Posts tagged as: member

NRM Leaders in Buzaaya Vote Against Age Limit Bill

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

By Sam Opio Caleb

Kamuli — Leaders of the ruling National Resistance Movement in Buzaaya, Kamuli District have voted against the impending removal of age limit for presidential candidates from the Constitution.

The leaders made the resolution during a Saturday consultation meeting that was convened by the Buzaaya Member of Parliament, Mr Isaac Musumba, at Nawanyago Technical Institute.

The consultation meeting that was meant to rally party loyalists to favour the impending amendment that is seen by a section of Ugandans as a ploy to pave way for President Yoweri Museveni, 73, to contest in 2021, however, turned rowdy when the party leaders in the area tried to bar some members of the public from accessing the venue.

If the Constitution is not amended, Mr Museveni would not qualify to contest since the current age cap for presidential candidates is 75.

People who had been blocked threatened to join opposition parties since NRM had decided to “orphan” them.

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“President Museveni went to the bush to fight dictators who were overstaying in power and promised to restore democracy. Now he is falling victim of his own fundamental change. He should build a legacy for the NRM Party,” Mr Hamis Dheyongera, the Wankole NRM Councillor said.Mr Mwase Kizito, a councillor representing People With Disabilities expressed concern that the “frequent amendments of the Constitution” to favour a particular individual would one day see President Museveni remove special interest groups, the moment he realises that they are no longer useful to his political interests.The leaders blamed some “sycophants and handlers” of President Museveni for “misleading him” adding that it is not even necessary to spend money on MPs to consult voters on the issue of age limit.Mr Musumba said he was disappointed by the outcome but had no alternative apart from respecting the people’s voice.”The people have spoken; although personally I am disappointed, we shall continue consulting, sensitising and mobilizing,” he told journalists before driving from the venue.Members of Parliament are currently consulting their respective constituents after the controversial Private Members Bill was recently tabled by Igara West MP, Mr Raphael Magyezi.The bill tackles various electoral laws but the most explosive issue is the amendment of the age limit for presidential candidates..More on ThisOnly Value in Age-Limit Committee Is That We Will Have Some Record

The beating of MPs on September 27 was a signal moment in the current fight over moves to ensure a life presidency for… Read more »

South Africa:Dial-a-Ride Users Say the Service Is Deteriorating

By William Yoder

Some members of the Dial-a-Ride User’s Forum have expressed concerns about the safety and quality of the service as well as fee increases under the current contractor.

Members of the forum say the service they get from Dial-a-Ride, which provides transportation to people with disabilities, has deteriorated since HG Travelling Services won the tender on 1 December 2015.

In April, users protested against the provincial government about the use of MyCiTi branding, availability, cost and safety. A Dial-a-Ride bus was attacked recently in a housing protest.

Debbie Bedien, a member of the forum, said that buses used to be plain white with yellow Dial-a-Ride logos. “Whether it was taxi strikes, public strikes,or bus strikes, we weren’t affected,” Bedien said. But the buses now have the colour scheme and the logo of MyCiTi buses.

HG Travelling Services referred GroundUp to the City of Cape Town for comment. The City said the vehicles were clearly marked on the back and sides. However, a Dial-a-Ride vehicle which GroundUp photographed did not have these signs on the right side (it did have a sign on the left side).

Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, said, “The MyCiTi logo features on all of those vehicles that are contracted by the City to provide a public transport service to the public.”

Dial-a-Ride Forum members also complained about the rising cost of the service. Since 2015, a 20km trip with Dial-a-Ride has gone from R8.80 to R13; for a trip under 5km it has gone from R6.70 to R9.

Members of the forum complained that the service was very booked up and Cape Town’s other public transport services were mostly inaccessible, a situation not set to change for several years.

“By 10:30am all rides [for the next week] are fully booked,” said Bedien.

About 800 people use the service on a “regular or ad hoc basis” according to Herron. He said HG Travelling Services had increased capacity for wheelchair users from 72 to 102 since gaining the contract. It currently operates 21 vehicles, 20 of which can accommodate passengers using wheelchairs.

Elroy Lodewyk, also a member of the Dial-a-Ride forum, said bookings were sometimes missed. He said some commuters had even lost their jobs due to the lack of reliability of Dial-a-Ride.

But Herron said, “The City was not informed about any commuter who has lost his/her job as a result of the Dial-a-Ride service.”

