Daily Archives: January 24, 2018

SUSPENDED CFO OF SOUTH AFRICAN POWER UTILITY ESKOM RESIGNS

JOHANNESBURG, The Board of South African power utility Eskom says it has accepted the resignation of suspended Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh.

Eskom has today received, through Mr Anoj Singh’s attorneys, a formal letter of resignation by Mr Singh from his position as the Chief Financial Officer, in line with the terms of his employment contract. The board of Eskom, through the Chairman, has accepted the resignation and communicated the acceptance through Mr Singh’s attorneys, the State-owned power utility said in a statement here Monday.

It said Singh’s resignation is effective immediately.

At the weekend, the government had announced the appointment of new board members as an immediate measure to strengthen governance and management at the parastatal. Jabu Mabuza was appointed as Chairperson of the Board and the government also recommended the appointment of Phakamani Hadebe as the acting Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with immediate effect.

The Board was directed to immediately remove all Eskom executives who are facing allegations of serious corruption and other acts of impropriety, including Singh and acting CEO Matshela Koko.

Government further calls on all Eskom employees and other stakeholders who may have evidence of wrongdoing to bring this to the attention of law enforcement agencies so that culprits can be brought to book, said the Presidency on Saturday.

Eskom has been facing several challenges, including a weak financial position, declining revenues and governance failures, which are threatening the sustainability of the company going forward.

As a result, Government has decided on the following immediate measures to strengthen governance and management. This is the first step towards restoring confidence in the company, improving its financial position and restoring its operational performance, said the statement by the Presidency.

It added that Eskom is critical to the South African economy. As a key enabler of economic growth and social transformation, any further deterioration of Eskom’s financial and operational conditions could have a severe impact on the country.

The Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy and Finance will work together under the leadership of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to deal with other structural issues, which include the funding model and other industry challenges as identified by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Reform.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

UN: Al-Shabab in Decline, But Still a Threat

UNITED NATIONS The top U.N. official for Somalia said Wednesday that while al-Shabab remains a serious threat, the terror group is on the decline, and the continued deployment of African Union troops in Somalia is essential to its ultimate defeat.

“Al-Shabab remains a potent threat, despite or perhaps precisely because it is on the back foot as a result of financial pressures, counterterrorism operations and airstrikes,” U.N. envoy Michael Keating told Security Council members.

A truck bomb attack Oct. 14 in the capital city of Mogadishu killed more than 500 civilians and demonstrated the al-Qaida-linked group’s ability to stage a large-scale attack, despite an intensive military offensive against them.

Keating said defeating the group requires both a military and political strategy and serious efforts to address issues that terrorists exploit, such as corruption and the lack of jobs and education opportunities for youth.

The more than 22,000-strong African Union force, known as AMISOM, receives a logistical support package from the United Nations, and gets additional funding from the European Union.

“AMISOM’s continued presence will therefore be essential,” Keating said. “Premature drawdown of AMISOM forces will be a gift to al-Shabab and risks undermining the gains that have been made, at great human and financial cost, over the last decade.”

But Keating acknowledged that it is not viable for the force to stay indefinitely, and said the Somali security sector needs to prepare for a gradual handover of responsibility.

Somalia’s U.N. envoy, Abukar Dahir Osman, urged council members to ease the arms embargo in place for more than two decades on the country.

“The existing arms embargo framework on Somalia is a major obstacle to an effective implementation of our ambitious security sector reform,” Osman said.

The government has previously argued that the embargo needs to be fully lifted so the army can get the heavy weapons it needs to defeat al-Shabab.

Keating also warned of potential violence between two autonomous regions in the country.

“There is a serious danger that long-standing disputes between Puntland and Somaliland, and in particular an armed standoff in Sool, could erupt into violence in the coming days, with potentially grave consequences,” he said.

Both regions claim Sool as their own, which has previously led to violence.

