Category Archives: Business

News in Brief 17 January 2018

Humanitarian situation in DRC deteriorates due to enormous funding gap: IOM

The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is spiralling out of control due to a "massive escalation" of conflict and insecurity, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) said on Wednesday.

Some 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the DRC, 1.7 million of whom were violently forced to flee their homes last year.

IOM representative, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, said that the "recent spike of displacement has made the DRC the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa".

And he added that the situation is "not only a humanitarian crisis but it's a protection crisis, as human rights violations are happening every day".

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) one out of seven Congolese will be in need of assistance in 2018, while the number of those relying on aid for their survival is set to double compared to last year, to 10.5 million people.

This massive deterioration in conditions requires considerably more funding: $1.68 billion.

Mr. Chauzy stressed the consequences of failing to increase aid:

"If we don't get that level of funding then people will die. I have to be clear with this. They will die. I mean, the severe acute malnutrition rates in the Kasai, have increased by 750 per cent. The reason for that is not because of drought or anything, it's just because people have been displaced so often in the Kasai, they have missed now three planting seasons, and if you don't provide that kind of food assistance now, to kind of bridge that gap, people who have been living off foraging in the forest, they will suffer, and the most vulnerable will die first. Children will die first. And that's a fact.

Funding cut creates "dramatic financial crisis" for Palestine refugee agency

Major funding cuts on the part of the United States for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have created the most "dramatic financial crisis" in its history.

That's according to Pierre KrA�henbuhl, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, who said the revised US contribution of $60 million, was down from more than $350 million last year.

Mr. KrA�henbuhl noted that the US has consistently been UNRWA's largest single donor, something he sincerely thanked the American people for.

But he added that the severe cut "threatens one of the most successful and innovative" human development programmes in the Middle East, and would impact the stability of the region.

More details on the UNRWA chief's statement, from UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

"He called on the Agency's partners to rally in support and join UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives to ensure Palestine Refugee students continue to access education in its schools and the dignity of Palestine refugee children and their families is preserved through all its services. Mr. KrA�henbuhl will launch in the next few days a global fundraising campaign to capture the large-scale commitment to keeping UNRWA schools and clinics open throughout 2018 and beyond."

Syria's warring parties invited to Geneva next week for peace talks

The UN Special Envoy for Syria has invited government and opposition leaders to attend a special meeting next week, under the auspices of the stalled UN-backed Geneva peace process.

Separate invitations have been sent to attend the talks, which will be taking place in Austria, on 25 and 26 January.

Veteran envoy Staffan de Mistura said he was looking forward to both delegations taking part and expected they would come "prepared for substantive engagement" with a specific focus on constitutional reform towards a lasting peace settlement.

Here's Stephane Dujarric again.

"As he prepares for the session in Vienna, the Special Envoy reiterates the view of the United Nations that any political initiative by international actors should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-facilitated Geneva political process and the full implementation of resolution 2254The UN in Syria has issued a statement today urging all parties, inside and outside of the country, to prevent further violence and enable humanitarian organizations to access and assist people in need."

Source: United Nations Radio

Secretary-General Appoints Bience Gawanas of Namibia Special Adviser ...

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced today the appointment of Bience Gawanas of Namibia as Special Adviser on Africa. She will succeed Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt, to whom the Secretary General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. The Secretary General also wishes to extend his appreciation to David Mehdi Hamam, who served as Acting Special Adviser since Mr. Abdelaziz's departure.

Ms. Gawanas is currently Special Adviser to Namibia's Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. Prior to this, she was Special Adviser to the Minister of Health and Social Services. A champion of women's health and rights in Africa, she has been commended for her role in initiating far reaching campaigns, such as the continental Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

Ms. Gawanas was elected for two terms as Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 and 2008, during which time she was responsible for advocacy, as well as the harmonization and coordination of regional and continental policies and programmes promoting social development. Her portfolio included health, HIV/AIDS and nutrition, migration and population, arts and culture, the welfare of vulnerable groups, labour and migration, and sports. From 1996 to 2003, she was Ombudswoman of Namibia, having previously worked as a lecturer on gender law at the University of Namibia, from 1995 to 1997, and as a lawyer at the Legal Assistance Centre, a human rights non governmental organization, from 1990 to 1991.

