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AfCFTA route opens doors to economic growth

Source: AfCFTA route opens doors to economic growth | The Herald

AfCFTA route opens doors to economic growth

Levi Mukarati
Correspondent
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently took an unusual stance in about two decades – praising Zimbabwe for its economic transformation trajectory since 2017.

With global nations in the midst of a ravaging Covid-19, which has decimated economies, the Bretton Woods institution not only singled out Zimbabwe for its resilience to the virus, but for absorbing other exogenous shocks such as the 2019 Cyclone Idai.

This also comes as Harare qualified, three months ago, for US$800 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) under the IMF’s new US$650 billion rescue package for nations in light of Covid-19.

The SDR is the IMF’s international reserve asset created in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.

However, the US$1,1 billion kitty, still does not qualify Zimbabwe to secure US$2 billion in new funding unless the country pays off US$7,66 billion arrears to international financial institutions — the World Bank, European Investment Bank, The Paris Club and African Development Bank.

In praising Zimbabwe’s economic developments, over the last three years, IMF staff team to Zimbabwe, led by Mr Dhaneshwar Ghura, in its report — after a virtual meeting between Harare and the fund — added that the country’s outlook depended on the Covid-19 evolution, vaccination programme and sustainable policy implementation.

The report then continued: “The IMF mission notes the authorities’ efforts to stabilise the local currency and lower inflation . . . further efforts are needed to solidify the stabilisation trends and accelerate reforms.”

The statement is clear it can take long for Zimbabwe to access funding for economic development from institutions such as the IMF, established in 1944, to promote international financial stability and monetary cooperation.

What this means is that Zimbabwean authorities have to continue looking at internal remedies to uplift the economy, coupled with regional cooperation for development.

Calls have thus been amplified for the country to look closer home and turn to economic development opportunities available through the continent’s economic partnership protocols such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which came into effect in January this year.

Addressing guests at the launch of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) AfCFTA sensitisation and training workshops in Harare recently, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana said Zimbabwe stands to benefit from the agreement.

He said: “The potential benefits for the country include access to export and import markets, reduced preferential customs duties and easing of trade protocols making it easy for local countries to export.”

Speaking during the same platform, ZNCC president Tinashe Manzungu acknowledged that many companies in the country were set to benefit from the trade agreement, with the national economy emerging the overall winner.

He highlighted that with Zimbabwe’s exports averaging US$4 billion against an import bill of US$6 billion annually, the trade agreement can see the country increase its export basket after moving up the value chain in order to satisfy continental competition. Already, the country has shown commitment in the deal after having ratified it in 2019 and last week moved to remove visa requirement for visitors coming from Southern African Development Community member countries.

The move is positive in facilitating regional trade and is in line with continental aspiration of free movement and increased trade.

According to the Africa Union (AU), the AfCFTA will create a single market for goods and services with the primary objective being to increase trade among African nations.

Thus, the major emphasis of the agreement is to implement protocols to eliminate trade barriers and promote harmonisation of member states competition policies and other trade liberating strategies.

Zimbabwe can tap into the agreement which is expected to boost intra-African trade by 53,3 percent once import duties and non-tariffs barriers are eliminated.

The trade agreement also emphasises the closing of the gap in Africa’s extractive imports.

With information showing that Africa exports to other continents 75 percent of its extractive commodities, the AfCFTA seeks to encourage member states to lock their natural resources on Africa manufacturing industrial goods.

For years, Zimbabwe has lamented the loss of its minerals in raw form, only to buy products after the resources have been value added outside the country. The country has potential to invest in industries to value add its resources for the continental market.

The industrialisation drive should draw inspiration from the continental agreement’s potential to double Africa’s manufacturing sector to $1 trillion by 2025 while creating 14 million stable jobs.

Development in Zimbabwe cannot leave out women from the equation.

It is estimated that 70 percent of informal cross boarder traders in the country are women and with the AfCFTA promoting continental trade, the group stands to benefit more.

Also, the informal conduct of business by women had exposed them to harassment at ports of entry and in other countries, but once trade regulations are synchronised, the development of women will be enhanced.

Zimbabwe has a lot to benefit from embracing the AfCFTA in the wake of hostilities from Western-backed financial institutions.

With the country failing to get the required bailouts to improve its economy, it appears the solution lies in finding home grown solutions and taking full advantages of economic partnership protocols such as the AfCFTA.

This means focusing more on the continent can do the country good as it is likely to increase trade by exporting to the African market.

