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Monday, 24 August 2009

Zimbabwe: GNU Parties Seek Election Freeze Extension

Loughty Dube

Harare — THE three political parties in the inclusive government want to extend the one-year moratorium on by-elections by three years, government sources have revealed.

In the global political agreement (GPA) signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations last September, the parties agreed not to field candidates against each other for a year stipulating that only the party that previously held the seat could field a candidate. But this does not stop other parties or independent candidates from contesting the seat.

The parties identified elections as the main cause of violence in the country, hence the agreement on the moratorium not to contest against each other in by-elections for a year.

The moratorium lapses on September 15, hence the talks to extend it.

Authoritative government sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the three political parties were now working on extending the moratorium by three years.

"There are negotiations within the inclusive government to extend the moratorium on the holding of by-elections and none of the parties are eager to go for pending by-elections now as the situation is not conducive for all of them," one of the sources said. "There is fear that violence might raise its head at a time when the inclusive government still has pending issues of the GPA."

With the success of the inclusive government on the economic front, the sources said Zanu-PF was afraid of a backlash from the electorate in the constituencies where by-elections are due while the MDC-T was not certain if its popularity has grown in the so-called Zanu PF strongholds.

The sources said the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC was against the holding of the by-elections and preferred an extension of the inclusive government to five years, as it feared losing the only remaining seven parliamentary seats under its control.

However, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Gorden Moyo, said it was not the intention of the inclusive government to extend the moratorium on elections and said everything was moving towards the holding of the by-elections.

"There are no intentions to amend the GPA as we are implementing it as it is. We do not believe that the by-elections will be violent and we are putting in guarantees to ensure that any electoral competition will be fair," Moyo said.

He, however, said he did not know if the three principals had discussed the possible extension of the one-year agreement.

Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said the extension of the one-year moratorium depended on the three political parties.

"The political parties can extend the moratorium depending on what they agree on but I do not know whether the principals have initiated discussions on that matter, so far I am not aware of any listing of that matter," Chinamasa said.

There are close to 15 by-elections due in the senate and the House of Assembly but President Mugabe has yet not called for the holding of by-elections.

Several MDC-T members have pending cases in the courts and if they are all prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to more than six months imprisonment, the number of by-lections due could rise to more than 30 throughout the country.

Kenya: Scorecard Shows 20 African States Are Above Threshold of Democracy

John W. Harbeson


Nairobi — One of the most but least explored questions about democracy is what do citizens think about their democracies. Over the last 10 years, the AfroBarometer sample surveys have made an important contribution by asking that question in considerable depth and breadth in 20 African countries.

The AfroBarometer surveys have been conducted by a team of distinguished African and Non-African scholars with the support of the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy in Benin, the University of Capetown, and Michigan State University.

Several things are important to note about the survey results. Opinion surveys capture citizens' views at a point in time. In Kenya, the surveys were conducted in 2008, six months into the life of the present power-sharing government.

The surveys offer comparisons of Kenya to 19 other countries, all of which necessarily have reached a certain threshold of democracy, or it wouldn't be possible to conduct the surveys! What's a critical threshold number for any given question above which serious consequences may flow? A majority of only 51 per cent elects someone to office, but what would it mean if only 51 per cent report trust in the leaders they have elected?

With these qualifications, the survey results for Kenya and its neighbours are revealing, suggestive, and arguably troubling in the long run. Overall, the surveys report that Kenyans believe deeply in the desirability and the principles of democracy with numbers somewhat above average for the countries in the survey.

On the other hand, the surveys, also reveal deep dissatisfaction with the quality of democracy in Kenya, substantially deeper dissatisfaction than do citizens of other countries in the survey. Many of my political science colleagues tend to call incomplete democracies "hybrids" - countries exhibiting both democratic and non-democratic features.

I'm tempted to suggest a distinction between countries that retain some authoritarian features along with democratic ones and those that retain characteristics that aren't so much authoritarian as badly, even very badly, functioning democratic processes.

On the one hand, 78 per cent of Kenyans interviewed by AfroBarometer reported that they preferred democracy to any other kind of government, just a bit behind Botswana (85 per cent) and Benin (81 per cent) and essential tied with Uganda and Ghana. Morever, 80 per cent of Kenyans surveyed preferred multiparty democracy to legally one-party democracy advocated and enforced in the past, and effectively tied with Botswana and Ghana behind only Senegal (90 per cent).

Kenyans (at 83 per cent) were second only to Tanzanians in upholding two-term presidential term limits. Kenyan were about average among these 20 democracies in allowing the media to publish freely (76 per cent) and that people should be free to speak their mind, no matter how unpopular their views might be (77 per cent) but slightly below average (57 per cent vs 66 per cent) in their support for freedom to join any organisation they choose, regardless of what the government might think about it - one might suspect that countries in the survey may vary considerable in terms the presence of organisations that severely test public tolerance.

One striking finding of the surveys is that almost all African democracies feature constitutions investing presidents with substantial powers in relation to parliaments. Every country in the surveys produced super-majorities for the proposition that parliaments should make laws for the country even if the president does not agree. On this question, Kenya, Benin, and Senegal produced the largest majorities at just under 80 per cent.

By comparison with other countries in the survey, Kenyans were more patient with the shortcomings of their democracy than others, with 58 per cent agreeing that the "present system should be given more time to deal with inherited problems" versus the 50 per cent average for all countries.

On the other hand, Kenyans expressed substantial dissatisfaction with the state of their democracy. No democracy is perfect, of course, but at what level over what period of time, if any, does popular dissatisfaction with the quality of democratic performance try the patience of citizens beyond endurance? It is probably safe to say that no one knows the answers to these question, in general or for any specific country.

Overall, however, at 43 per cent, Kenya joined Nigeria, Lesotho, Senegal, and Madagascar as the only countries surveyed where less than half of those surveyed believed that the country had a full democracy or one with only minor problems.

Those same four countries were joined by six others in which only a minority of those surveyed pronounced themselves very satisfied or at least fairly satisfied with the way in which their democracies worked. At 43 per cent, Kenya was closer than several of the others to the overall average of 50 per cent for all countries.

The tantalising thing about these is findings is that they can mean diametrically different things - those dissatisfied may be motivated to redouble efforts to strengthen democracy or their dissatisfaction over the long-term may sap public patience with democracy's shortcomings. The AfroBarometer surveys apparently did not probe that question.

Questions about political trust and political legitimacy probe citizen beliefs about as deeply as any. On these questions, the results are not particularly encouraging for most of the countries in the survey, including Kenya, particularly since these are the countries of the continent that have taken the largest strides toward democracy, in institutional terms.

Nigeria: EFCC Declares Ibru, Akingbola Wanted

24 August 2009

According to a statement released yesterday by the anti-graft agency and signed by the Head, Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi, "the two former bank executives are wanted in connection with fraudulent abuse of credit process, insider trading, capital market manipulation and money laundering running into billions of Naira."

Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, directed that the two former bank executives be declared wanted at the weekend following their failure to honour the Commission's invitation.

"Apart from failing to honour the Commission's invitation, intensive search for the two executives in the last one week has not been successful. They obviously went into hiding to evade arrest.

"This development has made it imperative for the Commission to solicit for useful information from Nigerians who know their whereabouts.

"In the same vein, it is necessary to warn that anybody who harbours the two former bank executives will be treated as an accomplice or accessory to crime," the statement added.

EFCC ultimatum on debtors expires tomorrow

Meanwhile, the ultimatum issued by the anti- graft agency that the debtors pay back expires tomorrow.

Although some banks say concerted efforts are being made by the debtors to service their obligations, figures being quoted are far below the loan profiles.

Aondoakaa backs sacked banks' MDs probe

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), has thrown his weight behind the action of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as regards the on-going reforms in the banking sector.

