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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 10th of December 2020

04-NOV-2019 :: At the Moment of Vision, the Eyes See Nothing

However, Fewer Folks will have read William Golding's book ''The Spire'' and in that book Golding writes

''At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing''

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'A dark and powerful portrait of one man's will, and the folly that he creates' Reading The Spire

Therefore, when Pangall, the lame and impotent caretaker, reports that the workmen employed to build the spire ‘torment’ him and warns that ‘one day, they will kill me’ (14), Jocelin fails to do anything of note to help him.  

Pangall begs him to send them away but Jocelin only requests that the master builder speaks to his men and ask them to stop bullying Pangall.  

It appears later that Pangall’s prediction is correct although Jocelin’s description of the event is far from conclusive as he watches the workmen chase Pangall near the pit.

He saw men who tormented Pangall, having him at the broom’s end.  In an apocalyptic glimpse of seeing, he caught how a man danced forward to Pangall, the model of the spire projecting obscenely from between his legs – then the swirl and the noise and the animal bodies hurled Jocelin against stone, so that he could not see, but only hear how

Pangall broke…

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A Massive Elephant Herd Has ‘Taken Everyone by Surprise’ in Its Return to Virunga National Park @GizmodoAU H/T @cobbo3

In a rare sign that not everything is terrible, elephants are returning to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 1980, the lush 7,770-square-kilometre park was home to an estimated 8,000 elephants. 

Yet in recent years, the area has seen an increased presence of rebel militia groups that poach the animals for their ivory tusks and to make room for illegal agriculture. 

These groups are dangerous to people and animals alike — the population underwent a heartbreakingly swift decline. 

In 2015, fewer than 500 elephants were left in the wildlife reserve, and by early 2020, there were only about 120 remaining.

Amid the covid-19 pandemic, Virunga National Park saw a severe strain on its tourism revenue, so it had a harder time paying to arm guards and protect the area from these groups. 

As a result, attacks on animals and people surged. This past April, the park saw a tragic attack. Armed rebels killed four civilians and 13 staff members. 

It was clear officials needed to take urgent steps to protect wildlife, particularly animals on the brink such as the elephants, as well as staff and the surrounding communities.

With emergency funding help from UNESCO, the park erected walls to keep intruders out, hired armed guards of their own, and hired people to remove snare traps that poachers had laid. 

The park also partnered with nearby communities to provide them with protection services and economic help.

“The park has an ambitious strategy...to support the socioeconomic development of the wider region and provide economic opportunities and livelihoods for the approximately 5 million people that live within a day’s walk of the park, and these efforts are all contributing to improved security situations and reducing the presence of armed groups,” Nick Colwill

Now, elephant populations have made a stunning improvement. 

This past July, a herd of some 580 African elephants wandered into the park’s savanna area from the nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, just over the country’s border. 

This brought the total number of these magnificent creatures up to 700 or so.

Without them around, invasive plant species ran rampant with no heavy-footed mammals around to trample them. The food chain was thrown out of whack, causing other species’ populations to decline, too. 

But the elephants’ return has ushered in sweeping, ecosystem-wide benefits. 

Creatures including buffalo, Ugandan kob, warthogs, and topi — none of which had been seen in the previous two decades in the park — have made a comeback. 

Park officials even recently spotted two lions, which also haven’t been seen in decades.

“They’re restoring everything back to what it was 50 years ago and doing so much faster than we could have imagined,” Anthony Caere, an anti-poaching pilot at Virunga National Park, said in a statement. 

“If the elephants continue to stay here in these numbers, this place will look totally different in just a few years.”

To ensure that that happens, staff are taking more steps to continue to improve conditions in the wildlife reserve, bringing on extra security, undertaking more frequent sweeps of the park to find and remove snare traps, and engaging more nearby communities. 

The protection efforts have made a huge improvement in safety for elephants, other animals, and people.

“Herds of this size are very rare, so it’s an incredible success story — it’s the result of many years of work by Virunga’s Rangers, and it will take many more years of work to maintain and improve the conditions that meant the herd migrated back to the park,” said Colwill.

