In their continued clamp down on citizens' human rights, Zambia state police have arrested a vocal opposition leader for allegedly defaming Africa’s newest Dictator, Edgar Chagwa Lungu of Zambia who declared a state of emergency last month to rule by decree.
While addressing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party supporters during the EFF’s fourth anniversary celebrations in Curries Fountain, Durban, South Africa yesterday, leader Julius Malema unequivocally called Zambian president Edgar Lungu a coward who arrests his political opponents.
When the Barotse complained and cried about the apparent suspension and blatant violation of their basic human rights such as freedom of speech, expression, conscience and assembly under successive Zambian regimes, more especially under the current Edgar Lungu led government, many Zambians laughed and mocked that the Lozi ‘secessionists’ deserved to be treated with such heavy handedness.
Freedom fighter and Politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has said Africa as a continent has been through difficult and disappointing phases of failed states, military coups, one man dictatorships, wars and conflicts, downright economic mismanagement, corruption, abrogation of press and individual freedoms which have made it impossible for the African people to get out of their cycle of poverty.
A lone male suicide attacker set off a homemade bomb in the foyer at 22:33 BST on Monday at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Relatives are using social media to hunt for loved ones, and an emergency number, 0161 856 9400, has been set up.
The first victim has been named as student Georgina Callander. She was studying health and social care at Runshaw College in Lancashire.
19 November 2015: From the BBC.com section Africa
The world's second-largest gem quality diamond has been discovered in Botswana, the Lucara Diamond firm says.
The 1,111-carat stone was recovered from its Karowe mine, about 500km (300 miles) north of the capital, Gaborone.
It is the biggest diamond to be discovered in Botswana and the largest find in more than a century.
The 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond was found in South Africa in 1905 and cut into nine separate stones, many of which are in the British Crown Jewels.
"The significance of the recovery of a gem quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century... cannot be overstated," William Lamb, the CEO of Lucara Diamond, a Canadian diamond producer, said in a statement.
Lucara says two other "exceptional" white diamonds - an 813-carat stone and a 374-carat stone - were also found at the Karowe mine.
"This has been an amazing week for Lucara with the recovery of the second largest and also the sixth largest gem quality diamonds ever mined," Mr Lamb said.
The stone is yet to be evaluated, but commodities and mining analyst Kieron Hodgson, told AFP news agency that "the potential to be one very expensive diamond."
In April a flawless 100-carat diamond was sold for $22.1m (£14.8m) at Sotheby's in New York.
The gem, originally mined in South Africa, had taken more than a year to cut, polish and perfect.
Botswana is the world's largest producer of diamonds and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation.
November 9, 2015
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) said that efforts put in place by public and private sector institutions would help raise output of cashew nuts from the current 50,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes by 2025.
The Deputy Director in-charge of Cashew at MoFA, Mr Seth Osei Addo, made this assertion at a validation workshop in Accra, organised by the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana with support from the Africa Cashew Alliance and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, adding that the ministry was worried about the country’s inability to raise output figures to appreciable levels despite having a conducive environment that supported commercial production of the crop.
“This informed the decision to map out and apply strategies that aimed at raising output while supporting companies in the value chain to operate efficiently”, Addo said.
He listed increased supplies of cashew seedlings to farmers, introduction of improved and high-yielding varieties and financial support to players as some of the interventions that were being worked on by the industry.
Commenting on the country’s potential for cashew production, he said even though estimates showed that 60 districts in the country were conducive for cashew production, only districts in the Brong Ahafo Region were properly utilised, with 90 per cent of national output coming from that area alone.
According to him, the potential of the other regions is being underutilized and so called for concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to help reverse the trend.
Dr Gideon Kofi Agbley, an advocate of the local cashew industry, said government needed to also support cashew farmers with farming inputs which would help raise output while lessening the challenges they went through.
Dr Agbley stated that mass spraying exercises, supply of fertilisers and soft loans for farmers and processors are some of the interventions the country could use to help grow the industry.
He explained that with Côte d’ Ivoire insisting that cashew nuts would only be sold to Ghanaian processors at Pitts, the local processors would continue to suffer from lack of raw materials, hence the need to raise output in Ghana.
He advised that they have to step up negotiations with the Ivorian authorities to get them to rescind that decision and allow Ghanaian buyers to purchase the nuts from their borders.
“Currently, Côte d’Ivoire sees Ghana as a competitor and not an importer and they treat Ghana as such. We need to get them to change that through dialogue so that our processors can buy from them to process,” he said, "noting that his outfit would be taking up that challenge with authorities in that country,” he added.
Courtesy of http://footprint2africa.com/
BUSINESS EDITOR’S NOTE: Barotseland is endowed with immense potential for Cashew nut cultivation and commercialization
Zambia consumer prices accelerated by the most in six years, pushed higher by a currency plunge and the southern African nation’s worst power crisis on record.
Yearly inflation quickened to 14.3 percent in October from 7.7 percent the previous month, John Kalumbi, director at the Central Statistical Office, told reports in Lusaka, the capital.
“The surge in inflation follows the rapid depreciation of the kwacha exchange rate,” Irmgard Erasmus, an economist at NKC African Economics, said in reply to e-mailed questions.
“The power crisis, and resultant increase in regulated costs, also fueled increases in input costs, and we subsequently expect further pressure on both food and non-food price inflation due to indirect and second-round effects.”
Zambia’s currency has dropped 49 percent against the dollar this year, making it the world’s worst performer. Falling prices of copper, which accounts for 70 percent of Zambian exports, and the power shortage have disrupted the economy.
Monthly inflation accelerated to 6.2 percent in October from 0.7 percent in in September. While the power shortage and currency slump may have played a role, the jump was mainly the result of businesses exploiting the drop in the kwacha, the statistics office’s Kalumbi said.
“It was purely speculation and greediness” on the part of businesses that increased their prices, as not all products are imported, he said.
The country is struggling to meet half of peak power demand as low water levels at hydropower dams curtail generation.
Courtesy of Zambian Watchdog
The Kwacha has continued its free fall against major world currencies.
Today alone the Zambian Kwacha has devalued a couple of times to point where by it closed the day at K19.26 against One British pound.
According to FNB Zambia rates published today, Monday 28, 2015, at 16: 15 hours, one British Pound was selling for K19, 26 (or K19, 260 old currency).
The Euro was going for K14.16 ( K14, 169) while the bank was selling one USD Dollar for K12.66 ( K12, 660).
In Bureaux de change, one Dollar was fetching more than K15.
This trend is expected to get worse as there are no measures that have been put in place to arrest the situation.
Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service cut Zambia’s credit rating to B2, five steps below investment grade and said growth would fall below 5% for first time since 2002.
Moody’s said: “the key driver for the downgrade is our expectation that the trend of persistent fiscal deficits and deterioration in debt metrics witnessed over the past few years is likely to continue.’
Powerful pro-independence coalition says it will start secession process after September local elections, in defiance of government in Madrid
By Guy Hedgecoe, Madrid - 5:37PM BST 21 Jul 2015
Catalan separatist leaders have vowed to make a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain after local elections in September, putting themselves firmly on a collision course with the central government in Madrid.
The leaders of the two main Catalan nationalist political parties and pro-independence grass roots groups on Monday unveiled a united platform for the September 27 election in the semi-autonomous region. Although the election is for seats in the Catalan parliament, nationalists are treating it as a plebiscite on independence.
“The whole world needs to understand that this is for real,” Raul Romeva, a former MEP who heads the “Together for Yes” electoral list, said after the launch.
“If on September 27 this proposal has the sufficient and necessary majority, what we want is for the [Catalan] parliament to solemnly declare that according to that mandate, the process of independence should begin.”
According to this plan, a further, binding, referendum would take place in 2016, before the establishment of an independent Catalan state is completed.
Among those leading the independence charge is Artur Mas, the defiant regional premier of Catalonia and leader of the nationalist Convergence party. He has been the figurehead of the separatist movement since announcing his support for secession in 2012, after conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused to negotiate changes to Catalonia’s financial relationship with Madrid.
Many Catalans complain that their relatively wealthy region of seven million inhabitants subsidises the rest of Spain with their taxes. They also claim that Spain fails to understand Catalan culture and represses their language.
On Tuesday, Catalan civic organisations launched preparations for the north-eastern region’s national day, on September 11, when hundreds of thousands of people are expected to fill the streets of Barcelona to call for independence in what has become an annual tradition.
The Spanish government staunchly opposes independence or increased autonomy for Catalonia, arguing such a move would violate the constitution.
Last week, Mr Rajoy reiterated his position, saying: “There is not going to be Catalan independence.”
On Monday Justice Minister Rafael Catalá insisted that the Spanish state has “enough tools” to thwart a declaration of independence, threatening to suspend the region's semi-autonomous status if it moved ahead with a separation process.
Last November, the central government used the courts to block an attempt by Mr Mas to stage a Scotland-style referendum on independence in the region. The Catalan leader responded by staging an illegal vote which saw around two million people turn out, over 80 percent of them backing a break away from Spain.
However, most of those who would have voted “no” stayed away.
A poll published in June by the region’s CEO study centre showed that 43 percent of Catalans support independence.
On Tuesday, tensions between Madrid and Catalonia were underlined again as Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz criticised Pep Guardiola, the Catalan football legend and former FC Barcelona coach, for putting his name to the pro-independence electoral list, albeit as a symbolic move.
The minister accused Guardiola, who now coaches Bayern Munich, of representing the Spanish national team during his playing career “not for patriotic reasons, but for financial reasons.”
Guardiola occupies the last spot on the list, so, barring an unprecedented landslide, would not win a seat in the Catalan parliament. But the support of such a high profile figure is a powerful boost to the separatists' campaign - THE TELEGRAPH