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New Era Newspaper Wednesday July 26, 2017

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16 AFRICA Wednesday, July 26 2017 | NEW ERA Public Protector to investigate R30 million ‘golden handshake’ Challenger… Kenya’s National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga arrives for a presidential debate in Nairobi on Monday. Opposition leader Raila Odinga is due to challenge Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for the second time running. Kenyan president skips poll debate, gives rival the floor NAIROBI Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was a no-show Monday at a televised debate ahead of August 8 elections, leaving his main rival Raila Odinga alone to field questions. Both candidates had initially pulled out of the final debate, but after a change in format Odinga agreed to take part and the moderators were left in suspense until the last minute over whether or not Kenyatta would show up. This gave veteran opposition politician Odinga 90 minutes to field questions about his policies, attack Kenyatta’s government and defend his record during his time as prime minister in a power-sharing government after disputed 2007 polls. The solo debate comes as several pre-election polls show an extremely tight race between the historical rivals, and it was unclear if the lack of a proper presidential debate would sway voters. Kenyatta “owed the country a duty to appear, a duty to account for his five years,” said Miguna Miguna, a former advisor to Odinga and independent candidate for Nairobi governor, as part of the post-debate analysis. “I think it was a mistake of monumental proportions. It was a miscalculation, a deliberate or naive misunderstanding of what the president means.” Other analysts said it was an “anti-climax” and agreed it was a boost for Odinga. An official in Kenyatta’s campaign team said: “We don’t see value in this thing, it’s a debate that will not translate to votes on August 8.” Kenya held its first ever televised presidential debate in 2013, which included both Kenyatta and Odinga. Afterwards, Kenyatta complained that he had been unfairly targeted by moderators. Odinga is leading a rare coalition of opposition heavyweights, the National Super Alliance (NASA) in his fourth bid to be president. “I lost once,” he said as the audience laughed, in reference to his claim that elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him. Many observers agree with Odinga’s view that the 2007 election was stolen from him, triggering widespread politicallymotivated tribal violence which left more than 1,100 dead. The violence of 2007 looms over Kenya’s politics a decade on, and Odinga has already repeatedly claimed there are plans afoot to rig the election. Another analyst on the postdebate panel said that seeing the two contenders on the same stage discussing issues could have reduced tensions ahead of the vote. – Nampa/AFP JOHANNESBURG Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has agreed to investigate disgraced former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, for the R30 million “golden handshake” he was awarded by the beleaguered power utility. Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Natasha Mazzone on Monday said her party requested the investigation after it emerged that the Eskom board approved the payout to Molefe after only 18 months as CEO of Eskom. “It is unacceptable that an individual such as Brian Molefe, who sits deeply in the pockets of the Guptas, is rewarded not for doing a good job for the people of our country, but is paid millions for serving the interests of one family,” said Mazzone. She said the DA made the request following public outrage over the “golden handshake” which later became a “performance bonus”, and then a “pension payout”. “This outrageous payout is a gross abuse of public funds, especially after Molefe resigned ‘in the interests of good corporate governance’ after his close ties to the Guptas were revealed in the damning State of Capture report,” said Mazzone. “Molefe does not deserve the R30 million. In fact, he does not deserve a single cent. He must pay back every dime of the R30 million to Eskom.” The DA said Eskom is in deep financial trouble and the money could go a long way in bringing much-needed stability at the power utility. Mazzone said the DA would continue to fight to root out the deeply entrenched corruption at Eskom. “South Africans deserve public servants who work to improve their lives, not individuals who are only interested in lining their own pockets.” Photo: Nampa/ANA Instant millionaire… Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe Swaziland halves world’s highest HIV infection rate: report PARIS Swaziland, which bears the world’s heaviest HIV burden, has almost halved the rate of new infections in five years by boosting access to virus-suppressing drugs, researchers said Monday. The country – where one in three adults is infected with the AIDS-causing virus – has vastly expanded public programmes to test people for HIV infection and put them on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART). “The rate of new HIV infections has been reduced by half,” Velephi Okello of the Swazi health ministry told journalists at an HIV science conference in Paris. “Remarkable progress has been made... in controlling the HIV epidemic.” In 2011, 31 percent of adults (aged 18- 49) out of a total country population of just over 1.2 million were infected with HIV, according to government data. This made Swaziland the country with the highest national rate of new infections, said the authors of the new study, as well as the highest proportion of people living with HIV. The latest data, based on blood samples from almost 11,000 people aged 15 and over, showed that about 27 percent of the population was HIV-positive in 2016. This translated to an infection rate of 1.39 percent among 18- to 49-year-olds, down from 2.58 percent in 2011 – a 46-percent reduction. Ninety-five percent of HIVpositive pregnant women last year received drugs to prevent transmission of the virus to their offspring. “As a result, fewer than 1,000 children became infected with HIV in Swaziland in 2016,” said the UN agency. The infection rate was higher among women than men, according to a survey report to the International AIDS Society conference. The decline was also steeper for men, with 52 percent, than for women (40 percent). The survey showed that 73 percent of HIV-positive people had achieved suppression of the virus – meaning it does not replicate to make them ill – compared to 35 percent in 2011. The gains were the fruit of a much improved HIV treatment programme, said the researchers. The share of infected people on ART rose from 37 percent in 2011 to 74 percent last year. ART not only stops HIV from replicating and attacking a patient’s immune system, but also curbs its spread to sexual partners. “Our recipe for success is that we... have been able to scale up a lot of the prevention and treatment services in the country,” said Okello. “We have more than doubled the number of people who have started on anti-retroviral treatment, and we have also almost doubled the number of men who have been circumcised in the country.” According to the World Health Organization, there is “compelling evidence” that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV by as much as 60 percent in men. The number of HIV tests conducted in Swaziland more than doubled from 176,000 in 2011 to 367,000 in 2016. “Basically, we think that that’s one of the recipes (for success), and also the government commitment to buying and procuring the ARVs for people in the country so that there is a sustainable response going forward,” said Okello. Despite the “great news”, she cautioned much more needs to be done to maintain the downward trend. “While we do celebrate these findings, we still know that Swaziland is facing a severe HIV epidemic,” she said. “In the end, we would like to see a Swaziland which is free from AIDS.” – Nampa/AFP

Wednesday, July 26 2017 | NEW ERA WORLD 17 Low-caste leader sworn in as India’s president Incoming Indian president Ram Nath Kovind (second right) and outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee arrive ahead of the oath-taking ceremony at the Indian parliament in New Delhi on Tuesday. Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as India’s president yesterday, becoming just the second leader from the oppressed Dalit community to be elected head of state. NEW DELHI Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as India’s president Tuesday, becoming just the second leader from the oppressed Dalit community to be elected head of state. Members of India’s parliament and state assemblies elected Kovind, a former lawyer and state governor, to the largely ceremonial position last week with more than 65 percent of the vote. Kovind, accompanied by his wife, paid respects at a memorial dedicated to India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi early Tuesday. “I grew up in a mud house, in a small village. My journey has been a long one, and yet this journey is hardly mine alone. It is so telling of our nation and our society also,” Kovind said after taking the oath of office in parliament. “For all its problems, it (nation) follows that basic mantra given to us in the preamble of the constitution – of ensuring justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, and I will always continue to follow this basic mantra.” The 71-year-old was nominated by the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in a move analysts say would help Prime Minister Narendra Modi tighten his grip on power and gain political capital ahead of his re-election bid in 2019. Kovind has said he will use his position to improve the lot of Dalits, a marginalised 200-million strong community once known as “untouchables” and ranked among India’s poorest community. “Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique... We are so different yet so similar and united,” Kovind said. India’s prime minister wields executive power, but the president can send back some parliamentary bills for reconsideration and also plays a guiding role in the process of forming governments. Kovind is the second Dalit president after K. R. Narayan, who held the post for five years from 1997. – Nampa/AFP N. Korea preparing new missile test: Yonhap SEOUL Speculation intensified Tuesday that North Korea is preparing another missile launch to coincide with a military anniversary, just weeks after conducting its first successful test of an ICBM that experts warned could reach Alaska. US and South Korean media reports cited intelligence and military officials as saying transporter vehicles carrying launching equipment had been seen on the move. The test -- which both Seoul and Washington officials warned could be of another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-- could coincide with the 64th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on July 27, reports said. This is a public holiday in the nuclear-armed North and celebrated as Victory Day. The two Koreas have remained technically at war since the threeyear conflict ended only with a ceasefire rather than a full peace treaty. “Movements by transporter erector launchers carrying (ICBM) launch tubes have been continuously observed in North Pyongan (province),” a South Korean government source was quoted as saying by the country’s Yonhap news agency. “There is a high possibility that the North may carry out (the test-launch) around the July 27 armistice day.” The North in 2014 marked the armistice anniversary by firing a Scud-B short-range missile on July 26. Yonhap also cited a South Korean military source as saying Pyongyang may be preparing to test a new type of ICBM or an intermediate-range missile. On Monday CNN cited a US defence official as saying the North appeared to be preparing for another missile test. That official said transporter vehicles carrying launching equipment were seen arriving at Kusong in North Pyongan last Friday. The US network earlier cited North Korea’s propaganda showcase village of Gijeongdong is seen from a South Korean observatory post in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas on Wednesday last week. Two day earlier, South Korea offered to hold rare military talks with North Korea, with the aim of easing tensions after Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. US intelligence as indicating preparations for another test of an ICBM or intermediate-range missile. Kusong has been the scene of past tests, including in May when an intermediate-range ballistic missile travelled more than 700 kilometres (435 miles). Pyongyang triggered global alarm on July 4, US Independence Day, when it test-fired its first ICBM which experts believe can reach Alaska -- a landmark development in its weapons programme. North Korean leader Kim Jong- Un, who personally oversaw the launch, described it as gift to the “American bastards”. The ICBM brings within reach Pyongyang’s long-held dream of a missile that can deliver an atomic warhead to the continental United States, and presents US President Donald Trump with a stark challenge. The North last week refused to respond to the South’s offer to open dialogue to ease tension. “We’re keeping close surveillance on the North for possible provocative acts”, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman told AFP. Yonhap also quoted a different Seoul government source as saying that an 1,800-tonne North Korean submarine in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) may be collecting data to prepare for a ballistic missile test-launch from the North’s largest submarine. The North last August successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile. – Nampa/AFP Violence against Afghan journalists soars: watchdog KABUL At least 10 journalists were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2017, a 35 percent surge from last year, a media watchdog said Tuesday, with rampant violence on the rise in the war-torn country. Taliban militants and the Islamic State group were behind most of the “direct and indirect” attacks on media workers in Afghanistan, the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC) said in a new report. “In the first six months of 2017, 73 cases of violence against journalists were recorded, including 10 cases of killings, 19 beatings and 12 injured,” the report said. “Insurgent groups in provinces threaten journalists to selfcensorship by telling them to either broadcast what they want or shutdown their stations,” Najib Sharifi, the director of AJSC, told reporters. The Afghan government accounted for 46 percent of violence against journalists in the first half of the year, limiting access to information and creating challenging conditions for the media, he added. If the violence continues at the same pace, Afghanistan is on track for another record year of fatal attacks on journalists. Last year the country suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists, according to AJSC, with at least 13 media workers killed -- 10 by the Taliban. That made it the second most dangerous place for reporters in the world after Syria. In January last year, seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, which is often critical of the insurgents, were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing in Kabul in what the militant group said was revenge for “spreading propaganda” against them. It was the first major attack on an Afghan media organisation since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, and spotlighted the dangers faced by media workers in Afghanistan as the security situation worsens amid a growing wave of militant attacks. – Nampa/AFP Dozens trapped in Mumbai building collapse MUMBAI Rescuers were frantically searching for up to 40 people feared trapped in a four-storey building that collapsed Tuesday in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, officials said. The city’s chief fire officer, Prabhat Rahangdale, said nine people had been rescued but dozens more were believed missing under rubble after the structure gave way mid-morning in the northern suburb of Ghatkopar. “Entire ground and four floored residential building collapsed. About 30 to 40 persons suspected to be trapped. Until now nine persons (have been) rescued and sent to hospital,” Rahangdale said in a text message to AFP. Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s civic administrative body, said there had been no reports of any deaths and the nine admitted to hospital had minor injuries. “Our rescue teams are conducting search operations to help people trapped inside,” he told AFP. Building collapses are common in India, especially during the annual monsoon season, which usually runs from late June to September. Millions of Indians are forced to live in cramped, ramshackle properties because of rising real estate prices and a lack of housing for the poor. A dilapidated building killed 12 people when it collapsed outside Mumbai in August 2015. Nine people died the same month when another old three-storey building collapsed in monsoon rain in the Mumbai suburb of Thakurli. At least four people were killed in two incidents in April and August last year when buildings collapsed in the city. – Nampa/AFP

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New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167