Chinese experts arrive to help Nigeria in coronavirus fight

Chinese experts arrive to help Nigeria in coronavirus fight

A team of Chinese medical professionals on Wednesday arrived at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Nigeria flying in medical equipment worth about 1.5 million US dollars.

The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, whiles welcoming the 15-man team said it is time to “reciprocate the friendship and kindness” offered by Nigeria.

The value of the equipment, medical supplies is about $1.5 million, and including the other cost like the chartered air flight, it’s around $2 million, the ambassador disclosed.

China where the COVID-19 disease was discovered in late 2019 has dispatched medics and supplies across the globe in a soft power push. The government placed the team into mandatory 14-day quarantine before they can start their duties.

The decision to welcome the Chinese doctors has however prompted a backlash from the Nigerian Medical Association which argued that Nigeria did not need external intervention to manage the ongoing pandemic. But top government officials including the Health Minister defended the deployment stressing that the Chinese team will help advise local authorities on handling the pandemic.

Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters: “This is a global problem, you know that this is affecting the whole world in such a way that all countries must help each other and we must also be our brothers keeper.”

Nigeria as of April 9 has recorded 276 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with and six deaths. The West African country is the continent’s most populous and is classed highly vulnerable to the spread of the virus due to its weak healthcare system.

The country has already received medical supplies, including masks, gowns and testing kits from China’s richest man Jack Ma.

Meanwhile the opposition People Democratic Party, PDP, kicked against what it called the importation of Chinese medics.

A statement released by the main opposition party on Wednesday read in part: “The PDP charges Nigerians to hold President Buhari responsible should there be any upsurge in the rate of COVID-19 infection and death in our country following the importation of doctors from China, the epicenter of the scourge, by the Buhari-led Federal Government.

“The PDP is alarmed that President Buhari ignored the protests by Nigerians and professional bodies including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and allowed the importation of the Chinese doctors despite warnings that bringing in doctors from the hotbed of the plague will expose our citizens to further risks.

“This is even as Nigerians across board have continued to question the status, identity and interest of the Chinese doctors as well as the safety of kits and equipment from China, particularly following scary reports of escalation of the scourge in certain countries reportedly after the arrival of Chinese medical personnel in those countries.”

African Development Bank Group unveils $10 billion Response Facility to curb COVID-19

African Development Bank Group unveils $10 billion Response Facility to curb COVID-19

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, April 8, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The African Development Bank Group on Wednesday announced the creation of the COVID-19 Response Facility to assist regional member countries in fighting the pandemic.

The Facility is the latest measure taken by the Bank to respond to the pandemic and will be the institution’s primary channel for its efforts to address the crisis. It provides up to $10 billion to governments and the private sector.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said the package took into account the fiscal challenges that many African countries are facing.

“Africa is facing enormous fiscal challenges to respond to the coronavirus pandemic effectively. The African Development Bank Group is deploying its full weight of emergency response support to assist Africa at this critical time. We must protect lives. This Facility will help African countries to fast-track their efforts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19,” Adesina said, commending the Board of Directors for its unwavering support.

The Facility entails $5.5 billion for sovereign operations in African Development Bank countries, and $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations for countries under the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional arm that caters to fragile countries. An additional $1.35 billion will be devoted to private sector operations.

Commenting on the Facility, Acting Senior Vice-President Swazi Tshabalala said: “The setting up of the Facility required a collective effort and courage by all our staff, Board of Directors and our shareholders.”

Two weeks ago, the Bank launched a record-breaking $3 billion Fight COVID-19 Social Bond, the world’s largest US dollar-denominated social bond ever on the international capital market. Last week, the Board of Directors also approved a $2 million grant for the World Health Organization for its efforts on the continent.

“These are extraordinary times, and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa. We are in a race to save lives. No country will be left behind,” Adesina said.

Lesotho First Lady charged with murder

Lesotho First Lady charged with murder

Lesotho police on Tuesday charged first lady Maesaiah Thabane with murder for her alleged links to the brutal 2017 killing of the prime minister’s previous wife.

Maesaiah Thabane, 42, will spend the night in custody after she came out of hiding and turned herself into the police earlier on Tuesday.

“She has been charged with murder alongside eight others who are in Lesotho and South Africa,” deputy police commissioner Paseka Mokete told reporters, adding that investigations had been “satisfactorily completed”.

He said police had a “strong case” against the first lady, who was unable to appear in court on Tuesday due to logistical reasons.

The eight other accused will also be summoned by the police.

Maesaiah Thabane went missing last month after being summoned as part of an investigation into the killing of Lipolelo Thabane — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife.

The couple was involved in bitter divorce proceedings when she was gunned down outside her home in Lesotho’s capital Maseru in June 2017, two days before her husband’s inauguration.

New evidence surfaced in early January when a letter from Lesotho’s police chief was made public alleging that communication records from the day of the crime picked up the prime minister’s mobile number.