She has served on various task forces and commissions, including the UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Coordination among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors, the Task Force for Scaling Up Education and Training for Health Workers, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health, the Global Steering Committee on scaling up towards Universal Access, and the Lancet Oslo University Commission on Global Governance for Health.

Ms. Gawanas holds a Bachelor of Laws (honours) from University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and an utter barrister degree from the Council of Legal Education School of Law/Lincoln's Inn, United Kingdom. She also holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and an honorary doctorate in law from the University of the Western Cape.

Born in 1956, Ms. Gawanas has three children and four grandchildren.

Source: United Nations

Police investigate two counts of drowning in separate incidents

Mankweng: The police in Mankweng have opened an inquest case after a 39-year-old man drowned in Ga-Rapheri dam around Ga-Molepo village.

It is alleged on Friday, 2018-01-12 around 19:00, the deceased was fishing, using a self-made boat when it capsized. An eyewitness alerted the police and a search rescue team (SAR) was immediately established and commenced with the operation. The body was only recovered yesterday around 10:00 in the morning.

In a separate incident in Ritavi policing precinct, the body of a 48-year-old woman was found floating in the Khujwana dam around Khujwana village on 2018-01-13 at around 15:30.

The cause of deaths in both cases is still unknown but police investigations are still continuing.

We want it warn members of the community that as much this year's seasonal rains are minimal, the current waters in our dams can still be life threatening if approached without the necessary precautions.

Source: South African Police Service

South Africa responding to largest-ever Listeria outbreak – UN ...

What is believed to be the largest-ever outbreak of the bacterial disease Listeriosis � or Listeria � has left more than 60 people dead across South Africa, with nearly 750 confirmed cases, the United Nation's health agency said Friday.

Listeriosis is a serious, but preventable and treatable disease caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, which is found in soil, water, vegetation and some animal faeces. Animal products, including meat and dairy; seafood; and fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, can all be contaminated.

Infants are often a high target of this bacteria, said Christian Lindmeier, spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), adding that newborns are about 40 per cent of the infected people.

Having a three-week incubation period makes it difficult to establish the source and thus, tough to prevent.

You wouldn't know what you ate three weeks ago � maybe the one particular food that made you sick three or four weeks later � this is the big challenge we face in this situation, the spokesperson elaborated.

South Africans are called upon to practice WHO's 'Five Keys to Safer Food' programme that include washing hands before and often during food preparation; separating raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods; and cooking foods thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.

Mr. Lindmeier underscored the importance for those with weakened immune systems � including the elderly and people living with HIV and cancer � and pregnant women, who are 20 times more likely to get Listeriosis than other healthy adults, to exercise care.

Nearly two-thirds of the reported cases have been from the Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located.

We have a total now of 748 laboratory-confirmed cases, but then again, this is difficult because many cases may not be even reported, he said, adding that cases have been found in all socio-economic backgrounds since the outbreak was declared on 5 December.

The second largest outbreak of Listeriosis was in 2011, when the United States had a total of 147 reported cases. Prior to that, Italy had a large occurrence in 1997.

South Africa has implemented some measures to stem Listeriosis, such as making it a notifiable disease, whereby every Listeriosis-diagnosed patient must be reported.

And that's important because Listeriosis is such a big challenge because it is not just the health sector that is involved, it involves all sectors � the food industry, farming � and to find the source is really difficult simply because the incubation period is so long, Mr. Lindmeier asserted.

Source: UN News Centre

Climate-Related Violence, Boko Haram Attacks Stand to Hamper ...

Despite progress in West Africa and the Sahel, particularly regarding democratic and peaceful political transitions, the security situation in the region remained a grave concern, the Security Council heard today in a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the region.

Following a notable decline in Boko Haram attacks in the first half of 2017, there had been an uptick in the number of such incidents since September, with a peak of 143 civilian casualties in November, said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who is also the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), as he introduced the Secretary General's report (document S/2017/1104).

Boko Haram's use of children as suicide bombers had increased fivefold from 2016, reaching 135 such cases in 2017, he said. Although 700 people abducted by Boko Haram had recently escaped captivity, the group continued to kidnap innocent people. More than 2 million displaced persons are still desperately waiting for an end to the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, he stressed.

Further, the exponential spread of intercommunal and farmer herder conflicts, which had claimed hundreds of lives, was a ticking time bomb, he said, which unattended, could escalate beyond the community level.

Despite those worrying trends, the trajectory of successful democratic elections across West Africa continued, he said, pointing to the large number of people who had participated in peaceful 10 October and 26 December elections in Liberia. I applaud the Liberian people and their leaders for their recourse to exclusively legal means to settle all electoral related disputes, he said, efforts that had strengthened democratic institutions.

Looking ahead, he said attention must be paid to upcoming elections in Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Togo, opposition parties continued with street protests, while a lack of consensus on how to implement constitutional reforms could threaten legislative and local elections to be held later this year, he stressed.

Following his briefing, the representative of CAte d'Ivoire highlighted that the peaceful presidential elections and democratic transfer of power in Liberia had created hope that the country had turned a corner and ended decades of military and political crises. The events there provided a good example to Africa and the West African region, in particular.

Nevertheless, while such progress was promising, he expressed concern about the prevalence of threats from terrorism and violent extremism, which were linked to transboundary organized crime, trafficking in migrants, drugs, weapons and human beings. Those challenges were compounded by poverty and unemployment, particularly among the youth in areas where the State had difficulty carrying out its sovereign functions.

Equatorial Guinea's delegate underscored that climate change was having a severe impact on the region, particularly on animal husbandry and agricultural production. Desertification due to climate change had led farmers and ranchers to migrate, stoking further tensions, he emphasized.

Peru's representative focused on preventative diplomacy, stressing that UNOWAS stood out for its capacity to prevent conflict, while its monitoring and early warning functions had helped to reduce tensions in a number of countries in the subregion. That capacity should be strengthened and leveraged, he said, describing the Office as an appropriate platform to coordinate regional and subregional efforts.

Sweden's delegate, meanwhile, stressed that adequate resources must be made available as UNOWAS was asked to do more, including in support of the transitions from peacekeeping to non mission settings in Liberia and CAte d'Ivoire.

Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia, the Netherlands, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 11:11 a.m.

Briefing

MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), introduced the Secretary General's report on that Office (document S/2017/1104), and said that despite progress in West Africa and the Sahel, notably regarding democratic and peaceful political transitions, the security situation was a grave concern. Terrorists had launched a complex attack on United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) positions in Kidal, resulting in the death of one peacekeeper. Three Malian soldiers had also recently lost their lives due to a landmine, while another had been killed by terrorists. Those attacks, as well as others committed in the Mali Niger Burkina Faso tri border area, had been attributed to Al Qaida affiliated groups, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

In Niger, he said an increasing number of security incidents had compelled the Government to dedicate 17 per cent of public expenditure in 2018 to the security sector, compared to 15 per cent in 2017, a move met by demonstrations in capital, given the expected detrimental effects on the delivery of social services. Following a notable decline in Boko Haram attacks in the first half of 2017, there had been an uptick in the number of incidents since September, with a peak of 143 civilian casualties in November. Boko Haram's use of children as suicide bombers increased fivefold compared to 2016, reaching 135 such cases in 2017. Although 700 people abducted by Boko Haram had recently escaped captivity, the group continued to kidnap innocent people, he said, adding: More than 2 million displaced persons are still desperately waiting for an end to the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin.

In the Sahel, he said the Group of Five (G5) countries [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger] had made significant progress in operationalizing their Joint Force, having established its military command structure and force headquarters, and conducted its first military operation with French troops in October 2017. Consultations were ongoing to conclude a technical agreement among the United Nations, European Union and G5 Sahel States on the provision of operational and logistical support to the Joint Force through MINUSMA. The past six months had also seen substantive progress in efforts to reinvigorate the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. A support plan for the Strategy would now be shared with national, regional and international partners to harmonize approaches and canvass for support to the Sahel. However, the exponential spread of intercommunal and farmer herder conflicts, which had claimed hundreds of lives, was a concern. It is a ticking time bomb, which unattended, could escalate beyond the community level, he warned.

At the December meeting of the Policy Committee of the West Africa Coast Initiative, member States had committed to reinforcing the fight against organized crime, he said, citing migration as among the most lucrative activities for criminal networks across West Africa and the Sahel. The United Nations continued to pioneer the sustaining peace approach in the Gambia and Burkina Faso to ensure the consolidation of those young democracies, where more attention must be paid to security sector reform, national reconciliation and the justice sector. Respect for human rights and the rule of law was the basis for advancing peace, security and development, he said, adding that the good relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria had increased prospects for completing demarcation of the border.

More broadly, the trajectory of successful democratic elections in West Africa continued, he said, pointing to the large number of people who had participated in the peaceful 10 October and 26 December elections in Liberia. I applaud the Liberian people and their leaders for their recourse to exclusively legal means to settle all electoral related disputes, he said, efforts that had strengthened its democratic institutions. Further attention must be paid to upcoming elections in Sierra Leone and Guinea, while in Togo, opposition parties continued with street protests. The lack of consensus on how to implement constitutional reforms could threaten the holding of legislative and local elections this year.

Statements

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (CAte d'Ivoire) said progress in the area of political governance was promising. Despite advances registered in West Africa, he expressed concern over the prevalence of threats from terrorism and violent extremism, citing proven links to transboundary organized crime, trafficking in migrants, drugs, weapons and human beings. Those threats were compounded by poverty and unemployment, particularly among the young in areas where the State had difficulty carrying out its sovereign functions. In the search for sustainable solutions, efforts must be pooled. In Liberia, peaceful presidential elections and the democratic transfer of power had given rise to hope that the country had turned a corner and ended decades of military and political crises. It had set a good example to Africa and the West African region in particular. It was now up to the international community, as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) would soon leave, to support efforts of the Government and civil society to consolidate the benefits of the democratic transition.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said UNOWAS continued to carry out various important functions, in particular through the use of its good offices. It also played a critical role by contributing to strategic and integrated analysis of the opportunities, risks and challenges faced by national and local authorities in efforts to sustain peace. On Liberia, he commended the country for its peaceful, transparent, free and fair election process, which had just concluded. Adequate resources must be made available as UNOWAS was asked to do more, including in support of the transitions from peacekeeping to non mission settings in Liberia and CAte d'Ivoire.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), noting that UNOWAS was a flexible mechanism which could be adapted, called it an appropriate platform for coordinating regional and subregional efforts to combat threats to peace and security in the region. In the area of preventative diplomacy, it stood out for its capacity to prevent conflict, while its monitoring and early warning functions had helped to reduce tensions in a number of States in the subregion. That capacity should be strengthened and leveraged. In the promotion of institutional strengthening, its ability to create a joint vision meant it could play a large role in coordinating efforts with the African Union. In the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, he cited the Office's efficient efforts in countering the threat of Boko Haram.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLA�Z (Bolivia) said UNOWAS was essential, while highlighting the need for women to participate in political processes and peace and security. He pointed to the high level of coordination that UNOWAS had sought with regional and subregional bodies, including the African Union, which had helped West Africa make significant progress in several areas. In Liberia, he underscored the vital electoral process that had taken place in a peaceful and stable environment, calling those polls a clear demonstration that the processes of reconciliation were fundamental to strengthening the role of institutions in working to achieve peace. He expressed concern about the complex security situation in a number of countries in the region, noting that the humanitarian situation was cause for alarm, with some 5 million displaced persons � 2 million of whom were in the Lake Chad Basin, and many of whom faced acute food insecurity.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said the Council had been correct in setting conflict prevention as a priority for UNOWAS. A year after a turbulent change of power, the Gambia was on the right track. In Togo, the Special Representative had collaborated with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to encourage national stakeholders to engage in a much needed dialogue reform, while in Liberia, UNOWAS had played a key role towards peaceful elections. Cross border cooperation was also important. In the Lake Chad area, countries had established the Multinational Joint Task Force to tackle the challenge of Boko Haram. However, that threat continued to loom large and the resource challenge was difficult to overcome.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the report drew attention to the humanitarian crisis in the region, which stemmed from the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks, resulting in more than 2.5 million displaced persons in the Lake Chad Basin and a severe food crisis impacting some 500,000. It was essential that the international community decisively support the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force by providing them with the necessary means to combat the terrorism. Climate change was also having a severe impact on the region, particularly on animal husbandry and agricultural production, causing serious tensions in some countries. Desertification due to climate change had forced farmers and ranchers to migrate, stoking further tensions. He welcomed the peaceful spirit of recent elections in West Africa, calling them a cornerstone of UNOWAS endeavours and urging the international community to support the current political situation in Guinea Bissau.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) expressed support for the continued role of the Special Representative and his good offices, underscoring the critical importance of collaboration among the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS. Regarding political governance, he welcomed the conduct of peaceful elections in Liberia, which marked an important milestone in national efforts to build a sustainable democracy. However, the country also had great need for international support. Such democratic institutions were not built in a day; they must be underpinned by economic and social sectors. Turning to security dynamics, he said it was clear the region faced challenges from violent extremism, drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), Security Council president for January, said in his national capacity that the Office's work had become even more challenging with the closure of the United Nations Operation in CAte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and UNMIL. That was also true given the increasing threat of terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, with their links to transnational organized crime. He expressed deep concern over the food insecurity and forced displacement among civilians caused by terrorist activities. Kazakhstan fully supported regional initiatives to address those threats through the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Multinational Joint Task Force, he said, commending international partners for mobilizing the financial support needed for those activities.

Source: United Nations

South Africa: DA’s Federal Executive to Meet On Sunday to ...

The DA is disappointed that some sections of the Party are ventilating their thoughts regarding City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, through the media and call for members to refrain from doing so.

The matter is currently before the Federal Executive of the DA, as the highest decision making body of the Party, which will meet on Sunday to thoroughly engage with all aspects of the allegations against the Executive Mayor and the divisions within that caucus.

Ultimately, the DA will act in the best interests of the people of Cape Town and it is vital that this process is allowed to go ahead and not be prejudiced considering the serious nature of the allegations.

Source: Democratic Alliance

South Africa: President Jacob Zuma Congratulates Matric Class of 2017

President Jacob Zuma has today, 4 January 2018, congratulated all the matriculants who sat through their National Senior Certificates examinations in 2017, whose results were released by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga today.

With the overall pass rate climbing from 72.5% in 2016 to 75.1% in 2017, the President has noted the consistently improving pass rate since the dawn of freedom and democracy in the country.

"We welcome the fact that the pass rate has consistently improved since the democratic dispensation, especially since the reconfiguration of Education into two separate departments namely Basic Education on one hand and Higher Education and Training on the other hand. This reaffirms Government's focus on education as an apex priority and the greatest enabler of the society as well as a key aspect of our programme of Radical Socio-Economic Transformation," said President Zuma.

President Zuma further encouraged those who did not achieve a university pass and those who failed never to lose hope, adding that there was a wide choice of other opportunities.

"We encourage those who did not pass that there are still plenty opportunities to be explored to fulfil their dreams. We wish to remind our matriculants of the many opportunities provided by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVETs) colleges and other vocational training centres across the country. The learners still have an extra opportunity to better their results in their second attempt during supplementary examinations to take place at many matric rewrite centres. They should use this setback as an opportunity to reflect and improve," said the President.

President Zuma has also called on parents, teachers, friends and relatives to provide the necessary support to all the Class of 2017 matriculants.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa

SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT TO MEEET THIS WEEK TO SET PROCEDURES IN ...

CAPE TOWN, The South African Parliament has confirmed that an urgent meeting of its Rule sub-committee will be held on Thursday and Friday this week following a ruling of the Constitutional Court that the legislature acts as soon as possible to provide for procedures and processes to be followed in a motion to remove President Jacob Zuma from office.

Parliament Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said here Sunday he was confident the process would not take long. The process had already started as part of the holistic overview of the rules and this is one aspect that had been hanging. In light of the court order, members of the sub-committee have been requested to return to Parliament for these two days to ensure that that task is completed, added Mothapo.

On Dec 29, 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled that Parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable following the court's earlier ruling on a case involving the use of public funds to carry out improvements to the president's private homstead in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The case, brought to the court by an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was not about impeaching Zuma, but about how Parliament should scrutinize Zuma's conduct after it was found that he had violated the Constitution.

The EFF and other parties brought the case in a bid to seek impeachment proceedings against the President over upgrades to his private home at Nkandla, which were found to be unconstitutional. This is on grounds that no action had been taken against Zuma after the Court ruling in March 2016 which found that the President failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK