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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 18th of June 2020

08-JUN-2020 :: It takes a strong Man to act during a Boom.
World Of Finance

“The businessman bought at ten and was happy to get out at twelve; the mathematician saw his ten rise to eighteen, but didn’t sell because he wanted to double his ten to twenty.”

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The hand-to-hand combat lasted hours, on steep, jagged terrain, with iron bars, rocks and fists. Neither side carried guns
Law & Politics

Most of the soldiers killed in the worst fighting between India and China in 60 years lost their footing or were knocked from the narrow Himalayan ridge

In his first public comments on the dispute, prime minister Narendra Modi led a two-minute silence for the killed soldiers and said India would “defend every stone, every inch of its territory.”

he killings were sparked when a patrol of Indian soldiers encountered Chinese troops in a steep section of the mountainous region they believed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had retreated from, in line with a 6 June disengagement agreement, sources in Delhi said

The Indian government have alleged that what followed was a “premeditated” ambush on their troops by PLA forces.

The two armies jostled and hand-to-hand fighting broke out – neither side armed in line with decades of tradition supposed to ward off the possibility of escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Then an Indian commanding officer was pushed from the narrow ridge and fell to his death in the gorge below.

Reinforcements from the Indian side were summoned from a post about 2 miles away and eventually about 600 men were fighting with stones, iron rods and other makeshift weapons in near-total darkness for up to six hours, Indian government sources said, with most deaths on both sides occurring from soldiers falling or being knocked from mountain terrain.

India accused the Chinese troops of violating the disengagement agreement and carrying out a “pre-meditated and planned action” against Indian troops that was “directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties.”

Wang Yi claimed India was solely responsible for the conflict, saying its forces had on three occasions illegally crossed over into the Chinese side of the LAC and demanded Indian punish their forces responsible.

Somebody has to answer for 20 lives,” said retired air vice-marshal Manmohan Bahadur.
“There is the larger picture of the asymmetries of power,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. 

“China’s GDP is $14tn, India’s is less than $3tn. China spends nearly $220bn on the military but India spends $52bn.”

The PLA Tibet Military Command conducted live fire drills with heavy artillery on Tuesday, with reports linking the PLA’s preparedness for high-elevation combat to the clashes with India.

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@AmbJohnBolton Says @realDonaldTrump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes @nytimes
Law & Politics

Mr. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, saying that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mr. Bolton also adds a striking new accusation by describing how Mr. Trump overtly linked tariff talks with China to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. 

Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.” Mr. Bolton said that Mr. Trump “stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

The book, “The Room Where It Happened,” was obtained by The New York Times in advance of its scheduled publication next Tuesday and has already become a political lightning rod in the thick of an election campaign and a No. 1 best seller on Amazon.com even before it hits the bookstores. 

It is a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain was a nuclear power and asked if Finland was a part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes
He said it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela.

At times, Mr. Trump seemed to almost mimic the authoritarian leaders he appeared to admire. “These people should be executed,” Mr. Trump once said of journalists. “They are scumbags.” 

When Mr. Xi explained why he was building concentration camps in China, the book says, Mr. Trump “said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.” 

During the president’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s leader, according to the book, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr. Bolton a note disparaging the president, saying, “He is so full of shit.” “His thinking was like an archipelago of dots (like individual real estate deals), leaving the rest of us to discern — or create — policy,” Mr. Bolton writes. “That had its pros and cons.”

Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to 10 times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.

Mr. Bolton, however, had nothing but scorn for the House Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump, saying they committed “impeachment malpractice” by limiting their inquiry to the Ukraine matter and moving too quickly for their own political reasons. 

Instead, he says they should have also looked at how Mr. Trump was willing to intervene in investigations into companies like Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favor Mr. Xi.

Mr. Bolton writes that he raised concerns about both cases with Mr. Barr, who shared them. 

“Barr said he was very worried about the appearances Trump was creating,” Mr. Bolton writes. 

Similarly, he recalls, Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, “was plainly stunned at Trump’s approach to law enforcement, or lack thereof.”