Under AfCFTA, and because of its strategic position in the region, Zimbabwe can become a hub of trade as it provides one of the shortest routes to reach further north of the continent.

Benefits of the AfCFTA are expected to cut across all sectors, not only in Zimbabwe, but in the whole of Africa.

Trading on the basis of the AfCFTA started on January 1 this year, with the Pan-African Private Sector, under the umbrella body of the African Business Council (AfBC), issuing a press statement in support of the initiative.

Taking a peek into what the new regional trading protocol, the council said it presented enormous business opportunities for the Pan-African Private Sector, Small and Medium Enterprises, women and youths.

The launch of start of trading on the basis of the AfCFTA followed the African Union Assembly’s decision made on 5 December 2020 at the 13th Extra Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the AfCFTA.

It is expected that the AfCFTA will avail opportunities to enhance inter-Africa trade in many sectors, including manufacturing, distribution, transportation and health eco-systems.

The AfCFTA will enhance trade by eliminating tariffs on intra-Africa trade, making it easier for businesses to trade within Africa and benefit from their own growing market; introduce regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade and establish, in the future, a Common Continental Market.

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Statement on the remarkable progress made by several African countries as part of the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM)

Statement on the remarkable progress made by several African countries as part of the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) – African Union News Today – EIN Presswire

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Nigeria expects nearly 8 million more COVID-19 vaccines by end-August – official

By Chijioke Ohuocha

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria expects to receive nearly 8 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of August, including from a U.S. government donation, the head of its primary care agency said on Tuesday.

Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said Nigeria exhausted its initial supply of nearly 4 million shots last week and aims to resume vaccinations within weeks, when the new doses arrive.

Nigeria expects delivery of 3.924 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca shots from global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX by the end of July or early August, Shuaib said, and an additional 3.93 million doses of either Pfizer/Biotech or Moderna, donated by the U.S. government via COVAX, in August.

The White House last month outlined a plan to share 55 million U.S. COVID-19 vaccine doses globally via COVAX.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, recently detected the highly contagious Delta variant, while the governor of its commercial centre, Lagos state, warned that it was on the verge of a third wave of infections.

The 3.92 million Oxford/AstraZeneca doses Nigeria received in March from COVAX covered a small fraction of its 200 million citizens, and Shuaib, in an Abuja press briefing, urged citizens to abide by “non-pharmaceutical” measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, to stem the spread of the virus until fresh doses arrived.

He said Nigeria expects another 3.577 million doses of Pfizer/Biotech or Moderna from COVAX in the third quarter, as well as 29.85 million Johnson & Johnson shots purchased via the African Union, though he did not say when these would arrive.

Shuaib said Nigeria recorded 14,550 of mild to moderate adverse reactions to the vaccines but no fatalities linked to the shots.

(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Libby George and Steve Orlofsky)

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Zimbabwe says lack of funding to clear anti-personnel mines

HARARE, July 13 (Xinhua) — The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday bemoaned lack of adequate funding from donors and international partners to support its demining efforts.

Zimbabwe is one of the most densely mined countries in the world.

While the country’s land mine clearance started in earnest in 1982, only two years after independence, the country is still grappling with the challenge of anti-personnel mines that were planted by Rhodesian forces during the country’s 1970s war of liberation due to shortage of funding.

Mark Gray Marongwe, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense and War Veterans Affairs, told a parliamentary committee on Defense, Home Affairs and Security Services on Tuesday that lack of sufficient funding was hampering demining efforts in the country.

“Despite the fact that the United Nations considers demining a priority all over the world, we have not been receiving any direct support from all international donors be they United Nations, African Union or even on a bilateral basis,” Marongwe said.

“As things stand, we are actually looking for new equipment to replace the equipment that we possess as defense forces which are aged and we are not getting any assistance from the donor community.

“Any support that the committee can render as you engage as international parliamentarians will be very much welcome,” Marongwe added.

Zimbabwe in 2018 launched a national mine action strategic plan running from 2018-2025 aimed at mobilizing local and international support to enable the country to meet the goal of being landmine-free by 2025.

Due to the land mines, laid mostly along the country’s northern and eastern borders, vast tracts of high priority land remain unutilized to the detriment of the country’s socio-economic development.

Several people have died and others maimed by the landmines, while domestic and wild animals have also fallen victim to the mines.

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FDA attaches warning of rare nerve syndrome to Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration warned Monday that Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine can lead to an increased risk of a rare neurological condition known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, another setback for a vaccine that has largely been sidelined in the United States.

