Zambia ‘bribe’ officers caught red-handed

Zambia’s police force has suspended four officers caught collecting bribes in the capital, Lusaka.

Provincial minister Bowman Lusambo carried out an impromptu check of roadblocks on Thursday and said he had caught them red-handed.

The police say the officers had mounted an illegal roadblock in an industrial area of the city and were charging motorists without issuing them with receipts.

Police chief Kakoma Kanganja announced the officers had been suspended with immediate effect and investigations into the matter had begun.

He wanted the public to know that the police had introduced a “direct deposit system” for fees and fines to go directly into bank accounts to curb corruption.

Zambia’s police force is perceived to be one of the most corrupt institutions in the country.

 

BBC

US military parade ordered by Trump postponed ‘to 2019’

US defence officials have postponed a planned Veterans Day weekend military parade through the streets of Washington DC until at least 2019.

The parade was originally conceived to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1 and to honour veterans.

But a Pentagon official said it has now been delayed at least one year.

Provisional figures released earlier on Thursday said the event could cost about $90 million (£71m) – more than three times an original estimate.

US President Donald Trump requested a parade after seeing France’s Bastille Day event in 2017 and expressing a desire to “top it”.

A Pentagon spokesperson, Colonel Rob Manning, said in a statement that the Department of Defence and the White House “have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019”.

Earlier on Thursday, a US official told the AFP news agency the planning estimate for the event had ballooned to as much as $92m (£72m).

The parade’s budget director had offered an estimate of between $10m (£7.8m) and $30m (£23.6m) when the White House announced its request in February.

A memo at the time said no tanks would be used so as not to damage the roads of the nation’s capital.

The city’s governing District of Columbia Council was critical of the plan when announced, voicing its displeasure on Twitter.

Members of the Democratic party were similarly sceptical, with congressman Jim McGovern declaring it “an absurd waste of money” on Twitter and saying Mr Trump “acts more like dictator than president”.

The Pentagon said the parade was planned to travel from the White House to the Capitol, and would feature a “heavy air component at the end”.

It was planned to include “wheeled vehicles only”. The focus was to be on the work of US military veterans through the ages, starting with the American Revolutionary War.

US media pointed out that Donald Trump cancelled planned military exercises with South Korea in June after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the grounds it would “save a fortune”.

Critics have also compared the parade plan unfavourably to spectacles favoured by autocratic nations.

The US had a military parade in 1991 following the end of its successful campaign to force Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait.

Some social media users questioned the purpose of the parade at all, and said instead the money should be used to directly help veterans.

 

BBC

Mali president Keita wins landslide election; faces uphill struggle

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won a landslide victory in a run-off against opposition rival Soumaila Cisse, the government said on Thursday, giving him a second term to try to turn back a surge in ethnic and Islamist militant violence.

Keita won 67 percent of the vote in an election marred by militant attacks and claims of fraud by the opposition.

Keita, known as IBK, now faces the giant task of lifting Mali out of a spiral of Islamist and ethnic bloodshed in the center and north, where attacks worsened in the months leading up to the vote despite the presence of a United Nations peacekeeping force and French troops.

The security situation and the militants’ ability to spread their influence to other West African countries is a concern to Western powers. Mali is also a main transit point for migrants trying to reach Europe via North Africa’s shores, a priority issue in EU capitals.

Threats by jihadists forced nearly 500 polling stations – about two percent of the total – to stay closed during Sunday’s run-off, the Ministry for Territorial Administration said. One election official was killed in northern Niafunke, in Timbuktu region.

Voter turnout of more than 2.7 million people was a muted 34 percent of the electorate.

A crowd of about 200 people danced and sang inside Keita’s campaign headquarters after the result was announced on state television.

“I am very happy, there is nothing to say, the gap is huge, the opposition must understand that there is no match,” said Tambours Adizatou Sogoba, a Keita supporter. “He has another five years, he will make Mali an emerging country.”

A few hundred meters away at the headquarters of opposition leader Cisse, about 40 supporters carrying placards reading “hands off my vote” and “respect the Malian vote” echoed Cisse’s complaints this week that he had won but IBK’s camp cheated by ballot stuffing and tweaking electoral rolls.

Tiebele Drame, Cisse’s campaign manager, said: “The result does not reflect the truth of the polls, it does not reflect the Malian vote”.

He said the poll was rigged and a “manipulation of the vote”. Cisse had accused Keita of failing to get a grip on the violence and of allowing corruption to flourish.

But Keita’s campaign manager, Bocary Treta, said: “It is a victory for the Malian people. International observers were stationed all over and they paid tribute to the quality of the vote.”

The European Union observer mission and other local and international monitors have said that although there were irregularities and disruptions, they saw no evidence of fraud.

REUTERS

Sweden Muslim woman who refused handshake at job interview wins case

A Swedish Muslim woman has won compensation after her job interview was ended when she refused a handshake.

Farah Alhajeh, 24, was applying for a job as an interpreter when she declined to shake the hand of a male interviewer for religious reasons.