Just as Mr. Trump sought Ukraine’s help against his domestic rivals, he similarly married his own political interests with policy during a meeting with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting last summer in Osaka, Japan, according to the book. 

Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump that unnamed political figures in the United States were trying to start a new cold war with China.

“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats,” Mr. Bolton writes. 

“Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats. 

He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.” (Mr. Bolton says he would have printed Mr. Trump’s exact words, “but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”)

“A president may not misuse the national government’s legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guise of national interest,” Mr. Bolton writes. 

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@realDonaldTrump asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to @AmbJohnBolton book @washingtonpost
Law & Politics

“He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

At the same meeting, Xi also defended China’s construction of camps housing as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang — and Trump signaled his approval. 

“According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

In one May 2019 phone call, for example, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Clinton, part of what Bolton terms a “brilliant display of Soviet style propaganda” to shore up support for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. Putin’s claims, Bolton writes, “largely persuaded Trump.”

“What if we have a real crisis like 9/11 with the way he makes decisions?” Kelly is quoted as asking at one point as he considers resigning.

“He second-guessed people’s motives, saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government,” Bolton writes, always looking to “personal instinct” and opportunities for “reality TV showmanship.”

“These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” Trump said, according to Bolton’s account.

“I am hard pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes. 

Though Trump approved of a proposal from Bolton to publicly declare the United States recognized Guaidó rather than Maduro, within 30 hours Trump was already worrying that Guaidó appeared weak — a “kid” compared to “tough” Maduro — and considering changing course. “You couldn’t make this up,” Bolton writes. 

In the months following the summit, Bolton described Trump’s inordinate interest in Pompeo delivering an autographed copy of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” on CD to Kim during Pompeo’s follow-on visit to North Korea

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24-FEB-2020 :: The Viral Moment has Arrived #COVID19

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Professor Allen Bartlett

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A global pandemic update, June 16th I've been tracking the top 5 large countries with ascending cases or lack of descent for months (BRIMUS) Today the acronym needs to change to BRIMPUS @EricTopol

A global pandemic update, June 16th I've been tracking the top 5 large countries with ascending cases or lack of descent for months (BRIMUS) Today the acronym needs to change to BRIMPUS with the addition of Pakistan (population 220 M), rising  sharply

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#COVID19 and the Spillover Moment

―They fancied themselves free, wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.

―In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences.

A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away.

But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.

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10-MAY-2020 :: Daily Confirmed Cases in the 80,000-100,000 Cases Range

We are witnessing a Spill Over into EM and Frontier Geographies

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Coronavirus: 400 people test positive at German slaughterhouse @dwnews

About 400 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at a slaughterhouse in northwestern Germany, authorities announced on Wednesday.

The Rheda-Wiedenbrück meat processing plant, in the district of Gütersloh, near Bielefeld, is run by Tönnies, the leading meat processing firm in Germany.

Just over 1,000 workers were tested, and results for about 500 tests were available on Wednesday. Of those, at least 400 of them came back positive. Further results were expected later.

Read more:  Germany agrees stricter meat industry regulations following coronavirus outbreaks

The results have prompted local authorities to shut down the plant, and suspend all schools and daycare centers in the region until the summer holidays on June 29.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1246

Dollar Index 97.065

Japan Yen 106.99

Swiss Franc 0.9494

Pound 1.2515

Aussie 0.6896

India Rupee 76.1325

South Korea Won 1208.80

Brazil Real 5.2296

Egypt Pound 161.917

South Africa Rand 17.2062

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Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus.
Emerging Markets

In Brazil we have a toxic mix of a ‟Voodoo‟‟ President @jairbolsonaro and a runaway #COVID19

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China will exempt some African countries from repaying certain loans @ReutersAfrica

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will exempt some African countries from repaying zero-interest rate loans due at the end of 2020, state television reported on Wednesday, quoting President Xi Jingping’s speech at a summit.

Under the framework of the China-Africa cooperation forum, China will further extend loan payment forbearance for some countries including African countries, Xi told the China-Africa summit.

China is willing to give priority to African countries once COVID-19 vaccines are ready to use, Xi added.

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Tanzanian President John @MagufuliJP dissolved parliament on Tuesday ahead of elections in October @ReutersAfrica
Law & Politics

Nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for his ability to push through major projects, Magufuli took office in November 2015, pledging to expand the East African nation’s road and railway network and power-generation capacity.

“Large reforms have taken place, including ... restricting smuggling of raw minerals out of the country, establishing mineral markets in each region, increasing participation of artisanal miners,” he said.

Magufuli, who is expected to run for a second and final five-year term, told parliament in the administrative capital Dodoma that since he took office, the government had added another 3,500 km (2,170 miles) of tarmacked road.

He said a new 300-km (185-mile) standard gauge railway line between the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and Morogoro was almost complete, while a 422-km line from Morogoro to Dodoma was a third complete.

The government said on Monday a 6.5-trillion-shilling ($2.81 billion), 2,115 MW hydropower dam, being built next to a park that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, was 40% complete.

“This project was highly protested (against) but we have succeeded,” Magufuli said.

While hailed for also tackling corruption and wasteful spending, rights groups and opposition parties have accused Magufuli’s government of curbing human rights including limiting freedom of expression and preventing opposition parties from holding public rallies and sometimes private meetings.

The government has denied seeking to stifle dissent.

Tundu Lissu, deputy leader of the main opposition CHADEMA party, has announced he will run for president in October.

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Fears that President @MagufuliJP will create a dictatorship in Tanzania @thetimes
Law & Politics

Tanzania dissolved its parliament and set course for an election in October days after an opposition leader was badly beaten and laws were passed granting senior government figures immunity from prosecution.

There is growing concern that President Magufuli, who took office in 2015 promising to tackle corruption, wants to create a dictatorship.

A range of amendments approved by MPs will protect senior ministers from any legal action in the course of governing. 

Critics say the legislation effectively hands “powers to continue violating constitutional rights” to President Magufuli whose time in office has been marked by crushing freedoms and dissent.

The latest beating of a senior opposition figure came only hours after Tundu Lissu, Mr Magufuli’s most high-profile critic, announced he would return from exile to challenge him for the presidency in October’s general election.

In a statement America and the EU said the attack on Freeman Mbowe, of the Chadema party, last week was “only the latest in a long series of disturbing acts of violence and harassment perpetrated against members of the opposition”.

Mr Lissu, 52, Chadema’s vice chairman, survived being shot 16 times in an assassination attempt outside his home in Tanzania’s capital in September 2017

He has repeatedly delayed his planned return to the east African state over fears of more attempts on his life, but is determined to unseat Mr Magufuli in the forthcoming ballot which he predicts will turn into a “bitter and violent fight”.

The savage battering of his party colleague, whose injuries included a broken leg, “was planned to send me a serious warning,” Mr Lissu told The Times from his base in Belgium.

“Protecting the leaders from being sued when they contravene constitutional rights means giving them powers to continue violating the rights,” Anne Henga, of the Legal and Human Rights Centre, said.

According to local reports, the speaker of Tanzania’s parliament, Job Ndugai, has also told colleagues that he will seek to scrap presidential term limits once the incumbent triumphs in October.

Jeffrey Smith, from Vanguard Africa which campaigns for free and fair elections, said recent actions by Tanzania’s regime demonstrated it “knows they cannot win on an equal political playing field.”

“They use any means necessary, including violence, to try to silence the opposition. This is a clear sign of weakness, not strength,” he said.

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Zimbabwe Abandons Currency Peg Three Months After Introduction @markets
World Currencies

Zimbabwe’s central bank abandoned a currency peg it introduced in March and said it would allow the rate to be set by an auction system.

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FDI flows to Africa are forecast to fall by 25 to 40 per cent in 2020. The negative trend will be exacerbated by low commodity prices. In 2019, FDI flows to Africa already declined by 10 per cent to $45 billion. World Investment Report 2020 @UNCTAD #UNCTA

Africa is expected to see a decline of FDI between 25 and 40 per cent in 2020. 

Despite early concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19 in Africa, the continent appears to have been spared the initial outbreak seen in other parts of the world. 

Flows to Egypt – the largest recipient of FDI in Africa – increased by 11 per cent to $9 billion. 

