Here is why Yahya Jammeh is unlikely to face justice soon

Two weeks ago, new allegations were added to a litany of human rights abuses that have been levied against the former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh. The exiled former leader, who once infamously claimed that he could cure AIDS with his own secret herbal mixture and spiritual healing techniques has been accused of sexually abusing at least three women at the height of his power.

Then President of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh and First Lady Zeinab arrive at the White House in Washington DC for the US Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. EPA/Michael Reynolds
Then President of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh and First Lady Zeinab arrive at the White House in Washington DC for the US Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Jammeh ruled The Gambia with a totalitarian grip for 22 years after seizing power in an army coup in 1994. After he suffered a shock defeat in the 2016 presidential election, he refused to relinquish power. It was only after regional troops mobilised troops on The Gambian border that he fled to Equatorial Guinea. He’s still there.

Since then, allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, freedom of speech violations, and suspicious deaths in government custody have emerged. To get to the bottom of the allegations hearings are being carried out by a Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission set up by the new government.

Under the slogan, “never again”, the Commission has the job of creating an impartial historical record of violations of human rights that took place under Jammeh’s regime. It is hoped that process achieves a number of objectives. These include promoting healing and reconciliation, addressing the impunity of previous members of government, establishing the fate of disappeared victims, allowing victims to tell their account of violations, and to grant reparations where appropriate.

So far, the public has heard from current and former members of armed forces over an alleged counter-coup plot against Jammeh early in his rule. The testimony of those soldiers has been horrific. But even if more victims come forward and speak out, and more human rights violations are revealed during future testimony from both victims and abusers, pursuing legal consequences against Jammeh is likely to prove very difficult, if not impossible.

The problem is one that those pursuing justice against former dictators and human rights abusers have encountered before. After Jammeh lost power, he fled to Equitorial Guinea with the equivalent of more than $1 billion from public funds. Equitorial Guinea is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and has no obligation to return him to The Gambia to face justice. This has left Jammeh’s fate in the hands of the country’s President Teodoro Obiang, a close friend and ally.

The evidence

In one incident an alleged member of the counter-coup was arrested, beaten, stripped naked, shot and stabbed with bayonets. It was then discovered that his body was too tall for the grave that had been dug, so one of the executioners chopped off his legs with an axe.

Three women so far have levied accusations of sexual violence against Jammeh. Two have remained anonymous while one – Fatou “Toufah” Jallow – has agreed to come forward publicly. She is expected to give testimony to the Commission later in the year.

In graphic detail, Toufah explained to Human Rights Watch how she became a target of the president’s unwanted attentions when, at the age of 18, she won a state-sponsored beauty pageant. As part of her duties as a beauty queen, she was called to a meeting with Jammeh, who began to shower her with presents and money. After a sexual attack in the presidential residence, and fears for her future safety, she disguised herself in a burka and fled across the border to Senegal.

Two other women have also made allegations to Human Rights Watch, but they have chosen to remain anonymous. Marion Volkmann-Brandau, the researcher who exposed these allegations, believes that there were many more victims.

Toufah has said that she hopes her revelations encourage other victims to come forward and share their stories. Her plea has been echoed by the Attorney General  who has praised her actions and asked others to speak out.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has not yet examined any allegations of sexual violence. These hearings are due to take place later in the year.

Justice might be elusive

Pursuing legal consequences against Jammeh is likely to prove very difficult, if not impossible. One reason for this is that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission does not have the power to prosecute Jammeh, or any other individual for human rights abuses. Its powers are limited to recommending that the Attorney General acts on cases that can be taken before the courts.

Even if cases are brought, the Gambian government would have to extradite Jammeh from Equatorial Guinea to face trial. Initially, there were hopes that Obiang, who himself has been accused of numerous human rights atrocities, might feel political pressure to return Jammeh to The Gambia to face his accusers. But a recent video of the two celebrating New Year together extinguished those hopes.

At least in the short term, it looks unlikely that Jammeh will face either his victims or consequences for human rights abuses.

Sophie Gallop, Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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From drug dealers to tortillas sellers: the future of former gang members

Becoming a gang member is often assumed to imply few long-term life opportunities beyond dying or being imprisoned. In most of the world, however, this only concerns a minority of gang members, with the majority tending to “mature out” out of their gang, and becoming (more or less) upstanding members of society.

Indeed, a striking finding of my longitudinal research in Nicaragua is that many former gang members can actively thrive directly as a result of their gang-related experiences, to the extent that we can talk about there being clear dividends.

Only gang leaders thrive

In their book Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner famously highlight how the benefits of being a member of a drug-dealing gang are often quite limited. In particular, the authors describe how the overwhelming majority of those involved in the US drug trade earn less than the minimum wage, with only gang leaders receiving anything in the way of substantial material returns.

While this is not necessarily the case everywhere, there is no doubt that the material benefits of drug dealing can often be unevenly distributed. In a scene from the film Scarface (1983), gang leader Tony Montana enjoys the profits of his drug-dealing business before going ‘legit’.

In a scene from the film Scarface (1983), gang leader Tony Montana enjoys the profits of his drug-dealing business before going ‘legit’

At the same time, being a member of a drug gang can also provide individuals with more intangible benefits drawing from street-experience or specific skills and knowledge inherent to the “job”. These can potentially have more important consequences for post-drug dealing trajectories than any putative material returns.

