The charges against Mr Katanga all relate to an attack on Bogoro that took place on 24 February 2003.
ICC prosecutors at The Hague say the assault was designed to “wipe out” the entire strategically important village, which is close to the Ugandan border.
According to the prosecution, the attack happened in the early hours of the morning and some villagers were shot while they slept, while others were cut up with machetes to save bullets.
At the time Mr Katanga was 24 years old and the alleged commander of the Patriotic Resistance Force of Ituri (FRPI), which had the support of the Lendu ethnic group.
The prosecution say as the FRPI’s leader he was to blame for the atrocities committed by his fighters against the villagers from the Hema ethnic group.
It is also alleged that the women who survived the massacre were raped or kept as sex slaves.
Another person was charged by the ICC in connection with Bogoro attack.
But in December 2012 Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted as judges found there was insufficient evidence to show that he was the commander of National Integrationist Front (FNI), which also took part in the raid.
The BBC’s Maud Jullien in DR Congo says Mr Katanga was known to his men as “Simba”, meaning lion.
Those who knew him describe him as a discreet man but ruthless on the battlefield, she says.
After the end of the Ituri conflict, peace deals were signed and Mr Katanga was given a position in the Congolese army.
But a year after joining the military he was imprisoned for bad behaviour and was still in prison when the ICC issued its arrest warrant for him.
His is one of the longest-running cases at the ICC.
In July 2012, Thomas Lubanga, who was also a militia leader in Ituri, was sentenced to 14 years in jail by the ICC for recruiting and using child soldiers. BBC
A man rests on a mat as another washes his face prior to prayers near a mosque some distance from Kilometre 12 (PK12) where internally displaced Muslims are stranded due to the ongoing sectarian violence in Bangui March 6, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Siegfried Modola
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Most Muslims have been driven out of the western half of conflict-torn Central African Republic, where thousands of civilians risk of being killed “right before our eyes,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said on Thursday.
The bleak warning came as the country’s foreign minister pleaded with the U.N. Security Council to urgently approve a U.N. peacekeeping force to stop the killing.
Widespread violence in the former French colony has claimed thousands of lives since Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim northern rebels, seized power a year ago. Attacks intensified in December when “anti-Balaka” militias drawn from the majority Christian population stepped up reprisals on Muslims.
“Since early December we have effectively witnessed a ‘cleansing’ of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council on the crisis in the impoverished and landlocked country.
“Tens of thousands of them (Muslims) have left the country, the second refugee outflow of the current crisis, and most of those remaining are under permanent threat,” he said.
The council is considering a U.N. proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the country from sliding toward what a top U.N. rights official called “ethnic-religious cleansing.” If approved, the U.N. force would likely not be operational before late summer.
“Just last week, there were about 15,000 people trapped in 18 locations in western CAR, surrounded by anti-Balaka elements and at very high risk of attack,” Guterres said.
“International forces are present in some of these sites, but if more security is not made available immediately, many of these civilians risk being killed right before our eyes.”
Guterres said that until last year CAR “was largely a stranger to religious conflict.” But the worsening bloodshed has enabled armed groups to use religion as a pretext for violence.
“The demon of religious cleansing must be stopped – now,” he said. Guterres’ spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said western CAR was roughly half the country.
‘SURGE’ OF PEACEKEEPERS NEEDED
Central African Republic’s Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo-Doudou told the council that his country’s survival depended on the urgent deployment of a U.N. force. U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous also spoke about the dire need for U.N. troops.
“The state has virtually no capacity to manage the massive array of threats it is facing,” Ladsous said. “There is no national army and the remnants of the police and gendarmerie lack the basic equipment and means to exercise their duties, while state administration is largely absent.”
The European Union is already deploying 1,000 soldiers to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops. Those forces have so far not been able to halt the killings and restore stability.
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that there are more than 650,000 people internally displaced in CAR due to the conflict, over 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone. Nearly 300,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.
“The violence has led to the total breakdown of the state, locally and nationally,” she said.
Ladsous said he hoped to include as many of the African contingents as possible in a future U.N. force. U.N. officials have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that few of the African contingents are trained and equipped to U.N. standards.
Ladsous said the initial phase of a peacekeeping operation would have to focus on helping to establish security.
“This will require an initial surge of military personnel and corresponding military enablers,” he said. “Alongside this initial military surge, essential civilian capacities will be deployed, phased in gradually as the situation stabilizes.”
Ladsous said it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The force will need to be approved by the Security Council. Diplomats said France will submit within the next few weeks a draft resolution to authorize a peacekeeping force in line with U.N. recommendations.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud said Paris supports Ladsous’ call for some 10,000 troops and 1,820 police but he predicted a “very difficult negotiation” on the resolution. Diplomats say the United States and Britain are especially concerned about costs due to national requirements for legislative approval.
But U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power voiced support for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s call for a U.N. force in CAR. “We are prepared to work closely with partners starting immediately to move forward in developing a peacekeeping operation that can meet the challenges in the Central African Republic,” she said. reuters
The ANC is putting its MPs through a strict vetting process in the run-up to elections, much to the chagrin of some in Parliament.
The ANC has subjected its prospective MPs to stringent vetting, with demands for personal information – including who their extramarital lovers are, whether they have children out of wedlock, and whether they have ever leaked party information to outsiders.
Though the rigorous screening process has been hailed by some candidates as a positive step towards eliminating shady characters or crooks, there are real fears that the sensitive information could be used by factions to settle scores.
After eight general and local elections, the party – facing a tough electoral battles – is requiring candidates for Parliament and provincial legislatures to provide proof that they do not have criminal records, and to produce original copies of their academic qualifications.
The ANC’s head of communications, Lindiwe Zulu, has warned candidates that tough action will be taken against anyone withholding damning information about their past. She said everyone who made it to its candidate lists for legislatures would be subjected to this vetting process, including President Jacob Zuma and his party deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.
According to one provincial legislator, candidates are requested to sign confirmations that they accept the party will remove them without following “due process” should it be discovered that part of the information provided is incorrect.
Zulu disputed this. But she cautioned that, instead of going to court, those unhappy with the outcome should exhaust internal processes.
The vetting system is in the form of a questionnaire that all ANC candidates are required to fill in and sign before they may be accepted as prospective MPs and MPLs. The candidates submit the questionnaires to the ANC’s headquarters.
Integrity committee The ANC decided on the vetting process when it resolved at its 2012 national conference in Mangaung to establish an integrity committee – an internal watchdog body.
The committee, made up of veterans of the struggle, was set up last winter after the party’s delegates resolved that urgent steps be taken to protect the party’s image by dealing “with public officials, leaders and members of the ANC who face damaging allegations and improper conduct”.
But the committee’s deputy chairperson and former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala said the committee was not doing the vetting itself. “We [the integrity committee] don’t have the capacity to do that,” Ginwala said.
The Mail & Guardian has spoken to seven senior ANC leaders – three national executive committee (NEC) members, two ministers and two provincial leaders – who confirmed the existence of the vetting questionnaires (they all spoke on condition of anonymity).
Of all the questions put to candidates, those regarding the declaration of the numbers and details of spouses, lovers, children born out of wedlock and names of all their in-laws seems to have irked several candidates.
Little black books One minister described the question about the details of lovers as “deep intelligence screening” – and inappropriate.
“I have been a minister and MP for years and I have never before been asked this question. This is odd and disturbing … Imagine if such information lands in your opponent’s hands,” the minister said.
“What do they want to do with the information regarding concubines? It’s neither corruption [nor] a violation of party policy. Our worry is that this could be used by factions to deal with you. It’s unheard of.”
But another member of the Cabinet defended the ANC’s questionnaire, explaining that the question about extramarital affairs was to ensure that “our MPs are not married to or in love with criminals”.
The minister cited the example of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, whose ex-wife Sheryl was convicted of dealing in drugs in May 2011.
“You also do not want our MPs to be in love with foreign spies. But also, we need to know if one of us was hiding proceeds of corruption in his or her lover’s bank account,” the minister and NEC member said.
Financial interests She was supported by another NEC member, who said: “Some people register their [financial] interests in these partners’ names. I think the question should have been direct and said: ‘Are there any people that you have used to register companies?’ – because that’s what it means.
“[Sometimes] people are not clean; they’re dishonest. Part of the objective is that when you know that you’re not clean you must confess so that the party can see how to help you. If people know they have got nothing to hide, why are they worried?”
According to the NEC member, the details of the in-laws are also required to check whether the candidates used their bank accounts for corrupt activities.
But their colleague, who had expressed unhappiness, was taken aback when he was asked about his bank accounts.
“This means they want to go through our accounts. The ANC doesn’t have the capacity to do such intelligence investigations. Who is going to do it? That’s our worry. People are afraid,” he said, suspecting that state intelligence agencies would be used. But his suspicions could not be confirmed.
Criminal clearance certificates He said the ANC required the candidates to get a clearance certificate from the nearest police station, a process that was described by one Gauteng leader as “standard procedure”.
The provincial leader said, in terms of the law, no one was allowed to serve as a public representative if he or she has had a year’s prison sentence without the option of a fine, “so we don’t want to get embarrassed for sending a criminal to Parliament”.
ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela triggered a storm when she rejoined Parliament in 2009. She had been sentenced to a five-year prison term in 2003 for fraud but the sentence was suspended.
The Constitution is silent on the eligibility of a candidate whose prison sentence is suspended.
The ANC and legal experts argued that the suspension of the sentence meant she was eligible for public office.
Internal leaks An MPL and NEC member said it seemed the organisation also wanted to clamp down on internal leaks.
“There’s a question that says, ‘In the past five years, is there someone you have shared party secrets with? If so, give us that person’s name and number’,” the candidate said. “The likelihood is that the party already has some of this information and wants to see if you’ll tell lies.”
This has rattled some candidates in the party. The bitter internal infighting in the ANC has spilled into the public through damaging media leaks since the party was unbanned in 1990.
The MPL feared that the information about leaks could be used by “a strong faction” to eliminate rivals.
“The danger is that if you fall out politically with the leadership, a few years down the line this can be used against you. You’ll have nothing to fight with because you signed in agreement with these conditions.”
Nondisclosure of private info However, Zulu said the party was aware of the concerns. She reassured the candidates that the party would not publicly disclose private information.
“There is sensitivity in how much information should be in people’s hands. It is normal that people would be worried … [Even] at the bank, you need to make sure the bank is not giving your personal information to everyone. We need to know people’s background,” Zulu said.
The minister who defended the party’s vetting system also questioned her comrades’ concerns regarding the vetting process because “they were part of the decision in Mangaung. Why did they take the decision?”
The decision was prompted by several internal reports and members raising concerns regarding the impact of scandals and leaders’ corruption cases on the party’s credibility and image.
Former ANC MP Tony Yengeni, who is on the party’s second highest decision-making body, served a jail term following a criminal charge related to the arms deal.
Pending cases The criminal cases against NEC member Pule Mabe and Northern Cape party strongman John Block are still pending.
On the other hand, the factional infighting has sparked accusations from some leaders that their political opponents in the party used state institutions to settle political scores.
The leaders include former ANC youth league president Julius Malema, Correctional Services Deputy Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Zuma and his spokesperson Mac Maharaj. – Additional reporting by politics staff
Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian.
Central African Republic: Waiting for the Blue Helmets
Many Central Africans feel insecure in their country and every day is a struggle for survival. UN secretary General, Ban Ki-moon is calling for the deployment of more peacekeepers.
People are killed in Central African Republic every day. Gangs of youths known as “anti-balaka” attack Muslims, and in the north, Christians are attacked by the Muslim militia, the Seleka. In the capital Bangui, the Red Cross collects about a dozen corpses off the streets every day. Some have been hacked into pieces with machetes and others have been burned alive.
Muslim neighborhoods lie within close proximity to their Christian counterparts in Bangui. Usually there are only a handful of African Union troops to serve as a buffer between Christian anti-balaka gangs and Muslim civilians.
Members of the Muslim Seleka militia have been detained in several barracks. At the entrance to one military compound in the north of Bangui, just five African Union mission Rwandan troops are standing guard over the Selekas to make sure they don’t escape.
In the small town Sibut, which is practically the front line between the anti-balakas and the Selekas, there are just 300 African peacekeepers. If fighting were to flare up again, the peacekeepers would be unable to intervene because they are too few in number.
Muslim Central Africans believe Rwandan and Burundian peacekeepers are doing their job well
Doubts about peacekeepers’ impartiality
Nearly 6,000 African soldiers from neighboring countries have been deployed in Central African Republic under the umbrella of the African Union mission MISCA. About 2,000 French troops are also in the country under the UN mandate. The European Union is to send a further 1,000 soldiers.
But Bangui residents still don’t feel safe. Muslims are even afraid of attending Friday prayers. One Muslim resident said he had never seen a single solder on patrol in the volatile neighborhood at that particular time.
He also accused the French troops of supporting the Christian militia. “We live here in terror. The anti-balakas attack us every day,” he said agitatedly. “We were promised that the French would be here to protect us, but we are still being attacked.” But he feels protected by the AU troops from the MISCA mission. “They do their job,” he said.
