Kenya – car bomb kills four at Nairobi police station

Reuters

Car bomb kills four in Kenyan capital

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four people killed when a car bomb exploded outside a police station in a poor neighbourhood of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said.

Police officers had earlier stopped the saloon car at traffic lights and were taking the occupants for questioning when the bomb exploded, the ministry said.

Kenya’s security forces are struggling to contain a surge in bomb and gun attacks that the authorities blame on the Somali Islamist militants who killed at least 67 people when they laid siege to Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September.

Kenyans are increasingly alarmed at the relative ease at which the militants and radicalised youths are able to carry out deadly strikes in the heart of Kenya, east Africa’s biggest economy.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

“At least 4 people dead after a saloon exploded at Pangani police station. Two of them are police officers,” the ministry said.

Pangani is located next to Nairobi’s Eastleigh district, an area populated by Somalis and targeted in past bomb and grenade attacks.

A second controlled detonation was carried out by bomb disposal officers shortly after the initial blast, a Reuters witness said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last month said the vital tourism industry was “on its knees” after attacks by al Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgents carried out in retaliation for the country’s troop deployment in neighbouring Somalia.

It is common for Kenyan police to demand a ride back to police stations in vehicles they have stopped. But some Kenyan and African Twitter expressed consternation that they should get into a suspicious car at a time of heightened insecurity.

“Crazy & unfortunate that #Kenya police officers would board a “suspicious” car. Not good protocol,” one Twitter user wrote.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Mukoya and Richard Lough,; Writing by Richard Lough,  Reuters

 

Standard

By CYRUS OMBATI

NAIROBI, KENYA: At least four people including two police officers were Wednesday night killed in a car explosion outside Pangani police station in Nairobi in an apparent suicide incident.

The explosion happened at the gate of the police station after an explosion that was in the car went off.

Police boss David Kimaiyo who visited the scene confirmed the deaths.

Other police officers said the blast went off killing two police officers and the apparent two bombers they had arrested earlier on without knowing they had the explosives.

The officers had intercepted a salon car at about 8 pm at the nearby Pangani roundabout in the area and decided to board it.

“They spotted the car and suspected it before boarding leading the driver to the station. The police car then trailed that of the terrorists to the station,” said Kimaiyo at the station.

It was at the entrance that it went off killing all the occupants including the officers.

The blast was so powerful that it was heard several kilometres away.

Some residents of Parklands and Ngara said they heard it.

Witnesses said when the blast went off other officers who were at the station took cover for several minutes before coming to check the car.

The car was extensively damaged following the blast as police said they were yet to know where it was to be used.

Kimaiyo said they will intensify their operations on terrorists in the country. Interior cabinet secretary Joseph ole Lenku also visited the scene. There was panic at the scene when another explosion went off as the dignitaries briefed the media.

Police have in the past days been rounding up suspects in a major swoop.  standard

 

 

 

South Sudan – Salva Kiir replaces army chief after loss of Bentiu

BBC

S Sudan conflict: President Salva Kiir sacks army chief

General James Hoth Mai No official reason was given for the removal of Gen James Hoth Mai

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the army.

A decree read out on state television announced that Gen James Hoth Mai would be removed with immediate effect. No reason was given.

The country has been in turmoil since December. Last week rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu.

Meanwhile the UN has accused the government of providing “erroneous information” regarding a massacre of hundreds of civilians in the town.

South Sudan Minister of Information Michael Lueth was wrong to tell reporters that residents seeking protection had been barred from entering a UN base, the UN mission said in a statement.

After rebel forces captured Bentiu on 15 and 16 April, they targeted hundreds of people who had taken refuge inside a mosque, a church and a hospital, and killed them because of their ethnicity, the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) said.

“At no point did the mission ever turn away any civilians who came to its camp to seek protection and instead opened its gates to all unarmed civilians,” it added.

Setbacks

Correspondents say last week’s killings are among the most shocking since the conflict began.

South Sudanese fleeing an attack on the South Sudanese town of Renk, 19 April 2014 More than a million people have since been forced from their homes since the conflict began
Member of the "white army" which make up some of the rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in South Sudan - Upper Nile State, 14 April 2014 There has been recent fighting in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states

The rebels say the retreating government forces were responsible.

While no official reason was given for the removal of Gen James Hoth Mai on Wednesday, analysts say the military has suffered several setbacks in the north of the country in recent days.

Gen Paul Malong was named as the new general head of staff.

Analysts note that the sacked army chief hails from the same tribe as that of rebel leader and former Vice-President Riek Machar.

The conflict pits Mr Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against Mr Machar, from the Nuer community.

A January ceasefire deal has failed to halt fighting that began in December after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.

More than a million people have since been forced from their homes since the violence started.

‘Cycle of violence’

Peace talks, which were due to resume on Wednesday in neighbouring Ethiopia, have been delayed until 27 April.

Herve Ladsous, the UN’s head of peacekeeping, accused both sides of failing to stop the “cycle of violence” on Wednesday.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, he said: “Neither party is ready to in any way cease the hostilities. They do not give indication that they sincerely want to participate in the peace talks.”

Soldiers among burned-out items in Bentui The town of Bentiu has changed hands several times during the fighting

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, has changed hands several times during the conflict.

Control of the oilfields is crucial because South Sudan gets about 90% of its revenue from oil.

The UN expressed outrage at an attack last week on one of its camps in Bor in Jonglei State, saying it could “constitute a war crime”.

That attack by armed youths left at least 58 dead, including children.

Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar have prominent supporters from various communities, but there have been numerous reports of rebels killing Dinkas and the army targeting Nuers.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

Map of South Sudan states affected by conflict Fighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in mid-December. It followed a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. The squabble has taken on an ethnic dimension as politicians’ political bases are often ethnic.

BBC

 

Nation

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked his army chief on Wednesday after rebels seized a major oil hub, unleashing two days of ethnic slaughter in which the UN says hundreds of civilians were massacred.

Rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar seized Bentiu last week. The United Nations says they hunted down civilians sheltering in mosques, churches and a hospital, in a wave of ethnic killings.

The president gave no reason for removing general James Hoth Mai, a move announced on national television, but sources attributed the decision to recent military setbacks in the oil-rich north of the country. His successor was named as general Paul Malong.

Kiir also sacked his intelligence chief, General Paul Mach, replacing him with General Marial Nour Jok.

South Sudan’s army has been fighting the rebels since unrest broke out on December 15, but the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir’s Dinka tribe against militia forces from Machar’s Nuer people.

The conflict in South Sudan, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s youngest nation, has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

The insurgents recently launched a renewed offensive targeting the key oil fields and Bentiu is the first major settlement they have retaken.

The White House expressed horror at what it called the “abomination” of spiralling violence in the country, which has left thousands of people dead and forced around a million to flee their homes.

“We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“These acts of violence are an abomination. They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders,” he said.

The White House called on both men to “make clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable, perpetrators of violence on both sides must be brought to justice, and the cycle of violence that has plagued South Sudan for too long must come to an end”.

Images released by the United Nations show piles of bloated, decomposing bodies strewn in several areas — a repeat of mass killings seen elsewhere in the country over the past four months.

The UN said the killings continued for almost two days after the rebels issued a statement boasting of victory in Bentiu, and that the rebels had used hate radio broadcasts to whip up violent ethnic sentiment.

On Wednesday, the US and France called on the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against South Sudan.

US ambassador Samantha Power relayed Washington’s position in a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Council, diplomats said, and France’s Gerard Araud told reporters before the session that it was time to think about sanctions against those responsible.

“I think we should consider sanctions because it is horrendous,” he said.

PILES OF BODIES

The rebels, however, have blamed retreating government troops for the atrocities.

“The government forces and their allies committed these heinous crimes while retreating,” rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said, adding that the rebel offensive targeting oil fields and the town of Bor, situated north of the capital Juba, was continuing.

The scale of killings in Bentiu is one of the worst atrocities in the four-month conflict, during which both sides have been implicated in massacres, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Last week gunmen in the government-held town of Bor also attacked a UN base sheltering civilians, killing at least 58 people.

“The Bor and Bentiu attacks should be a wake-up call and commanders and leaders responsible for abuses on both sides have been let off the hook for too long,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Heavy fighting was also reported on Tuesday in the eastern state of Jonglei, and in Upper Nile in the northeast, with South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer boasting the army had repulsed the attacks and killed scores of rebels.

In Bentiu, some 23,000 terrified civilians have crowded into the cramped UN peacekeeping base for protection, where under both fierce heat and heavy rains — and little if any shelter — they are surviving on just a litre (quart) of water a day each.

Jonathan Veitch, the UN children’s agency chief in the country, warned of fatal water-borne diseases, saying that “children have endured unspeakable violence.”

The UN has said more than one million people are at risk of famine.

On Tuesday, 22 international aid agencies, including Oxfam, Care and the International Rescue Committee, issued a joint warning they were already witnessing “alarming rates of malnutrition”.

Peace talks between the two sides are due to restart in neighbouring Ethiopia later this month. nation

Angola – Dos Santos replaces defence minister for former party head

Nation

Ex-party boss named Angola’s new defence minister

PHOTO | AFP South African President Jacob Zuma (left) is welcomed by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos at the presidential palace in Luanda, on August 23, 2013.

PHOTO | AFP South African President Jacob Zuma (left) is welcomed by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos at the presidential palace in Luanda, on August 23, 2013.  AFP

LUANDA, Wednesday

Long-serving Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has replaced his powerful defence minister with the former head of the ruling party, a statement said Wednesday.

Mr Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco, former secretary general of the MPLA, will inherit control of the quick-spending ministry which, along with public order institutions, gobbled up 16 per cent of Angola’s oil-fuelled national budget last year.

In 2013 Angola leapfroged South Africa to become the continent’s second largest defence spender behind Algeria, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. nation

Yahoo

Angola’s President Dos Santos replaces defence minister

Reuters

Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos talks to journalists after a ceremony held at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon

.

View photo

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos talks to journalists after a signature agreement ceremony …

By Shrikesh Laxmidas

LUANDA (Reuters) – Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has replaced his defence minister with the former head of the ruling party, who will take charge of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest military budget.

Dos Santos, 71, in power in Africa’s second largest oil producer for nearly 35 years, rarely gives reasons for cabinet reshuffles and the presidency offered no explanation for the switch, announced by Wednesday.

Angola in 2013 increased military spending by 36 percent to $6.1 billion, overtaking South Africa as sub-Saharan Africa’s top spender, according to data published this month by Stockholm’s International Peace Research Institute.

Candido Van-Dunem, who had held the post since 2010, will be replaced by Joao Lourenco, a former secretary-general of the MPLA ruling party, the presidency said in a statement.

Lourenco is a retired general who ran the MPLA for five years until 2003. The mix of military and party links in 2011 led him to be widely tipped as a possible successor to dos Santos, who has kept everyone guessing about his plans for decades.

But dos Santos instead chose Manuel Vicente, a technocrat who is a former head of state oil firm Sonangol, as his running mate in a 2012 election, which the MPLA won easily.

Lourenco was placed 16th in the MPLA’s list of parliamentary candidates in the election and his appointment returns him to the frontline of Angolan politics, in charge of a large part of the country’s budget.

Spending on defence, security and public order will this year represent 18 percent of total expenditure, more than health and education combined. [ID:nL5N0IT3KV]

Angola’s 27-year civil war ended in 2002, but the country has continued to spend heavily on national security.

Dos Santos portrays himself as the guarantor of stability after the conflict that killed an estimated 1 million people.

