Tanzania – court sentences killers of albinos to death

BBC

Tanzania albino killers sentenced to death

Albino boys in TanzaniaAlbinism affects around one in every 1,400 Tanzanians, far higher than average

Four people have been sentenced to death in Tanzania after being found guilty of murdering an albino woman.

The four had killed the woman in 2008 because they believed her body parts had special powers, according to the judge in north-western town of Geita.

The 22-year-old victim, Zawadi Mangidu, left behind a nine-month-old child. Her husband is one of those convicted.

Tanzania’s president this week vowed to tackle the killing of albinos, who are targeted for superstitious reasons.

The BBC’s Hassan Mhelela in Dar Es Salaam says it is not certain that the death sentence will be carried out as Tanzania has had a moratorium on executions since 1994.

The country is struggling to curb a wave of violence against people with albinism – a condition that affects the production of skin pigment, our correspondent says.

Witchdoctors say potions made from albino body parts can bring good luck and wealth.

President Jakaya Kikwete said such beliefs were false and fuelled an “ongoing evil” which had shamed the East African nation.

Higher prevalence

The latest court ruling comes a few weeks after a one-year-old albino boy was killed in the same region.

The government banned witchdoctors in January as part of its efforts to prevent further attacks and kidnappings targeting albinos.

According to the Red Cross, witchdoctors are prepared to pay $75,000 (£50,000) for a complete set of albino body parts.

At least 75 people living with albinism in Tanzania have been killed in targeted attacks since 2000.

Albinism is particularly prevalent in Tanzania with one in 1,400 affected, according to a 2006 BMC Public Health report. This compares with one in 20,000 in Western countries.

Some researchers believe the higher rate is due to inbreeding.

Nigeria – 45 killed in attack in northern Borno State by Boko Haram

Reuters

(Reuters) – At least 45 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants at dawn on Tuesday in a remote village of Nigeria’s northeast Borno state, sources from the military and the civilian joint taskforce told Reuters.

The insurgents started shooting into houses in the village of Njaba at about 5:30 A.M. local time (0430 GMT), a military source in Maiduguri said on Thursday. The village is close to the town of Damboa and about 100 kilometres south of state capital Maiduguri.

“The attack was not immediately known because the village is very remote and our men couldn’t access the area,” the source said.

South Africa – security agencies investigating Malema, Madonsela and Mazibuko for spying on state

Mail and Guardian

The security agency is investigating a claim that Julius Malema, Thuli Madonsela, Joseph Mathunjwa and Lindiwe Mazibuko were spying against the state.

Julius Malema says the investigation is merely an effort to divert attention from a failing State Security Agency. (David Harrison, M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says an investigation into claims that he and other political leaders were involved in espionage is an effort to divert attention away from a failing State Security Agency (SSA).

“Our intelligence service is not intelligent and is led by someone who is not intelligent,” he said.

On Thursday, the SSA released a statement saying it was investigating claims made on what appeared to be an amateur blog that Malema, public protector Thuli Madonsela, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union head Joseph Mathunjwa and former Democratic Alliance parliamentary head Lindiwe Mazibuko were involved in spying against the state.

“Government has noted with great concern the allegations of espionage against the head of the office of the public protector and certain political leaders in our country,” said a statement issued in SSA spokesperson Brian Dube’s name.

The blog africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com makes allegations that the CIA was behind Malema, Madonsela Mathunjwa and Mazibuko.

“Thanks to evidence found through investigations, it has been proved that Malema is a person of doubtful reputation due to his implications with the mob, money laundry, corruption and the wrong use of influences. He was expelled from the party and from his post at the Parliament, and then became the perfect candidate for Langley [the CIA headquarters] to confuse the masses,” the latest post on the blog reads.

Dube said the SSA had taken the allegations seriously.

“The State Security Agency, working with other departments within the security cluster, will institute an investigation in order to verify and determine the veracity of the allegations made,” the statement read.

Malema said this was not the first time intelligence services were investigating him.

“They are throwing names to divert attention from the fact that Minister Mahlobo jammed the signal in Parliament,” he said.

Malema said SSA under Minister David Mahlobo was moving from one crisis to another.

“This investigation is a waste of government resources that could build houses for people in Alexandra.”

Madonsela and Mazibuko’s phones were switched off on Thursday afternoon and Mathunjwa’s phone went unanswered.

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Nigeria privatises relations with South Africa and employs former SADF instructors

ISS

Business as unusual: Goodluck Jonathan privatises Nigerian relations with South Africa

5 March 2015

It was ironic, to say the least, that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s government turned down President Jacob Zuma’s proposal for a South Africa-inspired African Union (AU) rapid response to combat the barbaric Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram – yet apparently hired ex-South African Defence Force (SADF) soldiers to train the Nigerian Defence Force (NDF) to do so.

Zuma proposed the deployment of the AU’s as yet untested rapid response force – the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) – at a summit-level meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa in late January, just before the general AU summit, according to diplomats present. The suggestion was turned down in favour of reinforcing the Lake Chad Basin Commission, building it up to 8 700 soldiers.

Just a few days before, though, Beeld newspaper had reported that former SADF soldiers would form the core of a multinational team of private military experts, who were then en route to Nigeria, to help the NDF fight against Boko Haram militants. The 100-strong team had been tasked with training the Nigerian military to launch a massive campaign against the terrorist organisation.

If the best of the ex-SADF soldiers are involved, they would be ‘a huge asset’

South Africa’s Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapise-Nqakula was deeply unimpressed. These were not ‘ex-soldiers,’ but simply ‘mercenaries,’ she said. ‘They are mercenaries – whether they are training, skilling the Nigerian defence force, or scouting for them. The point is they have no business to be there,’ she told South African journalists in Addis Ababa.

She insisted that the police should arrest them on their return and the National Prosecutions Authority should prosecute and convict them to send ‘a message to all of the South Africans who are going around as mercenaries.’ The minister was referring to the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act. Commonly known as the mercenary bill, it makes it an offence for South Africans to provide any kind of military service abroad without the formal permission of the South African government through the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, which is also supposed to regulate the sale of South African arms to foreigners.

According to intelligence sources, several ex-South African Air Force (SAAF) pilots are also participating in the war against Boko Haram – under a separate contract – flying Russian Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, including in night operations, to good effect.

And overall, the multinational team of South African and other private military experts and official British, American and French military trainers have by some accounts, contributed significantly to the recent run of successes of the Lake Chad Basin Commission forces against Boko Haram. Of course the Chadian and Cameroonian troops have also made a significant contribution, though the AU operation is not yet fully up and running.

These were not ‘ex-soldiers,’ but simply ‘mercenaries,’ she said…

‘The former SADF members are definitely playing a major role in this offensive,’ said a former military intelligence officer this week. ‘They have been in country for a significant time already, involved in training some specialised NDF units. As per normal they are now deployed in an advisory capacity at the front. This includes being deployed with the NDF special forces, artillery, armour and infantry units on the ground.

‘Most of the gunships [Mi 24 Hinds] are being piloted by former SAAF members and they are flying a huge number of sorties, including nocturnal operations, with great success. There is also close involvement at HQ level, assisting in the planning of operations and the coordination/interpretation of the intelligence effort.’

Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, agrees that if the best of the ex-SADF soldiers are indeed involved in the anti-Boko Haram operation, they would be ‘a huge asset’ for Nigeria. Their skills acquired in tracking and operating in the wooded terrain of southern Angola would be particularly relevant to conditions in northern Nigeria.

‘I have always thought that the ANC [African National Congress] made a huge mistake by criminalising the former SADF soldiers,’ he said, referring to the mercenary bill and suggesting the legislation was more ideological than practical. ‘The only thing they have to sell is their counter-terrorism skills. It would have made much more sense to channel their skills productively, such as towards the UN.’ He cited the success of the old private security/mercenary outfit, Executive Outcomes, in helping the Angolan army defeat UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels.

It was inevitable that the proposed use of ACIRC would come to nought

Cilliers said Nigeria’s apparent rejection of Zuma’s proposal to deploy ACIRC against Boko Haram was no surprise. ‘It was inevitable that the proposed use of ACIRC would come to nought. Nigeria is very proud and would not readily allow a foreign country to re-establish domestic security. Employing individuals on contract is, however, quite common.’

Neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon were combating Boko Haram on their territory, and collaboration with Nigeria – for example in hot pursuit operations – would not upset national sensibilities in Nigeria. These countries had a direct national interest in the war.

Military analyst Helmoed Römer Heitman, a former member of the resource group of South Africa’s Defence Review Committee, also agreed that the involvement of the ex-SADF people ‘is a very good idea from everyone’s point of view – as long as they have picked the right people.’ Especially when the national defence force budget had just been cut, further undermining the credibility of the government’s rhetorical commitment to regional stability.

He said the sort of operations that the ex-SADF soldiers would be conducting against Boko Haram would be very similar to some of the operations they had conducted against the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), namely ‘very high mobility operations by small forces, heavy in firepower and in protected vehicles, and based on the prompt and quick exploitation of intelligence; backed up by air assault or even parachute insertion of stopper groups.’

Heitman said it was in South Africa’s wider interest ‘to see Boko Haram put back in its box as soon as possible,’ adding that ‘any instability of this nature in Africa affects investors’ views of the whole continent…’ He said he did not understand why the government ‘seems to be all steamed up about it,’ unless it was the same naiveté that influenced the enactment of the mercenary bill, ‘which was not in South Africa’s long-term strategic interest.’

Heitman thought the Nigerians had displayed ‘extraordinary professional insight and moral courage’ to employ the former soldiers. Cynics might suggest, though, that Jonathan deliberately turned down South Africa’s official offer of help through ACIRC, while recruiting South Africans clandestinely, precisely to nettle Zuma. This faintly echoed South Africa freezing R63.8 million wired by the Abuja government to a South African company to buy military hardware last October.

Abuja has insisted that the deal had been cleared with Zuma – and the ex-SADF soldiers now in Nigeria have likewise also insisted, according to Beeld, that their involvement was cleared at the highest echelons of the South African government, even if the defence minister did not know about it.

Cilliers, though, does not see such a political conspiracy in the recruitment of the South African soldiers – just simple desperation by Jonathan to beat Boko Haram back before the elections at the end of this month, which were postponed by six weeks precisely for that purpose.

Still, this episode will undoubtedly further aggravate the sour relations between the two countries. Pretoria is still smarting over what it regards as Nigeria’s incompetent, if not malicious, handling of the bodies of the 84 South Africans who died when a church collapsed in Lagos in September.

One of South Africa’s grievances, incidentally, was that Abuja blocked government pathologists from helping identify the bodies – while hiring a private South African firm to do so. That sounds familiar. Another example of good business but bad government relations?

Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa

Zimbabwe – Gumbo fight against Mugabe to go to court

New Zimbabwe

Challenging Mugabe is invite to war: Gumbo
04/03/2015 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
Ready for Mugabe fight … Rugare Gumbo
RELATED STORIES

FORMER Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has described his move to join ex-party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa in challenging President Robert Mugabe in court as an invitation to war.

Gumbo was expelled from the ruling party on allegations that he had connived with Mutasa, then vice president Joice Mujuru and axed Labour Minister Nicholas Goche to hatch a plot with assistance from Western powers to assassinate Mugabe.

Mutasa has filed a High Court application that is seeking to overturn decisions made by the ruling party’s 6th congress last year.

A veteran of the country’s bush war which brought majority rule, Gumbo in his supporting affidavit to the application, said amendments to the party’s constitution were effected fraudulently adding that Mugabe has confirmed as much.

“I fought against injustice throughout my life. I fought against Ian Smith and the colonial regime,” said Gumbo.

“I am aware that (by) bringing this court application, I am inviting a war from the respondents. However I have no fear and I am absolutely satisfied that this is the correct thing to do.

“Injustice, abuse of the rule of law, abuse of the principles of natural justice must be fought everywhere and anywhere it exists.”

In the affidavit, Gumbo describes events leading to his suspension on November 13 and his subsequent expulsion on the 3rd of December.

He claims that Mugabe had been angered by his steadfast stance to quiz the party’s leadership on who had given the order to begin the process of no confidence votes against those perceived to have been aligned to Mujuru.

Said Gumbo: “… we debated the fairness and unfairness of the vote of no confidence. Cde Kasukuwere said in Shona, ‘dindingwe rinofara kana richikweva rimwe. Kana rikwebwa harifari’.

“He (Kasukuwere) went on to say when provincial elections were held, the other side was happy but now they are not happy with the vote of no confidence process.

“It was at this point that the president intervened and started castigating me for plotting to assassinate him. He described me as the main plotter and main culprit.”

It was after Mugabe’s angry rant that a motion to suspend Gumbo was moved.

Like Mutasa, Gumbo said First Lady Grace Mugabe had “poisoned the environment” during the run-up to the party congress during her rallies where accused Mujuru and her allies of corruption ineptitude, nepotism and outright treason.




 


Mugabe has warned that “no court will entertain such nonsense” in what analysts said was a clear intimidation tactic against the judiciary.

The Zimbabwean leader is known for his brutal way he deals with descent.

 

BBC

Zimbabwe President Mugabe sued by former Zanu-PF allies

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attending his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the 60,000-seater sports stadium in Harare 22 August 2013President Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been sued for wrongful dismissal by two former ruling party senior officials.

The pair were expelled from the party in December and February for allegedly supporting a plot against him.

Ruagare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa have filed papers in the High Court of Zimbabwe seeking an order to reinstate them into Zanu-PF.

Mr Gumbo told the BBC that President Mugabe was a “dictator” and that he should step down.

In an unprecedented move, they are seeking that the court also strike down reforms that President Mugabe brought in at the party conference last December.

If successful, the president’s two former stalwarts would call for an extraordinary congress of the party where a new leader could be elected to replace the 91 year old.

Wife ‘running the show’

Speaking to the BBC’s Brian Hungwe, Mr Gumbo, a former Zanu-PF spokesman, said he might set up his own political party if the court challenge failed.

Even if the pair do win back their places, Mr Gumbo says it would be impossible to work with President Mugabe,

“There is no basis of working with him, he is a dictator. He tells you what to do, if you don’t then he fires you. So how can I work with a man like that?” he told the BBC

The former party spokesman does not believe that President Mugabe is fully in control of his party and that the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, is now “running the show”.

Last week, Mr Mugabe denied such claims, saying his wife was not the “power behind my throne”.

Joice Mujuru President Mugabe accused Joice Mujuru of plotting to assassinate him.

Mr Gumbo and Mr Mutasa, former party secretary general, were dismissed as part of a cull of senior officials accused of supporting an alleged bid by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to remove Mr Mugabe from power.

Mrs Mujuru, who had been tipped as Mugabe’s successor, was dismissed for allegedly plotting to assassinate the president and to contest against him at the December congress. She has denied these accusations and has not been charged.

Senior Kenyan officials charged over Anglo-Leasing scandal

BBC

Chris Obure pictured in 2001, who once served as finance minister under Kenya's former President Daniel arap Moi Chris Obure, who now serves as a senator, is the most senior former official to be charged

Seven ex-government officials in Kenya have been charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar corruption scam.

The accused, including an ex-finance minister, all denied charges of abuse of office and conspiracy to commit economic crimes and were freed on bail.

The Anglo Leasing affair, which involved contracts being awarded to phantom firms, shocked Kenyans when it was revealed in 2004.

A previous legal case fell apart in 2005 because of a lack of evidence.

Anglo Leasing Finance was paid about 30m euros ($33m; £21m) to supply the Kenyan government with a system to print new high-technology passports; other fictitious companies involved in the scam were given money to supply naval ships and forensic laboratories.

None of the contracts were honoured.

The courtroom in Nairobi where seven officials were charged in connection with the Anglo Leasing scandal in Kenya - Wednesday 4 March 2015All the accused in court on Wednesday denied the charges

The BBC’s Robert Kiptoo in the capital, Nairobi, says the prosecution has said it is confident that it will get convictions with the new case as it has more evidence.

Kenya’s attorney general has been working with the Swiss authorities to find and freeze the accounts of some of those believed to have been involved in the affair, he says.

Arrest warrants

Chris Obure, who served as finance minister under former President Daniel arap Moi and is now a serving senator, was the most senior official to be charged in the court in Nairobi.

The six others were senior civil servants, who had mainly worked in the ministry of finance and internal security ministry.

It is alleged that the scam began under the administration of Mr Moi and continued under his successor former President Mwai Kibaki, who came to power in 2002 promising to crack down on the looting of public money.

Former Kenyan Presidents Moi and Kibaki (R) in 2002The scam is alleged to have begun under ex-President Moi (L) and continued under ex-President Kibaki (R)

Four of Mr Kibaki’s cabinet ministers were alleged to have been caught up in the affair – named in a report by former corruption tsar John Githongo – but were never charged. They all denied involvement.

Now former Finance Minister David Mwiraria, who continued to serve under Mr Kibaki after the allegations surfaced, will face charges in the new case on the recommendation of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

However, Mr Mwiraria did not appear in court on Wednesday because his lawyer said he was taken to hospital on Tuesday evening.

The magistrate, Hellena Ndung’u, ordered that he enter his plea before the court on 18 March.

A businessman connected to Anglo Leasing Finance, Deepak Kamani, and his brother and father are to be charged on Thursday.

Ms Ndung’u also issued international arrest warrants for two foreigners believed to be connected to the scandal – Bradley Beckenfield, thought to reside in the US, and Brian Mills, whose whereabouts are unknown.

 

South Sudan peace talks in deadlock as Kiir and Machar fail to agree

Sudan Tribune

(ADDIS ABABA) – The last round of the peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the two warring parties in South Sudan has come to a standstill as president Salva Kiir and his rival former vice-president, Riek Machar failed to agree on any of the major outstanding issues.

JPEG - 15.4 kb
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (L) walks prior to a meeting on March 3, 2015 in Addis Ababa (Photo AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)

The East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), gave the two principals 5 March deadline to resolve all the contentious issues and sign a final peace agreement.

However, in the last three days of their direct face-to-face negotiations, Kiir and Machar failed to agree.

A rebel’s spokesman blamed the government for what he said was unnecessary intransigence on all major issues.

“President Salva Kiir is not ready for peace. He flagrantly rejected without explanation all major issues that are fundamental to achieving a lasting peace in the country,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

He explained that contentious major issues that the two leaders could not agree on by Wednesday include federalism, status of forces, transitional security arrangements, wealth-sharing, status of national legislature, national debts, transitional justice and parameters of the permanent constitution making process.

However, Dak further said that the two leaders will on Thursday, 5 March deadline, negotiate on other outstanding issues on governance which they did not discuss on Wednesday.

“The two principals will on Thursday discuss leadership structure, power sharing ratios and institutional reforms,” he said.

The rebel leader’s spokesman said in case of disagreements the two top leaders will submit their report to the IGAD mediators and it would be up to the mediators to decide on the next move.

“The situation would then be left to the IGAD mediation to suggest a way forward. Either to extend the deadline or impose a compromise position or call for any other action,” he said.

Dak however reiterated that the rebel group was committed to a lasting peace, but accused the government of not willing to make a meaningful peace agreement.

G-10 EXCLUDED FROM TALKS

Also the two factional leaders, president Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, leader of the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), have in their face-to-face talks excluded from the latest process Pagan Amum, the representative of former detainees or G-10.

The move by the two rival leaders comes one day before expiry of IGAD set deadline for South Sudan peace deal, IGAD source told Sudan Tribune.

In the unexpected move and under the very watch of the regional mediators on Tuesday the two leaders agreed to distance the former detainees from participating in the final negotiations which are aimed to strike a comprehensive peace agreement for South Sudan.

The G-10, comprising former cabinet ministers were arrested in Juba after accused of involving in a coup plot allegedly staged by Machar in December 2013, an accusation they together with Machar dismissed as a ploy by Kiir to silence party leaders who were pushing for internal reforms.

Machar fought for their release from the detention and put it as a condition for further peace talks with the government. However, the G-10 group once freed decided not to join Machar in the armed struggle against president Kiir.

However, Machar in a new agreement with Kiir this week according to insider sources, didn’t only refuse the former detainees from participating at the talks but also intended to “betray” them on the power sharing deal as well.

The move would contravene the Arusha intra-SPLM agreement which calls for a proportional representation between the three SPLM factions during the interim period.
However, Machar’s spokesman Dak refuted the allegation, explaining that the move came as the factional negotiating committees finally referred all disagreements to the two principals for direct negotiations.
He said the G-10 participated in the initial negotiations and presented their position papers until the matter was now taken up by the two leaders, Kiir and Machar, to try to resolve the sticking points before the deadline.
“Nobody denied their power-sharing ratio in future transitional government of national unity,” he said.
Members of former detainees were not available later on Wednesday for comments.

UN LOOMING SANCTIONS

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution which would allow to impose sanctions on the South Sudanese warring parties such as travel ban and asset freeze.

As the 5 March deadline set for the conclusion of the South Sudan negotiations approaches, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, has strongly urged the two principals to sign a peace agreement or respect the 23 January 2014 signed cessation of hostilities agreement in order to avoid actual imposition of the sanctions.

“President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar to show leadership, put the well being of South Sudanese ahead of all other interests, and make the necessary compromises to conclude a power sharing agreement that paves the way for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in South Sudan,” the Wednesday statement partly reads.

He reminded both parties that “the best way to avoid the enactment of actual sanctions by the Security Council, is to strictly adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities agreement of 23 January 2014, fully comply with International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, extend their full cooperation to United Nations and humanitarian personnel in the discharge of their mandates and duties, and conclude a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that places South Sudan back on the path to stability and prosperity,” it further reads.

The US drafted resolution however doesn’t name the two rival leaders as targets but indirectly states “leaders and entity.”

Although other UN diplomats oppose the sanctions, US Ambassador, Samantha power however favours the resolution.

“Those who frustrate peace must begin to pay the price,” said Power.

As Thursday is the deadline set by IGAD for signing of a final peace deal for South Sudan, it remains unclear the course of action the regional mediators will take to ensure lasting peace and end the 15-month long war.

(ST)