Category Archives: Africa – International

Africa – Why States Recover: Changing Walking Societies into Winning Nations

African Arguments

By Richard Dowden

We often get famous professors on stage for our meetings but they are not often joined by the scion of South Africa’s richest family, a rock star and the head of the British army. Last Friday night at SOAS was different. And the man who made the difference and created that strange and wonderful evening last week was the irrepressible Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation, who has made a life out of studying wars and politics in Africa and the rest of the world. There isn’t a conflict zone of the last two decades he hasn’t visited and written about.

I have known Greg for many years, first as the Director of the South African Institute of International Affairs and then at Brenthurst. He has written or co-authored four other books on current conflicts and now ‘Why States Recover – Changing Walking Societies into Winning Nations – From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe’.

Why Walking Societies? War does indeed create refugees and in poor countries they seek refuge by abandoning their homes and walking towards what they hope will be safety. The ‘A to Z’ in the title shows just how many countries and conflicts there have been in the last couple of decades. There are 31 mentioned on the contents pages.

The first email I got from him about this meeting was dated 11 September. It reads: “I wondered what the next steps are in arranging the meeting on 10 October?”

“I’ll get back to you” I replied. What 10 October meeting? Nothing in the emails. Panic! A phone call was it? And the big lecture theatres at SOAS – where RAS lives – are difficult to book at short notice. The RAS team swung into action and luckily Professor Stephen Chan managed to secure us a decent sized one at the last minute. We announced the meeting and ordered wine and nibbles for the reception and book signing.

Greg had already booked the other speakers and I was allotted the chair. Stephen Chan did the welcome. Thus began one of the most extraordinary meetings we have ever held.

Praise for the book from Jonathan Oppenheimer who is on the board of the Brenthurst Foundation and whose family built up and owned Anglo American, the mining company, and still own De Beers, the diamond company. He is the Director. Then an alarming account from General Sir Nicholas Carter, Commander in Chief of the British army, of Greg Mills’ hitchhike venture in a petrol tanker across Helmund province in Afghanistan at the height of the war.

The first question, a quick bouncer from a former British ambassador was directed at the General. Didn’t he agree that the decision to rejoin the war in Iraq and Syria was the definition of madness? The General ducked. But the questions kept coming and we had some fascinating exchanges.

And then some music. South African musician Johnny Clegg (a friend of Greg) first talked about growing up among Zulus and how he learnt the rhythms of their walking songs with all the wonderful rhythms and clicks of Zulu speech and song. Then he sang some. It was amazing to see and hear a small white man dancing and singing Zulu war chants and marching songs with all the clicks and guttural sounds of isiZulu.

The Zulus are best known for the Mfecane – ‘the crushing’, when they attacked all their neighbours and turned southern Africa into a war zone for decades. He then showed us another side to the Zulus – how their musicians discovered the concertina, dismantled it and rebuilt it to suit their own music with all the low notes at one end and the high notes at the other.

Mills’ book covers many countries that have recently suffered or been threatened by conflict. But unlike most books about war, it starts with how wars end and demonstrates how some countries take far longer to recover than others. Myanmar, Burma, is his prime exhibit of success, “a model of self-help” which persuaded its largely agricultural population to add value to their crops while the government built roads to get them to market.

His motto is “Buy Hold Fix” which I interpret as meaning that the citizens buy into their convalescent state and commit to rebuilding it with a clear plan. In contrast, many of the countries emerging from war have allowed a small corrupt elite of rent-seekers to own and control the economy as well as the army and police. States that exclude the majority of their citizens by not providing them with the means to become educated and work or trade, are the ones still in the grey area of no war, no peace and may slip back into war.

The greatest sin in Mills’ universe is for outsiders to try to rebuild states, making both the state institutions as well as the physical infrastructure in to a sort of turnkey project according to a western model. Get out of the way and let the locals do it for themselves, he argues. Only they can build institutions that will last. But also ensure that leaders are accountable to their people not to outside aid givers.

