Daily Archives: February 2, 2020

Somalia Declares National Emergency over Locust Upsurge

The Somali government has declared a national emergency over a locust upsurge which is spreading in the East Africa region.

The Somali Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Said Hussein Iid said the desert locust poses a major threat to the country’s already fragile food security situation.

The first wave of locust swarms in Somalia last December destroyed about 100,000 hectares of farmland and pastures in Somalia, says Iid. He warns that an upcoming second wave will be even more destructive.

The threat is very real, Iid told VOA Somali.

The emergency national declaration was made in a statement issued by the Ministry of Agriculture & Irrigation on Saturday, and says the swarms are uncommonly large and consume huge amounts of crops and forage.

Iid says satellite information shows new swarms of locusts have arrived the country from the Gulf.

Iid says the biggest threat is from locally grown, locally matured locusts that could have a long effect on farming and pasture. The previous locusts that entered Somalia originated Yemen and were immature, Iid said.

When it got matured inside Somalia they migrated to neighboring countries, but newly locally grown locust will be much dangerous compared to the migrated locust, he said. That is why we are calling this state of emergency, to be prepared to combat before its gets the maximum damage.

He said millions of eggs were left behind by the previous wave and will likely emerge when the spring rainy season known locally as Gu’ starts in April.

“We are afraid there will be new generation of a swarm in Somalia which can cause severe damage both to pasture and the farms, and that will definitely affect the food security situation of the country, Iid said.

Millions of Somalis are already relying on humanitarian support and officials warn that a second wave of locust will bring a bigger destruction.

The Somali government and international partners just last month appealed for more than $1 billion for humanitarian support to 3 million Somalis this year. The aid will include a monthly food assistance to 2.1 million people according to the humanitarian response plan.

Iid says the Somali government has trained several people in each district to conduct local awareness and very slow means of controlling the immature swarm but says these measures are not enough.

“The scale of the locust which comes to Somalia is well, well beyond our means of controlling, Iid said. That is why we are calling the international partners and the regional government to act together to fight this, to have common strategy to fight the pest.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization says it requires an initial $3 million initial response to fighting the locusts.

Source: Voice of America

Malawi Police Closes Roads During Election Case Verdict

BLANTYRE, MALAWI – Police in Malawi have announced the closure Monday of roads leading to the High Court in the capital, Lilongwe, where judges of the country’s Constitutional Court are expected to deliver the verdict in a case challenging a vote last year that reelected incumbent President Peter Mutharika.

Saulos Chilima, leader of the opposition United Transformation Movement party, and Lazarus Chakwera, leader of Malawi Congress Party, are seeking nullification of the May presidential vote. They say the elections were fraught with irregularities that saw Malawi Electoral Commission rig the vote in Mutharika’s favor. Some residents feel the closing the roads infringes on their rights.

Police say the roads will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The aim is to facilitate smooth delivery of the judgment by the Constitutional Court, expected to start at 9 a.m.

James Kadadzera, spokesperson for the Malawi National Police, told VOA that no uncleared person will be allowed within 150 meters of the High Court premises.

We are also informing those that have been accredited by the high court to carry their IDs, their accreditation cards. And all those that haven’t been accredited, we are asking them to listen to the judgment in their respective homes as well as their respective offices, he said.

However, some, like Chipiliro Phiri, said the arrangement will make it hard to get to work.

My God, it’s so frustrating. I didn’t expect this from the police. They say it’s not a public holiday tomorrow. So how are we supposed to get to work? This is not the way to go. They were just supposed to just tightening the security, not just closing the roads, said Phiri.

Political analyst Sherriff Kaisi, a political science lecturer at Blantyre International University, supports the police action.

It’s very, very justifiable because you know when you are arranging security, all the security arms, they do that basing on the situation. Probably violence can erupt from those who can be defeated and even by those who have won. So this is why we see security is very tight, said Kaisi.

Malawi has seen series of post-election demonstrations since the announcement of the election results in June.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition has been leading protests that turned violent at times, with looting, damage to property, and injuries.

The nationwide demonstrations were aimed at forcing the resignation of the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Jane Ansah, for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process fraught with irregularities.

However, Ansah maintained that she could only resign after the court verdict.

The Monday verdict would come a few days after Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested and charged businessman Thom Mpinganjira in Blantyre for attempting to bribe five judges working on the verdict.

According to Anti-Corruption Bureau documents, Mpinganjira, who runs a bank, offered the judges more than $130,000 to rule in favor of Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission, the defendants in the case.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition representatives told reporters Saturday in Lilongwe that their trust is now in the judiciary, and they asked Malawians to observe the rule of law after the verdict.

Luke Tembo represents the Human Rights Defenders Coalition.

As HRDC we have a lot of confidence and trust in our judicial system. And believe that our honorable judges will deliver a just verdict on this watershed case, he said.

This week, leaders of the opposition political parties and ruling party signed a pact to ensure peace during and after the verdict.

Several international organizations, including United Nations and the Southern African Development Community, have also issued statements calling on Malawians to maintain peace after the Monday court verdict.

Source: Voice of America