Posts tagged as: officer

Dar Seeks Health Insurance for the Poor

By Hilda Mhagama

AS health stakeholders push for more inclusion in health insurance coverage, various non-governmental organizations and Dar es Salaam city authorities have teamed up to explore ways to improve access to health services to the city’s marginalized communities.

Speaking during a twoday dialogue in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Dar es Salaam city mayor Isaya Mwita said the meeting was called specifically to enhance and ensure accessible healthcare for poor and marginalized groups.

“… As the city population grows … it’s crucial that we come up with better ways to provide better health services to our people,” he noted. Health insurance coverage is still low in Tanzania.

By June 2013, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) was estimated to have covered a paltry 6.6 per cent of the city’s population, and that the Community Health Fund (CHF) covers another 7.3 per cent of the population based on the 2012 Census.

NHIF benefits cover spouses and up to four dependants. Organised by the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC) and the Germany social welfare organisation-Diakonie Hamburg, the dialogue was a continuation of previous talks in 2013 which aimed at comparing experiences in Hamburg and Dar es Salaam in terms of quality and financing mechanisms.

Mr Mwita also said the dialogue would provide a better platform for the organizations to share experience with Dar authorities on finding other ways that could help extend insurance coverage to the needy and marginalized group.

CSSC Executive Director Peter Maduki said health services coordinated by the organization covers a total of 900 health facilities spanning 102 hospitals, two among them zonal referral and consultant specialized hospitals, and that 38 others were designated district hospitals, 104 health centres and 694 dispensaries.

Dar es Salaam regional Social Welfare Officer Ms Flora Masue said the city has 35 hospitals, 58 health centres, 427 dispensaries run either by government or private operators.

She said the marginalized groups that were rarely covered by health insurance include the elderly, orphans and people with disabilities.

Tanzania

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Land Disputes – Acholi Residents Resort to Local Council Courts

By Julius Ocungi

Pader — Mr Charles Opiyo, 33, and his family, have been battling a land court case for the last five years at the Pader Chief Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Opiyo, a resident of Otong Parish in Ogom Sub-county, Pader District, claims his family members are the rightful owners of the disputed 60 hectare-piece of land.

However, the case has dragged on for nearly half a decade with no proper explanation from judicial officials.

“My elder brother was arrested in 2012 by a rival clan member who claims the same land. He was detained at Pader Police Station for four days without proper charges,” Mr Opiyo told Daily Monitor last week.

He says, his brother was later dragged to court by the complainant but since then, he [the complainant] has never gone back to court to defend himself on the disputed land.

“Whenever we go to court, the case is always adjourned because the complainant doesn’t show up. We are unable to use the land because the matter is before court. We are unsure whether the judicial officials have been bribed or not,” he says.

Despite filing their affidavits in defence of their claim to the disputed land, he says no judicial officer has taken initiative to visit the disputed land as it’s the practice nowdays by the Judiciary before delivering a judgment.

Mr Opiyo says he spends more than Shs30,000 on transport to attend court proceedings, an amount that he says has proved costly for him and the family.

This, he says, has forced them to resort to local court system to resolve their land issue.

Mr Opiyo is among hundreds of people in the sub-region who have expressed disappointment with the mainstream judicial system’s handling of land cases.

“The main stream courts cannot be trusted with resolving land disputes. We want to use the local court system to mediate these matters because the elders and clan members know the boundaries between the disputed land better than judicial officials,” Mr Opiyo says.

Mr George Tek-kwo, a resident of Latoro Sub-county, Got Apwoyo Village in Nwoya District, is also opting for the local council court system.

According to Mr Tek-kwo, his trouble began in 2008 when he dragged his opponent to court over a disputed 1,300-hectare piece of land in Obira Upper Parish in Got Apwoyo Village.

“I acquired the land when it was degazetted by government. However, in 2008, an individual started working on the land claiming it was his. When I dragged him to court in Gulu, I won the case but he appealed. To date, the matter has not been concluded,” Mr Tek-Kwo laments.

Local councils role

Despite village council courts being established under Local Council Court Act 2006, which regulate their jurisdiction and mode of operation, their roles are widely considered illegal in handling land disputes.

The government has also failed, over the years to conduct elections of LC1 and LC2s since 2001, citing inadequate funds.

Mr John Ongwen, the Awere Sub-county Local Council court committee member, says their work within the community has not been appreciated much by the government yet they are helping to resolve many land disputes.

“Our land mediation is helping many vulnerable community members embroiled in land conflicts to get justice. We receive, on average, 10 land dispute cases a month but our efforts has paid off in peacefully mediating half of the cases every month,” Mr Ongwen says.

In Pader District, more than 80 per cent of the civil cases filed at the Magistrates’ Court are related to land disputes, according to the district senior lands officer, Mr Julius Nyeko.

Mr Nyeko attributes land conflicts to wrangles among family members, inter-clan disputes, boundary disputes between neighbours and institutional land disputes.

Victims

He said the most affected people have been the widows and elderly persons.

Mr Nyeko notes that many of the cases have not been properly resolved in court because either the plaintiff or accused don’t have financial capacity to hire lawyers and travel to court when their cases are due for hearing.

“The LCs are very important for our community in this region in handling land disputes. This is a court at the village level where the community can access it any time. It uses the language our community understands, involves elders and it is cheaper. We demand that government conducts their (LC) election so that they help in addressing the disputes within the community,” Mr Nyeko said.

Mr Samson Obitre, the officer in charge of criminal investigations at Pader Police Station, says the use of local council courts would help reduce cases of individuals running to court claiming other people’s land.

“We have had cases of some individuals rushing to court to claim ownership of a particular land. However, when such a matter is brought within the community, they are found not to be owning any land but just targeting a poor family to grab their land,” Mr Obitre says.

He observes that in a bid to avoid land cases escalating, the police have heightened investigations on allegations brought by both parties claiming land ownership.

In a build up to championing the land rights among the vulnerable communities in the region, Action Aid Uganda, an NGO, has been engaged in conducting trainings for local council court committee members and community paralegals as land mediators and counsellors on land rights.

Through their two-year project dubbed, “Promoting women’s land rights and livelihoods”, the organisation has trained 40 community paralegals on access to justice, mediation and referrals to enable them support the alternative dispute resolution of cases reported at community level.

According to Mr Albert Kwawan, the project officer of women land rights and livelihoods project at Action Aid Uganda, the project that rolled out in March 2016, is being implemented in Atiak Sub-county and Amuru Town Council, Amuru District.

Pending cases

According to the Judiciary court census as of December 2015, land matters stood at 18,056, which translated to 15.739 per cent.

About 80 per cent of the land in Acholi sub-region is held under customary tenure.

This partly explains why communities in Amuru District are protesting the government allocation of 10,000 hectares of their arable land to Madhvani Group to set up a sugarcane plantation and mill.

Land cases on the increase

Land disputes in Acholi have increased since 2007, as a result of the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in the sub-region.

It has been established that 94 per cent of the cases reported to local courts committee in Acholi sub-region are about land disputes.

Police Officer Recounts Events Prior to Athlete Wanjiru’s Death

By Sam Kiplagat

A police officer Monday told a Nairobi court that the widow of former marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru called them the night he died, in distress.

Mr Paskwale Ireri, who is attached to Nyahururu police station, said he and his colleagues were on night patrol in the town when they were called by their boss who informed them of the distress call from Teresia Njeri Kamau.

And because they knew Mr Wanjiru and his home well, they drove there immediately and found him groaning in pain on the ground.

Pathologist: Samuel Wanjiru was killed

‘SUICIDE’

Outside the compound, he said, were about five or six men whom he suspected were Mr Wanjiru’s training partners.

Mr Ireri said on inquiring from the watchman what had happened, he said Mr Wanjiru had jumped from the balcony.

He said his boss, identified as Mr Raphael Rotich, took Mr Wanjiru to hospital together with the men who were standing outside the compound.

The officer said he was left in the compound, trying to convince a woman identified as Jane Nduta not to jump from the same balcony.

FRIEND

He said the woman wanted to jump from the balcony because the door to the bedroom had been locked from outside and there was no spare key.

The officers, he added, had to break the padlock to open the door.

They later took Ms Nduta to the police station.

He said the woman was Mr Wanjiru’s friend and worked in a hotel in town.

ARGUMENT

According to the witness, Mr Wanjiru is said to have arrived home together with Ms Nduta and gone into the house after the watchman told them the athlete’s wife was not around, only for Ms Njeri to walk in five minutes later.

“There was a bitter argument shortly before she (Njeri) stormed out of the house,” he said.

On Tuesday, Ms Njeri took to the stand and told the court how she met Mr Wanjiru.

DATING

She said they started dating while they were in school and started living together in 2005.

She said Mr Wanjiru asked her to stay with his mother while he was competing in Japan.

Ms Njeri said Mr Wanjiru later rented a house in Nyahururu town.

The court heard that they lived with her mother-in-law, Hannah Wanjiru, and her brother-in-law.

PHONE CALL

Six months later, she told the court, the marathoner bought a house in Muthaiga, Nyahururu.

He also bought another house in Ngong, where she was living, while Mr Wanjiru was in a training camp in Eldoret.

The 29-year-old woman said Mr Wanjiru called her two days before he died, asking her to travel to their Nyahururu home.

In Nyahururu, she was to collect her daughter’s baptismal card, school fees and her car.

Mr Wanjiru died in mysterious circumstances on the night of May 15, 2011, at his house in Nyahururu.

South Africa: Rape and (In)justice – 340 Guilty Verdicts From 3952 Cases

A new study shows the dreadful reality of how the criminal justice system is failing victims of this ‘priority crime’ in SA.

A rape survivor in South Africa who summons up the courage to report the crime to the police has less than a one in 10 chance of seeing the perpetrator convicted. To be precise: in only 8.6% of such cases will there be a guilty verdict.

About half the time, a constable, the most junior rank in the police, who might not even have completed high school, will handle the case-without proper supervision. Although the investigating officer is required to visit the crime scene, because the evidence gathered there would significantly increase the odds of a conviction, he or she will do so in a mere 53.5% of cases.

In a third of alleged rape cases, the officer won’t take any witness statements.

And the more mentally stressed the officer is, the more likely he or she is to display attitudes that men and women aren’t equal, and that men are entitled to sex on demand.

That’s the scenario rape survivors faced in 2012, according to a first of-its-kind study conducted by the South African Medical Research Council, released exclusively to Bhekisisa on Friday.

There’s little evidence that circumstances have changed since then.

First nationally representative study

The study analysed about 4 000 rape cases opened at almost 200 police stations across the country and followed their progress (or lack thereof) through the criminal justice system. The research, which warns that the system is”highly inefficient” and requires” a major overhaul”, is the first nationally representative study in this regard from which generalisations can be drawn.

Last week, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula launched a six-point plan against gender-based violence that requires victims to be treated with”respect and dignity” and to”proactively [be] provided with feedback on the progress of their cases on a continuous basis”.

But the medical research council study found that, in 93% of cases, there was no indication on the police docket that the investigating officer had given the victim their contact details.

Bhekisisa contacted the minister, as well as the head of the South African Police Service’s family violence, child protection and sexual offence unit, Major General Tebello Mosikili, several times for comment this week. Neither of them responded.

South Africa doesn’t have national rape statistics, but studies in parts of the country show that between 28% and 37% of men admit to having raped a woman.

Why do men rape?

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Is South Africa breeding a nation of abusers and victims? Mia Malan interrogates why sexual violence in the country is so prevalent.

The latest study revealed that 94.1% of victims in rape cases reported to the police in 2012 were female and 5% male.”About half of men who have raped do so more than once, so there’s an important preventative element in prosecuting men who have raped. But it clearly comes at a great cost to victims,” explains Rachel Jewkes, one of the study’s eight researchers.

Some of the cases reported to the police took two years to get to court and often the officers sent dockets to court without a suspect having been arrested or even identified, which ensured that it was impossible for cases to go to trial.

Jewkes says: “Rape is supposed to be a priority crime but when you look at the way in which it’s being investigated and the resources allocated, it’s really hard to see what the priority part of this is.

“Obviously, the lowest-ranked officers, who handle half of the cases, have the poorest access to resources. They’re the least able to command the power to go off and to do a witness statement or to get a car to visit a crime scene.”

On average, investigating officers in the study had to share a car with at least three other police members, despite the prescribed ratio of two detectives a vehicle. In some cases, between 20 and 28 officers were using the same car.

Researchers used statistical techniques to show that there is a direct link between vehicle access, work stress and officers”holding less equitable and sympathetic attitudes to rape victims”. Jewkes explains: “Stress [which increased significantly when there was low access to cars] makes officers feel they’re doing a bad job, that they’re not doing the right thing.

“That drives a self-developed narrative of misogynistic attitudes to try to make sense out of their situations against the background of not being given enough resources and the ability to set off and do a good job. It’s then easier to say: ‘It’s not worth being diligent and hardworking because women will only withdraw the charges, or women lie, or women deserve to be raped.'”

The medical research council study is not the first to come to such a conclusion. In 2015, a United Kingdom study, published in the International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, found that stressed out police officers display more notions of sexual entitlement and are more likely to justify men’s use of violence against women as being “caused by the victim”.

Prosecutors choose targets over justice

When the medical research council’s results are compared with research on rape cases in Gauteng in 2003, it’s clear that, at least in this province, there has been no improvement between 2003 and 2012 in the proportion of cases in which there was an arrest.

In 2003, the arrest rate was 50.5% and in 2012, it was 50%.

“This failure to improve is not due to the system being flooded with cases, as it has been seen against a backdrop of a modest overall national decline in the numbers of matters reported to the police,” the researchers warn.

What has improved slightly is the conviction rate for rape. But the researchers caution that this was not “due to greater skill of prosecutors or better training of magistrates” but rather “to a more rigorous selection of cases to take to trial”.

Prosecutors admitted to the research council’s investigators that monthly targets for conviction rates, against which their performance is measured, make them less likely to take on complex cases, particularly rape cases of children and disabled people, which take longer to prosecute and are less likely to result in a conviction.

In 2012, prosecutors signed performance contracts in which they committed to achieving a 69% conviction rate in sexual offence cases and also to finalising 15 cases a month.

The targeted conviction rate for 2017-2018 is 67%, according to the justice department’s annual performance plan. One prosecutor with more than 15 years of experience said:”It’s not worth it; I won’t do rape cases anymore.”

Researchers maintain that this prosecutor’s attitude sums up a”pervasive sense among the specialist prosecutors that something fundamental about their work and its quality was being lost”.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery responded:”This is concerning and if it’s linked to the issue of targets being met, we need to consider that targets should not be the only measure used to evaluate a prosecutor’s performance. It’s something I’m taking up with the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority].”

The department will hold a national dialogue in October, during which the findings of the research council’s study will be discussed.

Nigeria: Lassa Fever Kills 68, 718 Cases Recorded

By Doyin Ojosipe

Abuja — About 68 persons have been killed by lassa fever since the begining of 2017, the Federal Government has said.

Speaking at the Maiden Edition of the Lassa fever outbreak in Abuja, the Minister of Health, who was represented by the Minister of State for health, Dr Ehanire Osagie expressed sadness over the increasing case of the disease disclosing that while 718 cases have been recorded so far, 227 have been confirmed.

Ehanire said, the record is the worst since the outbreak of Lassa fever in 1969.

He also disclosed that the ministry of health is working in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) to make provision for standard isolation wards and improve on surveillance.

“While working to ensure that Nigeria is delisted from Lassa fever endemic countries, we are going to put in place necessary infrastructure that will help in improving case management to bring down mortality of Lassa fever.

“We are talking about standard isolation wards across the country and quality staff at the diagnostic centers to reduce the delays and consequences and provide Lassa fever management commodities including PPEs”.

He also promised that the federal government would work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that care givers are well protected while providing care for Lassa fever patients.

Speaking earlier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu noted that the NCDC was planning on setting up a risk communication plan in affected areas so that everyone is clear on where the responsibility of all the three tiers of government were.

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Kenya: Former Foreign Minister’s Widow Christabel Ouko Dies in Road Crash

Photo: The Nation

Christabel Ouko, the widow of former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko.

By Aggrey Mutambo

The widow of former Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko has died in road crash in Kisumu County.

Kisumu Traffic Police chief Andrew Naibei said Mrs Christabel Ouko died at Kipsitet area, along the Awasi-Kericho Highway.

The local traffic police chief said the car she was travelling in rolled off course at the Muhoroni junction, killing her instantly.

Coincidentally, it was the same area where her late husband, Dr Ouko, had an accident a few days before he was assassinated on February 1990.

Mrs Ouko had attended the inauguration ceremony of new Kisumu Governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Her son, who was the driver, survived with minor injuries.

Her body was taken to Siloam Hospital mortuary.

HUSBAND’S KILLERS

Mrs Ouko’s sudden death means she has died without knowing who killed her husband whose charred body was found by a herdsboy at Got Alila hills in Kisumu County on February 13, 1990.

The murder case remains unresolved, but she had gone on to establish key institutions among her rural community in Kisumu to commemorate her husband’s course.

These include libraries as well as school dormitories named after Dr Ouko.

Mrs Ouko, 76, was the mother of seven – four girls and three boys – and had demanded justice and truth behind her husband’s death.

TJRC

“I am not opposed to his being TJRC chairman because he can use it to let us know who killed Dr Ouko. I have no grudge against anybody and if the killers are known, I will welcome them for tea in my house,” she told the Nation in an interview seven years ago, referring to the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission then chaired by Ouko’s former Permanent Secretary Bethuel Kiplagat.

Kiplagat died on July 2017 and while his chairing of the TJRC was controversial, Mrs Ouko had argued that he could use the commission to establish clarity on her husband’s death.

“He loved his country, his children, family and his books. I never heard him even whisper that he wanted to be president and therefore I am still bewildered by what happened,” Mrs Ouko said then.

“I have no power to judge anybody but I am still at a loss. I don’t want to apportion blame, though the sad news is that I have gone through hell.”

Christabel first met Dr Ouko at Ogada Primary School where his brother, John Eston Okara, also deceased, was a headteacher. Dr Ouko, was a junior teacher in the school in Nyahera, Kisumu Municipality.

SCHOOLING

She was then a pupil at Chianda Primary in Rarieda where she sat for the Common Entrance Examination, done in Standard Four then. She passed the exam and joined Ng’iya Girls High for intermediate school (Standard Five to Eight) education and again the sky was the limit.

Mrs Ouko qualified to join Butere Girls’ for her O-levels at a time when girls excelled academically.

She proceeded to Alliance Girls High School and later to the University of Nairobi.

She and Dr Ouko had strengthened their love. The relationship was so deep that “I could pay any price to defend my turf”.

She, therefore, dropped out of the university to get married to Dr Ouko in 1966.

Mrs Ouko had been admitted to read English and Geography in the Faculty of Arts.

She joined the civil service as a tax officer with the East African Community in Arusha and later became an immigration officer before resigning to join Dr Ouko who was appointed head of the East African Community.

TRIBUTE

President Uhuru Kenyatta has praised Mrs Ouko as a person who was dedicated to both her family and country.

“During her long life, she distinguished herself by her dedication to her family, her community and her country.

“She served the nation as a civil servant, and then supported her husband as he too served Kenya with distinction,” the President’s statement read.

Reports by Aggrey Mutambo, Justus Ochieng and Rushdie Oudia

Ministry Bans Nurses, Health Attendants From Heading Dispensaries

Photo: wikimedia
By Peti Siyame

Nkasi — Minister of Health, Community, Development, Gender and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu

THE government has banned nurses and health attendants from being in charge of public dispensaries with effect from December 30, this year.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu announced it shortly after receiving reports on health services in Nkasi District. Ms Mwalimu is on a two-day working tour of Rukwa Region, which has already taken her to Nkasi and Kalambo districts.

The Minister was informed that 80 per cent of health centres in Rukwa Region are headed either by clinical officers or assistant clinical officers while 77 per cent of public dispensaries are run by nurses.

She, however, urged the Rukwa regional leadership to improve working environment by constructing health staff quarters and provide them with other incentives to attract skilled workers to live and work in the region.

In the same vein, Ms Mwalimu told residents that plans were underway to table a bill in Parliament before the end of this year, to make it mandatory for all citizens to join health insurance funds including Community Health Fund (CHF).

She said that the government is keen to see that all Tanzanians have joined health insurance funds by 2020. On his welcoming note, the Rukwa Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Boniface Kasululu briefed the Minister that the health sector in the region is facing acute shortage of 1,895 health workers.

According to RMO, Sumbawanga Municipal Council has a deficit of 109 health workers, equivalent to 30 per cent, Sumbawanga District Council 323 workers (45.2 per cent), Nkasi District Council 697 workers (68 per cent), Kalambo District Council 596 workers (65.9 per cent) and Regional Referral Hospital 170 workers, equivalent to 35.3 per cent).

“Due to such shortage of health workers, large number of public health facilities in the region are run either by nurses or clinical officers as well as assistant clinical officers ,” added the RMO .

Dr Kasululu told the Minister that four public health centres out of 12 in the region are run by clinical officers, 80 dispensaries out of 172 are run by either clinical officers or assistant clinical officers while 77 dispensaries are run by nurses.

Meanwhile, Ms Mwalimu stated that the government will continue to improve maternal and child services to increase the number of people accessing the services to 80 per cent by 2020.

Ms Mwalimu showered praises to Rukwa Region by achieving an impressive record in which women who attended and deliver at centres that provide health care reached 95 per cent, while national level stands at 64 per cent.

Earlier, the RMO told the Minister that 214 centres that proving health care out of 223 in the region provide essential services for maternal and child where 161,089 pregnant women attended clinic in 2016.

Minister Mwalimu was further briefed that under the period reviewed 41,698 pregnant women, about 95 per cent of 43, 938 delivered at centres proving health care in the region.

Tanzania: Ministry Bans Nurses, Health Attendants From Heading Dispensaries

Photo: wikimedia
By Peti Siyame

Nkasi — Minister of Health, Community, Development, Gender and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu

THE government has banned nurses and health attendants from being in charge of public dispensaries with effect from December 30, this year.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu announced it shortly after receiving reports on health services in Nkasi District. Ms Mwalimu is on a two-day working tour of Rukwa Region, which has already taken her to Nkasi and Kalambo districts.

The Minister was informed that 80 per cent of health centres in Rukwa Region are headed either by clinical officers or assistant clinical officers while 77 per cent of public dispensaries are run by nurses.

She, however, urged the Rukwa regional leadership to improve working environment by constructing health staff quarters and provide them with other incentives to attract skilled workers to live and work in the region.

In the same vein, Ms Mwalimu told residents that plans were underway to table a bill in Parliament before the end of this year, to make it mandatory for all citizens to join health insurance funds including Community Health Fund (CHF).

She said that the government is keen to see that all Tanzanians have joined health insurance funds by 2020. On his welcoming note, the Rukwa Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Boniface Kasululu briefed the Minister that the health sector in the region is facing acute shortage of 1,895 health workers.

According to RMO, Sumbawanga Municipal Council has a deficit of 109 health workers, equivalent to 30 per cent, Sumbawanga District Council 323 workers (45.2 per cent), Nkasi District Council 697 workers (68 per cent), Kalambo District Council 596 workers (65.9 per cent) and Regional Referral Hospital 170 workers, equivalent to 35.3 per cent).

“Due to such shortage of health workers, large number of public health facilities in the region are run either by nurses or clinical officers as well as assistant clinical officers ,” added the RMO .

Dr Kasululu told the Minister that four public health centres out of 12 in the region are run by clinical officers, 80 dispensaries out of 172 are run by either clinical officers or assistant clinical officers while 77 dispensaries are run by nurses.

Meanwhile, Ms Mwalimu stated that the government will continue to improve maternal and child services to increase the number of people accessing the services to 80 per cent by 2020.

Ms Mwalimu showered praises to Rukwa Region by achieving an impressive record in which women who attended and deliver at centres that provide health care reached 95 per cent, while national level stands at 64 per cent.

Earlier, the RMO told the Minister that 214 centres that proving health care out of 223 in the region provide essential services for maternal and child where 161,089 pregnant women attended clinic in 2016.

Minister Mwalimu was further briefed that under the period reviewed 41,698 pregnant women, about 95 per cent of 43, 938 delivered at centres proving health care in the region.

Ecobank Employees Denounce Unfair Dismissal

By Diane Uwimana

At least 70 employees of Ecobank Burundi have been dismissed due to poor economic performance. They say that the dismissal process contains many irregularities.

Ecobank has dismissed 70 employees for economic reasons in accordance with the law, says Victor Noumoué, the Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Burundi. He says that the dismissals are in line with the labour law, which allows for dismissals of two kinds: the performance of the company and the reorganization of its work.

Noumoué says that the dismissal of Ecobank employees is due to the restructuring operation of Ecobank’s business system, which involved digitising services to strengthen financial inclusion. “The restructuring has resulted in the reduction of a number of agencies and employees”, says Noumoué. Out of 11 agencies, three are still operating in Burundi and 70 employees lay out of office.

However, the former employees say that the process contained various irregularities. “We didn’t receive our final accounts, certificates of services and promised benefits. We have also been wrongfully dismissed”, says Mathias Manirakiza, who has 15 years of experience into the Bank. He also says that they don’t know the selection criteria for who to sack. For this, they have written a formal letter to the Ecobank CEO to denounce the unfair dismissal of 8 August.

The Ecobank CEO says that selection criteria were agreed with the staff after seven meetings in compliance with the labor law, including age, academic level, family responsibilities, seniority and performance. Some dismissed Ecobank employees deny the consultative meetings.

“For a long time, the Ecobank officials refused to give more details about the dismissal”, says Epimaque Nteturuye, representative of the Ecobank dismissed employees. He also believes that Ecobank didn’t work in accordance with the Burundi labor law.

According to the Burundi Labor Code article 61, a dismissal must be based on a real reason, otherwise it is considered illegal. In particular, employers must provide valid evidence for reasons of dismissal, including dishonesty, the worker’s inability to work, a serious breach of discipline, professional incompetence, repeated and unjustified absenteeism, or reduction in the number of employees. The dismissed employees say that the Ecobank motives to dismiss them do not match the law. “There are no financial failure reasons. Ecobank only wants to grant a small amount of indemnities”, says Nteturuye.

The Ecobank CEO says that the Ecobank will offer the dismissed personnel higher levels of compensation than the law requires. “Some will receive compensation of up to 12 months’ salary, repayment of credit at a reduced rate of 4% against 18%, twelve months suspension before having another job, a one-year extension of the credit payment deadlines, and the possibility for former Ecobank employees to convert back into banking agents”, said Ecobank CEO

For having the additional allowances scheduled by law, the bank requires a signature of landfill. The dismissed employees must sign a memorandum of understanding; otherwise they won’t receive their allowances.

For those who did not sign the memorandum, the bank put in front of them two options. Either the employee signs the protocol and receives additional benefits not provided for by law or they accept the legal minimum.

On 14 August, the dismissed employees staged a sit-in front of Ecobank headquarters in Bujumbura to denounce the irregularities. Ecobank operates in 33 African countries including Burundi.

Nigeria: MTN Seeks Greater Opportunities for Girls in ICT

By Adeyemi Adepetun

Mobile network operator, MTN has expressed support for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) global campaign to encourage more young women to consider careers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry.

This follows the company’s realisation that they are critical to the sustainability of ICT in the country.

Its General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Oyeronke Oyetunde, made the commitment yesterday at the celebration of the ‘International Girls in ICT Day 2017’ organised by ‘eBusiness Life’ magazine.

Commenting on the theme of this year’s campaign: “Expanding Horizons, Changing Attitudes,’ Oyetunde said empowering the female folk has become more urgent, especially as most countries now forecast shortage of skilled ICT professionals in the next decade.

“This is why it is even more important that we attract young women into the technology space, which will not only empower them, but also serve as a springboard to overcome cultural and social barriers that may prevent them from accessing life-changing opportunities.

“We need to create opportunities if we are to sustain healthy growth rates for the overall benefit of the industry,” she said.

She added that MTN’s support for the campaign was further motivated by the growing number of women in the company who are doing well in a field that used to be the exclusive preserve for men.

“In MTN, we have many women occupying leading, technology-based positions. For instance, Lynda Saint-Nwafor is MTN’s Chief Enterprise Business Officer.”

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