Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pages From History: President Kwame Nkrumah Delivers May Day Broadcast, 1963
Shirley Graham Du Bois, President Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois
in Ghana during Feb. 1963.  
Accra, April 30, 1963

Tomorrow is May Day, a day on which Socialists and the working class movements all over the world re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of work and happiness for the people. On this occasion, it is fitting that we in Ghana should renew our determination to build our country in such a way as to create opportunity for work for all.

It is fitting that we should reflect, at this time, on the national goals we have set before us and examine whether the conditions we are providing in our society are such as to enable our men and women, particularly our youth, to play their full part in this task of national reconstruction.

This is why I want to speak to you tonight, particularly about some of the things we can do to help our young men and women to make full use of the opportunities available to them, and thus prepare themselves for the future. In a few months from now, we shall launch our Seven-Year Development p Plan, which is intended to transfer Ghana into a modern, industrial state. But even now, it is admitted by those who visit us that our progress has been remarkable and impressive. Look around you, and see our new factories, hospitals, schools and Universities springing up all over the country. There is hardly a remote village which has not benefited already from the great strides made in our progress and development.

But what is all this advancement for, if we do not support and sustain it with a strong moral and spiritual-foundation. If we combine moral degeneration with technological and scientific progress, then Ghana will surely fail. This of course has been the lesson of history. Look at the temperament, attitude towards work, honesty and integrity of the men and women of any people, and you have a good indication how low or how high is the moral and spiritual quality of the nation.

Many foreigners who come to Ghana are genuinely impressed by the obvious signs of progress they see around them. They also admire the cheerful spirit and enthusiasm of the men and women in the streets. This leads them to expect a high standard of efficiency, hard work, responsibility and energy from us whether in the offices, work-places, factories, farms, building sites, shops and public counters, in the streets, lorry parks and taxi ranks. But what do they find?

Their first experience on the telephone disillusions them. Some of our telephone girls, who are normally so friendly, polite and well-behaved at home, are often rude and abrupt when dealing with subscribers. In the shops, the assistants ignore customers while they chat among themselves and treat them with nonchalance and disrespect, forgetting that, but for these same customers, they would not be in employment.

The conditions are no better in the public services. Those who go to the Post Offices to buy stamps, postal orders or take delivery of parcels know this so well. Look at our hospitals where the very lives of the people who may be our own fathers and mothers, or husbands and wives, or brothers and sisters may depend on the care and attention they receive. Even here, you will sometimes find such inhuman disregard for pain and suffering as to make you shake your head in shame.

Look at the laziness and insolent attitude of many of our boys and girls or our young men and women at work and in the public places. Surely, with all the opportunities provided by the State for them, our young people should be more vigorous and responsible than this.

I am appalled at the reports that reach me about the behaviours of our young women in the bars, dance halls, and other public places. These young women will be the mothers of the next generation, and they have a duty to themselves and to Ghana to maintain the highest standard of health, decency and morality in our society.

Countrymen, this sort of attitude to life and work is not only anti-social, it is criminal, it cuts at the very roots of our national life. All must emulate the example of the many devoted and dedicated men and women among us to whom work is more than merely to earn a living.

I have also been greatly concerned about the falling standards of courtesy and politeness among our youth. These days, we seldom hear the words “thank you" or "meda wo ase.” we take kindness and goodwill for granted. We no longer say, “yes sir” or “no sir” to our elders.

Countrymen, we must all work to revive those virtues and values in our society on which our fathers based their high standards of moral conduct and behaviour.

The Young Pioneer Movement is already doing a great work in inculcating in the youth of Ghana a true spirit of humility, of service and of devotion to the country.

Plans are ready for establishing very soon, a Gliding School at Afienya, which I hope will attract many of our youth. The training will give them a sense of self-reliance, and adventure which will be of great use to them in their life and work.

In order to help inculcate more deeply these ideals in our youth and to ensure that our youth grow up upright and respect all the good things which make life worthwhile, I have directed that every morning, the Ghana flag should be raised at all schools at the morning parades, and that the pupils say this national pledge with raised hands:
“I promise on my honour to be faithful to Ghana, to serve her with all my strength and with all my heart; and in all things to uphold Ghana’s good name. So help me God."

The Government has also decided to introduce as soon as possible, a system of national training. This training will be so arranged that, immediately prior to admission to Secondary Schools, all male children will do a three-month period of national training. At the end of secondary school course and prior to attendance at a University, they will undergo further three-month training;

Furthermore, all University graduates on leaving the University will do six months training before taking their places in life of our society. The purpose of this scheme is to inculcate in our young people and our youth, the virtues and disciplines such as the spirit of service, love for work, a sense of responsibility and dedication of devotion to Ghana and Africa, of respect for our elders and superiors, and of self-discipline and earnestness. I am of the firm opinion that this national service scheme, if fully and properly implemented, will give our youth not only physical health, but mental, spiritual and moral upliftment.

Let us remember that the eyes of the world are upon us in whatever we do. We have been able through our united effort to set the pace for the liberation and unity of our continent. We must therefore strive to uphold and maintain the force and influence of the African revolution to which we are so deeply committed. We cannot do this, unless we can produce young men and women with the highest ideals of work and service to the nation and to our great continent.

I hope that all existing organisations, especially the Churches, which have the moral welfare of our people at heart will do part in this national crusade for the moral and spiritual advancement of our people.

I wish you all a happy May Day celebration. 
Pages From History: Ghana's Trade Policy Under Kwame Nkrumah, Oct. 9, 1960
Kwame Nkrumah, second left, along with co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.
 
Accra. October 9, 1960

As promised on my return to Ghana three days ago, I have come tonight to report to you of my visit to the United Nations General Assembly. Before doing so however, I wish to refer to a situation that has developed while I have been away. A number of statements appear to have been made by unauthorized persons and organisations regarding Ghana’s economic policy. These statements have culminated in a malicious newspaper article. Under the headline "Ghana Seizing All Foreign Firms" appearing in The News Chronicle on October 7th, an article written by one Mr. Norman Clark, who fled the country before the publication, alleges that "Ghana will decide to nationalise all foreign business firms and that the take-over will commence on May 1st and be completed in three years." This publication, I must say with all the emphasis at my command, is pernicious, wicked and deliberately calculated to damage the reputation and good faith which Ghana has built up. I know that our friends both here and abroad will not countenance such a publication or give it even the slightest credence.

I have stated on many occasions that the Government’s policy is aimed at evolving a socialist pattern of society, no secret has been made of this fact. I have also stated that there are different paths to socialism, that each country must find its own way and that socialism could differ in form from one country to another. Ghana intends to evolve its own socialist pattern of society adapted to its own particular needs.

I now wish to reaffirm and to clarify beyond any doubt the Government’s economic policy. In my message to the National Assembly of the 2nd September, this year, I defined the respective roles of the capital which is available within Ghana, and of capital which comes from abroad I stated that the economic structure divided into four different sectors. First, the State-owned sector; second, the Joint State-Private Enterprise sector; third, the Cooperative sector and fourth, the purely Private sector. I also stated that the Government intends to place far greater emphasis on the development of Ghanaian Co- operatives rather than encourage Ghanaians to start private business enterprises.

I will now elaborate on the policy in regard to each of these sections. First, the I State-owned sector. In previous statements I have made, I have defined this sector as embracing specific industries reserved to the State. Such industries include the manufacture of arms and ammunition, alcoholic beverages and the operation of facilities such as electricity, water supplies hydro-electric projects etc. It also includes industries of a pioneering nature which private enterprise is unwilling or unable to undertake. These industries will be undertaken by the Industrial Development Corporation. It has also been decided that the wholly owned subsidiaries of the Industrial Development Corporation will be retained permanently by that Corporation, on behalf of the State, and not handed over to private enterprise.

The second sector, joint-Private Enterprise, is intended to include those industries which, by their nature, make it essential for the state to hold a substantial interest in them either because they confer monopoly rights on their owners, or demand substantial protective tariffs. This sector will also include those industries which the private enterprise partners are unwilling or unable-to undertake without Government participation.

Ghanaian enterprise in all fields. In the past, the Government has given considerable assistance to Ghanaian private enterprise but the result has been negligible and disappointing. So disappointing, in fact that the Government feels that its assistance must be channelled in a more productive manner. My statement of the 2nd September and the Government’s intentions regarding Ghanaian private enterprise mean no more or less than was stated. It does not mean that Ghanaian private enterprise is to be nationalised but it must now stand on its own feet and not rely on the Government for its development. With regard to the distributive retail trades, the Government intends to foster cooperatives to enter this field both wholesale and retail. Fears have been expressed however that the Government intends to introduce import restrictions to assist the co-operatives in their developments. This is not so, the cooperatives must develop side by side with private enterprise either overseas or Ghanaian owned, in a freely competitive manner. I am quite satisfied that the large overseas firms are genuinely encouraging the growth of Ghanaian retail trade and that they will continue to do so.

Lastly, the purely private enterprise sector. For the reasons I have mentioned in relation to the Cooperative sector, this purely private enterprise sector mainly concerns investment from abroad. It is an accepted fact that there is not sufficient capital in the world to provide for the needs of all the developing countries which need it. This capital is therefore highly selective and tends to go where it feels it is welcome. I wish to leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that the Ghana Government accepts these facts, needs capital investment from all sources and welcomes it. It has been brought to my notice that overseas investors have been in some doubt as to their welcome, due to views expressed on exploitation. I now wish to direct the following remarks more particularly to my fellow countrymen. The Government receives by way of Company Tax eight shillings in every pound of profits made by companies both Ghanaian and overseas established in Ghana. This is equivalent to a 40 per cent non-voting shareholding for which the Government invests no capital. Overseas capital invested in companies in Ghana, provides holdings, plant and machinery which remain permanently in Ghana and become immediate assets of Ghana. In most cases, a large proportion of the turn-over of an industrial company remains in Ghana in the form of wages and salaries to employees. These wages and salaries in turn attract taxation and purchasing power which encourage further enterprises. In good companies, of which there are many, a share of the profits is ploughed back into the company l for development of its enterprises. This is, in fact, further investment. If there are fears of permanent foreign domination in the economy, these fears should be immediately and permanently abandoned. The Government has already taken adequate measures by limiting the tenure of leases and concessions and by clearing foreign elements from the ownership of land. It must be borne in mind however, that the duration of leases and concession must be balanced against the encouragement of overseas capital in such a way as to guarantee a reasonable return for the investment.

The Government recognises and accepts the fact that, overseas firms investing in Ghana have a duty to their shareholders, many of them small shareholders, to protect their investment and provide a return in the form of dividends to them. The Government is willing to take measures to assure each shareholder of protection and will welcome suggestions and advice on this matter from overseas companies through the Chamber of Commerce. I now wish to say a word about Chambers of Commerce. There are at present two Chambers, one for Ghanaian interests and one for overseas. The Government considers that this situation is anomalous in a country which is opposed to discrimination in any form and I have, therefore, today issued directions that the Government will only recognise one Chamber of Commerce to represent all private interests in Ghana.

The policy I have just outlined remains the basic policy of the Government in respect of the development of the economy of Ghana; Ghana wants to live at peace with all nations. We expect that all Governments represented here in Ghana will respect our policy of neutralism and non-alignment and will refrain from using the soil of Ghana as a platform for propaganda against another.

In this regard, Ghanaians should not allow themselves to be used as tools or saboteurs for subversive activities against their own Government and country. The Government will take appropriate step to arrest any such tendency in Ghana. And now may I revert to my recent visit to the United Nations: Africa is passing through the most momentous period in its history. The forces of colonialism and imperialism are fast retreating from our continent in the wake of the nationalist movement which is now sweeping the entire continent. However, the battle against colonialism is not yet over and day by day, we become increasingly aware of new forms of colonialism which are beginning to emerge in different parts of the continent. In such a circumstance, it is essential that the voice of Ghana and the voice of Africa should be heard unequivocally in the United Nations, especially in a time like this. These were the reasons why l decided this year to go to the United Nations.

The year 196O has been described as Africa Year in the United Nations. At the present session of the General Assembly, fifteen new Africa States have been admitted to membership of the United Nations. More are to come. We congratulate the new States of Africa as they begin their career in the international sphere and we hope that they will all join in working together for the political unity of our continent and in projecting the African personality in current international affairs. African States must either federate and survive or disintegrate and perish i.e. selling themselves to their former colonial masters or to some other foreign powers. I believe that a Union of the independent African States is not only necessary but vital to the maintenance of our independence and sovereignty. It is only if we are united that we can develop our resources and potentialities to our mutual benefit. We can also use our united strength to plead the cause of peace and secure the common, objectives which we all seek.

The grave issues facing the United Nations today, and in fact the entire world, are among others the situation in the Congo, the eradication of colonialism in all its forms from the continent of Africa, and, thirdly, the problem of disarmament. These are the problems upon which the peace and security of the world now depends and it is imperative that immediate solutions must be found to these problems.  France’s nuclear test in the Sahara Algeria, South African apartheid policy, the problem of South West Africa, and a capital development fund for Africa under United Nations auspices.

I have stated elsewhere that a capital development fund for newly independent African States should be established as soon as possible within the United Nations. This would enable the newly independent States to borrow money from the development fund at lower interest than can now be obtained elsewhere, and would also enable the newly independent African States to carry on their economic development independently without being obliged to take sides in the cold war created by the East and West conflict. In my address to the General Assembly on the 23rd of September, I proposed among other things the replacement of the United Nations Command in the Congo with a strong command with clear directions to support the legally constituted government of the Congo, the disarmament of private armies, guaranteeing by the United Nations of the territorial integrity of the Congo and the channelling of all financial assistance through the United Nation to be supervised by a Committee of Independent African State appointed by the Security Council.

In so far as Ghana’s own efforts in the Congo are concerned, I am convinced, that for a speedy resolution of the problems involved, Ghana troops must not be impeded in the carrying out of their duties under the command of the United Nations and they must under no circumstances be removed from Leopoldville: that the Congolese Parliament must be allowed to function as the only legally constituted authority deriving its mandate from the Congolese people; that there must be immediate withdrawal of the Belgian troops still lingering on in the Congo Republic, and surreptitiously re-arming the Force Publique that private radio stations sponsored by imperialist powers operating from Brazzaville should be eliminated; that financial assistance should be provided to Lumumba and his legally constituted Government, and the last but by no means the least, the duly elected representatives of the legitimate Lumumba Government should be left free to take their seats at the United Nations.

With regard to colonialism and the problem of disarmament, my experience in the United Nations has reinforced my conviction that the time has come when Independent States of Africa should get together at the highest level to declare to the world our views and our position on these problems. Colonialism today is the basis of all the fears and tensions which now afflict the nations of the world. As long as colonialism continues to exist in Africa, the colonial and imperialist powers will do everything in their power to maintain their spheres of influence because they are afraid that the freedom and independence of African peoples and the forward movement of progressive ideas in the present day Africa are a danger to their prestige and influence in the world.

Colonialism has created fear and fear has led to the armaments race, thus the problem of disarmament is closely connected with the eradication of colonialism from Africa. As soon as possible, I will take steps to consult with the Heads of States of the various Independent African States with a view to convening a conference on about these two vital issues of colonialism and the problem of disarmament, and to declare the position of Africa on these issues. I am convinced that such a conference is vitally essential at this time, and it is the only way by which the States of Africa can contribute to the solution of these great issues which confront the United Nations and the world.

During the fortnight I spent in New York, I held personal discussions with President Eisenhower of the United States of America and Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union. In these discussions, I explained to them the position of Ghana with regards to the issues affecting peace and security in the world today and especially the situation in the Congo, the eradication of colonialism and the problem of disarmament. The question of disarmament centres around the twin problems of inspection and control. To me, any distinction between them is arguing which comes first, the hen or the egg. Whichever comes first, the other must automatically and immediately follow.