National army virtually non-existent
Distrust of foreign troops runs deep. Muslims accuse the Cameroonian, Congolese and in particular the French forces of only looking after their own interests and of supporting the Christian militia. But Muslims do trust Burundian and Rwandan soldiers, and they are the ones who have been stationed in Muslim neighborhoods.
Cameroonian soldiers have been deployed to Bangui’s Borab district which is loyal to the ousted President Francois Bozize. Some accuse Bozize of inciting the youth gangs to commit violence in the Central African Republic from his place of exile in Cameroon. Troops from Chad, also taking part in the MISCA mission, are siding with the Seleka rebels.
It is therefore impossible to maintain that the international peacekeepers are neutral mediators in this conflict. It would be highly desirable to limit the peacekeeping troops to those who come from countries that have no immediate interest in Central African Republic.
African Union mission (MISCA) has about 6,000 troops in Central African republic
Addressing the UN Security Council on Monday (03.03.2014), Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the deployment of 10,000 UN troops and nearly 2,000 UN police officers to Central African Republic. Lea Koyassoum Doumta, vice president of the National Transition Council, welcomed the move. The announcement was a great relief, she told the DW. “In our country, the army is almost non-existent. The blue helmets can, however, assure the population that the country is in a transitional phase. Then we will soon be able to hold elections,” she said.
Urgent transition solution needed
But Ban Ki-moon also said the troops would arrive in Central African Republic by September at the earliest. A provisional solution would have to be found in the meantime.
MISCA soldiers outside Bangui are complaining of a lack of equipment such as camping beds, food rations and fuel for their vehicles. They also say power supplies are unreliable.
The mass exodus of Muslims from Bangui to the north of the Central African Republic has caused the conflict to spread to other parts of the country. Only a few roads have been built and they can only be used when accompanied by patrols. If the UN is to deploy troops to trouble spots in the bush quickly, it will need planes, pilots and air traffic control. But MISCA does not even have medical evacuation units at its disposal. Recently, a Rwandan soldier was shot in the chest; he had to be flown to hospital in Congo-Brazzaville on a commercial flight.
The people of the Central African Republic, who face a daily battle to survive, will hardly find it reassuring that they will have to wait six months before the first blue helmets arrive. allAfrica
After a week of rain left coal stocks wet, Eskom says the country could experience power cuts after declaring an emergency.
Eskom declared an emergency on Thursday morning and warned of possible power cuts. Spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said seven days of heavy rain had left coal stocks wet.
“We have asked our large industrial customers, to reduce their consumption by 10%, but it appears this will not be enough,” Etzinger said. “Rotational load shedding is a strong possibility.”
Eskom appealed to the public to reduce their electricity usage to help ease the demand for power.
Meanwhile, the company urged Free State residents on Tuesday to stop wasting electricity.
“Switch off at any time, and not just at peak times,” Moeketsi Mathosa, an Eskom Free State network manager, said on Tuesday.
‘Less is more’ As winter approached, people should remember “less is more” with electricity, he told journalists in Bloemfontein. “The less electricity people use, the more electricity will be available to go around.”
Eskom Free State general manager Lindi Mthombeni confirmed the national electricity system would be tight this winter. She urged residents not to wait for alert messages flashing on their television screens before saving power.
“We must do something before we get there [alert warnings].”
Mthombeni said maintenance of the national system would continue through winter, and that it was critical all Eskom customers reduce their electricity consumption by 10% ahead of winter.
Eskom has 233 115 customers in the Free State, more than 90% of whom are residential customers. – Sapa M&G
Zimbabwe says its only reserves are $500,000 in gold coins
HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe is holding gold coins valued at $501,390 (299,802.68 pounds) as its only reserves, enough to buy only 1,400 tonnes of maize, the finance minister said on Wednesday, highlighting the parlous state of the country’s finances.
The economy of the southern African country, which has slowed to 4-6 percent growth after four years of near-double digit growth, is the biggest challenge to veteran President Robert Mugabe, who was re-elected last July in elections disputed by the opposition.
“The (central) bank does not hold any gold reserves except for gold coins, which were valued at $501,390 as at the end of January 2014,” Chinamasa said.
Zimbabwe produced 13 tonnes of gold last year, well below the all-time record of 29 tonnes in 1998.
The cash-strapped and impoverished country plans to spend 70 percent of its $4.1 billion budget on paying salaries this year.
Shunned by traditional Western donors, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank over outstanding arrears and lack of foreign investment, Zimbabwe is struggling to grow the economy with its own meagre resources. reuters