The country is also grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis. Persistent drought and conflict have left 6.2 million people in need of assistance. More than 2 million people have been displaced from their homes.

“The risk of famine still looms,” Keating warned.

The U.N. is seeking $1.6 billion to cope with the crisis this year.

Source: Voice of America

IGAD AND NDI TO COOPERATE ON AREAS OF COMMON INTEREST

Djibouti (Djibouti): The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental authority on Development (IGAD), H.E. Amb (Eng) Mahboub Maalim, this morning received the Nairobi-based Resident Programme Manager for the Regional Women’s Programme of the National Democratic Institute (NDI)-East Africa, Ms. Hodan A. Ahmed, in his office.

Amb Mahboub welcomed Ms Hodan to the Secretariat of the regional organisation along with IGAD senior staff in order to brief her about IGAD and its intervention areas.

IGAD and NDI signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year in Washington, DC, and we are glad to be receiving you as soon as today for your familiarisation mission to our headquarters, he said. Amb Maalim invited Ms Hodan to also touch on the expectations of her organisation as for the operationlisation of the MoU after she was given an overview of some programmes, projects, and activities which might be of interest to NDI.

Ms Hodan expressed her organisation’s willingness and eagerness to strengthen relations with IGAD. My mission is to report back on areas of cooperation between our two organisations. I will also be meeting with Parliamentarians here in Djibouti as NDI is running a Women’s Parliamentarian Association that is made up of women MPs of Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda among IGAD Member States, she said.

Discussions on how to have IGAD work with NDI on a women MPs platform inclusive of all IGAD Member States as one immediate area of cooperation then followed. Ms Hodan was finally invited to visit the IGAD Center of Excellence to Prevent/Combat Violent Extremism and meet with civil society organisations there.

The National Democratic Institute is a USA based non-profit organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide.

Source: Inter Governmental Authority on Development

MAGHREB EXPERTS TO MEET TO DISCUSS LISTING OF COUSCOUS BY UNESCO

ALGIERS, Meetings are to be held among experts from Maghreb countries under a project to have couscous, a traditional Maghrebi food, listed as their common culinary heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Announcing this here Tuesday, the Director of Algeria’s National Centre for Prehistoric, Anthropological and Historical Research (CNRPAH), Slimane Hachi, said: Couscous’ listing as a universal heritage is a common project by the Maghreb countries. The proposal for the listing is being prepared and meetings between experts will soon take place.”

The listing will shed light on the ancient origin of this dish and its trans-cultural character because it belongs to many peoples. The dish of small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat, usually served with a stew on top, is a staple food throughout North African and has remained authentic, resisting time and change.

A researcher at the CNRPAH says the possible listing of this heritage dish is recognition and a way to strengthen the solid links between the peoples of the Maghreb — Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania — which share the same culinary expressions. Like any cultural element, couscous is a mean to bringing people together.

For these peoples, couscous is “a way to express their solidarity and relationship with nature”, he adds. The Maghreb states would benefit from launching a joint study to identify all the thrusts of this common heritage.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNICATIONS DEPT SETS UP WAR ROOM TO MANAGE MIGRATION TO DIGITAL TV

CAPE TOWN, The Communications Department has established a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) war room to implement the project to switch to digital broadcasting and meet the international deadline for the migration, says South African Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

Briefing the Parliamentary Committee on Communications at the National Assembly here Tuesday, she noted that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had set June 2019 as a deadline for countries to have implemented digital migration.

The process of migration will allow users to experience the many benefits of digital television which include, among others, clearer pictures and sound as well as more channels to choose from, she added.

The department will soon announce registration cut-off dates for households to register for set-top box decoders, which are needed to continue watching television signals when South Africa switches to digital broadcasting.

What we are worried about is to get the nation on board in this project. So we will announce a start date and an end date for registration so it can’t continue to be an open ended [process]. One of the issues we had to [address] was to put a project plan in place and also put a project office, a boardroom, we call it a war room on DTT,” she said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK