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Zambia's President Edgar Lungu speaks at a rally in the capital Lusaka, Zambia January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Chinese lending to developing countries has come under sharp focus since the release of several reports that have reshaped the debate. Unsurprisingly, many news reports, like the BBC’s “China: Big spender or loan shark?” are ringing alarm bells. But these reports should rather prompt new thinking on how to establish a more efficient and sustainable lending regime.

Questions have been raised over the public policy choices made by the African leaders signing these deals. It’s important to acknowledge that they’re operating in a space defined by limited financing options and an overload of short-term political goals at home. Yet, the lack of public scrutiny doesn’t instil confidence that these loans were the best available options at the time.

The only way to determine the true cost of Chinese loans is through greater transparency, better regulation, and accountability by both the lending and borrowing countries.

The fact that African leaders have very little leverage to compel Chinese lenders to reform their lending practices means that any realistic mitigation would have to come from the borrowers’ side. The fact that a number of African leaders also have their own selfish reasons for choosing opacity, means that pressure for reform will have to come from the public.

AidData’s findings that the debts owed to China are substantially larger than previously thought, should be a wake-up call that the interactions between Chinese actors and some African leaders can lead to disastrous outcomes. It is the African populace, perpetually sidelined, that will bear the consequences of bad deals with China.

The greatest responsibility lies with African loan negotiators who must be prevailed upon through strict and enforceable regulations to compel them to act in the public’s best interest. Demanding transparency and full disclosure of loan agreements at home might also pave the way for our leaders to impose those same requirements on money borrowed from China.

The Zambia case shows how Chinese lenders and African leaders are often driven by personal interest colluded through omission and commission to help push the country into a full-blown debt crisis. It reveals something about the nature of governance in many African countries and the character of many of the continent’s ruling elites that should concern every African beyond Zambia.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with borrowing money. Chinese lending has contributed immensely towards Africa’s infrastructure development and will most probably continue to drive a number of critical development projects. But borrowing countries must also ask whether the terms of these loans are worth the long-term risk.

The fear of losing access to financing should not be greater than the fear of driving the continent into a debt crisis. The onus is then on all African stakeholders to push for better terms and outcomes from Chinese lenders with the option of walking away from bad deals. No deal is better than a bad deal.

We need concerted efforts to compel African leaders to make all loan deals public and implement safeguards against the executive impunity that allows them to sign questionable deals. The most achievable way is through African civil society, which is already turning up the pressure on leaders in many countries for better governance and more accountability. Civic education and campaigns for full loan transparency would be a good way to start.

This is not an indictment of Chinese loans, but rather a call for a more responsible lending regime that allows for greater public scrutiny. We, the African people must be able to decide whether the deals are worth it in the first place. The opaque nature of the loans and disregard for concerns associated with corruption, overpricing and labor violations don’t augur well for China’s intentions on the continent. At best, it creates a perception that China is abetting the malfeasance that saddles some African countries with bad debt that will plague their people for decades to come.

Published in partnership with The China Africa Project -African Report

Masten Wanjala was detained over the killing of a dozen children. Photo AP/Provided by PA Media 

 

A Kenyan man who confessed to killing a dozen children has been beaten to death by a mob after escaping from a police station.

Area Assistant County Commissioner Cornelius Nyaribai said Masten Wanjala was killed near his home in Bungoma county, a day after he escaped from police cells in Nairobi.

Police authorities said Wanjala was identified after he played with locals in a football match. Some then trailed him and beat him to death.

“The law of the jungle as applied by irate villagers prevailed,” Kenyan police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations said in a tweet on Friday.

Authorities have said Wanjala confessed to killing 12 children in Nairobi, Machakos and Bungoma counties when he was arrested in July. He reportedly posed as a football coach to lure victims.

So far, five bodies have been recovered. - Associated Press/PA Media

 

Nigeria's military claimed Thursday that Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of an Islamic State-linked extremist group blamed for killing hundreds in the northeast, had died. There was no immediate confirmation from the militants.

At a news conference, Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, told reporters: "I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead." He gave no further information, and it was not possible to independently corroborate the claim.

The announcement came only five months after al-Barnawi and his forces claimed responsibility for killing rival extremist leader Abubakar Shekau.

Some reports said al-Barnawi had been fatally wounded during clashes with yet another rival extremist faction, but the military gave no details about how it had confirmed his death.

Al-Barnawi was a teenager when his father, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009. The death of the founding Boko Haram leader has fueled a more than decade-long insurgency against the Nigerian government, ultimately expanding to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Shekau took command of the group after Yusuf's death but clashed frequently over the years with al-Barnawi, who reportedly at one point was picked instead by the Islamic State organization to lead Boko Haram. Instead, a breakaway faction was formed in 2016 that became known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province, or ISWAP.

Unlike Shekau's group, which often violently targeted civilian populations, ISWAP under al-Barnawi targeted the Nigerian military and those who aided the soldiers. But it drew heightened global concern when it began targeting civilians working for international aid organizations in the northeast in a series of kidnappings and killings.

The faction still led by Shekau, meanwhile, weakened in recent years and his death was announced in May. ISWAP then sought to expand its reach, but al-Barnawi failed to win over thousands of Shekau's followers and many surrendered to the Nigerian military instead.

The conflict in northeast Nigeria has directly caused the death of 36,000 people, according to U.N. officials, with more than 2.3 million people displaced. VOA

Coinciding 22nd death anniversary of Nyerere, some hail him for anti-colonialism, pan-Africanism, others call him autocratic democrat

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania

Experts in Africa have asked leaders to revive the spirit of pan-Africanism as propagated by late Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and avoid narrow nationalism being circulated under the guise of patriotism.

Coinciding the 22nd death anniversary of Nyerere -- the father of the pan-African struggle for independence -- Issa Shivji, the director of Dar es Salaam-based Nyerere Centre, told Anadolu Agency that there was a need to revisit the vision of the departed leader.

He said that Nyerere believed that collective freedom was the only legitimate cause for African nations to attain real democracy.

“African democracy is in prison, it has been taken hostage by party pundits, handcuffed by neo-liberal ideology, and mutilated by the barbaric capitalist system,” said Shivji.

He urged African countries to revive the spirit pan-Africanism and desist sinking into narrow nationalism propagated under the guise of patriotism.

“We need an ideology that transcends parochial nationalism,” he said.

Nyerere, who died of leukemia in London on Oct. 14, 1999, at the age of 77, was a leading figure of Africa’s struggle for independence who strongly advocated for political and economic emancipation.

According to Shivji, the insatiable hunger for material accumulation by western nations has devastated nature and decimated the ideals of people’s freedom that Nyerere stood for.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing is out of the reach of capital … capital respects nothing, least of all freedom and democracy,” he said.

As a charismatic leader of razor-sharp intellect and great personal integrity, Nyerere not only united Tanzania but also helped liberation struggles in southern African countries providing them politically, material, and moral support.

The expert, who is also a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, said Nyerere felt it was an obligation to assist other African nations to achieve freedom from colonial rule.

"Our country offered itself as a base for those fighting for liberation, that was a great honour," he said.

Nyerere also promoted the Kiswahili language and wanted it to become Africa’s lingua franca.

Autocratic democrat

Nyerere who ruled from 1961-1985 is being hailed by some for his advocacy against colonialism and promoting African socialism. But many criticize him for being autocratic and the one who failed to bring prosperity to the continent.

“He was an advocate for democracy, but by reasoning that each country built its style of democracy, he built a one-party state that regularly violated democratic values,” said Paul Bjerk, a renowned author of African history.

But political commentator Jenerarali Ulimwengu described Nyerere as an ethical leader who will be remembered for his remarkable leadership skills, unity, tranquility that Tanzanians enjoy today.

Born in April 1922 at a village of Butiama on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria into a Zanaki tribe Nyerere was the architect of Tanzania’s independence and a key figure in the struggle against foreign domination.

He became the first Tanzanian to study at a British university when he went to Edinburgh on a government scholarship

He governed Tanganyika as prime minister from 1961-1962 and then as president from 1963-1964. When the island of Zanzibar was unified with Tanganyika to form Tanzania, he served as president of the country from 1964-1985. Kizito Makoye, Anadolu Agency

Kenya's Agnes Tirop poses after winning the women's 1500m during the 2019 Diamond League at the Olympiastadion in Stockholm, Sweden, May 30, 2019. /CFP

Athletes, officials and other prominent figures in sports have paid tribute to Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death on Wednesday at her home in the western town of Iten, a training centre for top athletes. 

A two-time world championships bronze medalist, the 25-year-old promising star just smashed the women-only 10km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany last month and finished fourth in the 5,000m final during this summer's Tokyo Olympics. 

As a mark of respect following Tirop's death, Athletics Kenya announced on Thursday that all athletics competitions in the country would be suspended for two weeks. 

Global grief and loss 

"We just lost a great talent. She was such a strong woman and committed to what she was doing," Julius Yego, Kenya's former athletics team captain was quoted as saying by BBC on Thursday. 

"She was an amazing young girl who was really working hard to be one of the top athletes in the world. She wanted to be the best and it was only a few weeks ago that she broke the world record for the 10km. Her successful career was still being crafted but unfortunately, someone decided the whole story cannot be written," he added.

 

Kenya's Agnes Tirop (L) during the women's 5000m heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, July 30, 2021. /CFP

Yego said Tirop's sudden death hadn't really sunk in yet. "We had a difficult day yesterday, it is still shocking," he said. "When you check on social media or TV, it is the sad news of Agnes. We are still collecting ourselves." 

The sentiment was echoed by Uganda's 800m world champion Halima Nakayi, who said on social media: "We are deeply shocked to hear the sudden death of our fellow athlete Tirop Agnes. I send my condolences to her family, friends and the Kenyan athletics community." 

"It's not easy to say goodbye to your ever-smiling face," added Agnes' friend and fellow middle distance runner Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda. "I can't believe that you're no more - such a friendly soul. It's so painful." 

Earlier in the day, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hailed Tirop as an inspiration to all. "I'm deeply shocked by the tragic death of Agnes Tirop, a young and bright talent. Her performances at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 gave hope and inspiration to so many people," Bach said on Twitter.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe singled out Tirop as "one of the world's best female distance runners over the past six years." "Athletics has lost one of its brightest young stars in the most tragic circumstances," he said. "This is a terrible blow to the entire athletics community, but especially to her family, her friends and Athletics Kenya.

 

Agnes Tirop of Kenya celebrates winning bronze medal in the women's 10,000m final during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, September 28, 2019. /CFP

Tirop's husband arrested 

Kenyan police said on Thursday they had arrested Tirop's husband Emmanuel Rotich in the coastal city of Mombasa. Local newspapers revealed that the couple had been having marital problems. 

Kenya's National Police Service said on Wednesday that Tirop had been the victim of a "heinous crime" and promised "speedy and comprehensive investigations." 

"When police went to Tirop's house, they found her in bed with blood under the bed and a lot of it on the floor," Tom Makori, one of the police officers who involved in the case was quoted as saying by CNN. "When police looked at the body, it looked like she had been stabbed on the neck with what we suspect to be a knife." 

Makori also revealed that Rotich had made a call to Tirop's parents saying that he'd committed something wrong, "So we believe he knows what happened."CGTN

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