Kenya – Mau Mau Veterans Seek Compensation

arbp_large

Victims of Mau Mau rebellion seek considerable reparations from the British government.

Victims of violence and atrocities during the British colonial rule of Kenya have called for action to boycott against next year’s August election unless the UK government pays significant sums of reparations.

Many veterans who fought against white settlers and the British army during the Mau Mau rebellion claim they have never been compensated. However, in 2013 the British government did pay £20m to a group of 5000 survivors.

The veterans have said that believe they deserve a share of the reparations for the damage colonial rule did to the country, both at the time and subsequently. The figures that were previously counted, they claim, were based on census data from the 1940s and do not reflect that the population is now much greater.

The Chairman of a group representing the veterans, Field Marshall Ngacha Karani, said that the Kenyan government should be demanding 400 trillion Kenyan shillings – or £4 trillion; the UKs annual GDP is in the region of £4trn.

In an interview with Kenya’s Standard newspaper, 90-year-old freedom fighter Faith Wanjiru Wachira recalled how she risked her life to help feed and clothe Mau Mau rebels deep inside the Mount Kenya forest.

“It pains me that I fought for land, but I ended up without any. I am hopeful that one day, the government will consider my struggle in ensuring that Kenya attained independence and reward me with land,” she said.

20795461724_c28d6c864c_h
Mau Mau Memorial Statue – CC 2015

The Mau Mau rebellion, which took place between 1952 and 1960, remains one of the more controversial episodes of Britain’s colonial history.

The uprising involved thousands of mainly ethnic Kikuyu groups who revolted against British rule, economic deprivation and dispossession of their agricultural homelands in the north of the country.

To stem the unrest the Kenyan and British colonial authorities declared a state of emergency and rounded up more than one million Kikuyu into camps, which historians now see as essentially concentration camps – many thousands died.

Currently there is a class action suit making its way through the British courts which involves more than 8000 claimants. This is in addition to another case in 2013.

According to a report by Kenya’s Citizen TV, the group representing the Mau Mau veterans is urging representatives to travel throughout the country to mobilise Kenyans to boycott the election due to be held on August 8th 2017.

(The Independent 14/12)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

KENYA – UK: Historic Mau-Mau Ruling
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 49, Issue. 10, Pp. 19469c-19470c.

KENYA–UK: Mau Mau Veterans Issue Writ
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 43, Issue. 10, Pp. 16841A–16841B

Mau Mau Leader Honoured
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 44, Issue. 2, Pp. 16980C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Nigeria – Cocoa Crop in Decline

arbe_large700

Many claim that the once central industry is now the most neglected, while others eye the opportunities.

The decline in the cultivation of the crop is reportedly to due with long growing periods and impatience among the younger generation, according to President of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Victor Iyama, who was speaking at the 2nd Daily Trust Agricultural Conference in Abuja on December 15th.

“It’s not four to six months, it is up to five years minimum but the beauty is that it can last for 70 years,” he said, adding that chocolate production generated large sums of money; out of a $120bn cocoa economy only around $15bn goes to products other than chocolate.

Iyama noted that cocoa was the second largest foreign exchange earner, next only to oil, adding that 29 states in the country can produce the crop, reported the Daily Trust.

According to Lagos-based the Guardian, a number of stakeholders in the Nigerian industry have said that it has remained the most neglected sector of the economy despite at the same time being one of the most viable industries in the world. Setbacks include the high cost of borrowing, deregulation and inconsistent government policy.

CEO of FTN Cocoa Processors Plc, Akin Laoye, explained that the deregulated environment is impeding the growth of the processing sector, adding that the cocoa sector needs some degree of regulation.

“To deepen Nigeria’s industrial base, it is counter productive to allow agricultural raw materials to be exported without adding value. Value addition will grow the industrial sector, generate employment, and enhance value of the revenue from export.” Laoye also urged government to find a lasting solution to tackle the ongoing recession, reported the Guardian.

The Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on December 15th said that Nigeria used to be a leading cocoa exported but has since fallen to seventh among exporting countries exporting 27.5m tonnes annually, in comparison to first place Cote D’Ivoire with an annual export volume of 1.75bn tonnes, reported This Day.

23904959686_4e6332d5c6_k
CC 2015.

On December 7th AgWeb reported that the Nigerian government was preparing to capitalise the state owned Bank of Agriculture with Naira (N) 1trn (US$3.2bn) to boost the agricultural sector. “We are looking at 25 million farmers” as stakeholders or depositors, Minister Ogbeh said.

From November 8-10th a regional symposium focusing on the next generation of cocoa research for West and Central Africa was held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The symposium drew leaders from across the southwestern part of the country, the predominant area for the cultivation of cocoa, such as Ife, Oyo, Osum, Ogun, Cross River and Ondo states. The symposium drew leaders alongside academics and industry representatives to discuss research priorities and alliances to take advantage of the potential of cocoa.

According to Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), O. Olubamiwa, the Regional Cocoa Symposium is the first of its kind in Africa. “It is happening in West Africa—the hub of global cocoa production. It will highlight the diverse roles of cocoa in improving farmers’ livelihood. It is also a forum for stakeholders to synthesise ideas on sustainable cocoa production,” reported the Guardian.

However, other reports have suggested that cocoa cultivation in Ondo state appears to be waning, despite having what could mildly be described as comparative advantage. Farmers in the state accused the state government of failing to implement practical policies and programmes.

One of the cocoa farmers in Akure, the state capital, Olorunfemi Ashagi asserted that one major problem facing the growth of cocoa is finance. Another farmer expressed fear that cocoa farming in the state may soon go into extinction, as many of the young men engaged in it are increasingly to alternative livelihood opportunities, reported Leadership.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

COCOA: Côte d’Ivoire
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 7, Pp. 21366A–21366C

NIGERIA: Recession and ‘Record’ Low Foreign Investment
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 8, Pp.21384C–21386C

COCOA: Ghana
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 2, Pp. 21184A–21184B

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Gambia – A Turning Point

arbp_large

Longtime ruler initially concedes and then backtracks on acceptance of historic election result. 

The results of the recent election on December 1st saw 22-year leader Yahya Jammeh ousted and debates surrounding his prosecution have become central topics of discussion. His regime has been accused of arresting many activists, journalists and opposition members.

President-elect Adama Barrow, who heads a coalition of parties, told Al Jazeera that a truth and reconciliation commission would be established to look at human rights abuses committed during Jammeh’s rule, after which the government will file a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). “It is a matter of justice. People should not fear. The process will be fair and will not pinpoint anyone,” he said.

The new President-Elect, however, is understandably cautious, as the country now faces a two-month transition period and rumours have abounded that Jammeh could try to force a coup in an act of self-preservation. The heads of the army and police services, however, have declared their support for the new coalition.

Jammeh is reportedly currently hiding in his villa in his hometown of Kanilai. His paramilitary hit squad known as the ‘Junglers’ is also based near Kanilai – the group is thought to be responsible for a number of high profile killings, such as of newspaper editor Deyda Hydara in 2004.

The incoming coalition has stated that it intends to compensate Gambians for their loss of lands, according to the leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Omar Jallow, part of the new coalition. Political prisoners were also released, with around 31 so far released from Mile 2 Central Prison near Banjul.

Among the first group freed was Ousainou Darboe, the 68-year-old leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), who founded the opposition party in 1996 and is often described as “the Mandela of the Gambia” for his two decades of struggle against Jammeh.

Another legacy of Jammeh’s rule has been divisions among ethnic groups, particularly between the Jola tribe and the Mandinka, Fulani and Wolof. Jammeh held fears that he would be toppled by the majority Mandinka, which make up around 33% of the population, and he resorted to appointing his own chiefs, reported Al Jazeera.

Gamcel sponsored poster promoting Jammeh

Gamcel sponsored poster promoting Jammeh – CC

Barrow told RFI in an exclusive interview that what was needed was “an overhaul of basically everything in the government.” According to Deutschewelle Barrow has also stated that he intends to keep Gambia in the controversial ICC. Barrow is a real estate CEO and a newcomer to the political scene, selected by a coalition of seven opposition parties.

Barrow won 54.54% while Jammeh took 36.66% of the vote. However, after the initial optimism, anxiety returned as Jammeh decided in a TV interview on December 9th, to annul the poll result citing ‘irregularities’, just over a week after conceding to the coalition.

“I accepted the results then, believing that what was presented was the will of you the Gambian people… I made it clear that I will never cheat in anything… in the same way also, I will never accept being cheated by anyone,” Jammeh said.

Jammeh, in the interview, call for a re-run, recommending new transparent elections mediated by an independent electoral commission. Meanwhile the head of the coalition team Mai Ahmed Fatty said, “We are working round the clock to restore sanity. The world is with us.”

The US State Department dismissed the reversal of President Jammeh’s concession speech as “null and void,” while urging the military and other national institutions to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, reported the East African.

Jammeh had declared the country an Islamic Republic in 2015, has been accused of a string of rights abuses, and had said that with the ‘will of God’ he could rule for a billion years, reported Deutschewelle.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

THE GAMBIA: Interior Minister Replaced
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21136C–21137A

THE GAMBIA: Darboe Jailed
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 7, Pp. 21071A–21071C

THE GAMBIA: Dozens More Arrested
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 5, Pp. 21005C–21006B

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today. 

Burundi – Presidential Term Limits

arbp_large

Reports suggest the President is taking steps to ensure an extension to his rule, prompting concerns of further violence. 

President Pierre Nkurunzia has been pushing a political agenda to remove a key Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement that limits Presidential terms, which has helped to end 12 years of civil war.

Nkurunziza is also stalling on the East African Community (EAC)-led mediation process, which started in July 2015 but has yet to make any significant progress. The Burundian government has boycotted talks stating that some stakeholders should be excluded.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) entitled ‘the African Union and the Burundi Crisis: Ambition versus Realitythe government is seeking to change term limits, possibly by December.

Justin Nzoyisaba, chairman of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission, was quoted in August as saying the views so far collected across the country favoured the removal of term limits.

President Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term sparked civil unrest that has caused the death of hundreds and forced thousands to flee to neighbouring countries. The ICG says the government has realised that keeping casualties to a minimum limits scrutiny.

13966022662_b5f04de3d1_k
President Nkurunziza with AMISOM commander General Silas Ntigurirwa in 2014 – CC

Meanwhile the United Nations (UN) envoy on conflict convention said that the international community and Burundi would find common ground for the deployment of UN police officers through continued dialogue.

“Our discussions were constructive and I’m confident that with continuous engagement and political will, we will find common ground as a basis for moving forward with the implementation of the resolution,” said Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention.

UN Security Council Resolution 2303, adopted on July 29th 2016, authorised up to 228 UN police officers to be deployed in the capital Bujumbura and throughout Burundi for one year.

Benomar said he had held various meetings with the Government and other stakeholders, as well as with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, the facilitator of the EAC-led dialogue.

However the Burundian authorities have rejected Benomar as a proposed mediator and they sent a letter to the UN to ask for his replacement.

On November 26th thousands of demonstrators marched in Bujumbura to protest against Belgium and the UN Commission, which is conducting an inquiry into human rights violations. The protestors were reportedly singing songs in support of President Nkurunziza.

The situation is ongoing and many commentators have expressed concern that the extension to term limits and the continued boycott of international mediation will prompt further violence and state repression.

(The East African 5/11; PANA, New York 9/11; RFI 15, 27/11)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

BURUNDI: ICC Withdrawal
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 10, Pp. 21182B–21183A

BURUNDI: Looming Risk of Genocide
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21146A–21146B

BURUNDI: UN Police Deployment
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 7, Pp. 21108A–21108C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Mozambique – Debt Troubles Continue

arbe_large700

The IMF commends recent efforts but states that financial support will not resume until debt levels are made sustainable.

The Deputy Director of the Africa Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), David Owen, said on November 14th that Mozambique had taken promising steps to deal with hidden debts that have impacted heavily on the economy.

The debts relate to loans of over US$1.1bn from Credit Suisse and Russian bank VTB to quasi-public firms Proindicus, Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) and the Mozambique Tuna Company (Ematum), under then President Armando Guebuza in 2013/14.

The IMF, during a mission visit from September 22-29th, praised the “significant tightening of macro-economic policy,” and the raise in interest rates announced by the Bank of Mozambique in October, which had led to the stabilisation of the exchange rate, reported AIM.

However the head of the mission Michel Lazare said that resumption of financial support was still a long way off.  “The authorities have requested the Fund to resume discussions on financial support as soon as possible. A solid track record of implementation of sound macroeconomic policies and an effective initiation of the audit process in the near term would help to create the conditions for a possible resumption of program discussions with the IMF,” Lazare said.

Lazare continued by stating that Mozambique “is facing a challenging economic environment”, with economic growth now in decline. The forecast growth for this year is 3.7% in 2016, down from 6.6% in 2015, which is “is significantly below levels observed in recent years.”

“At the same time, a significant decline in imports has been more than offset by a weakening of exports, foreign direct investment, and donor financing…This has maintained pressure on international reserves, which have continued to decline,” Lazare added, reported AIM.

7210331406_ac5ca841a1_k
Ex-President Armando Guebuza – CC 2012

However more than half of the secret loans related to Ematum and maritime security have never been explained. According to Africa Confidential, around $900m was passed on to companies owned by the ruling Frelimo elite for the purchase of assault rifles, armoured cars and other weapons from Israel, for use in the war against Renamo, reported UK-based Mozambique News Reports.

There have also been accusations that Frelimo officials have wasted huge sums on setting up a shipbuilding industry, for which little work had been completed. Though many of the weapons seem to have been bought by companies owned by private individuals, these companies are linked to the three implicated in the debt scandal. Many of the funds were placed in offshore bank accounts to act as collateral for Frelimo-owned companies.

Two banks involved in the deals, Crédit Suisse and Russia’s VTB Group are under investigation by authorities in the UK and Switzerland.

The two main political parties remain at loggerheads as the country continues to be in crisis. Frelimo, which has held power since independence from Portugal in 1975, is fighting to maintain its grip on the country. In the wake of the scandal economic and political unrest troubles have only worsened, reported Africa Confidential.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Mozambique – Price Falls Lead To Closures
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 8, Pp. 21404A

MOZAMBIQUE: Liquidity Problems
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 5, Pp. 21289A–21290C

MOZAMBIQUE: Economic Update
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 4, Pp. 21231A–21233C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

 

Somalia – Truce Collapses

arbp_large

Communal violence erupts again in the Puntland border areas, as elsewhere in the country Al-Shabaab makes gains.

Reports suggested that at least 20 people died as violence gripped the border regions of the semi autonomous areas of Puntland and Galmudug on November 5th, with around 80 more left injured.

The town of Galkoyo, the provincial capital of the divided Mudug region, was the epicentre of the tensions. The north of the town is administered by Puntland, while the south by Galmudug.

Six civilians are among the dead and also journalist Mahad Ali Mohammed. According to the Union of Somali Journalists he was working for the Galmudug Radio Station and was hit by a stray bullet.

A military officer from Puntland, Mohamed Aden, said that “Galmudug does not want peace…We shall continue fighting till we cleanse Galmudug forces,” reported Deutschewelle. The United Nations (UN) says that about 80,000 people have already fled the town.

The UN envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating, said that Al-Shabaab was making gains in the town due to the ongoing conflict and called for a return to dialogue, and particularly for the deaths of civilians to stop, reported Shabelle Media Network.

Under terms of a ceasefire deal mediated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that came into force only a few days previously, forces of both regions were supposed to be withdrawn from the disputed area, reported Al Jazeera.

16528331268_1ac169b5f9_k
Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas alongside Jubbaland President Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe – CC 

According to a report by Shabelle Media Network, naval forces from the Puntland administration raided so-called Islamic State (Daesh) locations in the coastal town of Qandala in the Bari region – however there was no official statement on the operation.

Meanwhile, as Ethiopian troops have been withdrawn from the country, reports suggest that Al-Shabaab militants have taken it as an opportunity to make gains. The insurgent group have taken nine towns along the Ethiopian border and have threatened to disrupt presidential elections scheduled for November 30th.

Spokesperson for the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISON) Colonel Joseph Kibet, told The EastAfrican that the Ethiopian withdrawal is leaving a vacuum that is encouraging the re-emergence of Al Shabaab.

Ethiopian Information and Communication Minister, Getachew Reda, said the troop withdrawal is due to financial constraints and the failure of the international community to train and give support to the Somalia National Army (SNA), reported the East African.

Somalia has faced widespread conflict since the death of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in the 1990s, and in recent years the presence if the Al-Shabaab has grown considerably.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

SOMALIA: Electoral Process Begins
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 10, Pp. 21179A–21179C

ETHIOPIA – SOMALIA: Troop Pull-Out
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 10, Pp. 21170C–21171A

SOMALIA: Deadly Standoff Between Rival States
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 10, Pp. 21191B–21192B

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Egypt – Economic Situation Deteriorates

arbe_large700

The government devalues the currency in attempts to avoid an economic crisis, creating further worries for citizens.

As part of efforts to boost its ailing economy, Egypt has taken steps to devalue its currency, raised fuel prices and plans to cut customer subsidies, as part of conditions to receive an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of US$12bn.

While the IMF insists that floating the currency is a sensible long-term economic move and will attract foreign investment, many are concerned as inflation and unemployment are already high, and the price of food and services are also likely to rise, reported Al-Jazeera.

According to economists, any long term gains are going to be coupled with short-term hardships – the government hopes that attracting investment will end a hard-currency shortage. According to Reuters, wide-ranging economic problems will mean the huge volumes of hard currency required to stabilise the dollar will take a long time to arrive.

However, calls by some for protests were not supported by most opposition groups and activists; “At this point we find calls to protest scary. There is no political organisation, which means things can get out of hand. The country could burn,” said Malek Adly, a human rights lawyer with the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, reported Reuters.

The IMF has delayed the approval of the loan until Egypt can meet the desired conditions – around $1bn had already be disbursed at the end of 15 but since then the flow of money has been halted. There have been shortages of goods such as wheat, baby milk, sugar, rice and cooking oil, reported Africa Confidential.

The decline in tourism revenues is also particularly damaging, now at around $3.8bn a year, which is less than one third of the levels before the 2011 uprising. The fears surrounding terrorism have furthered affected tourist numbers.

2105794854_e836726aee_b
Revenues from the Suez Canal have also fallen – CC

Another condition of the loan is that Egypt can secure co-financing of $5-6bn; in September the Egyptian Central Bank’s reserves went up by $3bn largely due to deposits from Saudi Arabia. However the support of Saudi Arabia has been in doubt after the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) suspended deliveries of 700,000 tonnes per month of petroleum products – these supplies covered almost a third of Egypt’s import requirements of petroleum and natural gas. One suggestion is due to tensions of the Egyptian courts ruling against an agreement to give Saudi Arabia control over two Red Sea islands, reported Africa Confidential.

The consequences of these economic decisions are likely to be felt mainly by the poor and struggling middle class. Already at least 27% of the population live below the ‘poverty line’, and the political economic effects of structural adjustment are likely to exacerbate this further, reported Al Jazeera.

Already, Egyptians face capital controls, including limits on transferring currency abroad and the amount they can withdraw to travel overseas – this has particularly hit students studying abroad.

The focus of economic policy has largely been on grandiose projects that will take a long time for benefits to materialise. Little attention has been given to problems including massive levels of youth unemployment. Similarly Al Jazeera commented that the economic policy is entering the realm of the absurd, after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested funding for development projects could be garnered by collecting spare change.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

EGYPT: Job Creation Boost
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21417A–21417C

Egypt – Development Policy Finance
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21430A

EGYPT: Baby Formula Shortage Row
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 8, Pp. 21381C–21383C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.