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Fire ravages Cameroon parliament

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI

on  Friday, November 17   2017 at  20:56

A fire destroyed the administration and finance offices of the main building of Cameroon's parliament overnight in Yaoundé, officials said on Friday.

The senior vice president of the National Assembly Hilarion Etong said nothing was recovered from his office.

“My office on the fourth floor is all burned. I have lost everything, I am sad,” he said.

The damage is said to have been caused by an accidental fire. No casualties were reported, the Red Cross said.

The office of the main opposition party, Social Democratic Front (SDF), also located on the fourth floor was razed down.

“The documented life of the SDF for 22 years here at the national assembly is gone. All the documentation in paper and electronic form, all computers are burned,” said the leader Joseph Banadzem.

The fifth and sixth floors hosting budget and administration offices were also completely destroyed.

The fire swept through at least four floors of the main building known as the Ngoa Ekelle Glass Palace before it was contained.

According to the Communication Minister and government spokesperson, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the fire started in one of the offices on the fourth floor of the 7-storey building before 10pm Thursday.

It took a 60-man firefighting team, led by Kadrey Abdiel, six hours to contain the flames from spreading to debating chambers.

Parliament had resumed its sittings on Tuesday for its last and third session of 2017 dedicated to the scrutiny and adoption the 2018 national budget.

Sessions have now been suspended to Monday next week, a parliamentary official Gregoire Owona said.

Cameroon plans to construct a new $15 million building for its Parliament. The construction will be financed through a grant from China. The two government signed the agreement on September 22 this year.

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We’re presidents not monarchs, Botswana's Khama tells Mugabe

Posted PETER DUBE

on  Friday, November 17   2017 at  19:59

Botswana's President Ian Khama says Zimbabwe’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe needs to step down from power.

President Khama on Friday told Reuters that his Zimbabwe counterpart has no regional diplomatic support to stay in power.

President Mugabe has hogged international headlines this week with speculation he may relinquish the position he has held for 37 years after an army takeover.

The military intervention, political sources say, could pave the way to a national unity government.

President Khama believes the end of President Mugabe’s reign could be “an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity”.

“I don’t think anyone should be president for that amount of time. We are presidents, we are not monarchs. It’s just common-sense,” President Khama told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the 93-year-old leader attended a university graduation ceremony Friday, making his first public appearance since Tuesday’s military takeover.
He had been confined to house arrest.

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Mugabe makes first public appearance since army takeover

Posted AFP

on  Friday, November 17   2017 at  13:33

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attended a university graduation ceremony Friday, making a defiant first public appearance since the military takeover that appeared to signal the end of his 37-year reign.

Mugabe, 93, had been confined to house arrest after the military took over the country.

But on Friday, he walked into the ceremony venue in Harare dressed in a blue academic gown and tasselled hat, before listening to speeches with his eyes closed and applauding occasionally, an AFP correspondent reported.

The generals took over late on Tuesday after vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa was abruptly sacked and Mugabe's wife Grace emerged in prime position to succeed her increasingly frail husband.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Many citizens were stunned by the military's intervention, sparked by the bitter succession battle between Grace and Mnangagwa.

Analysts say the military leadership was strongly opposed to the rise of Mugabe's ambitious 52-year-old wife, while Mnangagwa has close ties to the defence establishment.

Mugabe and the army chiefs held talks on Thursday, but no official statement has been issued on the status of negotiations that could see him eased out of office.

Change

Government television showed Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, at Thursday's talks standing smiling alongside army chief General Constantino Chiwenga.

Mnangagwa, 75, was previously one of Mugabe's most loyal lieutenants, having worked alongside him for decades.

But he fled to South Africa following his dismissal and published a scathing rebuke of Mugabe's leadership and Grace's presidential ambitions.

The military said Friday they had detained some "criminals" in Mugabe's government in a reference to supporters of Grace's presidential ambitions.

Grace has not been seen since the takeover of the military, which has not overtly called for President Mugabe's resignation.

Many Zimbabweans have either welcomed the army's intervention or were indifferent to it.

"We needed change. Our situation has been pathetic," said Keresenzia Moyo, a 65-year-old housewife in Harare.

Morgan Tsvangirai, a former prime minister and long-time opponent of Mugabe, told journalists in Harare on Thursday that Mugabe must resign "in the interest of the people".

He added that "a transitional mechanism" would be needed to ensure stability.

