What’s Going On: Ghana’s E-Levy Bill, Kenya’s Supreme Court Ruling, Tunisia’s Dissolved Parliament
notable headlines from around the continent
notable headlines from around the continent
“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That.
The Kenyan Judiciary exercised its freedom, last week, after ruling the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) illegal. The initiative, which was spearheaded by the state’s president, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Mr Raila Odinga was a stale attempt of bringing national unity after the 2017 general elections. The Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2020, dubbed BBI, was to introduce 74 amendments to Kenya’s Constitution through a method known as the “popular initiative”.
Some of the amendments included: expanding the executive and legislative branches, adding the post of prime minister, two deputies, official leader of the opposition, creating at least 70 new constituencies and adding an affirmative action clause that would create the possibility of up to 300 unelected new members of Parliament, potentially creating a Parliament nearing the size of the United States Congress.
As the country is preparing for her general elections in August 2022, this serves as a win for Kenyan’s. Democracy is guaranteed as the BBI intimidated judicial independence while at the same time eradicating opportunities for the establishment of an efficient opposition to the government. If passed, it would lead to the implementation of different reforms eventually affecting the awaited 2022 August general elections.
The ruling adds stiff tension in the country as the BBI has been tied to the political leaders: Deputy President Mr William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is on his 5th attempt. While Mr Raila Odinga supported the proposed bill, Deputy President William Ruto strongly condemned the bill insisting it was a move to out him of the government. This comes after the fallout between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
Ghana’s parliament approved the controversial e-levy bill which will result in more taxation for its citizens. The bill will see a 1.5% taxation on electronic money transfers. Members of the opposition refused to cast a vote as they termed the tax as unfair due to the fact that it will take the lower-income people and small business owners out of the digital economy. The government claims it will help raise over 900 million dollars and address the problems of unemployment and high public debt.
Markets reacted immediately after the tax passed. The prices of Ghanaian Eurobonds rose by as much as 2.77 cents on the dollar, reaching their highest value since the day before Russia invaded Ukraine. According to government estimates, the tax which covers electronic money transfers can raise up to 6.9 billion Ghanaian cedis ($926million) in 2022.
E Levy bill has been passed
— Seli Baisie (@seli_baisie) March 29, 2022
Tanzanian opposition leader Mr Freeman Mbowe is now a freeman after Tanzanian prosecutors dropped the charges of terrorism levied against him. Mr Freeman Mbowe was arrested on 21st July 2021 in a crackdown denounced as a throwback to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader, John Magufuli.
Mr Mbowe who was released after eight months of detention was arrested hours before a meeting to discuss constitutional reforms. The arrest of Freeman Mbowe brought international attention as it once again, questioned democracy and the rights of activists in Africa. International bodies and activists in Tanzania have called for an amendment to the constitution to prevent the wrongful detention of victims.
Last year, Tunisia’s president Kais Saied’s decided to freeze his country’s Parliament, reportedly due to his need to seize power. Following this decision, just last week, political tension in Tunisia further spiked after her President recently made the move to completely dissolve his country’s parliament. The decree came last Wednesday just hours after the members of the last house held a plenary session online and voted to end his exceptional measures, which included the suspension of the chamber and the sacking of the prime minister, along with the seizure of legislative and judicial powers.
The president also promised that the legislators who had opposed presidential rulings in the virtual meeting would be prosecuted on heavy charges of “conspiring against state security”. Tunisia’s justice minister then launched a judicial investigation against more than half of the members of the now-dissolved parliament who took part in the online session. Many Tunisians welcomed the action stating it was necessary to save the country from corruption. Following this move, the president has now ruled out parliamentary elections within the next three months. According to reports, Tunisia’s president will then move to rewrite the constitution which will instinctively delay the general elections.
In December 2021, the Oromia state security forces kidnapped 39 members of the Karrayyu Gadaa people and executed 14 of them during the pastoral community’s gathering for a seasonal prayer known as Kadhaa Waaqaaas. The Karrayyu Gaadaa people are a traditional community with a commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes. The brutal act is termed a premeditated murder as the Karrayyu Gadaa people opposed the government using Ethiopians to fight against the Oromo and Tigrayan rebels. The government feared the Karrayyuu people would welcome the rebels allowing them to use their land as a route to invade Addis Ababa.
The Oromia State officials blamed the Oromo Liberation Army for the deaths however various state bodies, officials and activists criticised the government and Oromia Special Forces. In February 2022 the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) finally confirmed the Oromia state security forces were guilty of the Karrayyuu Gaadaa massacre. Despite this, there has been no legal action taken to bring the perpetrators to justice. International voices in Addis Ababa are urged to call for independent investigations and the Ethiopian government and Oromia people to apologise and arrest those involved. This could prevent unnecessary disruptions in the future.
#Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s forgotten minority: Who will be the voice for #Karrayyu? https://t.co/CCGNPMeGHp If onlookers were to zoom out, however, they would see lawlessness, human rights abuses, and humanitarian tragedies well beyond that northern region. pic.twitter.com/y3hoQfR098
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) April 1, 2022