I also had several discussions with President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, President Tito of Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Nehru of India, President Sukamo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Diefenbaker of Canada Prime Minister Menzies of Australia and Prime Minister Nash of New Zealand. I also conferred with the Heads of Delegations of the various independent African States including the new African States who were recently admitted into the United Nations.

On Thursday, the 29th of September, Prime Minister Nehru of India, President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, President Tito of Yugoslavia and President Sukarno of Indonesia and I put forward a resolution to the United Nations in which we called upon the President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to renew their contacts which were interrupted recently, so that their declared willingness to find solutions to the outstanding problems by negotiation may be continued I am sure that the action we took contributed in no small measure to the reduction of tension that existed in the United Nations.

I also proposed that the independent African States, together with other States who adhere to a policy of positive neutralism and non-alignment should form themselves into a naturalistic group of non-committed nations within the United Nations so as to perform the role of a third force or a balancing influence between the Eastern and the Western blocs into which the world is at present divided.

This proposal is being seriously considered by the non-committed States in the United Nations as a basis of policy and action in our common effort to ensure peace and security in international relations. In all these matters, I want to re-emphasise the point that I am more than ever convinced that Ghana has a mission to fulfill in Africa and a decisive role to play in world affairs. To achieve these objectives, it is necessary for us to maintain the national unity which we have been able to achieve and work harder than ever before towards the economic, technological and industrial development of our country. In this great task for national development, I call upon every man, every woman, our farmers, our workers and Trade Unions the Cooperative Societies the teachers in our schools and institutions of learning, educators and politicians to direct their energies to bringing about the total elimination of poverty, disease and misery in Ghana.

I have no doubt that you, my people of Ghana, will rise up to these new tasks. May Providence abide with us in our efforts to make Ghana a country worthy of its people and of Africa.
Apr 16, 2014 at 3:36pm

Depreciating Cedi Due To Demand & Supply Imbalances In Ghana
The Ghana national currency, cedi, has been depreciating despite claims of
phenomenal economic growth.
Dr Nii Noi Ashong, an economist, has said an existing fundamental structural imbalance between demand and supply of foreign exchange was exerting depreciating pressure on the Ghana cedi.

“The fundamental structural imbalances between demand and supply are posing a constraint to the efficient development of the domestic foreign exchange market,” Dr Ashong stated at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), policy forum on Bank of Ghana’s (BoG) response to the depreciating cedi.

The forum was on the theme: “The Bank of Ghana’s Response to the Cedi Crisis: An interim Review and Way Forward’’.

Dr Ashong, also the Deputy Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said high economic growth rates in Ghana since 2009 had brought in its wake an increase in economic activity and a corresponding higher demand for imports.

He said Ghana’s investment requirements far exceeded the levels of domestic savings needed to finance them and in such an environment, current account deficits are natural occurrences which put pressure on the domestic currency to depreciate.

“The large current account deficits are mainly financed by Official Development Assistance and private financial capital inflows which means that despite the underlying structural depreciating pressures on the cedi, there is also a built-in volatility of the exchange rate to changes in market expectations and sentiments,” he said.

Dr Ashong therefore urged BoG to aim at reasonably high holdings of international reserves to cushion the nation against any potential pressures that might arise from operating liberalized open capital account.

Mr Benjamin Amoah, BoG Head of Financial Stability Department, said the central bank was re-enforcing the policy guideline to reduce the cedi depreciation in the economy.

He said the new policy by BoG was not intended to cripple any business but to ensure that the depreciating cedi was halted to help grow the local currency.

Mr Willian Boateng, Executive Head of Business Development of Bank of Africa, called on the government to support export oriented business as investor confidence is going down because of the perception that one did not get its money back when investment is made.

He said there was an ongoing activity of parallel banking in the country which is also not helping the economy and urged BoG to find a way of curbing it.
Apr 19, 2014 at 5:47pm

Ghana National Development Plan Is A Must - Labour Union
Members of the Ghana Mineworkers' Union affiliated with the Trade Union Congress.
The Central Regional Secretary of the Council of Labour, Mr. Samuel Kweku Doughan on Thursday joined the call for the institution of a National Developmental Plan and Economic Structural Policy for the country.

He said the trend where every government worked according to its own manifesto thereby neglecting the previous government’s efforts irrespective of their importance was doing the country a disservice, hence the need for the plan.

Mr. Doughan was addressing a meeting of the Cape Coast Metropolitan Council of Labour in Cape Coast labour front issues ahead of May Day which will be celebrated under the theme “Ghana’s Economy: a concern for all.”

He said the country was often compared with Malaysia which had its independence the same year as Ghana but that critics fail to realize that one of the reasons behind Malaysia’s success story was its National Development Plan.

Mr. Doughan said the fall in the value of the cedi, 14 percent inflation and removal of subsidy on fuel had made living conditions unbearable and that the average Ghanaian was going through hardship.

He said unemployment had resulted in the formation of the Unemployed Graduate Association and urged the government to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

“The government of the day should do everything possible to fix the economy to suit everyone,” he said.

The National Chairperson of the Women’s Committee of Trade Union Congress, Mrs. Christiana Carl-Oparebea said the Union was working in channeling problems of its members to the responsible government bodies.

She said apathy had set in some local and regional unions and urged members not to be concerned about their salary alone but also other issues like the down-sizing of government employees as well as reviving their meetings to strengthen the union.

The Regional Council of Labour Chairman, Mr. Ben Brown, advised workers to eschew bad work practices in order to justify their fight for better conditions of service.

Some members suggested the reintroduction of automatic adjustment of salaries while others called on the government to value its employees and reconsider its actions that were not helping production.

SOURCE: GNA


UTAG calls off intended strike

By:  GNA Thursday, 17 April 2014 16:39
UTAG calls off intended strike

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has decided to hold back its planned strike until the expiration of the negotiation period.
This follows a meeting on April 16 with the National Labour Commission (NLC) and some representatives of Government, including Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang;  Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; and the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education.

A statement signed by Dr Samuel Awinkene Atintono, UTAG National Secretary, said: “The association is going to respect the directive by the NLC to both parties to negotiate and report to the Commission on May 14.”
   
UTAG’s decision to go on strike was in respect of Government's non-payment of book and research allowances.

- See more at: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/21522-utag-calls-off-intended-strike.html#sthash.zX5regmH.dpuf
14 More Kidnapped Schoolgirls Escape Islamists in Nigeria
Map of area where Nigerian school girls were kidnapped on April 15, 2014.
April 20, 2014 News 4:27 am

MAIDUGURI (AFP) – Another 14 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast have escaped, leaving 85 missing on Saturday after an attack that has sparked global outrage, an official said.

The unprecedented mass abduction of 129 teenage girls from the Chibok area of Borno state has been described as among the most shocking ever by Boko Haram, an extremist group blamed for killing thousands since 2009.

“I am glad to say that 14 more students have escaped from their abductors,” Borno’s education commissioner Inua Kubo told journalists.

“With this development, we have 44 out of our 129 students.”

It was not immediately clear how this latest group managed to flee, although Kubo said 11 had been found after running to a town on the Damboa road which connects Chibok to Borno’s capital Maiduguri.

They have since been sent to their family villages, while the three others had returned to their school in Chibok and were being cared for there, he said.

“We are hopefully expecting the return of our 85 students as intensive search and rescue efforts continue,” Kubo said.

Some of the girls who escaped within a day of the April 15 attack said the Islamists had taken the hostages to the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state, where Boko Haram is known to have well-fortified camps.

The military said it had launched a major search and rescue operation, but some in the region say they have lost confidence in the security forces after the defence ministry issued an erroneous report claiming that most of the girls were safe.

That statement, issued late Wednesday, said all but eight of those abducted were free, but defence spokesman Chris Olukolade was forced to withdraw the report on Friday after it turned out to be inaccurate.

Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has repeatedly attacked schools during its five-year uprising, including the mass slaughter of students in their sleep.

The attack on the girls’ school came just hours a bomb blast at packed bus station on the outskirts of Abuja killed 75 people, the deadliest attack ever in the capital.

President Goodluck Jonathan held an emergency meeting with his national security council on Thursday to review the latest unrest, with another meeting set for next week.

- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/04/14-nigeria-schoolgirls-escape-islamists/#sthash.U6W5weks.dpuf
Boko Haram Attacks in Borno: 100 Kidnapped Girls in the Sambisa Forest
Area in Nigeria where school girls were abducted on April 15, 2014.
April 20, 2014 in Periscope
By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
Nigerian Vanguard

April 15, 2014 will ever remain fresh in the minds of the people of Chibok in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State as a result of Boko Haram insurgents invasion of the Government Girls Secondary School in the town in the process of which scores of school girls writing their Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (SSCE) were abducted.

Borno State Governor put the number of the abducted at about 50. But locals said they were over 100.The gunmen laid ambush to the town killing two security personnel suspected to be a soldier and a policeman before they abducted the girls. It was gathered that the gunmen, numbering over 100 and operating on motorcycles and Hilux vehicles, stormed the council’s headquarters at about 9 p.m. on Monday, had a field day as they did not leave until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

An eye witness said, “Apart from the abduction of the female students, the gunmen also carted away foodstuff, before setting many residential houses and shops ablaze”.

A resident of Chibok, who escaped the attack, Mr. Nuhu Amos, in a telephone chat with our correspondent, said, “The gunmen, armed with AK47 rifles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and petrol bombs, stormed Chibok on Monday evening and shot two security personnel, before abducting the school girls. They also set some houses and shops ablaze.

“The attackers did not kill any resident, they only shot two security operatives before carting away foodstuff into the Sambisa forest”.

He narrated further: “I also learnt that out of about 150 female students writing their SSCE, some escaped into the bush, while about 100 were abducted and whisked away by the attackers using a 911 truck/lorry parked and abandoned by its driver who was heading to Maiduguri, the state capital.

“Prior to this incident, gunmen had attacked Chibok about three times without success.  But this time, they were able to accomplish their mission.  They arrived Chibok around 9 p.m. and had a field day, leaving about 3 a.m. on Tuesday”.

Another resident, who did not want his name mentioned for security reasons, said, “Seven of my children including those of my elder brother and sister who are writing the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) in the affected school are still missing. I don’t know whether they were abducted or amongst those who escaped into the bush”.

Borno State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Gideon Jubrin, confirmed the attack, but said, he was yet to get details.

“Yes, there was an attack in Chibok on Monday evening and lasted till Tuesday at about 3am suspected to have been carried out by members of Boko Haram.  We are yet to get details”, Gideon said

However, on Monday, three days after the mass kidnap, which sparked global outrage, the. Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja said about 80 of the students had been rescued while Governor Kashim Shettima, also same day, disclosed to journalists that only 14 of the abducted girls had been rescued and reunited with their parents, pledging to give N50 million reward to anybody with information on the whereabouts of the other abducted school girls.

The DHQ spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Olukolade, said that all but eight of the girls were safe, citing information provided by the school’s principal, but families of the girls, on Thursday contested the claim.

Likewise, Borno State Commissioner for Education, Comrade Inuwa Kubo, on Thursday, revealed that about 20 of the abducted 129 girls had been rescued.

Kubo, while reacting to the DHQ’s  claim in a telephone chat with our correspondent, said, “I have been having 24 hours contact with the principal of the school since the sad incident on Tuesday.  In fact, I spoke with her this morning (Thursday) and she said only 20 students had been rescued. But I am happy to inform you that the military authorities have come out publicly to say that 80 of the abducted students have been rescued, with only eight of them still in the custody of the abductors.

“I am not a military man who will give the actual situation of things, but I believe, for the military to say that only eight of the victims are still in the custody of the terrorists, it means the 80 of those rescued may be in the custody of the military operatives who have been doing their best to see to the rescue of the victims”.

Serious concern

Meanwhile, our correspondent gathered from residents of Chibok that the parents of many of the abducted students were still looking for their wards, maintaining that the statement credited to the military that about 80 of the girls had been rescued posed serious concern, as the affected parents/guardians had not seen or heard from their abducted children since Tuesday.

The defence spokesman’s claim has been widely disputed, including by parents who voiced anger at the allegedly false information.

“For the military (which) is supposed to find and rescue our children to be spreading such a lie shows that they have no intention of rescuing the girls,” said Mamman Yakubu, a Chibok resident whose daughter was among those abducted by the insurgents.

“It is the highest form of insult,” he added. “They said our girls have been freed… Bring them to us because they are yet to be reunited with us.”

Governor Shettima said on Wednesday that only 14 of the girls had escaped their captors and offered a reward to anyone with information that could lead to the return of the others.

After the military claimed that most of the girls had been freed, a senior security source, who asked that his name be withheld, told our correspondent that more than 100 of the school girls remained in captivity.

Shettima, who briefed journalists in Maiduguri on the incident, said, “So far, 14 of the abducted female students have been rescued/escaped and reunited with their families, and that government and security agencies are now having a sleepless night to ensure that the remaining ones are being rescued”.

According to the governor, out of the rescued14, four escaped on that ill-fated Tuesday when one of the vehicles conveying them to the camps of the terrorists broke down in the bush, while the 10 others escaped when they were asked to go and wash plates for the terrorists in a nearby stream.

He explained that contrary to report that over 100 girls were abducted, the official figure of those missing as reported by their parents and the school authority stood at 50.

Shettima stated that he had wanted to relocate to Chibok until the students were rescued, due to the security situation in the area, he had been advised to step down till further notice.

“I have already gave an instruction to all the security agencies to marshall all resources to see that these innocent students are rescued. I have to thank the security agencies,   the principal of the school, the District Head and the Caretaker Chairman of the affected council for their support and cooperation since the sad incident happened”, he said.

“On behalf of government and the people of Borno State, we have pledged N50million to anyone who gives information that will lead to the tracking/ rescuing of these our innocent daughters,

“I want to appeal to all and sundry to continue to pray for these students and for peace to return back to our troubled state”.

Clarification

Parents in Chibok swarmed the home of the area’s tribal chief on Wednesday and Thursday, demanding clarification after the military’s claim, residents said.

“The feeling that the military was in pursuit of the kidnappers kept hope alive among parents,” said one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity. But the unsubstantiated report that most of the children were now safe “has shattered that hope”, he said.

Another resident, Mallam Hyeladi Ibrahim, said, “Gunmen stormed Chibok late Monday and torched several buildings before opening fire on security forces guarding the Government Girls Secondary School.

They killed two guards, then forced their way inside, herding the girls on to 911 truck and Hilux vans before driving away.

Three of the girls who escaped said they were taken to the Sambisa Forest part of Borno, an area where Boko Haram is known to have well-fortified camps.

Three of the girls who escaped and returned to Chibok area briefed locals about the attack, said Madu Thomas, whose daughter was among those abducted.

“The girls told us they were taken to the Konduga district part of Sambisa forest by their captors,” said Thomas, referring to an area where Boko Haram is known to have well-fortified camps.

The girls said they ran after getting permission from the gunmen to use the bathroom and were helped back to Chibok by nomadic herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group.

“My daughter is not among the three lucky girls but their escape and the news on the whereabouts of the other girls has given me more hope”, Thomas said.

- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/04/boko-haram-big-trouble-borno-100-kidnapped-girls-sambisa-forest/#sthash.syfHCngt.dpuf
Abuja Bomb Blasts: Boko Haram Claims Responsibility, Threatens Jonathan
Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the
Abuja bus stop bomb blast of April 2014 in Nigeria.
Posted by: Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor
The Nation, Nigeria

Abubakar Shekau, leader of the militant Boko Haram Islamist group, yesterday claimed responsibility for last week’s bombing of a crowded bus station in Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The twin bomb blasts killed at least 75 people and left hundreds seriously wounded.

The outlawed insurgent commander made the claims in a 28-minute video message posted online on yesterday. He also took time out to threaten more attacks, telling President Goodluck Jonathan that his men are already stationed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.

Shekau who spoke in Arabic and Hausa in the video boasted, “We are the ones that carried out the attack in Abuja.” The deadliest attack ever in the federal capital targeted a bus station in the Nyanya area of the capital city where early morning commuters and other people were caught in the explosion.

Dressed in military uniform and seated with a Kalashnikov resting on his left shoulder, Shekau addressed President Jonathan directly saying, “We are in your city.”

The video, which comes nearly a week after the dastardly act, confirms initial speculations by military and government authorities that the bombing was carried out by insurgents loyal to the Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram Islamist group.

Shekau’s latest video was released just as the search continued for 85 schoolgirls still missing after a mass abduction of students in a boarding school by the Islamists also suspected to be Boko Haram fighters.

Hours after the Abuja bombing, gunmen stormed a girls’ school in the northeast and kidnapped 129 students, an attack also blamed on Boko Haram that has sparked global outrage. Forty-four of the girls have escaped so far, according to officials of the school and Military authorities.

Parents have been scouring the bush for days looking for the kidnapped girls. “We have been contributing money to buy fuel for motorcycles and vehicles to help in the search of our innocent daughters.”

Shekau and his men, blamed for killing thousands since 2009, claim they are fighting perceived imbalance in the system and they want to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has been attacking schools, homes, church, mosques and government buildings since it started the five-year uprising.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Abduction: We Saw No Soldiers in Bush, Say Victims’ Parents
Parents of Nigerian school girls abducted in the north of the country.
Posted by: Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operations and Tony Akowe, Kaduna
The Nigerian Nation

PARENTS and relations of students of the Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno State abducted by suspected insurgents returned home yesterday without any of the girls.

They alleged no soldier went in search of the girls because none of them was at sight throughout their stints in the farthest parts of the bush.

The parents told the Hausa service of the BBC that throughout their 12- hour search in the forest, they did not come in contact with any soldier but found abandoned huts, breads and vehicles possibly belonging to security agents.

There was no trace of the girls, the parents added.

One of the parents, who spoke with the BBC on condition of anonymity, said throughout their fruitless search in the Sambisa forest, they did not come in contact with any Nigerian soldier in the forest.

He said they began their search in the forest at about 6 am but could not trace any of the abducted female students until they gave up the search at about 6 pm.

According to him: “We were about 200 in the forest but we had to return back. We couldn’t sleep there; we saw nothing but make shift huts that were erected in the bushes.

“We saw vehicles like that of security agents in the bush, there were so many things, and there was even bread.

“We however saw a different set of people who asked of our mission and we told them. It is a very thick forest and anyone would be scared to explore the forest.

“Contrary to claims by the authorities that soldiers were in the forest trying to rescue the school girls, we saw nobody; we didn’t see any vigilante agent too. We did not see any security agent, even in our dreams. These soldiers, we didn’t see any”.

The Borno State Government yesterday said it is searching for 84 students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok.

It said although one of the missing students returned to the school yesterday, she was not among those abducted.

The Commissioner for Education, Mr. Musa Kubo, made the disclosure in an update last night against the backdrop of sustained search for the school girls by parents and volunteers.

It was learnt that those in the search team were locked up in the forest to secure the release of the girls.

The statement by Kubo said: “I am afraid we do not have an update that is as encouraging as Friday’s. Only one of our missing students returned today (Saturday).

“She was not among those abducted. She was however one of the 129 girls at the hostel on that black day the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok was attacked.

“She ran out of the school during the attack and thereafter, went to her parents. She was brought back by her mother on Saturday.”

Kubo, who gave a breakdown of the rescue operation, said the 45 girls in the school are being reconnected with their families.

He added: “So far, we now have 45 students back in school. Out of this number, 28 escaped from abduction while 17 fled home during the attack and returned home.

“As at yesterday, we had 44 students. Today, we have 45 while 84 are yet to be found. Like I explained in yesterday’s release, all the accounted girls are being reconnected with their families as a tactical measure pending the return of their colleagues and subsequent decision by the State Governor on the way forward.

“Like I also said yesterday, we are hopefully expecting the return of our 84 students as intensive search and rescue efforts continue. I once again like always, acknowledge the combined efforts of the security agencies and civilian volunteers for their patriotism”.

A top security source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Most parents, local vigilante groups and sympathisers involved in the search have opted to remain in the forest to secure the release of the girls. This is the level of patriotism which parents and locals have demonstrated so far.”
School Girls Abduction: Nigerian Army Must Apologize
Nigerian school girls were kidnapped in the north of the West African country.
Saturday, 19 April 2014 19:57 Written by Kamal Tayo Oropo
Nigerian Guardian

Lagos State University (LASU) don and Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, has called on the military authority to go beyond retraction and formally apologise to Nigerians over its Chibok secondary school girls abduction goof.

   The Nigerian Army had on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 claimed that it had rescued 107 out of the 129 students from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State abducted by group suspected to Boko Haram sect. But to the dismay of many Nigerians, the school principal, Mrs. Asabe Kwambura, denied the report of such rescue operation. Officials of the Borno State Government also corroborated the denial. An embarrassed military authority quickly retracted its story the following day, Thursday, April 17, 2014.

   Stressing that it is only in Nigeria that such confusion is condoned, Akintola lamented that the abduction of the girls in their school is a tremendous setback for girl-child education, adding that the situation should have been treated with more seriousness and high level of professionalism.

   In a statement, yesterday, Akintola, on behalf of MURIC drew the attention of Nigerians to the misery and despair of parents of the unfortunate girls.

  “Indeed all Nigerians have shown deep concern over this ugly incident. The huge national psychological trauma is immeasurable. Therefore nobody should trivialize the unprofessional behaviour of the Nigerian military.

    “The army has goofed this time around and it should apologise to Nigerians. This is a democracy and the citizens have the right not only to demand performance, but also to insist on true reportage.

It is clear from what happened that there was glaring disconnect between the field and army control room. This is a serious malady. The military is wobbling and fumbling. This is why innocent civilians continue to die everyday in this Boko Haram saga,” he said.
 
We charge the Defence Committees of the National Assembly to perform their oversight function in this matter without delays.
Parents Of Abducted School Girls Abandon Search In Sambisa Forest 
Over 100 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped in the north of the country.
Written by Saxone Akhaine, Northern Bureau Chief
Nigerian Guardian

PARENTS and relatives, who resolved to go on a wild search for their abducted daughters in the Sambisa forest of Borno State, said they could not find any of the missing school girls.

A father, who craved anonymity, told the BBC Hausa Service Saturday, that all through the fruitless search in the wild forest, they did not come in contact with any Nigerian soldier in the forest.

   Speaking in an interview with the BBC Hausa service monitored in Kaduna, the father whose daughter was among those abducted by suspected terrorists in Chibok town of Borno State, said that they had commenced the search in the forests at about 6 am but could not trace any of the abducted female students until they (the searchers) gave up at about 6 pm.

     According to the bereaved father, ”we are about 200 in the forest, but we had to return back. We couldn’t sleep there; we saw nothing but make-shift huts that were erected in the bushes, we saw vehicles like that of security agents in the bush, there were so many things, there was even bread.”

“We, however, saw a different set of people who asked of our mission, and we told them. It is a very thick forest and anyone would be scared to explore the forest.

  “Contrary to claims by the authorities that soldiers were in the forest trying to rescue the school girls, we saw nobody, we didn’t see any vigilante agent too, we did not see any security agent, even in our dream. These soldiers, we didn’t see any,“ he said.

