Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Du Preez named Springbok captain at World Cup

South Africa's scrum half Fourie du Preez (R) catches the ball during the Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Samoa at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on September 26, 2015. By Lionel Bonaventure (AFP/File)

Newcastle (United Kingdom) (AFP) - South Africa on Wednesday named veteran scrum-half Fourie du Preez as captain in place of the injured Jean de Villiers for their key World Cup game against Scotland in Newcastle on Saturday.

Du Preez got the vote of coach Heyneke Meyer as favourite Victor Matfield was injured.

After the disaster of losing 34-32 to Japan in their opening Pool B game, Meyer has made only three changes to the starting line-up that bounced back with a big win over Samoa.

Jesse Kriel will link up in the centres with Damian De Allende in place of de Villiers, whose international career was ended by a broken jaw against the Samoans, while Lood de Jager takes over from Matfield at lock.

Bismarck du Plessis returns as hooker in place of Adriaan Strauss, who is on the replacements' bench.

Dumsor Has Slowed Growth In Ghana Mahama Tells UNGA

President John Mahama has admitted that the erratic power supply that has bedeviled the country over the last couple of years has affected growth and development in several aspects of the economy.

Ghana has been grappling with severe power crisis for some time now. Recently the Electricity Company of Ghana was shedding between 650 megawatts and 350 megawatts of power during peak and off peak times respectively.

Speaking at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York Wednesday, the President of the West African country said measures are being put in place to add 3500 megawatts of power to the national grid.

“One of the major binding constraints that all of Africa faces is a shortage of power. And Ghana is no exception. In many African nations power outages as a result of a shortfall in generation are even considered normal.

“In Ghana, two decades of consistent positive growth has resulted in demand for power outstripping supply. The resulting load shedding program has, unfortunately, slowed growth and is taking a steep toll on economic and social life. Small and medium enterprises, which can least afford the high cost of purchasing and operating generators to substitute their power supply, are being severely affected.

“We are pursuing a program to put in emergency generation to balance demand and supply. Looking forward, we plan to put an addition 3500 MW of power into our transmission grid utilizing the significant gas reserves we have discovered in offshore concessions”.

No Need Shouting; Just Bring Your Petition EC Boss To LMVCA

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, has served notice, the EC will kick against plans by pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) to picket at its offices if the act involves noise-making that could distract the work of the commission.

According to her, not only is the EC a security zone as stated by the police, but also, it is a national data centre, and that any attempt to destruct their work schedule during the picketing will not be accepted.

Briefing the media after an IPAC meeting on Wednesday, the EC boss stated that the commission is ready to receive the petition from the group.

“If LMVCA is bringing a petition of course we will receive it; we are adults. It’s not a shouting game,” she noted.

The EC boss also stated that the pressure group had submitted an earlier petition and hoped that it was not the same document they will be seeking to deliver to them.

She also revealed that so far, 30 institutions including 15 political parties, have submitted proposals which are being evaluated on whether or not there would be need for a new voters’ register.

Charlotte Osei further stated that the EC has received donor support to evaluate the proposals and that by the end of the month; they will organize a forum to discuss and reach some consensus on the proposals.

The Let My Vote Count Alliance group has been engaged in a back and forth with the police over their decision to picket at the offices of the EC to present a petition for a new voters’ register.

A demonstration held weeks ago ended abruptly after police fired teargas and battered some demonstrators because they had defied the agreed route for the protest.

CHRAJ boss' fate hangs in the balance

The five member committee set up to investigate abuse of office allegations against the head of the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice has submitted its findings to the Chief Justice, Wednesday.

It is not clear yet what the recommendations are but a statement signed by the Judicial Secretary Justice Alex Acheampong said the Chief Justice has since forwarded the findings to the President for action to be taken.

Lauretta Lamptey who has been on suspension since January 2015, after a prima facie case was established against her, stands to lose her position if the Justice Anin Yeboah led Committee made adverse findings against her.

She is accused of expending some $4,200 as monthly rent for 33 months on her hotel accommodation, while over GHS180,000 was being spent to renovate her official bungalow.

For a Commission said to be cash trapped and did not have money to carry out the statutory purpose for which it was set up, critics found it rather ridiculous that the Commission had just enough to pay as hotel bills for the head.

A Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsawam Adoagyiri Frank Annor Dompreh and politician Richard Nyamah both petitioned President John Dramani Mahama to remove Ms Lamptey from office acusing her of abusing her office.

The MP said as head of an institution mandated to “to investigate complaints of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, injustice, corruption, abuse of power…” amongst others, Ms Lamptey could not continue to be in office when there were serious allegations of wanton abuse of office against her.

A committee was then set up by the Chief Justice to investigate the abuse of office allegation against her.

After over seven months of investigation, the committee has concluded its investigation and submitted its report to the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.

Access Bank opens office location at Haatso

In line with its strategy to bring banking services closer to customers and the general business community, Access Bank has increased its business office locations to forty-four with the opening of the Haatso Branch. With this new opening, the Bank is further deepening its financial inclusion agenda across the country with strategic branch expansion.

Customers, businesses and individuals living in and around Atomic, Dome, Kwabenya and other environs within the Ga East Municipal district will now have the benefit of receiving timely financial services within their community when they visit the new branch.

Commenting on the branch expansion, Mr. Dolapo Ogundimu, Managing Director, noted that the new branch opening is in line with the Bank’s intelligent expansion programme across the country.

According to Mr. Ogundimu, Access Bank will be rolling out additional locations to consolidate the Bank’s geographic coverage and ability to provide universal banking services to a majority of the population.

“ We are positioning our Bank for accelerated growth and that is why we expect to have presence in all the 10 regions of Ghana, with upcoming branches in Bolgatanga and Wa, by end of the year,” he stated.

The new Haatso branch will offer the Bank’s full range of business and retail banking products including flexible savings and current account options, bills payment services, e-banking, as well as domestic and international money transfer through Western Union, Moneygram, RIA and Cross border Money Transfer.

Expanding further on why the Bank situated its new branch in the Haatso locality, Mr. Stephen Abban, Group Head for Personal Banking revealed:

“Our decision to open the Haatso branch was in response to several customer requests to bring our unique services of the bank closer to them. Again, this was consistent with our strategy of making banking services accessible to the underserved and unbanked”.

In continuation of its strategic goal to become the Most Respected Bank, Access Bank continues to invest in its operations and technology platforms to deliver superior value to customers and other stakeholders. The Bank recently attained ISO certification after meeting the requirements of the internationally respected Quality Management System (QMS) standards-measuring instrument ISO 9001:2008.

Two KNUST Students Shot And Robbed At F-Plaza Hostel

Two male students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) sustained gunshot wounds during a robbery at the F-Plaza Hostel at Ayeduase New Site Tuesday night.

The students, one undergraduate final year and one post-graduate student, were rushed to the University Hospital by the police who had responded to distress calls by residents of the hostel.

A reliable source we can’t disclose confirmed 2 out of the 6 robbers have been arrested by the police already and that investigation is still ongoing.

Robbery cases at hostels at Kotei, Ayeduase, and New Site are no more news to residents. They continue to occur day in day out although the police and university authorities have assured students of their commitment in halting the menace.

Visit to hostel
In an interview with reporters on our visit to the hostel Wednesday morning, an eye witness (name withheld) disclosed that the robbers, who were six in number, arrived at the hostel around 11:30pm on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. He indicated that initial struggle between the robbers and the security man of the hostel alarmed the students thus majority locked their rooms.

“We all stood behind the door to block them from breaking into our room but they fired through the glass window several times and that made us run to the balcony for shelter,” one of the attacked students (name withheld) told myJCR News.

“They entered the room and picked our laptops, phones, and money at gun point,” he continued.

During the robbery operation that lasted about 20 minutes, they broke the doors of two rooms and robbed the students. They proceeded to check unlocked doors.

According to residents of the hostel, the police responded to their call quickly but the armed robbers fled before their arrival.

A police post is located about 1km from the hostel but the road leading to the hostel is in a very terrible state. The car reporters used to visit the scene got stuck for about 25 minutes at a bridge on the road.

Visit to hospital reporters visited the two injured students on admission at the University Hospital Wednesday morning and learnt they are in very good condition and responding to treatment.

According to them, the two of them were in the same room when the robbery occurred. “We did all we can to prevent them from entering but because there’s no burglar proof behind the glass sliding windows, they shot through the window getting us injured,” one of the injured students narrated.

The F-Plaza Hostel
The hostel is located about 600m off the Ayeduase New Site road and about 1km from the nearest police.

Like many hostels at Ayeduase serving KNUST students, the road leading to the hostel is in a very terrible state making it difficult for students to access emergency services whenever they are in need.

There’s a security post at the entrance of the hostel which houses one security man.

Popes Tiny Fiat A Powerful Lesson To All Mahama

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has told the world it can learn a “powerful lesson” from Pope Francis’ simplicity when he opted to ride in a “tiny Fiat 500” on the streets of New York on his visit to the US.

