USAID Redoubles Efforts to Strengthen Ghanaian Institutions in the North - African Business Magazine
USAID Redoubles Efforts to Strengthen Ghanaian Institutions in the North

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    Congolese police, armed forces and the Republican Guard used excessive – including lethal – force during demonstrations in Kinshasa last month, when at least 53 people were killed over two days, 143 injured and more than 299 unlawfully arrested, according to a UN preliminary investigation report released today.

    The preliminary investigation by the UN Joint Human Rights Office of MONUSCO* documented 422 victims of human rights violations, including violations of the right to life, to physical integrity, to the liberty and security of the person, peaceful assembly and expression. The figures do not reflect the full extent of the violations, as the UN teams were denied access to official records of some morgues and public hospitals as well as various detention facilities, including two key facilities where many of those arrested and many dead bodies were reportedly taken. Investigations are ongoing.

    Of the 53 people documented killed, including seven women and two children, at least 48 were killed by State agents, including the Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC) and soldiers of the Garde Républicaine (GR) and the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC). Perpetrators were not identified in the killing of four police officers and one woman.

    The vast majority of the victims – 38 of them – were shot dead. Many of them were shot in the head, chest and back, including a five-year-old girl who was shot in the back, the report states. Others died after being burned, stabbed, beaten or attacked with machetes. Of the 143 documented as injured, 75 were victims of the excessive use of force by State agents while 68 were injured by unknown perpetrators.

    The report documents the harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention of local and international journalists, as well as the destruction and looting of the premises of eight political parties. The report also documents reports of violence by demonstrators. Of the four police officers killed, three were beaten to death and one burned alive.

    The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the DRC Maman Sidikou urged Congolese authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, independent, credible and impartial investigations into the very serious human rights violations documented in the report. Sidikou raised deep concerns about the widespread impunity that prevails in the country, highlighting the findings of another UN report ** released today which reveals that a very low number of State agents, especially senior officers, and leaders and combatants of armed groups, are prosecuted and convicted in the DRC for human rights violations.

    “While there has been progress, and some 447 FARDC soldiers and 155 PNC officers have been convicted in relation to human rights violations committed between January 2014 and March 2016, widespread impunity continues,” Sidikou said.  

    “Strong political will is needed to ensure justice and reparation to all victims of serious violations. This is particularly crucial in this volatile pre-electoral context,” Sidikou said. “Effective justice is a major deterrent for future violations of human rights and it is the cornerstone for peace and stability.”

    The report on impunity cites the fragile legal framework and the lack of judicial independence and resources as major challenges to the prosecution of perpetrators. In light of the growing number of human rights violations committed by police officers, particularly in the pre-electoral context, the report calls on the Congolese authorities to urgently develop and implement a strategy to prosecute the perpetrators, and to send a clear “zero tolerance” message to end human rights violations by State agents.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed deep concern at the mounting number of very serious human rights violations by State security officers in recent months. He urged the authorities to prioritise justice and accountability for serious human rights violations and remedy for the victims.

    “Impunity for serious human rights violations – including the shooting, hacking and mass arrests of protestors – has been a chronic problem in the DRC for decades now. This is clearly outrageous and serves to fuel an already explosive situation in the country. While the rate of prosecutions appears to be rising, new violations continue to be perpetrated with alarming frequency,” High Commissioner Zeid said.

    “A clear message needs to be relayed from the highest levels of Government that security forces must operate in line with international human rights laws and standards, must refrain from the excessive use of force and that those who breach these laws and standards will be held to account regardless of the affiliations and rank of the perpetrator. As I emphasized during my visit to the DRC in July 2016, the Government urgently needs to take measures to defuse the tensions in the country, particularly by freeing all those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly, association and expression.” 

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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  • WWF raises concern over alleged misuse of mining rehabilitation fund

    WWF South Africa is gravely concerned by current claims that have been widely published in the media, some of which form the basis of a recent affidavit submitted by the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan.

    The affidavit suggests that funds that were held in trust by Optimum Mines, specifically for mine rehabilitation, may have been released for purposes other than restoring environmental damage. This would amount to an unacceptably deleterious outcome to human wellbeing.

    CEO of WWF South Africa, Dr Morné du Plessis, said: “I have requested an urgent meeting with Minister Mosebenzi Zwane to discuss the measures that his ministry and the Department of Mineral Resources have in place to ensure that we will never face a situation as implied in the Affidavit by the Minister of Finance, namely that even one cent of funds set aside (by law) for rectifying environmental damage of mining activity be diverted to any use other than for what it was intended.”

    He added: “WWF will leave no stone unturned to ensure that human wellbeing is protected from the long-term degradation that may result from the extraction of mineral resources from our South African soil”.

    *By their very nature mining operations have a devastating impact on the environment. More than the environmental damage are the consequences of such damage to the livelihoods and the wellbeing of communities in the vicinity of mines. Many of the specific impacts of mining usually relate to a reduction in the quality of water sources and land around such sites, with concomitant impacts on human and animal health, and the consequent deterioration in human wellbeing and the destruction of livelihoods. 

    It is for this reason that companies are required by law to set aside money for rehabilitation. However, research published in a 2012 WWF report indicates that mining companies are not fulfilling this obligation adequately. Furthermore, a joint report by the Department of Mineral Resources and the Council for Geoscience in 2015 estimates that rehabilitating South Africa’s derelict and owner-less mines and treating polluted water from these operations will cost almost R60 billion ($6.6 billion).