No major attacks on humans or animals have taken place since Virunga’s increased protection efforts, but there’s still much more work to be done to improve conditions in surrounding areas. 

In November, after a deadly attack by rebel groups, three dozen human corpses were found in the park, though Colwill said the killings didn’t take place within the park’s confines nor were motives clear.

Still, the return of these elephants shows that it’s possible — even in times of extreme hardship — to launch successful conservation efforts, and that conservation efforts can also protect people.

“The migration of this herd with such numbers has taken everyone by surprise, and nobody would have thought that it was possible 20 or even 10 years ago, as the region was beset by conflict,” Colwill said.

 “Even in such circumstances, it is possible to create the conditions to restore and promote the return of species and protect biodiversity more broadly.”

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"I really am sorry, from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day then this in unacceptable." @dwnews
Law & Politics

German Chancellor Angela Merkel begs Germans to follow coronavirus restrictions in an unusually emotional appeal ahead of Christmas.

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Globally in the past week, cases of COVID-19 have remained at approximately 4 million new cases, while new deaths have continued to increase to over 73 000. @WHO

In the past week, the five countries reporting the highest number of cases were the United States of America (reporting over 1.2 million cases, a 9% increase from the previous week), Brazil (over 295 000 new cases, a 35% increase), India (over 251 000 cases, a 15% decrease), Russian Federation (over 191 000 new cases, a 6% increase) and Italy (over 145 000 new cases, a 21% decrease).

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Ibn Khaldun sought to explain the intrinsic relationship between political leadership and the management of pandemics in the pre-colonial period in his book Muqaddimah
Law & Politics

Historically, such pandemics had the capacity to overtake “the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration” and, in the process, challenged their “power and curtailed their [rulers’] influence...”

Rulers who are only concerned with the well-being of their “inner circle and their parties” are an incurable “disease”.

States with such rulers can get “seized by senility and the chronic disease from which [they] can hardly ever rid [themselves], for which [they] can find no cure”

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No-one has ever produced a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud

What if, as I fear, there will never be a vaccine. I was involved in the early stages of identifying the HIV virus as the cause of Aids. 

I remember drugs companies back then saying there would be a vaccine within around 18 months. Some 37 years on, we are still waiting. Prof ANGUS DALGLEISH @MailOnline

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2095

Dollar Index 91.074

Japan Yen 104.50

Swiss Franc 0.8892

Pound 1.3341

Aussie 0.7462

India Rupee 73.7577

South Korea Won 1090.36

Brazil Real 5.1711

Egypt Pound 15.6790

South Africa Rand 14.99375

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In the African Region, while both new cases and deaths remain low compared to other regions, there was an increase of 9% in new cases. @WHO

Situation by WHO Region African Region

In the past seven days, over 53 000 new cases were reported in the African Region, a 9% increase compared to the previous week, while deaths remained similar to last week’s at just under 1000 new reported deaths (Figure 3). 

South Africa continues to account for the greatest proportion (48%) of new weekly cases in the Region. 

In the past seven days, the highest number of new cases was reported from South Africa (25 310 new cases, 427 new cases per 1 million population), Algeria (6290 new cases, 143 new cases per 1 million population), Kenya (5379 new cases, 100 per 1 million population), Ethiopia (3810 new cases, 33 new cases per 1 million population) and Uganda (2244 new cases, 49 per 1 million population).

Over the past month, Kenya has reported its highest weekly cases and deaths. However, in the past week these numbers have declined by 13% and 8%, respectively, for both new cases and deaths. 

Case totals in the country have reached nearly 88 000 since the start of the pandemic and, with fatalities only being reported for hospital deaths, it is likely that cumulative deaths are being underreported. 

A study in July reported that for a country of 51 million people, there are only 537 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and 256 ventilators. Nearly 75% of Kenya's ICU beds are in Nairobi and Mombasa. 

Thus far Kenya has conducted nearly 886 000 tests with a testing rate of 1.2 per 1000 population in the last week and a test positivity rate of 10%.

Cases in Nigeria have increased by 46% in the past seven days, the highest weekly case count reported since August. 

