ANALYSIS – ETHIOPIAN POLITICS

 

By Paul Ndiho

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed begins his second year in power with a new challenge, keeping his promise to make the 2020 elections free and fair, despite rising political violence. Abiy

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s first year in office was marked by a series of popular reforms.  He’s tapped women to head top leadership positions, signed peace deals, most notably with longtime foe Eritrea and he’s cracked down on corruption.  Not surprising, Prime Minister Ahmed is generating worldwide headlines, Time Magazine recently named him as one of the 100 most influential people in 2019. In part, for his leadership style and for doing what a lot of people thought was impossible.

Ahmed called for an end to the repressive, exclusionary governance that had plunged the country into turmoil. Ethiopian journalist and activist Eskinder Nega, is among hundreds of prisoners released this year. He says Prime Minister Ahmed should continue to work towards promoting democracy and expanding political freedoms.

  “Does the new Prime Minister want to bring genuine democracy to the country, he has said so, but in the final analysis, he will be measured not by what he says but he will be measured by what he does. So he has to walk the talk, and he hasn’t done that up now, at least he should have lifted the state of emergency.”

A surge in ethnic violence in Ethiopia, along the border areas of Gedeo and West Guji regions, has driven away nearly 1 million people from their homes.

  “We have seen health centers in the area faced with an enormous problem. They were working ok, but suddenly, they’ve got more than double the population coming in, and many of those people who are coming in are sick already. We have been providing them with additional basic medicines to enable them to treat those who are sick.”

Violence is threatening to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in the country. It’s also overshadowing the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power.

“We came here because we were attacked. We left our village empty-handed to save our lives. We traveled and spent three days in the bushes to get here.”

 The 42-year-old Ahmed was appointed by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front as it sought to ease ethnic tensions and appeal to disenfranchised youth.

Since becoming Prime Minister, he has met publicly with newly-freed political prisoners and held repeated meetings with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to negotiate a July 2018 agreement re-establishing relations following a brutal 1998-2000 border war.

“He’s restoring the rule of law in the country so that the Ethiopian people will have confidence in the system, in the judicial system, in the security system, and the government as the whole.”

In a historic move, the prime minister appointed Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president. And several other women to senior government positions. These positions carry significant symbolic weight and social influence, especially for young women.

“Women’s political participation, to me as well, is beyond cabinet positions. It’s participation at all levels and the participation of women who’ve never been in politics before.”

New elections are slated for 2020, but some opposition parties are casting doubt on whether the government will be fully prepared to hold elections by that time. Some opposition groups say continuing instability may impair the government’s ability to safely conduct a free, fair and credible election next year. An election that Prime Minister Ahmed is hoping will be the crown jewel of the reforms he is promoting and defending.

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Dawn of a New Era in Sudan

 

By Paul Ndiho

Thousands of Sudanese demonstrators are continuing to rally in support of their demands for a civilian rule in front of the army headquarters in Khartoum. Protesters are keeping the pressure on the military council to quickly transition to a civilian government following the ouster of longtime former President Omar al-Bashir. sudan-protests

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the chief organizer behind the protests, is urging people to head to the sit-in and defend it from any new attempts by the military to disperse the demonstrators.

Protesters remain defiant after an attempt to break up their sit-in. They’ve been here outside the defense ministry since April 6th.

After removing Bashir, the military council announced that it would setting up a transitional military council to run the country for up to two years – but demonstrators have strongly rejected that plan.

“Our first demand is the need to form a civilian sovereign council, with aggressive representation for limited tasks. This council must have limited tasks, which are the tasks of sovereignty only.”

Outside army headquarters crowds remained camped outside the complex, despite SPA warnings of an attempt to disperse the sit-in.

And the 55-member African Union threatened to suspend Sudan if the military fails to hand power over to civilians within 15 days, saying “a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan.”

“The African Union would further appeal probably to all stakeholders right now on the ground that more now than ever, it’s time to engage in an inclusive dialog, to create the conditions that would make it possible to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people, to form democracy and good governance and restore constitutional order as soon as possible.”

“We as Sudanese we are looking forwards for justice, for freedom, for democracy and we thank all our people, our youth, our women for this great victory, and we are going to make all pressure to the military council to reply to all our demands.”

Witnesses say several army vehicles had surrounded the area of the sit-in and that troops were seen removing the barricades which demonstrators had put up as a security measure.

