Missing Burundi Journalist Yet to Be Found

Missing journalist,  Jean Bigirimana has been missing since  22 July, 2016 and there has not been any evidence that he is dead.

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His colleagues in Iwacu Press Group, recently marked the first anniversary of his disappearance.

Bigirimana’s wife and children are worried, they are at a lose as to what has happened to their breadwinner. Read more…..

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Today, we enter the second day of the 2017 Presidential campaigns.

After very successful rallies in Ruhango and Nyanza Districts yesterday, RPF- Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is scheduled to meet supporters in Nyaruguru District in the morning and later he travels to Gisagara District for his final rally of the day.

Frank Habineza, the flag bearer and president of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, will be in Nyamasheke District, Western Province.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana heads to Muhanga and Nyanza districts for the second day of his campaigns. Read more….

Kenya: President Mocks Opposition Over Free Secondary Education

Press release

NAKURU, 4 June 2017 (PSCU) – President Uhuru Kenyatta mocked the opposition today for copying his plan to implement free secondary education next year, and then pledging to do it a few months earlier.

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“You have to think. Then you have to plan. You cannot just copy, and then pledge to do it earlier,” President Kenyatta said on a campaign stop in Gilgil, as he wrapped up a three-day campaign blitz through Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties.

President Kenyatta was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Nakuru Jubilee gubernatorial aspirant Lee Kinyanjui and a host of local Nakuru county leaders.

A day after the President unveiled key planks of his re-election bid that included free secondary education, scaling up the cash transfer programme for the elderly, increase and expansion of technical training institutes and health cover for mothers after maternity as the next steps in his transformation agenda.

“Politicians should not just wake up in the morning and tell Kenyans that they will do this and that and within a given period after they win elections without thinking or planning on how to go about such issues,” said President Kenyatta.

He added: “We’ve set aside Kshs 5 billion to expand infrastructure in schools to provide for the implementation of free secondary education. One cannot claim he can provide free education overnight without budgeting for it.”

The President and his deputy spoke on Sunday when they addressed thousands of Jubilee supporters at various stopovers as they at Free Area, Kikopey, Gilgil, Naivasha, Longonot and Mai Mahiu among other areas along the Nakuru-Nairobi road.

The President said the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga knows very well that policy making and implementation requires proper planning.

He said it is unrealistic for the Opposition to claim that it will implement the free secondary education a month after the August elections.

The Head of State point out that competition based on agendas and policy were key to the transformation of the lives of Kenyans.

“Our colleagues in the Opposition are doing ‘copy-pasting’ of our projects and now competing with us on dates and when to implement projects we have already put in the pipeline,” said President Kenyatta.

The President said Jubilee has promised to implement the free secondary education in January next year because it has put in place proper mechanisms that will ensure its successful implementation.

In this connection, the Head of State said Kshs 5 billion has been set aside to improve schools infrastructure to ensure the success of the implementation of the free secondary education beginning January next year.

He said Opposition leaders had no agenda for Kenyans and were now thriving on politics of tribalism, hatred and confusion ahead of the next General Election.

The President urged Kenyans to be wary of such leaders who were out to divide them on tribal and religious lines to achieve their selfish gains at the expense of the country’s unity.

He told Kenyans to be courageous and say no to ethnic based political parties, which derail development and national cohesion.

“Kenyans should judge Jubilee by its development track record. This is why I ask voters to support leaders promoting politics of unity and development and ignore those dividing us on ethnic backgrounds,” said President Kenyatta.

“Leaders must be courageous to unite the people of Kenya so as to attain accelerated development and achieve cohesion in our country instead of dividing them on ethnic backgrounds,” added President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta said Jubilee was committed to peace and stability of the country unlike the Opposition that cared less for the two key ingredients of Kenya’s development and prosperity.

He commended different ethnic communities in Rift Valley for living together harmoniously and peacefully, saying development was elusive if there was no peace.

“Peace is paramount for development and this is why I ask you to continue embracing peace for accelerated development,” said President Kenyatta.