He said financial penalties could be imposed by the City should HG Travelling Services fail to provide adequate service.

Dial-a-Ride users say that passengers can be on the bus for hours. Another member of the forum, Luwie Links, said, “They pick up something like nine people. If you are first to be picked up at 5:10am in the morning, you will arrive at work at 8 or 8:30am.”

Members of the forum are also unhappy that Dial-a-Ride now requires users to be assessed by an occupational therapist every two years, even in cases where users’ disabilities are permanent.

Lodewyk said, “I’m 22 years in a wheelchair. What, after 23 years I will walk again?”

Sierra Leone: Dr. Samura Kamara Leads AU Dele to Unesco Elections in Paris

By Abdul Karim Koroma

Addis Ababa — Sierra Leone’s erudite Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairperson of the African Union Ministerial Committee on African Candidatures within the International System, Dr. Samura Kamara, has led an AU delegation to galvanize support for the endorsed African candidate, Her Excellency Dr. Mousshira Khattab, for the post of Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the organisation’s election held on 9th October, 2017 in Paris, France.

Dr. Samura Kamara’s mission in Paris was in compliance with the African Union’s Executive Council and Assembly Decisions adopted in January 2017 which inter-alia provides that “the Secretariat of the African Union Ministerial Committee on African Candidatures within the International System should organize a mission of the Chairperson of the Ministerial Committee to meet with the Permanent Missions of Member States to International Organizations, in order to sensitize and brief them, as well as organize the different aspects and stages of management of African candidatures within the international system”.

Dr. Kamara’s main objectives in Paris was to provide full support to the endorsed African candidate, Her Excellency Dr. Mousshira Khattab, the sole African candidate to the post of Director General of UNESCO; to sensitise African Union Member States and the Permanent Representatives in Paris on the need to respect the Decisions of the Executive Council in this regard and consider a mechanism for tracking and follow-up on the candidates endorsed, so as to give them more opportunities for success.

Dr. Kamara’s delegation included the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat; His Excellency Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union; the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Her Excellency Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma and Mr. Mbari Calixte Aristide, Focal Person for African Candidature Committee.

Au fait with diplomacy and international politics, the Chairperson of the African Union Ministerial Committee on African Candidatures within the International System, Hon. Dr. Samura Wilson Mathew Kamara, performed similar functions for the African Continent in May, 2017 during the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) elections in Geneva, which contributed to the successful election of an African candidate, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to the position of WHO Director General.

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Gambia: Finance Minister Responds to Questions About the Ports and Related Issues

By Kebba Touray

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Amadou Sanneh, has answered questions regarding the Ports and freight charges by responding to the question put to him by Hon. Dembo KM Darboe, the Member for Illiasa constituency. The Parliamentarian asked the Minister to explain why Maersk Line and other Shipping Agencies in the country have the highest freight charges, compared to Senegal and Guinea Conakry.

Mr. Sanneh in response said freight charges are prices and like all prices, demand and supply play a critical role in determining them. “This price differences can also be seen in other areas like air fares, which they believe is determined and as they live in a liberal economy, Government has no control over this. The money is being charged to protect the Shipping Agent and the GPA Terminal Operator,” he said.

In a supplementary question, the Member for Serre Kunda, Halifa Sallah, asked the Minister if he would not also consider that in the new dispensation, if this is not properly addressed, inefficiency is actually being promoted and paid for?; that if this wouldn’t be a cause to require a constant review of the situation of what is at hand?”

In his response, the Finance Minister said these are issues within the domains of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) and the Ministry of Works and Construction, but nonetheless he said monetary charges are based on the long established shipping transits; that if a container spends days at the Ports, they are paid on daily basis; that these are established rules within the dock workers and that if there are inefficiencies on the side of the Ports, then we need to look at them with a view to address them.

The Member for Illiasa in another supplementary question asked the Minister whether Government and the Gambia Ports Authority have any plans to allow Shipping Agencies in the country particularly Maersk Line to have their own container terminals in order to relieve the burden on the GPA.

In response to the Hon. Member’s question, the Finance Minister, Mr. Amadou Sanneh, said the first point to note is that Container Terminal Management is usually not the function of Shipping Agents or Lines but rather Terminal Operators such as Dubai Ports, APM Terminals among others; that as a government, they are open to proposals to improve operations at the Ports.