Although regulators have found that the chances of developing the condition are low, they appear to be three to five times higher among recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than among the general population in the United States, according to people familiar with the decision. The warning was attached to fact sheets about the vaccine for providers and patients.

Federal officials have identified 100 suspected cases of Guillain-Barré among recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot through a federal monitoring system that relies on patients and health care providers to report adverse effects of vaccines. Ninety-five percent of those cases were considered serious and required hospitalization, the FDA said. The reports are preliminary.

In a statement, the agency said that while “the available evidence suggests an association” between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome, “it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship.”

The agency added that it “continues to find the known and potential benefits clearly outweigh the known and potential risks” of the vaccine.

About 12.8 million people — or about 8% of the fully vaccinated population in the United States — have received the Johnson & Johnson shot. By contrast, about 146 million have been fully vaccinated with

’s or Moderna’s vaccines, both of which require two doses.

Guillain-Barré syndrome occurs when the immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and occasional paralysis, according to the FDA. Several thousand people — about 10 out of every 1 million — develop the condition every year in the United States. Most recover from even severe symptoms.

The new safety concern comes at a precipitous moment in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. The pace of vaccinations has slowed considerably as a new, more contagious variant called delta is spreading quickly in under-vaccinated areas. Federal health officials worry that the news about another possible side effect from the Johnson & Johnson shot could make some people even more hesitant to accept not just that vaccine, but those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though no evidence of increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome has been identified with them. Those vaccines rely on a different technology.

“What worries me most is that it reinforces the lack of confidence that people had,” said Dr. Steven Black, an emeritus professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the co-director of the Global Vaccine Data Network, a consortium that researches the safety of vaccines. “They’ll say, ‘Aha, see, I was right.’ But they’re not right.”

The risk is low enough, he added, that “for people trying to make a rational decision, this should not influence their decision to get vaccinated.”

The suspected cases were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, a 30-year-old federal monitoring system. In a statement released Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cases were mostly reported about two weeks after vaccination and mostly in men, many of them aged 50 years and older.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that “the risk of having this occur is very low, and the rate of reported cases exceeds the background rate by a small degree.”

Guillain-Barré syndrome has previously been linked to other vaccines, including the 1976 swine flu vaccine and other flu vaccines. Some studies suggested that people were more likely to develop Guillain-Barré from the flu than from flu vaccines, which are monitored every year by the CDC for any associations with the condition. The FDA warned this year that GlaxoSmithKline’s shingles vaccine, Shingrix, could also increase the risk of the disease.

The warning is the second that the agency has issued for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: In April, it warned of an increased risk of blood clots coupled with low platelets, components of blood that normally help to heal wounds. The warning came after a 10-day pause in administering the shot, during which officials investigated a small spate of such cases among women.

Federal regulators called for the pause because unlike the reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, authorities learned that the blood clots had caused several deaths, and that some physicians were prescribing the wrong treatment for patients.

The database indicates only one possible death of a recipient of the Johnson & Johnson shot from Guillain-Barré syndrome. But the man, a 57-year-old from Delaware, had also had a heart attack and a stroke in the past four years, raising questions about what led to his death in April.

Even though it requires only one dose and is easier to store than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s shot has played only a minor role in the U.S. inoculation campaign. That is partly because a plant in Baltimore that was supposed to supply most of the doses in the country was shut down for three months because of regulatory violations. The factory, operated by Emergent BioSolutions, a subcontractor, has been forced to throw out the equivalent of 75 million doses because of suspected contamination, significantly delaying deliveries to the federal government.

At the same time, demand for the shot plummeted after safety pause in April. At that time, 15 women in the United States and Europe who had received the Johnson & Johnson shot were diagnosed with the clotting disorder; three died. The CDC has now confirmed 38 cases of the disorder.

Regulators and federal health officials warned that women younger than 50, in particular, should be aware of the “rare but increased” clotting risk. But in the nearly three months since the pause ended, only about 5 million people in the United States have taken Johnson & Johnson’s shot, and state officials report that people are much more wary of it. Millions of doses that have been distributed by the federal government are sitting unused and will expire this summer.

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson’s CEO, said last month that he was still hopeful that the vaccine, which has been used in 27 countries, would help contain the pandemic overseas. The company has promised up to 400 million doses to the African Union. Separately, COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing program, is supposed to receive hundreds of millions of doses.

Studies have showed that the Johnson & Johnson shot protects people against more contagious coronavirus variants, including the delta variant, and is highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalizations and death.

