concerns us at the PDP is that the Panama Papers are being released when Mugabe in February said over $15 billion of proceeds from diamond mining remained unaccounted for,” Mafume added, reported New Zimbabwe.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

KENYA: Graft-Tainted Ministers Sacked (Free to Access)
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.21059B–21060B

Transparency International: “Endemic Corruption” Plagues Most of Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20627B–20627C

TANZANIA: Illicit Outflows Report
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20413C–20414B

NIGERIA: Illicit Oil Proceeds Laundered
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.50, Issue.9, Pp.20119A–20120C

AFRICA: Illicit Financial Flows
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.49, Issue.2, Pp.19449C–19450C

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Angola – Activists Sentenced

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A trial of young activists concludes with the defendants receiving lengthy prison terms.

A group of 17 protestors, including well-known Angolan rapper Luaty Beirao, were sentenced by an Angolan court on March 27th to between two and eight years in jail, following a trial that has garnered substantial international attention.

The activists are charged with plotting to overthrow President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and have been in prison since June 2015, when they were arrested at a bookclub discussing non-violent resistance.

13 out of the 17 activists were detained on June 20th 2015, at the book club which was discussing Gene Sharp‘s 1993 book, “From Dictatorship to Democracy“, about non-violent resistance in repressive regimes. While in detention, they were subjected to abuse, and during nine months in custody one tried to commit suicide.

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The Guardian

A number of the detainees have been on hunger strike; Beirao had undertaken a month long hunger strike in protest against the unfair trial and detention. Beirao was sentenced to five years for “rebellion against the president of the republic, criminal association and falsifying documents,” reported Deutschewelle.

The longest sentence was handed out to the so-called leader of the group journalist Domingos da Cruz, the author of an unpublished work based on Gene Sharp’s writing, who was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.

The other activists were; Nuno Dala, Sedrick de Carvalho, Nito Alves, Inocêncio de Brito, Laurinda Gouveia, Fernando António Tomás, Afonso Matias “Mbanza Hamza”, Osvaldo Caholo, Arante Kivuvu, Albano Evaristo Bingobingo, Nelson Dibango, Hitler Jessy Chiconde and José Gomes Hata, who were given four and half year prison terms, while Rosa Conde and Jeremias Benedito were handed sentences of two years and three months. All are required to pay a Kwanza (K) 50,000 fine, reported MAKA Angola.

One other activist, Francisco Mapanda, faces a further hearing for contempt of court after shouting “this judgement is a joke”, in the courtroom.

Journalist Rafael de Marques, who has been targeted by the Angolan regime for his book on diamond mining corruption in the country, commented that “the Angolan regime urgently needs to find an enemy to distract citizens from society’s main problems.”

No international observers were allowed to attend the trial. The prosecution was also unable to produce all 70 witnesses it had announced would prove that the young actvists were plotting a rebellion, reported Deutschewelle.

Researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), for Angola and Mozambique, Zenaida Machado said “it is an extremely ridiculous sentence and we do not know what it is based on because, during the months in which we were attending the trial, no proof whatsoever was presented in court to justify such harsh penalties.”

Rights group Amnesty International collected over 38,000 signatures in protest against the detention.

Dos Santos has been ruling Angola for more than 36 years, since 1979, just four years after independence. He has repeatedly claimed that he would step down – the most recent declaration for 2018 – but many are sceptical that he will stand by his claims. Many accusations of corruption have been levelled at Dos Santos, with as as much as 70% of the population in considerable poverty despite vast mineral revenues.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

ANGOLA: Trials for Political Dissent (Free to Read)
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.12, Pp.20822B–20823A

ANGOLA: Paranoid Political Climate
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp. 20784C–20785A

ANGOLA: Increasing Repression
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.8, Pp.20679B–20679C

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Zimbabwe – Corruption in the Diamond Fields

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The government puts a stop to diamond mining and mulls nationalisation as it emerges that billions in revenue has been lost.

On February 22nd diamond miners in Marange were given a 90-day ultimatum to end operations, due to their rejection of proposals to amalgamate the industry. Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said in March that all mining operations would be placed under a single company, in which the state would have a 50% share.

The latest move comes after President Robert Mugabe publicly acknowledged US$15bn in lost revenue from the mines, and has declared a nationalisation plan for the industry, although opposition groups and others have called for his resignation, reported NewZimbabwe. 

Already, in Marange, the government owns a 50% stake in six firms; Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds. The new entity, Zimbabwe Consolidates Diamond Company (ZCDC), is expected to embark on underground mining operations once fully capitalised, reported the Zimbabwe Independent.

The Marange diamond fields are a widespread area of small-scale production in Chiadzwa, Mutare West. Chiadzwa was the controversial scene of operations to drive out 50,000 illegal diamond panners in 2010. This time as many as 5000 formal employees have lost their jobs and security forces have been deployed to clear those who refuse to leave.

Despite a security presence, looting continues to be rife and there is an ongoing legal battle with some miners who are resisting expulsion. In some areas a new form of business is emerging where those with connections to security personnel are charging others for “protected” access to the fields. Some of these diamond panners are arrested but the majority of them evade the authorities, reported the Financial Gazette.

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Screenshot from VOAvideo

There have been widespread allegations of a lack of transparency within the Zimbabwean diamond sector. Analysts believe that much of the potential revenue has been siphoned off by elite individuals; in 2014 4.7m carats were extracted but only $23m received in revenue.

In 2012 output from diamond mines reportedly rose by 500% to 12m carats, and revenues were expected to follow, instead however they declined, with royalties decreasing to $22.5m in 2011 from $34m in 2010.