“We do not believe in them we still in our revolution, our demands are not met and we are not going to leave this place until we get everything done. We hope that we can get civil government, we don’t want the army government any more in Sudan, and we don’t want the Islamic Party National Congress”.

 “The government is not yet, and the government did not fall until now, and I think that not yet. So all the people in the world they have to know that the Sudanese people now will not go back to their houses without falling total regime… and the Islamic movement”.

A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered a list of demands during talks with the council last weekend, according to a statement by the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group.

The military council, however, has met with political parties, urging them to agree on an “independent figure” to be prime minister.

“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice, and democracy,”

Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years before he was deposed following mass protests that have rocked the country since December.

Bashir rose to power in a 1989 coup, and he was one of Africa’s long-term serving presidents.

The United Nations human rights office, is calling on the military council to cooperate with the International Criminal Court which has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for alleged war crimes committed nearly 15 years ago.

World powers, including the U.S. and Britain, and Norway have issued a joint statement calling for “inclusive dialogue to effect a transition to civilian rule and democratic governing much sooner than two years. Meanwhile, thousands of people

U.S Policy for Africa

By Paul Ndiho

In December 2018, the administration of U.S president Donald trump unveiled a new U.S.-Africa policy focused on combating what they say are the “predatory” practices of China and Russia. STA US AFRICA POLICY CLEAN

The United States has a new U.S.-Africa strategy, as announced in December by National Security Adviser, John Bolton. The announcement came during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think-tank based in Washington, D.C. that IS primarily geared towards public policy.

Bolton set the tone for the administration where he challenged African governments to choose the United States over China and Russia for their commercial, security, and political relationships.

“Under our new Africa strategy, we will target U.S. funding toward key countries decades and particular strategic objectives. All U.S. aid on the continent will advance U.S. interests, and help African nations move toward self-reliance.”

President Trump’s critics say noticeably absent from the new plan is any “commitment to Democratic governance and leadership on the African continent which is among the leading priorities for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019, according to a study published by the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative.  Brahima Coulibary, a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution explains.

“I believe that the U.S. has a solid foundation and a strong legacy in Africa, through the success of its past programs and actions on the continent, on which to build. Without more proactive approaches, however, the U.S. risks falling further behind on this vastly important and strategic continent. Ultimately, the future of U.S.-Africa relations will be determined more by U.S. policies and actions (or lack thereof) toward Africa, than those of other countries toward Africa.”

Despite the criticism, the U.S. administration says it’s on course to engage with Africa. Last week, U.S Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, welcomed newly-elected President Felix Tshisekedi, of the Democratic Republic Congo to Washington. They discussed the future of U.S.-D-R-C relations and expressed their shared interest in partnering to deliver a better and more prosperous future for the Congolese people.

Relief and excitement spread through Liberian communities across the United States last month after President Trump issued an executive order extending the deadline of the Deferred Enforced Departure program for 4,000 Liberians living in America to March 30, 2020.

The White House also announced that the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump would visit Ethiopia and Ivory Coast over four days this month for a women’s economic empowerment summit in Ivory Coast. Led by his daughter, In February president Trump signed the women’s global development and prosperity initiative, which focuses on advancing female participation in the global economy.

In October 2018, U.S First Lady Melania Trump wrapped up her first visit to Africa that highlighted child welfare and promoted the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development on the continent. Her four-nation tour included stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt.

In his first meeting at the White House with a sub-Saharan African leader, President Trump held talks last year with Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, The leaders reaffirmed and strengthened their commitment to fighting terrorism and violent extremists.

President Trump also met last year with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House FOR talks on security and trade. The two leaders signed agreements that will see American companies invest IN $238 million worth of projects in the east African nation.

Political observers say the United States should be motivated to engage with African countries for the same reasons as China and Russia: Africa’s economic and political clout is growing rapidly — and the continent boasts a young, burgeoning population, which, by 2050, will make up 25 percent of the world’s people and workforce.

TROPICAL CYCLONE IDAI RAVAGES SOUTHERN AFRICA

By Paul Ndiho

The death toll from Cyclone Idai has climbed to over 750 in the three southern African countries hit by the powerful storm. International aid agencies are scrambling to reach survivors with needed relief and to stop a growing humanitarian crisis. tropical-cyclone-idai-web-statement.compendiumItemFull

The United Nations and international aid agencies are rushing food, medicine, and other emergency relief supplies to the survivors of Tropical Cyclone Idai that ripped through southern Africa, killing hundreds while destroying buildings and farmland across Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

In Mozambique, the death toll from Cyclone Idai that slammed the port city of Beira and the surrounding areas has reached nearly 450 and is still climbing. The number of people in makeshift camps has also risen from 18,000 to 128,000, according to the nation’s Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia.

