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South Sudan envoy urges nationals to return, invest at home

South Sudan is urging its nationals in Uganda to come home and invest, citing the return of peace in the country torn apart by civil war.

The South Sudanese ambassador to Uganda, Juach Deng, said the agriculture and industrialisation sectors are ripe for investments.

He also urged citizens of neighbouring countries to invest in South Sudan while acknowledging the presence of “some small armed groups” causing economic sabotage by ambushing traders and robbing them of their merchandise.

“The South Sudan economy has improved since 2018. Come back and invest in South Sudan because it is strategically located in the East African Community (EAC). That is why we have both licensed and unlicensed Ugandans doing business. I am inviting you to pass the message that there is peace across the country,” Mr Deng said Tuesday as his country

Read: S.Sudan receives 10,000 civilians fleeing Sudan

According to Mr. Deng, 67 percent of South Sudan is arable land, and only four percent is under cultivation. He added that agriculture, agro-industrialisation, electricity generation, petroleum, and mining are sectors with opportunities for other East African countries to exploit to realize stability in the region.

source

South Sudan is urging its nationals in Uganda to come home and invest, citing the return of peace in the country torn apart by civil war. The South Sudanese ambassador […]

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Katiba: President Samia pulls a fast one on Tanzania opposition

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has formally re-introduced the constitutional review, pulling a fast one against an opposition that has been using it to criticise her administration.

Her move, coming after two recent failed attempts led by the opposition, could be the President’s way of taking charge of the process that could define her political future.

On May 6, President Samia gave the go-ahead for an all-inclusive political parties meeting to get the constitution-writing process underway based on the recommendations of a government-backed taskforce on democratic reforms.

The taskforce concluded its work of collecting public views in September 2022 and advised, among other things, that the draft that was shelved in 2015, just before being presented for voting in a public referendum, would provide the best basis for the next steps.

According to state house, the Registrar of Political Parties Rtd Justice Francis Mutungi will convene a meeting to “evaluate progress in implementing the recommendations of the task force” and set out a proper participatory roadmap for the new drafting process.

Opposition parties will also discuss with representatives of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) amendments to laws related to elections and political party activities ahead of next year’s local government elections and the 2025 presidential and parliamentary polls.
All these, particularly the new Katiba and an independent electoral system, have been key aspects of the opposition’s demands for major political reforms and a level playing field by the time the next elections cycle comes around.

Samia said that the constitution-making process should involve not only politicians but also “various other stakeholders, and particularly ordinary citizens” from both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

Read: Plunder in state-owned firms rattles Samia

By the end of the week, the registrar had yet to announce a date for a meeting, even as public debate began to gather pace.

A national dialogue

In its recommendations, the taskforce proposed a “national dialogue” to pinpoint particular clauses in the current constitution that need to be amended or scrapped altogether, and a “panel of experts” appointed by the President to prepare a fresh draft using ideas from the dialogue and the 2014 draft.

Demands for constitutional change have dominated Tanzania’s political landscape since 2012, due to growing public impatience with a document that has been in place since 1977 before the return of multi-parties and now appears outdated.

The first government-sponsored constitutional review led by former prime minister Joseph Warioba produced a draft in 2014, after public consultations, but it was abandoned, amid significant disagreements at the political level.

Samia, then a Cabinet minister, was the deputy chair of the second review sittings, which produced another draft for tabling in a national referendum. However, opposition parties disassociated themselves with the entire process, complaining of CCM’s manipulation and unsanctioned alterations to the original Warioba Draft.

The referendum was postponed indefinitely in April 2015, months before the general election that saw Samia’s predecessor John Magufuli come to power, with her as vice-president.

Her initiative to kick-start the process this time round is in keeping with her reconciliation (Maridhiano) agenda designed to appease an opposition still hurting from years of political persecution under Magufuli.

In January, she ended a ban on political rallies imposed during the Magufuli years which had also been high on the opposition’s reforms agenda.

Read: Harris hails Samia as ‘champion’ of democracy

Opposition parties reacts

Opposition parties have reacted in a somewhat muted fashion to the latest move in the constitutional review.

