Taiwan’s last friend in Africa

China has tried to win over eSwatini repeatedly, but the tiny kingdom, previously known as Swaziland, is staying with Taiwan for “diplomatic and political morality” even though it is left standing alone.

It is the only African country that maintains diplomatic relations with the Asian island nation after Burkina Faso switched to China in May 2018.

China does not allow countries to have official ties with both itself and Taiwan as it regards the island as a breakaway province that it has vowed to retake, by force if necessary.

But the government of eSwatini says it will stick with Taiwan.

‘Our national interest’

A new economic agreement signed last June has just taken effect and will see the southern Africa nation exporting certain goods – including honey and avocados – to Taiwan duty free.

“It’s national interest more than anything else,” long-serving eSwatini Government Spokesman Percy Simelane told the BBC in the capital, Mbabane.

“They have been with us since independence and they have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of this country,” he explained.

Taiwan quickly recognised Swaziland when it gained independence from Britain in 1968, leading to an unlikely alliance that has lasted half a century.

Why are countries forced to choose between Taiwan and China?

Howard Zhang, BBC News Chinese Editor

In essence, the current dispute between China and Taiwan stems from the technically unfinished Chinese Civil War.

The dispute is further complicated by factors such as different interpretations of post-World War Two and post-Cold War international treaties and settlements.

In 1945, Japan surrendered control of occupied Taiwan and surrounding islands to the Republic of China (ROC).

Four years later, the government of Republic of China lost the Chinese mainland in a civil war and fled to Taiwan.

The Communists soon founded a rival government – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) – or the China we know today.

Nowadays, PRC insists that both Mainland and Taiwan belongs to “one China” and reserves the right to reunite the country.

Taiwan, still formally known as the Republic of China, is arguing that as a democratic society, the ultimate choice lie with the people of Taiwan.

ESwatini may be standing its ground in a decades-old dispute between China and Taiwan, but not everyone is all in.

The Communist Party of Swaziland, which refuses to adopt the country’s new name, says both sides are illegitimate and merely propping each other up on the international stage.

“The people of Swaziland are kept in a state of poverty [because the government] are using donations that are coming straight from Taiwan,” the party’s international secretary Njabulo Dlamini said.

‘Only the monarchy benefits’

The straight-talking teacher, admirer of Cuban society and self-declared revolutionary, is one of the few Communist Party officials still living in eSwatini.

“Swazis do not benefit [but] the monarchy and the friends of the monarchy are directly benefiting from this illegitimate and illegal relationship,” he added.

Poverty is a key challenge for eSwatini, with 38% of the population living in extreme poverty according to World Bank data.

The small, landlocked country of just 1.3 million people depends on neighbouring South Africa for about 85% of its imports and sells it about 60% of its exports.

Taiwan’s leaders dispute China’s insistence that it is a province, arguing instead that it is a sovereign state.

It has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces. It also enjoys diplomatic ties with about 20 nations.

However the UN has not recognised the Taiwanese government since 1971, when it switched diplomatic recognition to China instead.

No to ‘dollar diplomacy’

ESwatini’s King Mswati III is Africa’s last absolute monarch and has made 17 trips to Taiwan, including in June 2018 when he accepted an honorary degree in management at the same university from which his son graduated.

When African leaders gathered in Beijing for the Forum on China Africa Cooperation summit last September, King Mswati was hosting his annual traditional Reed Dance where he selected his 15th wife.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced another $60bn (£47bn) in financing to Africa, but eSwatini says it is not missing out.

“We don’t want a situation where we are considered people who are in the line of dollar diplomacy. Ours is, more than anything else, a position of diplomatic and political morality,” said Percy Simelane, who serves as spokesman for both the monarch and the government that he rules by decree.

Without the deep pockets of mainland China, Taiwan regularly attacks Beijing’s debt-driven spending spree in Africa and sees itself as a better partner for eSwatini.