“Any terminal operator has the right to send in proposals for Port Terminal Management and the competent authorities will review the proposal and advise Government,” said Mr. Sanneh. “Demurrage is charged by shipping Line and the Terminal operator (GPA), to better manage their space and capacity issues,” Mr. Sanneh said.

Mr. Sanneh also said in response to the question by the NAM for Illiasa, Hon. Dembo KM Camara that demurrage is charged by both the shipping Line and the Terminal operator (GPA), to better manage their space and capacity issues.

Mr. Sanneh explained that in the case of the shipping lines, it encourages individuals and business to also quickly return their containers.

“As for the ports, this is good for space management at our already congested port. It ensures individuals quickly clearing their cargo and free up the space for incoming containers,” Mr. Sanneh said.

On why the Gambia Ports Authority’s security insurance does not cover all associate agencies such as Customs, Health, NIA, the Police and particularly Dockers who toiled for their daily bread, Mr. Sanneh declined to give answers to the question, but referred the Hon. Member to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, saying: “this matter should be referred to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure.”

He concluded that Government is working with development partners on Port Expansion and that if they are ready, this will resolve the congestion issues presently encountered.

East Africa:Comesa to Abolish Roaming Charges

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Citizens in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) may soon enjoy reduced calling charges, courtesy of a decision taken by Ministers in charge of infrastructure.

Roaming is a service that allows subscribers outside the geographical coverage of their home network (country) to access voice, data and SMS services from other countries.

If this decision is signed and implemented, it will ease doing business in the region whose intra-trade has grown to the current $20.9 billion (Shs72 trillion) from $3 billion (Shs10 trillion) since the establishment of a Free Trade Area in 2000.

In their 10th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia last week, the ministers and government representatives from 15 of the 19 Comesa countries resolved to initiate action towards abolishing roaming charges levied on mobile calls.

The move is aimed at bringing down the price of information communication and technology services that remain high in Africa compared to other regions of the world.

According to the final report, the ministers observed: “Although the pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people.”

They noted that Africans paid on average 25 per cent of monthly gross national income per capita for mobile cellular calls compared to 11 per cent in other developing nations.

Experience

In Comesa region, studies have shown that Malawians use more than $12 (Shs43,440) a month on mobile phones, the minister noted.

“This is more than half of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month which is very expensive,” the ministers noted.

There was a general concern on high mobile termination and roaming charges. They noted that although mobile phones had provided new sources of originating international traffic, it was also more expensive to terminate traffic on mobile networks.

The ministers urged Comesa member states to emulate other countries in Africa and beyond in coming up with reduced roaming and termination charges. They cited the East African Community which has eliminated roaming and termination charges and the European Union where mobile operators were no longer charging additional fees to their customers for using their phones anywhere else in the region.

“The ICT regulators are encouraged to carry out studies to reduce the interconnection rates and reduce or eliminate the roaming charges,” said the ministers.

“Member states are encouraged to invest into the Fibre Technology to The Home to increase capacity and provide excellent quality.”

The ministers observed that despite substantial investments in network infrastructure in the recent years, Africa lacked a robust network connectivity and high-quality, affordable Internet access.

They noted: “Comesa countries represent over 37 per cent of the internet users in Africa and Africa represents 7 per cent of the Internet world’s users. Hence, Comesa constitutes 2.5 per cent of the world’s population of the Internet users.

EAC

In East Africa, roaming charges were harmonised with Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda taking the mantle first in harmonising voice and SMS charges under the Northern Corridor Integration Project.

Burundi and Tanzania are yet to join the harmonisation.

Calls to Uganda and Rwanda networks currently cost flat rate of Shs350 per minute while calling Burundi and Tanzania is Shs1,050 and Shs875, respectively.

East Africa: Comesa to Abolish Roaming Charges

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Citizens in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) may soon enjoy reduced calling charges, courtesy of a decision taken by Ministers in charge of infrastructure.

Roaming is a service that allows subscribers outside the geographical coverage of their home network (country) to access voice, data and SMS services from other countries.

If this decision is signed and implemented, it will ease doing business in the region whose intra-trade has grown to the current $20.9 billion (Shs72 trillion) from $3 billion (Shs10 trillion) since the establishment of a Free Trade Area in 2000.

In their 10th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia last week, the ministers and government representatives from 15 of the 19 Comesa countries resolved to initiate action towards abolishing roaming charges levied on mobile calls.

The move is aimed at bringing down the price of information communication and technology services that remain high in Africa compared to other regions of the world.

According to the final report, the ministers observed: “Although the pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people.”

They noted that Africans paid on average 25 per cent of monthly gross national income per capita for mobile cellular calls compared to 11 per cent in other developing nations.

Experience

In Comesa region, studies have shown that Malawians use more than $12 (Shs43,440) a month on mobile phones, the minister noted.

“This is more than half of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month which is very expensive,” the ministers noted.

There was a general concern on high mobile termination and roaming charges. They noted that although mobile phones had provided new sources of originating international traffic, it was also more expensive to terminate traffic on mobile networks.

The ministers urged Comesa member states to emulate other countries in Africa and beyond in coming up with reduced roaming and termination charges. They cited the East African Community which has eliminated roaming and termination charges and the European Union where mobile operators were no longer charging additional fees to their customers for using their phones anywhere else in the region.

“The ICT regulators are encouraged to carry out studies to reduce the interconnection rates and reduce or eliminate the roaming charges,” said the ministers.

“Member states are encouraged to invest into the Fibre Technology to The Home to increase capacity and provide excellent quality.”

The ministers observed that despite substantial investments in network infrastructure in the recent years, Africa lacked a robust network connectivity and high-quality, affordable Internet access.

They noted: “Comesa countries represent over 37 per cent of the internet users in Africa and Africa represents 7 per cent of the Internet world’s users. Hence, Comesa constitutes 2.5 per cent of the world’s population of the Internet users.

EAC

In East Africa, roaming charges were harmonised with Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda taking the mantle first in harmonising voice and SMS charges under the Northern Corridor Integration Project.

Burundi and Tanzania are yet to join the harmonisation.

Calls to Uganda and Rwanda networks currently cost flat rate of Shs350 per minute while calling Burundi and Tanzania is Shs1,050 and Shs875, respectively.

Angola: Angola Gradually Moves to Mechanized Agriculture

Huambo — A gradual transition to mechanized preparation of arable land is underway the country, as part of the 2017/2018 agricultural campaign that will start on Wednesday in Cachiungo municipality, central Huambo province.

The intention is to have a larger fraction of cultivated land, to raise production per hectare and make agriculture an important ally of the process of diversification of the national economy.

The model of this transition that will cover other areas of the country responds to the orientation of the African Union, which encourages greater commitment of member states to agricultural mechanization, said the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Amaro Tati.

The distribution will meet the criterion of one hectare per family totalling 300 hectares in the locality of 27, in Cachiungo, Huambo province.

Huambo is strong in the production of maize, beans, potatoes and vegetables.

Angola

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South Africa: Minister to Check Progress On Western Cape N1 Upgrade

Transport Minister Joe Maswangayi is in the Western Cape to monitor progress on the project to upgrade a crucial stretch of the N1 between Plattekloof Road and Old Oak Interchange.

The R487-million project is expected to improve traffic flow on one of Cape Town’s busiest roads. The addition of a third lane in both directions will significantly congestion. Approximately 120 000 vehicles travel along this stretch of road during the morning inbound and afternoon outbound peaks.

According to the Department of Transport, a number of short-term job and skills development opportunities will be created. To date, R9.7 million has been spent on targeted labour, while 12 500 days of work have been created for people from Cape Town. The project is being implemented in phases, which include new auxiliary lanes, extension of the existing concrete median barrier, intersection improvements along the affected stretch, demolition and reconstruction of the Old Oak West Bridge, and repairs to other bridges.

This project is expected to be completed in April 2019.

During his site inspection, Minister Maswanganyi was accompanied by the Western Cape Member of the Executive Council (MEC) responsible for Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant.

Windmere Rail Network Control Centre

In addition, to monitoring progress on the N1, the Minister and MEC will do another site visit at the Windmere Rail Network Control Centre.

Once complete, the Windemere Rail Network Control Centre will help to deal with poor levels of train reliability and predictability.

Railway infrastructure and technology that has reached the end of its design lifespan will also be addressed. The control centre will help to bring down the high cost of maintenance, contributing to an efficient transport system that is able to support the region’s economic activity. It will also broaden access to socio-economic opportunities for society by improving train services.

The Minister’s visit forms part of Transport Month activities, which is observed under the theme ‘Together we move South Africa Forward’.

October Transport Month was endorsed by Cabinet and inaugurated in 2005 to raise awareness on the important role of transport in the economy and to encourage participation from civil society and business. During this month, the provision of a safe and more affordable, accessible and reliable transport system in the country is highlighted.

South Africa

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Court Gives Odinga 4 Days to Declare Himself on Oct 26 Presidential Poll

By Jemimah Mueni

Nairobi — National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga has been given four days to respond to a petition filed in court to compel him to participate in the repeat presidential election later this month.

The petition was filed by Pokot South Member of Parliament David Pkosing following mixed signals from the Opposition leader who successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to nullify the August 8 presidential election of which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner.

Monday’s order was given by Justice Chacha Mwita after lawyer Kibe Muingai told the court that Odinga or his lawyers have not filed submissions despite having been served formally.

In his suit papers, the Pokot MP argues that there will be a constitutional crisis in the country if Odinga boycotts the election, because the Supreme Court was clear on who should take part.

Speaking on Monday, Odinga said it is within his constitutional right to make the decision of taking part in the polls set for October 26.

“As far as we are concerned IEBC has not responded positively to most of our issues, regarding the notice this is a democratic society I have a freedom of choice; if I choose not to participate in a pre-rigged electoral process, it’s my democratic right and no court can order me not to do so,” stated Raila.

He spoke soon after President Uhuru Kenyatta said in Mombasa that there is a plan by the NASA leader to boycott elections.

“I have heard that my competitor is planning to withdraw from the the race, I want to tell him that if he does not want to participate in the election to kindly step aside; the country needs to move on,” said President Kenyatta.

The two leaders spoke even as protests rocked various parts of the country, including the lakeside town of Kisumu and Machakos where protesters were teargassed by anti-riot police.

The NASA supporters have been staging weekly demonstrations with the slogan “no reforms, no elections,” in different parts of the country demanding 12 ‘irreducible minimums’ before the fresh poll is held.

The IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati after meeting with the two candidates in separate sessions said that all the demands made by NASA had been addressed; something that NASA has continuously denied describing the said changes as ‘cosmetic’.

But even as NASA continues to push for the resignation of senior IEBC officials, among other changes to the Commission, foreign diplomats and the United Nations have urged both the Opposition and Jubilee Party not to make demands that would impede the electoral process.

Kenya

Duale to Seek MPs Approval of Sh11.5 Billion for Poll

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Africa: Expert Meeting At UN Aspires to Create ‘Space’ for Women in Science and Technology

A three-day event on how to, among other things, improve women’s involvement in the aerospace sector as well as in the fields of science, technology and mathematics, kicked off today under the leadership of two United Nations offices.

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and UN Women have teamed up in organizing a ‘Space for Women’ Expert Meeting that will culminate at UN Headquarters in New York to share expertise, enhance partnerships and promote efforts to encourage women and girls to become involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education – especially in developing countries.

“Space for Women is really a gender mainstreaming project where we will like to work with Member States; not only for STEM education but also to help young girls when they graduate to then find their place in their own society without being obliged to leave their own country,” Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, said prior to the event.

The meeting will also delve into the role of space technology and science to fulfil Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality.

“And this has to be done with each Member State, and we will start with a small group of champions – as I like to call them – so, pilot countries with which we will develop this medium to long-term project,” she added.

With the most cross-cutting thematic priority of “capacity-building for the twenty-first century,” the event is discussing innovative approaches to meet the 2030 Agenda.

Astronauts, diplomats, decision makers and experts from around the globe have converged in to discuss the creation of a dedicated ‘Space for Women’ Project.

In line with UNOOSA’s vision to bring the benefits of space to humankind, the focus of the Project is to realize that women and girls are included in those benefits and that they play an active and equal role in space science, technology, innovation and exploration.

On the final day of the event, a high-level panel on ‘Space for Women,’ which will include UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Ms. Di Pippo and UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director Laskhmi Puri, will make recommendations to UNOOSA.

The proposals, which will focus on using space to empower women, women’s involvement in the aerospace industry and STEM fields, and how alliances can be made to move forward the project, will feed into the development of the ‘Space for Women’ project.

The first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on the global governance of space activities, known as UNISPACE, was held in 1968 – with subsequent others in 1968, 1982 and 1999. June 2018 will mark its 50th anniversary with a special segment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which will set the future course of global space cooperation to advance humanity.

In December 1999, the General Assembly declared World Space Week to be celebrated internationally each year from 4 to 10 October.

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