09 Aug

Zimbabwe: President Scoffs At Opposition Coalition

President Mugabe not troubled by formation of an opposition "coalition"

Addressing guests at a dinner hosted by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Iran, Nicholas Kitikiti, President Mugabe said he and his party were not troubled by the recent formation of an opposition coalition ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.

“We may have bits and pieces, lots of bits and pieces that call themselves parties, trying to come together. “And I have said in the past, they don’t have any record, any record of their having been fighters anywhere.

“Political zeroes. I have said it does not matter how many zeroes you try to put together, they never constitute a unit; they remain zeroes.

“But the party is there, the two parties (Zanu and Zapu) that can demonstrate by showing the graves, remains of those who perished in the struggle. This is what continues to bring the people to us.”

The President went on: “They (the opposition) will never ever succeed as long as the party continues to be united. And I’m glad that is the situation.”

The opposition coalition dubbed MDC-Alliance brings together fringe political parties like the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, the People’s Democratic Party of Mr Tendai Biti, the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats of Mathias Guchutu, Transform Zimbabwe of one Jacob Ngarivhume, Zim-PF led by former Amabassador to Mozambique Agrippa Mutambara and Zanu Ndonga, all of which have never commanded any significant following.

The coalition has since divided the MDC-T with the divisions manifesting in violent clashes witnessed at the party offices in Bulawayo where party vice president Thokozani Khupe had to be hospitalised after being brutally assaulted by pro-Tsvangirai thugs over her opposition to the coalition.

“That’s why you can read, if you have any newspapers or listen to the radio or watch television, or you get some information from the embassy the huge rallies that we are holding, ” President Mugabe said.

“The youth, our youth, very dynamic, are organising these rallies where we have thousands upon thousands of people coming. Some walking long distances to interface with the President and other leaders.

“They call them interface meetings. These started with that long march, the Million-Man March and it is the birth of these interface provincial meetings.

“Huge ones; your parents, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, are the ones coming to stamp, to give a stamp, the people’s stamp, not to my name, but to the struggle I and others lead. And I thank them for it.”

The President was in Iran for the second-term inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani.

He was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba among other senior Government officials.

Source from allAfrica

09 Aug

Kenya election 2017: Raila Odinga says election systems hacked

Hacked

Kenya opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga has said the electoral commission’s IT system has been hacked to manipulate the election results.

He rejected early results from Tuesday’s vote indicating a strong lead for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The electoral commission has not yet responded to Mr Odinga’s accusation, but politicians have called for calm.

Many fear a repeat of the violence after a disputed election 10 years ago.

More than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced following the 2007 vote.

Mr Odinga said that the hackers gained access to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) computer system by using the identity of the commission’s IT manager, Chris Msando, who was killed last month.

The opposition leader had earlier told journalists the results coming in were “fake”, because the authorities had failed to present documents verifying the results.

Electoral officials say that with 91% of results in, Mr Kenyatta is leading with about 54.5%, to Mr Odinga’s 44.6%.

These results mean Mr Kenyatta appears to be heading for a first-round victory. In order to avoid a run-off, a candidate needs 50% plus one of the votes cast and at least a 25% share of the vote in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

There were eight candidates in all, but apart from Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga none polled more than 0.3% of the vote.

What is Mr Odinga’s complaint about the vote?

The opposition has described the results being released online as a “fraud” because they were not accompanied by original result forms 34A and 34B from the polling stations.

“They are fictitious, they are fake,” said Mr Odinga.

He said that the results were “the work of a computer” and did not reflect the will of voters.

“We have our projections from our agents which show we are ahead by far,” he added.

Opposition officials have said that, despite assurances from the electoral commission, they still have not received the result forms.

What does the electoral commission say?

The electoral commission has been urging people to wait calmly for the full results of Tuesday’s vote.

“During this critical phase, we urge all Kenyans to exercise restraint as we await official results from the polling stations and indeed as they start trickling in,” the commission said.

However, it admitted that a lack of mobile data coverage had delayed the delivery of the supporting documents, forms 34A and 34B.
There had been reports on election day of the failure of some voter-identification equipment. Also, one in four polling stations were apparently without mobile phone coverage, meaning that officials were asked to drive to the nearest town to send results.
The presidential candidates’ agents would have “special access” to the forms, though, the electoral commission said.
The Daily Nation newspaper quoted commission head Ezra Chiloba as saying only results supported by the forms had been published.
How did the voting go?
Voting passed off largely peacefully and some polling stations remained open after the scheduled 17:00 (14:00 GMT) closing time.
People started queuing early to ensure they could cast their vote. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured after an apparent stampede.

There were reports that one man had been killed in clashes in the Kilifi area.

But there was one heartening moment when a woman gave birth to a baby girl as she queued in West Pokot to cast her ballot. New mother Pauline Chemanang called the circumstances of the birth a “blessing” and called her baby Kura, Swahili for “ballot”, according to local radio.

However, in the run-up to election day, a top election official was murdered, there were claims of vote-rigging and hate speech flyers and rhetorical text messages began circulating.

Some nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water, while police prepared emergency first aid kits in the event of violence.

What is at stake?

Mr Kenyatta is hoping for a second term in office.

Voting for the national and local assemblies has also been taking place

Mr Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, beat him in the last election in 2013, but their rivalry is generations old – their fathers were political opponents in the 1960s.

Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago. The case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.

  • Six separate ballot papers: For president, national assembly, female representatives, governors, senate and county assemblies
  • 47 parliamentary seats and 16 senate seats reserved for women
  • Eight presidential candidates: President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are favourites
  • Kenyatta beat Odinga in 2013 – their fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s
  • A candidate needs 50% plus one vote for first-round victory
  • More than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections
  • More than 45% of registered voters under 35
  • Some 180,000 security officers on duty nationwide in case of trouble

Read full article on BBC

09 Aug

No confidence vote: a victory for Zuma, but a defeat for the ANC

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, overcame an eighth no confidence vote, despite the mountain of evidence of corrupt conduct

Jacob Zuma is a natural born political survivor. Yesterday South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, overcame an eighth no confidence vote, despite the mountain of evidence of corrupt conduct that has emerged in recent months.

But it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory – for him and most certainly for his party, the African National Congress (ANC). “Hollow” was the word that one opposition leader, Bantu Holomisa, used afterwards, while the Economic Freedom Fighter’s leader Julius Malema employed a well-known Africa proverb: “When you want to eat an elephant you do it bit by bit”.

Zuma’s political death is proving to be a protracted affair. There was an air of expectation yesterday that recent allegations of “state capture” – attested to by a welter of evidence from the so-called #guptaleaks – would be enough to persuade a sufficient number of the members of the ruling ANC to support an opposition-sponsored no confidence vote.

In the event, after a fractious two-hour debate scarred by ugly banter across the floor of the National Assembly, the motion fell short of the 201 votes required to remove Zuma and his cabinet. But yesterday was remarkably different. On the previous seven occasions that the opposition have tabled no confidence votes since Zuma’s power began in 2009, the ANC has remained steadfast in its support for its beleaguered president. Yesterday’s vote was a watershed for the liberation movement that brought an end to apartheid in 1994: around 30 of the 223 ANC MPs who voted yesterday sided with the opposition.

As the ANC’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, ruefully observed afterwards, this is true pause for reflection for the ruling party. Never before has such a significant number of the parliamentary caucus rebelled and defied the party whip.

Zuma’s streetwise political skills are well-known. So too is his adeptness at using executive patronage to secure the loyalty of party members as has been made clear in the revelations arising from his links to the Gupta family.

The secret ballot saga

But the back story to the unprecedented rebellion within his own party was the method of voting as much as Zuma’s political skullduggery. For the first time, parliament was compelled to allow MPs to vote in secret. This followed a legal challenge to the rules by Holomisa’s United Democratic Movement.

In its 22 June judgment, the Constitutional Court – an institutional beacon of excellence and integrity in the context of the “capture” of other state bodies – had held that the speaker of the National Assembly had the discretion to order a secret ballot in exceptional circumstances.

Since the ruling, a number of ANC MPs have gone public with testimony of intimidation and even death threats in the case of Makhosi Khoza. In turn, the ANC shot itself in the foot when one region of Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal, demanded that disciplinary proceedings be brought against Khoza after she had called for Zuma to go. The intervention served to underline the need to depart from the generally established principle of open voting.

Accordingly, speaker Baleka Mbete had little legal choice but to opt for a secret ballot, even though it would encourage dissenting voices among the ranks of the ANC caucus. Politically, she had probably done the political mathematics and, as the national chairperson of the ANC, was confident that regardless of the shield that she said was necessary to protect ANC MPs so that they could vote with their conscience, the numbers would still work out in Zuma’s favour.

And so it proved: 177 MPs voted for the motion, and 198 against (with 9 abstentions). Since the opposition has 151 MPs, at least three of whom were absent through illness, it means that that at least 29 and possibly as many as 35 ANC MPs jumped ship.

Win-win for the opposition

But it was a win-win situation for the opposition. Afterwards, in the unseasonably balmy winter’s evening outside the parliament in Cape Town, one after another of the leaders of the opposition spoke cheerfully about the political future and of the health of South Africa’s democracy.

They may have lost the battle, but they feel confident that they will win the war. After all, it is clear that Zuma is now their greatest electoral asset, with several polls (including the respected Afrobarometer), showing that across race and class, trust in Zuma has collapsed since he was returned to power for a second term in 2014.

Last year, the ANC suffered its first major electoral setbacks since the advent of democracy in 1994 when it lost control of three major city governments in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Now, its political management skills appear to be in disarray as factionalism and deep, painful divisions dominate internal party politics. This is all unfolding in the run-up to what is likely to be a bloody five-yearly national elective conference in December, at which the ANC will elect a new President of the party to succeed Zuma.

That may or may not mark the start of a new era of renewal for the ANC. But Zuma’s term as President of the country is only due to end in 2019. A lot more damage could be done to the country’s economy and its prospects for growth.

The consequence of that, however, is that the ANC will face the prospect of losing its majority at the national polls for the first time since Nelson Mandela’s historic victory in 1994.

Yesterday may have been a victory for Zuma. But in the longer term it is likely to come to be seen as a major defeat for the ANC.

 

Source from The Conversation 

08 Aug

Kenya: Tribalism or Regionalism – Factors That Will Determine Kenya Polls Winner

Factors That Will Determine Kenya Polls Winner

Kenya: Tribalism or Regionalism – Factors That Will Determine Kenya Polls Winner. Kenyans go to the polls today to choose their next crop of leaders for various elective posts.

The presidential election is billed as one of the most tightly contested in the country’s electoral history, with the most recent opinion polls showing a 1-3 percentage gap between the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party and Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance.

While the cost of living, unemployment, corruption, security and free public services are key issues having an impact on the lives of Kenyans, the ultimate winner will be determined by a motley of factors.

The EastAfrican’s Peter Munaita lists the top ten.

1. TRIBALISM OR REGIONALISM

Politicians talk of shunning it, at least until an election comes around.

Alliances are primarily informed by it and top leaders in them, principals in Kenya parlance, picked depending on their potential to rally their communities behind the coalition. That includes the choice of running mates too for presidential and gubernatorial positions.

So it is that the Jubilee Party is viewed as a dominion championing the cause of two communities, Kikuyus and Kalenjins, while the National Super Alliance (Nasa) is taken to be rooting for the interests of the Luo, the Kamba and the Luhya.

Predictably, the protagonists deny this and claim to be motivated by a need to unite Kenyans. Practice, however, discounts their word, with candidates in metropolitan areas like Nairobi appealing to tribal sentiment and those in rural areas exploiting the clan factor.

The recognition of Asians as Kenya’s 44th tribe recently — forget their diverse cultural and religious background — falls under this matrix.

So tribal is Kenya that opinion polls show a polarisation on key issues by region and by dominant community. On matters like worsening cost of living which affects all voters, Central, North Eastern and Rift Valley — home to the president, leader of government business and deputy president respectively, led in approval of the government.

In contrast, Nyanza, Eastern, Western and Coast — homes to Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga, running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, two principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula and Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho — led in disapproval of the government.

Overall, 85 per cent of Jubilee supporters in a poll by Ipsos approved of the president while 74 per cent of Nasa supporters disapproved of him.

In a poll by Infotrak, five per cent of those who said the country was going in the right direction boldly said it was because “my candidate is in power” while nine per cent blamed tribalism for the country going in the wrong direction.

Asked about tribalism trampling on issues in Kenyan elections during the presidential debate, Mr Odinga referred to the homeboy mentality in the US to explain why Nyanza voters were more likely to support him than Mr Kenyatta, with the vice versa obtaining in Central.

Outside the home areas, however, Mr Odinga said that the support of each would be more inclined to issues. While the homeboy factor holds going by opinion polls, it is unlikely that issues explain why Jubilee is also the most popular party in Eastern, Rift Valley and North Eastern, while Nasa holds more sway in Nairobi, Coast and Western.

Voters identifying with a candidate’s issues outside the home region would be expected to be more evenly spread. Of note was a finding in the Ipsos poll that less than a half of respondents (46 per cent) believed any political party “genuinely represents the interests of ordinary Kenyans.”

A winning presidential candidate is by law required to garner more than a half of the votes cast (50+1) and win at least a quarter of the votes in 24 of the 47 counties.

All opinion polls show the leading candidates will meet the second condition but the regions present quite a tight race with regard to the first.

2. MONEY AND SOURCES

Running an election is an expensive affair, with regard to logistics and mobilisation of supporters. Upwards of Ksh5 billion ($500 million) has been floated the amount required to run an affective presidential campaign.

It is reported that in 2013, in the choice of Musalia Mudavadi as a fallback candidate should Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto be barred from running because of crimes against humanity charges that were facing them, money became a dealbreaker.

“We cannot support you and give you money for the campaigns” is said to have been one of the home truths uttered to Mr Mudavadi’s face.

Until recently, elections were won by the candidate who would lobby rivals and their supporters to step down in their favour; something that is still believed to be key in determining which alliance top leaders choose.

The mudslinging between Jubilee and Nasa on the role of businessman Jimi Wanjigi in the current and previous campaigns is understood to revolve around a deal gone sour for the tapping of one principal to shift alliances.

Nowhere is the influence of money more evident than in political rallies where followers are bedecked in party attire, helicopters fly from one venue to another and party mobilisers are compensated for a day’s work. Crowds are also hired to participate in rallies and other campaign activities.

With the campaign financing regulations in limbo and funding of political parties by the State inadequate, resources are mobilised through fundraisers where a dinner plate goes for more than $10,000.

Source from allAfrica

08 Aug

Kenyans queue for hours to vote amid fears of post-election violence

polling stations across Kenya

Long queues formed outside polling stations across Kenya on Tuesday morning as fiercely contested presidential elections got under way following last-minute calls for calm from officials and politicians.

Many voters had waited for hours in the rain to choose between the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013, or the veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga. The most recent polls did not indicate a clear winner.

An estimated 180,000 police officers and members of the security forces have been deployed amid fears of violence after the result is announced, which may be as early as Wednesday morning.

The campaign was marred by hundreds of violent incidents – including the murder of a high-profile election official – issues with new voting technology and widespread concerns about fraud.

More than 1,100 people died after the losers rejected the election result in 2007.

In recent days bus stations have been busy as many Kenyans have left major cities for provincial areas which are seen as safer. Others have stockpiled groceries, phone cards and other essentials.

Election officials have circulated short videos on social media calling on voters to accept that in a “healthy democracy there are winners and losers”.

Kenyatta, 55, addressed the nation on Monday night, urging citizens to vote “in peace” while the former US president Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, led international calls for a violence-free election.

“I urge Kenyan leaders to reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people,” Obama said in a statement.

There are more than 19 million registered voters in the nation of 48 million. Half are aged under 35. They will vote in 40,000 polling stations.

Pamela Mwande, 33, said she had voted for Kenyatta in the upscale Lavington area of Nairobi.

“[The president] has been a good leader. We should not have change and disruption and fuss,” she said.

Observers see the election as the last showdown of a dynastic rivalry between the families of Kenyatta and Odinga, 72, that has lasted more than half a century.

The presidential candidates’ fathers – Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga – fought together for independence from Britain in 1963 before becoming bitter rivals.

Odinga is making his fourth attempt to gain power. He claims that elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him.

The men belong to two of the country’s main ethnic groups, Kenyatta from the Kikuyu, the largest, and Odinga from the Luo.

Both have built coalitions with other influential communities in a country where voting still takes place largely along ethnic lines.

Kenyatta’s first term saw a massive infrastructure drive and steady economic growth of more than 5%, making Kenya one of the best performing economies in Africa.

However his record has been undermined by soaring food prices, ongoing high unemployment and major corruption scandals.

Result of tight contest between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga could be known by Wednesday morning.

Via TheGuardian

08 Aug

Kenya: Polls Open in Centers Countrywide Amid Tight Security

Nairobi — Polls have opened in Kenya's high stakes election

Nairobi — Polls have opened in Kenya’s high stakes election, with voters having started streaming to polling stations as early as 1am.

Voting has already started in most parts of the country.

Anxious voters camped throughout the night at various polling stations ready to cast the vote on Tuesday morning, signaling a likely high voter turnout in the Kenya vote.

At the Moi Avenue Primary School Polling Station in Nairobi’s Starehe Constituency, hundreds of voters started lining up at 11pm and more were streaming in at 1am, five hours ahead of 6am when polls were set to open.

“I thought I am the only one coming early… I am surprised at the number of people here and the more that are coming,” Peter Mureithi said, having joined the queue shortly before midnight Monday.

The polling station is the largest in the city centre, and the queue was already past the Globe Cinema Interchange a few meters from Moi Avenue.

Most of the voters who chose to spend the night at the poll station were hawkers from around the city who wanted to vote early and carry on with their work.

“It was easier for us to stay here than go home then come back here early in the morning. We have our jobs to do and our families to feed but we also want to exercise our constitutional right to vote for the leaders we want,” one of the voters who identified herself as Muthoni said.

Another voter added: “There is no sleeping today. If we have to, we will do so while sitting here. We want to be among the first ones to vote and by 9am all of us should be back to work. Above all, we want to vote peacefully.”

The call for peace resonated with everyone we spoke to with all calling for restraint and people to accept the results.

“Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results. There is no need to fight because of elections. We are all Kenyans irrespective of tribe. If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?” Calvin Otieno, another voter said after joining the queue at midnight.

Another one added: “These politicians always say we are the stupid ones because for them at the end of the day they will be friends, call each other brother and son while we are fighting with each other for them. We must be friends too.”

There was heavy security at the polling station, with more than 10 police officers patrolling the area.

Starehe is one of the constituencies in the city which will witness a bare knuckle fight for the new Member of Parliament with the battle pitting youngsters; businessman Steve Mbogo, musician Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua and activist Boniface Mwangi.

via allAfrica

07 Aug

Paul Kagame re-elected president with 99% of vote in Rwanda election

Paul Kagame re-elected president in Rwanda election

Former guerrilla leader praised for bringing stability and growth after genocide but criticised as authoritarian wins third term.

Paul Kagame, the controversial president of Rwanda, has won a landslide victory in the small African state’s election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.

The result will surprise no one, inside or outside Rwanda.

Kagame, 59, has won international praise for the stability and economic development he has brought Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people were killed, but he has also been accused of running an authoritarian, one-party state. Some have dismissed the polls as a sham.

Friday’s election came after a constitutional amendment, which ended a two-term limit for presidents and theoretically permits Kagame to remain in power until 2034. The amendment was approved by 98% of voters.

In the final tally for Friday’s election, he won almost 99% of votes cast, said Kalisa Mbanda, chairman of the National Electoral Commission.

The board expects turnout in the east African country of 12 million people to have topped 90% in an election that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

Habineza, a former journalist who leads the Green Democratic party, said last week the authorities in Rwanda were “starting to understand the opposition can play a role in running the country”.

“We are still treated as if we are enemies … but so far in this election no one in our party has been killed or imprisoned or harassed and that means at least some progress,” he said before a rally in the small southern town of Rango.

The election board disqualified another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.

After results were announced, Kagame said he would work to sustain economic growth. Infant mortality and poverty levels have dropped rapidly in Rwanda in recent decades, while literacy rates and other indicators of development have soared. New roads have been built and an ambitious programme of investment launched. Kigali is perhaps the cleanest and most orderly African capital city.

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are [economically] developing,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Kagame led rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide and went on to wage further wars in the region. He won the last election in 2010 with 93% of the vote, and said during this campaign that he again expected an outright victory.

Despite some discontent over joblessness and other issues, the president appears authentically popular in Rwanda, which has had some of the fastest economic growth rates in Africa and has become known for its stability in a deeply troubled region.

At a succession of rallies attended by large numbers of supporters from the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party, Kagame promised more schools, roads and clinics. Supporters at a rally in Burera in the north of the landlocked country said last week that they could not imagine another leader.

Reuters reported that voters celebrated the election result into the early hours of Saturday.

“Last night was fantastic. People kept coming in until my bar had more than 200 people. I usually get 100 on normal days. They were all celebrating and I left at 2am, but they were still dancing and more were coming,” said John Habimana, owner of the popular Roasty Bar in Kigali.

Other residents were less happy, the agency said. “To me I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said one man in the capital who asked not to be named.

via The Guardian

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