“We’re not sure about that,” Mduduzi Gina of Swaziland’s Trade Union Congress told the BBC.

While he will not be drawn on which of the two he favours, he said China’s grip on the continent cannot be understated.

“There are some serious arguments going around that some backdoor Asia colonisation is taking place and it has taken the face of mainland China.”

Hearts and minds

The government of eSwatini touts Taiwan’s funding of its rural electrification programme and other support but Taiwan is also winning hearts and minds with scholarships.

Thandeka Dlamini’s voice cracks with emotion when she talks about her four years spent as an undergraduate in the capital, Taipei, where she graduated top of her International Business and Trade class in 2017.

“I was just a kid, raised by a single parent. It is very touching to me because my mother didn’t have the funds, so to get that fully funded scholarship really changed my life.”

She now works for a government agency as a consultant and denies the opposition’s claim that King Mswati, the royal family and the elites around him have used their ties with Taiwan to enrich themselves while a majority of the population remain impoverished.

“At the time, the government here was having some fiscal issues and university students did not get their allowance or it wasn’t paid on time – but I didn’t have any problems and my mother didn’t have to send me any money,” Ms Dlamini says.

Taiwan’s embassy in eSwatini – the only one in Africa – politely declined interview requests, but its ambassador praised the bilateral ties between the two in a letter to the editor in the Times of Swaziland last September.

“There is no question that China’s debt-trap diplomacy, as African, Balkan and South Asian countries have quickly come to discover, is a one-way ticket to poverty and servitude. It is also a sure-fire way of surrendering sovereignty forever,” wrote Taiwan’s Ambassador to eSwatini, Jeremy Liang.

Though eSwatini is Taiwan’s last ally in Africa, it is only the the island’s 156th largest trading partner. But in 2018 trade between the two countries jumped 41% to reach nearly $10m (£7.8m).

“We can’t just throw Taiwan away,” the government spokesman said.

He ruled out a switch to China. “We’re not interested in what is being offered.”

Who does Taiwan have diplomatic relations with?

In Latin America and the Caribbean: Belize, Haiti, Nicaragua, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras and Saint Lucia

In Africa: Swaziland

In Europe: The Holy See

In the Pacific: Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Palau

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Phil Masinga: South Africa Striker Dies Aged 49

Former South Africa captain Lucas Radebe says the country has lost a “legend” following his compatriot Phil Masinga’s death aged 49.

Masinga played with Radebe at Leeds United between 1994 and 1996 and also had spells at St Gallen in Switzerland and Italian clubs Salernitana and Bari.

“He lost his fight against cancer this morning which is very, very sad for us as a football fraternity,” said Radebe.

“We are mourning the loss of a great legend.”

Former central defender Radebe and striker Masinga were both signed by Leeds in 1994.

“For us as Africans it was a great experience,” added Radebe, speaking to BBC World Service. “We weren’t used to the weather and we struggled a little bit – we kept each other warm at times.

“Phil was a big hit with the team and the players. I looked up to him and I think he inspired me the most. It was absolutely great the way he adapted to the situation.

“He was easy to get along with and he was most respected at the club as a person.”

‘One of the nicest kindest guys I’ve met’

Masinga made his debut for South Africa in July 1992 against Cameroon in his country’s first match following their readmission to international football by Fifa after the end of Apartheid.

He will best be remembered for his goal against Congo, which ensured South Africa qualified for their first World Cup appearance in 1998.

“Very sad news for South African football. We lost a true football legend in Phil ‘Chippa’ Masinga,” said former South Africa and Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar.

“He paved the way for all South African footballers in the UK. That goal at FNB stadium that took us to our first World Cup will always be on my mind. RIP Legend.”

Masinga was also a member of the victorious 1996 Africa Cup of Nations squad.

“Sad day for South African football,” said South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan. “He was a loyal servant of the game, on and off the field of play.”

South Africa’s Premier Soccer League said there would be a moment of silence at all its matches on Sunday in honour of the former forward.

