(AfricaNews) Equatorial Guinea begins polls’ census

Photo Credit: AfricaNews

5 days ago

Equatorial Guinea has began the election census process on Friday in preparation for the Presidential elections.

The official radio station announced that the voters’ census for the presidential election will begin on January 15 and finish on January 30.

The presidential election is planned to take place in November, but according to some sources in Malabo, it could be moved forward to June. The previous election saw a total of 291,000 registered as voters.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has lead the country since 1979. His regime has always been under criticism for its repression to opponents.

In a joint press statement, three opposition political parties – The Social Democracy Convergence(CPDS), the Innovation Citizens (CI) and the right center Union (UCD) questioned the legitimacy of the census and also put forward their lack of transparency to the whole system.

With the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1990s, the country has been able to rip big but this has not reflected in lives of its citizens. Low life expectancy, limited access to basic facilities and high child mortality has continued to retard the growth of its citizens.

The article was published on AfricaNews.

(Africa News) Mauritania: Islamist prisoners launch hunger strike

Credit: Africa News

Credit: Africa News

Some 30 Islamists have launched a hunger strike at Mauritania’s main jail saying they are being punished after a New Year’s Eve escape by a high-profile prisoner facing death over an Al-Qaeda assassination plot.

The prisoners said in a statement that they had started the protest Monday at the main prison in Nouakchott, the capital, and would continue until all their demands had been met.

These included “visits by family members and for a doctor to be present on the premises round the clock for faster access to prescribed medicines,” the statement said.

The prisoners alleged they were facing “punitive measures after the escape of an Islamist prisoner we had no connection with.”

Cheikh Ould Saleck, 31, on death row since 2011 over an Al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the president, was last seen by fellow inmates at Nouakchott’s central prison at midday on December 31.

His absence from evening prayers alerted his fellow inmates who went to fetch him and found his cell locked.

A guard smashed open the door and found a flag of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African franchise, according to a prison source.

Ould Saleck and a fellow AQIM jihadi were arrested on the outskirts of the Mauritanian capital in 2011 when the army foiled their plot to kill President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz using two car bombs.

A Mauritanian gendarme was killed and eight wounded in a firefight following the failed attack, while four suspected AQIM members died.

Ould Saleck’s wife and sister, who used to visit him in jail, were arrested on January 4.

(Face2Face Africa) Dozens of Wives Divorced after Zanzibar Elections

women1According to civil society organizations and women’s rights groups, nearly 50 women who took part in Zanzibar’s elections have been divorced by their husbands, reports Reuters.

While Tanzania is already a month under the stewardship of new President John Magufuli, Zanzibar has failed to name a successor due to “gross violations” that occurred during their election.

Still, opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) insists that they won the election against ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi, and these tensions have bubbled over into many households, with husbands reportedly abandoning their families over politics.

However, while the Zanzibar election “remains undecided,” the future of some families is not.

According to Tanzania Media Women’s Association Coordinator Mzuri Issa, the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association, and Zanzibar’s Mwanakerekwe District Kadhi Court, 47 women were divorced by their husbands for voting against their husband’s wishes.

In fact, the elections became such a hotly contested issue in the archipelago that some women have admitted that they did not take part in the election due to the threat of divorce and/or violence if they participated.

Issa explains, “Some of the women were not allowed by their husband to vote but those who refused to see their right trampled on were either divorced or abandoned.”

And one unnamed woman told Zanzibar’s Daily Newspaper, “I thought it was just normal and free in a democracy to differ in politics. But unfortunately, my husband was adamant to the end and decided to divorce me. He has even decided not to bring basic needs to our young children.”

The article was published on Face2Face Africa.

(Reuters) Zuma’s firing of South African finance minister dismays investors, ANC supporters

Screen shot 2015-12-10 at 3.33.10 PMBy Joe Brock and Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 10 South African President Jacob Zuma’s sacking of his respected finance minister in favour of a relative unknown has shocked investors and emboldened critics who say the 73-year-old is driving the economy to ruin.

Even some supporters of the African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela’s erstwhile liberation movement that has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994, expressed dismay about Wednesday’s appointment of a Zuma loyalist to the crucial post.

