Ebola not just Africa’s problem – Liberian President


Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urges world help on Ebola

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the whole world has a stake in the fight against Ebola.

In a “letter to the world” broadcast on the BBC, she said the disease “respects no borders”, and that every country had to do all it could to help fight it.

President Johnson Sirleaf added that a generation of Africans were at risk of “being lost to economic catastrophe”.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people across West Africa, including 2,200 in Liberia.

International donations have so far fallen well short of the amounts requested by UN agencies and aid organisations.

In the worst-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – about 9,000 people have been found to have the Ebola virus, which kills an estimated 70% of those infected.

Ebola treatment centre in Monrovia, Liberia, 30 SeptemberThe Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,200 people in Liberia alone

Fragile states

The letter, commissioned by the BBC and read out on the World Service’s Newshour programme, starts with the words “Dear World”.

She goes on to say that the fight against Ebola “requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise”.

“We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola,” she says. “It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves.”

A healthcare worker wearing protective gear hands out water bottles at a treatment centre near Freetown, Sierra Leone, 16 OctoberThousands of West Africans are being kept in isolation to try to stop Ebola from spreading

She said it was not a coincidence that Ebola had taken hold in “three fragile states… all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars”.

Liberia, she noted, had about 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the civil war in the late 1980s – and by its end in 2003 it had just three dozen.

“Ebola is not just a health crisis,” she added. “Across West Africa a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe.”

Donation shortfall

The latest crisis in West Africa is the worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

The virus spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

Donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to UN agencies and aid organisations, short of the $988m requested.

Separately, the UN has also appealed for donations to a $1bn Ebola trust fund, intended to act as a flexible source of back-up money to contain the disease.

Graphic showing pledges in fight against Ebola - 16 October 2014

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that the fund, which was launched in September, had received just $100,000 (£62,000) in donations so far.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the BBC he was “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response.

“If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently,” he said in a BBC interview.


How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Ebola basics: What you need to know

How Ebola attacks

What virus has hit – in maps

Uncertainty over figures

How Ebola spreads


DR Congo – gunmen free hundreds of prisoners in North Kivu


(Reuters) – Heavily armed gunmen freed some 300 inmates from a prison in eastern Congo on Saturday, the provincial minister of justice said, amid fears over deteriorating security in the mineral-rich region.

Christophe Ndibeche said the attackers easily overpowered the security guards, freeing all the prisoners from the central prison of Butembo, a town in North Kivu province.

By Sunday evening, authorities had recaptured about 30 of the fugitives, he added.

“These are enemies of peace who committed this attack to liberate the bandits in the prison. We are going to do everything to find them,” Ndibeche said.

The assault comes at a time of growing alarm in North Kivu, a mineral-rich province bordering Rwanda and Uganda that has long been plagued by dozens of armed militias.

Last week, suspected rebels from the Ugandan ADF-NALU group carried out two overnight raids near the town of Beni, 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo, killing more than 50 people.

Ndibeche said that highway bandits were the most likely culprits in the prison break given that group’s strong representation among the prison population.


Sudan – National Congress Party to choose presidential candidates with Bashir on the list

Sudan Tribune

October 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) Leadership Council will meet on Monday to select five figures as candidates for the presidency ahead of the scheduled General Convention on 23 October.

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A Sudanese woman stands in front of an electoral poster for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (File/The Guardian Website)

Informed sources told Sudan Tribune that the NCP Leadership Council meeting will be held in a secret place away for the media.

According to NCP bylaws, the Leadership Council selects five people and then refers it to the Shura (consultative) National Council which chooses and ranks three of the five in terms of preference.

Afterwards only one name is picked and tabled at the General Convention to endorse.

The leaked list of candidates includes the incumbent president, Omer al-Bashir, and his two deputies, Bakri Hassan Salih, and Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, besides the former vice-president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and the former presidential assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie.

However, some media reports put the current presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, among the possible nominees instead of the vice president, Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman.

The same sources underscored that the Islamic Movement’s (IM) Shura meeting which was held last Saturday has recommended four names for the list of candidates including Bashir, Salih, Ali Osman and Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, urging the NCP to continue to carry out party reforms.

According to the schedule of meetings seen by Sudan Tribune, Bashir will address the meeting of the Shura National Council on Tuesday to table the name of the presidential candidate at the General Convention which will be held on Thursday 23 october.

In recent years, Bashir has asserted that he will not run for a new term and went on to say that he spent enough time in power and that the country needs new faces.

But later he backtracked by saying it is up to the party’s institutions to decide on the 2015 presidential candidate and that he will respect their decision.

Bashir who ruled the country since staging a military coup in 1989, faces an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has restricted his international travels and his meetings with western officials.

His health has also came into question recently after undergoing two throat surgeries in 2012 to remove a tumour and two knee replacement surgeries this year.


Kenya-Africa – Professor Ali Mazrui laid to rest

Capital FM (Kenya)

Renowned scholar Mazrui laid to rest in Mombasa

Posted by CORRESPONDENT on Sunday October 19, 2014 at 10:12am

ALI-MAZRUI-CASKETMOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 19 – Renowned scholar Professor Ali Mazrui was buried at a family graveyard opposite the Fort Jesus on Sunday.

The burial was attended by hundreds of locals and several political, religious and government leaders.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga joined Mazrui’s family at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa to receive the body in the wee hours of Sunday.

Those who attended the burial included Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and Lamu Senator Abu Chiaba among others.

Mazrui who was born in Mombasa in 1933 is survived by two wives who are British and Nigerian nationals respectively and five children.

The scholar was an Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York.

He was a chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture Technology during former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime.

President Uhuru Kenyatta while paying tribute to the fallen scholar described him as a towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship.

The Head of State pointed out that Mazrui was one of the greatest scholars Kenya and the continent have ever produced and that his death has robbed the country of one of the greatest writers.

President Kenyatta stated that the professor’s brilliance raised him to the apex of scholarly distinction and earned him the respect and following among his peers globally.  allAfrica

South Africa – DA calls on Ramaphosa over Zuma refusal to answer questions in parliament

Mail and Guardian

The DA has called on Cyril Ramaphosa to respond to reports that Jacob Zuma will not answer to questions in Parliament until the EFF has been tamed.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (AFP)

The Democratic Alliance is calling on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and respond to reports that President Jacob Zuma will not answer oral questions in Parliament until Julius Malema and his EFF colleagues have been tamed.

The DA wants Ramaphosa, whom as leader of government business in Parliament is responsible for the executive’s work in Parliament, to state on Zuma’s behalf why such a decision was taken.

The party has asked for a meeting with Ramaphosa to discuss the matter. DA parliamentary leader, Mmusi Maimane said it was “nonsense” that the ANC doesn’t want Zuma to appear before Parliament.

“Our view is that Ramaphosa must act, he is the leader of government business, he must act to ensure that the president comes to account and that the questions to the president are scheduled in this term, otherwise the whole thing is a joke,” he said.

Maimane was also critical of Parliament and its failure to ensure that Zuma is held to account. “We wrote to the speaker saying when is the president going to appear here? They said to us no, it will be at the most convenient time for the president.

“That is the whole point of the motion of no confidence in [national assembly speaker] Baleka Mbete. She has made it her job that the president can’t come and answer… It is incumbent on her to say, look, according to the rules the president must be here every quarter.”

Embarrassment to South Africans
Maimane said it was embarrassment to South Africans that Zuma has only answered oral questions once this year. The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that the ANC has confirmed that Zuma will not take questions from opposition MPs until Malema and his EFF colleagues have been tamed.

This goes against parliamentary rules, which state that the president must give oral answers in the House four times a year. But the presidency has rejected the Sunday Times report as incorrect and grossly misleading.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj insisted that Zuma continued to meet his parliamentary obligations. “The president responds to oral questions four times a year in the National Assembly. During an election year, this time is naturally reduced given the time taken to prepare for elections and to establish a new government and other activities.

“However, discussions are on-going with the National Assembly to sort out the dates for oral questions,” he said. The only time Zuma did so this year, the session ended in shambles with him leaving under heavy security after he failed to respond to a question from Malema on when he would be paying back the money spent on non-security measures at his private home in Nkandla.

When Zuma failed to answer the question, EFF MPs chanted that he “pay back the money” disrupting the proceeding and forcing Mbete to suspend the proceedings of that day halfway through. The EFF MPs are facing a disciplinary inquiry as a result of that action.

The Sunday Times quoted ANC national spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa saying: “The president can’t go to parliament when that parliament is a circus. Parliament therefore must sort itself out.”

Zuma accounting to Parliament
Instead of Zuma accounting to Parliament, the ANC, which has admitted to being concerned about parliament’s conduct towards Zuma, has decided to hold more izimbizo, which the ANC claims bring him closer to the people, said the report.

But opposition parties have slammed this development, saying imbizos are stage-managed ANC events where people are bused in and given food to listen to the president and where he never has to answer tough or topical questions from opponents elected by the people.

According to Maharaj, Zuma will instead have more sessions for oral questions in parliament as he has decided in the last term to also answer oral questions in the National Council of Provinces.

The draft parliamentary programme for the last term of the year, which was circulated last week does not have an allocation for a plenary session for questions to the president, but features Ramaphosa’s spot although a deputy president’s question time normally follows that of the president.

Maimane said this was the latest of many attempts by the ANC to shield the Zuma from scrutiny. “Whether the ANC likes it or not, Jacob Zuma is the president of South Africa with all of the obligations that go with that. This includes appearing before Parliament to account for his performance in government,” he said.

Botswana – will man repatriated from South Africa face death penalty?

Mail and Guardian

Botswana tells red-faced SA it won’t spare the noose

Both countries have very different laws on capital punishment.

Botswana’s defence minister, Ramadeluka Seretse, has insisted that his government will not give South Africa an undertaking that a Botswana citizen wrongly repatriated to face murder charges will be spared the hangman’s noose.

This follows the deportation of the suspect, Edwin Samotse, to Botswana in August this year, contrary to South African government policy and a ministerial court order.

South Africa’s home affairs spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, told amaBhungane that there was no possibility that Samotse would be returned to South Africa because Botswana had its own sovereign judiciary.

He said the South African authorities were, however, preparing to make representations to the Botswana government asking for an assurance that Samotse will not be hanged.

South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995, and Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are the only Southern African countries that retain capital punishment for ordinary crimes.

But, according to Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, those under 21 and those older than 70 at the time of their conviction cannot be executed.

Tshwete confirmed that three home affairs officials are being investigated in connection with the illegal deportation of Samotse, but would not say whether corruption was suspected.

Seretse said that, when Botswana applied for his extradition, the South Africans had asked for an assurance that Botswana would not apply the death penalty if he was found guilty, but this had not been given.

He told he Botswana Gazette last month that Samotse would not be returned to South Africa. “We cannot hand him over to the South Africans. We have no obligation to do so and he allegedly committed an offence here,” Seretse said.

“We don’t care how he got here, because he is not an illegal immigrant in Botswana.”

Samotse (26), who was deported directly from a jail in Polokwane, where he was being held on August 13 as an illegal immigrant, should first have first passed through the Lindela detention centre in Johan­nesburg.

He had been in South African custody for three years while his extradition was being negotiated by the two governments. He allegedly stabbed his girlfriend, Tshegofatso Kgati, to death in March 2011 in Francistown, leaving her naked body on a bed before skipping over the South African border.

Against minister’s orders
The deportation took place despite an order by South Africa’s then minister of justice, Jeff Radebe, that he should not be extradited to Botswana after the authorities there refused to undertake not to execute him if he was convicted.

Samotse is yet to appear in Botswana’s High Court.

Meanwhile, a home affairs official told amaBhungane that the department is concerned that South Africa could become a destination for people seeking to avoid the death penalty in their own countries.

The official, who asked not to be named, said that, because the fugitives could not be repatriated, the South African taxpayer would have to pay for their indefinite detention.

The official said that the South African police had arrested other illegal immigrants from other Southern African countries who had apparently crossed into South Africa to avoid execution. But he could not say how many had allegedly done so. — Additional reporting by Drew Forrest

Capital punishment stays despite controversy

Capital punishment in Botswana, which on average hangs one criminal a year, was declared unconstitutional last year, but a later judgment contradicted the finding.

In the murder trial of Rodney Masoko, High Court Judge Tshepho Motswagole ruled that section 203 of the Penal Code, which enshrines the death penalty, is unconstitutional because it does not provide for convicts to plead in mitigation where a court has found no extenuating circumstances.

Motswagole found that the section fails to afford people convicted of murder equal treatment and seriously undermines the individualisation of the inquiry by excluding well-known sentencing principles.

He sentenced Masoko, who killed his girlfriend in 2006, to life imprisonment.

Motswagole’s judgment was applauded by human rights attorneys and the Botswana Centre for Human Rights but it ran into immediate flak from the directorate of public prosecutions (DPP), which issued a press statement announcing that the death penalty remained in force.

Stressing that the controversy surrounding the judgment was misleading to the public and “regrettable and irresponsible”, the DPP pointed to the Court of Appeal’s 1995 finding that capital punishment was constitutional.

The DPP’s stance was confirmed in judgment a month later by another High Court judge, Michael Leburu, who found that section 203 “does not say that the court should not have regard to mitigating factors”.

He condemned two men to death for murdering an old man.

Botswana, which retains ­capital punishment for murder and treason, has executed 47 convicted criminals since independence in 1966.

According to Amnesty International, Southern African countries that have abolished judicial executions are South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.

Zambia has made an international commitment not to use the death penalty.

At least 778 people were executed worldwide in 2013. But the number of countries carrying out executions dropped from 37 in 1994 to 22 in 2013. —Tebogo Kgalemang


South Africa – COSATU split imminent as ANC fails to heal rift

City Press
ANC heavyweights will tell Cosatu this week that they have failed to resolve their dispute with the federation’s biggest union – paving the way for a split.

But they will then do their best to convince Cosatu not to suspend the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and its more than 349 000 members.

Well-placed sources in the federation told City Press it was inevitable that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who sides with Numsa, will this week again be suspended for his extramarital affair with a junior employee as well as other alleged transgressions.

The ANC task team set up to mend fences between Cosatu and Numsa will submit its report to Cosatu’s central executive committee on Tuesday.

City Press has learnt that the task team has had two meetings with Numsa since it was established in April to stave off a pre-election split.

Alliance insiders with knowledge of the process said Numsa stuck to its guns at both meetings.

It believes the ANC is no longer promoting the national democratic revolution and that the alliance between the ANC and Cosatu must end.

Numsa is steaming ahead with the formation of a broad national front meant to lead to the establishment of a new political party by March or April next year.