Nigeria – Senate still stalled on northern emergency

Punch

President of the Senate, David Mark

The Presidency is already considering full deployment of soldiers to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states if his request for an extension of the emergency rule in the three states ravaged by   Boko Haram is turned down by the National Assembly.

A highly competent government official made this known to The PUNCH in Abuja on Wednesday shortly after the Senate suspended debate on the President’s letter seeking the extension of the emergency rule.

A security expert, who did not want his name in print, defined full military deployment as complete declaration of war.

“Like in a war situation, there will not be consideration for the civilian populace,” he said.

Senators had on Tuesday disagreed sharply on Jonathan’s request, a development that made their President, David Mark, to abruptly adjourn sitting till Wednesday.

At the resumed plenary on Wednesday, Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved a motion for the continuation of the debate on the issue in a closed session.

At the end of the session which lasted about two   hours, Mark explained that his colleagues had an extensive, frank and exhaustive debate but had to postpone further discussions till Thursday (today).

The PUNCH however learnt from the competent government official   that all that was required   in the alternative option was for the President to write another letter to the National Assembly that he was ordering full military deployment in the three troubled states to protect the sovereignty of the country.

The official, who pleaded anonymity, explained that Jonathan, would in the letter state the terms and rules of engagement of the soldiers .

He said that in doing that, the President could invoke Section 217(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The section reads, “The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of:

(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression;

(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air;

(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and

(d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly.”

The official however expressed the hope that the lawmakers would not allow the situation   to degenerate to the level of full military engagement.

He said there was no point playing politics with the extension of the emergency rule since the Senators swore to an oath to protect the sovereignty of the country.

He added, “What you should be asking is the next option open to us in case the lawmakers refuse to approve the request for the extension.

“The option is that the President order full deployment of soldiers in the affected states and then send the terms and rules of engagement of the soldiers to the lawmakers.

“Will they say the President should not deploy soldiers in trouble spots? Will they say he should leave the country and allow insurgents to overrun it?

“Did they not swear to an oath to protect the sovereignty of the country?

“It is however our hope that the lawmakers would stop playing politics with insurgency.”

In the Senate where members for the second day running disagreed on the consideration of Jonathan’s request for the extension of the emergency rule, Mark said they had “resolved to invite the service chiefs to be part of our discussion” on the issue on Thursday(today).

The service chiefs will however appear at an executive session of the Senate.

Speaking with journalists after plenary, Senators Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) and Kabiru Gaya (Kano South), said they maintained their opposition to the extension of the emergency rule because they were not convinced that it would achieve the intended objective.

Gaya noted that the last time   the extension was granted , none of the local government areas in the North-East was under the control of Boko Haram.

He said, “The state of emergency did not work there in that second case. We have problem   in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states; we lost two or three local governments in Yobe State and almost five local governments in Adamawa State.

“So the whole thing is retrospective; it’s going backward; it’s reducing. The problem is escalating, Borno State camp has the highest number of refugees in Africa. I believe and we have over 25,000 to 30,000 people being paid daily to take their three square meals.

“So, we believe there are a lot of questions to be answered by the service chiefs. We can’t just simply grant the state of emergency just like that without inviting them to tell us what really happened, because we gave eight conditions before we granted the last request and no condition has been met.

“That is one of the problems. When you see an army officer hiding under a bed in your dormitory, and by the sound of Boko Haram’s gun, he runs out of that place, what would you do.

“The Nigerian Army had high respect before; we fought the Liberian war and in many other places and we succeeded and now, a lot of weapons and armoury of the military are in the hands of Boko Haram.

“So, I believe that we have to wait until we hear from the service chiefs, if they are able to answer our questions, then we can take the next step.”

Lawan said, “We have granted two requests for extension in the past but for 18 months, the state of emergency did not work and we believe that there is no point going through the same process again.”

He insisted that the military did not need an emergency rule before it could successfully deal with the insurgency   because there was no such proclamation in the Niger Delta   before the militants were flushed out of the place.

On allegations of financial inducement to senators by the Presidency to ensure the approval of the emergency rule, Lawan said   none of his colleagues would collect money to approve Jonathan’s request.

He said, “Senators here are people of distinguished and disciplined backgrounds and therefore, no senator would take money for anything. We believe in our people, we believe that we have responsibility to our people as we work here.

“No senator will take money to work for emergency extension because someone wants him to do that. I believe those who are in support of it are doing so out of principle just like I am opposed to it out of principle. I don’t know but I believe that no senator will take money.”

Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, disagreed with Gaya and Lawan, insisting   that the state of emergency should continue in the interest of peace in the country.

He said, “Whether rightly or wrongly, there is an alleged genocide. So, people must be properly protected, including the President,   senators and other citizens as well. What is the alternative for now, especially that the thing is expiring tomorrow(today)?

“Can anybody come out to say that the celebrated hunters in the North-East can take charge of the situation? Even if anybody can come out to say yes, will the law be on the side of such people? That is the question we must ponder on and take a reasonable decision.”

Senate spokesperson, Eyinnaya Abaribe, described the closed – door session as “very frank, robust and sometimes, very acrimonious.”

He said, “We agreed, as a Senate that the discussion will continue tomorrow(today). And also for the purposes of having further information, invite the service chiefs to be available tomorrow(today) to also brief us on the efforts that have been ongoing in the past six months when the emergency was declared.

“We have adjourned to tomorrow(today) and we will consider the information that we will also get from the service chiefs and the further information that will be available to us from the governors of the states that are going to be contacted by the Senate President.

“We hope we will take a decision tomorrow (today) in the interest of this country. Some senators felt that it will be necessary for us to hear from the service chiefs and we all agreed that they should come and tell us themselves under condition that it is an executive session what the real situation is.”

Abaribe added that Mark was mandated to meet with the governors of the three   states with a view to knowing their constraints and challenges.

Copyright PUNCH.

South Africa – Vavi to stay in COSATU; national conference called

Mail and Guardian

A special national congress will be held by trade union Cosatu next year, and sources say Zwelinzima Vavi will not be removed.

Sources who attended a Cosatu meeting on Wednesday evening say the federation's general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, will not lose his position in Cosatu. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini has conceded to a call by eight Cosatu unions for a special national congress.

A special central executive committee (CEC) meeting on Wednesday heard his report on the feasibility of holding the congress and it resolved that it would be called early next year.

The call for a special national congress came up as a result of divisions plaguing the organisation. Expelled metalworkers union, Numsa, spearheaded the call for the special congress and its leaders repeatedly said it would use the congress to “get rid” of Dlamini and those loyal to him.

The meeting on Wednesday was boycotted by seven unions who stood in solidarity with Numsa. South African Commercial Clothing and Allied Workers Union, South African State and Allied Workers Union, Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa, Food and Allied Workers Union, South African Football Players Union, Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa and Communications Workers Union have made an unequivocal call for the special congress as a remedy to Cosatu’s paralysis.

Vavi to remain in his position
An insider at the meeting said embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi would remain at the helm of the organisation and would not be removed. As things stand, he will remain in his position until his term is over next year. Cosatu’s five national office bearers, sans Vavi, would decide “what processes” Vavi would be subjected too.

Vavi holds a precarious position in the trade union federation because he publicly denounced a decision to expel Numsa earlier this month. He also faces nine charges including his affair with a subordinate.

Disciplinary action
A source at the meeting said a political discussion may resolve the tension on some issues, but on other issues Vavi may still face disciplinary action. “I think they just wanted things to calm down after the storm of Numsa’s expulsion,” the source said.

The Mail & Guardian reported last Friday that Vavi threatened to resign from Cosatu if Numsa’s expulsion is not reversed. The meeting further decided that Cosatu’s second deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, remains in her position until her term expires next year. This was after contention was spurred when she resigned from Numsa, where she served as a shop steward, and moved to police union Popcru.

According to the Cosatu Constitution, office bearers were required to be a shop steward of a Cosatu affiliate.

Liberia – World Bank says half of workforce no longer in jobs because of ebola

BBC

Ebola crisis in Liberia: ‘One in two workers now jobless’

A Liberian soldier walks along a deserted street with shops closed in Monrovia, LiberiaThe outbreak of the Ebola virus has devastated Liberia and had a major effect on the country’s economy

Nearly half of all Liberians who were employed when the Ebola outbreak began are no longer working, a survey by the World Bank has found.

It said many workers have been told to stay at home or have lost their jobs, while markets have been forced to shut.

Earlier, a World Bank economist said the Ebola outbreak was expected to cost the region about $3-4bn (£1.9-2.5bn).

Ebola has infected about 14,000 people in West Africa, killing more than 5,000 – with about 2,800 deaths in Liberia.

Ana Revenga, a senior World Bank official, said even those living areas of Liberia that have not been hit by Ebola “are suffering the economic side effects of this terrible disease”.

“Relief efforts must focus not only on those directly affected by the virus, but also on those in the poorest communities for whom market access, mobility and food security continue to get worse,” she added.

The World Bank said Liberia’s agricultural sector was showing the most resilience to the disease, but its survey found that 70% of respondents said they do not have enough money to afford food.

Tourism down

The economic cost of the outbreak will not be as bad as first feared though, according to Francisco Ferreira, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa.

Talking at a lecture in South Africa, he said the total economic loss was likely to be about a tenth of the $32bn the World Bank initially said the cost to sub-Saharan Africa’s economy could be.

The outbreak’s successful containment in some West African states made the gloomiest forecasts less likely, but there was no room for complacency, he added.

But he warned that Ebola had ravaged the tourist industry across Africa.

A survey by a specialist travel company in September showed that travel bookings were down by as much as 70%, even for destinations far away from the affected areas.

The virus has killed more than 5,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global health emergency in August.

Meanwhile, Senegal has reopened its land border with Guinea, where the outbreak was first identified in March, for freight traffic, but not cars or people on foot.

Last week it opened its airports and seaports to traffic from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

How Ebola spreads

Burkina Faso – Col Zida named prime minister under interim president

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso names army colonel Zida as prime minister

OUAGADOUGOU Wed Nov 19, 2014

Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida attends a news conference in which he was named president at military headquarters in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso November 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Joe Penney

Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida attends a news conference in which he was named president at military headquarters in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso November 1, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s transitional government named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida as prime minister on Wednesday, four days after he restored the country’s constitution under pressure from the African Union and the West.

Zida declared himself head of state on Nov. 1 after mass protests toppled President Blaise Compaore who then fled the West African country. The African Union had given Zida two weeks to restore civilian rule or face economic sanctions.

As prime minister, Zida, a large, bespectacled man with a trademark red beret, will help Burkina Faso’s newly appointed interim president, Michel Kafando, appoint a 25-member government that will steer the country to new elections in 2015.

Neither Kafando, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations, nor Zida, deputy head of the presidential guard, will be allowed to stand in next year’s presidential election, according to the terms of a transitional charter adopted last week.

While Western diplomats had advised against Zida’s nomination, hoping Kafando would instead name a civilian figure to head the government, the choice was generally welcomed among members of Burkina Faso’s political class.

“We have seen that he is a capable man. He has vision and he knows what he wants for the country,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, president of the Le Faso Autrement political party.

Others were pragmatic.

“Zida’s nomination was a useful compromise that allowed us to advance. We need the cohesion of the army to move forward with the transition,” Benewende Stanislas Sankara, head of the opposition UNIR/PS movement, told Reuters.

Compaore triggered protests against his rule last month when he tried to push changes to the constitution through parliament in order to extend his 27-year grip on power.

“We saw what the civilians did before. If the soldier is prime minister, it’s better for all of us,” said Pierre Ilboudo, a mechanic in the capital Ouagadougou.

Compaore was a regional power broker and a key Western ally against Islamist militants. France has a special forces unit based in Burkina Faso as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation. The country has long been one of Africa’s cotton producers and is now also mining gold.

 

Nigeria – Senators divided over extension of emergency in northern states

Punch

Senators divided over emergency rule extension

Senate President, David Mark

 The Senate on Tuesday abruptly adjourned plenary till Wednesday  following a sharp disagreement by its members over President Goodluck Jonathan’s fresh request to extend emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Plenary had commenced smoothly with Senate President David Mark reading a letter from Jonathan amid murmuring by some of his colleagues, especially those from the affected states.

Sensing that the letter titled, “Extension of the period for the proclamation of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states” might generate tension, the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved a motion for the Senate to dissolve into a closed – door session to consider the request.

When the senators reconvened after a two-and-half hour extensive brainstorming, Mark announced that further discussion on the issue would hold on Wednesday(today).

He said, “The Senate in a closed session met and discussed the letter from Mr. President on the extension of a state of emergency.

“We had a very extensive debate on it. And we will continue with the debate tomorrow (today).

The letter by Jonathan read in part, “May I respectfully draw your attention to the state of emergency proclamation 2013 in respect of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states which was approved by the National Assembly and extended for a further period of six months as conveyed by the Clerk of the National Assembly dated May 21, 2014.

“By virtue of the provisions of Sections 305, (6) c of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the proclamation aforementioned will elapse after a period of six months from the date of approval of the National Assembly except the period is extended by the National Assembly.

“It is important to state that despite concerted efforts by this administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation are yet to abate.

“Consequently, it has become imperative to request the approval of the senate for extension of the period for the state of emergency for a further period of six months.

“In view of the foregoing, I most respectfully request distinguished senators to consider and approve by resolution the extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency by a further period of six months from the date of expiration of the current period.

“I look forward distinguished Senate President to the usual kind expeditious consideration of the above request by the Senate.”

The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Bello Tukur, who briefed journalists after the adjournment , did not give details of what transpired at the closed-door session.

Tukur merely said, “The Senate met behind closed – doors to consider the letter from Mr. President but we did not conclude deliberations on it.

“I want you to reserve whatever questions you have on the issue till tomorrow (today) when we would have concluded discussions on it.”

However, senators, especially those from the Northern part of the country, who spoke on what transpired at the meeting, said they opposed the extension of the emergency rule.

Their objection was based on the fact that the declaration of the state of emergency in the affected states had not achieved the desired objectives since it was proclaimed in May 2013.

Three of the senators, who spoke were Ali Ndume (Bornu South), Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North),   and Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central).

Ndume stated that he was totally opposed to the request by Jonathan because it would further worsen the security situation in the three states which are ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.

He said, “The state of emergency since it was declared in the three states had taken us from bad to worse.

“Our fear now is that if we extend it again, we are inviting more problems to ourselves because the insurgents would capture more territories during the period.

“As the representative of my people, my entire constituents are totally opposed to the extension of the emergency rule because it restricts movements of the civilian populace while the insurgents move freely and have a field day.

“When people are sleeping in the night, the insurgents are freely moving around. By 6pm, the whole towns are closed but the insurgents are busy taking control of everywhere.’’

Ndume doubted the sincerity of the Federal Government to the fight against insurgents and urged the relevant military authorities to adopt fresh strategies to confront them.

Lawan, who boasted that the President’s request would not be granted, advised that “after 18 months of the state of emergency, we should look at other avenue.”

He said, “Although we will continue deliberations on the issue tomorrow (today), but I can assure you that we will not approve the emergency rule extension because the president can deploy the military to any part of the country without declaring a state of emergency.

“We have a very strong military in Nigeria and nobody can doubt their capacity to handle this insurgency except if the government is telling us that so many things are fundamentally wrong.

“Discussions on it will definitely continue tomorrow (today) but I want to tell you that I am totally opposed to it.

“So many options are being advanced which would be concluded tomorrow.

What we need at the moment is the massive deployment of troops to quickly

launch serious attacks because we have lost so many territories already.

“The request for the extension of the state of emergency is only a waste of time because we had it for 18 months which ended in total failure.”

Marafa said, “The emergency rule extension is unnecessary because previous ones had failed. Even if you are a student and you fail three times then something is either wrong with the student or the teacher. We need a different strategy now.”

Mark leads Senate leadership to Jonathan

Hours after adjourning sitting, Mark led his Deputy,   Ike Ekweremadu;   Ndoma-Egba; the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi;   the Minority Leader, George Akume, among others to the Presidential Villa for a closed-door meeting with Jonathan.

All the senators arrived and left the villa in a convoy without talking to State House correspondents.

A Presidency source however said the meeting was a troubleshooting effort by the President to ensure that his request to extend the emergency rule scales through at the National Assembly.

House to hold special session Thursday

The House of Representatives will reconvene on Thursday (tomorrow) to hold a special session on the extension of emergency rule in the troubled Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

A meeting of the House leadership presided over by the Speaker, Aminnu Tambuwal, on Tuesday (yesterday) endorsed the special session.

Tambuwal confirmed the reconvening in a statement he signed on Tuesday evening.

Part of the statement reads, “On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, I received a communication from the President, requesting the extension of the existing state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by the House of Representatives.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on me by Section 305 ( 2 ) of the 1999 Constitution, which requires me to ‘forthwith convene or arrange a meeting of the House’ and in order to treat the extension before the expiration of the current state of emergency in accordance with Section 305 (6) (c) of the constitution, I hereby reconvene the House which is currently on recess.”

The statement added that the session would hold on Thursday by 11am.

The Chairman, House Committee on Rules/Business, Albert Sam-Tsokwa, told reporters that a decision on the special session had been taken.

“Now, they (leadership) have resolved that the House should reconvene on Thursday to consider the extension of emergency rule”, he said.

The spokesman for the House, Zakari Mohammed, said, “There is going to be special session on the emergency rule on Thursday. The speaker’s office will convey a statement on the reconvening shortly.”

The House has been on break since October 28 to resume on December 3. However, the urgency attached to the emergency rule extension reportedly forced the leadership to approve the special session.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Peoples Democratic Party, Friday Itulah had said it would be proper for the House to reconvene since the issue at hand (Jonathan’s request) required some urgency.

Itulah claimed that the emergency rule had yielded “positive results so far”, adding that the extension was necessary to strengthen the war against terrorists in the affected states.

He said, “I think the extension is worth it as long as the reason for it has not been realised. So, there is a need to extend the emergency rule. Some aspects of it also need to be revisited to make it more effective.

