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Kenya’s president assures fund management after signing finance bill.

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“I will ensure proper utilization of public resources for a better Kenya. I will not relent on the war against corruption,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wrote on his Twitter feed after he signed a new finance bill into law on Friday, cutting in half a new fuel tax that had led to public anger and strikes but stopping short of demands to scrap or delay it.

The government, under pressure to hit IMF-mandated fiscal deficit targets, had faced a fuel dealers’ strike, anger among commuters and a lawsuit after transport and fuel prices jumped when a 16 percent value-added tax (VAT) on all petroleum products entered into force on Sept. 1.

Plans for the tax on fuel had been postponed several times since 2013. Parliament voted last month to delay it for another two years, but President Uhuru Kenyatta returned the bill to lawmakers with the suggestion they cut it to 8 percent instead.

Parliament approved the bill with the lower rate on Thursday during an acrimonious session marked by loud protests from lawmakers. The bill also adds other new taxes, and authorises revenue collection and spending through June 2019.



Kenyans have been angered by the new taxes, accusing authorities of forcing them to dig deeper into their pockets, while the government presides over wastage of its revenue through theft and corruption.

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Courts have charged dozens of senior government officials and business people with crimes related to corruption in a new crackdown this year.

An IMF stand-by credit facility for balance of payments support expired last week, complicating Kenya’s economic outlook at a time when emerging markets have entered into turmoil as contagion from Turkey and Argentina spreads.

Kenyan assets have had a mixed reaction to the wider emerging markets turbulence and the government’s fiscal challenges at home.

Investors who use dollars as their base currency would have lost 5.7 percent on Kenyan bonds since the start of the year, currently one of the worst performances across emerging markets this year barring the main trouble spots of Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela.

The Kenyan shilling weakened against the dollar after the expiry of the IMF facility last week but it has since recouped its losses.

On the stock market, the benchmark NSE-20 share index and the all share index are firmly in bear territory, having lost 20 percent of their value in recent weeks from their peaks this year.

Yields on the local government debt market have however held steady mainly due to a cap on commercial lending rates, which market participants said was putting a lid on the yields.

Out in the real economy, ordinary people said the new tax on fuel was already biting.

“Customers are complaining because they have to spend more,” said John Thuita, a petrol pump attendant in Nairobi.

“If a customer used to come after a week, now they are coming back before the week is over.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Zimbawe’s doctor goes missing after masterminding strike

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Fearless Zimbabwe’s minister of health has called on the government to address insecurity lapses that has lead to the disappearance Peter Magombeyi, the head of a doctor’s union, who disappeared on Saturday.

Fears are rising over the fate of Zimbabwe medical doctor Dr Peter Magombeyi after he sent a message to say he had been abducted in that country by unknown persons – apparently for demanding a “living wage”.

An AFP report earlier on Sunday quoted the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) as saying Magombeyi had not been heard from since he sent a WhatsApp message on Saturday night saying he had been “kidnapped by three men”.

Zimbabwe doctors, who earn a miserly equivalent of about R3 000 are on strike to press for better wages, equipment and medicines in state hospitals.

The ZHDA has reportedly accused state security forces of abducting the doctor because of his role in organising work stoppages.

This week some doctors said the death of deposed Robert Mugabe, 95, in a Singapore hospital on 6 September was an indication of how bad health services in Zimbabwe

“Dr Magombeyi’s crime is only to ask for a living wage for his profession. This is a reflection of the troubles born out of refusal to implement Political Reforms.”

The Zimbabwe government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa has not publicly commented on the doctor’s disappearance

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