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Election official ‘tortured and murdered’ before vote

Chris Msando’s body was found in a forest outside Nairobi just over a week before election he was supposed to oversee.

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Kenya

An official charged with overseeing Kenya’s electronic voting system has been found dead just days before the August 8 presidential election, according to the commission’s chairman.

The body of Chris Msando, a top information technology manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has been identified at the city morgue, Wafula Chebukati, IEBC chairperson, said on Monday.

“There was no doubt he was tortured and murdered. The only question in our mind is who [killed him] and why he was killed a few days to elections,” Chebukati told reporters.

Msando was declared missing over the weekend.

In an earlier statement, Chebukati said Msando was last seen on Friday night and sent a text message to a colleague early on Saturday morning suggesting “that he was conscious and fully aware of his itinerary for that day”.

A mortuary employee said Msando’s body was brought in by police on Saturday alongside that of a woman.

Both were naked and appeared to have been tortured before their bodies were dumped in a forest in Kiambu outside Nairobi.

It was unclear why it took 48 hours for the body to be identified.

Msando was in charge of a system of electronic voter identification and vote counting seen as crucial to avoid rigging, and was the second in command in the commission’s IT department.

A source close to the IEBC told AFP news agency that Msando had helped seal loopholes that could be used to manipulate vote tallies.

Msando’s death should be “urgently” investigated, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“Msando’s killing comes as the electoral management body was due to audit its systems, a week away from the election day,” said the group’s Africa researcher Otsieno Namwaya.

Chebukati announced the cancellation of that audit after Msando’s killing.

“This is just adding more doubt and more tension to the situation in the country ahead of the election. People want to know why he was killed, who would benefit most from his death and they want a very speedy investigation,” she said.

“And whatever happens, they want a credible and fair election.”

Mysterious attack

Msando’s death follows a mysterious attack at the home of deputy president William Ruto on Saturday in Eldoret northwest of Nairobi.

Police say a lone assailant killed one police officer, wounded another, then held off security forces for nearly 24 hours before being killed.

The race for the presidential polls between President Uhuru Kenyatta and longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga has been bad-tempered and tight.

Both sides have accused the other of underhanded tactics in the run-up to the polls, with the president saying Odinga is trying to divide the nation and provoke violence, and the opposition leader claiming Kenyatta plans to rig the poll.

Odinga’s opposition alliance NASA condemned the “heinous murder” of Msando, saying in a statement they were “gravely concerned” about its implications.

“That no effort was made to camouflage this killing as an accident shows the determination of the killers to send a chilling message that they will stop at nothing to ensure the outcome they desire,” read the statement.

 

Africa

Floods renders 30,000 homeless in Nigeria

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Nigeria Flood

Lagos, Sep 16 : Local authorities in Nigeria’s southern state of Edo on Saturday said 30,000 people have been displaced by floods in more than 35 communities in eastern and central part of the state.

The disaster had gone beyond the purview of local government council areas, Aremiyau Momoh, chairman of Etsako East, told reporters in Benin city, the state capital, Xinhua news agency reported.

On his part, John Akhigbe, chairman of Etsako Central, called for urgent intervention from both the state and the federal governments.

The duo said camps for the displaced had been placed in strategic locations across the council areas.

Similarly, about 700 houses including large farmlands have been affected by flash floods following heavy rains in parts of oil rich Rivers state.

Martins Ejike, a coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told reporters in Port Harcourt, the state capital, that the floods began since August.

Ejike advised people living in affected areas to relocate to higher ground for temporary shelters in case of the bigger floods.

In neighbouring Anambra state, authority also advised people living in floods-prone areas to immediately relocate to approved Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) centres across the state.

The state said it had established 28 camps across the state for possible flood victims.

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had listed 12 states as areas likely to be affected by floods.

The agency said on Wednesday that the water level in central Kogi, one of the states, had neared the 2012 level at 10.66m and called for vigilance by residents.

In 2012, NEMA reported that floods killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million others in 30 states.

IANS

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Africa

Indian-owned Swami fills Accra’s accommodation gap with $12 mn estate

Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

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Knight Frank

Accra, March 31 : As the Ghanaian government struggles to find a solution to the country’s accommodation problem, Indian-owned Swami International has stepped in with a $12 million, 12.4 acre Paradise Estates township made up of 102 houses in the capital Accra.

This is part of the company’s $50 million investment in real estate across two other West African countries, Gambia and Senegal, its General Manager, Tarun Singh, told IANS.

Swami entered the West African real estate market two years ago, Singh said, in response to an African Development Bank (AfDB) report that the continent “was growing with an urbanisation rate of 3.4 per cent, with cities across the continent experiencing the fastest urban growth rate globally. Unfortunately, it looks like this is not being matched by the ability to provide affordable houses”.

He said the Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

The international real estate group, Knight Frank, in a report on Africa’s real estate sector for 2017, said rapid population growth across Africa — faster than any other global region — together with urbanisation, is driving the property market activity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Singh said the company had already completed a similar project in Senegal and had moved on to a second one at Diamniodo, a new development at the new airport.

“Our decision to come to West Africa is due to the peace and security we find in the countries that we are operating in,” he added.

Singh, however, said there were some problems that needed to be solved, including skilled workers to be engaged on large-scale housing projects and poor utility services, in order to attract more investors into the real estate sector in the three countries.

In addition to the provision of houses in Gambia, Singh said the company has also provided rural electrification and boreholes for the people. “In addition, we have also ventured into agriculture with the cultivation of potatoes in Senegal and bananas in the Gambia,” he said.

The AfDB has identified a huge deficit in the real estate sector which it said had hit the poor hard because of affordability and this had remained a key challenge to developing the housing finance market.

By : Francis Kokutse

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])

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South Africa’s chief prosecutor set to announce decision on Zuma corruption charges

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Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s chief prosecutor will announce on Friday whether he is reinstating corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last month.

Zuma faces 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) government arms deal in the late 1990s. They were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009.

The deal to buy European military kit has cast a shadow over politics in Africa’s most industrialized economy for years.

Zuma – then deputy president – was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.

Shaikh’s conviction almost torpedoed Zuma’s bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality in 2009.

He became president shortly afterwards, but his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have them reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams will make his announcement at 1330 GMT, according to NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku.

Zuma has already been informed of what Abrahams has decided, the spokesman said.

South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year, rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA’s initial decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.

It then fell to Abrahams to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Zuma, who resigned as head of state on Feb. 14 on the orders of the ANC.

Zuma said in 2016 that an investigation into the arms deal he ordered five years earlier had found no evidence of corruption in the selection process of arms suppliers. Nor had it found evidence that officials were bribed in an attempt to influence the deal, he said.

Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.

Source : Reuters

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