Increased FDI flows to some of the continent’s major economies, including Egypt, were offset by reductions in others, such as Nigeria and South Africa.

Projected GDP growth for the continent has already been downgraded from 3.2 per cent to -2.8 per cent

The expected earnings of African MNEs that are among the world’s 5,000 largest MNEs have been revised down by 27 per cent since the start of the pandemic. 
The expected earnings of MNEs from the five largest investors in Africa (the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and China) have also been downgraded significantly. 

Reinvested earnings of MNEs account for a notable share of FDI inflows in the major recipient economies on the continent, including Egypt (41 per cent) and Nigeria (26 per cent) (figure II.3, on the next page). 

Therefore, the downward revision of earnings projections will have a tangible impact on investment flows to Africa in 2020.

FDI inflows to North Africa decreased by 11 per cent to $14 billion, with reduced inflows in all countries except Egypt. 

Egypt remained the largest FDI recipient in Africa in 2019, with inflows increasing by 11 per cent to $9 billion. 

After a significant increase in 2018, FDI flows to Sub-Saharan Africa decreased by 10 per cent in 2019 to $32 billion. 

This decrease can mostly be attributed to a decline in investment flows to traditional major investment recipients, including Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia.

FDI to West Africa decreased by 21 per cent to $11 billion in 2019. This was largely due to the steep decline in investment in Nigeria, after consecutive increases in 2017 and 2018. 

Inward FDI to Nigeria almost halved, to $3.3 billion, due to a slowdown in investment in the oil and gas industry. 

FDI flows to East Africa decreased by 9 per cent to $7.8 billion in 2019. Inflows to Ethiopia contracted by a fourth to $2.5 billion

FDI was adversely affected by instability in certain parts of the country, including regions with industrial parks. 

Yet Ethiopia remained the biggest FDI recipient in East Africa. China was the largest investor in 2019, accounting for 60 per cent of newly approved FDI projects, with significant realized investments in manufacturing and services. 

Inflows to Uganda increased by almost 20 per cent, to $1.3 billion, due to continued development of major oil fields and an international oil pipeline, as well as projects in construction, manufacturing and agriculture. 

Inflows to Kenya dropped by 18 per cent to $1.3 billion, despite several new projects in information technology (IT) and health care.

FDI flows to Central Africa decreased by 7 per cent to nearly $8.7 billion. 

FDI to the Democratic Republic of the Congo decreased by 9 per cent to $1.5 billion. 

Foreign investment continued to be directed towards mining, especially of cobalt, of which the country is the world’s leading producer. 

Demand for other metals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as lithium, nickel and copper, also continue to underpin investment flows to the country despite profound political and economic challenges.

FDI to Southern Africa increased by 22 per cent to $4.4 billion. This was mainly caused by the slowdown in net divestment from Angola. 

FDI flows to Angola in 2019 remained negative (-$4.1 billion) due to repatriations in the oil sector. 

There were some important foreign investment deals in the country, such as the $100 million investment by a unit of the Indonesian State-owned PT Pertamina (Persero) in an offshore oil block.

FDI inflows to South Africa decreased by 15 per cent to $4.6 billion in 2019. FDI to this country is mostly directed to mining, manufacturing (automobiles, consumer goods) and services (finance and banking). 

Although traditionally the major investor partners have been countries from the European Union (EU), China is slowly expanding its investment footprint in the country. 

Despite the decline in 2019, the level of FDI inflows in South Africa was encouraging after the low inflows between 2015 and 2017 (an average $2 billion a year). 

However, a significant part of FDI consists of intrafirm financial transfers; there is still a dearth of new greenfield investments.

MNEs from developed economies accounted for almost 80 per cent of the nearly $5.3 billion in M&A investments in Africa in 2019. 
There was also evidence of a rise in intracontinental investment, with the stock of investment in Africa held by South Africa increasing by $7 billion in 2017 to $35 billion in 2018.

FDI outflows from Africa decreased by 35 per cent to $5.3 billion. South Africa continued to be the largest outward investor, despite the reduction in its outflows from $4.1 billion to $3.1 billionThe annual volume of Russian FDI in Africa is usually small. However, there have been exceptions. In 2019, for example, the Congo received Russian FDI flows of $779 million as Lukoil, the country’s largest outward investor, bought 25 per cent of gas company Marine XII, currently in the exploration stage
In 2019 FDI flows to the 33 African LDCs rose by 17 per cent to $12 billion(figure B). 
With an increase of $211 million, FDI in Uganda reached a record high of $1.3 billion (up by 20 per cent from 2018). 

Flows to the United Republic of Tanzania increased by 5 per cent to $1.1 billion

In Ethiopia, FDI inflows fell for the second year, from a peak in 2016, down 24 per cent to a five-year low of $2.5 billion. FDI in manufacturing, construction and real estate shrank as the pace of industrial park development slowed and FDI from China plateaued. 

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02-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA and the R Word

We Know that the #Coronavirus is exponential, non linear and multiplicative.

what exponential disease propagation looks like in the real world. Real world exponential growth looks like nothing, nothing, nothing ... then cluster, cluster, cluster ... then BOOM!

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10-MAY-2020 :: The worrying development is Transmission Hotspots #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment

Kano in Nigeria for example
Western Cape growing at an alarming rate @sugan250388
Someone with close knowledge of the medical profession said it was almost impossible to secure a hospital bed in several cities.
The Aga Khan hospital in Dar es Salaam had a well-equipped ward for 80 coronavirus patients, but several were dying each night, he said.
The Question for SSA is whether these Transmission Hot Spots expand and conflate?

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Around 9% of Guinea-Bissau health workers have been infected with COVID-19 #COVID19 @ReutersAfrica

More than 170 of Guinea-Bissau’s 2,000 health workers have contracted COVID-19, a World Health Organization expert said on Tuesday, warning that hospitals were close to being overwhelmed.

The tiny West African nation’s under-equipped healthcare system has been struggling to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected over 1,400 people and killed 15. 

Health authorities have raised the alarm over a lack of oxygen to treat patients.

“The three main Bissau hospitals are currently facing rooms filled with COVID-19 patients and a breakdown in essential medical services,” said Joana Cortez, a WHO expert in Guinea-Bissau, during an online seminar on the impact of the epidemic on Portuguese-speaking African countries.

Cortez said 176 health workers in the country had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

That amounts to nearly 9% of the country’s total medical staff of about 2,000, according to Reuters calculations based on figures from the health authorities.

“It is a chaotic situation,” Cortez said.

Health workers are vulnerable because of a lack of high- quality protective gear, according to Tumane Balde, who heads an interministerial COVID-19 commission.

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Ghana economy grows 4.9% y/y in first quarter, says stats office @ReutersAfrica
World Of Finance

Ghana’s economy grew 4.9% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020 compared with 6.7% in the same period last year, provisional data from the state statistics service showed on Wednesday.

Ghana has had one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies in recent years, but the central bank last month downgraded its 2020 growth forecast to between 2% and 2.5% from an earlier expectation of 6.8% due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The economy grew 6.5% in 2019.

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In Zambia, Covid-19 has claimed democracy, not human life @mailandguardian
Law & Politics

As well as successfully pressuring the Constitutional Court to allow him to run for a third term, Lungu has presided over the shutdown of the main independent newspaper, almost succeeded in muzzling civil society, removed the vestiges of autonomy in nearly all state institutions, and created a general climate of fear. 

Amidst this changing political character of Zambia’s democratic tradition, the arrival of Covid-19 proved, for the authorities, to be a blessing in disguise in two main ways.

First, it threw a lifeline to Lungu’s power push ahead of the 2021 elections. 

At the time, when the first few cases of Covid-19 were reported, Parliament was debating the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill that would weaken institutions — such as elections, the judiciary and the Constitution itself — that offer the long-term hope for democratic consolidation. 

After failing to raise the two-thirds majority required to pass it, the PF, fearful that the Bill would be defeated, asked the Speaker to abruptly suspend Parliament using the coronavirus as the pretext.

Since then, the confirmed number of Covid-19 cases in the country has soared to 1358 (as of June 15), but the authorities planned to resume parliamentary sittings presumably after having enough time to mobilise the required support. 

If passed, the Bill will consolidate the PF’s stay in power, making it effectively impossible to remove President Lungu from office.

Second, the PF have manipulated the pandemic to bury authoritarian abuse under the guise of fighting it. 

In April, the broadcasting licence of Zambia’s leading private television station was cancelled, days after it declined a government request to broadcast Covid-19 adverts for free. 

Radio stations that host opposition figures who highlight the government’s failings have also been violently attacked by ruling party supporters, who insist that no form of campaigning should happen until the pandemic is past. 

Meanwhile, public meetings by civil society and opposition parties remain proscribed on health concerns, even when the PF continues to hold theirs. 

A series of repressive measures that curtail civil liberties have also been enacted. 

In the words of one government minister, ‘when it comes to fighting

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Kenya’s Case of Covid-19 @CSIS @CSISAfrica @wmbellamy H/T @JDevermont

When Covid-19 reached East Africa in March, the Kenyan government swiftly imposed quarantines and restricted movement into and throughout the country. 

These measures contributed to the slow of the virus’s spread—the country’s current caseload stands at 3,727 with 104 deaths and 1,286 recoveries—but it did not prevent the near collapse of Kenya’s once-robust economy.

Kenyans are vigorously criticizing their government’s handling of the crisis. Ironically, that spirited dissent is a sign that political freedoms in Kenya have withstood this crisis. 

For Kenya, the main lesson of Covid-19 is how tightly the country is linked to the global economy. 

For the United States, the lesson is that now is the time to assist Kenya and boost relations with this critical African partner.

Q1: How has the Kenyan government reacted to the pandemic?

A1: The Kenyan government—led by President Uhuru Kenyatta—has moved quickly to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Starting on March 25, the government closed airports, schools, churches and mosques; tightened border controls; restricted public gatherings; imposed severe limitations on movement around the country; and imposed curfews in urban areas. 

This may have helped slow the spread of the virus but at a cost. For millions who live in urban slums or rural poverty, social distancing is not an option. 

Their livelihoods depend on daily face-to-face interactions. Many Kenyan commentators on social media have denounced harsh and chaotic police enforcement of public health directives.

Q2: What is the economic cost for Kenya?

A2: It is enormous. GDP growth for 2020 is estimated to fall to -5 percent if the outbreak is not effectively contained, representing a loss of $10 billion in GDP. 

Whole sectors of the economy have shut down. Agriculture exports are down more than 50 percent. 

The horticultural sector has lost half its exports, half its value, and laid off most of its workforce of 75,000. 

Tourism and the hospitality sector—comprising some 1.4 million jobs and 8.8 percent of Kenya’s GDP—has collapsed. 

An estimated 50 percent of the Kenyan workforce is either laid off or locked out from their jobs. 

Exacerbating the economic downturn are epic locust invasions and floods.

Rating agencies have downgraded Kenya’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” due to worries about its ability to service an outsized foreign and domestic debt burden. 

Indeed, the frequency and extent of public criticism of the Kenyan government in both conventional and social media is a signal that free expression in Kenya, even in this time of crisis, is alive and well. 

Unlike in other countries, including the United States, there is little evidence that incumbents in Kenya are trying to weaponize the crisis to score political gains.

Invest in health care capacity. The United States could begin to invest in building capacity both at the Africa Center for Disease Control and among the many Kenya-based partners of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

Setting up robust health systems is critical not only in curbing Covid-19 over the next few years but in strengthening Kenya’s comprehensive health responses as a country.

Reshape the economic response. The United States should consider leading a G7 effort to ease debt burdens and mobilize new financial support for Kenya and other African nations struggling to put in place social safety nets.

Prioritize trade

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Kenya records the highest number of covid-19 cases so far at 184 new cases. Total number of cases in the country now crosses the 4000 mark at 4044 @shikshaarora_

Kenya records the highest number of covid-19 cases so far at 184 new cases. Total number of cases in the country now crosses the 4000 mark at 4044. Nairobi has recorded 111 cases in the last 24 hours.

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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June 2020

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