The second greatest sin – often created or compounded by the first – is for an elite to emerge with grand houses and flashy cars, who steal from the government coffers and sometimes take the whole economy and rule the country for short term political, using the economic dividends just for themselves.

That, to me, is Africa’s great curse at present: an elite class which, like the aristocracy in pre-revolutionary France, has seized their country’s wealth, spending some of it on flashy cars and palaces and puts the rest in banks in London and elsewhere. The people survive – or not – on less-then-a dollar-a-day poverty.

Mills cites the following as the primary blocks with which to rebuild collapsed states: accountable leaders, efficiency, the rule of law (especially land rights), and the deregulation of the economy. Aid and aid agencies are condemned for thinking they can transform countries or lead recovery. As Africa has regained its self confidence in the last decade that has become less and less true as aid agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, have become more and more modest about what they can or cannot do.

Looking across Africa today, it is difficult to disagree with Mills’ broad conjectures. Yet today’s greatest irony is that two of the most successful countries economically in Africa that he cites, Rwanda and Ethiopia, are among the least democratic and have poor human rights records.

Mills tried to live and work in Rwanda but did not find the model he was hoping for. He found it far too bureaucratic and controlled top-down. Like most he admires President Paul Kagame and his vision for rebuilding a resource-poor country but Mills says he is puzzled by his involvement in Eastern Congo. He does not touch on the looting of Eastern Congo by Rwandan-backed militias which brought huge commodity wealth to Rwanda but contributed to the deaths of millions, many more millions in fact than died in the Rwandan genocide. Hopefully with the surrender of the M23 militia that period has now come to an end but a trip to Goma or Masisi might be very revealing.

Mills’ book is an important work, dealing as it does with what may be the defining question of the 21st Century: whether the promise made in the 20th century that the poor undeveloped world and its masses will catch up and match the rich capitalist countries will be fulfilled, or whether it will continue to enrich the developed world but remain slumped in poverty and conflict.

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa; altered states, ordinary miracles. Follow Richard on twitter@DowdenAfrica

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Kenya – big drop in tourist numbers after Westgate and coast attacks

International tourist arrivals to Kenya fell 13.6 per cent in the first half of this year, following a string of attacks blamed on Somali Islamist insurgents, official figures showed Thursday.

Official data from the Kenya Tourism Board said arrivals totalled 428,585 in the six months to June, compared with 495,978 visitors over the corresponding period last year.

Compared with 2012, the total arrivals for the January-June period fell 24 per cent.

“The numbers have spoken; we performed very badly due to the insecurity experienced, especially at the Kenyan Coast,” Sam Ikwaye, executive officer of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, told AFP.

“We have lost the whole year”, he said, explaining that the forecasts for the remainder of 2014 “are not looking good”.


On the Kenyan coast, the scene of recent killings, hoteliers said business is “even worse than the figures show”.

“We are operating at 60 to 70 per cent down compared (with) last year,” said Harald Kampa of the Diani Sea Lodge and Diani Sea Resort.

Tourism is critical to East Africa’s largest economy, generating some 11 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for between 9 and 10 per cent of employment, according to the Kenya Tourism Board.

Kenya has suffered a spate of brutal attacks, especially on the coast, since last year’s Nairobi Westgate mall siege, where 67 people were killed.

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attacks, including the assault on the Westgate mall.

Following the attacks, several Western nations urged their nationals to avoid the port city of Mombasa. One British travel firm evacuated hundreds of package tourists.

Mombasa beach tourism


No justice or peace in northern Mali


No justice, no peace for northern Mali

BAMAKO, 13 October 2014 (IRIN) – Thousands of northerners who experienced human rights abuses during the occupation of Mali’s north are struggling to find redress amidst concerns that a climate of impunity is continuing and the government’s control in many areas of the north is at best shaky.

People in the north were exposed to forced disappearances, torture, summary executions and sexual abuse, with most of the offences committed after March 2012 when Islamist extremists occupied large parts of territory.

Investigations begin, but hesitantly

“Investigations into crimes committed during the occupation and its aftermath have just started,” said Guillaume Ngefa, head of the human rights division within MINUSMA, the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali. “While judges and prosecutors are stalled by an instable security situation in the north many victims have not been given adequate legal assistance or access to the judiciary,” Ngefa continued.

The arrival of occupying forces in March 2012 triggered the exodus of thousands of people fleeing south or into neighbouring countries. Those who remained were subjected to a harsh form of Sharia, or Islamic law. Punishment for crimes like theft and adultery included arbitrary detentions, whippings, amputations and even death. Women were particularly targeted, facing beatings and arrests for not wearing a veil. The armed groups also enrolled children as fighters.

The legacy of occupation

When President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came into office in September 2013, he promised to address crimes committed during the occupation and to put an end to a long culture of impunity.

But there is a huge backlog of cases to deal with. “We have documented more than 500 cases of violations in the north since the conflict started in January 2012”, said Saloum Traoré, head of Amnesty International (AI) in Mali. AI, the Malian Association for Human Rights (AMDH) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have between them registered hundreds of cases of sexual abuse, amputations and summary executions.

The caseload includes the executions of over 150 Malian government soldiers at Aguelhoc, allegedly by the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, (MNLA), in collaboration with its then ally, Ansar Dine, in January 2012. The MNLA has fiercely denied any involvement in the Aguelhok. But the MNLA’s forces are also accused of acts of sexual violence and recruiting children into armed groups.

Drissa Traoré, a legal officer in the AMDH’s Bamako officer referred to 50 cases of rape allegedly committed by the MNLA. Senior Islamists, including Islamist police chief in Gao, Aliou Mahamatou Touré, and his counterpart in Timbuktu ,Houka Houka have been the object of complaints.

South of the occupied areas, AI and AMDH point to cases reported from villages in the Mopti area, which hosted large communities of displaced northerners.

Legal machinery still not in place

While the government and specifically its Ministry of Defense acknowledges that crimes committed during the conflict need to be addressed, exactly how and when this will happen is not yet clear.
Several families of victims have sought justice for the loss of or injury to family members, a majority with the help of local lawyers. More than 30 families have filed complaints and missing person reports with the police and gendarmerie, as well as written letters to prosecutors detailing crimes, according to AMDH.

But the legal mechanics are complicated.  Observers highlight deficiencies in the Malian legal system, which lacks sufficient numbers of judges, prosecutors and forensic experts, and is hampered by logistical and financial constraints. Cases often need testimony from witnesses delivered to official investigators, but this is not easy to obtain at present.

“Continued clashes and insecurity make it difficult for judges and forensic experts to travel to the north to conduct investigations”, Guillaume Ngefa said. Security conditions remain difficult. The north is stabilized by a UN peacekeeping force and around 1,000 French troops, though attacks still occur in many of the northern areas where the abuses occurred. On October 3, nine UN peacekeepers were killed and three wounded in a roadside bomb in Kidal. This brought the number of UN peacekeepers in Mali killed since MINUSMA took over from the African Union force AFISMA in July last year to 30.

Where are the courts? 

Mali’s Justice Ministry has deployed mobile information clinics in the north to gather victim testimony and provide some level of victim support. In principle, cases reported will be referred directly to courts in the north for prosecution, but those courts are not yet up and running. When AMDH prepared cases against members of the Islamic police in Gao and Timbuktu, witnesses had to go south to Bamako, which hosts the court assigned to handle crimes committed in the north.

Support to those seeking justice is available from several international and national NGOs involved in pursuing human rights violations. But there is little funding for follow up action and the bringing of court cases. Legal costs are prohibitively high for most Malians. It often falls to individuals to track cases with the local authorities.

Soldiers face questions too 

Concerns on human rights violations are not confined to the north and the alleged perpetrators are not exclusively jihadist and separatist fighters. In November 2013 AMDH filed its first case representing 23 victims of violations allegedly committed by the Malian armed forces following a military coup in the capital Bamako in March 2012 which saw rival army factions pitted against each other.

HRW has collected testimonies implicating Malian soldiers in serious abuses. The Malian authorities have promised to take action where appropriate. But Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher with HRW, warned that only a few cases had led to further investigations, and none of those allegedly responsible for exactions brought to justice.