The Pontiff became the toast of the world after leaving the airplane in Maryland in a tiny Black Fiat to embark on a trip in the US. His simple lifestyle despite the office he holds has caught the attention of Mahama.

Speaking at the 70th UN General Assembly Wednesday, Mahama said the Pope’s modesty left a “remarkable image” on him.

“This year we have had a fruitful General Assembly. We adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, we discussed how to establish resilient health systems, we held a summit on peacekeeping, and also strategized on how to deal with religious extremism. We will take many memories back with us, but for me one remarkable image that made a huge impression on me in the early days of this gathering- was the Pope’s car.

“It was breathtaking to watch the pontiff as he greeted massive crowds and moved even government officials to tears in an open gallery; but nothing was more breathtaking than watching him entering and being driven through the streets of New York in a tiny Fiat 500. It was a great metaphor for the times in which we are living, and a powerful lesson about the certain changes we must make to confront our rapidly changing future,” the Ghanaian leader said.

He added: “There was a strange sense of solidarity that I felt with this small vehicle as I watched it cruise down the street, surroundedâ€"and dwarfedâ€"by such humongous sport utility vehicles. It reminded me of the plight of so-called developing nations in our relationships with the wealthier, larger, more established nations of the world. There is the sense of being protected yet also of being overpowered; of being guided yet also of being intimidated to stay the course that they are navigating.

“More than any of that, though, what struck me was the modernity of the moment. The survival of our planet depends on us coming to terms with such modernity. It requires us to redefine our relationship with nature and to realize that we are just one part of a larger ecosystem. We must finally realize that it is we who are dependent upon nature, and not the other way around.

“In recent years signs of emergence in Africa has generated great hope and high expectations. Many African nations have embraced democracy and free and fair elections have become a regular occurrence on the continent’s calendar. Several African nations are seeing an acceleration in economic growth and a more than reasonable measure of success is being achieved in reducing hunger and poverty on the continent.”

According to him, “Ghana, has benefitted greatly in achieving the MDG targets. Ghana is considered one of the bright lights of Africa, a place that was once derisively referred to as the dark continent. The nation boasts a strong stable democracy, with an economy that has been growing positively for more than two decades.

C.Africa risks 'civil war' after fresh bloodshed

Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - The Central African Republic could descend into civil war unless the latest upsurge in violence in the chronically unstable country is brought under control, a UN expert warned Wednesday.

"I fear that if this violence is not rapidly contained, targeted attacks based on ethnicity and religion inevitably risk increasing and leading to a real civil war," Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Fear gripped the streets of the capital Bangui after at least 36 people were killed in violence sparked by the murder Saturday of a Muslim motor-taxi driver in the flashpoint PK-5 district of the city.

In 2013 and early last year, the area was the epicentre of an unprecedented sectarian conflict pitting Christians against Muslims.

Around 100 people were wounded in the new bloodshed and some 27,400 people fled their homes, while the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the capital.

The violence raised fears of a return to the conflict that erupted in the landlocked, impoverished country after president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was ousted by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, triggering the worst crisis since independence in 1960.

A tense calm prevailed Wednesday as life returned tentatively to normal, with four petrol stations and several shops reopening.

UN peacekeepers and French soldiers deployed in the country since December 2013 began removing barricades that protesters set up on major thoroughfares and around the airport, where some 20,000 people have taken refuge near French and UN bases.

However, unlike other parts of the city, the PK-5 and the eighth districts were still very tense Wednesday, residents said.

- Disarmament is 'absolute priority' -

Interim president Catherine Samba Panza cut short a trip to New York to take part in the UN General Assembly as fears grew of a return to sectarian conflict.

In an address broadcast on national radio late Tuesday, she appealed for peace and urged citizens to return to their homes.

Bocoum, the United Nations' independent expert on the former French colony, said: "Disarming armed groups must be an absolute priority" ahead of presidential and general elections due by the end of the year.

She called on the government to "present a realistic and concrete plan" for disarmament and for reforming the security services.

But Thierry Vircoulon of the International Crisis Group said elections, which have already been pushed back several times, were unlikely this year.

"With international forces unable to retake control of the capital, it is difficult to imagine," the ICG's Central Africa project director told AFP in the Gabonese capital Libreville.

Failure to disarm and reinsert former combatants into society "will block the elections," he warned, adding: "The current flare-up is the result of an accumulation of errors by the international community."

- Thousands displaced -

The fresh unrest was sparked by the murder of a motorcycle-taxi driver in the PK-5 neighbourhood, angering Muslims who carried out reprisals against Christians in nearby districts using grenades and guns.

In response, members of the feared "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) Christian militia, which sprang up in 2013 to fight the Seleka rebels, began gathering in Bangui on Monday.

Some 20,000 terrified residents fled to camps by the airport, where French and UN peacekeepers from the 10,000-strong MINUSCA force are based.

The violence also prompted protesters calling for Samba Panza to resign to erect the barricades across Bangui.

MINUSCA denied reports that its troops on Monday killed three people others after opening fire on several hundred demonstrators heading towards the presidency to demand Samba Panza's resignation.

UN spokesman Rupert Colville said in Geneva that some 500 prisoners had escaped from Bangui's main prison on Monday night, adding to the climate of insecurity.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Aurelien Agbenonci, strongly condemned attacks against aid organisations, adding: "All perpetrators of crimes against humanitarians will be held accountable."

Intensify Quality Improvement In Healthcare Delivery --Dr. Sodzi Sodzi

Dr. Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, Senior Technical Director of the Project Five Alive!(PFA), a seven-year initiative to assist ongoing efforts to reduce death in children below ages five in Ghana, has called for adoption of quality improvement measures to improve on healthcare delivery in the country.

He made the appeal on Monday in Accra, during the closing ceremony of PFA, which has helped reduced under five mortalities by 32 percent in 140 health facilities across the country.

Sharing some reflections on the impact of the initiative, Dr. Sodzi-Tettey expressed the hope that Quality Improvement (QI) methods used during the project will transcend every facet of national health delivery, noting that a National Quality Forum will be a stepping stone to further ensure QI works to improve health delivery in the country.

To intensify the QI practice in health facilities, Dr. Sodzi-Tettey called on authorities to redefine the roles of the 400 Improvement Coaches the PFA trained, to help ensure the adherence of quality improvement measures to improve effective health delivery to patients.

He said as the influence of patient communities grows, it must be accounted for in programming, adding that effective community engagement can help solve small problems associated with projects.

“Quality Improvement alone was not enough, but quality planning, quality control and quality improvement integration is key” to ensure success of health interventions in the country, Dr. Sodzi-Tettey observed.

Project Fives Alive! is a partnership between the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Catholic Health Service (NCHS) to reduce morbidity and mortality in children less than five years old (Under-5) and also improve faulty referral processes in maternal and newborn care in Ghana.

Project Fives Alive! officially launched on July 8, 2008, in three districts in northern Ghana, was a seven year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the collaborative work between IHI, NCHS, and the Ghana Health Service to achieve the objectives of the project which was implemented in four consecutive waves (phases) in all regions of Ghana.

Mr. George A. Adjei, Director of NCHS, in a presentation, described the PFA project as special and complex, in terms of its design, duration and strategy, which started in three selected sub-districts, extending to districts and then to all regions of Ghana.

He summarized the experience of the project as challenging, gratifying and inspiring, stating that the results at the end, the project contributed immensely to reducing under-five mortality in Ghana.

The Director said the project was inspirational in that it has taught the personnel skills of improvement science, adding that the NCHS has adopted it as a business strategy, which has been applied in the NHIS billing and claims management and to improve on the pass rate of students in the Midwifery training colleges under NHCS, with remarkable results.

He said the project was also inspiring because it has heightened appreciation of data to tract performance for managers at all level, as well as re-awakened the “do-it-yourself” spirit among managers that has enable them not to wait to be told what needed to be done to fix system bottlenecks.

Touching on the challenges of the project, Mr. Adjei, noted that the national focus of PFA, and managing staff and resources at different sites from Accra, Tamale and later in Kumasi offices was a challenge; adding it challenging “working with partners from different cultural, ethical and national orientations which sometimes brought little tensions from time to time.”

He thanked the partners and all past and present staff, who worked and ensured the success of the project, stressing that though the project had closed, it bequeathed to individuals, service providers and country the ideology of Quality Improvement, which gives a new impetus to apply Continuous Quality Improvement methods in all facets of life.

“What we require is the discipline to continue using data to guide our decisions and interventions,” he added.

Most Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum, Bishop of Koforidua and Bishop responsible for Health, who Co-chaired the function, commended the staff and the partners in their commitment that contributed to the success of the project for the past years.

He noted that though the project was ending with poignant lessons and the impact made in saving lives, its continuity was paramount to ensure quality improvement in healthcare delivery to patients.

Prof. Pierre Barker, Senior Vice President, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, who co-chaired the function, reminiscing exciting experiences during visits to some project sites, thanked all partners and staff for their tireless efforts in making the project a success.