ACT Wazalendo said it hoped the proposed meeting would agree on a timetable to ensure new laws for elections and political party activities were enacted “before the end of this year.”

“We also expect the issues that thwarted the 2014 constitutional review process to be discussed in depth, followed by resolutions to ensure those issues do not recur,” the party’s secretary-general Ado Shaibu said.

Chadema Deputy Chairman Tundu Lissu appeared to maintain his customary vocal stance, telling public rallies in Dodoma and Singida during the week that if the new constitution is not in place by 2025, “no one will be able to live comfortably in this country”.

Referring to CCM public banners portraying successful reconciliation talks with the opposition, Mr Lissu also warned the government to “first solve all the issues brought up in the talks” before sending out messages to the people that “everything is now good”.

“They have not changed a single law; instead, it’s just banners everywhere, like they’ve already started campaigning for the next election three years early,” he told supporters in Singida on Wednesday.

“I am not against Maridhiano, but I object to being led on, massaged with soothing oil, blindfolded. The only real solution is a new constitution, and if that fails, we are all finished,” he added.

Chadema is being represented by its chairman Freeman Mbowe in the Maridhiano talks with CCM leaders. According to Mr Lissu who was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2020 election, the talks have so far yielded little more for Chadema than “slice of bread” promises of inclusion in a coalition government and equitable parliamentary representation after the 2025 election.

Damas Ndumbaro, minister for justice and constitutional affairs, told parliament while presenting the ministry’s 2023/2024 budget proposals last month that the new Katiba and election laws review process would be prioritised during the year, with Tsh9 billion ($3.88 million) added to the budget for that purpose.

Minister of State responsible for Parliamentary Matters Jenista Mhagama also pledged in the House this past week that the government would table bills for the electoral and political parties’ laws for endorsement before the end of 2023.

source

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has formally re-introduced the constitutional review, pulling a fast one against an opposition that has been using it to criticise her administration. Her move, coming after […]

Continue reading "Katiba: President Samia pulls a fast one on Tanzania opposition"

Salaried Kenyans, youth hit hard in Ruto’s tax plan

Salaried Kenyans, mainly youth digital content creators and the middle class at large will have it harder under President William Ruto’s taxation plan following a raft of proposals that will hit their earnings.

In the Finance Bill, 2023, which carries tax proposals for the 2023/24 financial year, the National Treasury plans several actions that will leave Kenya’s middle class, who the government has always gone after in seeking more revenues, with more deductions.

The Bill proposes a 3 per cent deduction from workers’ basic salaries towards the National Housing Development Fund, to which the employer will make an equal contribution.

“An employer shall pay to the National Housing Development Fund in respect of each employee, the employer’s contribution at 3 per cent of the employee’s monthly basic salary and the employees contribute,” the Bill states.

Both the employer and the employee’s contributions are, however, capped at Sh5,000 per month.

Kenyans earning at least Sh500,000 monthly also face deeper tax chops as the Bill proposes to raise their income tax from 30 per cent to 35 per cent This will see a worker earning Sh500,000, pay over Sh200,000 in tax. The proposal comes at a time when President Ruto has been hard on the wealthy, even hinting at introducing a wealth tax.

Read: Content creators feel the pinch of YouTube charges

But the pain will not befall only the salaried as Treasury also proposes to raid Kenya’s digital content creators, an industry that has attracted the youth, offering an alternative to a population category hard hit by unemployment.

The Bill proposes a 15 per cent tax on payments relating to digital content monetisation, as a withholding tax. The tax will have huge implications on thousands of youth who currently earn a living from the digital space and comes when the government has been aggressively driving investment in internet connectivity and technology to attract the jobless.

“In respect of payments relating to digital content monetisation, 15 per cent (withholding tax),” the Bill proposes in relation to the sector.

Treasury has also proposed to raise turnover tax for businesses with revenues from as low as Sh500,000, from 1 per cent to 3 per cent, a move that will hit more businesses classified under small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may not be stable.

