Reuters- South Africa’s public debt, which is approaching rating agencies’ red line of 60% of economic output, is reaching uncomfortable levels, an IMF official said on Thursday.
Public finances in Africa’s most industrialized economy are under strain as growth has proved weaker than expected and a clutch of state companies have needed large cash injections.
In July, the government said it would give power utility Eskom 59 billion rand ($4.1 billion) of additional financial support over the next two years, on top of an already-promised bailout of 230 billion rand spread over the next decade.
That spooked investors and credit agencies.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned shortly afterwards that this and other bailouts for state firms would almost certainly push up the budget deficit as well as state borrowing, raising the prospect of emergency external loans.
“South Africa has not requested an IMF-supported programme. We do not see a balance of payments need ... so as far as we are concerned there’s no need for South Africa to approach the IMF,” the lender’s senior resident representative in South Africa, Montfort Mlachila, told a conference in Johannesburg.
Mlachila, however, said the debt trajectory, forecast at 55% of GDP in February by treasury but likely to be revised upwards at the October mini-budget, was worrying.
“South Africa has the highest level of debt in its history,” he said. “This is actually quite concerning without a doubt ... The public debt trajectory is not favorable and becoming uncomfortable.”Read More
The spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Musa, says the Shia group has received an audio message from its embattled leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, detailing what the President Muhammadu Buhari and his agents subjected him and his wife to.
Read the full transcript below as reported by ChannelsTV.
Transcript Of El-Zakzaky's Audio Message
We are nowhere in New Delhi, India. As you all know there was an arrangement for us to come here to seek medical care regarding the ailments that we have, myself and Malama Zeenah.
She, Malama Zeenah has a full bullet lodged in her body(that needs to be removed), also she is in need of a knee replacement surgery in addition to other problems. As for me, there are shrapnel, very small
fragments in my eyes, in my hands and some in my right thigh that were slowly releasing toxins into my system which caused a lot of complications, which we later discovered that they were the caused of the mini-strokes I have had, both the first and the second time. So we were thinking the first thing to be done is to remove the shrapnel, which is a procedure that couldn’t be done at home and the doctors suggested that we should go abroad where it will be possible for the procedure to be done.
Then the second thing would be to clean my body of the toxins, which I was told are deposited in the bones and some in the flesh and this normally takes time to be done.
I also have a problem with my eye which the doctors that attended to us since after I had a second operation and my sight weakened, suggested that I should be taken to better facilities to have it tended to.
After all this, we were all happy that we are in Delhi and we would be going to a suitable hospital to receive appropriate treatment. In addition, the doctors that came to visit us when we were in Nigeria advised us to come to this hospital called Medanta. That is why we requested to be brought to this hospital.
So before we left Nigeria we heard the news that the American embassy here in India was pressuring the hospital not to admit us when we arrive. And that the hospital had agreed to refuse admitting us. So we were considering going somewhere else when we arrive. But we were later informed that the problem had been sorted out and we would be admitted to the hospital. So we set out from Nigeria.
As soon as we arrived here, we were met with some hospital staff at the airport that escorted us to the hospital.
Since we were in the ambulance they informed that there were a lot of people at the airport waiting to see us even if just when we are boarding the ambulance. But they have evaded them and distracted them by placing two ambulances at that exit claiming we will be boarding those but they decided to bring a different ambulance and leave through a different route so the people at the airport didn’t even get a glimpse.
And they also said that there was a lot of people at the hospital entrance to see us arrive. But they informed us that if we arrive we will be taken in through a back entrance. They said they did this due to the high number of people, they were concerned that in people’s attempt to reach us in the crowd some harm can be done to us, that’s what they said.
After we arrived we realized that in this hospital, or better yet someone working in the Nigerian embassy here told us that before we came, they had carried out a meeting with the hospital staff, the workers from the Nigerian embassy and some security operatives on how to go about things once we are here.
So we saw that we were practically brought to another detention facility which is even stricter than the one we were in back in Nigeria. They came here with police armed with guns and a lot of staff from the Nigerian embassy. And we also noticed we were brought into another detention that we only came based on trust.
Even in Nigeria, they agreed where we were detained that we would be treated only by the doctors we choose and are comfortable with allowing to treat us. But here we understand that the doctors that advised us to come here are blocked from having any say in our case.
They even told us when we spoke to them, they are only allowed to advise but the hospital reserves the right to decide the course of our treatment. So I told them that, we came here based on the trust we have in our doctors, we cannot just see any doctor that we don’t know, or trust to treat us.
And without a recommendation from those we do trust, we cannot allow a stranger to treat us, lest not what couldn’t be done with bullets be carried out in a different way.
Due to this, we think that based on everything we have seen so far indicates to us that we are not safe here. We were just brought to another detention.
I have been detained now for a collective total of about 13 years but I have never seen detention like the one I am in now.
Even at the door, they have placed armed police. Even between one room to the next we are not allowed to move. Then I see that even where we were, and of all the times I have been imprisoned in Nigeria, I have not seen anything like this. When I was in an actual prison They used to lock us up around 9:00 pm and open the doors at 7 am, and we could move about where ever we wish within the prison facility we were detained in.
I see here that even when I was in Kirikiri prison it wasn’t as constricting as in this situation. So I feel that it is not reasonable to leave detention in order to seek medical help and we are placed in different detention and on top of that, we are handed over to be treated by people we do not trust.
So, based on this we are thinking that Insha Allah by all apparent indications that there is a need for us to return home since we were allowed to travel abroad for medical care and India doesn’t appear to be a safe place for us. We would have to return home, after all, there are other countries that offered to receive us if we could go there.
These countries include Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey, we can convene to decide which one to go to and then go there Insha Allahul Adheem.Read More
The Federal Government reports that Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), who was taken to India for medical treatment, was frustrating the Indian hospital instead of subject himself to medical treatment.
The cleric, who was arrested in 2015 following a clash between his members and military personnel in Zaria, was granted bail on medical grounds, following a Kaduna High Court order on Aug. 5, 2019.
El-Zakzaky, along with wife, subsequently traveled to India, via Dubai, for medical treatment on Sunday, Aug. 12, after government and relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order.
But the Federal Government, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the religious leader was frustrating the authorities of the Indian hospital where he was to be treated.
In a statement titled “The true story on El-Zakzaky in India”, the government said that the cleric, who particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India for the treatment, had begun to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
The statement signed by Grace Isu Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after State officials resisted his pressure to handover his International Passport to him.
“He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.
“He also demanded that Police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.
“Against medical ethics and standard practice, he requested to nominate Doctors of his choice to join the ones tasked by Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife.
“That demand created a stalemate as the Hospital insisted that he would not dictate to it on the choice of medical personnel to carry the required medical treatment.
“Frustrated by his antics, the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect. This is on the account that they will not allow him use their country to internationalize his group’s activities.
“Against this background, the Nigerian government wishes to commend the stand of the Indian Government as well as apologize to her for the unruly behavior of El-Zakzaky.
“Similarly, the attention of the public and, indeed, the international community, is hereby drawn to these unfortunate developments,” the statement said.
The statement affirmed government’s readiness to prosecute El-Zakzaky through due process if and when he is returned to the country, urging Nigerians to ignore his claims that he was being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria.
The Senate on Wednesday, July 24, commenced the screening of the 43 ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, July 24, for confirmation.
So far the Senate has screened 31 of the 43 ministerial nominees. 10 of the nominees were screened on Wednesday, July 24, 14 screened on Thursday, July 25, while seven were screened on Friday, July 26.
Some of the nominees already screened are Sen. Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo), Abubakar Aliyu (Yobe), Mustapha Shehuri (Borno), Retired Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (Kano), Zuibaru Dada (Niger) and Timipre Slyva (Bayelsa).
Others are Ramatu Aliyu (Kogi), Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti), Mohammed Abdullahi (Nassarawa), Sunday Dare (Oyo), Muhammadu Bello (Adamawa), Sen. Chris Ngige (Anambra) and Sadiya Umar-Farouk (Zamfara), Abubakar Malami (Kebbi), Sen. Hadi Sirika (Katsina), Dr Osagie Ehanire (Edo), Pauline Tallen (Plateau) and Muhammdu Dingyadi (Sokoto), Festus Keyamo (Delta) and Dr Ali Pantami (Gombe).
On Monday, July 29, by 10 am, the remaining 7 senates appeared before the Senate. They include; Sen. Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara), Babatunde Fasola (Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Geoffrey Onyema (Enugu).
Maryam Katagum (Bauchi), Mohammed Mahmod (Kaduna), Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa) and Goddy Jeddy-Agba (Cross River) and Clement Agba (Edo).
Senator Chimaroke Nnamani endorsing the ministerial nominee for Enugu State, Geoffrey Onyema during his screening by the Nigerian Senate 3days ago.
Senator Chimaroke stood as a representative of the Enugu East senatorial zone at the screening of Geoffrey Onyama by the Nigerian senate where he attested to Onyema's intelligence, diplomacy, and political savviness.
He led his speech of support with precision and commendable revelations about Onyeama.
Chimaroke began with an outright commendation of the Nigerian senate on the basis of piloting the affairs of the House.
He then went further to deliver his support for Onyema not only as brothers and "grandson" of the pioneer political gods in Enugu but as one tested by the furnace and proven worthy.