In a press statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Onov Tyuulugh, the AGF praised the patriotism and courage of Mallam Sanusi and called on all Nigerians to support the apex bank's chief in his efforts to reposition Nigerian banks.

According to the press statement, Chief Aondoakaa has also called on all security agencies in Nigeria to support the CBN boss, as the CBN's new drive to sanitize the banking sector, according to the nation's chief law officer, is the only way to ensure confidence in the banking sector.

He also called on shareholders of the affected banks to consider this intervention as a positive step to avert a doom in the banking industry. He emphasized that all well - meaning Nigerians should support the CBN's efforts to move Nigeria's banking industry forward.

The AGF has also called on depositors not to panic as President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is committed to ensuring that no bank collapses in Nigeria.


Nigeria: EFCC Arrests 2 More Bank Chiefs

Olawale Olaleye

23 August 2009

Lagos — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested two more bank directors over the huge debt profile of the five banks whose managements were sacked two weeks ago by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

The bank chiefs arrested in Lagos are John Maha, Managing Director, Afribank Securities Limited, a subsidiary of Afribank, and Niyi Opeodu, Managing Director, Union Capital Market Limited, a subsidiary of Union Bank. Both men have since been detained at the anti-graft commission office in Ikoyi.

Union Bank and Afribank are two of the five banks affected by the post consolidation reforms introduced by new CBN governor Lamido to put the nation's 24 banks on a sound footing. The three others are Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank.

The arrest of Maha and Opeodu however makes it 15 bank chiefs that have been picked up by the EFCC since the CBN governor commenced the onslaught in the banking sector.

According to EFCC's spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi who confirmed the development, while Maha was arrested at a location on Lagos Island yesterday evening, Opeodu was picked up at his Lekki residence, Lagos earlier in the day.

"The two of them were picked up today (yesterday) in Lagos. Maha was picked up at a location in Lagos while Opeodu was arrested at his residence in Lekki, Lagos. They are both in our custody as we speak now. That, I can confirm to you," he said.

Babafemi explained that the EFCC would take time this weekend to interrogate those newly arrested in order to ascertain their level of culpability in the predicament their banks have been put. He said for now, he could not say what their fate would be, but by Monday, the commission would decide what to do with them, based on the outcome of their interrogation with them.

"Of course, you should know that whoever is kept beyond 48 hours is kept on court order. But at least, we'll have them interrogated this weekend so as to ascertain their level of culpability and by Monday, we'll decide what to do with them," he said.

Meanwhile, EFCC has set up five different teams charged with the sole responsibility of pursuing all the identified bank debtors immediately after the expiration of the ultimatum handed them last Wednesday by the commission's chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri.

The EFCC had last week issued an ultimatum to all debtors of the five banks to tidy up their debts or face arrest, prosecution and seizure of their assets. Mrs. Waziri handed down the ultimatum while fielding questions from journalists at the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which held in Lagos.

"We already have the list of the debtors of the five banks with us in EFCC and they have just one week to bring in their cheques or drafts to us or we begin their arrest and prosecution, as well as confiscation of their assets because they are people of enormous means," Waziri said.

It is against the backdrop of this ultimatum that the EFCC has grouped some of its men into five teams which, according to Babafemi, have also been deployed to different parts of the state to move against the debtors once the one week ultimatum elapses.

He said each of the team comprises of 10 operatives and has been assigned to each of the five affected banks. He was, however certain that all is set for the EFCC to take control of the situation immediately the ultimatum expires, adding that no stone would be left unturned in recovering the huge debts.

Clinton Seeks U.S. Africa Gains as China Expands Oil Purchases

By Janine Zacharia

Bloomberg -- Secretary of StateHillary Clinton shifts to economic statecraft this week on an African tour that stops in major oil and mineral exporters as she seeks advantages for U.S. investors in a market where China is making inroads.

After six months of dealing with North Korean provocations, Iran’s election unrest and a coup in Honduras, Clinton will turn to issues of trade and energy in sub-Saharan Africa. She will spend time in Nigeria and Angola, two of the biggest suppliers of crude oil to the U.S.

China has boosted investment commitments in Africa, especially in mining, and Chinese oil purchases are expanding from countries such as Sudan. In 2007, China was the largest individual exporter to the region with a market share of 9.8 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department reported in July. The U.S. market share in 2007 fell to 5.3 percent in exports.

“China’s influence is increasing at the moment and, to some extent, African policy makers are looking to see what the American response will be,” saidDerek Scissors, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington who tracks Chinese investment on the continent.

Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said any suggestion that Clinton is making such an extensive trip to counter China’s rise in Africa “is a Cold War paradigm, not a reflection of where we are.”

Clinton is going to Nigeria and Angola “because we have serious political, economic and hydrocarbon interests in those countries,” Carson told reporters July 30 in Washington.

Trade Summit

Clinton’s seven-nation trip begins with an Aug. 5 free- trade summit in Kenya, followed by visits with peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and talks with the new South African leadership. She also stops in Liberia and Cape Verde.

The Africa trip is an early example of Clinton’s stated intention to strengthen economic outreach as part of U.S. foreign policy, a goal she articulated to theCouncil on Foreign Relations last month.

The State Department’s attention to energy in Africa is reflected in its appointment of a coordinator on energy issues, David Goldwyn, who had been running a consulting firm focused on Africa.

Nigeria is the fifth-largest supplier of crude to the U.S. and Angola is the sixth, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Those countries combined supply about 12 percent of U.S. imports. In July, Angola pumped more oil than Nigeria, traditionally Africa’s biggest producer.

‘Enormous’ Potential

Angola “has enormous economic potential,” Carson said. San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corp. is leading the development of liquefied natural gas exports from the country.

Clinton, 61, will press Nigeria on corruption, which Carson blamed for stifling international investment. International observers concluded that Nigeria’s April 2007 presidential election of Umaru Yar’Adua was a sham. The country, ranked as one of the most corrupt by Berlin-based Transparency International, is weighing anti-graft measures.

Yar’Adua set up a panel in April to investigate the alleged bribery of state officials by foreign companies including former Halliburton Co. subsidiary KBR Inc.

KBR and Halliburton, both based in Houston, agreed to pay $579 million in February to resolve U.S. criminal and regulatory charges stemming from payments made to Nigerian officials between 1994 and 2004 in connection with a $6 billion construction contract. KBR pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Violence in Delta

Of immediate concern for the energy industry is violence and abductions in the southern Niger Delta. The acts against oil installations have disrupted Nigerian production.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron pump more than half of Nigeria’s oil and have been hit by some of the attacks. Yar’Adua may seek support through the U.S. military’s Africa Command to tackle the threat from armed groups to oil production in Nigeria.

Nigeria is also dealing with religious unrest. In northeastern Nigeria, at least 600 people have died since fighting erupted on July 26.

Such an expansive Africa tour is unusual for a U.S. secretary of state, especially so early in a new administration. The effort is “laudable” because “many people would have predicted that Africa was going to get a pretty short shrift given all the other pressing business,” said J. Stephen Morrison, senior director of Africa research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Exports Measure

Clinton will explore ways of strengthening the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act at the Kenya forum. The 9-year-old measure is designed to encourage African exports by giving duty- free access to the U.S. market. Yet oil dominates the commerce: Petroleum products accounted for 92.3 percent of the $66.3 billion in U.S. imports under AGOA in 2008.

Supporters of the law lament that a lifting of quotas on apparel imports in 2005 shifted manufacturing to Asia just as Africa was starting to take advantage of the initiative.

“AGOA is a litmus test of are we serious about helping Africa, or are we not serious,” said Rosa Whitaker, formerly the first assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa and now a consultant.

Whitaker said she hopes President Barack Obama will make AGOA permanent and offer tax incentives to encourage U.S. investment.

Political Violence

In Kenya, Clinton will press for prosecution of the perpetrators of last year’s post-election violence. About 1,500 Kenyans were killed and another 300,000 displaced in two months of fighting triggered by accusations of vote-rigging in a December 2007 election.

Obama, whose father came from Kenya, expressed concern last month that political paralysis is preventing reconciliation.

While in Kenya, Clinton will also assess the staying power of the embattled transitional government in neighboring Somalia when she meets with its president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, to discuss battles with militant Islamists in the Horn of Africa.

“The problems in southern Somalia have started to bleed regionally and internationally,” Carson said, pointing a finger at Eritrea for funneling weapons and funds to the militants. The U.S. has shipped 40 tons of arms and munitions to Somalia since fighting broke out May 7.

Kenya Ties

Clinton travels from Kenya to South Africa to repair a relationship that frayed under President George W. Bush, especially over former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s refusal to criticize Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

She will visit Pretoria and Cape Town, which will host the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. After South Africa, she heads to Angola and then to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country rich in minerals like coltan which is critical for mobile phones and fuels violent conflict among militias in the eastern areas of the country that Clinton will visit.

Congo’s minerals have attracted companies including China’s state-owned Sinohydro Corp. and China Railway Engineering Corp., which seek to develop copper and cobalt deposits. London-based Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-largest mining company, is exploring for diamonds and iron ore.

While in Congo, Clinton will make a push to strengthen the Congolese security forces and speak out about violence against women, Carson said.

Congo’s record on human rights has worsened. On July 23, Congolese authorities detained Golden Misabiko, a human rights leader partnered with the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, after he wrote a report critical of the government’s handling of mining concessions to foreign companies.

“Congo is such a chaotic behemoth, it’s a wrecked state, whose instability, when it’s not functioning, kind of radiates throughout the continent,” Morrison said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Washington

African leaders call for a new path on USforeign assistance

Oxfam America and Foreign Policy host dynamic panel discussion on ownership and the future of foreign assistance

For more information, contact:

WASHINGTON, DC — In the aftermath of President Obama's trip to Ghana, where he urged Africans to fight corruption and take control of their own destiny, leaders from the continent called on the ObamaAdministration to do its part by making U.S. foreign assistance more focused and effective.

In a panel co-hosted by Oxfam America and Foreign Policy, journalist Andrew Mwenda of Uganda, Reconstruction Minister O. Natty B. Davis, II of Liberia, and environmental activist Wore Gana Seck ofSenegal urged U.S. leaders to make U.S. foreign assistance more supportive of effective states and active citizens. In particular, the panelists called for a U.S. aid approach that is more transparent, more consistent with the needs of citizens and local governments, and more focused on giving recipient states the power to manage their own development.

"Getting to better development assistance will require that donors such as the U.S. keep a close eye on the critical task of building government capacity and institutions directly," said O. Natty B. Davis, II, Reconstruction Minister of Liberia. "This will ensure the efficacy of aid and its ability to deliver results that can have a real impact on the lives of the people in these countries in as short a time as possible."

The panel reflected growing momentum in the foreign aid reform debate in the U.S. Before leaving for Ghana, President Obama was quoted in an interview saying, "Our aid policies have beensplintered among a variety of agencies... Trying to create something steady [and] basing our policies onwhat works and not on some ideological previous position—is going to be very important."

Last Friday, Secretary of State Clinton announced that the State Department and USAID will be undertakingAmerica's first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), in order to streamline the aid bureaucracy and insert development more coherently into debates over national security and foreign policy. In Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) has introduced the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), which has more than 75 bipartisan co-sponsors.

"It is a good sign that the administration and congress are talking about development in a strategic way,"said Paul O'Brien, Director of Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam America and one of today's panelists. "But if newstrategies are going to deliver for the world's poor, they must be poverty focused. Effective development isn'tabout fixing short-term political or security problems—it is about putting people in charge of their own lives. The best signal the U.S. can send to show it is serious about development is to nominate a USAIDAdministrator who will help rebuild the agency and bring back its capacity to be a true partner in development."

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