However, the long-term benefits are highly variable, as my research shows through the contrasting trajectories of Milton and Bismarck, two former members of a drug-dealing gang in the barrio Luis Fanor Hernández, the poor neighbourhood in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, where I carry out my work.

Selling crack on a bicycle

Between 2010 and 2011, Milton was a crack dealer, selling drugs in a concealed manner to avoid attracting attention. As he explained:

“I wouldn’t sell on the streets but would only sell to regular clients and … deliver drugs to them directly, whenever they wanted it instead of having them come to the barrio … I had a good number of clients, who would text me whenever they wanted some crack, which I’d then deliver to them on my bicycle.”

Milton was a successful dealer but he did not save much money, preferring to spend conspicuously. He ceased drug dealing in 2011 after the drug trade in Luis Fanor Hernández collapsed due to the local wholesaler’s arrest. Finding himself out of work, he decided to start a tortilla-making business instead.

“Everybody likes tortillas”

“Why a tortilla-making business, you ask? Well, my mother was a tortillera – you know, a tortilla-maker – but she was getting old and wanted to give it up, so I told her, why don’t you let me take over?”

Milton went on to explain how normally tortilleras would make their tortillas early in the morning, but by the time they go out to sell them they would be all stale and cold, and “nobody likes a cold tortilla”. He had an idea that would enable him to sell fresh, steaming-hot tortillas:

“I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I do like I did with drugs, get people to text me when they want tortillas, and I’d then make them and deliver them straight away?’”

Tortillas come in all form and shapes (Mexico, 2016). Omar Torres/AFP

Milton therefore confidently approached local businesses with samples of his tortillas, and told people that if they wanted fresh, hot tortillas, they should just text him.

“At first only a few people did so, but word got around, and pretty quickly I was getting more orders than I could cope with.”

A success story

These were the days when rapid-food delivery companies were in their infancy worldwide. In Nicaragua such services were unknown, so this new way of producing and delivering tortillas was a game changer. Milton’s business expanded rapidly, to the extent that he had to hire five people to make tortillas and invest in a motorcycle for deliveries.

A delivery motor-bike parked in front of a tortilla restaurant in Mexico. digiyesica/FlickrCC BY-SA

Now producing around 3,000 tortillas a day, Milton’s business is extremely successful, and completely dominates the tortilla market in Luis Fanor Hernández and its surroundings.

In 2016, it provided him with a weekly profit of almost US$200, more than twice Nicaragua’s monthly median wage, and about 80% of what he used to make as a drug dealer.

This success is directly due to Milton’s having drawn on his drug-dealing experience to structure his new business. In particular, the use of mobile technology and the “just in time” delivery enabled him to gain an edge on existing tortilla sellers. Normally this field of economic activity has traditional means of operating and low profit margins. But Milton established the basis for an exceptionally profitable mode of operation.

Bismarck, the real-estate baron

At the same time, the knowledge and skills learned in gangs are not always useful or deployable in a sustainable manner. The case of Bismarck, who dealt drugs in barrio Luis Fanor Hernández between 2000 and 2006, is a case in point.

Unlike Milton, Bismarck saved a significant proportion of his drug-dealing profits. He had much less of a conspicuously consuming lifestyle, and would regularly invest in real estate, buying houses to rent out and building an inexpensive hostel in Luis Fanor Hernández.

When he stopped dealing drugs, these properties ensured that he continued to enjoy a comfortable monthly revenue, albeit equivalent to about 55% of what he had earned as a drug dealer, something that Bismarck professed himself to be more than happy with insofar as “being a businessman was much less dangerous than being a drug dealer”.In Colombia, tour operators guide tourists around Pablo Escobar’s famous properties. But real-estate can be risky.

In Colombia, tour operators guide tourists around Pablo Escobar’s famous properties. But real-estate can be risky.

A risky venture

Unlike other property owners in the neighbourhood, Bismarck was successful at obtaining prompt rental payment because he drew on his gang experience to intimidate, threaten and sometimes enact violence against his renters.

This proved to be something of a double-edged sword, as within a few years, Bismarck lost all of his property portfolio except for his own home, due to the very reason that had made his real estate business initially successful. Some of his houses were expropriated by renters, themselves former gang members, who banded up to intimidate and beat up Bismarck. His hostel was burned down by a group of ex-military men staying there who did not take well to being threatened when they failed to pay their rent.

Bismarck’s post-drug dealing trajectory thus contrasts strongly with Milton’s, and highlights how the skills and knowledge gained through having been a gang member can have different consequences and variable outcomes. Not all gang-related skills and knowledge are always beneficial, and their dividends depend very much on the way and field of activity within which they are deployed.

But knowing that the gang member experience is not necessarily always negative and can sometimes potentially lead to more positive outcomes is clearly important in relation to developing coherent policies and opportunities for former gang members that will harness their undoubted vitality and allow them to maximise their post-gang contribution to society.

Dennis Rodgers is a research Professor, Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Using Libya to understand the failed coup in Venezuela

To understand what makes a coup succeed, as recently happened in Sudan and Algeria, or fail, as it did this week in Venezuela, it helps to consider the strange events in Libya a half-century ago.

Protesters in Istanbul in 2016. When rogue officers tried to oust Turkey’s government, political support never materialized. Credit Gurcan Ozturk/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For much of 1969, the country was filled with rumors of an imminent coup. In September, a handful of military vehicles rolled up to government offices and communication centers, and a terse statement announced the end of Libya’s decrepit monarchy.

Army units around the country, assuming that military chiefs were leading the coup and expecting them to show up at any moment, bloodlessly secured the rest of Libya. Foreign powers quickly recognized the new government. Nobody bothered to check who was leading the takeover.

A week later, an unknown 27-year-old army signal corps lieutenant announced that he and a few dozen low-level officers had in fact staged the coup. His name was Muammar el-Qaddafi.

If Libyans felt tricked, it was too late. Dislodging the officers would require a critical mass of Libya’s power brokers, citizens and foreign allies to come together against the new rulers, something they hadn’t managed even against the unpopular monarchy.

Mr. el-Qaddafi held power for 42 years.

This week in Venezuela, the opposition leader Juan Guaidó struggled to create that sense of inevitability for his plan to oust the president, Nicolás Maduro, but the military backing he called for never emerged.

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, trying to rally the military to rise up against the government. Credit Fernando Llano/Associated Press

His failure, alongside the success of recent movements to oust unpopular leaders in Algeria and Sudan, underscores the dynamics that typically make a coup succeed or fail. A historic lull in coups and revolutions appears to be ending, making these dynamics increasingly consequential well beyond Venezuela.

Confidence Games

We tend to think of coups as driven by angry protesters or rogue officers. But, in practice, they are almost always brought about by the country’s dominant political, military and business elite.

Those power brokers, after all, have the final say over whether a leader stays or goes. But they can only remove a leader if they act together — making any coup what Naunihal Singh, a leader scholar of coups, called a “coordination game.”

In Libya, Mr. el-Qaddafi was able to set off the political equivalent of a bank run, with much of Libya joining his takeover, because the government’s fall was widely assumed as imminent.

That sense of inevitability meant that each Libyan official assumed that the coup would succeed and that the new government would have wide backing, so they better go along.

Mr. Guaidó has been trying to cultivate a similar sense of consensus and inevitability among Venezuela’s power brokers.

Some of Mr. Guaidó’s failures have been tactical, such as issuing his call to action on Twitter, Mr. Singh said. Coup leaders traditionally favor national TV and radio stations because seizing them is a way to convince the country that they have already taken control.

Mr. Guaidó has also called on military leaders to join him, drawing attention to his lack of support.

“You don’t say ‘We can win if only we have your support.’ What you say is ‘We’ve already won,’” Mr. Singh said. “By making it seem like you’ve already succeeded, you get the support necessary to succeed.”

There is a deeper issue that has stalled attempts at removing Mr. Maduro: Venezuela’s power brokers, like its citizens and the wider international community, are deeply split.

Even if each individual political or business elite might be better off with Mr. Maduro gone, they cannot coordinate to create the necessary sense of inevitability. But many are receptive enough that the threat of a coup hangs over Venezuela.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi in Tripoli in 2011. Credit Moises Saman for The New York Times

It took 12 hours for Mr. Maduro to appear on TV announcing he was still in power — an ominously long delay.

Initiating a coup without that critical mass of elite support can be dangerous. When rogue officers tried to oust Turkey’s government in 2016, they appeared to signal for political support that never materialized. The attempt, and the government’s response, ended with dozens killed and the plotters in jail.

Demonstrating Inevitability

Turkey’s debacle underscored that a coup is less a military operation than a collective action problem.

The elites who determine a coup’s outcome are typically too numerous and dispersed to communicate directly. And they are risk-averse. The coup leaders’ task is to persuade each elite that all the others will join in, spurring them to move in unison.

This often means marshaling protesters and foreign governments to the cause, creating the appearance of consensus.

That is why Venezuela’s power struggle is partly playing out over a seemingly technical issue: Mr. Guaidó’s claim to be the legitimate president.

A leader’s legitimacy works like modern currencies. The paper itself has value only because consumers treat it as having value. Likewise, a leader is legitimate only as long as his country’s citizens and institutions treat him as legitimate.

If enough Venezuelan citizens and institutions are swayed to treat Mr. Maduro as no longer legitimate, then he will cease to be legitimate in practice.

But a critical mass still treat him as legitimate, if only passively. Venezuela itself is a case in point: Even as runaway inflation has rendered its currency near valueless, citizens continue to use it.

Manufacturing Popular Consensus

Mr. Guaidó’s challenge may be that he is trying to solve two problems at once. He is trying to use hints of elite defection from Mr. Maduro’s government to spur a wider popular uprising. And he is trying to use protests to encourage more elite defections.

Those two audiences, in any movement to unseat a government, tend to want mutually exclusive outcomes. Elites typically want to uphold the status quo. Citizens usually want deeper changes: democracy, which threatens elites’ power, and rule of law, which might threaten elites’ income and even their freedom.

In Zimbabwe in 2017, this contradiction became apparent only after elites complied with protester demands to oust Robert Mugabe, the longtime leader. Rather than delivering democracy, they installed another insider.

The protests most likely provided the necessary spur for Zimbabwe’s elites to coordinate in removing Mr.

Mugabe. Still, they put their own interests first, using the protests as an excuse to switch out an unreliable old leader for a new one. The coup may have been a success for Zimbabwe’s elites, but arguably not for its citizens.

Former President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at his residence in Harare last year. Elites who backed his ouster installed another insider. Credit Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

Protesters in Algeria and Sudan, after successfully pushing for the ouster of their own aging despots, are watching for a similar bait-and-switch.

Both coups were textbook cases: Powerful and tightly unified elites, who would have coordinated with relative ease, seized on protests to remove a weak and unpopular leader.

The odds of a coup leading to democracy are slim. Since World War II, democracy followed only one in four instances in which a dictator was removed from office.

Even when coup leaders begin a real transition to democracy, they will often ensure that the elite’s privileges and rights remain in place, all but guaranteeing that full democracy cannot take hold until the old elite quite literally die out.

Still, for citizens in countries without meaningful elections, protests calling on their elite to remove the leader by force might be the only plausible way to force change.

Amy Erica Smith, an Iowa State University political scientist, wrote for the website Vox that conditions in Venezuela heighten odds of a coup leading to democracy, citing “a discredited authoritarian regime; a history of citizen-led resistance against the regime; an alliance between democratic politicians and the military; a history of partisan electoral competition.”

Still, the same conditions that have made Mr. Maduro’s government unusually resistant to coup attempts — a divided elite and population, deep corruption in the military, a deadlock among foreign powers — could make establishing democracy difficult.

“History is littered with cases of military-supported transitions of power,” Ms. Smith wrote, “that are supposed to lead to elections and democracy … and don’t.”


The Interpreter is a column by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub exploring the ideas and context behind major world events. Follow them on Twitter @Max_Fisher and @amandataub.

Amanda Taub contributed reporting.

Some unfinished businesses to note as South Africa freedom day approaches

South Africans celebrate Freedom Day on April 27 every year to mark the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. A quarter of a century later, though, questions remain: how much and whose freedom is to be celebrated?

The differing answers among voters might affect the results of the national elections on May 8.

South Africans can still not celebrate freedom from want. They are painfully aware that one cannot eat democracy. Formal political equality is rightly celebrated as an achievement by those who suffered under dictatorship, minority rule and other forms of oppressive regimes that denied them basic rights. But democracy doesn’t put food on the table. Nor does it provide decent shelter or secure a dignified living.

Former US President Franklin D.

Roosevelt’s famous 1941 speech to Congress identified four freedoms: those of speech, of worship, from want and from fear.

Freedom from want, [as he explained], means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

Acutely aware of this, the drafters of the Freedom Charter – which was adopted in 1955 by the African National Congress (ANC) that now governs South Africa, among other anti-apartheid activists – included far more than just political freedoms. It also has the sharing of the country’s wealth among all people as a fundamental principle.

But these ideals, still considered a basic blueprint for the country, have – to a large extent – remained remote goals.

The South African Constitution is among the very few to recognise socio-economic rights as human rights – including the right to food, health care, shelter, water and education. But there is a huge gap between setting norms and implementing them.

Today, South Africa is one of the most consistently unequal countries in the world. More than half the population lives in poverty, while a staggering 27% of people are unemployed.

According to Eunomix, which advises some of the biggest mining companies in the country, the past 12 years saw the country suffer more declines in its socio-economic and governance performance than any other nation that’s not at war.

This is thanks largely to worsening corruption and policy paralysis during former President Jacob Zuma’s nine years in office. And, things are not about to get any better soon.

The country’s Reserve Bank has painted a gloomy picture of the country’s prospects for growth. This is thanks to rampant corruption, whose effects have been acutely felt at Eskom, the electricity utility, crippling the country’s power supply and hobbling economic growth.

Discontent and disruption

Freedom Day should be a forceful reminder of the democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution. These include the right to free speech and to protest, basic human rights which were suppressed under centuries of colonial and apartheid rule.

The problem is that South Africa’s political culture today does not live up to the ideal the Constitution enshrines. There is a massive gap between declared norms and actual realities.

For example, in early April protesters from Alexandra township, one of Johannesburg’s poorest black settlements, were prevented by police from marching to Sandton, the adjacent, affluent suburb. In the same week rogue elements of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League disrupted a book launch in the posh suburb. They tore up copies of a book by an investigative journalist exposing the network of corruption allegedly overseen by the governing party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule, while he was the premier of the Free State.

The Youth League was later forced to abandon plans for a public burning of the book after the ANC intervened. The party implored its members to

protect the values and reputation of the ANC, by practising political tolerance and defending the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Such noble words, however, only point to the governing party’s inability to walk the talk. For example, when the ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was confronted with questions she did not like from a journalist who works for eNCA, an independent TV station. The question was about the party’s controversial proposed list of MPs. Duarte attacked the reporter, fuming you don’t even have a right to exist as a TV station in this country.

Much more to do

On Freedom Day, South Africans might or should celebrate the fact that they have covered some distance on the road to freedom. But it will remain a long and winding road. As Raymond Suttner, an ANC liberation struggle hero who spent years in solitary confinement, says

even though elections with all people entitled to vote for the first time was a massive victory, freedom is never finally realised. … It needs to be seen as a concept with an indefinite scope and meaning.

Where there is no fight for it, there is no freedom. The end of minority regimes does not equate freedom. Liberation movements as governments are no guarantee of good governance ensuring equal rights and benefits for all.

New regimes often just create space for privileges to a new elite in cohorts with earlier vested interests.

They do not live up to the promises made to the ordinary people. Rather, they disclose the limits to liberation.

The old slogan that the struggle continues – a luta continua – is as valid today as it was during the struggle for liberation. The difference is that others now have to carry the torch.

Maybe Freedom Day can serve as a reminder of such unfinished business.

The rise and rise of sports betting in Nigeria: the seen future

By Onyemachukwu Precious Nkechi

Sports Betting are now Siamese twins for many Nigerians. Sports betting are referred to as any activity of predicting sporting result and placing a wager on its outcome, with the hope of winning a prize. Sports betting can be traced back to the pastimes of the Greeks. It is the oldest known form of gambling on the planet.

Sports betting in Nigeria have become legal in the thirty- six states and Abuja. As a nation, Nigeria is betting up to five billion naira per day, according to Ademola Adebaji, the head of one of the largest football betting services provider operating in Nigeria. The growth of sports betting in Nigeria is at an increasing rate of 2.5 % every year. The companies operating the business of sport betting in Nigeria are expected to obtain a sport lottery permit from the regulatory body in Nigeria known as the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC). The operators are expected to confine their business to the boundaries of sporting activities.

Nowadays, students, young and upwardly mobile men and women dominate the customers of sports betting shops in Nigeria. Some of the most popular betting companies in Nigeria include Nairabet ( the first online sport betting website in Nigeria), Surebet 247, Bet365naija, Bet9ja, 1960 bet, 360 bets, 9ja Predict, and Winners Golden Bet.

These companies offer sports betting, virtual dog racing, virtual football league and virtual horse racing. The sports they have available to bet on include football, Aussie rules, darts, baseball, basketball, Beach volleyball, bowl, boxing, cricket, cycling, ice hockey, tennis, handball, volleyball.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted by http://www.narialand.com, said that” 60 millions Nigeria between the ages of 18 and 40 years of age place bet of more than on one billion naria daily on sports betting”. The report also revealed that ” a betting company can generated up to twenty million naria and use between five million naira and seven million naira to meet winner obligations in terms of payment “.

There are three types of sports betting and they include  betting shops, online betting sites and offshore or international betting sites. Many Nigerians finds it easy to place a bet because of the invention of Smartphone and internet. Instead of trekking to a distance, they can do it at their own convenience because of the presence of online betting sites and the bets are reduced to as low as fifty naria to place a bet thereby increasing their customers.

Speaking on the growth of sport betting in Nigeria, some betting agents spoke anonymously and revealed to Bloomgist on why the business of sports betting will stay for a long time in Nigeria without losing interest.

“I have been in the business for more than five years now and I can say that the business is profitable. As long that there is sports, there is a match to bet and it is a game of chance. I place a bet for fun and have won money in return and I can tell you that sports betting is growing as fast as ever and also sport betting provide employment opportunities as every year they bring in new features and benefits”, while the second agent operating in that area, said that “I have been in this business for 3 years and I can say that it is very profitable as I have many customers in a day. Sport betting has helped with my finances as I sometimes win money when I place a bet. Sports betting will continue to growing unless they stop football”.

Sports betting are growing at an alarming rate; the amount used to bet is now easily affordable for school children as you place a bet of fifty naira and could win ten thousand.  Also the money attached to winning as some people believe that they can hit it big and win a million, so they continue to play even if luck doesn’t favour them with the hope that one day will be for them. And others who won money will like to play again to win more money. Sports, Sports betting and good rewards works hand to hand.

The future of sports betting in Nigeria is standing strong as there are laws that strongly support it. As long as more people divert into sport of various kinds, there will be a bet to place. Sports betting will no longer be a thing of the past, it will grow faster than we can ever imagine and more people of this country will become a customer to those betting companies. Sport betting in the future will be a game of addiction. Modern sports betting will become very popular.

It is going to be worse than drugs or crime as more people can bet out their entire savings or life to play. Companies that offer sports betting will grow faster than our industries and they will be making more money. There will be employment opportunities for those youth who wants to work as an agent of any sports betting companies. Other online betting sites will be created because the offline sites are not enough to satisfy customers demand.  Sports betting in the future will be made very easy because you can be able to bet at the time convenient for you.

In conclusion, sport betting is now the highest form of gambling as it is played by both the rich and the poor. Sports betting centers have now become the home of some people, they will be there analyzing what match to bet on, whom to support, what will be the outcome and the rewards for my wins. If sport betting has no control, it will drastically reduce the developing minds of our youths thereby reducing economic development. Sport betting is at the top list of the greatest enemy that Nigeria needs to face and defeat.

The deadly implications of illegal gold mining in South Africa

On the outskirts of Durban Deep, an abandoned mining town with a labyrinth of underground tunnels long since abandoned by the big gold companies, Elizabeth goes rhythmically about her work.

Grinding piles of rough stones into white, gold-flecked silt on a large concrete slab, the 40-year-old is one of the ghostly dust-covered zama zamas – artisanal miners, mostly illegal – who have turned to scavenging in disused gold and diamond mines across South Africa.

It can be deadly work: more than 24 people died when an abandoned gold mine flooded in neighbouring Zimbabwe in January this year.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth is one of a growing number of women driven into this dangerous world, earning less than £10 a day for crushing up to 20kg of rock retrieved from Johannesburg’s disused mineshafts. The threat of sexual violence is all too common.

“This work is very hard. It’s not a good job,” says Elizabeth, showing her calloused palms. “But in Zimbabwe things are worse, so we have no choice. Now there are more women than before coming to South Africa from Zimbabwe to do this.”

Together with her husband and one of their four children, she came here from Harare in 2015 to search for work. But South Africa has an unemployment rate of 27% and opportunities are scant.

Elizabeth crushes small stones into white, gold-flecked silt. This can cause silicosis, a chronic lung disease. Photograph: Shaun Swingler

Elizabeth crushes small stones into white, gold-flecked silt. This can cause silicosis, a chronic lung disease. Photograph: Shaun Swingler

According to a 2015 report by the South African Human Rights Commission, the country’s burgeoning illicit gold trade has been fuelled by the formal mining industry’s collapse combined with the failure of the ruling African National Congress to regulate the informal mining sector. Political and economic turmoil in a number of neighbouring countries has only compounded the problem.

The report estimated 30,000 illegal miners were operating across South Africa; about 75% are believed to be undocumented migrants, primarily from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho. Hundreds have died due to collapsing mine shafts, gas explosions and turf wars between the criminal syndicates that have seized control of the illegal industry.

On Johannesburg’s outskirts, cut off from support networks and services, women are bearing the brunt of the violence and lawlessness associated with illicit mining.

“Mining is innately male-dominated,” says Kgothatso Nhlengethwa, a Johannesburg-based geologist and researcher on informal mining.

Nhlengethwa says there is a dearth of research on the precarious role of migrant women and the risks and challenges that they face in an industry worth almost £400m a year.

Gang-rape and other forms of sexual violence are common, says Elizabeth. “A lot of women are being raped,” she says. “You hear stories about what happens to them when they go home.”

In December a small group of women marched on the local police station, carrying placards bearing the slogan: “Sick and tired of rape” and demanding greater police protection for the 800-strong community at Durban Deep. Others, though, are simply too afraid to approach the authorities.

Alan Martin, a researcher with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, says women have “little negotiating power” with the criminal syndicates in terms of their wages or ability to choose “where to work and what kind of work they do”.

Martin says the same applies when they are “shaken down for bribes” by notoriously corrupt police.

Women are frequently coerced into exchanging sexual favours with men, who earn considerably more, in return for a better cut of the takings.

Health is also at risk. “They are crushing a type of rock that is silica based,” Nhlengethwa says. This can cause silicosis, a chronic lung disease that has claimed the lives of thousands of mine workers since the 1960s.

Monica, a 33-year-old Malawian, has been crushing in Durban Deep since she arrived in 2016, working in a small clearing near the mine’s crumbling former staff houses.

“When you are crushing, you often get sick,” she says, fine dust clinging to her skin and clothes as she works. Sometimes, she makes as little as £3 for a full day’s toil.

“It’s small money,” says Monica. “It’s not enough to put food on the table.”

People queue for food parcels at an animal welfare clinic in Durban Deep, Johannesburg. Photograph: Shaun Swingler

People queue for food parcels at an animal welfare clinic in Durban Deep, Johannesburg. Photograph: Shaun Swingler

On an overcast Saturday morning, a queue of women and small children forms in the car park of the Claw animal welfare clinic, a longstanding institution in Durban Deep. A scheme, run in tandem with the Johannesburg branch of Food Not Bombs, provides free hot meals every Saturday.

“There are at least 80 to 100 women coming every week for food,” says Lara Reddy, Food Not Bombs’ coordinator. “Sometimes it’s much more than that. There’s so much need.”

Claw was founded by Cora Bailey, who has witnessed the steady deterioration of Durban Deep since it ceased formal operations in 2001. Gangs, murders and rape have become commonplace in the sprawling surrounding informal settlements, with the violence so widespread that Bailey claims almost every child here will have witnessed rape or domestic abuse.

With the vast majority of people in the area living off the proceeds of illicit mining, fear of arrest or deportation prevents many women from going to the police or seeking help at overstretched local medical clinics.

“Many of them are undocumented, and there’s a lot of xenophobia towards them,” Bailey says.

Jessica, 30, first moved from the small Zimbabwean town of Lupane to Matholesville, a ramshackle informal settlement about 2km west of Durban Deep, in 2016.

After briefly returning home last year, she returned to Durban Deep in February, pushed by Zimbabwe’s spiralling economic crisis.

“It’s hard to find jobs in South Africa,” says Jessica as she makes her way to work on a busy crushing site behind densely packed rows of corrugated zinc shacks. “This is the only job that I can do because there are no requirements – no passport or ID necessary. All that’s required is my strength.”


SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

Improvement in sub-Saharan Africa housing but millions of people still live in slums

Study identifies major transformation in quality of living conditions, but governments urged to improve urban sanitation

From cities to the countryside, Africa has undergone a dramatic transformation in living conditions over the past 15 years, according to a new study.

But the research, based on state of the art mapping and published in science journal Nature, also found that almost half of the the urban population – 53 million people across the countries analysed – were living in slum conditions.

Led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the study offers the first detailed estimate of housing quality in sub-Saharan Africa.

Using the most recent data available from 31 countries, researchers found housing had improved across several measures over a 15-year period. Sufficient living area, improved water and sanitation and the durability of construction were found across 23% of houses in 2015, up from 11% in 2000.

The study’s senior author, Dr Samir Bhatt from Imperial College London, said: “Our study demonstrates that people are widely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure.

“We saw a doubling in the number of people living in an improved house. This parallels the success stories we are seeing in terms of Africa’s development. It is supported by a wide variety of other studies that show that when people get sufficient income, one of the things they do is invest in their homes.”

Bhatt said the improvement will have a “huge impact” on people’s health and susceptibility to disease.

“You can give someone a mosquito net with insecticide, but having a window you can close makes a huge difference,” he said.

The study found the need for adequate housing to be “particularly acute” in Africa, since the continent has the fastest growing population in the world, predicted to rise from 1.2 billion people in 2015 to 2.5 billion people by 2050.

The improvement was highest in Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe. South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were among countries where progress was less marked.

The researchers found that improved housing may be linked to economic development. Improved housing was 80% more likely among more educated households and twice as likely in the wealthiest households, compared with the least educated and poorest families.

The new data could guide interventions to achieve universal access to safe and affordable housing and to upgrade slums by 2030, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Dr Lucy Tusting, who conducted the work while at the malaria atlas project, University of Oxford, said: “Adequate housing is a human right. Remarkable development is occurring across the continent but until now this trend this had not been measured on a large scale.”

The UN definition of a slum household is one that does not protect against extreme weather, has more than three people to a room, lacks access to safe water and adequate sanitation, and has no security of tenure.

The researchers, who examined 600,000 households using an innovative technique that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the continent, defined housing as “improved” if it had the first four conditions, but did not look at security of tenure.

‘The water took everything’: tells of Cyclone Idai ordeal

People rescued by boat are arriving at Beira in hope of first aid, shelter and reunion with their families

On a beach in Beira, relatives wait for boats to take them to Buzi to search for their loved ones. Photo: Peter Beamont/The Guardian

Standing in the fishing port in Beira, Mozambique, Jose Mala scans the faces of those evacuated by boat from Buzi – one of the towns hardest hit by Cyclone Idai – searching for anyone he knows.

He had hopeful news the day before, says Mala, 27. He met a neighbour at the port who told him his sister and two nephews had survived the cyclone that destroyed large parts of their hometown.

His hope is that his sister and her boys are now trying to reach Beira on one of the fishing boats that have been rescuing people under the direction of the Indian navy.

“I was here from five to 11 yesterday evening,” Mala explains. “I’m told my sister is alive. I’ve been trying to phone her for the last five days but the network has been down. So now I’m here waiting for them.”

“I was here from five to 11 yesterday evening,” Mala explains. “I’m told my sister is alive. I’ve been trying to phone her for the last five days but the network has been down. So now I’m here waiting for them.”

People pass through a section of the damaged road in Nhamatanda about 30 miles from Beira. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

He’s not alone. Next to the first aid station hastily erected by the navy, worried relatives wait patiently as evacuees are processed from the tuna boat that took them the last leg into port.

Further up the beach, however, is an exhausted group, unable to walk to the main port as others have done to be registered. Among them is Ventura Francisco, 72, and Francisco Dominguez, 97, who are carried into the back of a four-wheel drive be taken to the aid station.

For those arriving at the fishing port, it is a brisk operation: they queue to be registered as they come off the boat, are handed some food, and then treated by the Indian medics.

The majority, many of whom arrived shoeless and in the clothes they were wearing when the disaster struck, are suffering from infections to the feet and lower legs from being so long in the water. Others are dehydrated or suffering from snake bites.

“When we first arrived we could only access the area to rescue the worst-injured in a two-to-three-hour window because of the tides,” says one of the Indian officers. “Our focus since then has been directing the small fishing boats where to go to pick up people.”

Even then, the Indians add, not everyone wants to be evacuated, choosing instead to remain to protect their property.

There are fears the death toll could soar beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country’s president earlier this week, as the scale of the disaster becomes clearer and aid agencies struggle to meet the humanitarian need.

“It was slow to start, it is now accelerating thankfully. We need to accelerate and expand,” World Food Programme spokesman Gerald Bourke told AFP, speaking of the aid effort. “We are not yet where it needs to be. We are broadening the effort. It’s going to take a lot more because this is going to run for quite a while.”

One of those greeting the people arriving from Buzi is Elsa Mazambue, an employee of the Dutch company Cornelder which runs the port concession and has made its employees available for the rescue effort.

From talking to those arriving, Mazambue has her own picture of what happened in Buzi. “What people have been telling us is that the river passes through Buzi; the villages on one side of the river had time to escape to an old sugar plantation. Those who got there found something to climb on when the waters suddenly arrived on Sunday.”

So they climbed on roofs, into trees and even into electricity pylons, with some still trapped where the waters remain deepest, according to those escaping yesterday.

A man stands on the roof of his destroyed home in Buzi, one of the towns hardest hit by Idai. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Standing in the queue waiting to have his details taken is Konde Pereira, aged 21. His face crumples with relief as he is welcomed but it is a relief muted by the fact that there was no room on the boat for his mother and other relatives.

With his house destroyed he decided to take his opportunity to escape Buzi. “It was so hard, though now things are getting a little better. We sheltered on a roof, although many people took shelter in a Catholic church. And there are still people in the trees.

“The water got low enough so that I could escape on foot.” He adds that, even then, it remained neck-high in places.

“When the cyclone came I was in my house with my family. We survived but after that the walls and roof were gone. Then on Sunday the water started coming up from the river. Everything was taken by the water. Those of us who were a distance from the river had the chance to run away. Those closer didn’t have a chance.

“We were on the roof to begin with for two days. It was so difficult. We had no water or food. After that we came down and went into the houses.

“I am so relieved to have escaped, even if I don’t know what we are facing here. I have a family. I need to start again.”

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

Can Africa catch up with the world in the fight against poverty? Here’s how

By M Niaz Asadullah and Antonio Savoia

The world is making remarkable progress in combating poverty. From 2000 to 2013, the portion of the world’s population living on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day fell from 28.5 % to 10.7 %. That’s about one billion people lifted out of poverty.

In 2000 the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals, a coordinated international effort to eradicate poverty and raise living standards worldwide by 2030.

An even more ambitious global effort to eradicate poverty, called the Sustainable Development Goals was adopted in September 2015. This also seems to be producing significant results. An estimated 83 million people have escaped extreme poverty in the first three years after the goals were adopted – between January 2016 and July 2018.

At the same time, there’s been a dramatic shift in the geography of poverty around the world.

Today, extreme poverty is mostly around Africa, where 23 of the world’s 28 poorest countries are found. These countries have poverty rates above 30%.

Poverty projections up to the year 2030 (the end of the Sustainable Development Goals) suggest that even under the most optimistic scenario, over 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will still be in extreme poverty. Thus success in poverty eradication under these goals will depend crucially on what happens in Africa.

According to our research, the adoption of the goals in 2000 played a significant part in accelerating the process of poverty reduction in the world. The implementation of antipoverty programmes and poverty reduction strategies in individual countries became a routine part of national development plans. But, there was considerable disparity in how different countries responded to the development goals as well as in their capacity to implement these plans.

In the early 1990s, African countries such as Nigeria, Lesotho, Madagascar, and Zambia had similar poverty levels to those of China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Yet, this group has been successful in reducing poverty, while the African countries haven’t.

So, why this disparity and how can poverty reduction in Africa be accelerated?

Poverty trends

We looked at poverty trends in the developing world between 1990 and 2013. Using standard income poverty measures expressing the part of the population living on less than $1.25 and $1.90 a day, we found that poverty tended to fall faster in more poverty-ridden countries.

Good news? Yes, but such progress, although significant, doesn’t imply that the end of poverty is in sight everywhere. For example, if trends continue in a poverty-ridden country such as Mali, where 86.08% of people were living below $1.25 a day in 1990, it would take about 31 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

And, even a much less poor economy like Ecuador (where 6.79% people lived on less than $1.25 a day in 1990) is predicted to take about 10 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

State capacity

Our research identifies a crucial role for state capacity in differing levels of poverty reduction. Sub-Saharan African states often suffer from limited institutional capability to carry out policies that deliver benefits and services to citizens. In other words, they have limited state capacity.

Building state capacity depends on many variables. It is greater when ruling elites are subject to effective limits on the exercise of their power through institutionalised checks and balances. It’s also greater in countries with a longer history of statehood. For example, China, an experienced state which is centuries old, may have developed a greater ability to administer its territory – through learning by doing. It has thus become more effective at delivering on policies compared to less experienced African states.

And our own research suggests that countries with the most effective governments reduced income poverty at up to twice the speed than countries with the weakest states.

Fighting poverty in Africa

The weaknesses of a state affects the fight against poverty in a number of ways.

Firstly, fighting poverty requires direct policy interventions. Yet poorer African countries are less effective in reaching their poor. For example, governments in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have the data and administrative know-how necessary for reliably identifying their poor. This means they can’t target resources to them. Anti-poverty programmes in countries such as Malawi, Mali, Niger and Nigeria miss many of their poorest households.

The growing evidence on the gaps in state capacity and the importance of effective states for poverty reduction implies that, without significant improvement in governance, Africa may fall further behind in meeting the first sustainable development goal target of ending poverty.

To accelerate the end of poverty, African states should focus on developing enough capability for designing and delivering poverty reduction strategies. Implementing these reforms is vital. After all, improving the quality of government is not only important to accelerating poverty reduction. It’s also a development goal in itself.