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East-Africa

Schools in Burundi Reopen With Disregard For Covid-19

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Schools in Burundi reopened early this week bringing an end to more than two months of vacation.

Egide Harerimana, a journalist attached to Iwacu, a private media critical of the Gitega based government, has taken a quick observation of the reopening of the schools.

According to Harerimana, while the start of the school year is happening in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the barrier measures are not respected in some schools in the town hall of Bujumbura.

For good reason, insufficient desk benches and the high number of pupils and schoolchildren.

It is 10 a.m. at the Kamenge III primary school north of the city of Bujumbura. Classes haven’t started yet. The students play in the yard. A reunion after two months of long vacation.

Some even go so far as to kiss. Others look at their names on the bulletin board lists. No one cares about covid-19.

The washing kits are there but there is no soap, physical distancing is almost non-existent, the wearing of masks as well. There are risks of contamination.

“The situation is worrying. At a time when we are talking about an upsurge in positive cases, no measures have been taken to protect our children “, deplores a parent who met on the spot.

He calls on the school administration and the government to take all possible measures to protect students from covid-19.

The school administration says it reminded students to strictly observe barrier measures to prevent covid-19.

However, she does not deny a relaxation in the application of barrier gestures.

“It’s difficult to respect physical distancing with all these children,” says Hildegarde Banyankindagiye, headmistress of the primary school (ECOFO) Kamenge III.

She evokes a problem of lack of desk benches: “Three students share a desk bench. Normally, it should be at most two students on a bench to respect the physical distance but it is impossible “.

Time check, 11 a.m. at the Buyenzi municipal high school in Mukaza commune. A few students are in the classroom and others are entering. No one wears a mask.

In classrooms, two or three of them sit on small desks. Difficult to keep a distance between two students. There are no wash kits. Even on the two taps installed, the students wash their hands without soap.

“I wash my hands before I go to class. But in the classroom the situation is dangerous. We’re too tight, without a mask. There are risks of contamination, ”laments a 8th grade student at the same school.

According to Olive Habonimana, director of the municipal high school Buyenzi, it is difficult to control the pupils with respect to the barrier measures.

“We try to sensitize them but sometimes they forget the instructions, kiss or even shake hands,” She explains that wearing a mask is not mandatory.

The situation was the same at the Rohero Municipal High School. On this day of the start of the school year, the activities had not yet started. The pupils formed small groups in class to discuss, share how they spent their holidays.

Observation; they do not wear a mask and do not respect physical distancing. Yet, they came from different parts of the city, where covid-19 is reported.

“It’s difficult to prevent possible contamination when the students are external. We reminded them to wear masks on buses and to wash their hands when they arrive at school, ”said Gertrude Simbananiye, principal of Rohero Municipal High School.

She explains that her school has a high number of students, which is why it is impossible to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

“Some classes have more than 80 students. So three students must share a desk bench, ”regrets the principal, adding that even classrooms are narrow and cannot contain many desk benches.

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Crime

Terrorists Bomb Bar In Kampala Killing 2, Several Injured

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Residents in Uganda’s Capital Kampala are in total panic following a deadly IED bomb denoted on Saturday night at a popular pork bar pub killing 2 and injuring several others.

According to an eyewitness account, a man believed to be a terrorist walked towards the bar counter at a fully packed pub (Digida Pork Joint) a Komamboga a residential suburb in Uganda’s Capital Kampala on saturday night and requested to be served two buckets of iced beer.

He later walked to a table and briefly sat there and was joined by two other colleagues, the iced beer buckets were brought to their table. These men later walked out of the bar for a chat outside.

One of the men who had earlier requested to be served beer returned but this time carrying a polythene bag containing a beer bottle and placed it under the table and walked outside again.

“When i came to bill these clients, i didn’t find them on the table and asked others sitting nearby, they told me the men were outside. The buckets still contained some unconsumed beers, i returned to the counter,” a waitress was quoted by local media in Kampala.

“After a few minutes, these men returned to the table and I also brought the bill and handed it to the man who had earlier placed the order. He rolled it and threw it at me telling me he will pay. No problem,” the frightened waitress said, adding that she walked back to the counter.

“It was the second time this man had come to this bar. I recognised him and trusted he would pay his bill. However, these men later walked outside again and few minutes later we heard a big explosion,” she said.

The waitress recognised one client dead. The explosion had ripped the victim exposing the intestines, one other male client died on the way to hospital according to this waitress who narrated her eyewitness account to the local media.

Several other people were badly injured and have since been rushed to various hospitals in the capital Kampala.

“It seems to be a terrorist act,” President Yoweri Museveni Tweeted on Sunday.

“The information I have is that 3 people came and left a package in kaveera (plastic bag) which later on exploded,” Museveni said.

Specifically, the bomb blast occurred at Digida Pork Joint, a restaurant, local media reported. Videos shared on social media showed panicked and confused revellers.

Meanwhile, this blast comes days after the British and French embassies had issued a security alert to their citizens saying the country faces a terror attack.

Police on Monday called for calm, saying for now security agencies would not heighten the threat level although the concerns raised by the embassies are taken seriously.

Uganda has its troops deployed in far away Somalia where they are pursuing Somalia’s al Shabaab islamist militants.

In 2010, Kampala suffered a major attack by Somalia’s al Shabaab that killed dozens. The group said it had attacked Uganda as a punishment for its deployment of troops in Somalia.

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East-Africa

EAC Partner States Fight Over Bloc Jobs

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The EAC recruitment drive risks being derailed following opposition by Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.

The EAC Secretariat, early this year, advertised at least 60 vacant positions.

In a letter dated October 18, Uganda’s East African Community Affairs minister Rebecca Kadaga said the interviews for the advertised positions should not be conducted “unless and until all the partner states have been given information about their quota”.

“I would like to remind you Secretary General that compliance with Article 14(3) (g) of the Treaty, the Council issued rules and regulations in particular regulation 4.6, which provides ‘At the beginning of each recruitment exercise, the Secretariat shall inform each partner about her balance of weighted points’”.

“The operative word is ‘At the beginning’ and this cannot be shifted to any other stage of the recruitment,” Kadaga, who doubles as Uganda’s deputy prime minister, said in the letter to secretary general Peter Mathuki.

Kadaga said once the partner states are informed about their quotas, it will eliminate countries that have exhausted their quotas and are therefore ineligible to participate.

“I need not remind you that one of the reasons for the previous collapse of the old East African Community was disappropriate sharing of benefits of the community among partner states,” she added.

Last week, Ugandan lawmakers staged walkouts due to what they termed an unfair process.

On the same day, October 18, Burundi’s EAC minister Ezechiel Nibigia wrote to Mathuki, saying his country had suspended attendance of the interviewing panels for the advertised EAC positions.

The interviews were slotted for October 18 to November 2.

“The ongoing recruitment process does not guarantee the implementation of the quota system within EAC since this has not been clarified before the said process begins,” Amb Nibigia said.

The quota system is captured in the EAC regulations to ensure and reflect equal representation of partner states.

South Sudan has also expressed dissatisfaction.

“We and the Ugandan chapter are concerned about the unfairness of the recruitment process. The quota system has not been used, so we want the recruitment process to stop so that it can start correctly,” Dr Anne Itto Leonardo, who replaced Juba MPs chair Thomas Dut Gatkek, told The EastAfrican.

The Juba chapter wants affirmative action applied so that South Sudanese benefit the way Rwanda and Burundi did upon joining the bloc.

Mathuki, in a letter dated October 13, acknowledged their quest and promised to act on it.

An extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for last Wednesday, which was expected to finalise the staff recruitment process, had to be moved to a later date, perhaps in the next week, at the prompting of Kadaga, who had reportedly travelled.

Mathuki had on August 11, while marking his first 100 days in office, highlighted unlocking staff recruitment standoff “as one of his achievements. He said the process was in full gear. It now appears not.

In a statement on October 19, Mathuki said the interviews for the positions could not commence as scheduled due to lack of quorum.

“The interviews have therefore been postponed to a later date that will be communicated accordingly. The EAC is committed to providing an equal opportunity for all East Africans,” Mathuki said.

The 42nd Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers in May approved the filling of the vacant positions in organs and Institutions through competitive recruitment.

Consequently, the EAC Secretariat initiated the recruitment on May 19 by advertising the posts.

“More than 15,000 applications were received from all the six EAC partner states. All EAC partner states’ delegates profiled/sorted and subsequently shortlisted candidates,” Mathuki said in the October 19 statement.

Some regional lawmakers have alleged the process was marred with irregularities and unfair treatment of citizens from some partner states.

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East-Africa

Covid-19 Pushed 1million Tanzanians Into Poverty

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Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has launched a Shs 1.3trillion robust Development Program which according to her government will see major reforms in the country’s socio-economic sectors mainly Education, Health, Water and Tourism in response to Covid-19 pandemic.

Her government said the program will be implemented for nine months and aims at boosting the country’s economy that has bee battered by the global health pandemic.

Samia said, her government had secured a concessional financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of U$ 567.25billion through Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).

This RCF was created under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) as part of a broader reform to make the Fund’s Financial Support more flexible and better tailored to the diverse needs of Low income Countries including times of Crisis.

According to Dr. Mpango Phillip the Vice President, the multimillion facility extended to Tanzania would help bring changes to the country.

He said Covid-19 pandemic had affected Tanzania and families as the country’s work force had been reduced.

“Some families lost their breadwinners and about one million people have now entered into a list of poor people due to the pandemic,” he said.

He added that because of travel restrictions, the toursim sector has also suffered because the number of tourists visiting the country had significantly dropped.

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