But internal critics such as the MPLA’s former war foe UNITA – now the second-biggest political party – and international rights groups have accused him of ruling by force and suppressing freedom of assembly and speech.

Former defence minister Van-Dunem will become Minister for Former Combatants and Veterans, a step down. No reason was given for the move.

During the year military spending increased by 36 per cent to roughly $6.1 billion, almost on par with Mexico, Indonesia, Pakistan or Sweden.
Mr Lourenco ran the MPLA for five years until 2003, and remains a key player in the party, sitting on the 46-member politburo. yahoo

South Africa – Tutu says he won’t vote for the ANC and tells people to use their heads not hearts in voting

Mail and Guardian

Tutu calls on South Africans to vote with their heads

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks frankly about elections, not voting for the ANC and the pain of not being asked to speak at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (David Harrison, M&G)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on South Africans to apply their minds before casting their votes at the general elections on May 7, while reaffirming a statement he made last year that he will not be voting for the ANC.

“I have already said that I will not vote for them [the ANC]; that is something that I have said. And I say it with a very sore, very heavy heart because on the whole they have tended to be close to the kind of things we dreamt about,” Tutu told journalists in Cape Town on Wednesday.

However, he would not say who he would be voting for.

Tutu said: “Think carefully where you put your X on the 7th of May. As a religious leader, I would say pray deeply and ask God to direct your decision because on where you put your X so much depends.

“I pray that after May 7, we would all walk tall.”

Tutu was addressing journalists about the 20 years of South Africa’s democracy, following a “high number of interview requests from journalists”.

He had no prepared speech and spoke briefly about the successes and failures of the ANC government over the past 20 years.

He said while he had never belonged to any political party, he had sought to support a party that would be as close as possible “to the sort of things that we would love to see”.

“On the whole, the ANC was that.” He then added: “Have you noticed the tense?”

“We dreamt about a society that would be compassionate, a society that really made people feel they mattered. You can’t do that in a society where you have people who go to bed hungry, where many of our children still attend classes under trees.”

Shaken  up
While saying that he is neither for nor against the Vote No campaign, Tutu said the campaign was shaking people up.

He said the campaign was targeting a particular constituency by saying they must think about their vote. “Don’t just say, ah well, I’ve always sung these struggle songs and therefore when I’m going to vote … think!”

He said the fact that there has been a “virulent” reaction was an indication that some people are very concerned.

“One: you can’t call into question the integrity of the people who have called for this; you can’t call into question their struggle credentials and they are saying don’t vote mindlessly, don’t be voting cattle. Think when you’re making that cross and remember that it is going to decide what quality of life you are going to have for the next five years.”

Tutu, at times, spoke highly of the ANC’s achievements but also sharply criticised its failures.

“I am going to recognise, not concede, but recognise the wonderful achievements, the fact that many more people have running water, that there is electricity for very many more people than it used to be, the social grants and we have the largest HIV programme … those  are significant feathers in the cap of our government,” he said.

But added: “This is a country where we shouldn’t read stories of a six-year-old falling into a latrine hole. It shouldn’t happen. It unconscionable, it’s a disgrace.

“This is a fantastic country with fantastic people. Let’s make it become what it has in itself to become.”

Pain
Tutu also spoke out for the first time about the pain of being excluded by the ANC government in the funeral programme of his friend, the late statesman, Nelson Mandela.

“I was quite astounded myself but I tried to pretend that I was humbled and didn’t really mind. It was not true, I was very hurt. He was a very dear friend.

“We made up for it a little bit. I was asked to preach at a wonderful memorial held at the Westminster Abbey.

“They have the right to say who would speak, but I think they shot themselves comprehensively in the foot in snubbing me. It was sad,” said Tutu.

He said he had refused a high number of requests for interviews about the 20th anniversary celebration because that kind of review was too close to the general elections and might have an impression that he wanted to influence the results somehow.

“The very fact of our going to be celebrating 20 years is a heck of an achievement that itself is a very good reason for all of us as South Africans to feel proud.

“When you look around the world, you realise that it isn’t something that you could take for granted; there are some many turbulent parts of the world. We’ve notched up a very significant milestone and that we got to this point without a great deal of turbulence,” he said.

Tutu said South Africans had to “give grace to God” for the remarkable quality of leadership, the Mandela crowd and many extraordinary examples.

“We have to admit that no too many of the successors of those leaders have been able to fill their shoes, but of course the shoes were too enormous,” he said.  M&G

South Africa – the elections, the ANC and Zuma’s family fortunes

Africa Report

By By Gregory Mthembu-Salter, Crystal Orderson and Patrick Smith in Cape Town
Photo©Radu Sigheti/Reuters

Photo©Radu Sigheti/Reuters

With the ruling African National Congress certain of victory in the coming national elections, attention turns to the countervailing forces within the party, and to voters who differ sharply over their country’s future political direction. 

Such is the power that the African National Congress (ANC) has assumed over the life of South Africa in the past 20 years that the announcement of its candidate lists on 11 March was seen by the country’s political cognoscenti as being as important as the results of the national elections on 7 May.

Our government has run out of excuses [...] we cannot continue to blame apartheid for our failings as a state

In part, this is the downside of an electoral system – proportional representation – in which members of parliament (MPs) are selected by their party’s national executive committees, not by the parliamentary constituencies they are meant to represent.

So when ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told journalists “We are comfortable with the list [...] We looked through it carefully,” everyone got the message. The party’s apparatchiks had selected the country’s new political elite. President Jacob Zuma was number one, of course.

Cyril Ramaphosa was number two and almost certain to be deputy-president, if not heir apparent. Malusi Gigaba, minister of public enterprises and director of elections, was number three.

Equally important were the absences. Two historic foes who had been openly critical of Zuma’s leadership – Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa – had become unpersons, with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their political and business futures.

A more amenable adieu was negotiated by two other party elders – deputy-president Kgalema Motlanthe and planning minister Trevor Manuel – who declined nominations.

Both were sterling representatives of the original rule-regulated and mass-based ANC.

Both also had their problems with Zuma’s leadership. Indeed, Motlanthe challenged him somewhat half- heartedly for the party leadership at the ANC’s Mangaung conference in 2012, but both maintained party discipline and an outward show of respect for the chief.

 

Manuel was right on target, however, when he made a perceptive aside about Zuma to a journalist: “He knows what he doesn’t know.”

He also admitted to a more general political frustration last year: “Our government has run out of excuses [...] we cannot continue to blame apartheid for our failings as a state. The time for change, for a ruthless focus on implementation, has come.”

Their retirement from parliament prompted a special session to bid them farewell, drawing praise from across the house.

A few weeks earlier both men had attended the launch of Busani Ngcaweni’s history of the ANC and spoke frankly about the direction of the party.

Motlanthe took another swipe at political patronage: “We have to draw lessons from our history. We must create the future from wisdom and how we will deal with the problems. The ANC has never been about a free ride.”

And then Manuel, who had taken to the international stage with alacrity and may return to it, offered a more direct critique: “We choose to lock out certain information. Part of our problem is that we continue to worship the rich and the powerful and ignore and despise the poor. We must confront future generations of the country as well [...] it is not how many millionaires we create but how many millions of Africans we lift out of poverty.”

Famous five survive

There was also a more awkward post-script to the ANC’s list of MPs: at least five of those on the list were embroiled in corruption scandals or had damning findings made against them by public protector Thuli Madonsela.

The ‘famous five’ includes Dina Pule, sacked as communications minister after she was found by the public protector to have awarded contracts to companies linked to her partner, to have lied to parliament and to have misused state funds.

The interest and controversy generated by the ANC’s list of MP candidates reinforce the sense among its loyalists that the party has moved from a liberation movement with well-defined ideals and moral standards to an electoral and political patronage machine whose dynamics are shaped overwhelmingly by personal interests.

Tom Lodge, a political scientist and author of several books on the ANC, points to signs of the party’s changing character in an article entitled ‘Neo-patrimonial politics in the ANC.’

They include “factionalism [and] the emergence of internal rival groups constituted by personal loyalty rather than shared ideological beliefs”.

Added to this, Lodge explains that officials seek political legitimacy through appeals to solidarity rather than the quality of government performance.

The massive growth of ANC membership in KwaZulu-Natal since Zuma became party president and the lauding of him as a ’100% Zulu boy’ runs contrary to the established principles of the original ANC, which guarded against the building of ethnic constituencies within the party.

Under apartheid, the reason for that was that the National Party went to great lengths to divide its opponents along ethnic and racial lines.

Post-apartheid and with the ANC in government, there are different risks to this factionalism and ethnic favouritism that undermines accountability and wider policy aims such as a fairer redistribution of wealth.

First family businesses

Among the most visible signs of these changes within the ANC has been the acquisition of business interests by leading politicians and their families, especially the rapid expansion of the presidential family’s business concerns since Zuma’s accession to the presidency in 2009.

By March 2010, members of the Zuma family held 134 company directorships. Of the companies in Zuma’s official declaration of interests, 83 were registered after he became ANC president, reported the Johannesburg weekly Mail & Guardian.

This extends well beyond the presidential circle, according to Lodge: “The ANC’s mobilisation of public support relies increasingly on patron-client relations.”

Although Zuma, unlike his aloof predecessor, has cultivated a persona as a man of the people who is always willing to listen to requests and concerns. There are reports of long queues of citizens waiting to see him at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the presidential residence at Pretoria.

These patron-client relations exist alongside a modern democratic state with an independent judiciary and media.

But the danger is that the shift to patronage politics and the dominance of personal interests within the ruling party could undermine South Africa’s governance.

And certainly, some party apparatchiks are working hard to undermine the authority of independent institutions such as the public protector’s office or even the Constitutional Court.

Desperate to work, South Africans contend with higher unemployment than in 1994. Photo©Rogan Ward/Reuters

Desperate to work, South Africans contend with higher unemployment than in 1994. Photo©Rogan Ward/Reuters

 

Provincial springboards

Further down the hierarchy, this pattern is repeated with intense competition among ANC cadres to control provincial structures and local municipalities, which make decisions about tenders and contracts.

On the back of these financial powers, political careers can be launched. And it goes beyond the ANC.

Julius Malema, the firebrand former leader of the ANC Youth League, used his ties with the Limpopo provincial government to build a business and then a political platform: after he was sacked from the ANC, Malema’s founded the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). So high are the stakes now that the competition for government jobs and even posts within the ANC has become brutally intense.

“The ANC leadership increasingly reinforces its authority and demonstrates its power through displays of ostentation and elaborate security procedures,” writes Lodge.

A symbol of this is the R206m ($19.3m) security upgrade to Zuma’s homestead at Nkandla, but it also revealed a gross miscalculation by the presidency. Initially the security project at Zuma’s private house was pushed through as a perquisite of office, underlining the aura of presidential inviolability.

When journalists and MPs saw the details – which included the curious addition of items such as a swimming pool, an amphitheatre and houses for the president’s relatives – the stage was set for a
political confrontation.

Parallel investigations were launched: public protector Madonsela’s draft report was reputedly highly critical and a probe by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence found companies had been awarded contracts without security clearance.

They personally exonerated Zuma of any wrongdoing, however. ‘Nkandlagate’ rumbles on and will doubtless influence some voters in the elections.

There are clearly forces within the ruling party that revel in the move towards patronage politics and are happy to jettison the ideological policies and practices of the old liberation movement.

Yet there are countervailing groups that want strong and independent institutions in South Africa, precisely as a bulwark against the tendencies towards personal rule and clientism.

Some are younger activists with much broader agendas.

Paul Mashatile, who led the Forces for Change movement in Gauteng, is characterisic of the younger generation: “When there were challenges in the ANC, the party is able to self-correct. Some say that the ANC has fallen. It is not true. It is in our DNA to renew the ANC continuously. The renewal of the ANC is part of our history.”

But some are adherents of the old ANC, which they saw as a disciplined and accountable organisation. That is the ANC of Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Albert Luthuli.

Others are more sceptical of romanticising the past, arguing that some of the criminal tendencies within today’s ANC have their roots in the deals that helped finance the liberation struggle, remembering the less scrupulous operatives who managed to earn money for the cause and enrich themselves at the same time.

The struggle aura fades

Martin Plaut, the co-author of Who Rules South Africa?, argues the new elite of the party “shows that the ANC is going back to its roots as a centrist Christian Democrat party” and is likely to end up squeezed somewhere between a leftist and trade-union-backed party and a more right-wing party.

Plaut also cites what he calls the “30-year rule”: liberation movements that win independence for their countries lose their mass support and the popular imagination within 30 years, and can no longer hold onto power democratically.

“The ANC under Jacob Zuma has died a natural death,” said Mpho Ramakatsa, national coordinator of the EFF, addressing a recent rally. “You threaten the interests of Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Khulubuse [Zuma] [...] because the ANC we have today protects the interests of owners of means of production.”

Is the ANC heading towards the 30-year point? Its internal battles and victories have mirrored the wider changes in the country’s politics.

After 102 years of existence and the last 20 in power, the ANC has established a political hegemony in South Africa equivalent to that of the Indian National Congress, which celebrates 120 years of existence next year.

A little bit of punishment

The comparison is apposite. Those parties were born out of revolutionary change and were powered by mass popular support. And in return they promised a future of freedom, equity and modernisation.

Indeed, Mandela’s inaugural speech in May 1994 was one of the most eloquent expressions of political aims: “We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination [...] We enter in a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

Even loyal ANC supporters admit the record in power has fallen short of such lofty aims but see no reason to believe the ANC will follow its Indian counter- part into opposition any time soon.

And despite the plans by the radical National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa to break away from the ANC-aligned Congress of South African Trade Unions, this realignment could take many more years.

Fanie du Toit, the director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, concurs with the gradualist assessment: “I don’t think we are at the point where we have a viable alternative for most people in their minds. So they will do one of two things. They will vote for the devil they know or they will stay away. So there will be a little bit, but not too much, punishment for the ANC.”

What happens to the ruling party after the elections depends as much on which group wins the battles within it as what happens in the swirling pool of radical politics outside. ●

Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : The battle for South Africa’s Soul | Southern Africa
Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook

Uganda – LRA commander Okello captured in Central African Republic

VoA/allAfrica

Uganda: LRA Commander Captured in Central African Republic

 

Photo: Voxcom/IRIN

Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers (file photo).

Uganda’s military says troops have captured a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] and freed 10 people who were held captive by the rebel group.

A military spokesman said African troops hunting the LRA seized Charles Okello in the Central African Republic.

The spokesman said most of those rescued were children.

The LRA is notorious for attacking and looting villages, and also for its forced recruitment of child soldiers.

The rebel group formed in the mid-1980′s and battled the Ugandan government for 20 years before fleeing to nearby areas.

Ugandan troops have been leading a U.S.-backed African Union mission to capture LRA leader Joseph Kony and other LRA figures.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Authorities believe he is hiding in remote parts of the C.A.R.

Nigeria – Niger group claims Boko Haram link

Daily Trust

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 05:01Written by Musa Abdullahi Krishi & Ronald MutumHits: 8381

Major-General Chris Olukolade

. Military says aware of cross-border activity

 

An insurgency group operating in Niger Republic has claimed having links with Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants from whom it receives “huge” payments for joint operations.
The Niger insurgents told the BBC Hausa radio yesterday that they are based in parts of Diffa in the south-eastern part of that country, and that they routinely offer help to Boko Haram in its campaign of violence in Nigeria.
Boko Haram pays them “huge sums” in return, they said.
Nigerian authorities have said in the past that the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad does receive support from foreign terror groups, but this is the first time any such organisation is publicly claiming working with the sect.
The Niger group, whose name was not given, comprises mostly youths of between the ages of 17 and 23, who wear singlets, jeans and chains round their necks, according to the report.
The young men are secondary school students, who conduct armed robberies especially during market days in Diffa, which is on the border with Nigeria. They showed the BBC correspondent some machetes, knives and other local weapons which they use in their robbery operations. But they said they do not use guns.
“What we do is to sit and drink tea, bear, drugs and marijuana before we go for operations and other insurgent activities,” one of them said.
“As a result of our activities, our parents and other people in our areas don’t like us. We have relationship with Boko Haram. Five of us went, but two of them lost their lives (in Nigeria) and three are alive.
“Even this one you’re seeing with us, it’s not up to a week that he returned. It’s all about money. The Boko Haram people have given us huge sums of money in the past, part of which we used in buying these chairs, clothes and other things you’re seeing here.”
Another young man said: “All the things we do are because we’re jobless; we’re doing this to get money.”
They also claimed that they are now giving Boko Haram members information about Diffa and its surroundings.
Governor of the state of Diffa, Mr. Yakubu Sumana Gawo, told the BBC that security personnel are working to ensure adequate security in the state, but that the government was not aware of the existence of any group of insurgents.
“We don’t know about these groups, since they have not launched any attack yet. We won’t allow any insurgent group to operate here. But we’re calling on the people to give us information about any terrorist group to help us and the country. God willing, security agents will go after such groups,” he said.
However, some citizens of Diffa who did not want to be named, confirmed the existence of insurgents.
When contacted yesterday, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, told Daily Trust: “We know they have been going across the border and are involved in terrorist activities in Nigeria.”
He added that so many of them have been killed by security forces carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
“This only goes to confirm what we have been saying about cross-border involvement,” Major-General Olukolade said.
In his reaction, Special Duties Minister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, who is also the chairman of the presidential committee on dialogue with Boko Haram, told the BBC he was not aware of the Niger Republic group’s support for Nigerian insurgents.
“I don’t have that information, but I won’t be surprised if that is the case, because like I said, there are people whose major concern is to cause trouble so that they can fulfill their desires,” he said.
“Even if there are such groups, God will take control over them. Nigeria is a country that is above any terrorist or trouble maker. We are a country that believes in God, and we know He won’t forsake us,” he added.
On reported Boko Haram’s links with Somalia’s Al-Shabab group, Turaki said: “As a minister and head of the presidential committee on dialogue with the group, I am not aware of this. But as I know, some terrorist groups around the world are trying to cause trouble in different countries; I won’t be surprised if there is any joint effort among them.
“Again, I can’t think a newspaper will come out with such information without having any good reason. But I don’t have any information of any relationship between them (Boko Haram) and Al-Shabab.”
Speaking on Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shakau’s claims that the sect is now in Abuja, Turaki said the sect’s members are like any other human being who could reside in any part of the country without government knowledge.
“It’s not surprising, because what we’ve been telling people all the time is that the Boko Haram members are like every other person. The way they operate, they are different from other religious groups since you can’t just see someone with kaftan and say they’re the ones. They have different ways of dressing, so I won’t be surprised if they’re in Abuja just the way they’re in other places,” he said.
Turaki also said his committee’s dialogue with the Boko Haram sect has been fruitful, though he would not make public their demands as the dialogue is ongoing.
“Our dialogue with them is ongoing. We have discussed with some of their members, and even the committee before this one did same. But this committee has discussed with many of them, and so far so good, by God’s grace and with prayers from Nigerians, we shall overcome all these challenges,” Turaki said. Daily Trust