“The project was largely successful with a combination of hard work and faith in God,” he added.

Dr. Nana Twum-Danso, Former Director of the Project in a brief remark recounted the cordiality that existed among the staff, adding that the project was the most challenging in her professional experience, but added it was the most rewarding.

She commended the wonderful collaboration that existed between partners on the project; the stimulating mental exercise that brought to bear the wealth of creativity among staff and also the effective team spirit fostered, which helped them to adopt new ideas to adjust designs that ensured the overall success of PFA.

Some staffs who shared their experiences touched on the challenging lessons PFA taught them and the inspiring opportunity the project gave them to contribute to efforts at saving lives of infants.

Certificates and Souvenirs were presented to staff in appreciation for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the success of Project Fives Alive.

By applying QI methods, Project Fives Alive! sought to assist and accelerate Ghana’s faith-based and public health services to reach the country’s fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing mortality in children under-5 from an estimated 110 per 1000 live births to less than 40 per 1000 live births (66% decrease) by 2015

Secondly, the core QI framework upon which the project was designed was the Model for Improvement, which enabled the project staff and the local QI teams with whom they work to set aims, identify process failures and develop, test and assess whether changes were leading to improvements.

They won gold with menstrual cramps and we denied them crumbs

You may not be a woman. You may be too young to have a wife.You may not have a daughter or have a girlfriend. But if you are old enough to read this, you may have a sister or female classmate. So you should understand what I’m about to say. Once every month, most girls and women go through hell. For some, menstrual cramps are so serious that they end up in the hospital.

This means if you have a football team made up of young ladies preparing and playing a tournament over a period of one month, you are sure to have each one of them undergoing their menstrual cycle in the process. So when you see those ladies in jerseys straining every muscle and prepared to break every limb to hold aloft the flag of the nation, you need to think beyond the game.

Beyond the smiles and jubilation that come with victory and the pain and anguish that come with defeat is excruciating pain borne with peerless stoicism. That is the spirit of resilience of the so-called ‘weaker sex’. And that is the untold story of female athletes and sportswomen such as the senior national female soccer team of Ghana, the Black Queens.

That is the untold story of the ladies who hoisted the flag of Ghana and won gold at the just-ended the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville despite their menstrual cramps. When they got home we denied them their crumbs. Yes, what we promised them were crumbs when compared to what we offer their male counterparts. And we denied them when they returned. Until that breaking news came.

Yes, on Tuesday evening there was breaking news. It was news that that was not supposed to be news in the first place. Someone’s incompetence forced it into being. And we broke it.

What was this news?
President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed forces sent an order from New York, where he is attending the General Assembly of the United Nations. His message was simple: pay the Black Queens $5000 so that they could leave the M-Plaza Hotel, where they have been staying since they arrived from Congo Brazzaville.

The Black Queens had won gold at the tournament. Each player was supposed to receive $5,000 each as winning bonus per the arrangement they reportedly had with the ministry of Youth and Sports prior to the tournament. When they returned, they were handed only $2000.

And what did they do? They rejected this demeaning offer, that paltry sum of insulting reward from the Ministry and vowed to remain at the M-Plaza Hotel until they received their payment. After many discussions and meetings, we were told the players would leave if they got their $5000 each. But the Ministry would not budge. In response, the ministry stopped paying for their stay at the hotel. We are told thehotel refused them food and the coach of the team had to go to Nima to buy wayside waakye for the players. The Ghana Football Association led by KwesiNyantakyi, stepped in, promised to take care of the bills when the Ministry stopped paying. The GFA further started serious talks with the ministry to resolve what has become a national disgrace until the President stepped in.

Reports say the president was very upset at the treatment of the Black Queens. “Do I have to personally get involved in order to resolve every issue?” President Mahama reportedly said when he was told was what was happening back home.

But why not,Mr.President? Why must you not personally get involved? Our elders say “ if you send a foolish child on an errand, your feet will rest but your heart and mind will not know peace.” Sending an incompetent adult is like sending a foolish child. And that is what you did at the Sports Ministry.

Mr. President, you appointed Dr. Mustapha Ahmed as a Minister of State in Charge of Development Authorities. He was instrumental in operations of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). He, together with some officials of SADA, embarked on some unprofitable and questionable trips and supervised the spectacular mess in the program that was meant to alleviate the suffering of the poor masses in the Savannah zone. When the mess of SADA was revealed in investigations, you changed the board, changed the CEO and gave Dr. Mustapha Ahmed a new position. You did not punish anybody for their roles in SADA. You gave Dr. Mustapha Ahmed a bigger responsibility. You sent him to head the Youth and Sports Ministry. So in my view, you are personally responsible for every mess that Dr. Mustapha Ahmed will cause.

That is a subject of another day. Today, let’s focus on our ladies who won gold despite their menstrual cramps but were refused the crumbs until you stepped in.

Mr. President, you helped to end the shameful disregard for the Black Queens. And I commend you highly for this. If the reports we are getting are true, you will do well to ensure that the three years of outstanding bonuses due the Black Queens are also paid to them. We wait for your arrival and swift action.

But even as we wait for you, I have a few things to say. There is so much injustice done to other teams and sporting disciplines. Some people have argued that when the Black Stars play in the World Cup, they give the nation more money than any other team does. What they have forgotten is that, the Black Stars were not neglected when they were virtually ‘waste materials’. Their performance at the Africa Cup of Nations was as hopeless as their attempts to qualify for the World Cup. We did not stop funding them and encouraging them.

We invested in them. And they are now doing what is making us proud. In the same way, if we invest in the Black Queens and other teams, we shall have strong teams.

In terms of the bonuses paid, it is painful to think about it. When the Black Stars played their AFCON qualifying match, they received $10,000 as bonus. When the Black Queens played in a tournament and won gold, we are offering them $2000. This does not make sense considering the fact that the Black Queens players do not play in leagues that pay them. Their only solace for staying in the sport is the hope that they will one day be called to play in the national team and get some reward. So why are we denying them their due?

The Captain of the Black Stars, AsamoahGyan, earns about $300,000 a week. The captain of the Black Queens, Mercy Myles, earns practically nothing for her trade. When AsamoahGyan plays a qualifying match for Ghana and earns $10,000 while Mercy Myles wins a whole tournament and cannot get $10,000 it doesn’t make sense. To worsen matters, the Black Meteors who also won gold at the All African Games four years ago were given $14,000 each. This is injustice. And we must cure it.

Beyond paying the Black Queens their crumbs, the Sports Ministry, National Sports Council and the GFA should sit down and overhaul the sports sector. The Ministry of Black Stars should be disbanded. Let’s have a Ministry of Youth and Sports.

And get serious with sports in this country.
The Writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7FM. His email address is [email protected][1]

300,000 (Euros) Involved! As Ghanaian Fraudsters Dupe German WomanPart Four

In part four of this running story, we bring to readers and followers of this fraud, the impact the story is making as the fraudstersappear to be very unhappy with the news publications and have continued to expose themselves through their rage.

This is how a female associate of the Fraudster by named Yaa Aswegnlaa Nkrumah, rained insults on Delina, a friend of the Victim, Madam Dagmar.

The conversation below shows how Yaa went dirty as she defended the fraudsters.

Madam Dagmar has also vowed to use all legal means to get her money back from the hoodlums and it appears the fraudsters are not happy about the series of online publications and exposé.

We shall continue to update readers and followers on any latest events as the drama unfold.

Yaa Aswegnlaa Nkrumah[1]

Please read these articles, it's about friends of us on FB

Part 1:[2]

Part 2:[3]

Part 3:[4]

300,000 (Euros) Involved! As Ghanaian Fraudsters Dupe German Woman(Part One)[5]

It has emerged that Madam Dagmar, a German woman believed to be in her fifties, who was deceived in the name of love, marriage anddoing business in Ghana, h[6][7]

I'm so not interested in your lies
When they where f*cking other all in the name of love did they publish it?

You guys will not cease to be the racist you have always been

Thanks for sharing
I didn't know they where f*cking other in the name of love. Interesting news to me. I will tell my friend about it. Maybe the police caninvestigate

Fuck off!!!
Well .......... I don't speak that bad language. You should be ashamed young lady

Where there not married?
Didn't your friend come to Ghana?
Don't share your lies with me
I'm not interested!
READ THE ARTICLE - you will find the answers there
It's a human being who wrote the article...ryt?

It's the woman who got duped by the familiy Yeboah who wrote the article. Those guy cheated, stole, lied and hurted all the way.

Fine.....not interested!!!
OK with me. Hope you never get cheated and lied to by any man

All you guys know is extortion... you wanted ghanaian gold

I haven't even seen some yet...
Think about it whenever a guy tells you sweet words. He maybe wants sex or money.

Your friend she have known better
She was interested in a strong black man!!!
Because someone should know better, does it allow another one to steal and cheat?

Exchange is no robbery!!! Now are u telling me she never got gold from the guy?

Karma is always a b*tch... u know?
Sorry it blasted... but u going abt telling ppl changes nothing. Just allow the police to investigate

Thanks for letting me share your thoughts. I will tell her and she can make it public what a Ghanaian thinks about another Ghanaian.

For all I know it marriage that turned to business
You know the guys? Did they got into your mind too? Did they try to bewitch you to fall for one of them?

Now you want revenge
All the best!!!
Well, I am not involved. She is my friend and I do a few things to help her.

Give tourism research and development priority

Kumasi, Sept. 29, GNA - Ms Lawrencia Siaw, a Lecturer of Culture and Tourism, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has emphasised the need for the nation to give priority to tourism research and development.

This, he said, would help to generate new ideas to engender acceptable working practices to improve the tourism value chain.

Ms Siaw was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of a tour of the Rattray Park in Kumasi, as part of activities to mark the World Tourism Day.

The programme, put together by the Ashanti Regional Office of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), had in attendance tour guides and car rental and hotel operators.

Ms Siaw said the tourism industry had huge potentials for the nation, "but we can only derive the maximum benefits with careful planning and the requisite investment portfolio".

The park, a fast growing tourist attraction site, is one of the well-decorated recreational centres in the West African sub-region.

This year's Day, marked on the theme; "One Billion Tourists; One Billion Opportunities," is aimed at creating awareness about the socio-economic potentials inherent in the tourism industry.

Ms Siaw said currently, more than 100,000 Ghanaians were employed directly and indirectly in the industry and that ought to be improved.

Mr Peter Achampong, acting Regional Manager of the GTA, advised players in the industry to uphold good working practices.

Nana Mathew Opoku Prempeh, an official of the GTA, urged tourist facility operators to register and be licensed by the GTA in order to legalise their operations.

Prudential honours 5 outstanding UCC Actuarial Science students

Prudential Life Insurance Ghana has demonstrated its commitment to Ghana by presenting valuable awards to the top five students in actuarial science at the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

The awards are part of a major initiative by the life insurer, which is part of the global financial services group Prudential Plc, to support high-achieving actuarial science students in Ghana.

Prudential also gave similar awards to five students at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in July.

Prudential awarded each of the five outstanding UCC students the cedi equivalent of 500USD, reimbursed their exams fees and provided study notes at an awards ceremony on 26 September 2015.

The UCC award-winners were Eric Nana Arthur, Emmanuel Kofi Abrefa, Francis Opoku, Albert Acquaah Biney and Stephanie Dorothy Normanyo.

Christian Cofie, Head of Actuarial at Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, said: “We would like to congratulate these outstanding students on their richly deserved awards, and we wish them all the very best in building successful careers in insurance. At Prudential we are committed to our communities for the long term, and investing in education is investing for the long term”

Mr. Henry Amankwah, the Head of Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UCC said: “We are delighted that Prudential has committed to supporting the development of actuarial science in Ghana. These awards provide our students with vital support that will enable them to move onto the next stage of their careers, helping them to become outstanding actuaries.

Prudential Officials with the award winners. Frances Ofori, Head of Marketing &

A Split Family And A Blissful Future

When former President Rawlings publicly admits that he did not campaign for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its candidates in the 2012 elections, he tells the story of the future of himself and his family.

Mr. Rawlings continues to wear the crown of the founder of the NDC while his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings leads another political party, the National Democratic Party (NDP) and supports every move of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

More interestingly, his daughter, Dr. Ezanator Agyemang Rawlings is battling for the right or honour to represent the Korle Klottey constituency.

The point is that although the Rawlingses appear to be split politically, their family bonds are unbreakable.

Mr. Rawlings was on hand at the launching of the NDP in Kumasi and he declared unflinching support for the efforts of his wife to deny the Presidency to late Professor John Evans Atta Mills.

He did not give a hoot about the fact that the defeat of President Mills at the time would have meant defeat for his new found friend, John Dramani Mahma.

For Rawlings at the time, most important was for his wife to become President of the Republic of Ghana and fears of the emergency of a Rawlings dynasty were ignored.

The result of the political gymnastics of the Rawlingses would be that heads they win and tails they win.

If Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP should win power with the help of Nana Konadu, that would guarantee the peace of the Rawlingses.

On the other hand if the NDC with Mr. Rawlings as founder And Ezanator as a Member of Parliament should win the election, the Rawlingses can still enjoy the protection of government.

The game of the Rawlingses appear to be proceeding according to plan and for now it can be predicted that the Rawlingses would not be touched by any political witch hunting no matter who wins the next election.

D7 Should Not Be A Fail Mark Prof. Yankah

The ninth National Delegates Congress of the Private Universities Students’ Association of Ghana (PUSAG) has ended with a call on government, particularly the National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE), to rethink its position on Grade D7, which renders Senior High School graduates ineligible to enter university.

Professor Kwesi Yankah, President of the Central University College and Chairman of the Council of Independent Private Universities, who made the call in a key note address, said students who are graded D7 in various subjects are not failures.

Prof. Yankah emphasized the importance of leadership qualities over and above academic qualifications and urged students to be critical thinkers with little or no moral blemish, citing role models like John Mensah Sarbah and Dr Kwame Nkrumah who, he said, had passed the test of morality and self-denial and impacted future generations.

He condemned the political patronage of student leaders, saying it leads to the political manipulation of the entire student body, who end up losing their own voices in decision-making processes and handing it over to larger political interest groups.

The Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, commended the out-going PUSAG executives for projecting genuine concerns in the interest of its members, as well as collaborating with the Ministry to address their challenges.

Mr Okudjeto Ablakwa, noted that the student movement had a great history in Ghana, where students play a vital role in the drafting of the 1992 Constitution, propose the Students’ Loan Trust Fund and the National Service Scheme, among others.

He pledged the support of Government and the Ministry of Education in assisting the various student groups in the country to achieve their objectives.

The President of PUSAG, Mr Mohammed Adams Sukparu, also debunked accusations levelled against PUSAG that it was asking government to put up projects on the campuses of private universities.

Nigeria's Buhari to appoint himself oil minister: spokesman

Lagos (AFP) - Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is to take personal charge of the country's crucial oil portfolio, his spokesman said on Tuesday, as a deadline loomed for him to finally nominate his cabinet.

Reports from New York, where Buhari has been attending the UN General Assembly, quoted the president as saying he would be minister of petroleum resources, with a junior minister taking charge of day-to-day affairs in the sector.

"Confirmed. He said so," his spokesman Femi Adesina told AFP in a text message, without giving further details.

Buhari, 72, took office on May 29 after a landmark election victory against Goodluck Jonathan -- the first time an opposition candidate has unseated an incumbent in the country's history.

The former military ruler has vowed that corruption and the corrupt will have no place in his government and vetting of potential candidates has been seen as delaying his appointment of a senior ministerial team.

Buhari has made tackling the rot in the oil sector a priority, as he seeks to cut endemic graft and put the country's crippled, crude-dependent finances on a firmer footing.

Nigeria -- Africa's number one crude producer and biggest economy -- has been hit badly by a slump in global crude prices since last year, squeezing government revenue.

Oil accounts for some 90 percent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings.

The president has vowed to recover "mind-boggling" sums of stolen oil cash, starting with a drastic overhaul of state-run oil firm the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).

The NNPC has become a byword for corruption and last year was accused of failing to remit $20 billion in revenue to the central bank.

Buhari helped establish the NNPC in 1977 as oil minister under military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was later in charge of the Petroleum Trust Fund during the time of General Sani Abacha in the 1990s.

Buhari's caution in appointing ministers has seen him nicknamed "Baba Go Slow" in Nigeria, but he has promised to name his cabinet by Wednesday.

Appointments have to be approved by parliament, which resumed sitting on Tuesday.

Veep calls for increased trade between Ghana and Cuba

Accra, Sept. 29, GNA - Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has called for increased commercial and trade relations between Ghana and Cuba.

He said though Ghana and Cuba have had cultural and educational ties over the years, it is about time they deepen commercial and trade relations for the benefit of the people of the two countries.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur made the call when Mr Jorge Fernando Lebefre Nicolas, the outgoing Cuban Ambassador to Ghana called on him at his office at the Flagstaff House, in Accra on Tuesday.

Mr Jorge Fernando Lebefre Nicolas was at the Flagstaff House to bid farewell to Vice President Amissah-Arthur at the end of his four-year duty tour in the country.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur also commended the government of Cuba for its continuous support to Ghana, in terms of providing medical brigade and the training of Ghanaian technicians in Cuba.

He said Ghana still stands with Cuba in its campaign against the 50 year old embargo placed on the country by the United States of America.

He said Ghana is happy that Cuba has been able to restore diplomatic relations with the United States, adding that, this also brings new challenges to the country.

Mr Nicolas noted that Ghana over the years, had shown growth in its political maturity, and expressed delight that Ghana and Cuba have also collaborated on many issues including the training of Ghanaian students in Cuba and the Cuban medical brigade in Ghana.

He applauded the government of Ghana for the political support it gave to Cuba on many issues, especially on the economic blockade by the United States.

Mr Nicolas said Cuba would still need the support of its friends like Ghana for the total lifting of the economic embargo against his country.

He was grateful to Ghana for the support and the crusade for the release of the Cuban-five from United States prisons.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur presented a traditional stool to Mr Nicolas, who in turn presented a parcel to the Vice President to cement the relations between the two countries.

Earlier, Vice President Amissah-Arthur presented a 10-seater Hyundai bus to the RICHOFF Foundation, initiated by Mr Richard Offei, a physically challenged person at his residence.

The presentation of the Hyundai bus is in fulfilment of a promise he made to the foundation when he attended a fundraising and dinner of the organisation at the banquet hall.

Malian Islamist faces war crimes judge over Timbuktu destruction

The Hague (AFP) - An alleged Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant accused of ordering the destruction of treasured monuments in Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu will appear before judges at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is due in the dock at 0900 GMT on his first appearance in The Hague-based court after being handed over by authorities in Mali's neighbour Niger on Saturday.

The case is the first to be brought by the world's only permanent war crimes court over the extremist violence that rocked Mali in 2012 and 2013.

Faqi, a Tuareg leader also known as Abu Tourab, is suspected of war crimes for the deliberate destruction of buildings at a UNESCO-listed desert heritage site in 2012.

Nicknamed the "City of 333 Saints", Timbuktu, which is located around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) northeast of Mali's capital Bamako, was overrun by Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in the spring of 2012.

In June of that year, the militants destroyed more than a dozen of the city's mausoleums dating back to its golden age as an economic, intellectual and spiritual centre in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Faqi was a leader of Ansar Dine, a mainly Tuareg group, which held sway over Mali's desert north, together with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and a third local group, until being routed in a French-led intervention in January 2013.

On Wednesday, a judge will inform him of the charges against him and verify his identity and the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings.

The judge could also set a date for a hearing to determine whether Faqi will face trial.

Born in Agoune, 100 kilometres west of Timbuktu, Faqi is described by the ICC as having been "an active personality in the context of the occupation of Timbuktu" as the alleged leader of the "Hesbah" anti-vice squad.

A member of an Islamic court set up by the jihadists to enforce strict sharia law, he is alleged to have jointly ordered or carried out the destruction of nine mausoleums and Timbuktu's famous Sidi Yahia mosque.

The mausoleums were constructed to pay homage to deceased saints but were considered blasphemous by the jihadists.

Around 4,000 ancient manuscripts were also lost, stolen or burned during the Islamists' reign of terror.

In January 2013, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched an investigation into alleged war crimes in Mali.

NDC Vetting Causes Uproar In Kumasi

THE DECISION by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Ashanti Region to vet 106 parliamentary aspirants at the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) has caused huge uproar.

The vetting took place at the official residence of the Regional Minister, Peter Anarfi Mensah â€" which is located at the RCC â€" on Tuesday morning, attracting scores of party gurus and supporters to the place.

The venue of the vetting gave rise to resentment among some residents of Kumasi who complained bitterly about the NDC's decision to use a state facility for a political party exercise.

A section of Kumasi residents who spoke on the various radio stations, openly lambasted the ruling NDC for trying to turn the RCC into a party office.

One of such persons, Kwabena Nsenkyire, ex-Ashanti Regional vice chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), even threatened court action against the party.

He argued that the RCC is a state asset therefore the NDC has no right to vet its parliamentary aspirants there, threatening to secure a court injunction to be placed on the NDC's vetting process.

'I will go to court to secure injunction on the NDC vetting,' he disclosed, adding that he would make sure that the NDC was prevented from vetting its party members at the RCC.

Nsenkyire stated that the RCC is the seat of the government in the Ashanti Region but not an NDC office.

'I am hoping that the court would grant the injunction order which would stop the Wednesday's vetting exercise from taking place at the RCC,' the former NPP regional chairman underscored.

Administrative work at the RCC was interrupted following a massive invasion of the hitherto peaceful residency by NDC members and supporters in Kumasi and the nearby towns.

Even though the vetting was taking place at the residency â€" which is about 100 meters away from the RCC â€" the noise made by the NDC enthusiasts could still be heard at the various offices.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that party gurus such as Kofi Adams, Dan Abodakpi, Harry Zakour, Raymond Tandoh and Yaw Obimpeh were among the committee that vetted the aspirants towards the NDC parliamentary primaries scheduled for November 7, 2015.

Among the aspirants who were vetted on Tuesday were Samuel Sarpong, former regional minister; Kwasi Ofori Agyeman Boadi, Obuasi MCE; Johnny Osei Kofi, deputy chief of staff and Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Asawase MP.

South Africa's injury dilemma in hunt for captain at World Cup

Newcastle (United Kingdom) (AFP) - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer faces a new injury dilemma replacing captain Jean de Villiers for their key World Cup game against Scotland on Saturday.

De Villiers abruptly retired from international rugby after suffering a broken jaw against Samoa last week.

But because prime candidates to take over are among the walking wounded Meyer put back the announcement of his team to play Scotland by several hours until late Wednesday.

Veteran vice-captain and frontrunner Victor Matfield, 38, is struggling with a hamstring strain and must prove his fitness Wednesday. scrumhalf Fourie du Preez (ribs) is also in doubt.

These and a number of other injuries forced the cancellation of Monday's training and the delay in the team announcement.

Other candidates include Duane Vermeulen, who only returned from a neck injury in the 46-6 rout of Samoa at Villa Park last week.

Flanker Francois Louw, hooker Adriaan Strauss and loose forward Schalk Burger, who captained the Boks against the All Blacks this year, could also get the nod.

There was little indication at Tuesday's practice session as to who will take the leadership. But South Africa must be certain to avoid a repeat of their shock loss when they take on the Scots at Newcastle United's St James Park.

As De Villiers arrived back home in South Africa to a big welcome, his replacement Jan Serfontein joined his team-mates for his first training session and was said he was “shocked” to receive the call-up.

"I was surprised to get the call,” the Blue Bulls midfielders said.

"I was watching the Wales-England game and I got a call from coach Heyneke saying that Jean is injured and that he was considering picking me and he would only confirm it on Sunday.

“I couldn't sleep the night and got the news on Sunday, but I'm happy to be here now and will do everything I can to contribute."

Serfontein missed out on the World Cup squad because of the emergence of midfielders Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel. The duo, if fit, are likely to start against Scotland.

De Allende has a knee ligament strain and Kriel a nasty gash to the cheek after taking a boot in the face in the Samoa win.

Serfontein, who played all 12 tests for the Boks in 2014, struggled with a hip flexor injury this year, which hampered his chances of making it to the World Cup.

"I was very disappointed, it was tough but I got a chance to get some game time at Currie Cup level that I was happy about," Serfontein said.

"It was a difficult season, I had a couple of injuries, which didn't help, at vital times in the season and Jesse did very well and got his chance. I can't complain or anything but the life gives you a few curveballs, and you have to adapt."

Ghana Federation of the Disabled threatens government

Tanoso (B/A), Sept. 29, GNA - The Ghana Federation of the Disabled on Monday threatened that it would write officially to the United Nations (UN), if the government continues to exclude it in national policy implementation processes.

According to the Federation, though Ghana has ratified, and is a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), which mandates member-states to actively engage the disabled in policy implementation processes, successive governments continued to breach the convention.

Mr. Matthew Annor Kodom, the immediate past Chairman of the Brong-Ahafo Regional branch of the Federation, gave the warning at a day's sensitization seminar on the Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health Project at Tanoso, near Sunyani.

It was organized by the National Youth Authority (NYA), with funding from the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID) through the Palladium Group, an international non-governmental organization.

The seminar aimed at sensitizing participants on the adolescent reproductive health, and was attended by members of the Federation and some representatives from the municipal and district assemblies in the Region.

Mr. Kodom noted with concern that successive governments had been reluctant in addressing the numerous challenges facing PWDs, though they appeared to be disabled friendly to the international community.

He pointed out that it had become imperative for the Federation to inform the UN about how African-UN member states treated people with disabilities in all aspects of political, social and economic lives.

This, according to Mr. Kodom, would enable the UN to easily identify and assist in addressing challenges confronting the disabled on the continent.

He cited that the 2007-2011 Ghana Health Service strategic plan did not consider or mention people with disabilities.

Mr. Stephen Mensah-Etsibah, Director of Organisation and Programmes at the NYA, noted that any compromise on the reproductive health of adolescents and the youth, portended the doom of national human resource capital base.

He stated that since the wealth of every nation could be measured by the state of its adolescents and youth development, there was the need to evolve policies and legislations governing adolescents sexual reproductive health.

Mr. Mensah-Etsibah stressed that 'the NYA is poised to ensuring that a healthy youthful population contributing positively towards national and community development is established'.

The Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health Project is a three-year project being implemented by the Palladium Group, and funded by the British government at the cost of 11.3 million Euros.

Expected to end by 2017, the project, being implemented in all the eight municipal and 19 district assemblies in Brong-Ahafo, is aimed at helping to reduce maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy and provide related sexual reproductive health needs among adolescents in the Region.

LMVCA Warns Gov't Over Police Abuse

Leadership of the pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) and its affiliates, pushing for an entirely new voter register for the 2016 general elections, have  served notice that they would not bow to any attempt by government and its agencies, including the Ghana Police Service, to cow them.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, convener of the LMVCA, David Asante said, 'We wish to use this platform to send a clear message to the State that no amount of intimidation, harassment, violence, lies, obstacles and abuse of the legal process can protect this bloated register.'

This was a day after a circuit court had granted an ex-parte injunction to the police against the groups' decision to picket at the premises of the Electoral Commission (EC) on grounds that they (police) suspected some criminals were planning to attack Accra and other regions.

That was hours after another circuit court had given the group the green light to embark on the demonstration, contrary to the initial excuse given by the police that the EC is a security zone for which reason they would not allow leadership of LMVCA to picket there, let alone present their petition.

Leadership of LMVCA and other groups, including the  Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) and Movement for Change (MFC) insist the current and existing voter register is not only bloated, but 'bogus and will not survive' hence, the need to compile a new one.

'We are absolutely certain about that. The more the State, using its instruments of propaganda and violence, to protect an electoral roll built for the purpose of rigging, the more they expose that fraudulent intention and the more they worsen their case to protect that gargantuan instrument of fraud,' Mr Dvid Asante articulated.

Whatever they (referring to functionaries of the National Democratic Congress) were able to do in 2012 with what he described as 'that bogus register,' he said, would not happen again.

Instead, he indicated that 'The good people of Ghana are prepared to fight with all the legitimate weapons available to give the country the unalloyed opportunity to decide next year whether to vote for change or vote for continuity.'

The convener continued, 'No longer should the legal votes of those entitled to vote not count. No longer should ghosts and non-nationals, corrupt EC officers and all, be allowed to overturn the mandate of Ghanaians,' he emphasized, insisting that 'This is a battle worth fighting for and we have no desire to quit today or tomorrow.

'We want to tell His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama and his NDC that they have lost the plot to rig the 2016 elections. There is nothing that they can do to stop the current register from being changed for a new one.

'If President John Mahama and his party do not want a new, credible register, it does not lie in their discretion to use the police to frustrate those who do not share their view,' David Asante said.

That, according to him, was a danger to the country's democracy since 'Ghana risks becoming an elective dictatorship.' He has therefore cautioned the Chief Justice that 'The Judiciary is gradually assisting the police to drag Ghana back into a police state and that she must do all that her powers permit to ensure full compliance by the Bench to the letter and spirit of the basic law of this country â€" the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution.'

Amnesty warns of conflict diamond stockpile in C.Africa

London (AFP) - Amnesty International on Wednesday called on the Central African Republic to confiscate and sell diamonds amassed by traders worth millions that could be fuelling militia violence and child labour.

Huge stockpiles of possible conflict diamonds could end up on the global market when a ban on exports from the country is lifted, the rights group said in a report.

Researchers also documented a string of human rights abuses in CAR diamond mines, with children as young as 11 working in hazardous conditions, carrying out "backbreaking work for very little money".

The export of diamonds from the Central African Republic was banned in 2013 under the Kimberley Process, which aims to stem the flow of so-called "conflict diamonds".

The ban will be partially lifted once the government meets conditions set in July 2015 by the Kimberley Process.

However, trade in diamonds has continued despite the ban, with thousands of small artisanal miners selling to traders who sell on to export companies in Bangui, according to the report.

Militias responsible for ongoing sectarian violence could be profiting from the sales due to inadequate checks by diamond firms, the rights group warned.

Many of the diamonds remain stockpiled in the capital, while others have been smuggled to neighbouring Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo from where they are "highly likely" to be sold on the international market, it said.

The UN estimates that 140,000 carats of diamonds have been smuggled out since mid-2013.

- 'Illicit flow' -

"The government should confiscate any blood diamonds, sell them and use the money for the public benefit," said Lucy Graham, a legal adviser for Amnesty and author of the report.

"The people of CAR have a right to profit from their own natural resources," she said.

The report also looked at the key diamond trading centres of Dubai and Antwerp, in Belgium, accusing traders of price manipulation and tax avoidance.

It claimed that "the UAE government may be complicit in the illicit flow of wealth out of Africa".

The Central African Republic erupted into sectarian violence following a 2013 coup against longtime leader Francois Bozize that pitted mainly Muslim Seleka rebels against predominantly Christian anti-balaka militias.

Amnesty International said both groups were profiting from the diamond trade by controlling mines and extorting protection money from miners and traders.

It accused two major buying houses, Badica and Sodiam, of purchasing diamonds "without adequately investigating whether they have funded armed groups".

Sodiam has amassed a 60,000 carat diamond stockpile worth US$7 million (6.2 million euros), the report said.

The report comes after a UN sanctions committee imposed an assets freeze in August on Badica and its sister company Kardiam for supporting armed groups in CAR through illegal trading.

Sodiam denies ever buying conflict diamonds and says that it does not buy diamonds from mines controlled by rebel groups or traders known to associate with them.

Violence flared again in Central African Republic at the weekend when deadly clashes broke out following the murder of a Muslim motorcycle-taxi driver in Bangui.

The streets of the capital were deserted Tuesday with terrified residents sheltering indoors and tens of thousands fleeing their homes after three days of shooting and bloodshed that have left at least 36 dead, according to the UN.

Project Fives Alive, impacts positively on health delivery system

Accra, Sept. 29, GNA - Project Fives Alive (PFA!), a five-year initiative to assist ongoing efforts in Ghana to reduce deaths in children below five, using quality improvement methods has achieved 32 per cent reduction in under five mortality.

The PFA!, an initiative of National Catholic Health Service (NCHS) in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a US-based Health NGO also achieved 53 per cent reduction of post-neonatal infant mortality and 37 per cent reduction in under five malaria case fatality.

Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, Senior Technical Director of IHI Africa and Director of PFA! who disclosed this at a close up ceremony in Accra, said in 2008 the NCHS and IHI launched the project with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support Ghana to achieve the Millennium Development Goal Four, and has since worked in close collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

He said nationally and globally the PFA! established itself as a large scale quality improvement project that has continuously adapted its design over seven years to achieve improved outcomes at scale.

He explained that the project had to be extended to seven years instead of the original five years because of the national scale up.

'The project started in 25 sub districts in three districts and at national scale, has been implemented in over 544 sub districts in all the 10 regions.

Within various health centres, district, and regional hospitals, the project has cumulatively formed and worked with over 700 multi-disciplinary quality improvement teams, testing and implementing high impact change to improve the quality and reliability of facility based care processes for children less than five,' he said.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey said the project operated in four distinct phases and phase one happened between July 2008 and September 2009 in three districts in the three regions of the North.

The phase one focused on improving on antenatal, skilled delivery and post-natal care processes and at the end of it, had developed a package of high impact interventions (Change Package) for improving those processes.

Those interventions, he said, were scaled up to 38 districts in phase two which occurred between July 2009 and March 2013. That led to phase three activities to improve the quality and reliability of hospital based processes in nine innovation hospitals selected from the NCHS between October 2009 and June 2011.

'The phase three activities ended in the development of a second hospital change package, which focused on improving early care seeking, promptness of care and adherence to prescribed standards and protocols,' he added.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey noted that those high impact changes were subsequently scaled up to all 32 NCHS hospitals and later to 36 hospitals in the three regions of the North.

He announced that PFA! in August 2012, launched the Referral Sub-Initiative to facilitate development, testing and implementation of innovative ways to address the challenges impeding safe, timely and effective referrals of pregnant women and neonates from communities to health facilities in six innovation districts in the Central and Northern regions.

'The change package developed from this referral work has been integrated into phase four in an augmentation of the phase one change package and is currently being adopted and adapted to the new local context.

'In May 2013 PFA! embarked on a national scale up in its fourth and final phase and the project is operational in 140 district and regional hospitals-covering 80 per cent of public-sector hospitals and 30 per cent of districts in Ghana,' he added.

Dr Linda Van Otoo, Greater Accra Regional Health Director, said PFA! has brought changes to the way healthcare givers work and commended the team for their dedication to the project.

She said data collated by the PFA! was used to test post-natal care policy of the Ghana Health Service and it proved it is feasible to see newborns twice, and that has resulted in drastic reduction in infant mortality across the country.

PFA! has been independently evaluated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) in collaboration with the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.

World first 'drone-port' planned in Rwanda

Kigali (AFP) - It sounds like science fiction: unmanned drones carrying emergency medicine zooming above the rolling hills of Rwanda.

But proposals -- including one by eminent British architect Norman Foster -- plan exactly that, to set up "cargo drone routes capable of delivering urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale", with the East Africa nation of Rwanda chosen as a test case.

"Specialist drones can carry blood and life-saving supplies over 100 kilometres (60 miles) at minimal cost, providing an affordable alternative that can complement road-based deliveries," the proposal reads.

Rwanda, left in ruins after genocide in 1994, has rapidly rebuilt with the government pushing initiatives to boost technology and the powerful ruler President Paul Kagame dreaming of turning the capital Kigali into a regional hub for investors and multinational companies.

Government efforts have rapidly pushed mobile phone and internet coverage across the landlocked nation, but the rolling landscape of a nation dubbed the "land of a thousand hills" means physical access to some areas is more of a challenge.

The proposal -- by architecture firm Foster + Partners, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and its linked Afrotech company -- hopes to see drones with a three-metre (10-foot) wingspan able to carry deliveries weighing 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds).

Drones with a six-metre (19.5 foot) wingspan, capable of carrying payloads of 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds) are planned to follow by 2025.

- 'Bold, radical solutions' -

"Africa is a continent where the gap between the population and infrastructural growth is increasing exponentially," Foster said at the project launch earlier this month.

"The dearth of terrestrial infrastructure has a direct impact on the ability to deliver life-giving supplies, indeed where something as basic as blood is not always available for timely treatment. We require immediate bold, radical solutions to address this issue," Foster said.

The pilot project is slated to begin next year, with three "drone-port" buildings due for completion by 2020, enabling the drones to cover almost half of Rwanda's countryside.

While Rwanda's government has yet to comment on the proposals, people have welcomed the plan.

"The introduction of drones can add to the many solutions we have available to tackle infrastructure challenges in Rwanda," Junior Sabena Mutabazi wrote in a the pro-government New Times newspaper.

Rwanda, small, tightly controlled and where there is only modern infrastructure in key hubs, offers the chance to test case cargo drones before possible expansion into wilder, less developed countries on the continent.

"The Droneport project is about doing 'more with less', capitalising on the recent advancements in drone technology -- something that is usually associated with war and hostilities -- to make an immediate life-saving impact in Africa," Foster said.

Those developing the project point out that in many parts of Africa, too remote to establish telephone landlines, mobile technology leapfrogged that step, with mobiles now common across the continent even in the remotest of places.

- 'Flying robots to move goods inevitable' -

Drones, it is argued, could do the same where a lack of roads has made access tough.

"Cargo drone routes have utility wherever there is a lack of roads," the project proposal said.

"Just as mobile phones dispensed with landlines, cargo drones can transcend geographical barriers such as mountains, lakes, and unnavigable rivers without the need for large-scale physical infrastructure."

Jonathan Ledgard, from Swiss-based Afrotech -- an initiative aiming to "help pioneer advanced technologies in Africa at massive scale" -- knows the challenges, having worked as a journalist in trouble spots across the continent for the past decade.

Ledgard is convinced cargo drones will be the future, but is also determined the technology will benefit those who need it most.

"It is inevitable on a crowded planet, with limited resources, that we will make more intensive use of our sky using flying robots to move goods faster, cheaper, and more accurately than ever before," Ledgard said.

"But it is not inevitable that these craft or their landing sites will be engineered to be tough and cheap enough to serve poorer communities who can make most use of them," he said.

Police Probe Bloody Demo

President John Mahama has directed the police administration to investigate the  brutalization of some members of the Let My Vote Count Alliance and others during a demonstration a week ago.

According to Interior Minister, Mark Woyongo, the president, who condemned the 'unfortunate' actions of the police, wanted a thorough investigation into the matter.

On September 16, the Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMCA), in collaboration with Movement for Change (MFC) and the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), planned to picket at the premises of the Electoral Commission (EC) at Ridge in Accra to present their petition to the EC boss stressing the need for a new voter register for the 2016 general elections.

The demonstration turned bloody when the police clashed with the protesters, hurting some of them in the process.

Mr Woyongo, who was speaking to journalists in Accra on Tuesday, said the police administration had assured him of a thorough investigation into the incident.

'The response of the police to the recent LMVCA demonstration has received mixed reactions from the public. In one breadth the police contended that the approved route for the demonstration was violated by the demonstrators, thus compelling them to use all means necessary to protect the EC, even after the court of competent jurisdiction had issued an injunction that barred the demonstrators from marching to the premises of the EC.

'In another breadth, members of LMVCA have accused the police of using excessive force in dispersing the crowd and in the process inflicted injury on some of their members,' Mr Woyongo stated.

He continued, 'The general public should note that we are in a democratic dispensation where the rule of law must be adhered to. Demonstrators should follow the agreed routes. If we demonstrate because we want the right thing done, we should also do the right thing.'

LMVCA's resolve to picket at the EC headquarters in Accra has suffered a setback. After receiving the green light for the demonstration from an Accra circuit court, the police quickly secured an ex-parte motion and succeeded in stopping the group from the demonstration which had been scheduled for yesterday.

The police alleged that they had picked intelligence from a source that suspected hardened criminals had planned to attack, rob and cause panic in Accra and other regions. They also said they were going to carry out an operation in some criminal hubs in Accra and other regions from September 25 to 30 to arrest suspected criminals hence, the motion.

Prisoners To Get Parole
Meanwhile, Mr Woyongo has hinted that the Ghana Prisons Service would soon introduce a parole system into the administration of justice to promote effective rehabilitation among prisoners.

According to the interior minister, the parole system would enable prisoners with good character and successful rehabilitation be released earlier than their jail term into the custody of a legally mandated body.

Mr Woyongo said though the introduction of the parole system into the Prisons Service was at the proposal stage, it would require the necessary legislative backing to bring it into force.

'The Service, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has received funding from the Centre for Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS). As a result, the junior high school (JHS), senior high school (SHS) and the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) programmes at Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, Kumasi, Tamale and Wa prisons, are on course.'

He added, '18 inmates presented for the 2014 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) recorded 100 percent pass. Some inmates who also sat for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) also passed and if the parole system is brought into force, some of them could benefit from it and attend university.'

By Nii Ogbamey Tetteh
[email protected][1]

Burkina coup plotters abandon barracks after army assault

Ouagadougou (AFP) - Soldiers who staged a short-lived coup in Burkina Faso abandoned their barracks in the capital late Tuesday after a tense standoff with loyalist troops, the military said, as authorities battled to regain control of the crisis-hit country.

Coup leader General Gilbert Diendere told AFP he feared there had been many deaths from the assault on the sprawling military base, which is next to the presidential palace in Ouagadougou.

The army "fired artillery," Diendere told AFP, adding that there had been families and a clinic inside the barracks.

"There must have been many deaths and injuries."

It was not immediately clear how many people died.

The army launched an assault on the barracks of the elite presidential guard (RSP) after the putschists, who support deposed leader Blaise Compaore, refused to give up their weapons in line with a peace deal mediated by regional powers.

After the army fired on the barracks with heavy weapons, and as their leader pleaded with his men to lay down their arms to "avoid a bloodbath," the crack troops behind the September 17 coup stood down, the military said.

"The situation is calm. An assault was carried out; there was no confrontation," said General Pingrenoma Zagre, the Burkinabe army's chief of staff.

Military sources said troops were continuing to comb the barracks into the night.

The government issued a statement hailing the "liberation" of RSP camps by "our valiant defence and security forces," urging the public to now work together to boost national unity.

The military had warned earlier that it was giving the coup plotters "a last chance to surrender." Heavy weapons fire sent dust rising into the sky above the barracks.

Diendere had urged his men to stand down, with Omega radio quoting him as saying: "I am asking elements of the RSP to lay down their arms to avoid a bloodbath."

In an interview, the general said he was ready to face justice, saying he was "at the disposal of my country's judiciary."

The coup leader added that he was no longer at the barracks, without giving details.

Ouagadougou airport was closed as troops locked down the area around the barracks of the RSP, ratcheting up the pressure on them to stand down.

Troops had deployed around the barracks with armoured cars and pickup trucks on Tuesday morning as tensions escalated, with soldiers equipped with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades stationed at several intersections.

- Presidential hopeful arrested -

The RSP had detained interim president Michel Kafando and prime minister Isaac Zida on September 16 and installed Diendere, Compaore's former chief of staff, as the new leader.

But following nearly a week of international pressure, the putschists gave up, accepting a peace deal brokered by the ECOWAS west African regional bloc under which the interim leadership would return, and the coup plotters would stand down with their safety and that of their families guaranteed.

Troops arrested Djibril Bassole, who served as foreign minister under Compaore and had been expected to run in presidential elections that had been slated to take place on October 11, sources said.

A security source said the arrest was "in connection with the coup," with a military source confirming the information.

The government had accused Diendere of seeking to mobilise "foreign troops and jihadists" to help him.

Despite the lockdown, life in the capital had by Tuesday morning regained some sense of normalcy after a call on Saturday for a general strike was suspended.

Even so, the education minister decided to delay the start of the new school year by a week to October 8.

The government had on Monday accused the RSP of a string of offences, including taking soldiers hostage and holding back RSP troops "wanting to join the voice of reason."

And the chief of staff said the peace deal had hit an "impasse" over the guards' refusal to "follow the disarmament by creating incidents and attacking personnel charged with this mission."

- 'Safety pledge ignored' -

An RSP source told AFP that the process of disarming had been held up because a government pledge to ensure the safety of the putschists and their families was not being respected.

The peace deal also called on troops who had converged on Ouagadougou to withdraw 50 kilometres from the city, but they had not done so, he added.

At least 10 people were killed and more than 100 injured in protests triggered by the coup, which came just weeks before the first elections scheduled to be held since Compaore's 2014 ouster after 27 years of iron-fisted rule.

The African Union lifted a suspension of Burkina Faso as well as a travel ban and asset freeze on junta leaders, but warned that they would be reinstated if the RSP "tries to hold up the transition process."

Bodies on Burundi's streets offer grim warning

Nairobi (AFP) - Dawn in Bujumbura, and bodies line the streets. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza succeeded in his return to power, but the violence that accompanied his controversial election has not stopped.

Who carries out the killings on the streets of the capital -- assassinations or reprisal raids -- is not known, and both sides blame the other.

Some say it is the opposition being killed, others say the attacks are to scare off pro-government supporters.

"We discover corpses almost every day on the street in Bujumbura, sometimes with traces of extreme violence," said Carina Tertsakian from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The corpses are often found in the same position - the arms bound tight behind the back, the limbs twisted in death.

"The Burundian authorities have the duty to investigate and punish those responsible," Tertsakian said, adding that while the police say they are "investigating" the killings, they do not release their findings.

Police sources and witnesses give more details however, describing how the victims are shot in the middle of the night, when most people are too terrified to venture outside, locking themselves indoors.

Nkurunziza won a highly controversial third term in July in polls boycotted by the opposition and denounced by the United Nations as neither free nor fair.

His re-election bid sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups, who condemned it as unconstitutional.

- 'Spiralling tit-for-tat violence' -

The bodies found in the morning are either bundled into ditches or on the roadside, as though thrown out of a passing vehicle.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein this week warned that Burundi risked sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detentions.

"Almost every day, dead bodies are found lying on the streets of some of Bujumbura's neighbourhoods," Zeid said in a statement.

"In many cases, the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range. The bodies sometimes show signs of torture and are typically found with their hands tied behind their backs."

Since April, Zeid's office said it had registered 134 killings, more than 90 cases of torture and hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, including 704 arrests this month alone.

Burundi's 1993-2006 civil war left at least 300,000 people dead and sporadic violence has continued since, with fears mounting of renewed conflict that could have ripple effects throughout the region.

Zeid stressed that because such serious crimes are going unpunished, "more people are looking to take the law into their own hands."

"There is an increasing risk that spiralling tit-for-tat violence will plunge the country back into its bloody past," he warned.

Burundi's constitution only allows a president to be elected twice -- for a total of 10 years in power.

But Nkurunziza argued ahead of the poll that he had only been directly elected by the people once. In power since 2005, when he was selected by parliament, he was first re-elected in 2010.

Critics say his third-term went against a peace deal that helped end the war.

Opposition leaders say supporters take photographs of those killed, then circulating them via social media, in a bid to "identify victims - and to warn people to avoid a certain area," they told AFP, asking not to be named.

"They are often opposition activists or people who participated in protests against the third term," according to the same sources.

- 'Machiavellian plan' -

Residents of opposition stronghold neighbourhoods blame Burundi's widely feared National Intelligence Agency (SNR), who relish a reputation for extreme brutality.

"The bodies are left in these areas... to create terror amongst those who oppose the authorities," said a human rights activist, on condition of anonymity.

In turn, the government blames the opposition for the killings, accusing them of a "Machiavellian plan" of eliminating those who support the authorities, while at the same time trying to pin the executions on the government, said Willy Nyamitwe, chief of presidential communications.

The executions are intended to "punish those they call 'traitors', to frighten so that others do not follow," Nyamitwe said.

Such claims are rejected by the opposition.

"Most of the bodies are identified as those of opposition activists and civil society, who were key in the protests against the third term," said Leonard Nyangoma, chairman of Cnared, the anti-third term coalition.

"They arrest you, torture you, kill you - then say you committed suicide," he added.

Amid swirling rumours, claims and counter-claims, exactly who is behind the murky murders is unclear, not least because independent journalists and rights groups have been forced to flee.

I Still Insist On Auditing Of Voters Register

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the uncovering by the Bawumia Team of forensic experts of the double and multiple registration of some voters, and the criminal scanning onto Ghana’s Voters’ Register of foreign nationals by some key operatives of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), in collusion with some staff members of the Electoral Commission (EC), is incontrovertible.

What I vehemently beg to disagree with is the rather facile notion that, somehow, merely causing the compilation of a new Voters’ Register for Election 2016 would simply and effectively remedy this problem, which clearly appears to be more systemic than either tangential or accidental (See “NPP Strengthens Case Against Voters’ Register With Further Evidence” / 9/28/15).

In other words, what ought to be done right now is for the relevant leaders of all the major political parties in the country to confer and determine precisely how the Voters’ Register came to be so irreparably contaminated, as strongly argued by Nana Akufo-Addo and his associates of the New Patriotic Party.

And then the next step will be for the Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, her staff and representatives of the major political parties to proceed with measures to credibly and effectively clean up the problem.

This process of de-contaminating, or de-coupling, the Voters’ Register must involve punitive measures against those found to have either facilitated or actively collaborated in the criminal contamination of the Voters’ Register, otherwise the problem will persist, thus rendering any progressive attempt to establish a wholly new Voters’ Register ineffective. This has been the trend of my argument all along.

The NPP leaders, in a press release published by the party’s Communications Directorate, claims that the EC had promised to use its biometric technology to ferret out and promptly expunge the double and multiple registration of eligible voters from its system but has not done so to-date. And so what Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia and his team of expert forensic auditors ought to be doing presently is to be dialoguing with the Electoral Commissioner and her senior staff in order to ensure that the necessary expunging of the Voters’ Register is effected way ahead of Election 2016.

If the leaders of the New Patriotic Party cannot trust the Electoral Commissioner and her staff to expunge both the double and multiple, as well as foreign, illegally registered voters from the country’s electoral roll, then there is absolutely no possibility of them trusting the EC to establish a credible Voters’ Register. For at the end of the day, the onus of ensuring that the current Voters’ Register is credible squarely rests with those who have the most to lose if the status quo is lamely allowed to prevail.

And, of course, by the preceding is meant the imperative need for the leaders of the New Patriotic Party, as well as all concerned Ghanaian citizens, to be vigilant about the way and manner in which the Voters’ Register is compiled, added onto every year with newly eligible voters and maintained.

As I recently observed on a Kasapa Radio news program, the current Voters’ Register was not compiled by some extraterrestrial creatures and dropped into the laps of Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the country’s former Electoral Commissioner. Don’t get me wrong, I perfectly understand the demand for a new Voters’ Register, in terms of the great need for the country to put the hopelessly compromised Afari-Gyan era behind us.

The fact of the matter, though, is that the past is highly unlikely to fade into oblivion anytime soon by the mere compilation or establishment of a new Voters’ Register. The electoral process, as I observed in a previous column not very long, is inescapably a “cultural process.” It depends very much on the attitude and temperament of all the key players involved.

This means that the mere availability of biometric technology to both the EC and the Ghanaian voter, at large, has little meaning short of its most appropriate application in order to achieve the most objectively desirable results.

Where I unreservedly agree with Nana Akufo-Addo and his associates among the top hierarchy membership of the New Patriotic Party, is the imperative need for Commissioner Osei to issue an official statement either categorically agreeing with or disputing the findings of Team Bawumia vis-à-vis the illegal and criminal packing of the country’s Voters’ Register with foreign nationals.

Implicated Judges Ordered To Reappear Before Investigative C’ttee

The 22 lower court judges contesting the
legality of the investigative committee set up
by the judicial council will now have no option
but to appear before it.
This was after the presiding judge, Justice
Getrude Torkonoo dismissed the case brought
before her by some of the judges alleged to
have been involved in the judicial bribery
The judges were seeking the court to declare as
"illegal" the work of the committee and their
subsequent suspension, null and void.
In her ruling justice Getrude Torkonoo said the
Judicial Council was only performing its
administrative role by appointing the
committee to look into the matter, an action
she says "cannot be illegal."
The application to strike out the case was
brought by the Attorney General.
Earlier in the day, the injunction against the
committee was also struck out by the same


Follow by Email


Blog Archive


Copyright © 2011 to Ghana Leaks Blog! Exclusive News From The Motherland. All rights resevered.

Back To Top