“So we have an update of the number of lives that were lost. It has increased from 417 to 446 lives. We also have many people that were affected which is 531,000. These are preliminary numbers as soon as we do our survey of the ground we will be able to give you updates on this. To say that the people that are safe in our camps are almost 110,000 people already in the camps.”

The tropical storm made landfall in Beira on March 15 with high winds and lashing rain that lasted for more than nine hours, leaving the low-lying city of 600,000 isolated.

International aid organizations have stepped up their daily deliveries of aid on cargo planes from around the world. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says they are preparing to deploy three large field hospitals, as early as next week.

The United Nations Food Program is ramping up its airdrops to isolated pockets of people stranded by the floodwaters and delivered food parcels to displaced families sheltering in schools and other public buildings northeast of Beira.

Cyclone Idai also lashed Eastern Zimbabwe, killing more than 250, a toll that actually could be as much higher. Worst hit was Chi-mani-mani in Manicaland, an eastern province which borders Mozambique. UN agencies and the Red Cross have rushed emergency food and medicine by helicopter to the stricken countries. Some families are burying their dead in damp graves as injured survivors filled up the hospitals.

One resident told VOA, 26 people from the area have already been buried. Tinashe Sithole says he walked a long distance after his village had been cut off by rushing floodwaters.

“I have walked about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ngangu location up to Skyline. There is no bridge; all bridges were swept away, even the biggest bridge at Charter – that is the Nyahode Bridge – was swept away.”

Meanwhile, in Malawi, 56 people have died and a large number of schools in the flood-affected areas of southern Malawi have been closed. Some are being used as evacuation centers. Children are studying outside, under trees, after floods destroyed their classrooms.

“Most of the learners, they are not coming to school, because the rivers are flooded and they are unable to cross those rivers to come to school.”

The extent and severity of the current flooding in southern Malawi are overwhelming relief organizations, leaving many struggling to respond in hard-to-reach areas. Malawi officials say the situation is becoming unbearable, given the unprecedented levels of destruction.

“We don’t have enough food at all. So we need a lot of food. We don’t know, perhaps the Lorries we see here, they are to be distributed to us. We don’t know, because up to now we haven’t received any food at all.”

Weather forecasters are expecting more rain to fall in the region and cyclone affected families can only hope for quicker intervention from the international aid community.

MALAWIANS GEAR UP FOR ELECTIONS IN MAY 2019

By Paul Ndiho
In less about two months voters in Malawi head for tripartite elections. Political observers are predicting a tight presidential race between President Peter Mutharika from the Democratic Progressive Party against his former Vice President Saulos Chilima of the United Transformation Movement and Lazarus Chakwera with the Malawi Congress Party the main opposition party.   IMG-20190128-WA0046-620x330

Campaigning in Malawi is underway. On May 21st, in addition to the presidency, voters are set to cast their ballots for Members of Parliament and local Councilors. The wealth and patronage networks of the three main parties are driving the country’s politics.

President Peter Mutharika, Democratic Progressive Party continues to tell his thousands of supporters he will continue to act on his election promises from his 2014 victory, to rid Malawi of endemic corruption, fix the economy and tackle violence against women and people with albinism.

Mutharika enjoys the incumbency advantage, opinion polls have forecast Mutharika’s ruling party to win, but regular allegations of corruption could hobble his campaign in the impoverished southern African nation where reports of government graft are routine. But the government denies any allegations of corruption.


Opposition and civil action groups claim that he and the ruling D-P-P received about $195-thousand from a contractor supplying food rations to the police.

This election pits Incumbent President Mutharika against his former Vice President Saulos Chilima. Political analysts say Chilima is seen as the biggest threat to Mutharika. Chilima quit the ruling party in July in protest of alleged corruption. The former ally turned foe has launched a series of bitter attack on the president and hopes to win power as head of a new opposition party United Transformation Movement.

Chilima told VOA in an interview that he no longer speaks to President Mutharika — and he alleges that corruption is worsening under the current administration.

Analysts say Chilima, 45, a wealthy businessman, could easily give Mutharika, 79, a tough battle. And technically under Malawi’s constitution, the vice president cannot be fired by the president, so he is still the Vice President.

Meanwhile, Former Malawian president Joyce Banda has dropped out the race for president and plans to ally with Lazarus Chakwera, the presidential candidate for the Malawi Congress Party, the biggest opposition group.

Her announcement could be a game changer and serve as a significant boost to the prospects of the main opposition party ahead of the elections. But critics have questioned the alliance saying it appears former president Banda is not politically loyal to any particular ideology.  Lazarus Chakwera, claims President Mutharika has failed Malawians in many areas, justifying the need for a new leader.

“I am appealing to Malawians, this is the best chance we have to build a new Malawi together so that we have servant leadership, we have unity in the country, we have prosperity for everyone, and we are fighting and ending corruption, and everybody follows the rule of law.”

For voters in Malawi the presidential election is critical and strong leadership is vital. The nation is heavily dependent on foreign aid and is arguably one of the poorest countries on earth; over 50 percent of the country’s population live well below the poverty line. Agriculture accounts for one-third of its GDP, and 85 percent of its people survive on subsistence farming.

CHALLENGES OF IMPLEMENTING SOUTH SUDAN’S PEACE DEAL

By Paul Ndiho

Time is running out for South Sudan’s principle signatories to the peace agreement signed in September 2018 to form a unified national army and perhaps form a government of national unity. Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 7.40.27 AM

It all seemed possible when a new peace deal was signed between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar last September, but time is quickly ticking away to meet the deadline set for May 12th, 2019.

In two months, an eight-month “pre-transitional” period ends.  Under the terms of the peace deal, the government and opposition are supposed to implement the agreement and form a transitional government or risk yet another unraveling.

Continuing violence and human rights violations, including rape and sexual violence, in South Sudan may amount to war crimes, according to the UN body that is reporting to the Human Rights Council on alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights in the country.

“The Commission is alarmed at the number of executions that have taken place in South Sudan. In the last two weeks alone there have been seven executions. There are currently 185 people on death row in Juba alone, of which two are juveniles.”

Armed forces are being challenged to end violations against children and take concrete action to protect the country’s youth by ensuring their recruitment and abuse is halted.

“The children of South Sudan need peace, and they need freedom, they need to be secure, like all the children in the whole world. They need to be doing things that children do, they need to go back to school, they need to be productive members of their community in the future, and that cannot be done within the conflict, and that cannot be done if they are part of the armed forces.”

The South Sudanese government denies these allegations and is pledging its full support to ensure that children are protected.

“There is a standing command order to all the field commanders to report any illegal recruitment of children in the army. The Department of Child Protection and the Assistant Chief of Defense Forces of Moral Orientation has conducted numerous workshops in the divisions and units on how to discourage children joining the army and how to identify children and report them to the nearest civil authority.”

Rape and sexual violence against women and girls as young as eight is unfortunately still widespread in the country according to a U.N. investigation published in February by the U.N mission in South Sudan. It recorded 175 cases of mainly rapes that lasted hours, by multiple uniformed and armed men, between September and December of 2018.

“There has been no accountability inside (South) Sudan for what is a chronic, endemic problem of sexual violence against women and girls. Virtually complete impunity over the years.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir earlier this month in South Sudan, in an effort to breathe new life into the stagnant peace agreement.  Among their ideas discussed, were bringing aboard groups who rejected last September’s deal.

 

Impact Hub Zimbabwe’s Creative Space for Innovation

By Paul Ndiho

From an idea to a buzzword, the co-working movement is spreading rapidly worldwide. In the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, Impact Hub is changing the way young people are working and developing new businesses. Impact Drive Campaign

Tadzoka Pswarayi, is an entrepreneur and a co-founder of Impact Hub Zimbabwe.  A co-working space in the heart of Harare where she strives to cultivate an eco-system that supports budding entrepreneurs as they launch small businesses.

“Our mandate is to inspire, connect and enable change makers in Zimbabwe and across the world for positive social impact. We’re based in over a hundred cities across the world, and basically, we house change makers and help them in their quest to make a world a better place.”

At Impact Hub, new businesses are being spurred with secure funding while developing lifelong friendships.  Pswarayi says her vision is to support Zimbabwean entrepreneurs by helping them launch and grow their business.

“What got me started is a passion for change, a passion for people, and seeing that our local ecosystems need inspiring spaces where people who think big can get together and make things happen.”

More importantly, she says it also helps her to inspire young women to become involved the tech space.

“We have initiatives that seek to empower women with digital skills. One of them is E-skills for girls. Where we’re teaching girls how to code, how to use technology for the betterment of their lives. We also have a project called Code is female again where we’re teaching girls how to code. We work closely with Facebook developer circles so that we can leverage the tools and developers that exist within our system.

Several young change markers are benefiting from Impact Hub. For example, Namatai Kwekweza, uses the space to connect with other young people to address Zimbabwe’s economic challenges. Her start-up focuses on developing peer-to-peer interactions.

“We develop leaders across the board. We have economic leaders, business leaders, political leaders and what we do is that we aim to create an interactive program where the politicians interact with the entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs interact with the techies so that share Ideas, exchange ideas because we believe that this where ideas are.”

Entrepreneur Tapiwa Mupakati, a software test analyst with crystal quality assurance, is also taking advantage of the co-working space.

“We do testing for web applications, mobile apps, we do what we call functional testing to make sure that every function of software performs as expected.”

Simba Kanyimo runs Tariro Trust a non-profit charitable organization out of the Impact Hub facility in Harare.  His mission is to support young girls.

“We assist young girls in the high-density suburbs of Harare so that they can be able to go to school  Through payment of their school fees, school supplies, like uniforms, and stationery as well as life skills training.”

What started over ten years ago, as a gathering place for impact trailblazers in London, has grown to a community of thousands of professionals making an impact in towns and cities all around the world. And for Impact Hub Harare, they are seizing the moment.

Economic And Political Empowerment Of Women In Africa

By Paul Ndiho

Friday, march 8th, is international women’s day. This year’s theme is “investment in women and girls for inclusive green growth.” But as women the world over celebrate this day, most  African women  still face enormous challenges to reach their full potential,  as they look for ways to advance gender equality, and empowerment, particularly in politics, entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology.

The African Girls Can Code Initiative 2018 launched-2

Investing in women’s economic empowerment across the globe is setting a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth. In February this year, U.S president Donald Trump signed the women’s global development and prosperity initiative, that’s focused on advancing female participation in the global economy.

The initiative will look to improve women’s’ access to quality education and skills training, support female entrepreneurship and reduce barriers to women’s’ participation in the global workforce in the developing world.

“Thank you very much. We’re here today to launch the first-ever U.S. government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.

Across Africa, women are slowly breaking into the historically male-dominated domain of becoming elected officials, business owners and techpreneurs. For decades, women have been calling for equality. And today, they are making their mark. For example, the tech industry has provided unprecedented opportunities for women, even though trends indicate a growing gender digital divide and under-representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design.

 “Promoting the participation of women and girls in science means changing mindsets, fighting gender stereotypes and biases that limit girls’ passion, expectations and professional goals since their early childhood.”

Across Africa women are also raising the bar and igniting dialogue as they strive to reach the top of the ladder in the tech industry. Tadzoka pswarayi, a co-founder of impact hub Harare, says women in the tech sector are shaping the future, despite repeated hardship:

“The role of women in the tech space is precisely the same as the role of men; we have programs where we bring young women to teach them about technology. But when we do this, it’s imperative that we bring men to the table. At the end of the day, what we’re striving for is equality and technology is one of the spaces that are open for that.”

In politics, women across the continent are shaking the pillars of government patriarchy and are putting the government establishment on notice– that they are now a political force to be reckoned with.  For example, in October 2018, the Ethiopian parliament approved shale-work Zewde as the country’s first female president. While the president’s post is a ceremonial one, her appointment marks another shift in Ethiopia’s political system.

In Malawi, former president Joyce Banda is running again for the top seat after reversing a decision to join an alliance with former vice president. Her announcement could be a game changer.  Women activists are also making their voices heard, for example in Nigeria, thousands of women from across the country marched for a violence-free election ahead of the country’s presidential elections.

“Time has gone when they thought that we women didn’t have a say – women should be seen and not heard. Our voices cannot be subdued.”

Despite these success stories, violence against women and girls is still rampant across the continent. It negatively affects women’s general well-being and prevents women from fully participating in society.  Analysts say that perhaps game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators may have found the right mechanism in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality and build an unshakable foundation that meets the needs of women and girls.

 

President Buhari wins re-election in Nigeria

By Paul Ndiho

Nigerian incumbent Muhammadu Buhari has been re-elected as president. Meanwhile, votes are still being counted in Senegal — but President Macky Sall is widely expected to win that country’s presidential election.

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Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected Wednesday as Nigeria’s president after a delayed poll that angered voters and raised political temperatures – but the opposition immediately vowed to challenge the election results.
It was the second victory at the ballot box for Buhari, a one-time military ruler who in 2015 was elected to lead Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer.
With ballots counted in all of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Buhari, 76, won with 15.2 million votes. His nearest rival, Atiku Abubakar, trailed by nearly four million votes. The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the winner.
“Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress, having satisfied the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and returned elected.”
Abubakar on Wednesday rejected the result of the vote, which he says was marred by claims of rigging and corruption.
“I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court.”


Buhari, thanked Nigerians for re-electing him “for the next four years”, saying he was “deeply humbled and profoundly grateful.
Addressing supporters and party leaders at his All Progressives Congress party campaign headquarters, he called his win “another victory for Nigerian democracy.”
“The new administration will intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption,”
In Senegal, incumbent, Macky Sall, the heavy favorite going into last Sunday’s presidential election, is confident that when all the votes are counted he will remain president.
Despite no official announcement from the nation’s electoral commission — Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne, a Sall ally and appointee, claims incumbent President Macky Sall has secured enough votes to avoid a run-off.  “The compiled results are telling us today that we must congratulate President Macky Sall for his re-election in the first round.”
His comments are at odds with earlier statements from main opposition candidates Ousmane Sonko, a 44-year-old former tax official, who has galvanized young people with his promises of making government more accountable and transparent and Idrissa Seck, a three-time presidential contender and former prime minister.
The country’s election commission has been stern in warning on all the candidates to abstain from prematurely announcing any unofficial results.
Sall, 57, who cast his ballot in his hometown of Fatick, seeks re-election on his record as the builder of modern Senegal, building roads, high-speed train that links the capital to its brand new international airport and creating jobs to boot.
Opposition supporters maintained those efforts have not reached many in this West African country where young men often risk their lives to migrate to Europe.
This year’s vote also has been marked by allegations that President Sall has effectively blocked two prominent opposition politicians from participating in the election process.
Political observers say Senegal has long been a defender of democracy in the region — and so far, local and international observers are saying this election has already been given a clean bill of health.

 

Zimbabwe’s Youth Unemployment

By Paul Ndiho

Young people in Zimbabwe are coming together to solve daily challenges as the nation struggles amid violent protests. They say they need jobs instead of a crackdown to make ends meet.  Art_201708081318424705_Graduates12

Every day young people gather in different rooms at Open Parly, Magamba networks’ creative space for innovation located in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. They are journalists, and activists representing various communities.  Munya Bloggo manages the space.

“This place is model of what young Zimbabweans can do; young Zimbabweans aspire to do, this is something that came from ordinary Zimbabweans who saw a gap in the market and decided to fill it and opened it up to other young people to come and use it.”

While their eyes are fixated on their laptop screens, these young people are also focused on a mission. They are collaborating, and developing strategies to stay afloat during this economic downturn. Tatenda Simugayi is determined to keep pushing on despite challenges.

“I’m an activist because of the realization that being young I can’t continue to watch and wait for someone to do things for me. It’s frustrating, and the point is we have to do something about it. This is why I’m part of movement building, part of the solution creation to end this crisis.”


This is the harsh reality of Zimbabwe’s soaring unemployment rate that is particularly hard-hitting on young graduates.  Faith Mvododo says she is hoping for a better future.

“We have a situation whereby a young person has gone through university, and they can’t find an internship, they can’t find a job, and this has been quite sad for a lot of youth out there…. I’d appreciate it if they can bring up an incentive where the young can get subsidized fees allotment.”

Audrey Mutweri, shares a similar sentiment.

“For me as a young person, we need jobs. Currently, there are no jobs anywhere, and there graduates on the streets everywhere… We need something different.”
This creative space is getting a lot of attention, especially from the government and other security agencies. The shared space is seen as a rallying center for young people, who are often viewed as a threat to the establishment in light of the current protests.

“We have been targeted before, and we understand the risks of what comes with what we do. This building almost got demolished when the city council targets us. They tried to demolish saying that it was an illegal structure. Our community came to our rescue and started a #hashtag save motto republic, and they got the mayor, the minister to stop the demolition.”

Zimbabwe has been coping with a wave of protests from a groups representing nearly 500-thousand civil servants across the country.  Many unemployed young people say they are determined to keep the pressure on the government. And so far, there no end in sight to the demonstrations.   Armed soldiers are maintaining a presence on the streets. At least ten people have been reported killed in the unrest and more than 300 wounded, according to doctors and human right workers.

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