Africa’s women belong at the top; Malawi’s Joyce Banda is one of them ..

As a former president of Malawi and the founder of her own foundation, Joyce Banda is one of the world’s great advocates for the idea that empowering women and girls benefits everyone. In anticipation of this year’sGoalkeepers report, which focuses on the challenges and potential of a growing young population in Africa, Joyce reflects on the importance of female leadership. I want to share her essay with you before we launch the report next week. — Bill Gates

Profile: Joyce Banda
Banda, left, was expelled from the ruling party by Bingu wa Mutharika, right, after a succession battle [AFP]
BY JOYCE BANDA (AIWA! NO!)//When I was eight years old, a family friend told my father that he thought I was destined for leadership. My dad never let me forget that heady observation, and as a result of his constant encouragement, I took every opportunity I had to pursue our friend’s prophecy. Today, I owe much of my success to my late father, whose belief in me was unwavering.

Unfortunately, most African girls are not as lucky as I was. While many girls possess leadership qualities, social, political, and economic barriers stymie their potential. This is especially true for girls in rural parts of Africa, where poverty, abuse, and tradition conspire to limit opportunity.

The heartbreaking story of my childhood friend, Chrissie, is illustrative. Chrissie was the star student in the village in Malawi where I grew up. But she dropped out of secondary school because her family could not afford the $6 in monthly fees. Before Chrissie was 18, she was married with a child; she has never left the village where we were born.

Chrissie’s experience is repeated millions of times over in my country, across Africa, and around the world. Today, more than 130 million girls worldwide are out of school through no fault of their own. By the time many African girls turn ten, their fate is already determined. Some are victims of harmful cultural practices, like female genital mutilation and child marriage, while others are unable to escape the poverty that grips their families and communities.

Economic bias is especially damaging to girls. When resources are limited, poor families must choose which children to send to school, and in many regions, boys are viewed as “safer” investments. Girls, meanwhile, are married off, or sent to work in the fields or as domestic helpers. These decisions about the allocation of educational opportunity severely stunt female leadership potential.

One of the objectives of the Joyce Banda Foundation is to strengthen the financial independence of Malawian women, and thereby create the conditions for the development and emergence of young girls as future leaders. Evidence shows that when women work, they invest 90 percent of their income back into their families, compared with 35 percent for men. Furthermore, once women have their own sources of income, they are better able to participate in the political process.

Changing endemic cultural norms about gender and identity—and developing more female leaders—begins in the classroom. School-age girls must be taught to value themselves and one another, and that it is their right to be educated, healthy, and empowered. At the Joyce Banda Foundation School in Blantyre, Malawi, educators have adopted a curriculum based on four building blocks: universal values, global understanding, service to humanity, and excellence. When women and girls are given equal access to education, health care, and jobs, their sense of self-worth improves and social stature follows.

Parts of Africa are moving in the right direction. Today, nearly a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s lawmakers are women, up from just 10 percent in 1997. Rwanda, meanwhile, has the highest percentage of female legislators in the world. And throughout Africa, women have been elected to leadership roles at all levels of government.

Still, much work remains. As the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will make clear in its annual Goalkeepers report later this month, governments must recommit to supporting female leaders’ development by investing in the health and education of women and girls. Delivering services to girls under ten years of age, especially in rural areas, is essential if Africa is ever to achieve lasting gender equality.

Over the course of my career in Malawi—first in civil society, then as a Member of Parliament, and finally, as president—I became convinced that the only way to change Africa’s misogynistic narrative is by helping more women reach the highest levels of power. Research from India shows that when governments increase the percentage of women in their ranks, social issues like health care, education, and food security receive higher priority. Having more women in leadership is thus good for everyone.

Leaders are born as well as made, but when they are born in Africa, they are not always recognized. To give more young women the opportunity to develop their talents and put their skills to work, today’s leaders must clear a path for the female leaders of tomorrow.

This commentary was originally published by Project Syndicate© Project Syndicate – 2018

World leaders gather at UN under threat from unilateralism

TOP OF THE AGENDA AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY – Conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Mali and Central African Republic as well as the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, aid for Palestinians, education for girls, modern slavery, environmental threats, efforts to end poverty, and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

According to reliable data from @TwitterData, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the most tweeted about world leaders during the first day of the United Nations General Assembly meeting (18/19 September, 2017).

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — With rising unilateralism challenging its very existence, the United Nations convenes its annual meeting of world leaders Monday and will try once more to tackle problems together as a community of nations, addressing threats ranging from Mideast conflicts to the effects of global warming — and also encouraging the glimmer of hope over the nuclear standoff in North Korea.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the General Assembly session, a significant increase from last year’s 114. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the expected large turnout “eloquent proof of the confidence of the international community in the United Nations,” though other U.N. officials and diplomats said it’s in response to growing concerns about an increasingly turbulent world.