AMDH President Moctar Mariko warned of instances where civilians had either disappeared or been taken by the Malian armed forces. “Questions by family members as to the whereabouts of their relatives were ignored or left unanswered. Others were afraid to even ask,” Mariko said.

Alou Namfe, a government prosecutor assigned to handle crimes committed during the occupation of the north criticised the inaction shown by both the courts and the gendarmerie in grappling with offences. “Judicial officers requesting the gendarmerie to investigate certain conflict-related crimes have been ignored and complaints filed with the courts so far have not been acted upon,” Namfe warned.

Arrest does not mean prosecution

However, some action has been taken, albeit with mixed results. According to figures from the Malian authorities, since January 2013 at least 495 men believed to be members of the armed groups have been arrested; but up to 300 of the same men have since been released. In some cases, investigators were unable to confirm their identity or affiliation with the fighting factions. Others were release in prisoner exchanges between the armed groups and the Bamako government. Former Timbuktu police boss Houka Houka was amongst those let go. There are reports of many other involved in the Islamist occupation simply leaving the country.

Alou Namfe is frustrated by the lack of justice.  “There are cases where witnesses and victims have testified and the prosecutor has opened a case, and still the offender is released,” Namfe pointed out.
Guillaume Ngefa saw hope for change. “The problem of impunity dates back to the independence from France over 60 years ago”, Ngefa explained. “Previous peace agreements have struggled to look into the question of human rights; in some cases the offenders were never tried. This time I believe there is a political will to deal with crimes committed during the armed conflict.”

Moctar Mariko said the guilty should not evade justice. “We are worried that the big fish, the commanders responsible for these actions, will be released while others remain in jail.” Mariko stressed the courts had a job to do. “Prisoners should not be released before the judiciary has had time to finish their investigations.”

The north remains vulnerable

There is concern too about a new chapter of violence in the north. Complaints of human rights violations and the systematic victimisation of Tuareg and Arabs helped fuel the rebellion that broke out in January 2012. Human rights activists warn that the actions of small groups of Jihadists, staging attacks and ambushes in the north, will lead to new waves of reprisals from the Malian military, with Tuaregs and Arabs again targeted indiscriminately.  On 24 September a group of Tuareg men were detained by members of AQMI, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in the region of Kidal. The men were accused of being informers to the French forces. A couple of days later villagers found the head of one of the men at a stall in the local market.

“In many cases… the population and the justice know where the offenders are but are reluctant to give them up, especially if they are from the same ethnic group. If there is no justice, others might seek revenge,” said Mariko.  IRIN

Mozambique – Guebuza family’s mining interests


By Luis Nhachote

With a total of 27,160 hectares of land registered in the miner cadaster, the Guebuza family, through Intelec Holdigs and Tata Moçambique, holds seven licenses for prospecting and mining research.

They all have in common the fact that they have been assigned by the National Directorate of Mines, from the time when Armando Guebuza ascended to the post of President of the Republic.

Intelec Holdings: the guardian of the interests

The Intelec Holdings, incorporated by deed of November 14, 1998, having changed its name in April 10, 2003, is the parent company of a group of Mozambican companies, with strong participation of the national private capital and a turnover of 644 million meticais in 2008. Regularly it participates in the ranking of the 100 larger companies of Mozambique.

This institution, as manager of social participations, in around 2003, when it took this assignment, had in its corporate base the following participations: the Aberdare Intelec, the Electrotec, the SINERGISA, Sarl, the ENMO and the Intelec Lites and in two business areas, namely energy (generation, industry and electrical constructions) and advertising, having evolved into a situation of 15 stakes in eight business areas, in 2008, notably energy, advertising, hospitality and tourism, telecommunications, mining, cement, consulting and finance.

The Intelec Holdings has as its main business areas the energy sector, the strategic development of the country, and the second area in volume of business among the 100 largest companies nationwide. By Intelec Holdigs, one of the main Guebuza’s interests of business managers arms, has under its purview six licenses for the effect.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors (PCA) of this holding is Salimo Abdula, the front man of President Guebuza and, during two consecutive terms, he was President of the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA), from where nuclear business in national economy gravitate. By Tata Holdings, parent company of Tata Mozambique, in which Armando Guebuza is a shareholder, holds only one license.

Connections and family links

Through the Intelec Holdings, linked to Shree Cement Limited, they created the ECM-Elephant Cement Mozambique, Limited, which is dedicated to “mining of limestone and other minerals”. With these connections, the Intelec Holdings took 15% of the Elephant Cement, What made him partner of Indian cement maker Shree Cement, which holds the remaining shares. Valentina Guebuza, one of the daughters of the President Armando Guebuza, constituted the Servicon, limited, in 2008, which has as its object the mining activities.

Another Guebuza’s son, Ndambi Armando Guebuza, created the Intelec B.A.C.-Business Advisory & Consulting, Limited, which is linked to Intelec Holdigs, and for this Association he also, has interests in the sector. Are partners of the Guebuza’s son Tánia Roman Manalo, a Mozambican residen t in Cape Town that serves this arm of Intelec, as Executive Director, who holds a stake of 35 percent and, according to the statutes of the same, she is the Executive Director.

Tánia Matsinhe has served as Adviser of the Minister of planning and development and took seat in the Governing Board of South African airline 1Time. Another partner of the President’s son in this endeavor of the extractive industry is Catarina Dimande, married with Namoto Chipande, one of the general Alberto Chipande’s son, also with various interests in the same sector as we will give account in that.

Prospecting and research licenses

The licenses held by President Guebuza are located, two in Cheringoma, and were allocated in 2007, one expires in July and another in August of the current year, in areas corresponding to 1,020 and 1,840 hectares respectively. Has two in Inhassoro, Inhambane, both allocated in 2007, which expire in July and August, in areas of 9,800 and 1,480, hectares respectively. Guebuza is holder of another in Magude, also attributed in 2007, in an area of 2,880 hectares, whose license expires in July of this year.

The last license from Intelec holdings was attributed in 2010, in Magoe, Zumbo in Tete province, in an area of 9,520 hectares and expires in January 2016. By Tata Holdings, the only public license owned is in operation in the District of Mutarara in Tete and was assigned in 2004 expiring in 2013, in an area of 20,460 hectares. The representative of the Tata Africa Holdings is Raman Dhawan, of Indian origin, but this company, with participation in 11 countries, also has interests in the field of extractive industry in Mozambique.

Panjane and prospect on the horizon

In Panjane, administrative post, which is thirty-nine kilometres from the Magude village, does not exist, since the granting of the license that expired in July last year, no prospect and no mineral research of any kind. The local authorities, at the headquarters of the district, were amazed with the proper grant identified by @Verdade, whose administrative procedures believe to be known only in the seat of the mining cadaster and, or the Government of the province of Maputo.

Thousands of local residents, who have the agriculture and cattle breeding as subsistence activities, in the case of proper area begin to be used, must be resettled. The license that the Intelec requested with a view to its prospecting and research may, if the State that still has one of the members in it, be renewed soon.  allAfrica

Sudan – gunmen kill Ethiopian peacekeepers in Darfur


(Reuters) – Gunmen killed three Ethiopian peacekeepers who were guarding a water hole in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region on Thursday, their force said.

Two of the soldiers died at the scene in Korma, north Darfur, and a third died later from his wounds in Khartoum, said the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping mission. The attackers stole the Ethiopians’ patrol vehicle, it added.

“This has been a bloody October for UN Peacekeeping,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon told reporters in New York.

“In Darfur, Mali and the Central African Republic, we have lost 14 peacekeepers in hostile acts – nearly one per day.”

A total of 61 UNAMID peacekeepers have been killed in action since their force was set up in 2007 to stem violence in Sudan’s western region.

Darfur was plunged into turmoil in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the arid region, and Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising.

The situation has since subsided into chaos with skirmishes involving bandits, rival insurgent splinter groups, warring tribes and lawless militias.

