AFRICA/CARIBBEAN NOW: Mutharika Announces Re-Election Bid

Peter Mutharika
Peter Mutharika (Screen grab from video by Council on Foreign Relations)

Malawi President Peter Mutharika announced Saturday that he will contest as presidential candidate in next year’s presidential election, the Malawi Voice reported.

Mutharika made the announcement at Kamuzu International Airport on arrival from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and state visit to Scotland, as he addressed Democratic Progressive Party supporters who had gathered at the mini-stadium at the airport.

“I will stand to save the party from getting booted out of government,” Mutharika said amid applause from the DPP supporters. “I know there are some Judas Iscariots who are betraying us. They want to sell the party so that MCP wins easily because they know that if I stand, they will not defeat us.”

Minimum Wage Bill to Be Amended

South Africa’s National Minimum Wage Bill, which prescribes R20 (approx. $1.58) an hour and would have went into effect on May 1, is being amended, the Cape Times reported.

While the Department of Labour said there would be no turning back on the wage, the newly formed South Africa Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has vowed to rebel against it.

SAFTU members, who marched across cities nationwide on Wednesday, April 25, have slammed the bill for prescribing “slavery wages.”

It was the first public demonstration of SAFTU’s muscle.

The bill also provides for temporary exceptions for the first year: farm workers R18 an hour, domestic workers R15 an hour and workers in the expanded public works program R11 an hour.

Mnangagwa Declares War on Economic Saboteurs

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared war on economic saboteurs, lethargic public officers and arms of state, warning individuals and entities that impede government efforts to grow the economy will be dealt with ruthlessly, The Herald reported.

Asserting that resistance will not be tolerated, the president said efforts to attract foreign investment, re-engage bilateral partners, attract diaspora remittances and achieve export-led growth were key to improved productivity, a bigger economy and better rewards for civil servants.

Officially opening the 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Saturday, Mnangagwa directed all public sector officers in various government ministries, departments, agencies and state enterprises to facilitate domestic and international investment.

The president said his administration acknowledged that actions speak louder than words and demanded all public officers and various arms of government to facilitate investment and the ease of doing business.

South African Cites Urgent Need for Capital Injection

South African Airways (SAA) urgently needs a new capital injection to stay afloat and is in discussions with banks and the National Treasury for “an open credit line,” its chief executive said.

State-owned SAA, which has not generated a profit since 2011, is regularly cited by ratings agencies as a drain on the government purse and has already received state guarantees totaling nearly $1.6 billion.

“We do need access to capital to sustain the operations and we are having discussions with Treasury, as well as the banks around how we can have an open credit line,” Chief Executive Vuyani Jarana told parliament. “Over the next six months we will need … in the range of 5 billion rand to make sure we can support the working capital.”

Bahamas Government Earmarks $14M for New Airport

Outlining the government’s agenda for Eleuthera’s infrastructural development, Bahamas Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said $14 million will be budgeted for a new airport in North Eleuthera, according to The Tribune, one of The Bahamas’ leading newspapers.

Speaking at the Valentine’s Resort and Marina on Harbour Island on Wednesday, April 25 during the sixth Eleuthera Business Outlook event, Bannister said the government appreciates “the critical needs that are served by the North Eleuthera Airport.”

“This airport is rated as a tier one airport with high volumes of air traffic and considerable economic viability,” Bannister said. “It is a significant port of entry and has the ability to be self-sustaining.”

More than a month after bad weather forced the closure of the Glass Window Bridge, preventing residents from commuting between connected settlements, Mr Bannister also said $2 million will be budgeted to allow for necessary engineering studies for a new bridge.

CARICOM Supports Work of FATF

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recognizes that global security and financial crime are increasingly intertwined and therefore supports the work of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its regional bodies in developing international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, the St. Kitts & Nevis Observer reported.

“Within the Community, our Member States and Associate Members have expended considerable resources towards achieving compliance with AML/CFT standards,” the organization said in a statement. “Countries in the region have also supported global initiatives led by the OECD Global Forum and have entered the necessary international agreements to facilitate the sharing of information on beneficial ownership. CARICOM Associate Members are an integral part of the Caribbean Community family whose circumstances, self-governance and democratic rights should not be disregarded. In that context, we are deeply concerned about the potential impact on their economies by any impositions that would go against the spirit of democracy and diminish their standard of living.”

CARICOM’s associate members include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.

UWI Embarks on Multimillion-Dollar Agricultural Project

The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Cave Hill Campus is embarking on a multimillion-dollar agricultural project that will transform the agriculture industry, the Barbados Nation reported.

With the help of the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship, UWI will be utilizing 28.5 acres of land on Dukes Plantation to construct a state-of-the-art agro-business park that will encompass a number of agronomic aspects.

The project was highlighted Saturday by Eudine Barriteau, professor and principal of the campus, as she addressed an audience at the Centre for Food Security & Entrepreneurship Exquisite Local and Caribbean Product launch at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Holetown, St James.

During her speech, she said a modern approach to agriculture was needed to show how far the industry could be developed.

Caribbean Countries Look to Improve Fisheries Sector

A number of recommendations aimed at boosting production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as well as risk insurance for fisheries will be submitted to the 12th meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in Montserrat next month, the Antigua Observer reported.

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton said it is time for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries “to pay more careful attention and make the investments necessary to protect and fully utilize our coastal and ocean resources for sustainable development.”

The CRFM said that the recommendations going before the May 18 meeting had been drawn up at the recently concluded annual meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum in Montserrat.

It said that the forum’s recommendations also include measures to deal with the ongoing challenges to fisheries subsidies, gender mainstreaming and the development of critical fishery management plans.

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