GOVERNOR REITERATES FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Menongue – The governor of Cuando Cubango, Júlio Bessa, on Tuesday reiterated the close fight against illegal exploitation of wood, anarchic burning and poaching, as they are practices that violate the legislation in force in the country.

The governor, who was speaking on the sidelines of an event marking the 42nd anniversary of the creation of the Interior Ministry, said that the government had recently seen an intensification of mussivi wood cutting, but that from now on it would be tough and implacable in the fight against this and other illegal actions.

The combat will be carried out based on the law 6/17 of 24 January (Forest and Wildlife Basic Law), on the Presidential Decree 171/18, of 23 July (Forestry Regulation) and on the Presidential Decree 278/18, of 07 August (Decree that prohibits the cutting of mussivi wood).

Júlio Bessa warned the National Police and other competent bodies to continue to do their work with rigour, reminding that in case of seized wood, it will be used and incorporated in the execution process of the PIIM works.

He exhorted the civil society, the youth and the media to help the National Police and the Defence and Intelligence bodies to sensitise and mobilise the peasant families and respective communities and their leaders, to refrain from burning, since it is a propitious time of the year for this practice, which damages the soil and the environment.

Source: Angola Press News Agency

COVID-19: ANGOLA REPORTS 221 RECOVERIES, 126 NEW INFECTIONS

Luanda – The health authorities on Tuesday announced the recovery of 221 patients, 126 new cases and 7 deaths, in the last 24 hours.

According to the daily bulletin, of those recovered, 201 reside in Luanda, 18 in Huambo, 1 in Lunda Sul and 1 in Cunene.

As for the new cases, the bulletin said, 84 were diagnosed in Luanda, 16 in Huambo, 15 in Huila, 3 in Benguela, 3 in Zaire, 2 in Malanje, 1 in Cabinda, 1 in Cuando Cubango and 1 in Uige.

Among the new cases, whose ages range from 7 days to 72 years, 66 are men and 60 women.

The deaths involve two citizens resident in Huíla, one in Luanda, one in Huambo, one in Cuando Cubango, one in Cunene and one in Malanje.

In the last 24 hours, laboratories processed 2,989 samples by RT-PCR.

There are 108 patients in the hospitalisation centres, 85 are in institutional quarantine, while 2,323 contacts of positive cases are under medical follow-up.

The country records 37,874 positive cases, with 875 deaths, 32,003 recovered patients and 4,996 active. Of the active ones, 15 are in critical condition, 25 severe, 38 moderate, 30 mild and 4,888 asymptomatic.

Source: Angola Press News Agency

Signing Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme Bill into law-WHO Representative commends Governor for honouring pledge

The World Health Organization Country Representative (WR) Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo has commended His Excellency, Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike on signing the Contributory Health Protection Programme Bill into law.

A statement issued by Special Assistant to the Governor on Media Kelvin Ebiri, indicated that, the Governor, who signed the bill into law at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on 21 June 2021, said with the law, residents and people of the state who want health insurance could now participate in the scheme.

He urged civil servants in the state to leverage on the Contributory Health Protection Programme to boost their health status, adding that the Public Procurement (amendment) Law, as passed by the State House of Assembly, would enable the state government to fulfil its obligations to the people of Rivers State.

It could be recalled that Dr Mulombo visited Governor Wike in Port Harcourt on 26 April 2021. In his prayers to the governor during the meeting, the WR tabled three major requests: The signing of the Rivers State Contributory Health Protection (RIVCHPP) Programme Bill into law; Strengthen continuity of quality essential health services; Provision of 5 genexpert machines to ensure adequate diagnosis of TB in all the LGAs and recruitment of health work force in the state to boost provision of health care in the state.

While still at the Government House, the WR secured the Governor’s commitment to immediately sign the Rivers State Contributory Health Protection (RIVCHPP) Programme Bill into law to offer financial protection to the people to access health services thereby improving Universal Health Coverage. The signing of the Bill into law is the culmination of the Governor’s promise to expedite action on the requests made by the Dr Mulombo.

The arduous journey towards enactment of the Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme Law started with the setting up of a Technical Committee in June 2016 by the State Ministry of Health and a Memorandum to State Executive Council in September 2016. Between 2017 and June 2021, it has taken the effective collaboration of the State Health Financing Unit and Technical Working Group, State Executive Council, State Judiciary, State House of Assembly, and key development partners including the USAID and WHO to make it a reality.

“With the enactment of Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme Law No. 3 of 2020, the WHO will continue to provide technical support to Government, to ensure that millions of people in Rivers State who currently pay out-of-pocket for health services will subsequently become covered and have access to quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship”, Dr Mulombo said.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa

WHO Supports the cholera vaccination campaign in Zambia’s hot spot districts as the country accelerates its efforts to eliminate the deadly disease

Although Cholera is a preventable disease, it remains a significant public health problem globally. Each year, there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide. Zambia has experienced cholera outbreaks since 1977 and the country’s last major outbreak lasted from October 2017 to June 2018 with a total of 5,935 reported cases and 114 deaths. The risk factors mainly include inadequate access to clean and safe water, poor sanitation facilities, poor solid waste management and consumption of contaminated food.

In 2019 the Zambian government committed itself to an ambitious target of eliminating cholera by the year 2025 ahead of the Global Taskforce on Cholera Control’s 2017 global strategy which aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90% and to eliminate cholera in as many as 20 countries by 2030. This agenda is supported at the highest level of leadership with unprecedented political will in implementation of the country’s Multisectoral Cholera Elimination Plan. The multisectoral plan lays emphasis on ensuring adequate safe water and sanitation coverage in the cholera hotspots including conducting oral cholera vaccination campaigns. Cholera “hotspots” are specific and relatively small areas where the cholera burden is most concentrated and they play a central role in the spread of the disease to other regions or areas. Approximately 3.5 million people live in cholera hotspots in Zambia. Targeting cholera hotspots as a priority has helped focus cholera control programmes on the most vulnerable populations.

Since January 2021, the Ministry of Health has worked in collaboration with other line ministries with support from the World Health Organization and other partners to conduct cholera vaccination in Chiengi, Kabwe, Kapiri-Mposhi, Kitwe, Lusaka, Mazabuka, Monze, Mpulungu, Nchelenge, Ndola, Nsama, Shibuyunji and Sinazongwe districts. These hotspots were selected based on geographical and contextual factors such as the recurrence of outbreaks within the last 10 years, poor WASH services, existence of transit points, presence of slums, areas prone to flooding, fishing camps, and influx of refugees.

The launch of the first round of the cholera vaccination in the rural district of Ngabwe on 4 June 2021 put a spotlight on the OCV campaign in the country. It also highlighted the importance of the use of Oral Cholera Vaccines in conjunction with improvements in water and sanitation to control cholera outbreaks and for prevention in areas known to be high risk for cholera. The Zambia National Public Health Institute director, Professor Victor Mukonka, was present in Ngabwe district to launch the campaign which was targeting the population of approximately 21,000 people. Professor Mukonka stated that the Ministry of Health was moving away from curative to preventive interventions and that the implementation of the OCV campaign was important in preventing cholera. He urged the district to focus on engaging community leadership who were critical agents in mobilizing communities to appreciate and accept the vaccine.

The World Health Organisation has supported the country in conducting the situation analysis, mapping of the hotspots and has worked with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) and the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) to ensure that the country receives the life-saving vaccines. It has also advocated for a multisectoral approach in implementation of high impact interventions particularly improving access to water and sanitation facilities. The WHO Representative, Dr. Nathan Bakyaita was also present in Ngabwe district and stated that WHO remained committed to working with other UN agencies to support the implementation of the country’s multi-sectoral plan on the elimination of cholera.

The OCV campaign has been conducted despite the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The government has committed itself to continuing the provision of other essential health services in order to safeguard the gains made in health and to promote the health of the population. A phased approach for the 11 identified hot spots across the country has been used. Since January 2021 a total of 5 hot spot districts have been covered with the two rounds of the OCV while one district has conducted the first round. There is a strong commitment to ensure 85% of the Zambian population living in the hotspots are vaccinated with the cholera vaccine.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa

ANGOLA CLIMBS SEVEN POSITIONS IN GLOBAL PEACE INDEX

Luanda – Angola has risen seven places in this year’s edition of the Global Peace Index, reaching 2,017 points, which places the African nation in position 80 out of 163 countries.

According to Tuesday’s edition of the State-run daily Jornal de Angola, which quotes the Institute for Peace and Economics, author of the document that classifies “safe countries”, Angola is in the “Yellow” category.

This category is third, between “Very High,” “High,” “Low,” “Very Low” and “No Classification.

Among the Portuguese-speaking countries, Angola is the second best classified, after Portugal, in fourth place, with 1,267 points, but with a drop of two positions in relation to last year. The score for the classification is done in a decreasing manner.

Brazil maintains position 128 of the last index, surpassed by Mozambique, in position 103.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Angola ranks 15th out of 44 countries, on a scale led by Mauritius.

According to the ranking, Angola surpasses powers such as Russia, in position 154, the United States of America (122) and China (100).

Source: Angola Press News Agency

GOVERNMENT SEEKS PLATFORM TO FINANCE MICRO-CREDIT

Luanda – The Angolan government is seeking the best platform to provide the resources available from the second phase of operationalisation of the micro-credit financing line of the “Economic Relief Measures” to entrepreneurs across the country, the Secretary of State for the Economy, Mário Caetano João said today.

Mário Caetano João, who was speaking at the usual briefing with the press, said he was not satisfied with the territorial distribution of the projects financed through the micro-credit societies that received two billion kwanzas (Kz) in the first phase, being necessary to improve the performance for the other two billion for the second phase.

“The first phase is practically concluded, but we are not satisfied with the territorial distribution. We have a province that has not seen a single kwanza of micro credit,” he lamented.

He said that five credit applications were registered for a value of Kz 22 million.

Mário Caetano João said that, since the operationalisation of the micro-credit financing line of the Economic Relief Measures, 2,387 requests had been registered to an approximate amount of Kz 5.6 billion.

Source: Angola Press News Agency

Cyberbullying Trial Tests French Tools to Fight Online Abuse

PARIS – A landmark cyberbullying trial in Paris, involving thousands of threats against a teenager who savaged Islam in online posts, is blazing a trail in efforts to punish and prevent online abuse.

It has also raised uncomfortable questions about freedom of expression, freedom to criticize a religion, and respect for France’s millions of Muslims. But most of all, it’s been a trial about the power of the online word, and prosecutors hope it serves as a wake-up call to those who treat it lightly.

Thirteen young people of various backgrounds and religions from across France face potential prison time for charges including online harassment, online death threats and online rape threats in the two-day trial wrapping up Tuesday. It’s the first of its kind since France created a new court in January to prosecute online crimes, including harassment and discrimination.

Tweet or post without thinking

One of the defendants wants to become a police officer. Another says he just wanted to rack up more followers by making people laugh. Some denied wrongdoing, others apologized. Most said they tweeted or posted without thinking.

The teen at the center of the trial, who has been identified publicly only by her first name, Mila, told the court she feels as if she’s been “condemned to death.”

“I do not see my future,” she said.

Mila, who describes herself as atheist, was 16 when she started posting videos on Instagram and later TikTok harshly criticizing Islam and the Quran. Now 18, she testified that “I don’t like any religion, not just Islam.”

Her lawyer Richard Malka said Mila has received some 100,000 threatening messages, including death threats, rape threats, misogynist messages and hateful messages about her homosexuality.

Quit high school twice

Mila had to quit her high school, then another. She is now monitored daily by the police for her safety.

“It’s been a cataclysm, it feels like the sky is falling on our heads … a confrontation with pure hatred,” her mother told the court.

Mila’s online enemies don’t fit a single profile. Among the thousands of threats, authorities tracked down 13 suspects who are on trial this week. All are being identified publicly only by their first names, according to French practice.

TikTok video

The trial focused on comments in response to a TikTok video by Mila in November criticizing Islam. A defendant named Manfred threatened to turn her into another Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded outside Paris in October after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Manfred told the court he was “pretending to be a stalker to make people laugh.”

“I knew she was controversial because she criticized Islam. I wanted to have fun and get new subscribers,” he testified.

Defendant Enzo, 22, apologized in court for tweeting “you deserve to have your throat slit,” followed by a sexist epithet.

Others argued their posts didn’t constitute a crime.

“At the time, I was not aware that it was harassment. When I posted the tweet, I wasn’t thinking,” testified Lauren, a 21-year-old university student who tweeted about Mila: “Have her skull crushed, please.”

Stands by criticism

Alyssa, 20, one of the few Muslim defendants, says she reacted “like everyone else on Twitter” and stood by her criticism of Mila’s posts.

While the defense lawyer argued that it’s not the same thing to insult a god or a religion and a human being, Alyssa disagreed.

“For me, it is of the same nature. Mila used freedom of expression; I thought that (tweeting an angry response) was also freedom of expression,” she said.

Freedom of expression is considered a fundamental right and blasphemy is not a crime in France. After Mila’s initial video in January 2020, a legal complaint was filed against her for incitement to racial hatred. That investigation was dropped for lack of evidence.

Some French Muslims feel that their country, and President Emmanuel Macron’s government, unfairly stigmatize their religious practices.

French society divided

Mila’s online videos rekindled those concerns and divided French society. While the threats against her were broadly condemned, former Socialist President Francois Hollande was among those who argued that while she has the right to criticize religion, “she should not engage in hate speech about those who practice their religion.”

Nawfel, 19, didn’t see the harm when he tweeted that Mila deserved the death penalty and insulted her sexuality. He has passed tests to become a gendarme and hopes not to be sentenced, to keep a clean record. The trial has given him new perspective on online activity.

“Without social media, everyone would have a normal life,” he said. “Now there are many people who will think before they write.”

Prison time, fines

The defendants face up to two years in prison and 30,000 euros in fines (about $37,000) if convicted of online harassment. Some are also accused of online death threats, an offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of three years and a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($55,000).

The prosecutor, however, requested suspended sentences. A verdict is expected July 9.

“You have the power to stop this digital lynching,” defense lawyer Malka told the judges. “Fear of the law is the only thing that remains.”

Mila remains active on social networks.

“I have this need to show that I will not change who I am and what I think,” she said. “I see it as like a woman who has been raped in the street and who is asked not to go out, so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Source: Voice of America

AGT REAFFIRMS TAX RATES REDUCTION

Saurimo – The General Tax Authority (AGT) will continue to implement policies aimed at broadening the tax base and reducing tax rates, as well as adapting the provision of its services to international formats, with the conclusion of agreements to avoid double taxation.

The information was presented today, in Saurimo, Lunda Sul province, by the chairman of the AGT board of directors, Cláudio Dos Santos, during a meeting with taxpayers from the region.

He noted that the aim was to encourage business groups and others to meet their tax obligations and to increase revenue collection levels in the productive sector.

From a legislative point of view, Cláudio dos Santos noted, there are a number of laws that have been improved as a result of constant dialogue with taxpayers, making it possible to bring customs and tax laws “much closer to each economic reality,” in other words, more in line with what the parties actually feel.

He noted that in the area of Industrial Tax, for example, there had been a reduction of the general rate, which had fallen from 30 percent to 25 percent, and in the primary sector, from 15 percent to 10 percent, figures that could reduce if the taxpayer regularly met their tax obligations and did not accumulate debts.

He also noted the reductions made in property taxes, VAT, IRT, which mainly protect small and medium-sized businesses, to prevent tax evasion, among other obligations.

On the other hand, AGT’s CEO appealed to local businesspeople, to adhere to AGT’s electronic systems, for the licensing of their products, tax payments and other fees.

Source: Angola Press News Agency

ANGOLA AND MOZAMBIQUE HARMONIZE POSITIONS IN AFRICAN UNION

Luanda – The ambassadors of Angola and Mozambique accredited in Ethiopia today in Addis Ababa agreed stances on regional, African and international issues.

According to a statement issued by the Angolan diplomatic office, to which ANGOP had access, ambassadors Francisco José da Cruz, of Angola, and Alfredo Fabião Nuvunga, of Mozambique, also discussed the holding on Wednesday, in Maputo, of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The summit, which will be held under the slogan “40 years building peace and security and promoting development and resilience to global challenges,” has on the agenda issues on the response and regional support from SADC to Mozambique in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado province, a scourge that, in the opinion of the two diplomats, should be seen in a comprehensive and international context.

In the opinion of the Angolan ambassador, the issue of terrorism should be part of a common agenda and be part of a holistic approach, in order to contain its spread and eradicate it from Africa and other parts of the world.

In this sense, he recalled that during the 33rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), held in February 2020, in Addis Ababa, the President of Angola, João Lourenço, presented a proposal for the holding of an Extraordinary Summit, in order to address the problem of terrorism in Africa.

Source: Angola Press News Agency

PRESIDENT HAILS CONSTITUTION REVISION APPROVAL

Luanda – The President of the Republic, João Lourenço, welcomed today, Tuesday, the approval of the punctual Revision of the Constitution, by the Angolan Parliament.

In a brief comment on his Twitter account, President João Lourenço thanked all the members of parliament and members of civil society who had contributed to enriching the initially proposed version.

With 152 votes in favour, none against and 56 abstentions, the first ordinary partial revision of the Constitution of the Republic of Angola, 11 years after it came into force, eliminated the difficulties of interpretation that existed on the subject of the supervision of the Government by the parliament and ensured that Angolan citizens living abroad can vote.

It also removed from the Constitution of the Republic the gradualism in the implementation of local power authorities, one of the main disagreements between the government and the opposition.

The approved changes also cover the institutional positioning of bodies such as the National Bank of Angola (BNA), which now has a different constitutional status and a different designation for its governor.

With this partial revision, the Constitution of the Republic of Angola, approved in 2010, increased from 244 to 249 articles.

Forty-four articles of the 2010 Constitution were amended, seven new articles were included and two paragraphs of two articles, one paragraph of one article and two complete articles were revoked.

The Magna Carta attributes to the President of the Republic and one third (1/3) of the 220 deputies of the National Assembly in full exercise of their functions the initiative for constitutional revision.

Source: Angola Press News Agency