UNAMID’s joint U.N./African Union Special Representative Abidoun Bashua called on Khartoum to bring Thursday’s attackers to justice.

“An attack on peacekeepers constitutes a war crime and is punishable under international criminal law,” Bashua said.  Reuters

South Africa – Putin talked Zuma into nuclear deal against treasury advice

Mail and Guardian

Somehow Russia has persuaded President Jacob Zuma into agreeing to a deal for a nuclear fleet that the treasury opposed.
zuma putin
Relations between Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma have reportedly strengthened. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA Novosti)

The Russians are coming. The nuclear deal with Russia is to dominate the agenda when the South Africa-Russia joint intergovernmental committee on trade and economic co-operation meets next month.

Even though the South African government insists it has not entered into the procurement phase for the nuclear fleet, it has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sway President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson into giving Russia the entirety of the deal.

Zuma and his most trusted Cabinet ministers went against the strict advice of the national treasury and his senior advisers when a nuclear energy “agreement” was signed with Russia last month.

Two sources who also advised against it revealed this week to the Mail & Guardian that an initial bid made by Russian nuclear company Rosatom last year was rejected by the treasury and a number of Zuma’s advisers. A third credible source who was close to the negotiations confirmed their version of events.

The treasury this week did not deny advising against the initial Russian proposal.

“Nuclear would be a substantial financial commitment and government can only make that kind of commitment after careful and ­thorough-going modelling and an affordability assessment,” said spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane.

He said they had yet to discuss how the treasury would pay for nuclear energy.

Exclusive rights
It has emerged that the Russians wanted exclusive rights to South Africa’s nuclear industry. This was substantiated by a statement made by Putin in March last year, ­following his visit to South Africa, saying his country did not want to merely build the nuclear plants but would bid to run the entire nuclear industry here.

South Africa plans to enhance its energy mix by creating 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030.

The M&G spoke to three highly placed sources – all of them indicated that:
•The initial Russian proposal was not affordable and the treasury rejected it;
•The technology proposed was sub standard and dangerous;
•It would exclude and be damaging to local industries; and
•Even public servants who seemed loyal to Zuma had concerns about it.

One source close to the nuclear talks said the signing of the agreement was a result of about two years of courting by the Russians.

A pitch was made during a working visit by Putin to South Africa in March last year where the discussion on Russia’s involvement in South Africa’s was initiated.

Keeping mum
While Zuma and his government remained mum on the matter, his Russian counterpart was more forthcoming. “We have enormous potential for developing co-operation in the energy sector, first and foremost in nuclear energy,” Putin said at the time.

“Russia is offering its help to South Africa not just in building individual units but in developing the country’s nuclear industry as a whole – from resource production and building a nuclear power plant and research reactors to designing and manufacturing its own nuclear power equipment. Naturally, all this involves credit assistance from the Russian side and training of specialists.”

The two sources the M&G spoke to said government officials were told to consider the pitch and make recommendations.

Two months later Zuma was invited to Russia for bilateral talks.

Putin’s press service pre-empted the meeting last May, saying Zuma would discuss co-operation in the nuclear industry on his then-working visit to Sochi.

“Russia is ready to help in the extraction of the raw materials, designing and production of the energy equipment,” the Russian presidential press service said in a statement. “Rosatom intends not only to build nuclear power plants, but also ensure the production of the raw materials, the high level of ­production localisation and train qualified staff.”

No mention of nuclearZuma took eight of his Cabinet ministers with him on that visit, including then-energy minister Dipuo Peters. In a press statement issued at that time, Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj did not mention any nuclear energy agreement.

Two days before that trip Peters lobbied hard in Parliament in favour of nuclear energy.

“The department will continue to work towards the roll-out of the nuclear programme, including reaching a final investment decision towards the procurement of nuclear power plants,” she reportedly said.

It was then that the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa and the National Nuclear Regulator were allocated R710-million to examine, among other things, the development of nuclear energy.

It was on Zuma and his ministers return when, according to the two sources, the treasury advised against the costly deal.

A source indicated that the matter appeared to have been shelved, but clearly nobody told the Russians.

Topic raised again
In September last year, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane was hosted by her counterpart Sergey Lavrov where Russia’s contribution to South Africa’s nuclear fleet was brought up once again.

“Russia is ready to contribute to the establishment of a nuclear power industry in South Africa; our economic operators interact in the area of new and renewable energy sources,” Lavrov said in a statement at the time.

Less than a week later, at the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg, Zuma and Putin appeared to be thick allies. It was then when Putin hailed Zuma as a champion of “small nations” following discussions on Syria.

The M&G has previously reported that Zuma summoned then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan, to a meeting on the second day of the summit and asked Gordhan for the necessary financial commitments from the treasury. Gordhan apparently declined and warned Zuma such a step would be unwise.

In June this year, the relationship between the two countries was reaffirmed. The nuclear agreement was brought up during a phone call Zuma made to Putin. The Russian embassy in South Africa noted of the call that: “Putin and Mr Zuma discussed a number of current matters concerning development of the two countries’ bilateral relations and strategic partnership, and agreed to continue their contacts.”

In July, an undertaking was then given that South Africa’s nuclear fleet would be given to Russia, costing an estimated R1-trillion.

Brics summit
The M&G reported last month that Zuma personally negotiated the nuclear deal with Putin on the sidelines of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Brazil and finalised details of the pact during his highly secretive visit to Moscow in August.

Then, on September 23, Rosatom and the department of energy released a joint statement announcing that Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed a nuclear agreement with Rosatom.

The announcement raised wide public outrage and criticism from opposition parties who demanded transparency on the matter.

The department this week stuck to its insistence that it had not agreed to procure the nuclear power plants from Russia, saying the procurement process had yet to be opened.

The department sought to allay concerns by announcing last Friday that Zuma granted Joemat-Pettersson authority to sign a nuclear agreement with France. The minister signed the agreement in Paris on Tuesday.

UN launches belated urgent aid appeal

Ban Ki-moon has launched another urgent appeal for funds to help fight Ebola after a United Nations drive for donations fell short of its target.

The UN chief said a $1bn trust fund he launched in September has received just $100,000 (£62,000) so far.

He joins a growing chorus of world leaders criticising the global effort to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The disease has killed about 4,500 people so far, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Although several countries across the world have pledged to support the struggle to contain Ebola, few have matched their pledges with donations.

Donors have given almost $400m (£250m) to other UN agencies and aid organisations but the trust fund itself has received pledges of just $20m (£12m) and only Colombia has paid up so far.

The UN special envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro, said the fund was intended to offer “flexibility in responding to a crisis which every day brings new challenges”.

“It allows the areas of greatest need to be identified and funds to be directed accordingly,” he added.

Ban Ki-moon said it was time for counties who “have the capacity” to step up and help the response effort

The outbreak has caused hysteria in the US after one man died and two nurses got infected with the virus
Mr Ban said it was time for the countries “who really have capacity” to provide financial and other logistical support.

Similar calls have been made in recent days by US President Barack Obama, UK PM David Cameron, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

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

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

“In fact when you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe.”

Kofi Annan says he is “bitterly disappointed” by the international response
The World Health Organization has said it is “ramping up” efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus.

WHO official Isabelle Nuttall said 15 African countries are being prioritised for help in prevention and protection, with the four countries directly bordering the affected areas – Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal – getting the most attention.

US reservists on standby

Meanwhile, President Obama has given the go-ahead for US military reservists to be deployed to West Africa if needed. They would join the 4,000 American troops already being sent to the region.

The president also said he was open to appointing someone to head the Ebola response in the US, a so-called czar.

Mr Obama’s senior health advisors have met scathing criticism after two nurses became infected at a Texas hospital by a patient who later died.

US officials now believe one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, may have been sick and contagious for four days and flown on two flights before being diagnosed with the disease.

Disease control specialists are being sent to Ohio to help monitor people she came into contact when she flew there from Dallas last week.

Liberians read about the death of an Ebola victim in the US on a chalkboard in the capital, Monrovia

How not to catch Ebola:

Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
Wear goggles to protect eyes
Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated