Monday, 20 May 2019

The head of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Monday said the commission was ready for balloting on Tuesday for the tripartite elections.

Justice Jane Ansah, Chairperson of the MEC, gave the assurance during a news conference at the tallying centre in Blantyre for the vote, which will elect a president, members of parliament and local government councilors.

She said the distribution of both electoral materials and personnel had been concluded and that the electoral body expected a high turnout among the estimated 6.8 million registered voters.

“The MEC has done everything possible to ensure that it delivers a free and transparent electoral process,” Ansah said, rejecting reports of attempts to rig the elections as baseless.

She urged citizens to ignore those reports, saying they were only meant to instill fear and cause people to lose morale in participating in the voting process.

Published in World

Google is halting some services for smartphones made by Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the matter, in a sign that the U.S. decision to deny the Chinese tech giant access to U.S. technology will bite into its booming consumer-device business.

Huawei, which recently surpassed Apple Inc. as the world's No. 2 supplier of smartphones--it now trails only Samsung Electronics Co.--relies on Google's Android operating system to run its devices. Though existing phones are expected to keep functioning largely as usual, users could lose some functions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Separately, San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. has suspended shipments to Huawei of its chips, and its employees have been told not to communicate with the Huawei side, according to a separate person familiar with the matter. Qualcomm chipsets are used in certain Huawei smartphone models. Huawei also designs a large number of its own chips for higher-end phones.

Last week the U.S. Commerce Department announced it was adding Huawei to its "Entity List" on national-security grounds, requiring companies that export U.S. technology to the Chinese company to apply for a license. The department has indicated applications are likely to be denied, which would cut off Huawei from a range of crucial American suppliers.

Huawei, the world's biggest maker of telecommunications gear, draws upon suppliers from around the world, but it relies on American companies to supply certain components that go into its smartphones, cellular base stations and other products.

Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, told reporters Saturday that the impact on smartphone production would be limited even if Huawei cannot import chips, according to a spokeswoman who confirmed his remarks. A Huawei spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the suspensions by Google and Qualcomm.

A Google spokesman said the company is "complying with the order and reviewing the implications." The spokesman added that many Android functions will continue running as normal, including access to the Google Play app-store service and security protections from Google Play Protect. Reuters first reported the halt by Google.

Google's standard suite of apps, like Google Maps and Gmail, will continue to function normally, according to a person familiar with the matter. However, Huawei phones may lose other Google services as part of U.S. government action, this person said. Proprietary apps and services such as some artificial-intelligence capabilities that connect to Google infrastructure may cease to function, according to this person.

Huawei's global smartphone shipments rose 50% in the first quarter, bucking an industrywide decline of 6.7%, according to IDC. The consumer-business group last year became the biggest source of revenue for the Shenzhen-based technology giant, outpacing revenue from its carrier customers for the first time. Last year, consumer sales including smartphones, laptops and other gadgets accounted for 48% of Huawei's $107 billion in revenue.

Qualcomm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Huawei has been stockpiling inventory and has developed its own operating system to protect against a supply disruption. However, it isn't clear when or if Huawei can easily switch operating systems on existing smartphones.

Published in Telecoms

Delta Corp Zimbabwe’s biggest company by market value, is bracing for cash-strapped consumers to spend less on its beverages in the months ahead.

The manufacturer of Zambezi Lager beer and Coca-Cola Co. sodas is already grappling with foreign-exchange shortages that are crimping its ability to procure raw materials and service debt. Demand for its products is also being constrained by an inflation rate at 75.9% — the highest in a decade.

The company will seek the assistance of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, which has a 40% stake in Delta, to obtain inputs for its beer business, Chief Executive Officer Pearson Gowero said in an interview in the capital, Harare. There’s little Delta can do to stoke demand, he said.

“We are in for a very long winter,” Gowero said.

Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to revive an economy wrecked by the misrule of former President Robert Mugabe. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told lawmakers on Wednesday output will be hampered this year by a drought that’s curbed hydropower output, leading to regular outages, and shortages of gasoline.

The International Monetary Fund forecast last month that Zimbabwe’s economy will shrink 5.2% this year, its first contraction since 2008.

Delta this week reported a 62% increase in annual profit, as revenue grew 26%. It achieved the results despite its soda division being “virtually closed” in the fourth quarter of 2018 because of a shortage of raw materials.

“The reduced disposable income and difficult operating environment has resulted in subdued trading at the front end of the new year,” it said.


Source: Bloomberg

Published in Business

US President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise as the United States has deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats.”

Iran’s foreign minister downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region on Saturday, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the “illusion” the Islamic republic could be confronted.

“We are certain… there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China.

Iran-US relations hit a new low last year as US Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear program

Published in World

Around 400 people took to the streets in the capital city of the southern US state of Alabama on Sunday to rally against the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions in decades.

Women’s reproductive rights defenders gathered in Montgomery, as well as in Birmingham, Anniston and Huntsville where hundreds more were estimated to have joined in denouncing the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” or HB314, which virtually outlaws terminations of pregnancy.

Protesters in Montgomery held up signs reading “her body, her choice” and “we are not ovary-acting.” There we no counter-demonstrators.

A woman wearing beige underwear that made her look naked had a drawing of her reproductive system attached to her abdomen and a banner reading: “More than an incubator.”

Several other women were dressed as characters forced to bear children in the dystopian novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

One of them, who gave her name only as Amanda, accused Alabama’s legislators of “trying to imprison women and doctors.”

“Wearing the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ outfit is sending a message that you’re trying to turn us into slaves, reproductive slaves,” the 40-year-old-lawyer told AFP.

“They’re trying to fill prisons, more private prisons so that women will do hard labor after they get convicted of these ‘crimes’ of abortion.”

Last week, Alabama passed a law that prohibits all abortions — even in cases of incest and rape — unless there is a risk of death for the mother.

“Our call center’s been getting hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from concerned citizens asking us what this means,” said Barbara Ann Luttrell, director of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Planned Parenthood is not currently providing abortion services in Alabama. “We’ll be having abortion services up and running again as soon as possible,” she said.

There are only three clinics that perform the procedure. None of them responded requests of comments.

The Alabama law is likely to be blocked in state courts before its November launch date but Republican Governor Kay Ivey acknowledged when she signed it that it was part of as a wider Republican offensive to get the issue relitigated on the national stage.

Republican offensive 

“We’re going to return to the back alleys. We’re going to return to where women will do abortions to themselves,” 81-year-old Maralyn Mosley told the Montgomery Advertiser.

She had an abortion at 13, after her uncle raped her.

“We will return to the coat hangers and perforated uteruses. We will return to where women will bleed to death,” she warned.

Conservative activists hope to get a Supreme Court decision against the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v Wade that said unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.

Conservatives are counting on support at the highest court in the land, where liberal justices are in a minority after the arrival of two conservative members appointed by President Donald Trump.

Trump appeared to suggest Alabama lawmakers had gone too far in a series of tweets late Saturday in which he described himself as “strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother.”

He urged the anti-abortion side to “stick together and Win for Life” when it comes to voting in 2020.

While the Alabama measure is seen as particularly draconian, at least 28 US states have introduced more than 300 texts since the start of the year limiting abortion rights, according to activists.

Kentucky and Mississippi have banned abortions as soon as a fetus’s heartbeat is detectable, or around the sixth week of pregnancy. Similar measures are being adopted in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee.

A judge has blocked the implementation of the Kentucky law, while the Mississippi law is set to come into effect in July.

The country’s largest human rights organization, ACLU, has said it will file suit against Alabama’s law as unconstitutional.

HB314 seeks jail terms of between 10 and 99 years for doctors performing terminations, which are counted as homicides. It stipulates no penalty for the mother.

News reports that around two thirds of Americans say abortion should be legal, a Pew Center poll found last year.

Published in World
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