There have been an occasional outcry from former France colonies about the use of the CFA, a currency France created in the 1940s for its African colonies. The CFA is pegged to the euro and guaranteed by national currency reserves deposited with the French treasury.
Protesters gathered in several West African capitals Saturday to demand their countries abandon the CFA franc in favor of a common African currency. Passions over the issue have been reignited since Senegal arrested and expelled an activist for burning a CFA bill at a rally last month. Senegal is one of 14 countries in West and Central Africa’s two monetary unions still using the CFA. Senegal recently expelled the movement’s founder, French-Beninese activist Kemi Seba, after he burned a 5,000 CFA note during a rally in Dakar in August.
The currency has been criticized for making economic planning for the developing countries of French West Africa all but impossible since the CFA’s value is pegged to the euro (whose monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank). Others disagree and argue that the CFA helps stabilize the national currencies of Franc Zone member-countries and greatly facilitates the flow of exports and imports between France and the member-countries.
“The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated for African Central Banks because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the African states. Each African state must deposit 65% (now reduced to 50%) of its foreign reserves with the French Treasury plus an additional 20% for administration. This means that since the early 1960s around 85% of the Africans’ foreign reserves have been transferred to France. These are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury.
The two CFA banks are African in name, but have no monetary policies of their own. The countries themselves do not know, nor are they told, how much of the pool of foreign reserves held by the French Treasury belongs to them as a group or individually. The earnings of the investment of these funds in the French Treasury pool (at a rate of 0.75%) are supposed to be added to the pool but no accounting has ever been given to either the banks or the countries of the details of any such changes. The limited group of high officials in the French Treasury who have knowledge of the amounts in the “operations accounts”, where these funds are invested; whether there is a profit on these investments; are prohibited from disclosing any of this information to the CFA banks or the central banks of the African states. This makes it impossible for African members to regulate their own monetary policies. A recent Bloomberg survey estimates that the French Treasury is holding at least US$20 to $40 billion in African foreign reserves which are held in the name of the French Treasury.
African governments do not have access to these funds held by the Treasury but are allowed to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates. In addition to the difficulties posed by the French Treasury holding unaccounted African money, France is in financial trouble. France has run out of money. It has massive public and bank debt. The reason it has been able to sustain itself so far is because it has had the cushion of the cash deposited with the French Treasury by the African states since 1960. Much of this is held in both stocks in the name of the French Treasury and in bonds whose values have been offset and used to collateralize a substantial amount of French gilts, including pledges to the ECB.
This has happened before. In 1994, the French Treasury simply devalued the CFA franc by 50%, changing from a parity of one French franc for 50 CFA francs to the pre-Euro 100 CFA francs. This caused havoc in the African economies but the African Heads of State of did not do anything or make provisions for changing the relationship with France over their currencies. In a meeting in Yaounde in November 2016 another devaluation was mooted but was postponed.”
“When you have a currency fixed to a strong currency like the euro, it is easy to import. But when you want to export, your products cannot compete with other foreign countries,” said Ndongo Samab Sylla, an economist at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation to VoaNews.
For now, the debate continues. But in the past year, the presidents of Senegal and Ivory Coast have publicly reaffirmed their support for the CFA, making it unlikely it will disappear any time soon.
A teacher at South African school, Laerskool Schweizer Reneke, took this photo and shared it with parents on WhatsApp in an effort to reassure them that their children’s first day of school was going smoothly. However, the teacher did not have the intended outcome as the photo revealed a detail that was unexpected. The students were separated by race in the classroom.
Students at Laerskool Schweizer were sent back home after South Africa’s North West Education Department suspended the teacher, Ellen Barkhuizen, who is suspected to have separated the children according to race at the school.
Barkhuizen is reported to have taken the photo of the separated children, which is circulating on social media and has gone viral.
The school has been suspected of discrimination by parents for some time. One parent had this to say to SABC News.
“I have applied on time, but I was so surprised when they said they can’t accept my child, he is on the waiting list. So, I requested to see the list of the white people. They say there is no waiting list for the white people. That’s where I started to worry. Where are we going to take our kids because they are still young? We didn’t want our kids to go far because we are residents here. I came here in March. They told me I must come on the 1st of May. When I came they say I must bring the documents, I bring them. Eish mama, I feel pain.”
Speaking to SowetanLIVE, some of the white parents said black parents who are not happy about how the school operates, must take their children to township schools.
If you are not happy here, take your child to another school, nobody is forcing you. Now they want to make this as if it is racism, everyone just wants to make white people racists. We are not racists, we just want what is best for our children,” said one parent.
“Blacks don’t put their children first, we put our children first, and their safety and education comes first. This is the only white-dominated school in this town. There are over 10 schools in the township. If they are not happy, let them take their children there,” said another parent.
After meeting school staff and education department officials, North West education MEC Sello Lehari confirmed that the teacher in question had been suspended.
“As government, we would like to condemn any form of racism, alleged or not, and we deeply regret this unfortunate incident taking place in our country 25 years into democracy,” said a spokesperson for the local government leader, Job Lekgoro.
Blantyre district health office director of health services Dr. Gift Kawaladzira has confirmed the suspension of Patricia Mulichi who works at Ndirande Health Center.
Mulichi came under intense fire on social media platforms on Tuesday for taking a selfie which went viral.
The picture drew anger from people who feel the government is employing immature and irresponsible people to handle sensitive matters.
The Controversial Selfie
The controversial selfie showed a masked and exposed pregnant woman with wide open legs ready to give birth in a labor ward.
Executive Director of Malawi’s Nurses and Midwifery Councilm, Isabella Musisi says Mulichi deserves disciplinary action and has since banned mobile phones in labor wards.
“Our clients are looking for respectful maternal services. This will hinder achievement for universal health access in Malawi. Let’s see to it cell phones are not entering our labor wards. This is unacceptable behavior by our profession,” she said.
Mr Liu Jiaqi, a Chinese immigrant business man in Kenya was deported after a video emerged of him making racist comments. An employee filmed Mr Liu, a motorcycle trader, saying that he disliked Kenya because it “smells bad and [its people are] poor, foolish and black”. When the employee asked why he wanted to stay in the country, the trader said he was only there to make money. The Kenyan authorities arrested him hours after the video was circulated online on 5 September and revoked his work permit.
The Chinese national was deported the very next day. This was revealed in a tweet by the kenyan immigration department. This is the first time an individual has been deported for racist rants although it is not the first allegation of racism. BBC reports that In 2015, the owner of a Chinese restaurant in Nairobi was arrested after public outrage over the restaurant’s alleged policy of banning African customers at night. However, the restaurant owner ws never charged with discrimination or racism.
This wisdom is applicable regardless of what part of the world you find yourself in and it is of course no surprise that this young Chinese man quickly found out the hard way that you cannot benefit from the Kenyan economy while holding and expressing racist views. Discrimination based on color is against the law in Kenya. With that said, was the reaction of the Kenyan government too harsh or was it adequate for the offense?