    Recognising the urgent need to ensure that further liability is not transferred to the state and by extension society at large, new and more onerous financial provisioning requirements were introduced in 2015 and are now governed by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

    Importantly this now makes provision for the rehabilitation of long term impacts, particularly water related impacts, such as acid mine drainage associated with coal and gold mining, that may only become apparent in years to come. Such funds (either in the form of a financial guarantee or which are deposited into a specific accounted administered by the Minister of DMR or both) must be held for the specific purpose of environmental rehabilitation after mine closure.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

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    World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
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  • Minister Davies welcomes R120 Million Investment by 3M

    The Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies has welcomed the R120 million investment by the United State- based multinational company, 3M to expand its operations in South Africa. 3M is a science and technology company that produces thousands of imaginative products, and are the leader in scores of markets – from consumer, safety and graphics, electronics and energy, healthcare and industrial.

    According to Minister Davies, the investment is a major boost for the manufacturing sector as the enhancement is designed to improve productivity and will position the Maple Park plant in Pamona, Kempton Park as one of the globally competitive locations within 3M.

    “Such investment is important and demonstrates the confidence that 3M has in the long term future of South Africa as a regional manufacturing hub,” says Davies.

    He highlights that with its commitment to South Africa spanning over 60 years, global science and technology leader 3M recently invested a R120-million into increasing its production efficiency in the automotive and scourer manufacturing sectors of its business, ensuring even greater support for local customers.

    The Managing Director of 3M South Africa, Mr Ismail Mapara says the company was pleased to host the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) at their Maple Park operations and believes that the investment in manufacturing and the creation of new jobs further cements their history in South Africa and commitment to the same growth and skills upliftment initiatives that the dti promotes.

    “Our $500 000 Automotive Line investment offers 3M customers the high quality products and service they expect, but with even more agility now that we are able to manufacture our film products for the industry with only a to-scale drawing of the vehicle,” says Mapara.

    He adds that the fully-automated scourer production line comprises bespoke equipment tailor-made for the South African market and built in the within country with the support of local and international 3M engineers.

    “The US $800 000 scourer production technology ranks as among the best in the world, and is now the fastest line in the 3M network,” he adds. 

    Mapara says to ensure both operational safety and efficiency; 3M are employing experienced resources from within the industry while developing skills among new employees. He adds that the new investments in Maple Park will create jobs for an additional 75 skilled individuals, with more opportunities arising across the company due to the extension of 3M’s domestic operations.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

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    The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa
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  • South Sudan’s Support of Armed Sudanese Opposition Groups

    The United States calls on the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to comply with its commitments to cease harboring or providing support for Sudanese armed opposition groups, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2046 (2012). Despite its obligations under international law and repeated agreements between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Government of Sudan to end such support, credible reports continue to indicate the Government of the Republic of South Sudan is harboring and providing assistance to armed Sudanese opposition groups. We urge South Sudan’s leaders to redouble their efforts to meet the commitments they recently reached with Sudan under which both sides agreed to end support for armed opposition groups on either side.

    The presence of Sudanese armed opposition forces in South Sudan, and their involvement in South Sudan’s internal conflicts, destabilizes both Sudan and South Sudan. It is, moreover, a violation of the terms of the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. We call on the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to ensure Sudanese armed opposition groups are not in a position to conduct armed operations within South Sudan or across the border in Sudan.

    We also urge both Sudan and South Sudan to fully respect the 2012 Agreement on Security Arrangements, and withdraw their armed forces from the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.

    Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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    U.S. Department of State
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  • Zambia highlights key essentials to Africa’s development

    Zambia says sustainable trade, infrastructure development, gender equality and empowerment, peace, health and education are among key prerequisites to the development of Africa.

    Zambia made the remarks at the just-concluded Africa-week joint debate on New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), focusing on the progress in implementation and international support as well as on the decade to roll back malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs Assistant Director (International Organisations), Mr. Eliphas Chinyonga said Zambia welcomed the programme for infrastructure development in Africa that NEPAD developed, focusing on transformative regional projects.

    “Out of the priority Regional Infrastructure projects identified, Zambia is likely to benefit directly from those that are located or pass through the borders. These include Serenje–Nakonde Road with the total length of 614.71km; Lusaka-Lilongwe ICT Terrestrial Fiber Optic; Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Transmission Line; and Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Project,” said Mr. Chinyonga at the UN General Assembly meeting. “I am pleased to report that Zambia developed a compendium of climate oriented agriculture technologies in all three of its agro ecological regions. This was facilitated through the support from the NEPAD Climate Change Fund for mainstreaming Climate Smart Agriculture into the National Agriculture Investment Plan.”

    He said Zambia is committed to promoting human capital development. 

    In this regard, Mr. Chinyonga said Zambia will continue to improve the teaching of science and mathematics, which are critical to attaining improvements in technology and innovation for enhanced industrialisation and job creation. 

    Mr. Chinyonga also said Zambia was focusing on reducing malaria related deaths countrywide and hoped to achieve a malaria-free Zambia by 2020. 

    Mr. Chinyonga said, so far, malaria prevalence and deaths have steadily decreased, culminating in an impressive 55 percent reduction in all cases of child mortality. 

    On gender equality and women empowerment, Mr. Chinyonga informed the global body that Zambia enacted the Gender Equity and Equality Act No.  22 of 2015, which has fully domesticated major international and regional instruments including the  Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. 

    However, Mr. Chinyonga expressed Zambia’s concern that the process of integrating NEPAD into the African Union structures and processes has been slow, despite the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Agency working towards concluding the matter. 

    “It is our view that international support to facilitate the inclusion of realistic timelines for concluding the matter would be useful,” said Mr. Chinyonga. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, Zambia still remains fully committed to ensuring that the priority areas of energy, industrialisation, intra-regional trade, food security, health, education, gender equality and adaptation to climate change are fast tracked under NEPAD.”

    Distributed by APO on behalf of Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations.

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