In the past seven days, 22 of the 37 states in Nigeria have reported new cases with the highest case numbers being reported in the states of Lagos, Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Oyo and Kaduna. 

In a country of over 206 million persons, Nigeria has conducted over 803 000 tests throughout the pandemic. 

In the last reporting week, it had a testing rate of 0.17 per 1000 population and a test positivity rate of 4.6% 

Additionally, while the volume of in-bound international travel in the past week has remained within its normal parameters, the number of travelers with a positive result after seven days has increased by 68% (from 48 to 81).

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 2 306 491 (+ 19718) Actives: 279 871 (+ 6923) @NCoVAfrica

Confirmed: 2 306 491 (+ 19718)

Actives: 279 871 (+ 6923)

Deaths: 54 875 (+ 353)

Recoveries: 1 970 173 (+ 12442)

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Turning to Africa The Spinning Top

So far Africa has dodged the Virus from a medical perspective though it remains in my view a slow burning Fuse and we all know by now ''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics'

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Is it really possible that the rest of Africa was impacted much less by COVID-19 than South Africa? @fibke

Age structure and co-morbidity patterns do not seem vastly different. Data quality then?

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Update: #COVID19 South Africa • New confirmed cases today > 6 700 • Daily test positivity = 17.6% @rid1tweets

Some concerning indicators 

• New confirmed cases today > 6 700 

• Daily test positivity = 17,6% 

• Sharp exponential increase in cases in WC, KZN and GP, and together with EC driving a #secondwave in SA

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Dr. Mkhize number of new cases in South Africa today was 6,709 new cases, according to his new tweets. That's quite a surge, more than doubling in the past week. @geoffreyyork

Dr. Mkhize had earlier said the number of new cases in South Africa today was 6,079.  But the number is actually even higher:  6,709 new cases, according to his new tweets. That's quite a surge, more than doubling in the past week.

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UGANDA 1199 new confirmed cases of #CoViD19UG (daily record), 12 new deaths, no new recoveries Active cases : 15330 @NCoVAfrica


- Confirmed cases of #covid19: 25059

- Deaths: 219

- Recoveries: 9510

- Active cases : 15330

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10-JUN-2019 :: The "zeitgeist" of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating

The U.S. recognizes #Sudan's progress and its commitment to supporting religious freedom.

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Ethiopia's war risks leaving manufacturing dreams in tatters @Reuters

When Bangladeshi textile firm DBL set up shop in Ethiopia two years ago, the African nation was the garment industry’s bright new frontier, boasting abundant cheap labour and a government keen to woo companies with tax breaks and cheap loans.

Last month, as fighting raged in the northern Tigray region, DBL’s compound was rocked by an explosion that blasted out the factory’s windows, radically altering its business calculus.

“All we could do was to pray out loud,” said Adbul Waseq, an official at the company, which makes clothes mainly for Swedish fashion giant H&M and is one of at least three foreign garment makers to have suspended operations in Tigray.

“We could have died,” Waseq told Reuters.

For over a decade, Ethiopia has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure such as hydro-electric dams, railways, roads as well as industrial parks in an ambitious bid to transform the poor, mainly agrarian nation into a manufacturing powerhouse.

A year later, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office, pledging to loosen the state’s grip on an economy with over 100 million people and liberalise sectors such as telecoms, fuelling something akin to glasnost-era headiness among investors.

But for two years Ethiopia has been pummelled by challenges: ethnic clashes, floods, locust swarms and coronavirus lockdowns.

Now, fighting which erupted on Nov. 4 between the army and forces loyal to Tigray’s former ruling party, and fears it could signal a period of prolonged unrest, have served investors with a harsh reality check.

Any hesitation by investors could spell trouble as the country’s manufacturing export push isn’t yet generating enough foreign currency either to pay for all the country’s imports or keep pace with rising debt service costs. 

Even before the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned that Ethiopia was at high risk of debt distress.

Abiy’s government said that, amid the crises it’s facing, Ethiopia was pushing ahead with reforms that will build the foundations for a modern economy.