The authorities in Borno confirmed to the BBC Hausa that about 30 female students were still in captivity, four days after the suspected terrorists abducted them.

  Affected parents and other relations of the missing girls were deeply worried. The military authorities had also denied a statement earlier made that all the girls were rescued with the exception of eight.

The Principal of the affected school, Asabe Kunbura, had denied giving such information to the military as was earlier claimed.

    Meanwhile, women delegates at the ongoing National Conference have accused President Jonathan of  being insensitive to the abduction of female students by suspected terrorists group.  They blamed the Federal Government for poor rescue mission to secure their release.

   The female delegates also condemned the increasing level of insurgency in the North East region and called on Nigerians to condemn devilish acts against women.
PORTFOLIO STRATEGY

For Rapid Growth, Africa is the New China
The Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam Project.
ROB CARRICK
The Globe and Mail
Friday, Apr. 18 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

The latest hot investing sector to bottom out: Emerging markets.

Once a favourite of investors amenable to living on the knife edge of risk and reward, emerging markets have been dragged down by their slowing economic growth. Many strategists suggest investors forget about emerging markets for now and instead put money in developed economies like the United States and Europe.

“People are very excited about Africa,” said Gavin Graham, chief strategy officer at Integris Pension Management and co-author with Al Emid of Frontier Markets for Dummies. “It’s the new China. You’ve got demonstrable improvement in political and corporate governance, and you’re starting to see some fairly major growth in GDP. The possibilities there are very attractive.”

Mr. Graham describes frontier markets as being what major emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China – often grouped together as the BRIC nations – were 15 to 20 years ago. That is, fast-growing economies attracting a lot of foreign interest.

These countries still have growing economies, but the momentum has faded. India’s economy grew last year by 4.4 per cent, compared to 9 per cent before the global economic crisis. China’s economy grew by 7.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, down from a long-term average rate close to 10 per cent. It’s numbers like these that have prompted global investors to take profits in emerging markets over the past year or two.

Oil-rich Nigeria is an example of both the risks and rewards of investing in frontier markets. After a revision of its economic data, the country recently moved ahead of South Africa as the African continent’s largest economy. The financial rating analysts at Moody’s say Nigeria’s economy will rank among the world’s 15 largest by 2050. These indicators of growing economic success have produced a 12-month gain of 21.2 per cent for the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index.

But Nigeria has also been battling a ruthless insurgency that threatens its economic growth. This week, 75 people were killed after an explosion at a bus station. A day later, gunmen killed a pair of guards at a school and kidnapped some 100 female students.

Looking at the broad frontier market group of countries, Mr. Graham sees some demographic advantages that will help economic growth. Birth rates are coming down, the populations are skewed to a younger age than Western countries and work forces are expanding. “And, you’ve got lots of people moving from the country to the city, which is where you get the big, explosive growth that you saw in India, China and Southeast Asia.”

The dynamic growth of frontier markets explains why the MSCI Frontier Markets Index surged 25 per cent for the 12 months to April 15 in U.S. dollars, while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.3 per cent. For the past three years, the frontier index averaged gains of 4.7 per cent and the emerging markets index fell 5.4 per cent annually.

In terms of volatility, frontier markets will give you all you can handle. The MSCI Frontier Markets Index lost 54 per cent in 2008 and 18.4 per cent in 2011, but gained 72.7 per cent rise in 2005.

The investment industry, with its innumerable emerging market funds, has been cautious with frontier market products. The one big name in the sector, the $82.4-million Templeton Frontier Markets Class, was closed to new investors in June, 2013, to help the company manage the flow of money going into frontier market stocks. The fund’s 19.4-per-cent return for the 12 months to March 31 was far better than the 2.8 per cent average for emerging market funds.

The lack of mutual fund options means investors must look at exchange-traded fund options. Here are three listed on the New York Stock Exchange:

The iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM): Close to 60 per cent of the fund is in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar; the fees are high at 0.79 per cent.

The Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF (FRN): Fees at 0.7 per cent, and a weighting of roughly 70 per cent in Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

The Global X Next Emerging & Frontier ETF (EMFM): Emerging markets like Malaysia, South Africa and Mexico take precedence over frontier markets like Vietnam, Pakistan and Nigeria; fees at 0.58 per cent.

Mr. Graham suggests putting 5 to 10 per cent of your portfolio’s international exposure into frontier markets, and he thinks that reallocating this money from emerging market funds makes sense. This portfolio tweak isn’t just about reaching for higher returns. According to Mr. Graham, frontier markets are also an effective way to diversify your portfolio.

Years back, one of the arguments in favour of holding emerging markets was that the stocks from these countries weren’t correlated with developed markets. Mr. Graham said frontier markets are now a better way than emerging markets to get some portfolio content that won’t rise and fall in the same way as Canadian, U.S. and other developed markets. His explanation: Because they’re less developed, frontier markets are more influenced by domestic events than global events.

Mr. Graham expects frontier markets to produce the same returns over the decade ahead as emerging markets did in the past decade, which is about 7.5 per cent a year on average. If you’ve been looking at investing in emerging markets based on this past performance, shift your focus to frontier markets.
April 18, 2014 1:21 pm

The Fragile Middle: Rising Inequality in Africa Weighs on New Consumers
Skyline view in Lagos, Nigeria.
By Javier Blas in Abuja
Financial Times

Her parents look at the price and hesitate for a few seconds, but five-year-old Tomiwa Madukwe will not settle for any other sweets. Soon, the 379 naira ($2.4) bag of pink and white treats has been placed in the family shopping trolley along with vegetables, meats, cleaning products and beers on sale at the Shoprite mall in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Madukwe family is the dream of retailers in Africa: a couple with a young family and money to spend – a new middle class of consumers in the continent’s largest economy and most populous country. They and others like them are why South Africa’s Shoprite, the continent’s largest grocer, opened its first outlet in Abuja two years ago. It is also why consumer goods companies such as NestlĂ©, Heineken, SABMiller and Unilever are pouring millions of dollars into the country to expand production.

And yet Nigeria, where more than 60 per cent of its 170m population still lives in extreme poverty, is also a textbook example of the fragility of the emerging middle class in Africa. Financial Times research published this week has highlighted how a billion people in the developing world are at risk of slipping out of the nascent middle class and back into poverty if economic growth slows.

Like the Madukwes, African’s new middle class faces high living costs – particularly in areas such as electricity, health and education. Employment can also be precarious. “They are vulnerable to many shocks and could revert into poverty very easily – for example because of a death in the family,” says Mthuli Ncube, chief economist at the African Development Bank. A move into Africa’s new middle class is not one-way, “it is a revolving door”, he adds.

Fragile Middle

Millions of people in emerging markets have over the past 30 years moved from poverty into the consuming middle classes. But with growth slowing, their fates are now one of the biggest challenges confronting governments

The AfDB estimates that Africa’s middle class, which numbered 115m in 1980, has grown to 326m in the past three and a half decades.

But less than 14 per cent – about 44m – have firmly achieved that status, earning $10-$20 a day.

The rest conform to what the AfDB calls the “floating class”, taking home $2-$4 a day and living barely above the poverty line, and the “lower middle”, making $4-$10 a day.

Despite the rapid growth, Africa still has the smallest middle class as a share of total population of all emerging regions. According to the AfDB, the middle class accounts for 33 per cent of the population in the region, compared with 56 per cent in developing Asia and 77 per cent of Latin America.

Nevertheless, Africa’s growing band of middle-class consumers is why retailers such as Shoprite now has more than 150 outlets in 16 African countries outside South Africa. For many multinationals – as well as local entrepreneurs – African families emerging from poverty and into the consuming middle class represents one of the biggest opportunities in global business.

The proposition is simple: companies want to sell to them and build shopping habits now for the decades of growth to come. It is a model that has worked successfully in other emerging economies, from Thailand to Colombia.

The template has an added advantage in Africa, according to Deloitte, the consultancy. In a report titled The Rise and Rise of the African Middle Class, it notes the continent’s disproportionately young population – more than 60 per cent of Africans are under the age of 25. “There is, therefore, a guaranteed consumer base for years to come,” Deloitte explains.

Until now, the model has worked extremely well. The virtuous circle of economic growth and improved governance in many countries – supported by high commodities prices – have heralded a new chapter for the continent, which many have enthusiastically called “Africa Rising”.

Across the region, a new wave of consumerism has emerged. Shoprite sold more cans of Red Bull, the energy drink, in five shops in Angola last year than in all its 382 outlets in South Africa, for example.

But after a decade of strong growth and huge investments, the “Africa Rising” theme is starting to wear thin. Some consumer goods companies are beginning to sound more cautious. In Nigeria, the most recent results for Unilever, the maker of Flora margarine and Dove shampoo, and NestlĂ©, the world’s largest food group by sales, showed a significant slowdown in turnover and profit.

Industry executives and officials offer different reasons for the recent downtrend. Their explanations include so-called jobless growth – growth in sectors generating little employment, such as natural resources – increased competition and higher costs. But there is agreement that rising inequality is playing a significant role in keeping large chunks of the middle class fragile while fattening the richest of the rich.

“If you talk to the $2-$10 a day middle class, it is like there is an economic crisis – but meanwhile, the economy is booming,” says Andrew Alli, chief executive of Africa Finance Corporation, a Lagos-based development lender. “I think inequality is the answer.”

In Africa, rising inequality is slowing the number of poor people that every year graduate into the ranks of the middle class. While economic growth in the continent has averaged nearly 6 per cent over the past decade, the upper middle class – those earning $10-$20 per day – has grown at a rate of less than 2 per cent.

As Yvonne Ike, chief executive for west Africa at Renaissance Capital, an emerging markets specialist, puts it: “Sexy economic growth numbers do not directly translate into real economic development.”

Unless governments tackle inequality and jobless growth in Africa, the new members of the middle class will remain under threat. And with it, the chance that one day Tomiwa Madukwe will be able to afford something more than marshmallows for her children.
Thousands Celebrate Zimbabwe Independence Day
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with First Lady Amai Grace.
April 19, 2014
Herald Reporters

Zimbabweans yesterday thronged various centres countrywide to mark the 34th Independence Day celebrations, with the main event being held in Harare at the National Sports Stadium.

This year’s celebrations were unique as they followed President Mugabe and ZANU-PF’s crushing victory in the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections.

In Harare, people started gathering as early as 6am at the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium where Zanu-PF and some MDC-T officials, diplomats, service chiefs and ordinary Zimbabweans converged for the festivities presided over by President Mugabe.

Celebrations were also held at provincial, district and ward levels with senior Government officials reading President Mugabe’s address. Warren Park National Assembly legislator Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Harare Mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni were notable MDC-T representatives in Harare.

Service chiefs from Namibia and Tanzania graced the packed stadium that had many people standing to follow proceedings.

There were wild cheers when President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Mugabe arrived at around 11am, with the crowd chanting “Gushungo, Gushungo” — the President’s totem. There were displays by schoolchildren from Glen Norah 1 and 2 High Schools, and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and military.

Sungura musicians Alick Macheso and Sulumani Chimbetu belted scintillating tunes that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

The celebrations were held under the theme “Zimbabwe @34: Defending Our Sovereignty and Providing an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Economic Empowerment and Social Transformation”.

The theme resonated well with economic blueprint Zim-Asset.

Banners in the stadium were inscribed with messages such as “Pasi Nehuori”, Kusunuguka neKubudirira Kuzere neZim-Asset”.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, the host, said the Zanu-PF administration had a clear developmental agenda. “It is evident that Zim-Asset has been embraced by all sectors of the economy,” he said.

In Manicaland the main event was at Mutare’s Sakubva Stadium where Provincial Affairs Minister of State Chris Mushohwe led proceedings. Zimbabwe National Army soldiers and mbira groups from Mozambique entertained the gathering.

At Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, said: “We are celebrating something visible starting from Independence, disbanding the inclusive Government, the abundant rains, the appointment of President Mugabe as the Deputy African Union chair. We are also elated with the successful hosting of the UNWTO and this year’s bumper harvest.”

In Mashonaland West the main event was in Chinhoyi where Minister of State for the Province,  Cde Faber Chidarikire, inspected a four-detachment parade before reading the President’s speech.

Various arts groups, including Baptism of Fire and poet Moses Nyambondo, thrilled the crowd, as did Air Force of Zimbabwe dog displays and Nyau dancers from Shackleton.

Scores of people gathered at Dulibadzimu Stadium in Beitbridge where Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi was the guest of honour.

Thousands went to Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo. The provincial leadership — led by Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti — thanked Government for evacuating 3 000 families threatened by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukosi Basin in Chivi.

There was also a great turnout at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura where Mashonaland Central Provincial Minister Martin Dinha said this year’s celebrations demonstrated that Zimbabweans were resilient and patriotic.

White City Stadium in Bulawayo was adorned with 34 national flags and Minister of State for the Province Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo was the guest of honour, while Zapu leader Dr Dumiso Dabengwa attended.

A match between soccer sides Highlanders and Harare City capped the celebrations.

In Matabeleland North, thousands braved the scorching sun as they celebrated 34 years of Independence at Somhlolo Stadium where Provincial Affairs Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema inspected a guard of honour.

In Midlands Province, Minister of State Jaison Machaya inspected a parade mounted by the armed forces. Midlands Chimurenga Choir, choral groups and the Midlands State University Musicology Department’s Mbira Ensemble provided entertainment.
BBC Meets President Mugabe
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe lights independence torch in 2013.
April 19, 2014

Documentary-maker ROY AGYEMANG reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC . If there is one thing Robert Mugabe dislikes as much as “ruffian” British politicians, it is journalists working for the British media — especially the BBC.

Accusing the corporation of one-sided reporting and of being a mouthpiece for the UK government, the ‘controversial’ Zimbabwean President had refused to grant an interview to any journalist from the broadcaster for 14 years.

(President) Mugabe’s government says it “restricted” the BBC from reporting inside the country. The BBC, arguing that its robust journalism merely covered factual events that the Harare government wanted hidden, says it was “banned”.

The standoff ended when my colleague Simon Breen and I approached the BBC to make a programme on (President) Mugabe to coincide with his 90th birthday. It agreed.

In an act of shuttle diplomacy that made me feel like a UN diplomat, I had to convince President Mugabe to come to the table. Persuading him to sit down to talk for a previous, independent documentary had taken me two years; this time I had to do it in 10 days.

The first hurdle was the BBC insisting on its own correspondent for the interview. The team knew scrutiny of the programme would be extremely high, so using an unknown face would be tricky. David Dimbleby was the last BBC reporter to interview President Mugabe, in 2000. To suggest he should sit with another “BBC face”?

I knew he wouldn’t go for that.

Just as (President) Mugabe was nervous about the BBC, the broadcaster was nervous about me — and not without merit.

I have spoken at Oxford and Harvard criticising Western reporting on Zimbabwe. I have also gone on record praising (President) Mugabe. Contrary to Western opinion, many in Africa regard him as a hero. He still remains popular with a large part of the Zimbabwean population. But I also criticise him.

Making that clear to the BBC, eventually nervously agreed.

I flew to Harare in mid-February, playing on the trust I had built up with (President) Mugabe over 10 years. He decided to do it.

However, the 10-day schedule the BBC had set was unrealistic. Ten days passed, no interview. Twenty-one days passed, and still no interview.

Another week went by. I was booked to fly back to London without the interview. The day before I was due to fly back, I attended a birthday event hosted by the civil service.

I disregarded protocol and “doorstepped” (President) Mugabe. He told me not to panic, and promised he would do the interview. “Don’t worry, I will give you time.” A few days later, I got the call from State House.

The interview was scheduled to last one hour. It went on for three hours and 54 minutes.

Here’s some of what he had to say. He didn’t hold back.

On the UK

“What has happened to Britain? They have grown small in mind. That wisdom which the likes of Churchill had, where is it?  I pity the one lady I admire, the Queen, that she is in these circumstances, I’m sure down deep she must be groaning (at) the loss of values in Britain. They’ve gone to the dogs. Countries don’t respect Britain any more. Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the world. Which world? (David) Cameron . . . doesn’t talk much, but he acts in the same way as (George W.) Bush.”

On his relationship with Labour after 1997

“When you had these ruffians coming, coming into power from Labour  . . . Mr Blair (was) wanting to reverse the entire process and not willing to say anything about the land-reform programme in terms of the compensatory aspect of it. Finally (he was) telling us that Britain has no obligation to former colonies. What is there in the mind of Blair? A tail of Mr Bush. Liars on Zimbabwe, a liar on Iraq.”

On President Barack Obama

“I see him as a person who has been trying as much as possible to please the white section of America and to avoid any relationship that might be construed as being racist. If you can’t deviate then you can’t serve the interests of the blacks who are suffering, who are yearning for justice in America.”

On being viewed by the West as one of the worst villains of modern history
“It doesn’t bother me at all. The West is not objective, far from it. We have seen how the West comes to its judgements. There appears to be a kind of overall dementia affecting the minds of the West.” — The Independent (UK)

BBC News will screen “Our World, Mugabe at 90” at 9:30pm tonight and across the Easter weekend.
Amplats Makes New Wage Offer
A rally for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
Amplats have made a new wage offer to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in a bid to end the ongoing strike in the platinum sector.

18 Apr 2014 06:54 Sapa

"The proposed increases will ensure that the minimum cash remuneration (comprising basic wages and holiday, living out and other allowances) for entry level underground employees will rise to R12 500 per month (R150 000 per annum) by July 2017," the company said in a statement.

"To achieve this, cash remuneration for the employees would rise between 7.5% and 10% across the various bands of employees with relevant allowances rising in line with inflation."

Amplats said it was important to note that by implementing the increases by July 2017, the cost to company for the lowest paid underground employee would be in excess of R 17 500 per month and R210 000 per annum.

It said the cost to company included cash remuneration, medical, retirement, overtime and bonus provisions.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum downed tools on January 23 to push for a basic monthly salary of R12 500. They had so far rejected a wage increase of up to 9%.

Revised demand

The companies, in turn, rejected Amcu's revised demand that the R12 500 could be achieved over four years.

Amplats said on Thursday that the new offer was tabled after engagements with Amcu and its president Joseph Mathunjwa.

Amplats said the longer term issues such as labour migrancy and living conditions would be handled through company-level joint task teams.

"The company notes that it can ill afford the revised settlement offer, which represents an increase from the 7.5% to 9% CCMA offer, and the 7.5% to 8.5% offer made prior to the commencement of the strike," Amplats said.

"These concessions have been made by the company in good faith through various attempts over the last two months to end this industrial action."

It said labour costs accounted for approximately 55% to 60% of the annual production costs.

It said "unsustainable increases" in these costs would be "catastrophic to the future viability of the industry".

'No work, no pay'

The settlement offer was made in the interest of bringing an end to the strike that had crippled the platinum sector, Amplats said.

"The offer currently includes the payment of back pay related to the annual increase. This takes effect from 1 July 2013 for Anglo American Platinum employees. The principle of ‘no work, no pay' applies for the duration of the strike," it said.

"To date, the company has lost approximately 225 373 ounces of platinum in the 12-week strike, equivalent to revenue of around R 5.8-billion."

Amplats urged Amcu to consider the offer.

Talks in the platinum sector with Amcu are scheduled for Tuesday next week.

Amcu was not immediately available for comment. – Sapa
 SATURDAY 19 APRIL 2014

Western Countries Regret Support for South Sudan’s Secession: Bashir
Presidents Omer Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir of South Sudan.
April 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, said that several Western countries which encouraged South Sudan’s independence have apologised for their actions and urged Khartoum to reunite with the newborn state.

Bashir, who addressed a meeting of ruling party’s pastoralists and farmers’ secretariat on Thursday evening, said that Sudan’s enemies who supported secession of the south in order to destroy the north regretted their action, noting they are now begging Khartoum to reunite with Juba.

“They pushed the south to secede in order to destroy the north, however when they saw what happened in the south they secretly told us they were mistaken and wished they had listened to us and now they asked us to reunite”, he said.

The Sudanese president said his government can’t decide on reunification with the south, underscoring the matter must be referred to the Sudanese people.

“We are a sovereign state and if another country seeks to join us, the government must be convinced by the move and then refer the issue to the Sudanese people”, he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern voters chose independence.

Observers say that strained relations between the countries and the internal crises they are currently facing are direct consequence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which failed to adequately address several post-cessation issues.

Following the start of the inter -South Sudanese crisis last December many analysts said that South Sudan succumbed in the old "African bugaboo": tribalism and called to put the new born state under UN trusteeship.

However, Sudanese foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, violently rejected the idea saying “These suggestions undermine authority of a sovereign state and no country would accept such views”.

(ST)
 SATURDAY 19 APRIL 2014

Sudan’s Ruling Party Seeking Regional Observers for the National Dialogue Process
President Omer Hassan al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan.
April 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has announced it would seek regional participation in the national dialogue in order to encourage all political forces to engage in it without exception.

The NCP media secretary, Yasser Youssef, said on a talk show broadcast by the state-run Radio Omdurman on Friday that his party would consult with its partners in the national dialogue in order to allow political forces which didn’t take part in the recent political roundtable to be part of the dialogue mechanism which will be developed soon.

Earlier this month, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, held a political roundtable in Khartoum with the participation of 83 political parties. The move came within the framework of a call he made last January for a comprehensive national dialogue.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions for creating an environment conducive for dialogue.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Youssef said the government will seek to offer the necessary safeguards in order to engage all political forces in the national dialogue, noting the African Union (AU) and the Arab League will observe the dialogue process.

He stressed the NCP "doesn’t want the dialogue bus to leave with empty seats", announcing they will exercise patience with the political forces which refused to take part in the national dialogue.

The rebel alliance of the Susan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), demanded the government to hold direct talks with them to negotiate a cessation of hostilities and open humanitarian access to civilians in the rebel areas.

The SRF also says that a conference attended by all political forces should be held outside Sudan and brokered by the United Nations (UN) and the AU in order to agree on the national dialogue mechanisms.

The NCP, the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) rejected holding the national abroad, saying it is an inter-Sudanese process and must take place inside the country without foreign intervention.

Youssef said the government responded to the NCF’s conditions not only by issuing presidential directives but also a presidential decree in order to emphasise credibility and seriousness in holding the national dialogue.

The NCP official pointed the dialogue mechanism would include seven members from the government side and seven others from the opposition according to the suggestion made at the political roundtable.

BASHIR SELECT GOVERNMENT DELEGATES

Meanwhile the political parties of the “broad-based” government of the NCP have delegated Bashir to name members of the government parties in the dialogue mechanism.

Informed sources told Sudan Tribune that opposition forces which joined the dialogue including the NUP and the PCP failed to name their members in the dialogue mechanism due to differences on names and level of representation of each party.

The PCP objected to Bashir’s chairing of the dialogue mechanism and instead demanded a neutral person to head it.

But representatives of the political parties in the government said in a meeting on Thursday with the presidential assistant and NCP deputy chairman, Ibrahim Ghandour, that Bashir is the person most capable of selecting individuals who could lead the dialogue to “safe shores”.

The meeting underscored the need for engaging non-signatory rebel groups in the upcoming dialogue, praising the role of political parties which refused to take part in the dialogue in participating in the ongoing political consultations to make recommendations relating to the dialogue.

According to Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA), party sources close to the dialogue process didn’t rule out that a presidential decree regarding the dialogue mechanism would be issued soon.

(ST)