She placed her hand over her heart in greeting instead.

The Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her and ordered it to pay 40,000 kronor ($4,350; £3,420) in compensation.

Some Muslims avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family.

However handshakes are traditional in Europe. Additionally, anti-discrimination legislation may forbid companies and public bodies from treating people differently because of their gender.

Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman’s office, which represented 24-year-old Ms Alhajeh, said the judgement had taken into account “the employer’s interests, the individual’s right to bodily integrity, and the importance of the state to maintain protection for religious freedom”.

The interpreting company in Ms Alhajeh’s home town of Uppsala had argued that its staff were required to treat men and women equally and could not allow a staff member to refuse a handshake based on gender.

But the discrimination ombudsman said she had tried to avoid upsetting anyone by placing her hand over her heart when greeting both men and women.

Sweden’s labour court found the company was justified in demanding equal treatment for both sexes – but not in demanding that it be in the form of a handshake only.

Her refusal to shake hands on religious grounds was protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, it said, and the company’s policy in demanding a specific greeting was detrimental to Muslims.

The court also disagreed with the firm’s assertion that Ms Alhajeh’s approach to greetings would cause a problem for effective communication as an interpreter.

However the judges were divided over the case – with three supporting Ms Alhajeh’s claim and two voting against.

After the judgement Ms Alhajeh told the BBC she believed it was important to “never give in” when convinced that one is in the right, even as a member of a minority group.

“I believe in God, which is very rare in Sweden… and I should be able to do that and be accepted as long as I’m not hurting anyone,” she said.

“In my country… you cannot treat women and men differently. I respect that. That’s why I don’t have any physical contact with men or with women. I can live by the rules of my religion and also at the same time follow the rules of the country that I live in,” she added.

She had complained about her treatment to the discrimination ombudsman’s office, which said that the “difficult issue” was important enough to go to a court for judgement.

 

BBC

Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul’, dies aged 76

Aretha Franklin, the “queen of soul” known for hits like Respect and Think, has died in Detroit at the age of 76.

The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year she was retiring from music.

Franklin had 17 Top Ten US chart hits over a music career spanning seven decades.

The star gave her final performance last November at a gala in New York held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

In a statement, her family said: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.

“We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.”

The family also confirmed her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a celebrated Baptist preacher, Franklin was tutored from an early age by such gospel stars as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward.

She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice.

Sir Elton John led the tributes on his Instagram account, writing: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music.

“Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated… I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends.”

Annie Lennox said: “She has reigned supreme. and will always be held in the highest firmament of stars as the most exceptional vocalist, performer and recording artist the world has ever been privileged to witness.

“Superlatives are often used to describe astonishing artists, but in my view even superlatives seem insufficient.”

Sir Paul McCartney wrote: “Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”

A move to Atlantic Records in 1966 saw Franklin paired with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, prompting some of her most soulful and fieriest performances.

By 1968 she was renowned throughout America and Europe as “Lady Soul” – a symbol of black pride who appeared on the cover of Time and was given an award by Martin Luther King.

After an eye-catching cameo in cult comedy The Blues Brothers, she scored a number of big hits in the 1980s including Who’s Zooming Who? and the George Michael duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush in 2005, when she was saluted for “capturing the hearts of millions of Americans”.

Ten years later she reduced President Barack Obama to tears when she sang (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at a Kennedy Center Honours ceremony, having previously performed at his inauguration.

Nobody could inhabit a song like Aretha Franklin.

You only have to compare Otis Redding’s original recording of Respect to Aretha’s version to hear it. His is superb. Hers is otherworldly.

Even her most thunderous performances retained their humanity – something her disciples often overlooked.

The desolate colours she painted onto the verses of Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman made the release of the chorus even more joyous.

In later years, she was let down by the material she chose (or which was chosen for her) but her performances still had the poetry and power to move audiences – including, notably, Barack Obama – to tears.

 

BBC

Ugandan legislator Bobi Wine charged with treason

Uganda’s vocal legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi, who is popularly known as Bobi Wine has been charged with treason, in the aftermath of the deadly clashes that rocked the West Nile town of Arua on the last day of campaigns to elect a member of parliament for the municipality.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Moses Ali has told parliament on Wednesday that Bobi Wine, who was campaigning for independent candidate in the race, Kassiano Wadri will face the Army Court Martial on Thursday.

Ali also informed the legislators that Bobi Wine is receiving treatment at a military hospital in the Northern Uganda town of Gulu.

Bobi Wine was arrested along with other legislators and opposition supporters, including Wadri after police accused them of attacking president Yoweri Museveni’s convoy on Monday.

Police in Arua reportedly recovered two submachine guns and a pistol from Bobi Wine and Wadri.

‘’“Kassiano Wadri was arrested with one pistol, which had 12 rounds of ammunition(…) It was found with him during the time of his arrest. He even confessed that he is licensed to have it,’‘ Angucia said.

“For that matter, all have been charged with treason, unlawful possession of firearms, that is for the case of Kyagulanyi Robert and malicious damage to the motorvehicle belonging to the convoy of the President.”

Police say they recovered a total of 75 rounds of ammunition, 46 white tablets suspected to be drugs, Ugandan flags, red t-shirts and smartphones among other items found in the rooms of the legislators at Arua Pacific Hotel.

Residents of Arua cast their votes on Wednesday, and vote counting is underway to determine who will replace the deceased Ibrahim Abiriga, who was gunned down in mysterious circumstances in June this year.

 

Africanews

Nigeria’s 2019 polls will have 91 parties, over 12m new voters

Nigeria officially has 91 registered political parties the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

At the last count in January 2018, there were 68 parties. Between then and now, INEC said it had certified 23 more parties out of an application of 144.

The elections body noted in a press statement that this was the final batch of registration before the country goes to the polls in February 2019. The new parties will be presented their certificates on Thursday at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

“This brings the number of political parties to 91 and will be the last round of registration until after the general elections of 16th February 2019. This suspension is in line with the Section 78 (1) of the Electoral Act, which requires all applications for registration as political party to be concluded latest six months to a general election,” the statement affirmed.

In other matters raised in the statement, INEC said it was on course to publish the first step of the electoral process – the notice of election. The August 17, 2018 event will kick-start the countdown to the 2019 general election, INEC said.

It had also extended the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise which was supposed to afford people the opportunity to get their voter identification document. INEC said it had registered 12.1 million new voters as at 11th August, 2018.

The CVR which started in April 2017 was supposed to end on 17th August, 2018 but has been pushed to the last day of August 2018. INEC entreated people to go and collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVCs), that process will be suspended with just days to the elections.

Political parties in Africa’s most populous nation typically cut across the country’s geopolitical zones – the northern, middle and southern sectors.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Its politics is currently dominated by two main forces – the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The PDP lost political power in 2015 after ruling the country for 16 years prior. They produced three presidents over the period. Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Musah Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari’s tenure expires in 2019 when new elections are to be held. Buhari has announced his intention to seek a final term.

INEC oversees all elected office elections from the presidential, gubernatorial, national assembly – senate and house of representatives, local level etc. It has only recently published its general election guidelines.

Political watchers say it is highly likely that most of these parties will not field candidates across the country due to capacity issues, a number of them will enter alliances with the major parties and field aspirants in areas they see as their strongholds.

 

Africanews

Jail for teacher busted sitting student’s exam

A Burundian head teacher has been sentenced to five years in prison after disguising himself as a student and attempting to sit a national exam on another person’s behalf last week.

Benjamin Manirambona, who heads Butere Technical College, is also banned from teaching or holding public office for a decade.

Manirambona said he was taking the electronics exam on behalf of a soldier who wanted the grades to qualify for university.

The soldier promised to pay Manirambona on his return from Somalia, where he is serving with the Burundian peacekeeping force.

He admitted to the deception after police burst into the examination hall.

His two accomplices, school accountant Eric Nkurunziza and teacher Lazard Nihezagire, have been sentenced to two years in prison and are banned from holding public office for five years.

In Burundi, students taking important public exams are sent to sit them in other schools. This explains why Manirambona was not recognised by other people in the exam hall.

 

BBC

Inquiry into Mauritius ex-president begins

Mauritius’ former President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who resigned in March over an expenses scandal, has appeared in front of a government inquiry for questioning.

Ms Gurib-Fakim denies any misconduct amid claims that she made large personal purchases on a charity bank card.

She told the inquiry that, when in office, she had set up an inquiry into the activities of Angolan businessman Álvaro Sobrinho because she felt under pressure.

Before her resignation, the Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items.

According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.

One of the organisation’s directors is Álvaro Sobrinho who, the paper says, secured a permit to found an investment bank in Mauritius, prompting allegations of favouritism.

The inquiry that Ms Gurib-Fakim launched earlier this year was roundly criticised at the time by the government, who said it was not within her powers to do so.

She defended that decision today, saying “there was a sense of isolation, total lack of support from the executive…There was no will whatsoever to help the office of the president”.

“The Attorney General told me that he could not do anything while the office of the presidency was under attack.”

She also told the inquiry she had been advised not to speak to the press.

The inquiry is expected to continue for a number of days.

 

BBC

Lagos ranked among ‘world’s worst cities’ to live in

Seven out of the 10 least liveable cities in the world are in Africa, according the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey.

The league table ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare.

Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, was ranked 138 – two slots ahead of the bottom of the league table which is held by Syria’s war-torn capital, Damascus (140).

It was closely followed by Zimbabwe’s Harare (135), Libya’s Tripoli (134), Cameroon’s Douala (133), Algiers in Algeria (132) and Senegal’s Dakar (131).

Johannesburg gained the rank of 86, making it the most livable of African cities.

The annual report says cities in the Middle East, Africa and Asia account for the ten-lowest scoring cities where “violence, whether through crime, civil insurgency, terrorism or war, has played a strong role”.

BBC