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Uganda cracks down on media ahead of elections in 2021, watchdog say
10 July 2020, 2:22 PM

Uganda’s security forces are cracking down on authors and journalists who challenge the 34-year-old rule of President Yoweri Museveni ahead of elections next year, a watchdog told Reuters.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it documented the cases of 10 journalists and writers assaulted by security personnel, detained, or charged with offences to do with their work this year, compared to four such cases last year. “Police and the military have turned political reporting into a dangerous assignment,” said Muthoki Mumo, the committee’s representative for sub-Saharan Africa.

Calls seeking comment to police spokesman Fred Enanga, Information Minister Judith Nabakooba and presidential spokesman Don Wanyama were not answered. Presidential elections are scheduled for early next year.

Opposition leaders say the clampdown makes campaigning even harder after the government forbade mass rallies, citing the spread of the new coronavirus. “It will be near to impossible to campaign,” said opposition legislator Asuman Basalirwa, pointing out that most television and radios stations are pro-government.

Satirical Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 32,  said he was arrested in April and interrogated for five days in the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Mbuya about whether his novel “The Greedy Barbarian” is a satire of Museveni. He was beaten with a baton, punched in the face, and chained up, he said, showing Reuters scars and a scan of a damaged kidney he said came from the torture.

“I was like, tomorrow I will tell them anything because I am going to die… my body became numb, the blood stopped flowing,”he told Reuters, his voice trembling. “I prayed to God to bless my family, my wife and children.”

He was eventually charged over Facebook posts that prosecutors said encouraged people to disobey anti-coronavirus measures.

Uganda military spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire said he was unable to comment because he had not spoken to the people who handled Rukirabashaija’s case. Political opponents of Museveni, 75, have frequently been arrested and beaten.

University professor Stella Nyanzi’s profanity-ladeninvectives against Museveni earned her a large online following but also landed her in jail. She was released in February after serving more than a year on cyber harassment charges stemming from anti-Museveni Facebook posts.

A popular blogger, Joseph Kabuleta, was arrested last year after calling Museveni a thief. He told local TV he had been stripped and drenched during interrogation.

 

 

SA’s consumer confidence slumps to all time low
7 July 2020, 1:13 PM

South Africa’s consumer confidence has slumped to minus-33 points in the second quarter compared to minus-nine points in the first quarter.

This dismal reading is only three points away from the all-time lowest consumer confidence level of minus-36 recorded in 1985. The low consumer confidence is mainly the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that has affected trade in the country.

However, South Africa’s economy was already in recession before the coronavirus outbreak hit the country in March, with its recession deepening in the first quarter of 2020, dragged down by declining mining and manufacturing activities.

The consumer confidence index is compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research.

The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of June, when most retail outlets were open as the country had shifted from Alert Level 4 to Level 3.

Ahead of the data release, some economists predicted it would take into account the impact of the nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the video below, investment analyst Izak Odendaal explains why South Africa’s economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of this year.: 

Johnny Depp takes on UK tabloid in court battle over ‘wife beater’ claims
7 July 2020, 11:22 AM

Johnny Depp begins legal action against a British tabloid on Tuesday in a case that is likely to delve into the private lives of the Hollywood star, his ex-wife actress Amber Heard and a number of other well-known figures.

Depp, the 57-year-old star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in 2018 calling him a “wife beater”.

The case, which will be heard at London’s High Court, is set to last for three weeks, and both actors are expected to give evidence.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in February 2015. But she filed for divorce after just 15 months and days later obtained a restraining order against him. She has accused him of physical abuse during the relationship, allegations he denies.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed and Depp agreed to pay her a previously announced sum of $7 million.

Last week, the Sun failed in a bid to have the libel case thrown out despite the judge concluding that Depp had not fully complied with a court order by not supplying details of mobile phone texts to his assistant, which the paper’s legal team said referred to obtaining drugs for the actor.

The judge, Andrew Nicol, has also ruled that Heard, who is expected to attend the trial, can be in court to hear her ex-husband testify.

In his judgments, Nicol has said the Sun would rely on witness statements from Heard and others, arguing that its stories were true.

“In those articles, it is said, the Defendants accused the Claimant of multiple acts of physical violence against Ms Heard, some of which, it is alleged the articles said, put Ms Heard in fear of her life,” Nicol said.

VIDEO: Premier Mabuyane announces COVID-19 strategy
7 July 2020, 10:17 AM

As COVID-19 infections continue to surge in the country, government is upping its ante in a bid to flatten the curve. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane is currently announcing the province’s community-based COVID-19 response strategy as part of those efforts.

Below is Premier Mabuyane’s briefing:

Kenyan protesters set fire to police station after the killing of a man
7 July 2020, 6:59 AM

Kenyan protesters set a police station on fire after an officer allegedly shot and killed a man for hawking fake hand sanitiser, according to a police report seen by Reuters on Monday.

The officer is now in custody, according to the report.

The police officer fired his weapon after a verbal argument with the man selling the counterfeit product in an open-air market in Kisii County, western Kenya, on Sunday, the report said.

After the shooting, protesters quickly descended on the police station, throwing rocks and setting bonfires, damaging the station and nearby vehicles.

Fourteen police officers were injured and protesters dispersed after an “unquantified number of live and blank ammunitions were used”, the report said.

Accusations of police brutality are common in Kenya. Since the coronavirus outbreak, multiple cases of alleged police violence towards lockdown violators have been reported.

In March, in the first 10 days of a curfew to curb the coronavirus, at least six people were killed, according to rights group Human Rights Watch.

 

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