The FDA shares jurisdiction over vaccines with the CDC, but it is solely responsible for issuing product warnings. The Guillain-Barré cases will be discussed in an upcoming meeting of a committee of outside experts who advise the CDC, the agency said.

Federal regulators also attached warnings to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but some government health officials described them as less serious than the warnings about Johnson & Johnson. The agency last month pointed to an increased risk of inflammation of the heart or the tissue surrounding it — diseases known as myocarditis and pericarditis — particularly among adolescents and young adults who had received Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots.

The CDC said that in most of the reported cases, symptoms promptly improved after rest or medication. By contrast, symptoms of Guillain-Barré typically require medical intervention, officials said.

The revised fact sheet for Johnson & Johnson’s shot states that recipients should immediately seek medical attention if they develop any of the following symptoms: weakness or tingling sensations, especially in the legs or arms, that worsens and spreads to other parts of the body; difficulty walking; difficulty with facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing; double vision or inability to move eyes; or difficulty with bladder control or bowel function.

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Sudan praises Russia for calling to avoid GERD unilateral filling


Al-Mahdi and Labrov speaks to reporters in Moscow on 12 July 2021 (Russian FM photo).jpg
July 12, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi Tuesday praised the Russian call to avoid unilateral filling and operating of the Ethiopian giant dam and to reach a negotiated solution accepted by the three parties.

Al-Mahdi made its remarks in a joint press conference with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the end of a three-day visit to Moscow where she held talks with Russian officials over bilateral relations and regional issues.

“We thank the Russian position (on the Renaissance Dam), expressed by the Russian Representative at the Security Council calling to avoid unilateral measures that harm the (downstream) countries. This represents great support (for us) because the unilateral filling that harms Sudan must be condemned and intolerable,” she said.

The Sudanese minister further proposed to host the next Africa Russia summit pointing that Sudan is an intersection area between the different regions of the African continent.

The UN Security Council on 8 July held a meeting to discuss the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) but it did not adopt a resolution to avoid creating a precedent.

Russian Ambassador at the UN Vassily Nebenzia in his speech said his government realise the relevance of the hydropower dam for development in Ethiopia but called to avoid unilateral decisions.

” At the same time, we note legitimate concerns of Egypt and Sudan over the possible negative impact that unconcerted functioning of the dam may produce on the population of those countries in droughty years,” said Nebenzia.

The Russian diplomat called for a negotiated settlement in accordance with the declaration of principle signed in 2015, and to take into account the agreed modalities that define parameters of operation of GERD.

Further, he urged avoid escalations and statements about the use of force stressing they are “unacceptable”.

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inger Andersen and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa Parfait Onanga-Anyanga took part in the meeting and called for trilateral compromise.

They further underlined the United Nations readiness to support the three countries and the African Union in its efforts to broker un deal to end this regional issue.

(ST)

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Afreximbank, ACBF enter five-year capacity building pact 

Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), have signed an agreement to support capacity development initiatives over a period of five years, ending in 2025.

The agreement signed by Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank and Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of ACBF, will see the two pan-African institutions contribute to capacity development for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) encompassing knowledge-sharing, advocacy and promotion of trade and economic development in African Union’s member states.

Reflecting on the signing of the agreement, Prof. Oramah emphasized the need for African institutions to harness the power of collaboration to achieve maximum results in developing the African continent, particularly during and after the Covid era.

“African Capacity Building Foundation has proved to be capable and effective in its long-standing role as an agent for capacity development in Africa. We are confident that the collaboration we have just sealed with the foundation will make the necessary impact in various African states, and further advance the aspirations of Agenda 2063,” Professor Oramah remarked.

Prof. Nnadozie acknowledged the timely support by Afreximbank, saying it would enable the Foundation to continue its support to African countries faced with capacity challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are truly inspired and appreciative of the support we continue to enjoy from Afreximbank. The impact we have made together as African Institutions is tremendous, and we look forward to contributing to the post-COVID-19 recovery of African economies through supporting and addressing their capacity needs during these trying times,” says Prof. Nnadozie.

The financial assistance follows the initial support provided by Afreximbank to ACBF some five years after the two institutions entered into a partnership to collaborate in strengthening human and institutional capacity to support intra-African trade, in contribution to the sustainable development of African countries.

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The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa reports record number of transactions in 2020, secures $90 million in new funding

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved seven high-impact projects worth $54 million in 2020, its best year in spite of challenging Covid-19 conditions, according to its recently released 2020 Annual Report.