Tendai Biti, who served as finance minister during the coalition government after the 2008 elections, called it "a very delicate time for Zimbabwe".

"A way has to be worked out to maintain stability," he said.

Harare's residents have largely ignored the few soldiers still on the streets with shops, businesses and offices operating as usual.

SADC

Eldred Masunungure, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the formation of a "pre-election coalition" could be a viable response to the crisis.

The international community has been watching the crisis closely.

In Paris, the head of the African Union, Guinea's President Alpha Conde, warned Thursday that the continent "will never accept the military coup d'etat" in Zimbabwe and called for a return to the "constitutional order".

"(Problems) need to be resolved politically by the Zanu-PF party and not with an intervention by the army," added Conde.

Meeting in Botswana, the SADC called for an emergency regional summit to help resolve the crisis, urging Zimbabwe to "settle the political challenges through peaceful means".

Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, called for elections scheduled for 2018 to go ahead.

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Zimbabwe army: We're making progress in talks with Mugabe

Posted KITSEPILE NYATHI

on  Friday, November 17   2017 at  12:52

Zimbabwe’s military on Friday said it was making progress in its negotiations with President Robert Mugabe after demanding that he steps down.

President Mugabe and his family have been under house arrest since the early hours of Wednesday morning after the army seized power.

Earlier this week, the generals said they were targeting alleged criminals in the president’s circle, but it has become clear that they want him to pave the way for ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

'Criminals'

“Since our last update on developments in the country we wish to inform the nation that significant progress has been made in our operation,” the army said in a statement released to state media.

“We have accounted for some of the criminals while others are still at large,” the statement added.

“We are currently engaging with the commander-in-chief on the way forward and you will be advised on the outcome as soon as possible.”

President Mugabe was on Thursday allowed to leave his private home for the first time to meet envoys sent by South African President Jacob Zuma.

He held talks with army commander Constantino Chiwenga, which according to reports did not yield much as the veteran ruler insisted on a constitutional transition.

The army had last communicated hours after the dramatic events on Wednesday morning and the lack of information left room for speculation.

There were celebrations in certain quarters on Thursday after claims that President Mugabe had agreed to step down but the latest statements will put a damper to the jubilation.

“While we appreciate the enthusiasm by certain individuals and groups within society, we want to make it clear that they should not purport to be speaking on our behalf,” the army statement said.

Impasse

“We will periodically make press releases to keep the public informed of the developments in the country.”

The army commended Zimbabweans for remaining peaceful during the political impasse.

General Chiwenga said he was intervening to stop the purging of Mr Mnangagwa’s supporters by the ruling party by a faction linked to first lady Grace Mugabe.

Before the army takeover, the president’s 52 year-old wife was destined to take over Mr Mnangagwa’s post after President Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant for ‘deceit and disloyalty.’

The Southern African Development Community is expected to convene an urgent summit to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe but regional ministers on Thursday said a coup would not be tolerated.

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Raila Odinga back in Kenya from US amid chaos in Nairobi

Posted The EastAfrican

on  Friday, November 17   2017 at  10:36

Kenya police used teargas to disperse Raila Odinga's supporters who had gathered along Mombasa Road in the capital Nairobi to welcome him back to the country Friday.

The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders had mobilised their followers to march to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to receive Mr Odinga who had been on a 10-day visit to the US.

As the plane carrying him touched down a few minutes after 11am, the police engaged his supporters, who wanted to force their way into the heavily guarded airport, in running battles.

About 200 supporters are reported to have beat the security cordon and entered the airport to receive him.

Mr Odinga is expected to address a rally at Uhuru Park in the capital's city centre.

Pictures

Here are some of the pictures from the morning clashes.

to bad

Several vehicles were destroyed and a few motorists were injured during the chaos on Mombasa Road.

to bad

A police officer was injured during the fracas after he was hit by a stone hurled by a Nasa supporter.

Nasa

to bad

Police had a rough time controlling traffic on one of the country's busiest and a key road that links the port of Mombasa to landlocked countries in East and Central Africa.

to bad

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways said its passengers were affected by disruptions along Mombasa road. Those who missed their flights were advised to re-booked at no fee. Move applies to those travelling before 1800h local time from JKIA, for tickets bought on or prior to Friday Nov 17.

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Should South Africa grant Robert Mugabe political asylum?

Posted AFRICAREVIEW.COM

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  19:03

Should South Africa grant Robert Mugabe political asylum?

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Parties oppose South Africa granting Mugabe asylum

Posted PETER DUBE in Pretoria

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  18:12

South Africa’s opposition party, the Congress of the People (Cope), has rejected calls to offer Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe political asylum in the country.

There have been growing calls for President Mugabe to be given political asylum, led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African Diaspora Forum (ADF).

The Zimbabwe army on Wednesday took control of the country, confining the veteran leader to his Harare home. 

Pressure to quit

President Mugabe was reportedly resisting the army pressure to quit. 

The EFF was first to make the asylum call, with its leader Julius Malema saying such a move would facilitate a peaceful transition in the southern African country.

“We call on the South African government to prepare to welcome President Mugabe for political asylum. He must be allowed to come to South Africa so that a peaceful transition can indeed take place."

Related content

ADF chairperson Marc Gbaffou also made a similar call to the South Africa government. 

“Mugabe needs to leave Zimbabwe. I think he should be granted refugee status in one of the African countries and South Africa is well placed to host him because of its leadership role in the SADC,” he said.

However, Cope has called upon all South Africans to resist any attempts “to make South Africa the home of last resort of those leaders who have violated the Human Rights of the citizens of their very own countries”.

Defenceless citizens

“South Africa is a Democratic and Human Rights sensitive nation. Allowing a pariah and disgraced leader such as Mugabe asylum in our country would be an affront to the values and principles upon which our Constitutional Democracy is based,” Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, said. 

President Mugabe’s sons study and reside in South Africa. 

But Mr Lekota said instead of allowing leaders like Mugabe to make South Africa their home, the country should rather ensure that it remained a refuge of hope to those suppressed and defenceless citizens of Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe opposition supports Mugabe removal from power

Posted KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  18:03

Zimbabwe’s leading opposition figures on Thursday backed the military’s move to remove President Robert Mugabe as the besieged ruler and the generals continued with their delicate negotiations for him to step down.

Two days after the army announced that it had taken control of the government and put President Mugabe under house arrest, the situation remained tense in the capital Harare.

The 93-year-old ruler, who has been confined to his private home since the early hours of Wednesday, left the heavily guarded residence for the first time at mid-morning Thursday to meet South African President Jacob Zuma’s envoys.

Related content:

Details of the discussions and the ongoing negotiations with the generals were not made public, but indications were that no progress had been made in the attempts to ease out Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence in 1980.

However, on the side-lines, President Mugabe’s former deputy Joice Mujuru, now a leading opposition figure and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told journalists that the military takeover was inevitable.

The remarks by the two heightened speculation that they were ready to form a transitional government with ousted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The transition

Ms Mujuru, who now leads the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC), urged Zimbabweans to remain peaceful during the transition.

“The PRC believes that the prevailing developments require participation by all critical stakeholders beyond political actors,” she said.

“There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is in need of a transitional arrangement.”

Mr Tsvangirai appeared to agree with the military that Wednesday’s events did not amount to a coup. He said the generals behind the military takeover had not approached him to be part of any transitional mechanism, but he was willing to listen to them if engaged.

Rule of law

“If we are approached to negotiate such a process, we will participate,” he said, adding that any settlement had to recognise that Zimbabwe was a constitutional democracy.

“As a democrat, I always believe in the rule of law and the international community is watching,” Mr Tsvangirai said.

The Southern African Development Community was meeting in Botswana on Thursday to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis.

ALSO SEE

Away from the delicate negotiations over Zimbabwe’s political future, it remained business as usual on the streets of Harare and other cities, as the military tried to ensure the situation remained peaceful.

Police roadblocks that had become a common feature on the country’s roads were not visible and civil servants were being urged to continue reporting for work.

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Cameroon hosts tax compliance conference

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  16:56

The 10th plenary meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes entered its second day in the Cameroon capital Yaoundé on Thursday.

The delegates from around the world are seeking ways of bolstering international cooperation in the fight against tax evasion and illicit cash flows.

The Yaoundé meeting comes at a time flows of revenue out of Africa were robbing its nations of billions of dollars, imposing a negative impact on the continent’s development and governance agenda.

Audit procedures

The Thabo Mbeki High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows estimates that Africa loses between $50 to $60 billion to illicit financial flows yearly.

The ongoing plenary seeks to encourage tax compliance through joint audit procedures as well as promote the fight against international tax evasion and fraud by multinational companies, which transfer profits to jurisdictions with zero or low taxation

Mr Patrick Mukiibi of the Uganda Revenue Authority said sometimes multinational companies hid their income.

Among other things, the participants in Yaoundé, were discussing developments in the exchange of information on request, as well as automatic sharing of data. The Global Forum has set new standards for information exchange.

A peer review

The chair of the Global Forum, Ms Maria-José Garde, called for more commitment to the fight against illicit flows from among Africa’s political class.

Cameroon’s Finance minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said President Paul Biya’s government was fully committed to all efforts to end tax evasion and avoidance.

The Yaoundé get-together, that has pulled over 250 delegates from 141 countries, ends on Friday.

The 147-member Global Forum was set up in 2009 to combat tax evasion and tax avoidance by promoting cooperation between authorities across the world, according to Ms Monica Bhatia, the organisation’s chief of secretariat.

Cameroon joined the Paris-based organisation in 2012 and after undergoing a peer review with respect to the implementation of set standards, the country received a “Largely Complaint” rating in 2016.

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What Mugabe’s troubles teach us about a dictator’s art form

Posted CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  16:30

This week has offered a feast of dramatic news, thanks to the events in the fair land of Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, tanks and armoured cars were seen moving towards the capital Harare, sparking off speculation of a coup a against 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has tormented the country for most of his 37-year rule.

The moves came a day after the head of the armed forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned that the military was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of Vice-President Emerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked last week.

Mnangagwa, a liberation war hero who enjoyed loyalty in the army, has long been viewed as Mugabe’s likely successor.

Mnangagwa’s supporters and the military, viewed his dismissal as a purge of independence and liberation-era figures to pave the way for Mugabe to hand power to his tempestuous wife Grace.

Whichever way this ends, it was remarkable that, on social media, at least, there was wide support from sections of Zimbabweans, fed up with the depredations of a military coup.

Out of fashion

Coups are supposed to have fallen out of fashion in Africa, too, and that anyone should support one even in the basket case conditions of Zimbabwe, tells a lot about the level of desperation in that once great country.

At a wider level, the dilemma of the corrupt and cruel African despot was fully on display.

The primary problem they have to deal with is what to do with the people. They usually face a few options. First, is to starve and impoverish them, so they are too broken or grateful for crumbs, to rise against you.

This was the route taken by the venal Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo. Mugabe must have picked a few pages from his book.

The second is to ply them with bread, butter, and monuments of glory, so much that many become content to trade freedom for comfort — without you having to resort to the whip.

Watered down

Because most African countries have been or are still poor, this model has not fully been implemented anywhere, but a few have a watered down version of it. Asia has had more success with it.

The next problem is what to do with the security services, especially the military. Here, there are three general approaches. The first was again the Mobutu model.

Here, you don’t pamper the military, leaving them poorly equipped and paid. To make a living, they have to prey on the population.

The result is that they become so hated, the people can never join them in an uprising.

At the same time, they will not have the resources — the cars and fuel — to drive from their bases around the country and converge on the capital to seize power.

Take a bullet

It’s an approach that works, until as in the case of Mobutu, you provoke a determined neighbour such as Rwanda. In 1997, Rwanda led Congolese rebels and ousted Mobutu all the way in Kinshasa. The soldiers will not take a bullet for you.

It was, therefore, interesting that the Zimbabwean military had tanks and armoured cars, and the fuel to run them, although one of them, not surprisingly, broke down.

The other approach is to treat the military like nobility, with special privileges and a vast stake in the economy.

Nowhere has this been perfected into an art form in Africa than in Egypt.

It works, but a military that is treated that way soon rises above narrow partisan squabbles, and because it has so much to lose, will not fight back the people once a million of them come out on the streets, as the revolutionaries did in Egypt in 2011 and ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak.

A business class

The successful model for Big Men, is somewhere in the middle, and as seen in Uganda, and which also kept Muammar Gaddafi in power in Libya for a record 42 years, is to take care of the army just about enough, but set up a well-paid, trained, and fed praetorian guard (call it special forces group, republican guard, or presidential guard), that has an edge over the regular military.

To top it, have a half-or-quarter democratic order, and allow a business class to emerge and grow rich, creating a constituency that provides you with endless cash to buy votes at fraudulent elections.

Mugabe, for all his seven university degrees, has just not done his despot’s homework. He has lasted long, yes, but won’t end well.

The author is publisher of Africapedia.com and explainer site Roguechiefs.com. Twitter@cobbo3