Zuma gave no details as to why on Wednesday he dismissed Nhlanhla Nene, who has overseen the Treasury for just under two years, other than to say he had “done well… during a difficult economic climate”.

Markets reacted unambiguously, with the rand plunging to a record low against the dollar, losing just over five percent since Nene was removed. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s banking index lost 13.5 percent on Thursday.

New Finance Minister David van Rooyen acknowledged he had taken on “a colossal assignment”.

Local media speculated this week that Nene might be on the chopping block after he rebuked Dudu Myeni, the chairwoman of state-owned South African Airways and a close ally of Zuma, for mismanaging a 1 billion rand ($67 million) deal with Airbus.

Myeni is executive chairwoman of Zuma’s charitable trust, the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

The main opposition party went on the attack. “It is clear that if you stand up to Zuma, you don’t stick around,” Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance, told Reuters. “Zuma has reached new heights as a leader who puts himself ahead of his country and the economy.”

Zuma’s office did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. The ANC said in a statement it “notes and respects” the president’s decision.

“TOO MUCH CORRUPTION”

The sacking and the financial fallout hit a raw nerve with some ordinary South Africans. “With the rand getting battered like this, firing Nene is not the right move,” said Dominic Ratau, a 74-year-old pensioner and lifelong ANC loyalist, expressing his dissatisfaction with Zuma.

“I’ve been an ANC supporter because of the older generation who were running the party. But this guy is leading the country to disaster. He’s allowed too much corruption.”

Nene’s reluctance to rubber-stamp an ambitious plan to build a number of nuclear power stations to ease severe electricity shortages, a project that might cost as much as $100 billion, is also seen as contributing to his downfall.

His successor van Rooyen is an ANC lawmaker who sits on parliament’s finance committee.

Van Rooyen said he would implement policies aimed at creating favourable investment conditions after he was sworn in. “Mine is a colossal assignment coming at a time when the global economic outlook is not favourable, more especially for emerging markets,” van Rooyen said.

Many economists have questioned van Rooyen’s ability to steady an economy being hammered by the collapse in prices of South Africa’s commodity exports that range from coal to gold, and raised concerns that public spending could spiral out of control.

Credit agency Fitch downgraded South Africa last Friday, leaving the continent’s most sophisticated economy just one notch about “junk” status, and said on Thursday Nene’s firing “raised more negative than positive questions”.

A Reuters poll on Wednesday showed analysts expect the economy to grow just 1.4 percent this year and 1.6 percent next, 0.1 percentage points lower than last month’s forecasts.

WHO’S NEXT?

Nene’s removal has raised speculation about more casualties within Zuma’s team, after the axing in September of mining minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who investors said had done a decent job in a tough but crucial portfolio.

South Africa is gearing up for important local elections next year where the ANC is expected to be run close by the Democratic Alliance in urban areas, including the economic hub of Johannesburg. The countryside remains an ANC stronghold.

Significant erosion of ANC control in metropolitan powerbases could strengthen Zuma’s opponents, especially if South Africans blame him for the floundering economy.

“Zuma’s power is becoming more brittle and his lines of support stretched thinner and thinner,” said political analyst Nic Borain. “He is engaging in actions that parts of his party find repulsive and there is a point beyond which a system under stress can quickly unravel as the connections snap.”

A #ZumaMustFall Twitter campaign kicked off within hours of Zuma’s announcement, echoing one earlier this year calling for the removal of colonial-era statues.

SCANDAL

Zuma, a polygamous Zulu traditionalist with little formal schooling, has been beset by scandal throughout his career. In 2005 he was charged with raping a woman he knew to HIV-positive, but was found not guilty when the court ruled the sex was consensual.

Last year, the Public Protector, the top anti-corruption watchdog, ruled that he had “benefited unduly” from a 246 million rand state-funded security upgrade to his private home that included a swimming pool and amphitheatre.

Despite this, he has maintained his authority and standing in the ANC. His presidential term ends in 2019. Were he to be forced out early, his ex-wife and African Union head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, are the front-runners to succeed him.

($1 = 14.9655 rand) (Additional reporting by Nqobile Dludla and Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by James Macharia and David Stamp)

This article was published on Reuters.