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.
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.
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.
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.
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — At an impoverished, forlorn zoo in Sudan’s capital, the park’s few remaining lions are starving in rusted cages — their ribs protruding, eyes glassy and skin flaccid, desperate for food and water.
The unsettling images, shared on social media by a local animal rights advocate, drew impassioned responses from thousands around the world. But it wasn’t enough to save two lionesses at the Khartoum zoo, said local activist Zuhair al-Sarag.
“This is actually a crime,” he said, adding that the park once teemed with animals. “Someone should be held accountable.”
With the staff at the destitute Al-Qurashi Park, as the zoo in Khartoum is known, unable to feed and look after the animals, many have died off or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions, including a lioness.
Locals concerned about the fate of the lions flocked to help recently, bringing food and medical items, despite the economic crisis gripping the country. Soaring food prices in Sudan triggered a mass protest movement last year that convulsed the large African country, ultimately ousting longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April.
Months later, a civilian-military transitional council replaced al-Bashir’s rule, and inherited its problems, including $60 billion in debt, rebellions in far-flung provinces and the country’s longtime status as a global pariah.
Price hikes and economic hardship have caused animals to suffer, too.
“Many international organizations are willing to help” the lions, including an emergency rescue group expected in Sudan soon, said Osman Mohamed Salih, the first activist who appealed for help online.
While many abroad have tried to donate via crowdfunding sites, Salih noted that U.S. sanctions on Sudan have prevented the zoo from receiving funds through popular platforms, such as GoFundMe. There was no immediate response from GoFundMe.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, formerly a World Bank economist, has made it his mission to get the United States to drop its designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, so that the country can attract badly needed foreign aid and investment. The economic troubles are testing the government during its fragile transition to democracy.
“Despite all of this, the marathon of recovery, healing and redevelopment … continues,” Salih, the activist, wrote on Facebook.
On Wednesday, he shared a photograph of the remaining lioness after volunteers had brought food, saying she was making “beautiful progress.”
A new round of locust swarms has hit Ethiopia and is again threatening crops and food security, say agricultural officials.
Dereje Hirpha, the Oromia region’s head of locust control, tells VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that the new generation of locusts was first reported weeks ago in the Raya district and has since spread across thousands of hectares in 40 districts of the region.
The fast-moving swarm is threatening crops in a country where more than 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood.
An Ethiopian boy attempts to fend off desert locusts as they fly in a farm on the outskirt of Jijiga in Somali region, Ethiopia January 12, 2020. Picture taken January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini
A similar locust wave hit Ethiopia a year ago. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it believes heavy rainfall in East Africa has contributed to the growth of locust swarms in the area.
This new generation is arriving from Somaliland, while breeding has continued on both sides of the Red Sea, and in Sudan and Eritrea, according to experts.
USAID plans to work with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to prevent and control the spread of locusts, its office of communication says. The agency is training more than 300 pest experts and providing 5,000 sets of protective equipment for locust fighters.
Hirpha says authorities are spraying the affected areas from planes and vehicles on the ground to ward off the pests.
Locals, meanwhile, are engaged in their own combat operation. When a locust swarm approaches, residents try to scare them away by blowing whistles, drumming empty buckets, setting fires, and shooting into the air.
Locust chasers take position in green areas to disperse the swarms before the descend.
“From a distance the swarm looks like a brown cloud, a sandstorm,” says Sora Kura, one of the chasers in the Borana zone.
The swarm follows the wind direction and is also guided by hairy antenna on their heads that detect smells and other signals of food, Hirpha says. According to the FAO, the swarms can move up to 150 kilometers per day.
USAID says the swarms will likely spread next to southwest Ethiopia and northwestern Kenya, and may enter Uganda and South Sudan.
Desert locust can comfortably live in a warm, sandy environment like Eastern Ethiopia and Somaliland, Hirpha says.
Ethiopia has to report any assessment of the crops lost to the pests. In 2003 and 2005, locust outbreaks in more than 20 countries, mainly in North Africa, cost farmers $3.6 billion, according to the FAO.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday he would meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Russia to discuss a dispute over a hydropower dam that the Horn of Africa country is building on the River Nile.
A long-running diplomatic standoff over building and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has heightened tensions between the two countries. Egypt worries that the dam will threaten its already scarce water supplies.
“I agreed with the Ethiopian prime minister to meet in Moscow and to discuss the issue to move forward, and God willing, things will go in a way that helps to solve this issue in one way or another,” Sisi said at a military forum on Sunday.
He did not say when they would meet, but Russia will host the first Russian-African summit in the Black sea resort of Sochi on Oct. 23 and 24.
Sisi and Abiy spoke on Friday after the Ethiopian prime minister won the Nobel Peace Prize for his peacemaking efforts with Eritrea. Sisi had congratulated Abiy on Facebook.
“The call included a stress on the importance of overcoming any obstacles in the negotiations of the Renaissance Dam,” said Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Rady.
Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.
Sudan, which is also involved in the talks, hopes to buy electricity produced by the dam.
Sisi said his government had a plan, through 2037, worth 900 billion Egyptian pounds ($55 billion) to overcome “water poverty”. The plan includes building huge sea water desalination plants and sewage triple treatment plants.
Sisi said Egypt had already spent 200 billion pounds on the plan, and would spend 70-100 billion more next year.
Many Egyptians on social media criticised Sisi for signing a 2015 “declaration of principles” with Ethiopia and Sudan, which was meant to serve as a basis for negotiations. Critics say the declaration has strengthened Addis Ababa’s hand in talks, and no breakthrough has been made since it was signed in Khartoum.
Sisi blamed the 2011 uprising which toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak for weakening Cairo’s position in the dam negotiations.
“If not for 2011, there would have been a strong and easy agreement on constructing this dam, but when the country exposed its back and … stripped its shoulder naked, anything could be done,” he said at the military forum.