'Onyema is a product of Cambridge, Graduate school of economics at Columbia University, a career diplomat, fluent in French, English, and Germany'.Read More
Mozambique’s government is to fight for the extradition from South Africa of former finance minister Manuel Chang, who the United States is seeking to put on trial, according to a letter from a law firm seen by Reuters.
Chang has been in custody in South Africa since his arrest in December at the request of the United States for his alleged involvement in $2 billion of borrowing U.S. authorities say was fraudulent. He denies wrongdoing.
Former South African justice minister Michael Masutha decided before leaving his post to extradite Chang to Mozambique, however his successor, Ronald Lamola, and a Mozambique civil society organization have applied to the courts to have this set aside.
An affidavit filed on Lamola’s behalf in mid-July said he wanted an opportunity to consider whether Chang could be extradited to the United States, where he faces charges including money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Now, a letter, from South African law firm Mabunda Incorporated and dated July 30, says the Mozambique government has instructed the firm to oppose these applications and bring a counter application in favor of Chang’s extradition to Mozambique.
Alternatively, it said it would push for Lamola to consider “current information and facts as will be presented and argued” in upcoming hearings, as opposed to just the facts available when the former minister made his decision.
When contacted by Reuters about the letter, a Justice Ministry spokesman said it is now a matter for the courts.
Calls to Mabunda Incorporated went unanswered outside of usual business hours. A director of the firm that signed the letter did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The U.S. charges relate to loans obtained from Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB bank that were guaranteed by the Mozambican government, some of which it did not disclose, signed off by Chang during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister.
Their disclosure in 2016 prompted foreign donors including the International Monetary Fund to cut off support for Mozambique, triggering a currency collapse and debt default.
Mozambique only sought Chang’s extradition after the United States’ request, however, he has not been charged with a crime in his home country - one of the points raised in the affidavit filed on Lamola’s behalf.
If sent to face trial in the United States, analysts say Chang could reveal as-yet-unknown details about the debt scandal, with potential implications for Mozambique’s ruling party ahead of presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections in October.
Mabunda Incorporated also asked in the letter seen by Reuters for a court hearing scheduled for Aug. 13 to be postponed to Sept. 3, to give it time to prepare the necessary paperwork and to give all the parties an opportunity to respond.
Chang has already resigned from his position as a lawmaker, meaning he has lost his political immunity in Mozambique - another concern Lamola had with his planned extradition to the country.
If the court hearing is pushed back to September, that would give the country’s Attorney General one month to file charges against him.Read More
THE quest for alternative cheaper sources of energy has spurred a Zambian researcher to develop a formula of how to generate high-Grade industrial fuel from waste materials. University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Engineering lecturer and researcher Sam Sichilalu has developed the innovation through which the fuel will be generated from used tyres, plastics, and rubber.
The poly fuel prototype converts waste into the high-grade industrial fuel, which is a hydrocarbon mixture of petrol, diesel, and kerosene with methane vapor. Dr. Sichilalu said the innovation is aimed at contributing to improved sanitation, cheaper energy, and reduced deforestation.
“The innovation will also help generate income for waste collectors and is a climate change mitigation on all non-biodegradable products,” Dr. Sichilalu said. This is according to a statement issued yesterday by UNZA spokesperson Brenda Bukowa.
Dr. Sichilalu said the poly fuel innovation will not only provide a cheap source of energy but will also solve the problem of disposal of old tyres and plastic, thereby contributing to environmental management. He said there are a number of drainages which are blocked because of indiscriminate disposal of plastics, the problem which the innovation will resolve.
Dr. Sichilalu said the innovation will also help reduce high dependence on petroleum products. “The poly fuel produced is safe to be used as industrial fuel in generators, boilers, diesel pumps, furnaces, and cars,” Dr. Sichilalu said. He said the project will eventually be commercialized to benefit the entire country. Dr. Sichilalu said other organizations will be needed in commercializing the project and investors are welcome to partner with the university and researchers. “It’s cheap because we are using waste.
We intend to start doing it at a large scale because right now we are only collecting about 20 kilograms of waste,” he said. Dr. Sichilalu said the project has the potential to contribute to the country’s economic growth as it will create jobs for Zambians, especially youths.
He said the innovation will be exhibited at the 93rd Agricultural and Commercial ShowRead More
The Islamic State owns responsibility for the death of about 40 Nigerian soldiers.
The revelation was made via its Amaq news agency. It revealed that it killed or wounded more than 40 soldiers in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno in two separate attacks on Tuesday.
The group said militants attacked a military post in Baga and killed at least 15 soldiers before carrying out a second attack on an army barracks in the town of Benisheik, where they killed around 25 more.
Locals and military sources told Reuters there were clashes between insurgents and soldiers in the state on Monday and Tuesday. The exact number of casualties was uncertain at the moment.