National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u. Treasury has proposed to raise turnover tax for businesses with revenues from as low as Sh500,000, from 1 per cent to 3 per cent, a move that will hit more businesses classified under small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may not be stable. | Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

“Section 12C of the Income Tax Act is amended in subsection (1), by deleting the words “Sh1 million but does not exceed or is not expected to exceed Sh50 million” and substituting therefore “Sh500,000 but does not exceed or is not expected to exceed Sh15 million,” the Bill proposes, on businesses to be slapped with the 3 per cent turnover tax.

Tax on every business

The tax is charged on every business, notwithstanding whether it has made a profit or a loss.

Read: Digital tax will hurt firms

Consumers of various products will also pay more if the Bill’s proposals are adopted and enacted into law. Among new products proposed to attract Excise Duty in the new financial year include imported fish (Sh100,000 per metric tonne or 20 per cent of the value) and powdered juice (Sh25 per kilo).

Those who consume beauty products such as wigs, false beards, eyebrows and eyelashes, and artificial nails will be hit with a 5 per cent excise tax, as the government goes harder on the industry that has over the past decade grown significantly.

Cement importers will pay a 10 per cent excise tax per kg of the product, or Sh1.50 per kg, whichever is higher.

Other areas Treasury has proposed to slap taxes on include digital assets, targeting owners of platforms that facilitate the exchange or transfer of digital assets. The assets include cryptocurrencies, token codes and numbers held in digital form and generated through cryptographic means.

“The owner of a platform or the person who facilitates the exchange or transfer of a digital asset shall deduct the digital asset tax and remit it to the Commissioner. A person who is required to deduct the digital asset tax shall, within twenty-four hours after making the deduction, remit the amount so deducted to the Commissioner together with a return of the amount of the payment, the amount of tax deducted, and such other information as the Commissioner may require,” the Bill states.

It also adds that any person who receives rental income on behalf of the owner of the premises shall deduct tax and within 24 hours remit the amount to the taxman. This cuts the period the rental income tax is paid from the 20th day of the month, as has been the case.

Read: Tech giants face tripled digital tax in fresh plan

Companies with tax disputes with Kenya Revenue Authority and who wish to pursue the dispute at the tax tribunal will be required to deposit an equivalent of 20 per cent of the disputed taxes with the tribunal, a move that could affect many companies’ cash flows and deter many from pursuing such disputes legally.

The Bill also proposes some reliefs, mainly to consumers and businesses, who have been slapped with annual inflation adjustment that has often raised the cost of consumer goods.

Employees of startups who receive shares from the companies they work for will also not be taxed on the value of the shares immediately, as the Bill proposes to defer the payment.

State targets per diems, allowances

Employees face tighter times as the State plans to tax any travel allowances exceeding the standard rates approved by the Automobile Association of Kenya (AA).

The Finance Bill 2023 proposes that the AA rates will be assumed to be the amount used, ending a common line of wastage of public funds through excessive claims.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of the sub-paragraph(ii), where an amount is received by an employee as payment of travelling allowance to perform official duties, the standard mileage rate approved by the Automobile Association of Kenya shall be deemed to be reimbursement of the amount so expended and shall be excluded in the calculation of the employee’s gains and profit,” the Finance Bill states.

The Finance Bill also targets club membership allowances.

“By inserting the following new paragraph immediately after paragraph(f) (fa) club entrance and subscription fees disallowed against employer’s income,” it says.

“Any amount paid or granted to a public officer to reimburse an expenditure incurred for the purpose of performing official duties, notwithstanding the ownership or control of any assets purchased,” it adds.

This comes amid proposals by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to eliminate four allowances for civil servants, translating to billions of shillings.

The commission has recommended the abolishment of perks including retreat allowance, sitting allowance for institutional internal committee members and task force allowance.

Presently, there are over 247 remunerative and facilitative allowances payable within the public service, up from 31 in 1999, straining the national bill through double payments. Besides trimming allowances, the SRC targets to cap allowances at a maximum of 40 per cent of a public worker’s gross pay.

Retreat allowance is currently paid to public officers participating in special assignments meant to review, develop and produce policy documents away from their work station.

The SRC also targets to scrap sitting allowance for members of internal committees which are constituted to assist the execution of the mandate of institutions.

Source

Salaried Kenyans, mainly youth digital content creators and the middle class at large will have it harder under President William Ruto’s taxation plan following a raft of proposals that will […]

Continue reading "Salaried Kenyans, youth hit hard in Ruto’s tax plan"

Burundi Court Upholds Journalist’s Conviction

Authorities Should End Cynical Assault on Media, Civil Society

Burundi: Journalist’s Conviction Violates Free Speech Rights

Last week, civil society in Burundi breathed a collective sigh of relief at the announcement that five human rights defenders charged with state security crimes had been released from prison. But as is often the case in Burundi, their relief was short-lived. Four days later, an appeals court in Bujumbura confirmed the conviction of journalist Floriane Irangabiye.

Irangabiye was convicted in January on charges of criticizing the government during a radio broadcast, in defiance of her most basic media freedoms. Her conviction came less than a week after lawyer and former human rights defender Tony Germain Nkina was released following two years of unjust imprisonment.

Irangabiye was given a 10-year sentence and fined 1,000,000 Burundian Francs (US$480). Her months-long detention without charge and the prosecutor’s failure to produce credible evidence of a crime during the trial amounted to flagrant violations of Burundian and international law.

Adding insult to injury, the appeals court’s decision was announced on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, underscoring Burundian authorities’ contempt for freedom of the press.

The five rights defenders released last week were charged with rebellion and undermining state security and the functioning of public finances. The charges appeared to stem from their relationship with a foreign organization and the funding they received from it. Three were acquitted and two were convicted of rebellion, fined 50.000 Burundian Francs ($25), and handed a two-year suspended sentence. They work for some of Burundi’s few remaining human rights organizations, and their arrests sent a chilling message to the few activists who stayed in Burundi despite a brutal crackdown against civil society triggered by the country’s 2015 political crisis.

As Burundi, faced with serious economic and humanitarian challenges, is pressing international partners to restore financial assistance, it seems reckless to jeopardize the government’s relationship with donors over abusive arrests and trials of human rights defenders and journalists. Yet after repeated convictions and acquittals, it looks increasingly like they are being used as bargaining chips.

Burundi should put an end to this cynical game. The European Union, the United States, and Burundi’s other international partners should call for Irangabiye’s immediate and unconditional release. They should also make clear, through public statements and concrete demands, that their trust in Burundian authorities will only be restored once they truly respect the rights of media and civil society.

source

Authorities Should End Cynical Assault on Media, Civil Society Burundi: Journalist’s Conviction Violates Free Speech Rights Last week, civil society in Burundi breathed a collective sigh of relief at the announcement that five human rights defenders […]

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Kenyan opposition stages new anti-government demonstrations

Kenyan anti-riot police were out on the streets on Tuesday as the opposition defied a police ban and staged new demonstrations over the cost of living crisis and last year’s election results.

Previous protests called by veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga have turned violent, with at least three people killed as police fired tear gas and gangs went on the rampage, attacking people and property.

The capital Nairobi was largely peaceful on Tuesday, although a bus was torched on one of the city’s main roads, while youths blocked roads in several slum areas, witnesses said.

Protesters also set fires and used rocks to block roads in and out of Odinga’s lakeside stronghold of Kisumu in western Kenya, they said.

Nairobi Regional Police Commander Adamson Bungei had announced Sunday that Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja coalition had been denied permission to hold the demonstrations, saying the previous protests in March were “marred with violence”.

But the coalition insisted the action would go ahead. 

Protected by constitution

“Police cannot decide in advance that there shall be violence and then proceed to ban political activities that are protected by the constitution. That is the making of dictatorship,” it said in a statement Monday.

Odinga’s side had in April announced a halt to the demonstrations to allow bipartisan talks to take place, but the process appears to have stalled.

Azimio said it would deliver a petition to President William Ruto’s office on Tuesday over the “unacceptably high” cost of food, fuel and electricity.

It also planned to submit a petition to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission showing that the results of the August election were “doctored”.

Odinga narrowly lost to Ruto — his fifth presidential election defeat — and continues to insist that the poll was fraudulent and that victory was “stolen”.

Campaign promises

Ruto, who critics say has broken several campaign promises since taking office in September, has branded the opposition action as “nonsense”.

“No property will be destroyed again. The government will stand firm to ensure and protect the life, property and business of every Kenyan,” he said at the weekend.

His government has voiced concerns about the impact of the demonstrations on the economy, which is slowly recovering after the Covid-19 pandemic, but is facing high inflation and a huge debt mountain as well as a plunging currency.

source

Kenyan anti-riot police were out on the streets on Tuesday as the opposition defied a police ban and staged new demonstrations over the cost of living crisis and last year’s […]

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A convoy of buses transporting people fleeing the war in Sudan on April 25, 2023. South Sudan says hundreds of civilians fleeing the conflict in Sudan have arrived in northern and western Bahr el Ghazal states. PHOTO | AFP

South Sudan receives over 10,000 civilians fleeing Sudan

South Sudan on Tuesday confirmed receiving more than 10,000 civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in neighboring Sudan.

South Sudan’s Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Deng Dau Deng said the majority of the returnees are the country’s nationals, while others include Sudanese, Kenyans, Ugandans, Eritreans, and Somalis.

“On the situation of South Sudanese, the government is doing everything within its power to receive its citizens who are returning to the country. In the last 24 hours, nearly 10,000 arrived in Renk, including nationals of some neighbouring countries,” Deng said in a statement issued in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Monday evening. 

He disclosed hundreds of other civilians have arrived in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states respectively. Deng said the South Sudanese government has opened its airspace for countries evacuating their diplomats and nationals. 

He said 24 Kenyan nationals who arrived from Sudan through the northern border from Paloch Airport in Upper Nile State were evacuated on Monday to Juba. This came after Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) and his rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) reached a three-day ceasefire deal. 

Read: Kenya considers evacuating citizens from Sudan

Deng revealed that the lull in fighting has allowed diplomatic missions to evacuate staff and nationals, adding that hundreds of Sudanese have also been given time to relocate to nearby regions. He also said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has engaged the warring Sudanese parties to ensure that the temporary humanitarian ceasefire is held to allow foreign missions to evacuate their diplomatic staff and nationals. 

Efforts are underway

Meanwhile, Somalia on Tuesday said efforts are underway to bring back some 200 nationals who are stranded in Sudan where the fighting may trigger further displacement both within and outside the country.

Somalia’s Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdirahman Nur Dinari said the country’s government is working to ensure a safe return for its citizens from Sudan. Nur lauded the Somali embassies in Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia for their efforts in evacuating citizens who are trapped inside Sudan following days of military clashes between Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary unit. 

Read: Thousands flee battle-scarred Khartoum

“Some 200 citizens will be evacuated from the border of Sudan and Ethiopia today,” he told journalists in Mogadishu capital of Somalia.  He thanked the Kenyan government which brought 19 Somalis from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and the government of South Sudan which allowed the Somali people to come to their border and facilitate their journey. The latest move came a day after the Somali Disaster Management Agency (Sodma) launched hotlines for Somalis stranded in Sudan.

The hotlines which will run 24 hours daily, are for Somalis to report their locations to ease the evacuation process from Sudan. The move came after the rival parties agreed to the three-day ceasefire which aims to establish humanitarian corridors, allowing citizens and residents to access essential resources, healthcare, and safe zones, while also evacuating diplomatic missions. 

More than 400 people have been killed and over 3,000 more injured in clashes in Sudan since the unrest started, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

source

South Sudan on Tuesday confirmed receiving more than 10,000 civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in neighboring Sudan. South Sudan’s Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Deng Dau […]

Continue reading "South Sudan receives over 10,000 civilians fleeing Sudan"

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