Bari also held a period of silence before their game against Sancataldese on Sunday.

Masinga made 31 league appearances for Leeds, scoring five goals.

“It is with great sadness that the club has learnt of former striker Phil Masinga’s passing,” said a statement from the Elland Road club.

“The thoughts of everyone at LUFC are with his family and friends.”

Noel Whelan played alongside Masinga at the Elland Road club and said it was “really sad news”.

“He was not just a friend and strike partner but one of the nicest kindest guys I’ve met,” added Whelan.

“It was a pleasure and privilege to have known and played with you Phil.”

Source – BBC Sport

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Mnangagwa doubles fuel price as economy worst in a decade

Zimbabwe’s president has more than doubled the price of petrol, hoping the increase will end severe shortages that are fuelling public anger.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the increase in the state-controlled price of fuel should ease the shortages that have gripped the country in recent weeks. The president left Zimbabwe yesterday on a trip that will end with his attendance at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, angering critics who say he should stay at home to deal with the crisis.

The petrol shortages show the southern African country battling its worst economic crisis in a decade due to a lack of foreign currency.

The lack of fuel means that police walk for kilometres with handcuffed suspects because their vehicles are grounded. Ambulances, school buses and public transport vehicles spend days waiting in line for fuel.

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Top 10 African Dance Styles of 2018

Africa is known for its rich diversity in music and dance. 2018 was no different as the continent witnessed some of the best dance styles ever created. From North to South, East to West, there is no doubt these dance styles that were trending throughout the entire year will continue to captivate participants and audiences in the years to come. It is amazing to see how creativity has been perfectly infused with African culture and trends to create amazing dances that will tempt you to join the dance floor. It is expected these dance sensations will continue to remain popular in 2019 as the continent awaits new dances.

Let’s take a look at the African dance styles that set the trends in 2018.

1Shaku Shaku Dance – Nigeria

Shaku Shaku is a Nigerian sensation street dance style that took not only the African continent but the entire world by storm. Ever since Shaku Shaku hit, people just can’t seem to get over it. Shaku Shaku has continuously gained popularity and shows no signs of letting up. The dance steps come in various varieties and are likened to those of a drunk person. They typically involve entire body movement including the arms and legs. The dance is a freestyle and traces its origins from the streets. Shaku Shaku is today referred to as Nigeria’s Gangnam Style.

2Odi Dance – Kenya

Odi dance is a Kenyan dance sensation that is commonly associated with the youth. Started by a gospel professional dancer and artist, Timeless Noel, Hype Ochi and Jabiddi, gospel dancehall artist, Odi dance was started to attract more youth to the gospel of Christ. ‘Odi’ is a slang word for ordinary. The target of the dance were ghetto (slum and low income neighborhood) youths based on the group’s belief that despite Jesus being an extraordinary person, he came into the world as an ordinary person and mingled with everyone despite of their social status. The dance has become not only a national sensation but popular across the entire African continent.

3Gwara Gwara Dance – South Africa

In 2018, Gwara Gwara dance, a South African viral dance went international. Started by DJ Bongz, the dance entails lifting and swinging one leg while getting the entire body involved including the arms in synch with the leg movement. The peak of the Gwara Gwara was when it was performed in the 2018 Grammy Awards Ceremony. Some of the international artists who’ve performed and danced Gwara Gwara include Rihanna.

4Rosalina Dance – Democratic Republic of Congo

The list of 2018 top African dances cannot be complete without the famous Rosalina dance that originated from BM’s song Rosalina. Originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rosalina which means “Break Your Back” became an instant hit in 2018 with fans across the continent taking part in numerous dance challenges. This a high adrenaline dance with electrifying moves thanks to the impressive Congolese beat that sets the pace for the rhythm. The dance involves systematic movement of the legs, arms, waist and the entire body.

