Friday, February 22, 2019

Africa Doesn't Needs Democracy But Needs Development

Zimbabwean Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai (C), former President Robert Mugabe (L) and Vice-President John Nkomo (R) at memorial service for Susan Tsvangirai in Methodist Church in Harare on 06 March 2010 a year after she died in a car accident. Photograph: Desmond Kwande.
This article is a derivative of the first ever debate organized by ''The Africa Report'' in partnership with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that pitched the debate from the supporters of 'developmental sprints' against those who argue democratic institutions should come first. This is a matter of trying to provide justice to a person on empty stomach!  The debate examined some questions: What should be the priority, democracy or development?  Is justice more important over a bread that needed by the hungry people?

The failure of many African governments to deliver development consistently to their populations leaves many people to ask the question: Should Africa look to countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia, where economic growth takes precedence over political pluralism?

Over several decades, it has become fashionable to argue that democracy is not good for development in Africa. It is said that elections often lead to political instability and conflict and undermine the unity needed for economic growth. Authoritarian leaders such as Paul Kagame of Rwanda include (late Gadhaffi who built a flourishing Lybian oil-rich state ever been existed), by contrast, have been lauded for driving economic development and reducing corruption at the same time. Economic problems engulfed African continent have created a strong impression that the political fragility as well as division has slowed economic growth and largely have been driven by destabilizing multiparty system, and competition.
Bread without democracy is bitter. Democracy without bread is fragile.
It is hard to argue with the development records of the administrations in Kigali and Addis Ababa for example, be it on shared growth, education or maternal health care. So do African people want bread or justice? Some political philosophers argued that Africa needs a strongman, a person like Xi Jinping in order to accelerate development and reconfigure the economy. If there is a priority between development vs democracy, then it is far better to say that democracy should wait!  African countries may hope for a Lee Kuan Yew or someone who is strong enough to derive them from political destitution and poverty.

John Mahama, Ghana's former president, launched the discussions in front of a glittering crowd, saying: "Democracy will never be a perfect system because people will always be imperfect beings." He added: "But the problem with dictatorships is that you don't get to choose which dictator you are going to get." His speech recalled his personal experience as a young man living under curfew during a military dictatorship in Ghana, where he saw his brother mistreated at the hands of soldiers.

The rest of the debate took as its starting point the great economic sprint that Africa needs to make if it is going to provide jobs for the 300 million Africans who will join the labour force over the next 15 years. Quality of democracy as President Mahama pointed out, many Asian countries begun with Singapore and others have had "authoritarian governments that propelled them from the bottom pit, brought about vital models and bring about immediate change or unprecedented growth." On the ground, the call for tangible progress often wins the argument in this regard, despite no practical action.

In conjunction with GeoPoll, The Africa Report surveyed people in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Cameroon and elsewhere trying to palpate about the importance of democracy and development. In Ghana, 31% of people interviewed wanted democracy prioritized, whereas 67% wanted development – a result echoed across the other countries. This shows the dissatisfaction and disillusion many have with their governments. "A democracy that doesn't produce results is an empty promise," said Arancha González, executive director of the Geneva-based International Trade Centre, during the debate. "Can we say that there is freedom when so many politicians spend so much money to contest elections?"

For South Africa's former reconstruction minister and labour activist Jay Naidoo, the continued push of money and power into democracy is dangerous and is corrupting government, leading to cases of "demokratura", where you have the window dressing of democracy without genuine representation of the people. "We are seeing electoral authoritarianism," he explained. Strongman rule was one of the many governance weaknesses discussed in the debate. One question from the hall: "How do we get a democracy of ideas and issues rather than a democracy of tribalism and identity?" On that front, the debate participants were unable to come up with a one-size-fits-all recommendation.

Ultimately, panelists on both sides of the debate agreed that the quality of democracy is crucial. Experts in attendance also provided solutions for reform. Franklin Cudjoe, head of Ghana think tank the IMANI Center for Policy & Education, pointed to the phenomenon of the "imperial presidency", whereby the president has the ability to directly appoint 4,000 posts, leaving huge room for corruption and partisan choices. He argued that such reforms must create checks and balances on executive power.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mozambique's Ex-finance Minister His Extradition On Hold

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in state court during an extradition hearing in Johannesburg, South Africa on 08 January 2019. Photo: Shafiek Tassiem. 
South Africa is still considering whether to extradite Mozambique’s former finance minister, Manuel Chang, to his home country or to the U.S., a Department of International Relations and Cooperation official said. “We have received an extradition request from Mozambique and it’s receiving attention from our Justice Department,” Ndivhuwo Mabaya, a DIRCO spokesman, said when asked to confirm an earlier report that cited Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as saying the government plans to return Chang to Mozambique. 

Chang was arrested in South Africa on Dec. 29 on a warrant from the U.S., where he is wanted on allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking millions of dollars in bribes in a $2 billion loan scandal. South African prosecutors formally filed the U.S. extradition request in a Johannesburg court on Feb. 5. “Both extradition requests have been referred to our courts for a determination as required by our law,” Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services spokesman Max Mpuzana said by email. “The final decision will be made once the court process has run its course.”

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (R) is being greeted by Mozambique's Finance Minister Manuel Chang (L) on 08 May 2014 at the Maputo International Airport in Maputo, Mozambique. Lagarde visited in Mozambique to attend the Africa Rising Conference. Photo: Stephen Jaffe /IMF.
Last month, Chang's lawyers argued that his detention by South Africa on a US extradition request was illegal. But judge Sagra Subroyen dismissed the application at Johannesburg's Kempton Park magistrates court, saying "this court agrees with the state to consider that the arrest warrant is valid". Chang, who was Mozambique's finance minister between 2005 and 2015, is accused by US authorities of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. Between 2013 and 2014, Mozambique state-owned security companies borrowed about $2 billion (R27.98 billion) from foreign lenders, but the government only disclosed most of the debt to the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

The hidden debt plunged Mozambique into its worst financial crisis since independence in 1975. Since Chang's arrest on December 29, three former employees of Credit Suisse bank have also been arrested in London for possible extradition after being charged in New York. US prosecutors allege that Chang received $12 million (R167.87 million) to agree to sign the loan agreements to supposedly finance a tuna-fishing fleet and maritime surveillance project. About $200 million (R2 797.82billion) was spent on bribes and kickbacks, according to the US indictment. Mozambique's attorney general said Monday there were 18 defendants in their own investigations into the case, but no convictions have been made since the scandal was unearthed in 2015.

In addition to Chang, two other unnamed Mozambican citizens are accused by US prosecutors of being involved in fraud related to the $2 billion debt. Lebanese businessman Jean Boustani, accused of helping coordinate the alleged fraud, was arrested at a New York airport on 02 January this year. The arrest of Chang, who is still a lawmaker for the ruling Frelimo party, has fuelled anger in Mozambique over the scandal ahead of elections expected in October 2019.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tanzania Jailed Chinese “Queen Of Ivory” For 15 Years

Chinese businesswoman Yang Feng Glan, escorted by a prison warden at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 19 February 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Herman
A prominent Chinese businesswoman dubbed the “Ivory Queen” was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Tanzanian court on Tuesday for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants, weighing nearly 2 tonnes, to Asia.

Tanzania has charged a Chinese businesswoman for leading the country’s most notorious ivory poaching ring. Yang Fenglan was sentenced to 15 years in prison for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants worth millions of dollars over several years to Asia. Two Tanzanian men were also found guilty of involvement in the ring. The verdict ended years of prosecution and dealt a major blow against elephant poaching and ivory smuggling operations in the country, especially given the high profile of the defendant. 

Yang’s prosecution began in 2015 after authorities arrested her following a speedy car race in the capital Dar es Salaam. She was apprehended along with two Tanzanian men with smuggling 860 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004 worth 13 billion shillings ($5.6 million). All three denied the charges. Kisutu Court Magistrate Huruma Shaidi sentenced Yang, Salivius Matembo and Manase Philemon, each to 15 years after they were convicted of leading organized criminal syndicates.

Chinese businesswoman Yang Feng Glan sits next to the officer inside the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 19 February 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Herman
Yang Feng Glan she is 69-year-old has been living in Tanzania since the 1970s, managing her own restaurant, exporting pepper, and working as a translator given her proficiency in Swahili. She also served in key positions in the China-Africa Business Council of Tanzania and helped Chinese businesses set up across the East African nation. Conservationists had welcomed her arrest saying it would “send shockwaves” through organized criminal networks. 

Shaidi ordered them to either pay twice the market value of the elephant tusks or face another two years in prison. In court documents, prosecutors said Yang “intentionally did organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies” weighing a total of 1.889 tonnes.

Chinese businesswoman Yang Feng Glan sits next to the officer inside the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 19 February 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Herman.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had firm laws on protecting endangered wildlife and went after those who broke the law. “We do not shield the illegal activities of Chinese citizens, and support the relevant Tanzanian authority’s just investigation of and trying of this case in accordance with the law,” he told a daily news briefing. 

Conservationists welcomed Yang’s conviction, saying it was proof of the government’s seriousness in the fight against wildlife poaching but criticized the sentence. “(It) is not punishment enough for the atrocities she committed, by being responsible for the poaching of thousands of elephants in Tanzania,” Amani Ngusaru, WWF country director, told Reuters. “She ran a network that killed thousands of elephants.”

African elephant population declined to 415,000 in 2016, a drop of 111,000 in just a decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The World Wide Fund for Nature also says Tanzania lost 60% of its elephants in just five years, with numbers crashing from 109,000 in 2009 to just 43,000 in 2014. China has long been one of the world’s biggest consumers of ivory, where they are used in medicine or in ornaments and jewelry. 

But even though Beijing instituted a ban in late Dec. 2017 on all ivory and ivory products, that hasn’t stopped increased amounts of African ivory from being traded in or be smuggled into China. African officials, facing increased pressure from wildlife advocates, have increasingly turned their attention to poaching, even urging the European Union to end its thriving legal ivory market. Yang was escorted under tight security to the Ukonga prison in Dar es Salaam where she is expected to serve her jail time.

Raymond Kwaku The Strongest Army Man In Africa

          Ghanaian soldier, Raymond Kwaku officially declared the strongest army man in Africa.
Meet the Ghanaian Military Police officer who’s the strongest soldier in Africa. It is obvious that actors and male musicians are seen as people who have got all the fans behind them. But there are many men who don’t have a fan base but they are really causing a stir on social media with respect to the kind of work they do.

Such people include a well-built Ghanaian soldier identified as strong Sgt.Raymond Kwaku. Kwaku has become an internet sensation after displaying his well-built body in his uniform, holding a gun, walking and doing all military things. This military personnel has been causing a stir in the social media space with his unique way of fashion, wearing the military uniform with pride and most importantly his physique.

        Raymond Kwaku greeting female police officer on duty.Photograph: Instagram - Insta Stalker.
Ordinarily, military men are known to ‘shy’ away from the public as it is their duty to protect people, properties, maintaining peace, and ensuring people observe the right codes of conduct in the country. With Raymond, it seems to be an entirely different thing altogether. 
He is at par in the ‘slaying king’ as compared to the slay queens and what we see the male celebrities such actors and artists do on InstagramRaymond is a slaying king in the military field and he likes to show it off. And we have a few more pictures of him. Please see the local main page here!

Monday, February 18, 2019

South Africa To Impose Tax On expatiates' Earnings

            The new South Africa’s expat tax regulation is coming with the effect 01 March 2020.
While National Treasury and SARS scramble for money, a new focus has been placed on the revenue service’s plans to tax South Africans working abroad, who could face having 45% of their earnings over R1 million to enrich the state's coffer. 

The South African government is making a clever move towards changing its tax on remuneration earned outside of South Africa – of which some expats pay as much as 45% on earnings outside from R1 million above.  According to Tax Consulting SA, National Treasury has invited key stakeholders to a workshop in March 2019 to address concerns around the planned regulations, which opens up the way for possible tweaking and changes ahead of the planned implementation date of 01 March 2020. 

Industry experts believe that the changes are a certainty, even if the draft laws are changed in some way before implementation – and this has some expats worried, with confusion asking open questions about who will the new law affect, and how?  South Africa is one of the countries in Africa with a high number of expats who live and working aboard mainly in countries like UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Scandinavia, US, China and Netherland where the majority of them residing and earned better incomes.

South Africans who are earning income abroad are assessed in terms of residency. In terms of section 10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act, if you are working overseas and do not meet the physical presence requirements to be an ordinary resident in South Africa, you are exempt from tax on any foreign income. To qualify for this exemption, an employee needs to have spent more than 183 full days (including a continuous period of more than 60 full days) outside of the country working, in any 12-month period. If this requirement isn’t met, then the employee is taxed on worldwide income.

Proposed changes

Originally, the draft regulations proposed the complete repeal of section 10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act – the section that deals directly with taxation on foreign remuneration. Under these conditions, all foreign income would have been taxed by SARS, and citizens would have to claim a credit against South African tax payable for any foreign taxes paid on that foreign income. The draft regulations were later softened to not be a complete repeal, but that section 10(1)(0)(ii) be changed so that only the first R1 million of foreign remuneration will remain exempt from tax in SA – even if an individual meets the requirements of the exemption. One of the main reasons given for the changes is to curb situations of double non-taxation – being situations in which an individual’s employment income is not subject to tax in either South Africa or in the foreign country where the services are rendered.

Who does it affect 

The proposed changes will affect any South African employees who are earning an income overseas, making over R1 million in the year of assessment. It will also impact companies that send employees overseas for work, who will have to deal with the new tax implications. South Africans who have permanently left the country, who have not settled their tax affairs (through financial emigration) may also be subject to the changes, depending on their individual circumstances. Young people or anyone who is traveling and working abroad who qualify for exemption under section 10(1)(o)(ii) will remain exempt, provided they earn less than R1 million in the year.


The tax changes could also impact people who are permanently living abroad, who currently qualify for an exemption based on section 10(1)(o)(ii). These South Africans are typically not ordinarily resident in South Africa but may have assets in the country, which could impact how SARS sees their tax affairs. SARS has a set guideline – called the physical presence test – to determine whether a South African is resident, based on physical presence in the country.

This is for a period or periods exceeding: 
  • 91 days in total during the year of assessment under consideration; 
  • 91 days in total during each of the five years of assessment preceding the year of assessment under consideration; and 
  • 915 days in total during those five preceding years of assessment.
“An individual who fails to meet any one of these three requirements will not satisfy the physical presence test. In addition, any individual who meets the physical presence test, but is outside South Africa for a continuous period of at least 330 full days, will not be regarded as a resident from the day on which that individual ceased to be physically present,” SARS said. If an individual passes the physical presence test, they will be taxed on their worldwide income in South Africa.

What if you are living in two countries? 

In situations where South Africans are split between two nations – working overseas for extended periods of time, but remaining an ordinary resident in South Africa – SARS has double taxation agreements (DTA) with certain countries to determine who has exclusive rights to your taxes. “South Africa has DTAs with a number of other countries with a view to, amongst other things; prevent double taxation of income accruing to South African taxpayers from foreign sources, or of income accruing to foreign taxpayers from South African sources,” SARS said. 

In an interview after the draft regulations were published, Sable International, explained that DTA has different checks and balances, but typically boils down to where most of your assets are (as a permanent home) and where your family is. However, this is subject to a more in-depth investigation from SARS. It is worth noting, however, that for ordinary residents, all income sources within South Africa will still be taxable in South Africa. The coming laws only apply to your foreign income – normal tax is paid on all South African assets and capital gains made on those assets in the country. South Africans who have permanently left the country, who still have assets in the country, are still taxed on those assets, with the only way to divorce being through financial emigration.

Is financial emigration necessary?

According to Sable International, financial emigration – being the legal process of cutting all tax ties to South Africa – may not be necessary to avoid the expat tax, provided you meet the right requirements. If you are a non-resident (South African living abroad) and can prove to SARS you are ordinarily resident in the country you’re living in, then the tax should not apply. If you are in a dual-residency situation, SARS may have a DTA with the country you’re living in that may make you exempt. However, this is specific to each individual situation, with no real general exemption that applies to all expats outside section 10(1)(0)(ii) limits.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Obama Launched Basketball Africa League

         Mr. Barrack Obama officiates Basketball Africa League or BAL for the African continent.
Considering the NBA’s global popularity and penchant for staying ahead of the curve, Saturday’s announcement that the league is officially expanding toward Africa. The NBA and FIBA jointly announced their plan Saturday afternoon to launch a basketball league featuring 12 club teams across Africa.

The new league, which will be called the Basketball Africa League, or BAL in short, will be built upon the existing team and competitions, the FIBA organizing in Africa. The first scheduled will begin to play in January 2020. In order to determine which teams will be participating in the venture, the NBA and FIBA are jointly planning to conduct qualification tournaments later this year to identify potential members for 12 teams that would represent several countries — including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. There will be no more than two teams from any single country in the league. But the biggest surprise comes the revelation that our forever president Barack Obama, whose affinity for hoops is well-documented, will be involved in the new league—as well as the NBA’s continued efforts in Africa— in an unspecified role.

The announcing and inception of the BAL, the NBA introduced two additional measures designed to expand the popularity of basketball on the continent: a revamped direct-to-consumer offering of NBA games by the start of next season and dedicated financial support and resources toward the continued development of the sport on the continent.

To include training for players, coaches, referees, and building infrastructure. “The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media, and technology across Africa.”



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