Thomas Thabane, who is now 80, has since bowed to pressure and offered to resign at a date not yet disclosed. He has also been questioned by the police over the killing.

But his current wife vanished when the police called her in to testify last month, prompting the issuing of an arrest warrant.

The prime minister’s press attache did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the murder charge.

The murder of 58-year-old Lipolelo Thabane sent shock waves through the tiny mountain kingdom, which is ringed by South Africa and has a long history of political turmoil.

Senior members of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party have accused the prime minister of hampering investigations into the killing.

Thabane last month said he would leave office on the grounds of old age but gave no time frame for his departure.

Hundreds of opposition supporters marched through the streets of Maseru on the day the prime minister was quizzed by police, demanding he step down with immediate effect.

Maesaiah Thabane was picked up on the border with South Africa following an arrangement between her lawyer and the police

Zimbabwean billionaire pays striking doctors to return to work

Zimbabwean billionaire pays striking doctors to return to work

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)

Striking medics in Zimbabwe have agreed to go back to work after billionaire Strive Masiyiwa offered a US$6.25m fellowship to help ease doctors’ welfare in the country.

Junior doctors in the country’s public hospitals downed tools in September to protest poor wages which had been worsened by the Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Two months later, the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) joined their colleagues, saying they could no longer cope with the poor working conditions and the dire state of health facilities in the country.

Monthly allowances

Masiyiwa’s fellowship through his family’s HigherLife Foundation has brought an end the wage impasse between the striking unions and the government, at least for now.

The HigherLife Foundation Medical Doctors Fellowship will give monthly allowances to doctors working in the nation’s public hospitals for the next six months, the foundation said in a statement released to CNN.
It also includes free transport vouchers for beneficiaries during working days and on-call duties.

Masimba Ndoro from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, which represents 600 doctors working at 1,600 government-run hospitals and clinics across the country, said half of its members have already enrolled for the fellowship.

However, nothing has changed, he said.

“Nothing really has changed based on the fact that the tools of trade and drugs are still inadequate, and remuneration still is inadequate,” Ndoro told CNN.

“Putting the patient first, we are furthering our commitment to supporting our healthcare system and enabling more people to receive the critical care they need and deserve,” HigherLife said.

The doctors union had described the deplorable state of health hospitals as a “silent genocide.”

They complained that they lacked basics like bandages, syringes, and medicines to carry out their duties.

The doctor’s association said it would continue to engage the government for a long-lasting solution to the dispute.

Militants kill 36 people in northern Burkina Faso

Militants kill 36 people in northern Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Militants attacked a market in Burkina Faso’s Sanmatenga province, killing at least 36 people and wounding several others, the government said Tuesday.

The gunmen then burned the market, according to a government statement.

The violence is the latest in a surge of attacks in the West African nation’s north that led to the displacement of more than half a million people last year.

The government urged people to collaborate with defense and security forces to restore safety.

President Roch Marc Kabore called for two days of national mourning beginning Wednesday for the victims of the attack.

For years, Burkina Faso was spared the kind of Islamic extremism that affected neighboring Niger and Mali, where it took a 2013 French-led military intervention to dislodge jihadists from power in several major towns.

Militants staged a January 2016 attack in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, that killed at least 30 people at a cafe popular with foreigners. The following year, 18 people were killed at a Turkish restaurant in the capital.

Attacks intensified in 2019 across northern Burkina Faso, and jihadists have gained more ground.

‘Paramount leader’ title for Burundi’s President

‘Paramount leader’ title for Burundi’s President

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Burundi’s president could receive the title of “paramount leader” under draft legislation approved by the government Wednesday as his troubled third term nears an end.

FILE PHOTO: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza claps after signing the new constitution at the Presidential Palace in Gitega Province, Burundi June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana/File Photo

Jean Claude Karerwa Ndenzako, a spokesman for the presidency, tweeted that the Cabinet took the decision to make President Pierre Nkurunziza “Paramount Leader, Champion of Patriotism and Leadership Core.”

It was not immediately clear what being “paramount leader” might entail or what powers it might have for one of Africa’s most divisive leaders.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader who has led Burundi since 2005, threw the East African country into chaos in 2015 when he ran for a disputed third term that some called unconstitutional. As security forces fought protesters, hundreds of thousands fled to neighboring countries. Allegations of abuses led to Burundi exiting the International Criminal Court and kicking out the U.N. human rights office.

Nkurunziza has said he will not run again when his current term expires this year. But he reportedly faces pressure from supporters who want him to prolong his stay in power.

Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party will hold a conference Sunday to choose its candidate for the presidential election set for May. A military general who is a Nkurunziza ally is widely believed to be the front-runner.

Lofty titles have been given to Nkurunziza before. In 2018 the ruling party called him “the eternal supreme guide,” a description mocked by some of the president’s critics.