5Pilolo Dance – Ghana

Pilolo is famous Ghanaian dance step that was a big hit across the continent and globally in 2018. The creator of Pilolo, Zigi is also known for previously releasing Kupe, a famous dance challenge that took everyone by storm. From the streets of Ghana, Pilolo became a hit in New York City with Janet Jackson performing both Kupe and Pilolo at the end of her performance “Made for Now” on “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon. The name Pilolo was borrowed from a hide and seek game popular among Ghanaian kids. Zigi in an interview explained he came up with the steps in the evening while making preparations to shoot a dance video.

6Malwedhe/Idibala Dance – South Africa

Malwedhe is no doubt South Africa’s biggest dance in 2018 that rapidly spread its wings to an international audience. The dance is a product of King Monada’s hit song “Malwedhe” that means illness in Sepedi language. In this dance, fans fall to the ground when the chorus “ke na le bolwedhe bao idibala” (I have an illness of fainting) is sang. Videos of the dance craze have emerged from far abroad countries such as China. The simulating collapse or fainting is loved by everyone but non-profit organizations dealing with epilepsy have complained the dance mocks epileptic individuals. Others have raised concerns about the possibility of getting injured when one falls to the ground. The Malwedhe/Idibala challenge took the continent by storm.

7Black Panther/Wakanda – Africa/Diaspora

After the release of Black Panther movie that was a worldwide hit, fans began a dance that rapidly sent shockwaves throughout Africa. The dance is a testament to how fans were really excited with Black Panther. There is no doubt, Wakanda dance was a force to reckon with in 2018. Interestingly, Africans living in the diaspora as well as non-Africans were all on board having fun.

8Vosho Dance – South Africa

Vosho is a famous South African dance that involves kicking and squatting at the same time. In recent times, Vosho has turned its focus on the head that has replaced the kicking and squatting. Instead, you only need to dance and lean your head forward in line with the rhythm of the dance tunes. In a short while, there were numerous videos of this dance posted online.

9Kwangwaru Dance – Tanzania

Kwangwaru dance style from Tanzania originates from Kwangwaru, a famous East African hit by Tanzanian artists Harmonize and Diamond Platnumz. Upon releasing the song in 2018, the Kwangwaru dance immediately picked up momentum with fans across the continent uploading their Kwangwaru dance challenges on social media. There is no doubt, as big as the Kwangwaru hit is, this dance move is expected to remain a craze in the coming days.

10Kpakujemu – Nigeria

Kpakujemu from Nigeria features among the top African dances of 2018. The dance originates from Kpakujemu, a track by Olamide, Terry, Bhary, Jay and Lyta. The highly electrifying dance moves are associated with this dance craze whose roots have spread far and wide. It is expected Kpakujemu dance challenges will continue in 2019.

11Bonus:  Kupe Dance

The KupeChallenge is named after the song featured in the original video; Kupe Dance by Ghana’s A-Star who is also responsible for the Chocobodi dance challenge. The Kupe dance was not just about the dance, but also about good looks, style and swag.

2019 is expected to be another great year with everyone waiting for creative, fun and exciting dance moves that will unite fans across Africa.

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DRC candidate appeals against vote result

An opposition presidential candidate in the Democratic Republic of Congo has filed an appeal against the result of last month’s election.

Martin Fayulu insists he won the vote and has demanded a manual recount, but the electoral commission declared rival Felix Tshisekedi the winner.

Security forces have deployed near Mr Fayulu’s residence.

He accuses Mr Tshisekedi, also an opposition candidate, of making a deal with outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

Announcing the appeal, Mr Fayulu’s lawyer Feli Ekombe said, quoted by AFP: “The petition demands the annulment of the results proclaiming Felix Tshisekedi president of the republic. It was introduced yesterday [Friday].”

On Saturday, Mr Fayulu repeated that the result did not reflect “the truth of the ballot boxes”.

The electoral commission also said the pro-Kabila coalition had won a majority of parliamentary seats.

Several Western governments and the influential Roman Catholic Church in DR Congo have expressed surprise and concern at the declared results.

Mr Kabila has been in office for 18 years and the result, if confirmed, would create the first orderly transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

What does Fayulu say?

Dozens of Fayulu supporters had gathered outside his residence in the capital, Kinshasa, to chant slogans against Mr Kabila and Mr Tshisekedi.

However they fled inside the building when the security forces arrived on Saturday, Reuters news agency reports.

Speaking earlier to BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane, Mr Fayulu said he would challenge the declared result in the constitutional court.

“I will do whatever is possible for me to do to get the truth because the Congolese want change,” he said.

Mr Fayulu admitted such a challenge would have little chance of success as the court was “composed of Kabila’s people” but he said he did not want to give his opponents any chance to say he had not followed the law.

“Felix Tshisekedi has been nominated by Mr Kabila to perpetuate the Kabila regime. Because today the boss is Kabila,” Mr Fayulu said.

“Mr Kabila cannot stay and make an arrangement with someone who will not have any power… Mr Tshisekedi knows himself that he did not win.”

Mr Fayulu said he feared there would be violence if the electoral commission did not give the true figures “polling station by polling station” and that it was the right of all Congolese to demonstrate according to the law.

Has there been any violence?

Thousands of supporters of Mr Tshisekedi took to the streets to celebrate but those who backed Mr Fayulu also came out in protest.

Violent scenes were reported in Kikwit, where at least two policemen and two civilians were said to have been killed.

There were reports of several hundred students protesting against the result and being dispersed by tear gas in the town of Mbandaka.

Protests were also reported in Kisangani but the south, where Mr Tshisekedi has broad support, was mainly celebrating.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged all sides “to refrain from violence” and widespread unrest has not yet been reported.

What was the result of the election?

According to the National Electoral Commission (Ceni), Mr Tshisekedi received 38.5% of the vote in the 30 December election.

The full results were:

Turnout was reported to be 48%.

What could happen next?

Candidates must file any appeal to the constitutional court within 48 hours of the announcement of the provisional results.

Judges will then have seven days to deliberate.

Constitutional expert Jacques Ndjoli told the BBC there were three possible outcomes: the court could confirm Mr Tshisekedi’s victory, order a recount, or cancel the results altogether and call fresh elections.

The constitutional court has never overturned results before, and some think most of its judges are close to the ruling party.

If Mr Tshisekedi were confirmed as the winner, he would be expected to be inaugurated within 10 days.

Why DR Congo matters:

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Dozens Feared Dead in Nigeria as Leaking Oil Tanker Explodes

LAGOS, Nigeria — An overturned oil tanker exploded in Nigeria, killing many of the dozens of people who were scooping up its leaking fuel, the police and witnesses said on Saturday.

Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks.

“We have recovered 12 corpses and taken 22 persons with serious burns to hospital,” a police spokeswoman, Irene Ugbo, told The Associated Press. She said the blast occurred Friday evening in Odukpani in the southeastern Cross River State.

Some residents put the death toll closer to 60.

“The police only recovered a few corpses, many of the other dead were burned to ashes,” Richard Johnson, a witness, told The A.P.

He said about 60 people had been inside a pit scooping fuel when the tanker exploded. “It is not likely that anyone inside the pit survived as there was a lot of fuel in the pit,” Johnson said.

He suggested the blast was caused by an electrical generator that had been brought to the scene to help pump out the fuel for people’s containers.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the truck to overturn.

About a year ago, more than 30 residents in the same area were burned to death while scooping fuel from an oil tanker that had been involved in an accident.

Deadly fuel fires have been a chronic affliction in Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil exporter. In 2008, more than 100 people were reported killed when a construction vehicle struck an oil pipeline on the outskirts of Lagos.

In 2007, at least 45 people were killed in Lagos when fuel they were sip honing from a buried pipeline caught fire. In 2006, another pipeline ruptured by thieves caught fire, killing about 260.

In 2015, a tanker truck exploded outside an industrial plant in the city of Nnewi, in Anambra State, in rural southeastern Nigeria, killing dozens of people who had lined up for gas to cook their Christmas meals.

Nigeria’s worst such accident occurred in 1998, when more than 1,000 people died as a leaking oil pipeline from which they were scooping fuel exploded in the town of Jesse.

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Ugandan business banks on bamboo bikes

UGANDA (REUTERS) – In his workshop in Uganda’s capital Kampala, Noordin Kasoma is busy building bike frames.

But rather than the usual carbon fibre or metal, these frames are made from bamboo, a material Kasoma says is both cheap and tough.

“Bamboo is flexible; due to that flexibility it gives that kind of shock absorbing property when you’re riding especially off-road. The bamboo itself tries to absorb the shocks,” said Kasoma.

In Uganda, bamboo is plentiful, fast-growing and can be used sustainably. To make it safe, it is dried for several months and treated with insecticide.

Kasoma takes broken steel bikes, replaces the frames and sells them on – providing a cheaper alternative to imported high-quality bikes.

Bamboo frames are relatively well known in the cycling world, and are a niche and expensive product in the US and Europe.

But Kasoma’s Boogaali brand comes with a special Ugandan twist.

The joints are reinforced with bark cloth, a traditional clothing material harvested from the inner bark of the Mutuba tree.

Kasoma’s bikes, which retail at between US$350 (S$472) and US$450, have been sold to cyclists across East Africa and used at tournaments.

He says the bikes are proving so popular, he wants to step up a gear and expand his factory.

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Africa Top10 News

1The DRC has a New President

Felix Tshisekedi has vowed to be the president “of all Congolese” after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) electoral commission declared him the winner of the country’s long-delayed elections. The result was rejected by rival Martin Fayulu, who was backed by opposition heavyweights and had led in polling prior to the December 30 vote.

SOURCES: Al Jazeera, BBC

2Growth of Satellite Towns Gives Young Professionals an Opportunity to Own an Affordable Home

The development of satellite towns has been unstoppable due to the rise in demand to settle close to urban areas by investors who would rather commute to their places of work from their own homes than rent in the CBDs for a long time. Nairobi, for example, is the 97th most expensive home-rental city in the world after renowned destinations like Bangkok and Cairo according to Bloomberg World Airbnb cost Index.

SOURCES: Africa.com

3Here’s why Sudan’s President won’t Quit

Day after day Sudanese are taking to the streets to protest against the rule of Omar al-Bashir. University lecturer and author Willow Berridge points out that Al-Bashir’s regime has learnt from the mistakes of its predecessors who were overthrown during similar revolts. It has created a much stronger National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) as well as a host of other parallel security organizations and armed militias that it uses to police Khartoum instead of the regular army. Bashir has strong international allies who view him as a source of stability and intelligence in a troubled region. The president also has the backing – both political and financial – of key Arab allies.

SOURCES: CNN , Quartz Africa

4This Simple Approach Could Curb Nigeria’s Cattle Wars

Attacks on cattle herders by farmers and vice versa may seem trifling alongside the problems of poverty, terrorism, corruption and climate change facing Africa. But a recent escalation in this centuries-old deadly conflict is causing massive social upheaval across West Africa. Defusing tension has always required that herders and farmers build relationships, but the mistrust that the constant attacks have engendered in the past few years has made this extremely difficult. Despite various technological advances, the main approach for those trying to stop the killing is rather less complex: talking.

SOURCES: The Guardian

5Tackling the Growing Trend of Drug in Zimbabwe

A group of concerned Zimbabweans, including the clergy, civil society and organisations, have started an anti-alcohol and drug campaign that targets communities in which unemployed young people resort to drinking and using narcotics to alleviate the stress of not having work. Those involved in the campaign say the solution lies largely with improving the country’s moribund economy.

SOURCES: VOA

6A Test for South Africa’s Ruling Party

For South Africans, the public inquiry into the “state capture” of former President Jacob Zuma’s government has been both eye-opening and cathartic. A former mining minister told the inquiry recently that the Guptas were “a python wrapped around” Zuma as the ex-president “auctioned off executive authority.”

SOURCES: Ozy

7Technology Evangelist from Kenya Changes the Way we Sign

A 25-year-old Kenyan innovator has earned global recognition with his invention of a smart hand gloves which are capable of converting sign language movements into audio speech. Roy Allela says the need to communicate with his 6-year-old niece, who was born deaf, inspired him to build the technology.

SOURCES: Nairobi News

8Understanding Nigeria’s New Minimum Wage

President Muhammadu Buhari said that the salaries of workers earning above the new minimum wage will be renegotiated. He said it was important to properly prepare the minds of those involved so that they will not be taken unawares when the time comes.

SOURCES: Vanguard

9Reflections on Gabon’s Coup Attempt

An opinion piece by Assoc. Prof, Lt Col (ret) Martin R. Rupiya PhD from the Institute for African Renaissance Studies says “successive coup attempts have failed because Gabon has remained a quasi-state with little or no domestic control”

SOURCES: Mail & Guardian Africa

10Bringing African Comics to the Mainstream

Fed up of non-Africans telling African stories, three friends from Nigeria and Uganda have decided to create their own anthology. Showcasing artists and writers from across Africa, the three explain why it’s so important for Africans to share their own stories with the rest of the world.

SOURCES: BBC

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Understanding Nigeria’s New Minimum Wage

President Muhammadu Buhari said, yesterday, that the salaries of workers earning above the new minimum wage will be renegotiated.

He also appointed Bismarck Rewane as head of newly inaugurated Technical Advisory Committee on the implementation of a national minimum wage. President Buhari, who stated this at the inauguration of the technical committee at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa Abuja, said after the new minimum wage had been passed into law, government will go into negotiations for salary review for all the workers already earning above the new minimum wage. He said it was important to properly prepare the minds of those involved so that they will not be taken unawares when the time comes. Noting that the last time Nigeria’s national minimum wage was reviewed was in 2011, it was evident that a review was necessary, despite the prevailing fiscal challenges.

He said:  “This is why I constituted the Tripartite Committee of Government, Organized Private Sector and Labour to consider the National Minimum Wage and make recommendations to Government for its upward review.

“That committee has since submitted its report with some recommendations. We are currently working on the final steps that will lead to the submission of a National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.

“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the national minimum wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the minimum wage.

Meeting with state govts

“Also, it is important to explain that even though the subject of a national minimum wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List, we have been meeting with the state governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the state governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.

“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.

“As you know we, at the federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the minimum wage in our 2019 budget proposals, which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.

Those earning above new minimum wage

“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is, therefore, important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands.

Avoiding adverse effects

“We must therefore look at ways of implementing these consequential wage adjustments in a manner that does not have adverse effects on our national development plans, as laid out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP sets appropriate targets for levels of Capital Expenditure, Public Debt, Inflation, Employment, etc. It is absolutely important that the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and thereby erode the envisaged gains for the workers.

“It is against this background that I have set up a Technical Committee to advise Government on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs that will arise from the implementation of the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for workers currently earning above the new minimum wage.”

Rewane  heads technical c’ttee

He explained that the inaugurated technical committee will be chaired by an economist and financial expert, Mr. Bismarck Rewane with other experienced members who are experienced economists and administrators from the private sector working together with all the relevant officials of government.

The President enumerated terms of reference for the committee which include to develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases and identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Others are to “propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases, any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.

“Given the urgency of this exercise, the committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within one month today.

“It is now my pleasure to formally inaugurate the Technical Advisory Committee on the Implementation of an Increase in the National Minimum Wage.”

vanguardngr

 

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