The seven-year-old conflict in Syria and the three-year war in Yemen that has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and is now seriously threatening large-scale famine will certainly be in the spotlight, along with meetings on other Mideast and African hot spots. So will Iran, which faces escalating hostile rhetoric from the Trump administration over its activities supporting international terrorism, which Tehran vehemently denies.

Guterres said last week that one of his overriding concerns in an increasingly globalized world is the threat to having the U.N.’s 193 member nations work together, which is the foundation of the United Nations.

“Multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely when we need it most,” the U.N. chief told reporters Thursday. “In different areas and for different reasons, the trust of people in their political establishments, the trust of states among each other, the trust of many people in international organizations has been eroded and … multilateralism has been in the fire.”

Guterres challenged diplomats at last week’s opening of the 73rd session of the General Assembly by saying: “At a time of fragmentation and polarization, the world needs this assembly to show the value of international cooperation.”

Whether it will be able to remains in question.

At this year’s gathering of presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and minsters, populist leaders will include U.S. President Donald Trump, President Andrzej Duda of Poland and Premier Giuseppe Conte of Italy along with the foreign ministers of Hungary and Austria.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters that Trump, who champions an “America First” policy, wants to talk about “protecting U.S. sovereignty,” and she reiterated Washington’s opposition to the 2015 Paris climate agreement on curbing global warming and a newly agreed international compact aimed at regulating migration.

“We really value sovereignty of the country,” Haley said. “It is not saying multilateralism can’t work, but it’s saying sovereignty is a priority over all of that, and we always have to make sure we’re doing that — and there are many countries that agree with us.”

Before stepping down as U.N. humanitarian chief Aug. 31, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed serious concern that populism, intolerance and oppression are “becoming fashionable again.”

“It all builds, because once you start down the path of intolerance, it’s very difficult to stop it, unless at the end of the day you have conflict,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to be a key voice joining Guterres in the coming week in speaking out against this trend and supporting multilateralism as key to promoting peace.

The week’s activities kick off with a peace summit Monday morning honoring the 100th birthday this year of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. A statue of Mandela will be unveiled at U.N. headquarters and leaders are expected to adopt a declaration recognizing the years 2019-2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace.

Trump is hosting an event Monday on “The World Drug Problem” and Haley said 124 countries have signed a global call to action. Activists on drug policy note it was never negotiated, and one group, the Harm Reduction Coalition, called it “an instance of heavy-handed U.S. ‘with us or against us’ diplomacy.”

The increasingly strident U.S. rhetoric against Iran is expected to be a feature in U.S. speeches. Haley said that “every dangerous spot in the world — Iran seems to have its fingerprints in it,” which Tehran denies.

Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May and the foreign ministers of the five remaining powers who support the deal — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — are expected to meet privately Monday evening with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The General Assembly’s “General Debate,” as the ministerial session is called, officially opens Tuesday with Guterres’ report on the state of the world, to be followed soon after by speeches from Trump, Macron and late in the morning by President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.

The U.S. holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council in September and has scheduled two ministerial meetings, the first on Wednesday presided over by Trump. It was initially to focus on Iran but has now been broadened to the topic of “nonproliferation” of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

“I’m sure that is going to be the most watched Security Council meeting ever,” Haley told reporters.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will preside over the second meeting Thursday on North Korea, an issue the Security Council was united on in imposing increasingly tough sanctions. But that unity now appears to be at risk over enforcement of sanctions and the broader issues of how to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and when sanctions should be lifted against North Korea.

Guterres welcomed the recent “positive meeting” in Pyongyang between the leaders of North and South Korea but warned that “there will not be success in intra-Korean negotiations if simultaneously there is not success in the American and North Korean” negotiations to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the United Nations has received 342 requests for meetings during the high-level week.

They include sessions on conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Mali and Central African Republic as well as the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, aid for Palestinians, education for girls, modern slavery, environmental threats, efforts to end poverty, and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Asked what are the big issues, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told The Associated Press: “All of them are big issues — nonproliferation, cooperation, the world peace architecture — it’s every year, but this year it’s maybe more topical than ever.”

Uruguayan Ambassador Elbio Rosselli said the biggest issue for his country is multilateralism.

“It’s a vow that all of us ought to keep reinforcing particularly at this conjuncture where so many undercurrents and contrary views are surfacing on different scenarios,” he told AP. “The validity of this institution is more than ever necessary, and for that we need the recommitment of all states.”

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

 

Zanu PF’s Molly Ndlovu Mocks Mnangagwa’s Opponents, Calls for More Women in Houses of Parliament

Honorable Molly Ndlovu, a Zanu – PF member of Parliament  derides and challenges Mnangagwa’s opponents while urges the President to extend parliament quota for women to bring more women to Parliament.


2018-09-22
Zanu PF’s Molly Ndlovu

Zanu PF’s Molly Ndlovu says President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the president of Zimbabwe and therefore anyone who does not believe in this is daydreaming. Ms. Ndlovu also urged Mnangagwa to ensure that the parliamentary quota system for women is extended.

Tanzania death toll 209 as survivor found in capsized ferry

Left: Relatives look at the coffins containing the dead bodies of passengers retrieved after a ferry MV Nyerere overturned off the shores of Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania, on Sept. 22, 2018. Photo by Jackson Njehia/Reuters
AIWA! NO!//NAIROBI, Kenya — It was a stunning discovery. As rescue divers probed a capsized Tanzanian ferry two days after the disaster and the death toll soared past 200, a man was found in an air pocket, alive.

He was an engineer, regional commissioner John Mongella told reporters. As the badly overloaded ferry overturned on Thursday in the final stretch before reaching shore, the man shut himself into the engine room, the Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Video footage showed the man, barefoot and head lolling, carried quickly along a busy street by medical workers and military personnel as a siren wailed. His condition was not immediately known.

No further survivors were likely. Search efforts were ending so the focus could turn to identifying the dead, Tanzania’s defense chief Venance Mabeyo told reporters at the scene.

Mass graves were dug, and colorfully painted coffins arrived. Hundreds of family members and others waited quietly on the shore.

One woman dropped to her knees in the sand next to the covered body of her sister and wept.

“We have found him after three days and now we are transporting his body to Kamasi for burial,” said Temeni Katebarira, the brother of one victim.

Earlier in the day, workers continued to haul bodies from the water. Abandoned shoes were scattered on the sand.

“From morning till now we have retrieved more than 58 bodies. This includes both children and adults,” said TropistaTemi, a Red Cross volunteer. “Because of the congestion we have not been able to do full totaling. Later, we will do a full tally.”

But the total number of deaths might never be known. No one is sure how many people were on the overcrowded ferry, which officials said had a capacity of 101. It tipped as people returning from a busy market day with their goods prepared to disembark, while horrified fishermen and others watched.

Officials on Friday said at least 40 people had been rescued.

President John Magufuli has ordered the arrests of those responsible. He said the ferry captain already had been detained after leaving the steering to someone who wasn’t properly trained, The Citizen newspaper reported.

“This is a great disaster for our nation,” Magufuli told the nation in a televised address late Friday, announcing four days of national mourning.

Pope Francis, the United Nations secretary-general, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of African leaders have expressed shock and sorrow.

The MV Nyerere, named for the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was traveling between the islands of Ukara and Ukerewe when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.

Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where aging passenger ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and well beyond capacity.

In 1996, more than 800 people died when passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria. And nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

DAR ES SALAAM – More than 100 bodies have been retrieved after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria; Tanzanian state radio reported on Friday

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//DAR ES SALAAM – More than 100 bodies have been retrieved after a ferry sank on Lake Victoria, Tanzanian state radio reported on Friday, and hundreds more were still feared missing as rescuers searched for survivors from daybreak on the morning after the disaster.

Radio TBC Taifa reported the latest toll from the sinking of the ferry MV Nyerere, which capsized on Thursday afternoon just a few meters from the dock on Ukerewe, the lake’s biggest island, which is part of Tanzania.

Initial estimates suggested that the ferry was carrying more than 300 people.

READ MORE: 5 million children likely died because of conflict in Africa, study shows

Thirty-seven people had been rescued from the sea, Jonathan Shana, the regional police commander for the port of Mwanza on the south coast of the lake told Reuters by phone on Friday.

2018-09-21 (6).png
Rescue efforts underway in Tanzania after more than 100 people died after ferry capsized in Lake Victoria

Shana said more rescuers had joined the operation when it resumed at daylight on Friday. He did not give exact numbers.

The precise number of those aboard the ferry when it capsized was hard to establish since crew and equipment had been lost, officials said on Thursday.

READ MORE: Roaming truck full of over 150 bodies sparks outcry in Mexico

Tanzania has been hit by several major ferry disasters over the years. At least 500 people were killed when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria in 1996. In 2012, 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar.

© 2018 Reuters

I have always said that no deal is better than a bad deal; British Prime Minister Theresa May

Against the euro, sterling was down 1% at 1.11.

MAY AFRICA

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//Prime Minister Theresa May has said that “no deal is better than a bad deal” but that the “best outcome” was to leave with a deal.

Mrs May speaking inside Downing Street said: “I have always said that no deal is better than a bad deal.

“But I have also been clear that the best outcome is for the UK to leave the EU with a deal.

EU nationals should be subject to the same rules as migrants from the rest of the world after free movement ceases to apply in the UK, according to a Government-commissioned report.

“That is why following months of intensive work and detailed discussions, we proposed a third option for our future economic relationship based on the frictionless trade of goods.

“That is the best way to protect jobs here and in the EU and to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, while respecting the referendum result and the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

‘Making a mockery’

She said: “I have always said that these negotiations would be tough, and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight.

“While both sides want a deal, we have to face up to the fact that despite the progress we have made there are two big issues where we remain a long way apart.”

READ RELATED: The pound is on course for its biggest one-day fall in 2018 after Theresa May said Brexit negotiations with the EU have reached an ‘impasse’

Mrs May added that the EU had only given the UK two options, which included an option to stay within the European Economic Area.

The Prime Minister described this option as “making a mockery” of the EU referendum in June 2016.

‘I will not overturn the result of the referendum’

The Prime Minister concluded her statement by saying: “The EU should be clear, I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country.

“We need serious engagement in resolving the two big issues in the negotiations and we stand ready.”

The pound plummeted following Mrs May’s speech, trading down 1.3% versus the US dollar at 1.31.

Against the euro, sterling was down 1% at 1.11.

 

Zimbabwe Is Staring Down The Barrel, Needs Currency Reforms Urgently

This is the catch-22 position in which Zimbabwe finds itself.  Can it wait 2 years or more to meet President Mnangagwa’s economic fundamentals before abandoning the unsustainable dollar parity, or are the fundamentals unreachable without a competitive exchange rate?

money

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//Ten days ago, Zimbabwe’s new Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was talking of abolishing bond notes and launching currency reforms before the end of the year. But on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ruled out any such reforms.

In his address at the opening of Parliament, President Mnangagwa reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the so-called multi-currency system or dollarization “until the current negative economic fundamentals have been addressed to give credence to the introduction of the local currency”.

The economic fundamentals he listed are the familiar ones set out repeatedly in recent years by government ministers and the central bank – a” sustainable” fiscal position, foreign currency reserves equivalent to 3 to 6 months import cover ($1.4 to $2.7 billion) and “sustainable consumer and business confidence”.

As the President spoke the premium on US dollars relative to RTGS balances or electronic money stuck in the banks, hovered close to 100% while that between Zimbabwe’s ersatz currency (bond notes) and the US dollar was 88%.

The President announced that Zimbabwe has taken on another $500 million in foreign loans to bolster the balance-of-payments, seemingly confident that a country, already in what the IMF calls “debt distress” with a debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 100%, can weather the storm.

But the track record of emerging market governments who take on the foreign currency markets is littered with failures and it is not easy to see why Zimbabwe should be any different.

The record of macroeconomic mismanagement, including under the New Dispensation since the military coup last November, is stark. Domestic debt has escalated alarmingly; the balance-of-payments gap is widening; more and more is being borrowed offshore by private as well as official entities

In the 2018 budget presented nine months ago, the former finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, promised to cut the budget deficit from $2.5 billion, which was hugely understated at the time to $671 million this year.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson_Mnangagwa_and_Professor Mthuli Ncube
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) shakes hands with Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, during the swearing in ceremony for Zimbabwe’s new cabinet ministers at State House, Harare, on September 10, 2018.

But just before he left office after losing his seat in the July 31 election, Chinamasa’s ministry revealed that government spending, far from being cut, had jumped 57% in the first half of the year. The deficit for the 6 months was $1.4 billion and forecasters expect it to top 3 billion – more than 16% of GDP – in 2018, especially when the extra $300 million for the 17.5% pay rise for civil servants and the 20% hike for the military and police, is taken into account.

Such profligacy hardly inspires confidence in the fiscal consolidation promised by the president and his new cabinet.

Policymakers believe that they can maintain the fiction that the local currency – electronic balances and bond notes – really does trade at par with the US dollar. In the parallel market however, the over-valued local unit is worth less than 40 cents.

The official position, set out by Mr Mnangagwa, is that this situation can be maintained until the budget deficit has been cut and foreign reserves accumulated. But given that the country is staring down the barrel at a trade deficit of well over $2.5 billion this year – it was $1.7 billion in the first 7 months of 2018 – it is going to take a long time to build up reserves of $2 billion or more.

This is the catch-22 position in which Zimbabwe finds itself.  Can it wait 2 years or more to meet President Mnangagwa’s economic fundamentals before abandoning the unsustainable dollar parity, or are the fundamentals unreachable without a competitive exchange rate?

%d bloggers like this: