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12
DEC
2022

Free trade and cross-border mobility must be enabled for Africa to prosper

The continent is on track to achieve its free trade milestone, but free movement of people remains out of reach.
Regional integration is key for Africa’s prosperity. A continental economic community where goods, services and people move freely can help address the continent’s developmental challenges and realise the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 aspirations. Mobility is thus intertwined with trade.
Policies, systems and practices are needed to reduce barriers to access, facilitate people’s freedom of movement, encourage intraregional trade and develop joint strategies. While Africa is on track to achieve free trade, free movement of people is lagging.
In 2018, AU heads of state adopted two complementary instruments. The first was the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The second was the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment (Free Movement Protocol).
Several progressive continental policies strengthen these instruments’ aims — including the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the Single African Air Transport Market and the AU Strategy for a Better Integrated Border Governance.
The AU hopes that by 2023, people will be able to move freely among member countries by, for example, eliminating visa requirements for intra-African travel. A 2023 target is also set for completing the AfCFTA’s first two phases. Despite understanding that these elements go hand in hand, the pace of ratification and implementation of the instruments remains asymmetrical. States show more political will for trade.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) estimates that intra-African exports by the end of 2021 were only 14.4%. Both Unctad and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) believe the AfCFTA could change this dramatically. Uneca predicts that the AfCFTA could increase exports by 3%, augmenting the value of intra-African trade by between 15% and 25% ($50-billion and $70-billion) by 2040.
Informal trade isn’t included in these statistics. In Africa, informal cross-border trade is widespread. For fragile and conflict-affected states it’s particularly significant as formal trade channels may be adversely affected. The former provides traders with a market outside the fragmented and potentially failing domestic market.
Migration also plays a crucial role in Africa’s regional integration agenda by contributing to socio-economic development in countries of both origin and destination. Studies show increased bilateral trade between recipient and origin countries due to the presence of migrants in a country. Establishing links through capital investment, philanthropy, knowledge transfer, and entrepreneurship is crucial, ...
12
DEC
2022

Free trade and cross-border mobility must be enabled for Africa to prosper

The continent is on track to achieve its free trade milestone, but free movement of people remains out of reach.
Regional integration is key for Africa’s prosperity. A continental economic community where goods, services and people move freely can help address the continent’s developmental challenges and realise the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 aspirations. Mobility is thus intertwined with trade.
Policies, systems and practices are needed to reduce barriers to access, facilitate people’s freedom of movement, encourage intraregional trade and develop joint strategies. While Africa is on track to achieve free trade, free movement of people is lagging.
In 2018, AU heads of state adopted two complementary instruments. The first was the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The second was the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment (Free Movement Protocol).
Several progressive continental policies strengthen these instruments’ aims — including the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the Single African Air Transport Market and the AU Strategy for a Better Integrated Border Governance.
The AU hopes that by 2023, people will be able to move freely among member countries by, for example, eliminating visa requirements for intra-African travel. A 2023 target is also set for completing the AfCFTA’s first two phases. Despite understanding that these elements go hand in hand, the pace of ratification and implementation of the instruments remains asymmetrical. States show more political will for trade.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) estimates that intra-African exports by the end of 2021 were only 14.4%. Both Unctad and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) believe the AfCFTA could change this dramatically. Uneca predicts that the AfCFTA could increase exports by 3%, augmenting the value of intra-African trade by between 15% and 25% ($50-billion and $70-billion) by 2040.
Informal trade isn’t included in these statistics. In Africa, informal cross-border trade is widespread. For fragile and conflict-affected states it’s particularly significant as formal trade channels may be adversely affected. The former provides traders with a market outside the fragmented and potentially failing domestic market.
Migration also plays a crucial role in Africa’s regional integration agenda by contributing to socio-economic development in countries of both origin and destination. Studies show increased bilateral trade between recipient and origin countries due to the presence of migrants in a country. Establishing links through capital investment, philanthropy, knowledge transfer, and entrepreneurship is crucial, ...
11
DEC
2022