Deputy President Ruto urged voters to ignore the Opposition leaders who have nothing new to offer the country after failing to deliver when they served in senior positions in previous regimes.

“The August elections will be competition between those serious in service delivery and those engaging in propaganda,” said the Deputy President.

He said Jubilee’s development track record in less than five years cannot be compared to what others did in 30 years when they held leadership positions.

Source : Kenya Presidency(Nairobi)

South Sudan: Botched Vaccine Campaign Kills 15 Children in South Sudan

At total of 15 children have died in South Sudan after being given contaminated measles vaccines. Health officials said that the vaccines had been improperly refrigerated and were also administered by an untrained team.

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The UN has appealed for more funding to help nearly two million people who have fled South Sudan. A World Food Programme (WFP) official called their suffering “unimaginable.” (15.05.2017)

A new study has found that cases of the highly contagious disease have jumped significantly in the past year. Adults are poorly informed about their own vulnerability, the report found. (24.04.2017)

Children in rural South Sudan died as a result of a bungled vaccination campaign to combat measles, the United Nations and South Sudan’s government announced on Friday.

South Sudanese Health Minister Riek Gai Kok expressed “deep regret and sadness” at the deaths of the 15 children, who lived in the rural, south-eastern village of Kapoeta.

An investigation into the deaths supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children’s fund UNICEF found that the children died as a result of “the administration of a contaminated vaccine.”

Around 300 children up to 5-years-old were treated during the four-day campaign which saw the local team using a single reconstitution syringe to mix multiple vaccine vials. The UNICEF-supplied vaccines were also kept in a building with inadequate refrigeration.

Another 32 children suffered from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, but were able to recover from their symptoms, a joint statement from the WHO and UNICEF said.

Children administering vaccines

Although local teams had been trained by development partners and the WHO, the investigation showed that local officials failed to follow immunization guidelines.

“We have to look into why the training was not passed on to the teams on the ground,” said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic in Geneva.

South Sudanese Health Minister Kok also noted that the team that administered the vaccines was not well-trained.

“The team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified nor trained for the immunization campaign,” Kok told a news conference.

The untrained team also recruited two children aged 13 and 12-years-old to administer the vaccines, the health minister added.

The risk of measles remains high in South Sudan due to an ongoing military conflict that has killed tens of thousands and seen almost 2 million people flee the country. According to the UN, the country has suffered from measles outbreaks caused by a backlog of unvaccinated children.

Source : DW

Uganda: Abuse of Social Media Forcing Govt to Filter Content, Says ICT Minister

Kabarole — The minister for Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze has said the increasing public abuse of social media is forcing the hands of government to regulate the use of the platforms.

Speaking at the 51 celebrations of the World’s Communication Day at Virika Parish, Fort Portal Diocese in Fort Portal Municipality on Sunday, Mr Tumwebaze said there is need to filter social media content that the public posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

“In other countries such as UK, everything that goes on air is first filtered but here in Uganda we have not reached that, but we need to be ambassadors of our information,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

He said some people have taken advantage of such platforms to terrorise the country and warned such users to desist and use the new innovations to transform the country.

Mr Tumwebaze who asked the public to be security conscious of cybercrimes, rallied Ugandans to register their SIM cards before August 30 as his ministry and Uganda Communication Commissions will switch off all subscribers who will fail to register or verify their SIM cards.

He warned that there won’t be any more extension after the three month’s grace period allowed for subscribers to register. Fort Portal Dioceses Bishop Robert Muhirwa, expressed concern on misuse of social media platforms to spread pornographic information to the public and asked the government regulate such content.

“Somebody used my name on Facebook and started asking people for money allegedly for helping needy people, and this is wrong. Government should help us” Bishop Muhirwa said.

To mark the World’s Communications Day, Pope Francis asked the media users to be objective and help their nations through spreading good news since bad news disorganises communities.

Why Day is celebrated

World Communications Day was declared by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as an annual celebration that encourages reflection on the opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication, including the press, motion pictures, radio, television and the internet, afford the Church to communicate messages of the Gospel.

This year’s World’s Communications Day was celebrated under the theme; “Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

Source : The Monitor(Kampala)

Uganda: Fresh Torture Accusations Leveled Against Uganda’s Police

Press Release

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Last week, Uganda’s police were – again – accused of torturing suspects to illicit confessions. First, defendants charged in the murder of police commander Andrew Kaweesi had visible injuries during their court appearance. They complained in court of being beaten in Nalufenya police station in Jinja, Eastern Uganda. Then, photos leaked of the hospitalized mayor of Kamwenge, who had horrific injuries including gaping wounds on his knees and ankles, which he said resulted from beatings by police who were investigating the same murder.

The ensuing police denials ring hallow.

Over the last 15 years, Human Rights Watch has interviewed hundreds of Ugandans who say they were tortured by police, specifically by a string of units which have changed name and location over the years, but whose brutality repeats itself over and over again. First, Operation Wembley in Clement Hill, then Violent Crimes Crack Unit in Kireka, then Rapid Response Unit, also in Kireka and now the Special Investigations Division, at times assisted by staff from the Flying Squad, in Nalufenya. Scores of victims across Uganda have described nearly identical treatment during interrogations, including beatings on the joints with batons over several days, at times while handcuffed in stress positions with their hands under their legs. All of this units have defied laws regulating arrest and detention with no consequences.

In December 2011, General Kayihura, the inspector general of the Uganda Police Force, disbanded Rapid Response Unit, in part due to human rights violations by its officers. But without investigations into those violations and prosecutions of those responsible, the very same officers have continued to commit abuses as part of a new unit, with a new name. The lack of investigations and failure to remove abusive officers from police ranks, despites decades of allegations, only reinforces the problem – that Uganda’s police too often rely on forced confessions. They beat suspects to bypass the tough work of carefully investigating crimes and gathering credible evidence that could stand up to scrutiny in court.

Uganda’s police leadership need to stop facile denials that torture festers in Uganda’s police cells, and particularly nowadays, in Nalufenya. Police should take suspects’ allegations seriously, investigate officers for torture and mistreatment, and work with prosecutors to finally bring charges under Uganda’s never-used Anti Torture Act. Officers who commit torture should be removed from police ranks. Police shouldn’t be allowed to commit crimes while seeking to fight them.

Maria Burnett is the Director, East Africa and the Horn.

Source : Human Rights Watch(Washington DC)

Uganda: Councillor Ssegirinya Holds ‘Salt’ Prayers to Curse Middle East Employers

Jocular Kawempe North Kampala Capital City Authority councillor Muhammad Ssegirinya has today perfected the ‘bush prayers’, a tradition started by his comrade-in-comical politics Mubarak Munyagwa (FDC, Kawempe South MP).

In an early morning video, Mr Ssegirinya is seen in the company of other individuals wearing the traditional Muslim men head gear, absorbed in prayers cursing tormentors of Uganda’s overseas labourers.

Mr Munyagwa controversially made the infamous “edduwa ya Kamulali,” translated to mean the hot pepper supplication, where he burnt the choking plant, praying amid the fuming smoke.

His student Mr Ssegirinya has instead replaced pepper with salt, asking God to descend his wrath on the Arab employers whom he accuses of torturing Ugandan employees.

Recently, Mr Ssegirinya claimed to have travelled to the United Arab Emirates, where he commiserated with Ugandans he said are under-going extreme abuse and exploitation.

When Mr Munyagwa said his hot pepper sprayer last year, it earned him a shouting match with the Kibuli based Muslim establishment spokesperson Sheikh Nooh Muzaata.

Mr Ssegirinya organized his controversial prayer to coincide with the International Labour day celebrations, which he said was unnecessary to celebrate in Uganda given what he termed as the suffering endured by Uganda’s workers in Middle East.

Dr Abdulhafiz Walusimbi, a Sharia expert at the Islamic University in Uganda dismissed Mr Ssegirinya’s duwa as having no legal basis in Islam.

“Such kinds of duwa are not acceptable in Islam because the Prophet Muhammad’s way of supplication was very normal, this salt duwa has no legal basis in Islam,” he said.

He added that the method employed by the cheeky politician is “intimidating but illegal.”

The acting chairperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), Ms Lillian Keene Mugerwa, recently told the Parliamentary Committee on Gender that up to 65,000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East.

This is 15,000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most of them are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400,000,” said Ms Mugerwa.

Unemployment

Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their travel to the Middle East.

Many Ugandans have been made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.

In January 2016, the government banned the export of maids. The ban came on the heels of reports that many Ugandan workers were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every 10 Ugandans are unemployed. Some lack the skills employers need. In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Kenya: President Kenyatta Orders 18pc Minimum Wage Increase

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered an 18 percent increase in the minimum wage. He said he appreciates concerns by employers on ballooning wage bills and asked Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed to hold a meeting with them to discuss non-labour factors that impact production.

“After consultation with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18 per cent. In addition, we have increased the non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100,000,” he said at the 51st Labour Day celebrations.

President Kenyatta also told workers seeking jobs overseas to only use approved agencies.

Kenyans Stare At Bleak Future As Job Cuts Loom

As Kenyans marked the 128th international Labour Day, the country’s employment outlook continued to be bleak amid economic uncertainties.

A wave of job losses across sectors including banking, construction, media, agriculture and tourism has caused concerns, with an unpredictable future.

As the country lost its job creation momentum for the first time in four years — managing 832,900 in the formal and informal sectors in 2016 from 841,600 a year earlier — the government maintains a freeze on hiring.

AUSTERITY MEASURES

A December 2016 memo from Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced cost-cutting measures as it narrowed down to hiring only for essential services such as security, health and education, in the public service.

The 2017 Economic Survey shows that 747,300 of the new jobs, or 89.7 per cent, were in the informal sector, from 713,600 in 2015.

The rest, 85,600, were white collar jobs — meaning the formal employment market lags far behind the number of graduates, with more than 500,000 leaving college yearly.

JOB CUTS

The gap means Kenya’s projected working age growth by nine million in the next decade will present a big headache.

Kenyans continue to stare at looming job cuts, even as the latest data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the economy grew at 5.8 per cent.

The private sector, which accounted for 67.2 per cent of the new formal jobs last year, expects to see more job cuts.

A recent Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) study found that a fifth of Nairobi-based firms plan staff cuts in the next six months, citing an unfavourable business climate.

Banks, microfinance institutions and transport companies foresee staff cuts arising from information technology (IT) disruption and completion of the standard gauge railway.

Other sectors expect a slowdown in growth linked to political uncertainty and harsh weather, which has depressed agriculture, the report says.

RETRENCHMENT

The worst hit in the wave of layoffs that characterised the better part of last year were banks.

The sackings, blamed on a tough economic climate, spilled into 2017.

KCB Group recently unveiled an early retirement scheme in a bid to save Sh2 billion per annum in staff costs.

The bank, whose staff count dropped by 223 last year, had carried out personnel cuts, spending Sh186 million in compensation to the affected employees.

Last October, Sidian Bank announced it was retrenching 108 workers under a voluntary retirement plan to trim its payroll.

Less than a week earlier, Family Bank had made a similar announcement, also citing costs.

The year saw more than 10 major firms implement or announce massive job cuts.

They include Kenya Airways, which started it off by sending home 600 staff, and Coca-Cola, which laid off 80 workers in July.

Airtel had started the year with an announcement to shed off 60 staff members.

INVESTORS HESITANT

The multibillion-shilling railway builder China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) shocked many when its 109 workers, based at a manufacturing factory in Kathekani, Kibwezi East Sub-County in Makueni County, were paid their monthly dues and told to leave in July.

Come this year, regional lender Bank of Africa Group closed 12 branches around the country, declaring an unknown number of its 520-strong workforce redundant.

The Sharia-compliant First Community Bank (FCB) laid off a third of its workforce — 106.

Ecobank’s decision to close nine of its 29 outlets also came with human capital consequences.

This being an election year, the situation is likely to get worse as most investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude because of political uncertainty ahead of the August 8 General Election.

Source : The Nation Nairobi

Tanzania: Nape Asks Magufuli to Act On Kidnapping

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Dar es Salaam — Former Information minister Nape Nnauye yesterday asked President John Magufuli to form an independent commission of inquiry to probe into the escalating acts of kidnap and torture in the country.

Addressing his Mtama constituents at a rally for the first time since he was sacked late last month from the cabinet position, Mr Nnauye said the situation was getting out of hand. The event was beamed live by online media platforms.

He said to arrest the situation and clear away a cloud of fear that is slowly creeping into the hearts and minds of Tanzanians, the commission should be formed to uncover the truth behind the abductions and report back to the Head of State for appropriate action.

According to Mr Nnauye, the incidents that the commission should probe include the disappearance of Chadema cadre Ben Saanane, the night raid on Clouds Media Group (CMG) studios and the alleged kidnapping of hip-hop star Roma Mkatoliki and his colleagues who were, however, ‘found’ yesterday.

“This is my humble advice to my President, because all these heinous acts are creating public hatred against him. People are starting to believe that the goons who are perpetrating these acts are sent by him,” said Mr Nnauye. “For my President to stay away from this hatred, he should form the commission and let the truth be known and the culprits punished according to the laws of the land.”

“A person can’t just disappear like a fly. Worse enough, those who are doing these things are the ones with the responsibility of protecting the people and their property. Now Tanzanians live in fear, once they step outside their homes they are not sure if they will return safe and alive. When it reaches a point when the people cannot trust their government with their security, then that government is doomed.”

The youthful lawmaker suggested that if the President finds this approach difficult to implement, then Parliament, as an independent pillar of the State, must take the responsibility and act accordingly.

According to him, the attacks also hurt the image of the ruling party, CCM, in the public eyes.

“We are all CCM members here, aren’t we? Aren’t people angry against the party for letting these gangsters act in a manner that is alien to our country? People in the streets are talking and if we don’t arrest these events, then CCM will have a difficult time in the 2020 elections,” he said. “Again, I humbly advise him (Dr Magufuli) as my party chairman to distance CCM from the growing anger directed at him, and the only way to do so is by letting the truth out.” He also said, internationally, the good image of Tanzania as a beacon of peace would suffer if the government is not going to put an end to such acts of abductions.

“The world is like a village nowadays. What is going on in the country is reported throughout the world, and this happens instantly. We should arrest this situation before the international community isolates us for not upholding the rule of law.”

Wearing a brave face, Mr Nnauye told his voters that he was ready to die for speaking the truth.

“Drawing a pistol on me is just like killing me, so I’m ready to face death. It is very possible that these goons are above police. If the minister for Home Affairs says that the guy who drew a pistol on me is not a police officer and nothing has so far been done against him, then that means police do not have a clearance to arrest him. Therefore, if we are to leave the matter in their hands [police], this will get us nowhere.”

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Mr Nnauye said he joined CCM not because his father (the late Brigadier Moses Nnauye) was a cadre, but because of the party’s ideology including standing for truth.

“I campaigned day and night for CCM to win in 2015 because I believed the country would be safe in CCM hands.”

“I continue to believe that the country will continue to be safe as long as Tanzanians, especially the youth will choose to be strong and stand for the truth without fear. If one commits an error, no matter how big it is we should tell him that he or she has erred. Failure to do so, we will be committing a sin that will torment us and our next generations.”

The firebrand politician had earlier received a traditional hero’s welcome whereby lined up women sleeping on their bellies let him walk on their backs just like how a home returning triumphant king was treated in the old days.

Mr Nnauye was sacked after receiving a damning report by the committee that he had formed to probe the night raid on Clouds Media studios by the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner who was accompanied by some armed officers. Following the report, the media has slapped the RC with a media blackout.

Mr Nnauye told his voters that his sacking was not a big deal, and that the President had full constitutional powers to appoint whoever he wanted as minister or to drop them.

Additional report by Mwanja Ibadi in Mtama.