“Despite the unprecedented shock from COVID and continued insecurity in different parts of the country, the Ethiopian economy showed remarkable resilience,” Mamo Mihretu, senior policy adviser in the prime minister’s office, told Reuters.

Ethiopia is a relatively small textiles producer with exports in 2016 of just $94 million compared with $29 billion for Vietnam and $253 billion for China in the same year, World Bank trade data showed

Its top exports are agricultural, such as coffee, tea, spices, oil seeds, plants and flowers.

But Ethiopia’s push into the textile industry over the past 10 years has been emblematic of its manufacturing ambitions.

As fighting neared Tigray’s regional capital, Mekelle, textile companies began shutting down and pulling out staff.

“It seemed that the conflict was getting closer to the city, and our worry was that we wouldn’t be able to leave,” Cristiano Frati, an electrician evacuated from a factory run by Italian hosiery chain Calzedonia, told an Italian newspaper.

Calzedonia said on Nov. 13 it had suspended operations at the plant, which employs about 2,000 people, due to the conflict. It has declined to comment further.

DBL, meanwhile, has flown its foreign staff out of Ethiopia.

“Everything has become uncertain,” its managing director M.A. Jabbar said. “When will the war end?”

Another foreign company, Velocity Apparelz Companies - a supplier to H&M and Children’s Place - has also temporarily shut down, a company official told Reuters.

H&M said it was “very concerned” and was closely monitoring the situation.

“We have three suppliers in Tigray, and the production there has come to a halt,” the company told Reuters, emphasising that it would continue to source from Ethiopia where it has about 10 suppliers in total.

Indochine Apparel, a Chinese firm that supplies Levi Strauss & Co, said its operations in the Hawassa industrial park in the south of the country were unaffected.

Levi Strauss said it was monitoring the situation and confirmed there had been no impact on its supply chain so far.

Ethiopia’s apparel sector was struggling even before the fighting in Tigray because of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some facilities did not survive the collapse in orders while others slashed wages or laid off staff.

The malaise has not been limited to the garment sector.

Even before the conflict, insurance companies underwriting political risk had stopped providing cover beyond Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region and the federal capital Addis Ababa, a risk consultant who advises corporate clients said.

“Ethiopia is not a pretty picture right now,” he said.

Like most sources contacted by Reuters, the consultant asked not to be named, fearing a backlash from government authorities.

Abiy’s efforts to ease a repressive political climate had already uncorked ethnic clashes before the war in Tigray. 

Violence in other parts of the country which intensified in 2019 had disrupted projects, notably in agriculture.

“The fighting started around the time we were going to start planting,” said the head of an agri-industry project that was forced to delay its investment last year.

Swedish furniture giant IKEA opened a purchasing office in Ethiopia last year. However, it closed it down in September after shelving plans to source from the country due to the political and social situation, COVID-19 and changes to the cotton market in Africa, the company told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, a bottling partner of the Coca-Cola Company, told Reuters that the fighting in Tigray, which accounts for about 20% of its sales volumes in Ethiopia, had halted business there.

That comes on the heels of delays in the construction of two new bottling plants - part of a $300 million five-year investment plan announced last year - due to the pandemic and an excise tax increase.

With the fall of Mekelle at the end of last month, Abiy declared victory over Tigray’s former ruling party (TPLF).

“The swift, decisive, and determined completion of the active phase of the military operation means any lingering concerns about political uncertainty by the investment community will be effectively settled,” Abiy’s adviser Mamo said.

The TPLF has vowed to fight on.

For the government, there is little margin for error. 

Ethiopia’s external debt has ballooned five-fold over the past decade as the government borrowed heavily - notably from China - to pay for infrastructure and industrial parks.

Foreign direct investment inflows, meanwhile, have declined steadily since a 2016 peak of more than $4 billion, slipping to about $500 million for the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Inflation is hovering around 20%.

“There are very few ways out of this. They aren’t going to get more money from the IMF. They can’t go to the markets. Their best bet is a global economic recovery next year,” said Menzi Ndhlovu, senior country and political risk analyst at Signal Risk, an Africa-focused business consultancy.

Still, Ethiopia passed a landmark investment law earlier this year and implemented currency reforms.

And the government is pushing ahead its plans to open up the telecommunications sector. 

It opened tendering for two new telecoms licences at the end of November and plans to sell off a minority stake in state-owned Ethio Telecom.

Sources following the process, which should provide the beleaguered economy with a hefty injection of dollars, said interested companies were not deterred by the current unrest.

But for now, Ethiopia’s grand manufacturing dreams have been dealt a setback.

“Who will go there in this situation?” asked DBL’s Waseq, who has returned to Bangladesh. “No one.”

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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

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The fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops

The fight is about self-determination of the region of around 6 million people, the Tigray leader said, and it “will continue until the invaders are out.” 

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The Battle for the Soul of Uganda @AfricaACSS

Uganda’s 2021 election season started off in November with the arrest of a leading opposition candidate after he came under a volley of bullets, the advancing of the election date by two months to January 14, and the shooting by Ugandan police of opposition supporters who had gathered for a rally, many of them as they swam through a Kampala swamp to avoid the carnage. Over 50 people were killed.

This is not the campaign President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) anticipated. 

In power since 1986 and seeking his 6th term after sidestepping constitutional term and age limits, the 76-year-old Museveni was seeking an uneventful continuation of his rule.

Instead, he has encountered a highly energized youth movement that is calling for change, including the transition to a genuine democracy. 

The opposition is led by musician-turned-legislator Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, aka Bobi Wine, and his People Power movement.

The 38-year-old jumped to prominence composing songs critical of political injustice and in the process tapped a deep reservoir of frustration among youth who chafe at the NRM’s claim of perpetual entitlement. 

While Wine has garnered most of the attention, there are 11 opposition candidates competing in the first round of presidential polls.

The NRM is attempting to blunt the momentum of the opposition through a series of restrictive measures. 

Wine has been arrested several times in recent years, and reportedly beaten and tortured, under a colonial-era law—the Habitual Criminals (Preventive Detention) Act of 1951—which allows the incarceration of anyone suspected of committing a crime, even before it occurs

The law was used to detain Wine on the grounds of the Electoral Commission minutes after he was certified as a presidential candidate on November 3. 

Police claim his offense was planning an “illegal procession” without police permission that threatens domestic tranquility.

The NRM is also invoking the Communications Act, which blocks critical reporting and can be wielded to disrupt access to Uganda’s 200 or so privately owned radio stations. 

An antiterrorism law allows private communications to be intercepted without a warrant. Another compels internet providers to ensure their systems can intercept communications without the user’s knowledge. 

In 2019, millions quit social media after a tax was imposed to “tame idle talk” across 60 platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp.

The 2013 Public Order Management Act outlaws public gatherings without police approval. 

In 2020, the Constitutional Court nullified one section, calling it illegal, but left the Act in place. 

The Stage Play and Public Entertainment Rules of 2019 require musicians, artists, and entertainers to submit content for approval and obtain government permission to perform.

Such are the systemic impediments that hamper Uganda’s ability to hold genuinely democratic elections. 

The NRM’s open use and justification of violence against its political opponents, moreover, drops any pretense that this will be a free and fair political competition of ideas.

Unwilling to legitimize such efforts, the European Union has refused to send observers to the polls. 

It has said none of the 30 recommendations it offered to address deficiencies identified from the 2016 elections have been implemented. 

These include legal reforms, equitable media access, public participation in selecting Commissioners of the Election Commission, and making the Commission independent from executive control. 

A coalition of independent MPs similarly sponsored a bill in 2019 containing comprehensive reforms. 

However, this was blocked by the NRM’s parliamentary supermajority of 393 seats out of 426.

Uganda thus heads into another election with a series of structural factors intended to produce a predetermined outcome. 

The ideological competition unfolding in Uganda, however, extends beyond the election to competing visions for the direction of the country.

The NRM has gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress the People Power Movement and its political wing, the National Unity Platform. 

This underscores the intergenerational fracture between the older, post-independence generation and those born after the NRM came to power in 1986, which makes up the overwhelming majority of voters. 

Unlike older generations, they are not as deferential to the NRM’s claims to legitimacy owing to its armed struggle.

“The People Power movement repudiates the NRM as the ‘old order,’ out of touch with new realities and fundamentally corrupt, violent, and insensitive.”

In January 2020, Museveni, clad in full battle gear, led a 195-kilometer trek dubbed “Afrika Kwetu” (“Our Africa”) to Luweero district, the historical stronghold where the NRM launched its war. 

It sought to re-legitimize itself by “educating youth not to take their freedoms for granted.” 

In the 1990s, Uganda’s youth broadly welcomed previous marches. The youth of today are not as responsive to the NRM’s message. 

In November, the People Power campaign attracted larger crowds in Luweero than the NRM, despite the daytime curfew it imposed to keep supporters away from Wine’s rallies.

Uganda has one the world’s youngest populations: 78 percent are under 35, including 8 million aged 15-30. 

Yet it also has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment, blamed on state corruption. 

Many of these youth dwell in informal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas and have been dismissed as “bayaaye” (rebellious hoodlums). 

Aware of their growing political influence, these youth have embraced the pejorative term as a political identity, describing themselves as the “unwashed ghetto youth.” They comprise the base of Wine’s support.

Channeling these feelings of alienation, the People Power movement has increasingly expanded its support among other youths, including the well-to-do. 

Consequently, the bayaaye have moved from the fringes to the center, redefining the issues and debates within Uganda. 

The People Power movement repudiates the NRM as the “old order,” out of touch with new realities and fundamentally corrupt, violent, and insensitive.

During protests, People Power activists have shown less fear of state coercion and are more defiant of authority than former electorates. This trend first appeared in the 2011 polls and has hardened over time. 

Wine, himself a product of youth unemployment and homelessness, embodies these dynamics. 

He graduated from Kampala’s slums as a reggae artist, a genre with a huge following that has long been treated with suspicion due to its embrace of the lower class and anti-establishment themes

Since 2016, Uganda’s government has stopped more than 100 concerts by Wine and other reggae artists. 

In defiance, they ventured outside the country to draw international attention to their cause.

In September 2018, Steven Marley, son of the late Bob Marley—who himself wrote numerous songs for anti-colonial and anti-apartheid movements—and Grammy Award-winning Morgan Heritage wrote a song for Bobi Wine, who was at the time detained on treason charges. 

It went viral in Uganda and East Africa. Wine visited the Marley family and Heritage in Jamaica in 2019 and 2020, where he was also received by Julius Garvey, son of the revered founder of the Global Pan-African Movement, the late Marcus Garvey, and Prime Minister Andrew Holnes.

In May 2020, Wine and Bob Marley’s contemporary, Buju Banton, organized a concert in Kenya to inspire Ugandan and East African youth to “reclaim and redefine” Pan-African liberation and free themselves from “mis-leaders” clinging to power.

Museveni, the official patron of the Pan-African Movement and one-time follower of Marcus Garvey, found himself in an awkward spot

He has attempted to reboot his image to focus on connecting with the “bazukulu” (grandchildren), which has become a standard theme in his public addresses. 

“No one can lecture me about youths,” he often says. Wine countered with a series of messages questioning the president’s moral authority to position himself as an attentive “grandfather” noting that it is taboo in African culture for grandparents to harm bazukulu, a direct reference to how Museveni’s security forces treat People Power supporters.

To regain the narrative, Museveni appointed one of Wine’s former reggae associates as his presidential advisor on “ghetto affairs.” 

Next, he recruited and financed many local musicians, including Wine’s former peers, to compose songs of praise and mobilize youth around the NRM. 

Third, he embarked on releasing his own singles to push out his message to youth.

However, coercion was never far away. Wine and African artists sympathetic to the People Power movement are blocked from performing in Uganda. 

In December 2019, Ugandan authorities deported renowned South African anti-apartheid cultural icon and African Union Goodwill Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka, drawing consternation in South Africa and wider African circles.

In 2018, she had joined a chorus of African and Jamaican voices demanding Bobi Wine’s release and the dropping of treason charges. 

She compared him to a “younger Nelson Mandela” and said South Africans admired him as a rising leader. 

During her December 2019 Uganda visit, she praised Wine again, telling him that “the old guard is messing up, and don’t fail these children of Uganda.” She was expelled the following day.

As a national liberation movement, the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) retains revolutionary practices that blur the line between civilian and military. 

It nevertheless prides itself for achieving a level of professionalism as it transitioned to a government army. 

However, as Uganda’s political space narrowed, so too did the line between the military and politics. 

The UPDF was not overtly visible in the 1996 elections. This changed in 2001 when the NRM faced an internal challenge from the then active-duty senior officer, Kizza Besigye. 

The polls were marred by running battles between the police and UPDF versus his supporters, made worse when he was accused of launching an armed rebellion. 

The tensions intensified in 2006 and 2011 as more soldiers and senior civilians deserted the NRM and the opposition grew.

By 2016, the UPDF was increasingly used as part of the NRM’s enforcement machinery breaking up rallies, raiding opposition offices, and surveilling rival candidates. 

Nonetheless, political statements by military officers were swiftly denounced by the top leadership, as happened when then Chief of Defense Forces, General Katumba Wamala, issued the explicit guidance that “All army officers are cautioned not to dare engage in politics.”

“I have been hearing some people saying ‘we will demonstrate.’ … We will deal with you, we shall crush you.”

During the 2020 election cycle, more uniformed leaders openly declared they would not obey an NRM outsider. 

While reminders of the army’s apolitical position have come from the army spokesperson, partisan declarations continue. 

In August 2019, General Kahinda Otafiire, the Justice Minister and member of the UPDF Historical High Command, announced that the slogan “People Power” belonged to the NRM, which would defend it “using the people’s army and air force.” 

This echoed the UPDF Land Forces Commander and High Command member, General Peter Elwelu, who said that if Wine and his parliamentary allies dared to fight, the army would not hesitate to storm the chambers to “instantly crush” them. 

In December 2019,  then deputy government spokesperson, the late Colonel Shaban Bantariza, said, “I pity people who think the NRM government will hand over power.” 

Shortly thereafter, Brigadier General Deus Mande, Commandant of the Armored Warfare School, vowed that the UPDF would never allow Wine to be its Commander in Chief. 

This was repeated in January 2020 by Captain Sula Serunjogi, a highly decorated war veteran who addressed soldiers at the Africa Kwetu trek.

After the November 2020 protests, Security Minister General Elly Tumwine, a member of the National Security Council and Historical High Command, warned that “the police have the right to shoot and kill citizens if they go beyond a certain level of decency.” 

These statements mirror some of Museveni’s own messaging. In July 2020, he warned, “I have been hearing some people saying ‘we will demonstrate.’ … We are also here waiting for you, we will deal with you, we shall crush you.” 

In August, he called Bobi Wine’s supporters “idiots,” saying they had no right to insult him. “They will soon see what NRM means; we are going to crush those criminals and any policeman who fails to discipline [them] will go to look after goats.”

In response, the People Power movement recirculated a Bobi Wine song on social media addressed to the “Afande” (officers): “You are fighting us but we are fighting for you… even if you do these things under instructions, you are still a human being. Whatever situations oppress us oppress you too.”

Uganda’s Electoral Commission, the only body allowed by law to announce election results, is widely seen as partisan. 

Electoral Commission Chairman, Simon Byabakama, is a longtime NRM operative who led the state’s prosecution of Kiiza Besigye for rape in 2001, a political charge thrown out by the courts. 

In 2020, Byabakama blocked one million first time voters (most of them youth), saying he did not “have the time or resources” to register new voters, a move that even the NRM-dominated Parliament criticized as a “horrible precedent.” The Commission nevertheless refused to budge.

Uganda’s once-respected judiciary has repeatedly buckled under executive pressure. The courts have sided with the Museveni in all election petitions since 2001, though some judgments were razor thin. 

Its reputation was further tarnished in 2018 when the Constitutional Court upheld the removal of presidential age limits, the last check against what many call a “life presidency.”

Notably, the executive branch controls the independent Judicial Service Commission, all court appointments, and the judiciary’s budget. 

In 2019, Museveni made more judicial appointments than at any time since 1986. Given his longevity, Museveni has appointed all sitting judges in Uganda.

What Comes Next?

In 1986, Museveni assumed office arguing that Africa’s problems are caused by leaders who cling to power. Many years later, his failure to step down from power has seeded instability in a country he sought to liberate. 

The transitional process envisioned by the 1995 Constitution remains frozen, leaving a generation of leaders in place perceived as being out of touch with the electorate.

The 2021 election process, therefore, is marked by two colliding visions for Uganda. The NRM maintains tight control of the institutions of power, notably the security services and the judiciary. 

Frustration with this reality is being increasingly challenged by many Ugandans, especially youth, who aspire for a more participatory political process, are increasingly vocal about state corruption, and feel they have little to lose. 

Opposing the NRM, however, continues to be extremely costly to the physical safety and domestic stability of dissenters as the  NRM has come to equate political opposition with criminality and instability.

Deescalating these tensions will require trusted, independent interlocutors—both domestic and international—who can help Uganda navigate a path forward. 

For nearly two decades, civil society, opposition voices, and international partners have offered recommendations comprising a comprehensive reform agenda. 

These proposals provide a starting point to begin a genuine dialogue and a process for expanding political inclusion, while bridging the intergenerational divide.

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Big day today in the DRC where a plenary session will vote on the removal of National Assembly president and Kabila ally, Jeanine Mabunda. @Pol_Sec_Analyst

If motion passes, will indicate that Tshisekedi has successfully coopted some of Kabila's FCC allies, paving way for a new government

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Morocco still has 1 investment grade credit rating (via S&P, albeit with a negative outlook). @emsovdebt

Joins #Mauritius & #Botswana as only African countries to have investment grade credit ratings, after #SouthAfrica lost its last in March.

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Morocco has raised $3 billion in a triple-tranche bond sale, a document showed on Wednesday @Nasdaq

The government sold bonds with maturities of seven, 12 and 30 years, raising $750 million, $1 billion and $1.25 billion from each tranche respectively, according to a document issued by one of the banks leading the deal and reviewed by Reuters.

The debt sale, which offers coupons of 2.375%, 3% and 4%, was managed by Barclays BARC.L, BNP Paribas BNPP.PA, JPMorgan JPM.N and Natixis CNAT.PA.

The pandemic has hit both Moroccan exports and demand, with the economy expected to contract by up to 7% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The government deficit this year will widen to 7.8% of gross domestic product from 4.1% last year, the Fund has said.

Morocco's government debt is set to surge to 76.1% of GDP in 2020 from 65% in 2019, the Central Bank has said.

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Safaricom’s core first-half earnings dropped 10.5% year on year, hit by a 14.5% decline in M-Pesa revenue.
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services

Talks with the central bank are ongoing, Ndegwa said, adding that the company may yet cut prices for some M-Pesa services after volumes rose significantly during the pandemic.

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Fairview Hotel, City Lodge put on sale amid Covid hit
Tourism, Travel & Transport

Nairobi’s Fairview Hotel, Town Lodge and City Lodge Two Rivers have been put up for sale as the South African hospitality group which owns the three units plans to exit East Africa after barely six years of operation.

City Lodge Hotel Group says it has received an offer from a buyer who is interested in the three hotels in addition to City Lodge Hotel in Dar es Salaam which it also owns.

“Shareholders are advised that following receipt of an unsolicited non-binding offer for the proposed acquisition of City Lodge’s East African operations, comprising of its hotels situated in Kenya and Tanzania, the company has entered into negotiations which, if successfully concluded, may have a material effect on the price of the Company’s securities,” said the firm.

The update was shared at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange where the hotel is listed.

The firm says that occupancy levels have been below expectations at Two Rivers while bookings in the Tanzanian unit have been sluggish, leaving only Fairview with a robust performance.

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

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