An army spokesman did not immediately respond to phone calls requesting comment.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since 2009 in an Islamist insurgency.
At the weekend at least 65 people were killed in Borno, the birthplace of the insurgency, when militants targeted civilians traveling from a funeral.Read More
Prison brutality and unjustifiable convictions is a worldwide problem affecting the criminal justice system and the structural functioning of society. Apparently, Nigeria police task force isn't the only ones in need of reformation.
Security forces detained Lotfy Ibrahim, a young construction worker, as he left a mosque near his home on the Nile Delta in the spring of 2015. When his family finally saw him again nearly three months later, he was in jail, looking badly brutalized.
“He rolled his sleeves down so we couldn’t see the signs of torture,” said Ibrahim’s mother, Tahany. “But I saw burns on his arm. His face was pale, and his hair was shaved off.”
Ibrahim, then 20, was eventually tried on charges of murdering three military academy students in a roadside bombing. He swore his innocence. His family said his lawyer had proof in the shape of a confession by the real perpetrators. But the lawyer was arrested and the new evidence was ignored by the authorities, the family said. Reuters didn’t see the confession.
In early 2016, almost a year after Ibrahim’s arrest, a military court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. From his prison cell, he wrote a letter to his family. It contained a message to the father of one of the murdered cadets.
“I don’t have your son’s blood on my hands and everyone knows that,” Ibrahim said. “Please pray for me, I forgive you.” When he put down his pen he was led away to the gallows, Ibrahim’s mother said. He was hanged on January 2018, a few months after his lawyer’s arrest.
Egyptian courts have sentenced some 3,000 people to death since 2014, when President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi took power, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, an independent organization that documents human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa. That compares with fewer than 800 death sentences in the previous six years, according to Amnesty International.
Most sentences are overturned at appeal and statistics on the number of executions carried out are hard to come by. Egypt doesn’t publish official figures; newspapers and local media outlets close to the government are the most detailed source of information. Reuters reviewed media reports over a period of 10 years and interviewed Egyptian and international human rights researchers. Amnesty International shared its data. This reporting showed that at least 179 people were executed from 2014 to May 2019, up from 10 people in the previous six years.
There was also an increase in the number of civilians tried in military courts and the number of death sentences handed down by military judges. At least 33 civilians were executed following trials in military courts from 2015, Reuters reporting shows. That compares with none from 2008 to 2014.
Crimes for which capital punishment is being meted out have included forming a terrorist group, use of explosives and rape.
The deadly punishments are part of a wider crackdown against Islamists by the government of Sisi, a former general. Sisi became president in 2014, a year after the military ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has since been banned and its members drove underground.
“Those numbers are unprecedented,” said Gamal Eid, founder, and director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. “This is political revenge.”
The Egyptian government did not respond to detailed questions from Reuters for this article.
Egypt has consistently said it is fighting terrorism. In February, Sisi told visiting European Union leaders that the Middle East and Europe had “two different cultures.” When terrorists kill, the victims’ families want blood, “and that right must be given through the law.”
“The priority in Europe is achieving and maintaining well-being for its people. Our priority is preserving our countries and stopping them from collapse, destruction, and ruin,” he said.
Reuters spoke to the families of seven young men who have been executed or are on death row. Ibrahim’s parents said their son didn’t belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, although his father is a member. Each family said the accused was tortured and denied access to a lawyer. For weeks or months, relatives had no idea where the men were being held. Human rights groups say many executions were carried out after flawed trials. Egyptian authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Some executions have taken place after an attack by Islamist militants. The timings of those executions “suggest a troubling trend on the part of the government in which executions appear to be tools of revenge following terrorist attacks rather than a part of an orderly criminal justice system,” said Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. Mohamed Zaree, a human rights activist and a director at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, a non-governmental organization that produces analysis and research, said the authorities feel “they have to present something to public opinion. They have to show bodies. It doesn’t matter if they did it or not.”
Ibrahim and three other young men convicted of the roadside bombing were hanged four days after Islamic State gunmen attacked a church and a Christian store in Cairo, killing at least 11 people.Read More
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected the sum of 210 million dollars into the inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market after the transactions on Tuesday, July 30.
The Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor made this known in a statement in Abuja.
Okorafor explained that authorized dealers in the wholesale sector of the market received 100 million dollars, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the invisible segments were allocated the sum of 55 million dollars each.
He said the efforts of the CBN had helped to ensure the stability of the Naira and also increased the level of investors and public confidence in the economy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CBN had in the last intervention on July 26, injected the sum of 284.2million dollars and CNY36million into the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) segment
Anyway, the Naira on July 30 exchanged at an average of N358 to a dollar in the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment of the market.Read More