SEFA, managed by the African Development Bank, focuses on green baseload, green mini-grid, and energy efficiency investments. The Fund, founded in 2011, transformed into a Special Fund on 31 October 2019.

The report, titled Building Foundations for Success, also details the Fund’s success in attracting increased donor funding. SEFA secured commitments worth $90 million from existing and new donors in the year, including from the German Ministry for Development Cooperation and the Nordic Development Fund, both of which joined SEFA in 2020.

The report covers four key areas: strategic priorities and instruments; key achievements in 2020, providing an overview of SEFA’s legacy (2012-2019) portfolio, and looking ahead to SEFA’s key priorities for 2021 and beyond to transform SEFA into the leading catalytic finance facility in the sustainable energy space for the African continent.

“SEFA’s potential was duly recognized, with the year culminating in a strong endorsement by the Fund’s donors,” noted Vice President Dr. Kevin Kariuki, of the African Development Bank’s Power, Energy, Climate & Green Growth Complex. He said that the additional resources will enable SEFA to establish itself as the leading proponent of Africa’s energy transition and energy access agendas in line with the Bank’s New Deal for Energy in Africa.

The Fund responded swiftly to the onset of the pandemic by launching its COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform to extend recovery capital to energy access businesses. Other highlights include the provision of catalytic investments in the Spark+ Clean Cooking Fund, the first Africa-focused investment fund to support the clean cooking sector, as well as the Africa Renewable Energy Fund II, a private equity initiative to develop and invest in baseload renewable energy solutions involving hybrid renewable energy projects as well as battery storage.

The Bank’s acting Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Dr. Daniel Schroth, said, “SEFA’s role in supporting innovative solar initiatives in the decentralized renewable energy space led to the African Development Bank receiving the Development Finance Institution of the Year award by the Africa Solar Industry Association in 2020. SEFA is working on an exciting pipeline of new opportunities across all three focus areas for 2021 and beyond.”

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Afreximbank and ACBF sign collaboration agreement to build development capacity

The Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) have signed an agreement to support capacity development initiatives over a period of five years, ending in 2025.

The agreement, signed by Afreximbank president Professor Benedict Oramah and ACBF executive secretary Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, will see the two pan-African institutions contribute to capacity development for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

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This encompasses knowledge-sharing, advocacy and the promotion of trade and economic development in the African Union’s member States.

Oramah emphasises the need for African institutions to harness the power of collaboration to achieve better results in developing the African continent, particularly during and after the Covid-19 era.

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“The ACBF has proved to be capable and effective in its long-standing role as an agent for capacity development in Africa,” he says.

Further, Oramah says Afreximbank is confident that the collaboration it has agreed with the ACBF will make the necessary impact in various African States, and further advance the aspirations of Agenda 2063.

Nnadozie acknowledges the timely support by Afreximbank, saying it will enable the foundation to continue its support to African countries faced with capacity challenges that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are truly inspired and appreciative of the support we continue to enjoy from Afreximbank. The impact we have made together as African institutions is tremendous, and we look forward to contributing to the post-Covid-19 recovery of African economies through supporting and addressing their capacity needs during these trying times,” he says.

The financial assistance follows the initial support provided by Afreximbank to the ACBF about five years after the two institutions entered into a partnership to collaborate in strengthening human and institutional capacity to support intra-African trade, in contribution to the sustainable development of African countries.

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Group wants decisive fight on corruption

Transparency International (TI) has urged African leaders, to renew their commitment to fight corruption in its entirety to ensure citizens are not deprived of development.

The call comes as African countries under the African Union (AU) commemorated the 5th African Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday, July 11.

Mussa was recently convicted of corruption, abuse of office

The day was designated by the AU and this year it was held under the theme ‘Regional Economic Communities and their Role in Implementation of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.’

In a joint letter signed by 28 TI national chapters, including Malawi, and addressed to AU member States, the organisation called upon countries to eliminate corruption to better lives of African citizens.

In an interview on Sunday, national coordinator of Integrity Platform, which is Transparency International’s National Chapter in Formation for Malawi, Jeff Kabondo, while commending President Lazarus Chakwera for supporting the fight against corruption by ensuring that adequate resources for law enforcement agencies are allocated in the national budget, said government must act swiftly on current and outstanding corruption cases.

He said: “Government must ensure that stolen assets are recovered and reallocated for development use. “

In a seperate interview, University of Malawi professor of political science Blessings Chinsinga said Malawi remains least developed in terms of human capital, manufacturing and service provision because of widespread and deeply entrenched grand corruption.

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