Category Archives: Science & Technology

Challenge in Uganda Against Removing Presidential Age Limit

KAMPALA Uganda's government says it is preparing a response to the court challenge filed by a lawyers' association against a new law removing a presidential age limit from the constitution.

The change allows 73-year-old President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term in 2021. The opposition has loudly protested the change, and the Uganda Law Society on Monday filed a petition arguing that it should be annulled and alleging that the process was flawed.

The Uganda Media Center's executive director, Ofwono Opondo, says the attorney general is working on a reply, adding that "we have no problem with people who go to court to challenge this legislation."

Museveni, who took power by force in 1986, is the latest African leader to prolong his time in office by changing the constitution.

Source: Voice of America


JOHANNESBURG, Bank Zero, a 45-per cent Black-owned mutual bank founded by veteran bankers Michael Jordaan and Yatin Narsai is set to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The new applications-driven bank is set to launch after getting a provisional licence from monetary authorities, the institution said here Tuesday.

The bank will make use of a mutual bank licence, a concept which mirrors current social media trends and benefits customers by allowing for the support and creation of financial communities, it said in a statement.

It also provides for a capital-efficient framework, and Bank Zero will be sharing the subsequent cost benefits with its customers (both businesses and individuals).

Jordaan and Narsai are both former top executives at First National Bank who helped build its reputation as one of the most innovative in the country.

Jordaan, who is chairman of the new bank, said businesses, individuals, families and communities would benefit through its products and services which are in tune with modern-day realities.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram are the new normal for societies. Why shouldn't banks also innovate in this era of wider connectedness whilst still ensuring a robust banking value proposition? he said.

Bank Zero is addressing these realities, while employing cutting-edge technologies, minimising typical admin-intensive processes and delivering state-of-the-art security.


Report: Al-Shabab Conscripting Children Young as 8

WASHINGTON , A new report says Somalia's al-Shabab militants are forcing rural communities to hand over children as young as 8 years old for indoctrination and military training.

Human Rights Watch says al-Shabab conscripts the children by subjecting elders and religious school teachers to beatings, abductions and intimidation tactics. The group's campaign has focused on the Bay region in southwestern Somalia, where communities were already ravaged by droughts and years of conflict, according to the report from the international rights group.

The campaign was first reported by VOA's Somali service in September.

"These are communities which have already been hit by drought, very poor, struggling to survive," said Laetitia Bader, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch who interviewed families affected by the campaign, which began in late September 2017.

Bader says in some incidents, al-Shabab militants have taken children directly from school classrooms. In others, the group took local elders hostage and refused to release them until a village agreed to hand over a certain number of kids.

In one incident, al-Shabab fighters beat a teacher after he refused to hand over his students. One teacher said that when he was hit by the militants, students started crying and tried to run out of the classroom but the militants were on hand to punish them. "They caned a 7-year-old boy who tried to escape," the teacher told HRW.

HRW says hundreds of children have been affected. In one village alone, al-Shabab abducted at least 50 boys and girls from two schools near Burhakaba town and took them to Bulo Fulay where the militant group runs schools and a major training facility.

Back in September, Bay region Governor Ali Wardhere Doyow said clans and elders should resist al-Shabab. "Reject, don't let them take away your children. Fight it off," he said. But al-Shabab dominates the Bay region, leaving government officials with little means to stop the conscription.

The campaign has prompted hundreds of children to flee areas controlled by Al-Shabab. "A community's only option to protect their children from recruitment was to send them into government controlled towns, often on their own, just to see if they can get a bit more protection in those towns," Bader says.

This is hardly the first time al-Shabab has been accused of recruiting children. "We have seen in the past very young children sent to the front line, some children as young as 9 years old, very much being used as a cannon fodder ...right at front lines during the fighting in Mogadishu 2010 and 2011 and more recently the large scale offensive in Puntland in 2016," Bader said.

Al-Shabab's longer term plan, Bader says, is to train at least some of them as fighters.

"What appears to be part of this campaign is to get these children to go to al-Shabab-managed, controlled madrassas, to put them through their educational system," she said, adding, "In some cases there is a link children growing in these schools and then being sent to military training. Research also showed children received a mixture of indoctrination and basic military training."

Source: Voice of America


PRETORIA, South Africa's ruling ANC has declared 2018 as 100 Years of Nelson Mandela: The year of renewal, unity and jobs.

This will see the African National Congress (ANC) holding celebrations to pay tribute to the former President, who would have turned 100 years this year had he lived. Mandela passed away on Dec 5, 2013.

As such, the party will also use the year to draw lessons and inspiration from Mandela's life to unite, rebuild and renew the movement, ANC President and Deputy President of the country, Cyril Ramaphosa, said.

Ramaphosa addressed thousands of ANC members, as part of the party's 106th anniversary celebrations, for the first time after being chosen at the elective conference in December 2017.

Today's celebrations were held at Absa Stadium in East London. The event was also attended by, amongst others, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Jacob Zuma.

Outlining the organisational plans, which also lay the foundation for the party's 2019 election campaign, Ramaphosa put the economy at centre of his address.

Guided by the National Development Plan, Ramaphosa said they aim to restore focus on building an economy in which all South Africans can flourish, an economy that benefits the people as a whole, rather than a privileged few.

We seek an open, dynamic economy that embraces technological innovation, pursues higher productivity, creates jobs that pay better and improves the quality of life of our citizens. We recognise the challenges of modernisation and the imperatives of structural change in all sectors, especially in mining, manufacturing, agriculture and finance.

He said the ANC's vision is an economy that encourages and welcomes investment, offers policy certainty and addresses barriers that inhibit growth and social inclusion.

As such, he said their commitment is to build strong partnerships in which efficient and accountable government agencies, responsible citizens and businesses, effective trade unions and civil society work together for the common good.

Eye on development

Among other things, Ramaphosa addressed the concentration of ownership in the country's economy and how the party intends to address the issue.

South Africa, he said, needs to pursue a multi-faceted growth strategy in order to promote job creation on a far larger scale.

We need to revitalise our manufacturing sector through a number of measures, including preferential procurement in both the public and private sectors, to stimulate demand for local goods and to reduce domestic manufacturing costs.

The country will be learning from the experiences of other emerging markets, where the industrialisation strategy focuses on sectors with the greatest potential for growth such as tourism, agriculture and mineral resources.

Protecting the integrity of governance

Ramaphosa committed to decisively to improve governance, financial management and performance in all SOEs and protect them from improper interference.

He committed that anti-corruption efforts within the State will be more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted.

He said strong and efficient law enforcement agencies are critical to the fight against corruption and crime generally.


On land expropriation without compensation, Ramaphosa said it will be implemented sustainably.

However, he assured that it will be implemented in a manner that not only meets the Constitutional requirement of redress but also promotes economic development, agricultural production and food security.

Furthermore, the ruling party committed to continue working towards improving the lives of South Africans through improving health, education, providing housing, fighting crime and creating more opportunities for the youth to address unemployment.


Two suspects nabbed with R1.1 million worth of dagga

CAPE TOWN � An intelligence led operation comprising the Hawks' Serious Organised Crime unit, Oudtshoorn Crime intelligence and local police resulted in the arrest of two suspects aged 51 and 57 respectively on Wednesday for dealing in dagga.

The team followed up on information of a vehicle suspected to be transporting cannabis. Whilst monitoring the R62 road between Uniondale and Joubertinia, the team spotted a van towing a trailer. The vehicle was stopped and searched resulting in the discovery of over 23 bags of dagga weighing approximately 825kg. The confiscated dagga has an estimated street value of approximately R1.1 million.

The pair who are from Port Elizabeth were detained and their vehicle impounded. They are expected to appear before the George Magistrate's court today.

Source: South African Police Service


JOHANNESBURG, South African Airways (SAA) and TAAG Angola Airlines jave entered into a code sharing scheme to reduce operations costs for both airlines and provide more flights for their passengers despite a long-overdue debt of one billion Rand (about 80.74 million US dollars) owed to SAA for airline tickets.

The deal means that passengers can board either of the two airlines with a single ticket and that direct flights from Johannesburg to Luanda and from Cape Town to Luanda will be available on a more frequent basis.

The deal is also expected to enhance trade between the two countries.

SAA has similar code sharing agreements with airlines from Mauritius, Rwanda, Egypt and Ethiopia.

The customers will have a wider variety of choice in terms of the destination that they are travelling and days they want to travel, it will also have benefit for the airlines in terms of the operating costs and each airline can secure a seat regardless of where the passenger has secured a ticket, SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali said here Thursday.

SAA says that TAAG Angola Airlines has begun to pay some of its one billion Rand debt which has been due for more than a year and half. It is a matter which is currently receiving attention between the two governments and we should be able to make an announcement on the progress when we are ready to do so, SAA says.

The code sharing agreement between the two countries will be implemented from Jan 14 and SAA is confident that it will help enhance capacity and reduce operational costs.



EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA, The first South African study to look at HIV prevalence in transgender women was launched in East London in Eastern Cape Province on Wednesday by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) which is leading the first integrated biological and behavioural survey on HIV in transgender women in the country.

The Cape Town-based African News Agency (ANA) reported that the study was initiated and supported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with funding from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and would be supported by various South African and international academic and civil society partners.

This study will be conducted in the Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the Buffalo City Metro in Eastern Cape beginning later in January.

Global statistics show that transgender women are nearly 49 times more likely to be infected with HIV than other adults of reproductive age. Despite this, there is currently very little information in South Africa about the specific HIV vulnerabilities of transgender women and HIV prevalence among transgender women also remains undocumented.

The HSRC's Deputy Chief Executive for Research, Professor Leickness Simbayi, said they hope to contribute towards a deeper understanding of how HIV is affecting the transgender women population in South Africa.

Transgender women have often been neglected in South Africa's response to HIV. This study is therefore an important first step in ensuring that transgender women have a voice � both in terms of how HIV affects transgender women, but equally, about what can be done to help transgender women to protect themselves, Simbayi said.

Our public health campaigns must become more responsive if we are to impact decisively on combating HIV and AIDS.

The study reflects South Africa's commitment to the UNAIDS global target to ensure that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy, and 90 per cent of all people receiving ARVl therapy will have viral suppression.

South Africa has committed itself to reducing new infections of HIV by 60 per cent from 270,000 in 2016 to less than 100,000 by 2022.



JOHANNESBURG, Swedish fashion retailing group H&M has apologised for an advertisement featuring a black child modelling a sweatshirt with the slogan coolest monkey in the jungle and says it has removed it from all its marketing.

The ad was widely criticised for being racist, including by Canadian pop star The Weeknd, who collaborated with H&M, the world's second-largest clothing group, on two collections in 2017. He said he would not do so again after seeing the advertisement.

The word monkey has long been used by some as a racial slur.

Swedish H&M said in an emailed statement Tuesday that it fully understood and agreed with The Weeknd's reaction to the image. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print, it said, adding that it would now look into its internal practices to avoid similar situations in the future.

Other celebrities criticising the advertisement via social media included American rap star Diddy and basketball star LeBron James.