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France Closes Border to Africa, Non-EU Countries

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France on Friday decided to close its borders to people outside the European Union (EU) due to continued high Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates.

Travel between France and countries outside the European Union will be banned from Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

Exceptions would only be made for a good reason, he added.

There had been discussion in recent days of a potential third lockdown. Castex called the border closure “a last chance” to avoid another lockdown.

The premier also said that large shopping centres, with the exception of grocery stores, are to close from Sunday.

In addition, working from home is to be stepped up.

Details are to be worked out on Monday in talks with employers and trade unions.

Castex also said that the police and gendarmerie would be more vigilant about compliance with coronavirus restrictions.

France currently has a curfew in place beginning at 6pm, with exceptions only for those commuting to work.

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Zimbabwe Swears In Frederick Shava as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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Frederick Shava, Zimbabwe’s former Minister of State for Political Affairs, who was implicated in the Willowgate scandal, has been sworn in as the country’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The swearing-in held at the State House in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital on Tuesday.

Shava, who has held various portfolios in government since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in February, following the death of Sibusiso Moyo, who succumbed to COVID-19 related complications in January.

He previously served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China before he was appointed as permanent representative to the United Nations.

His appointment is one of several key cabinet appointments made last month by Mnangagwa, following the deaths of three cabinet ministers from COVID-19.

Last month, Tapiwa Mhona was sworn in as Transport Minister and Infrastructure Development, replacing late Biggie Matiza, while Nokhuthula Matsikenyeri was sworn in as Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Manicaland Province, replacing Ellen Gwaradzimba.

Shava’s appointment has been criticised in Zimbabwe over his implication and subsequent conviction, in the early 1980s, for corruptly buying vehicles from the state-owned Willowvale Motor Industries before reselling them at double the market value in a scandal named Willowgate.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison but was acquitted by the then-President, Robert Mugabe, after spending only one night in jail.

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West Africa Politics

ECOWAS Parliament Backs Mali’s Transition to Democracy

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The ECOWAS Parliament has pledged to support the people of Mali people as their country embarks on transition to democratic rule.

Speaker of the parliament Sidie Mohamed Tunis offered this assurance on behalf of the sub-regional congress when he led a parliamentary mission to Mali as part of activities of the sub-regional lawmakers to support the West African country.

The speaker also stressed that the legislative body recognised the National Transitional Council (CNT), the body set up at the beginning of December and entrusted with legislative power.

The parliamentary mission was mooted by the speaker during his opening speech at the January Virtual Ordinary Session of the parliament.

Specifically meant to support the transition process, the mission was in line with the relevant decisions of the Special Meeting on Mali, of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, held in September 2020 in Accra.

Speaking after a meeting with the First Deputy Speaker of the CNT, Mr Assarid Imbarkawane, Tunis said: “We are here to hold parliamentary discussions with the Speaker and the CNT all geared towards giving the support to the Malian people.

“As members of ECOWAS Parliament, we recognise the CNT and it is in the interest of the Malian people that we work with them, advise them, and give whatever support that they need.

“We had very frank discussions and we were able to give some advice on how we can continue to have peace and stability in Mali.

The speaker added that as part of the mission, members of the sub-regional parliament would hold further discussions with the CNT as well as lawmakers who had been posted to ECOWAS.

“Between now and the time for the elections, the ECOWAS Parliament will continue to engage them to ensure that we all go by the rules, to ensure inclusive dialogue that will bring all political players on board.

“So that at the end of the day when we have the elections, it would be acceptable to everybody,” he said.

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East Africa Politics News

Uganda’s Bobi Wine in Trouble over Armoured SUV

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Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) and the National Unity Party (NUP) presidential candidate in the January 14, 2021 election, Bobi Wine, are headed for a collision over an alleged bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser in his possession.

The URA, which is recalling the vehicle, says the details of the bullet-proof had been misrepresented and thus undervalued.

However, Bobi Wine, a former reggae artiste whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has refused to hand over the vehicle, saying the recall has no constitutional backing.

Quoting section 236 (d) of the EAC Customs Management Act, the 38-year-old said though the URA has the powers to examine goods, it does not have automatic powers to reexamine goods which were in its “custody (warehouse), were examined, assessed for tax, the tax fully paid and the goods released to the owner/taxpayer.”

The vehicle was originally imported and registered in Kenya last year and then re-imported to Uganda through the Busia border.

In a post on 21 February, Kyagulanyi said that the Toyota Land Cruiser had been donated to him by his friends and supporters in Uganda and abroad.

News Central reports that Bobi Wine lost the presidential to incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni. After the Constitutional Cout confirmed Museveni for a 6th term in office, Wine had challenged the results but withdrew the lawsuit citing judges bias.

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