Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio on Monday insisted that France’s policies in Africa have created poverty and caused migration.
Maio’s remarks came hours after France summoned the Italian ambassador to Paris to protest the original assertions made over the weekend.
Speaking on Saturday in central Italy, Di Maio attacked France’s Africa policy, the latest chapter in a war of words between Rome and Paris since the anti-establishment 5-Star-Movement and far-right League won power last year.
If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonizing Africa,” said Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star.
“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”
Di Maio added that France was manipulating the economies of 14 African countries that use the CFA franc — a colonial-era currency which is underpinned by the French Treasury.
“France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” he said.
Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned on Monday afternoon by the chief of staff of European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, the French diplomatic source said.
“It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable and aggressive comments,” the French diplomatic source added.
France argues that the CFA franc has brought welcome monetary stability to the countries that use it, but French President Emmanuel Macron said in 2017 that it was up to African governments to decide what to do with the currency.
Italy wants France sanctioned
The new Italian government has frequently clashed with Paris, be it on immigration or policy in Libya, eager to mark the difference between itself and the previous center-left administration which had good ties with the French authorities.
“I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Di Maio said at the weekend.
“The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”
DRC warlord nicknamed terminator slammed 30 years sentence by ICC
A former Congolese rebel leader has been sentenced to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda carried out gruesome massacres of civilians, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said in July.
Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.
The sentence is the longest that the ICC has handed down.
Ntaganda was the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC and overall the fourth person the court has convicted since its creation in 2002.
The Rwanda-born 46-year-old former rebel has been involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Enough is enough”: Nigeria response as xenophobic attack shames South Africa
South Africa has been hit by an outbreak of attacks on migrants from other African countries as the nation prepared to host a meeting of political and business leaders from across the continent.
A spate of violence that broke out in suburbs south of Johannesburg’s city center on Sunday and spread to the central business district on Monday saw the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises mainly owned by Africans from countries in the rest of the continent such as Nigeria and Somalia. Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place.
The attacks come ahead of the beginning of the African edition of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town on Sept. 4 and before a state visit to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, a country whose nationals have been affected, next month.
“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” the government of Nigeria said on Twitter. “Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens.”
The violence echoes sporadic outbreaks of attacks mainly targeting migrants from other African countries in some of South Africa’s poorest areas. In 2008 about 60 people were killed and over 50,000 forced from their homes and in 2015 seven people died in violence. Migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and government services.
Other Nigerian politicians, including former presidential election candidate Oby Ezekwesili called for stronger intervention by the government. The government has summoned South Africa’s ambassador, the Punch newspaper reported.
In a separate development, South African truckers on Monday started a wildcat strike, protesting against foreign truck drivers. More than 20 people were arrested in connection with attacks on trucks, possession of firearms and other weapons and blocking of roads in Richards Bay, a key port, and other parts of the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province, police said.
Zambia warned its truck drivers, many of whom drive goods south to the South African port of Durban, to stay out of the country. Newsday, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reported that trucks were queuing on the Zimbabwean side of the border with South Africa at Beitbridge, with drivers reluctant to cross. Newspapers also reported that truck drivers were waiting for calm in eSwatini and Botswana.
“It is barbaric to attack people simply because they are foreigners, it is not acceptable,” Chanda Kasolo, permanent secretary in Zambia’s information ministry, said on national television. “Our leaders are doing everything possible to communicate with the South African government to ask them to take better control of things.”
South African politicians condemned the violence, in which one person was shot dead, according to eNCA, a local television station. At least 110 people were arrested.
Looting spread to Alexandra, an impoverished area in northern Johannesburg, overnight and there was unrest in Marabastad in Pretoria, 702 Talk Radio reported.
There was a police presence in central Johannesburg on Tuesday with some shops and schools closed. Major companies including Anglo American Plc, Absa Group Ltd. and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. either closed their offices in the city center or reduced staffing.
Still, politicians from the ruling African National Congress have in the past made anti-immigrant comments and Johannesburg’s mayor, Herman Mashaba, has attracted criticism from human rights groups for his frequent attacks on undocumented migrants. Mashaba is a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance.
While ANC politicians including Ace Malagasy, the secretary-general of the ANC, and David Makhura, an ANC politician and premier of Gauteng province, in which Johannesburg and Pretoria lie, have said there is no justification for the violence South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to make a public statement.
“There is an utter absence of leadership in this country,” said Claude Baissac, the head of Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd. “Lawlessness, lack of hope, lack of opportunity. It’s a country that’s slowly, slowly but continuously slipping into state failure.”
Massive and horrifying cyclone destroys an entire African city
“The scale of damage caused by Cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying,” this is according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC.
Beira was the first major casualty of the cyclone which struck the country late last week. The city was cut off from due to the effect of strong winds and rains that continued across the week according to reports.
Most communities were submerged with all communication lines cut off. Deaths have been reported along with massive human displacement and destruction of buildings in Beira.
Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.
Jamie LeSueur who led the IFRC team on an aerial assessment said: “The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.
“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.
“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city,” he stressed.
The Red Cross team were only able to tour the affected areas on Sunday. Their statement of March 18 said in part: “While the physical impact of Idai is beginning to emerge, the human impact is unclear.”
Brief by IFRC on impact of Cyclone Idai
Following its landfall in Mozambique Cyclone Idai continued west to Zimbabwe as a Tropical Storm, wreaking havoc in several districts in the eastern part of the country, with Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland Province being the hardest-hit.
At least 31 deaths have been reported and over 100 people are missing in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the latest country in Southern Africa to be hit by heavy rains and violent winds, after Malawi and Mozambique.
The death toll in the three countries is currently estimated at 150. But this number is likely to change as the full extent of the damage becomes clear. More heavy rain is also anticipated and this may lead to further devastation.
IFRC has already released about 340,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will go towards an initial response effort for about 7,500 people.
However, given the scale of the disaster, more resources may be needed to support Mozambique Red Cross efforts on the ground. Already, the team in Beira has identified shelter, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene as priorities
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