After The Bell: The tricky dilemma that is Glencore

Here is a difficult investment question for you: Should you invest in Glencore? It’s hard for all kinds of reasons.
First off, the company has made out like bandits because it decided to hold on to its huge coal assets. It did so in contrast to, say, Anglo American which, under heavy investor pressure, unbundled its South African coal assets into Thungela in June last year. In an amazing turn-up for the books, Thungela’s share price rose from R22 at listing to around R280 now. If Anglo shareholders had kept their shares after the demerger, they too have made out like bandits. But if you didn’t, and you decided to follow the advice of the experts and divest from coal, you might be kicking yourself — and your financial adviser.
The whole sector has been an amazing jumble. Think about BHP, for example, which to much fanfare decided to sell some of its less valuable thermal coal assets (electricity-producing coal as opposed to metallurgical coal or “coking coal”) in 2021. The company sold some, including a huge mine in Colombia, but couldn’t find buyers for others. What luck! The company then did a complete U-turn earlier this year, and decided, well, let’s keep ’em. BHP claimed that the surging coal prices made the assets more valuable and investor attitudes had shifted.
What they mean by that is that investors circa 2021 were hugely concerned about the issue from a climate-change point of view and companies felt their attractiveness diminishing. But when the coal price jumped, investors decided on, let’s call it, a “different approach” to climate change. That approach would entail holding on to the money, while promising to close the mines in a “responsible” way, ie, later.
The other big global miner, Rio Tinto, decided to exit coal entirely and you have to say, from an investment point of view, it hasn’t been a success. All the share prices of the big miners are up over the past three years, but of the four (Anglo, Rio, BHP and Glencore) the out-and-out winner has been Glencore.
So you might think that after a share price rise of 150% over three years, Glencore is trading at a peak. Turns out not so much, because the earnings flow has been so strong, it outpaced the price rise. All of the big miners are cheap, with price-earnings ratios below, or around, 10, but Glencore’s is five. That is ...
09
DEC
2022

Winner: Dr Emmanuel Taban; Runners-up: Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema & Dr John Nkengasong

From the toughest of beginnings in South Sudan to becoming a pioneering pulmonologist in Joburg, what this doctor learnt was how not to be a perpetual victim.
Dr Emmanuel Taban is our Africa Person of the Year because he has achieved so much and travelled such a great distance – literally and figuratively – to get there.
He was born in a mud hut in Juba, later to become the capital of independent South Sudan, but then still part of Sudan. In 1994, aged 16, he was abducted by Sudanese troops and tortured because they thought he was a rebel spy. He escaped from them, on foot, intending to go home, but took a wrong turn and instead walked into Eritrea.
As he relates in his autobiography, The Boy Who Never Gave Up, he then decided to quit Sudan, embarking on a perilous odyssey, via Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, northern Mozambique and Zimbabwe, eventually to Johannesburg, where he arrived about 18 months after leaving Sudan, just short of his 18th birthday.
He had no passport and mostly no money. Much of his journey was on foot.
It was a learning experience that taught him much about life and about human nature. He was often cheated and robbed along the way. He was particularly dismayed to be turned away by an uncle in Kenya and other relatives in Ethiopia and elsewhere, when he desperately sought their help.
Conversely, he was also given tremendous help by many strangers along the way.
He is particularly grateful to the Comboni Catholic missionaries in Johannesburg, who took him under their wing and gave him both accommodation and financial support to get matric and then his basic medical degree at Medunsa.
After that he largely flew solo, winning bursaries to continue his postgraduate studies and eventually in 2018 to become a pulmonologist – a lung specialist – at the University of the Witwatersrand.
When Covid-19 struck in early 2020 his special skills were in high demand and he fought on the frontline against the disease, contracting it himself.
And he did pioneering work, particularly in discovering a new way of treating very ill hypoxaemic Covid-19 patients (those suffering from low oxygen levels in their blood), many of whom were dying.
Last year, London-based New African magazine named Taban one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2020.
The South African NGO Rally to Read, the rural primary schools programme, this year made him one of its ambassadors. “If anyone ...
09
DEC
2022

African People of the Year – Runners-up : Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Vera Songwe

Choosing the runner-up in our annual African Person of the Year award proved no easy task. But two distinguished women economists perhaps stand out above the rest – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Vera Songwe.
First published in Daily Maverick 168 Weekly newspaper
Okonjo-Iweala served two terms as Nigerian finance minister and spent 25 years at the World Bank, reaching the number two position as managing director of operations.
Over the past few months, she beat off strong competition to emerge as the candidate with the overwhelming majority of support of member states in a selection committee, to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Another prominent African, Amina Mohamed, the Kenyan cabinet minister and former international diplomat, was also in the race for the WTO job until very near the end.
Meanwhile, Cameroonian Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) since August 2017, is a frontrunner to head the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Before taking over Uneca, Songwe was the IFC’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
Under its outgoing CEO, the Frenchman Philippe Le Houérou, it has sometimes been criticised for financing wealthy investors who don’t really need its support. Songwe is expected to refocus IFC financing on more deserving investors if she gets the job.
Going from economics to justice, the five judges of Malawi’s Constitutional Court who bravely annulled the re-election of then incumbent President Peter Mutharika in May 2019 must also be contenders.
Justices Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu, Dingiswayo Madise and Michael Tembo ruled in February this year that Mutharika’s victory had been rigged. The judges resisted bribe attempts and threats, travelling to court with armed escorts and wearing bulletproof vests.
In the runoff election they ordered, Mutharika lost to opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera.
In October, British think-tank Chatham House awarded its annual prize to the five judges for their independence and bravery.
Another candidate for runner-up would be Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate justice activist. In 2019, she staged a climate protest in front of Uganda’s parliament. She founded the Youth for Future Africa and the Africa-based Rise Up Movement, and spoke at the COP25 gathering in Spain in 2019.
The BBC ranked her among its top 100 Women for 2020.
Axel Emmanuel Gbaou, founder and CEO of Le Chocolatier Ivoirien, must also be a contender. His company manufactures handcrafted, quality chocolate using sustainable cultivation methods.
He started his career in the banking ...
08
NOV
2022

DMRE says mining rights application backlog slashed, looks to neighbours for cadastre solution

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has finally updated the progress made in addressing the backlog for mining and prospecting rights and related applications, which stood at more than 5,000 when it was first revealed in February 2021. The backlog now stands at 2,625 and the department seems to finally be on course to replace its useless Samrad applications system with a functioning cadastral unit.
The long overdue update was provided in a presentation on Tuesday to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy.
“In March 2021, the department had a backlog of 4,467 applications on the three licensing categories – mining permits, mining rights and permit rights,” it said.
“Currently, the backlog is 2,625 – a 43.5% reduction from the previous backlog report.”
This is not like-for-like: In February 2021, the number stood at 5,326 – but for the DMRE, at least things are moving in the right direction.
More importantly, the DMRE has dropped the tender it issued to replace Samrad, which would have involved a completely unnecessary reinvention of the wheel when off-the shelf cadastral systems were available.
The Minerals Council SA – the main industry grouping – has even offered to help pay for such a system.
“Unsurprisingly, they are having to do a full do-over on the cadastral tender,” Paul Miller, director of consultancy AmaranthCX, told Business Maverick.
“It was clear that the first effort was a disaster waiting to happen . we are supposed to accept that it was pulled because of technical audit findings. Whatever the reason, a do-over was inevitable and should be welcomed.”
The department said in the presentation: “On Sita’s [State Information Technology Agency] advice, informed by their internal and external audit process outcomes”, it had requested the procurement process be halted.
That raises a few questions – but moving right along: The DMRE signalled that it is indeed aiming for an existing cadastral and said in its presentation that it is “benchmarking similar systems in countries that have successfully implemented a cadastral [system]”.
The presentation went on to say that it had done a benchmarking exercise with Namibia, and planned to do another at the end of November with Botswana.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
Director-General Jacob Mbele made a commitment in October to the parliamentary portfolio committee that a cadastre would be procured by the end of the financial year.
“After 10 years in denial, the department has accepted that a custom-designed cadastral ...
06
NOV
2022

African Group of Negotiators head insists Africa climate change priorities need critical focus at COP27

Vulnerable nations including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, appear to be leading in climate ambition, ahead of their dawdling developed counterparts.
Africa is the most vulnerable continent in the face of climate change, according to team leader of the African Group of Negotiators Expert Support (Agnes), Dr George Wamukoya. He stresses the importance of formulating a strong position for Africa to present at COP27, taking place in Egypt in November.
An important step in this process was the 56th session of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which took place in the German city of Bonn from 6 to 16 June 2022. The Bonn Climate Change Conference marked the first time negotiators had met since November 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow, where the Glasgow Climate Pact was agreed upon.
Shedding light on the outcomes of the meeting, Wamukoya summarised the African position in four key points:
developed countries should raise their climate ambition;
adaptation is a priority for Africa;
Africa’s climate vulnerability must be recognised; and
a need to focus on the continent’s agricultural sector.
Getting to grips with Africa’s priorities
If countries can cut global emissions to “net zero” by 2050, we may still have a chance to bring global warming below 1.5℃ in the second half of this century and avert global disaster in the form of heat waves, flooding, wildfires, widespread crop failure, coral bleaching and sea level rise.
The Conference of the Parties, or COP for short, refers to the gathering of the 196 countries, plus the European Union, that ratified the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty. The annual event sees country delegations engage in days of negotiations and exchanges to adopt positions, make new pledges and join new initiatives to tackle climate change by achieving net zero.
The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) has been representing the common interests of African nations as a bloc since 1995’s first COP in Berlin, Germany, ensuring that Africa’s voice on climate issues is heard over competing interests.
Since 2015 they have been supported by Agnes, who provide scientific evidence to inform the African position by facilitating the exchange of ideas between experts and negotiators. Agnes has been working with Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation (OGRC) as well as researchers from their partner programme, Future Ecosystems for Africa (FEFA), to incorporate the latest science on African environments into Africa’s COP27 position.
Shouldering responsibility for climate change
Prior to the ...
01
NOV
2022

Growing plants on buildings can reduce heat and produce healthy food in African cities

Studies in two African cities showed that green spaces have the potential to reduce heat and, in turn, improve health, especially in vulnerable urban areas such as informal settlements.
Persistently high temperatures and related heat stress are a big problem for people living in cities, especially in slums and informal settlements. It’s a problem that is expected to continue.
According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change assessment report, heat exposure in Africa is projected to increase in terms of person-days. That is, the annual number of days when the temperature is over 40.6℃ multiplied by the number of people exposed. Heat exposure will reach 45 billion person-days by the 2060s, more than three times the rate between 1985 and 2005. This will make sub-Saharan Africa’s exposure to dangerous heat one of the highest globally.
Heat exposure challenges are increased by a shortage of basic services and infrastructure, along with low-quality housing, poor socioeconomic conditions and few green spaces in slums and informal settlements.
Our recent study in Akure, southwest Nigeria, shows that poor residents in informal neighbourhoods experience higher heat exposure, compared with residents in rich neighbourhoods. Through a survey of 70 residents in each neighbourhood, we found that poorer households in low-income neighbourhoods were more disadvantaged and have lower capacity to adapt to heat. Housing features in the poorer neighbourhood did not completely prevent excess heat.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Parks for the people — everyone living in South Africa needs easy access to green spaces”
Richer households in more affluent neighbourhoods were able to install features such as air conditioners, ceramic tiles and shady plants, which the poorer ones could not. For example, while 78% households had air conditioners in the rich area, only 22% had them in the poor neighbourhood.
Green spaces have the potential to reduce heat and, in turn, improve health, especially in vulnerable urban areas such as informal settlements.
Another study I led experimented with vertical greening systems in low-income communities in Akure and Lagos – both cities in Nigeria – and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The experiment established that vertical greening was a solution for heat problems in informal neighbourhoods. And it had the added benefit of providing healthy food in the form of vegetables.
Mitigating heat exposure
Exposure to high temperatures often leads to health problems.
A recent study I led in Tanzania shows typical heat-related health problems reported among people residing in informal settlements. Among 405 residents surveyed in ...
01
NOV
2022

Success of East African Community peace process hinges on regional coordination on eastern DRC conflict

The bloc’s first-ever troop deployment to a member country will test its capacity to resolve complex conflicts.
As clashes escalated between the rebel March 23 Movement (M23) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) armed forces in North Kivu, the African Union (AU) on 30 October called for urgent dialogue between the two. The fighting has led to deaths and internal displacement as citizens flee the violence.
Under Kenya’s leadership, the East African Community (EAC) has taken bold steps to resolve the crisis in eastern DRC. The bloc’s diplomatic engagement comes after the DRC joined the EAC in March, becoming its seventh member state.
The decades-long conflict now comprises over 100 active armed groups. Its roots lie in the massive refugee crisis caused by Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, which saw people and armed genocidaires moving into the region. As rebel groups flourished in the absence of a strong Congolese army and government, neighbouring Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi pursued their enemies and their economic interests in the restive region, taking advantage of its enormous natural resources.
On 20 June, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta (now Kenya’s peace envoy) convened a peace conference (the Nairobi Process) of EAC leaders. They undertook to deploy a regional force to eastern DRC to help combat the armed groups. Under Kenyatta’s guidance, Kenya is leading the diplomatic and military efforts.
This is the first time the EAC is sending troops to a member state. It will be a litmus test of the bloc’s ability to handle complex political and security challenges.
The regional force (comprising contingents from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan) will help the DRC’s armed forces “contain, defeat and eradicate ‘negative forces’” in the east. The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) has overall command of operations. Backed by EAC troops, it is expected to focus on four provinces: North Kivu, South Kivu, Haut-Uélé and Ituri. The EAC force has a six-month renewable mandate subject to bi-monthly strategic reviews.
This decision was spurred by rising political and security tensions in eastern DRC. Armed groups multiplied, with a notable resurgence of M23, allegedly with support from Rwanda and, to a lesser extent, Uganda.
The EAC peace process puts the bloc’s conflict resolution capacity in the spotlight. Success will depend on resolving intractable political, security and economic challenges in eastern DRC, which probably won’t happen soon.
There are some advantages for the EAC, though. Unlike the various initiatives led by ...
26
OCT
2022

Ethiopian belligerents get into the nitty-gritty of peace talks

All agree a ‘cessation of hostilities’ should be the first step to peace.
The substantive phase of the peace talks between the Ethiopian federal government and its foes in the Tigray province began in South Africa on Wednesday, with intense discussions about the terms of a possible cessation of hostilities.
Negotiators from both sides, and the mediators, have agreed that a cessation of hostilities should be the first objective in these first formal negotiations between the two sides who have been fighting each other in a bitter and bloody civil war since November 2020.
“Cessation of hostilities is the priority and both sides seem to be taking this seriously,” said Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation.
The negotiations are being mediated by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is special envoy for the African Union. He is supported by former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African deputy president Phumzil Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The Ethiopian federal government negotiation team is led by Redwan Hussein, national security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and justice minister Gedion Timotheos, according to an official familiar with the arrangements.
The Tigrayan negotiators are headed by Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and veteran military general Tsadkan Gebretensae, a former TPLF member and now part of the Tigray federal government.
Agenda agreed
The negotiators and mediators arrived in South Africa on Monday. The mediators agreed on an agenda that day. On Tuesday there was a ceremonial opening of the negotiations which are taking place at a secret venue believed to be in the vicinity of Pretoria. On Wednesday the substantive negotiations began.
The talks are taking place against the backdrop of a fluid situation on the battlefield. Ethiopian federal troops — controversially backed by forces from neighbouring Eritrea — have captured the key towns of Shire, Adwa and Aksum in Tigray, from the Tigray forces, over the past week. But they have not captured the Tigray capital of Mekelle, sources said, contradicting some reports from the Ethiopian government’s side.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
The sources also noted that the Tigrayans had bounced back from worse positions before — as in November 2020 when they lost Mekelle — and so should not be counted out of the battle.
There had been some discussion among the negotiators and the mediators on whether the talks should aim at a “cessation of hostilities” or a “ceasefire” as ...
26
OCT
2022

Sundowns Women juggle confidence and caution ahead of Champions League defence

The second edition of the Caf Women’s Champions League kicks off this Sunday in Morocco. Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns are well aware of the target on their back, but remain ready to fend off all challengers.
Having just wrapped up their second Hollywoodbets Super League title on the trot, Tshwane-based football side Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies are now fully focused on defending their Caf Women’s Champions League crown.
The South African champions made history in 2021 when the competition was launched in Egypt, becoming the first club to lift the crown.
In the inaugural season of the African women’s club football showpiece, Banyana Ba Style registered a 2-0 final victory over Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies to win the title. The South Africans achieved this feat without conceding a single goal.
In this second edition, the competition they will face promises to be more challenging. They have already been handed a taste of some of the difficulties that await.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing as the team competed in the regional qualifier. They were defeated by Zambia’s Green Buffaloes in the final of the Southern Africa mini tournament.
In Morocco, where the second edition of the Champions League is taking place, they can expect more of the same — with teams on the continent constantly improving.
Psychological boost
Sundowns will be relieved to head into the tournament knowing that the domestic league title has already been secured, with three games to spare. This means the team can focus all its energy on trying to defend its continental crown.
“Psychologically, [wrapping up the league early] helps us because we can focus on the big one. Which is the Champions League. We don’t have to worry about trying to play catch-up games [when we return from Morocco]. Last year, it was the same thing. It gave us the chance to focus on winning the Champions League,” said Sundowns coach Jerry Tshabalala.
His sentiments on the convenience and mental advantage of going into the Champions League as national champions were echoed by club captain Zanele Nhlapho.
“We are very excited that we have wrapped up the league as we prepare to compete in the Champions League. Although our league statistics are very good, it was quite difficult to achieve them this time around,” said Nhlapho.
“Several teams faced us with low defensive blocks in a bid to negate our attacking prowess. Thus, teams were more difficult to beat. It shows that the league is improving as teams are ...
17
OCT
2022

Madagascar indefinitely extends flight embargo on Airlink over SA’s gold bullion intercept

The government of Madagascar has just indefinitely extended a six-month ban on the South African airline Airlink from flying into the country – because Pretoria won’t return 73.5kg of smuggled gold bullion.
The prospects for Airlink being able to resume flights to Madagascar – what was among its five most profitable routes – now seems remote as the court case over the allegedly smuggled gold shows no signs of being finalised soon.
South Africa’s ambassador to Madagascar, Sisa Ngombane, confirmed to Daily Maverick on Monday that Madagascar’s civil aviation authorities had, on Saturday 15 October, renewed the ban – first imposed in April – on South African aircraft flying the South Africa-Madagascar route.
Airlink CEO Rodger Foster said last week that Airlink’s agents in Madagascar had been told by the country’s civil aviation authorities that the ban would remain in place until South Africa returned the 73,5kg of gold and the Malagasy couriers who had brought it into South Africa.
The effective ban on Airlink takes the form of NOTAMs – Notices to Air Missions. The first one was issued by Madagascar’s civil aviation authority in April and announced that it was lifting the restrictions on international flights which had been in force for two years because of the pandemic.
The NOTAM lifted the ban by name on all countries which had flown the Madagascar route before the Covid ban – except South Africa. Airlink was not mentioned by name, but it was the only South African airline flying the route and so was effectively banned.
Pretoria suspected then that the cause of the ban was the seizure of 73,5kg of unwrought gold and $20,000 in cash from three couriers who flew into Fireblade Aviation – a private terminal alongside Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport – on a charter flight from Madagascar on 31 December 2020.
South African authorities arrested the three couriers and confiscated the gold because they believed the couriers were attempting to smuggle the precious metal into the country.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
A company called Parpia Gold and Jewels Trading LLC has been trying to get the South African courts to release the three men and return the gold, which it claims it bought legally in Mali.
The Madagascar government has meanwhile been seeking the extradition of the three men and the return of the gold, which it claims was stolen from Madagascar and rightfully belongs to the government.
The ...

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