A report entitled “Tracking the Trends: An assessment of diamond mining sector tax contributions to Treasury with particular reference to Marange diamond fields,” warned of extensive pillaging through the manipulation of taxes and related fees.

On March 6th sacked former Vice-President and now leader of the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, caused uproar after he melodramatically claimed that India has built a whole town from smuggled Marange diamonds; Surat in Gujarat, India, is considered the world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre. The flow of cheap illegal diamonds was crucial due to a 20% price hike through formal channels.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has demanded that Minister Chidhakwa must publish figures justifying the closure of the mines. “It is illogical for a government to close down mines and throw people into the streets without a convincing explanation,” said MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi.

“We are very much disturbed by the lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of natural resources by the Zanu PF government which has a bad tendency of prevaricating when caught engaging in criminal activities,” said Chihwayi.

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VOAnews

Activists and the opposition accuse the Zanu PF government of channelling resources towards the elite and its internal political fights. New Zimbabwe cited figures that claimed that the country earned $60m from 960,000 carats sold in Dubai, whereas Angola earned $117m from 780,000 carats.

According to the Zimbabwe Independent, the fact that President Mugabe has declared $15bn in potential losses, is the “clearest indication yet” that he does have the interest of the country and people at the centre. In 2008 Finance Minister Tendai Biti repeatedly warned over the looting of diamond revenue.

In 2009 a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, ‘Diamonds in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe‘, the group accused the Zimbabwean regime of abetting illegal mining, with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), encouraging toleration if illegal activities.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, commenting on the proposed nationalisation, stated that all revenue will now go straight to the treasury. However the plans has been noted to likely put off many investors; with such a poor record of managing parastatal enterprises, very few would be happy to partner with the government, reported the Financial Gazette.

For a country with a budget of $4bn, of which 30% comes from diamond mining, the proposed move to nationalisation has important economic significance. However, the concerns are that it is largely the regime itself that is responsible for the corruption, both directly, and in driving the incentives that encourage citizens to seek risky, precarious, informal and often illegal employment. The Zimbabwean even commented that nationalisation plan could be understood as the next stage in Mugabe’s utilisation of corruption in the mines for his own gain.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

ZIMBABWE: Deflation Fears
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.12, Pp.21100C–21102A

COMPANY BRIEF: Mining
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.6, Pp.20901A–20901C

DIAMONDS: Zimbabwe
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.12, Pp.20685B–20685C

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Liberia – Land Rights Reform

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Civil society groups call for an improved policy approach to forested areas, as concerns remain over the ambiguous tenure of customary land.

In an October 2015 conference entitled ‘Re-thinking Libya’s Forests‘, UK-based campaigns group Global Witness called for international partners and civil society groups to work together towards creating a more inclusive policy framework and understanding of the value of Liberia’s forested areas.

The discussions urged for the creation of a multi-stakeholder, gender inclusive steering group to encourage innovation in community forestry, particularly land planning. Key stakeholders included the NGO Coalition of Liberia and USAID.

Liberia, was identified by the United Nations (UN) as possibly having serious social repercussions from ongoing land disputes; In October 2015 Al-Jazeera reported that the government promised 520,000 hectares of land — close to 5% of the country — to the top four palm oil companies in Liberia. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has made an effort to attract foreign investors; Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) holds 220,000 hectares, roughly the size of Tokyo, for an initial term of 65 years.

In 2009 the Liberian government established the Land Commission to determine how the country might address customary ownership issues. By late 2014, the commission had drafted the Land Rights Act (LRA), although Al-Jazeera commented that while the law looks good, the enforcement will be difficult, as collusion and intimidation can make free and informed consent almost impossible. The LRA is currently being debated within the Liberian government.

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Global Witness

Additionally, in 2012, Liberia and the European Union (EU) signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that committed Liberia to take steps to eliminate illegal timber from domestic or international markets, and the EU to take measures to prevent illegal timber from entering its market.

President Johnson Sirleaf commented, during the October 2015 conference, that “we have taken pragmatic and firm steps in recognising the breakdown in the rule of law in the forest sector and the consequent harm to the national interest.” Steps taken include a switch to a focus on conservation and community management; “the policy recognises community land right and establishes a distinct category of community land rights,” continued President Sirleaf, cited by Front Page Africa.

However it is important for these new conservation projects and property regimes to be inclusive. Conservation areas should not exclude those people who depend on forested landscapes for their survival, while community property and land rights should not be formalised in such a way that only the wealthiest locals benefit.

SciDev reported that the Rights and Resources Initiative had conducted an analysis of the coordination between Norway and Liberia for US$100m of support to protect 30% of Liberia’s forests. The researchers postulated six scenarios to estimate amount of people who could be displaced by creating conservation parks in populated forest areas.

The report warns that compensation for people forced to move and facing loss of livelihood is estimated to be six times more than the $100m currently available to implement the entire project, reported SciDev.

According to the Global Forest Watch Liberia lost an estimated 711,476 hectares between 2001 and 2014, with only 4% of the forested area described as primary forest. Experts estimate that 71% of Liberia’s land area is held under customary tenure, but commercial concessions cover as much as 75% of the country’s land, reported the Africa Report.

Many rural communities work farmland as labourers, and struggle to regain land that was grabbed to establish commercial projects or national parks, often through ambiguous legal regimes. It is hoped that the new reforms to the land law will protect the poorest, but difficulties in its implementation and the guarantee of fair and equitable distribution, still remain.

Global Witness provide a number of resources on Liberia, available here.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

LIBERIA: Senatorial Polls
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.12, Pp.20384B–20385A

LIBERIA: Justice Minister Resigns
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.10, Pp.20307A–20308A

Liberia
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20134B

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