The House is supposed to reconvene on December 3, but since this is a national emergency, let us see how it goes.”

An All Progressives Congress lawmaker, Pally Iriase, also backed the extension of the rule.

He said, “We have been moving back and front; one step forward and 10 steps backward, but that notwithstanding, we still believe the requisite environment be created to enable the Armed Forces to do their work.”

However, investigations by The PUNCH showed that many lawmakers in the House were against the extension.

One of them said, “Let us face the truth. Has emergency rule worked? More lives and property have been lost in those states with emergency rule in place.

“Where are the abducted Chibok girls? If anything, Boko Haram has become more daring, taking control of more towns and hoisting flags under the emergency rule than when there was no emergency rule.

“The facts are there for all to see. Why continue to deceive ourselves with this emergency rule?”

Shettima, Ngillari back emergency rule extension

Although Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima and his Adamawa State counterpart, Bala Ngillari,   backed Jonathan’s bid to extend the emergency rule, they called for the evaluation of the gains or otherwise of the previous proclamations.

Shettima, through his Media aide, Isa Gusau, said, “I do not have doubts about the sincerity of Mr. President in seeking an extension to make it easier for our security agencies to continue their services to our fatherland and I think an extension is reasonable in the circumstance we have found ourselves much as it is also reasonable to take stock of what previous declarations have achieved.

“No democratic government would wish to have military men roaming its streets with armoured vehicles. However, we are very much aware that in most guerrilla warfare, insurgents sometimes dictate the pace because they can disguise and pretend to be friends whereas the security agencies are by their systems, known so they can be identified by citizens.

“I have strong hope that Borno will get out of this situation just I have for the Nigerian state. The problem is however how long it takes and those who suffer while it lasts. This is why we must make common sense sacrifices as leaders, political party members and those in positions of influence to help our military and security agencies to remain focused and not to make the slightest attempts of diverting their attention for whatever reason we seek to achieve.

“We must at the end never fail to remember that no matter how long, we would be required to give accounts of how best we managed our influences, whether we blindly limited our thoughts to our individual and group goals or we used our influences for our people who entrusted us with rights to decide their fates. We owe them the right to live.”

Also, Ngillari,who spoke through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, P. Elisha, said the President had absolute powers to seek extension of emergency rule in the affected states.

The governor however warned against rumours on the situation in the affected states, saying they were capable of making nonsense of the efforts to flush out Boko Haram fighters from the North-East.

Copyright PUNCH.

South Africa – parliamentary ceasefire lasts just one day

Mail and Guardian

The peace accord between the ANC and opposition parties in an attempt to bring order to National Assembly sessions lasted just one day.

Cyril Ramaphosa assured the House that members of the executive do not see occupying their positions as a right, but see themselves as servants of the people. (David Harrison, M&G)

The parliamentary peace accord struck between the ruling ANC and opposition parties on Tuesday is in tatters.

Facilitator Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was the first to admit as much when answering oral questions from the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

The session started quietly with a question from ANC MP Beauty Dlulane about social cohesion.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete then announced that the next question, asked by Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane about President Jacob Zuma’s failure to appear before the National Assembly to answer questions, was withdrawn.

The session ended after Ramaphosa said “… the agreement that was arrived at yesterday, which we all announced, an agreement which in my view is about to lie in tatters because of what is unfolding now.”

Ramaphosa made the statement while responding to tough questions from opposition MPs about the alleged failure of Zuma and his executive to properly account to Parliament.

Constitutional responsibility
Agang’s Andries Tlouamma had asked Ramaphosa if he intended to fulfil his constitutional responsibility as leader of government business to ensure the attendance of Cabinet members, as appropriate, to parliamentary business by urging them to prioritise their availability to answer questions in the National Assembly when the cluster of ministers in which they appear is scheduled to do so.

Ramaphosa assured the House that members of the executive do not see occupying their positions as a right, but see themselves as servants of the people. “They are there because they don’t necessarily wish to be there, but were appointed to be servants of the people, appointed to work for the people.”

Ramaphosa said he found the members of Zuma’s executive to be hard-working individuals, adding that “they are smart, they know what they are talking about, they know their work and were put there because they are well endowed with knowledge, with commitment and they know their job”.

He said that, to his knowledge, members of the executive were fulfilling their obligations to respond to questions in the National Assembly.

At this point, DA MPs were shouting “Where is Number One?” in reference to Zuma, who has not answered oral questions since August 21, when the Economic Freedom Fighters MPs chanted that he “pay back the money”.

Executive accountability
The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Sibongile Nkomo said the agreement between Ramaphosa and the leaders of opposition parties included a reaffirmation of the principle of executive accountability and that all members of the executive must appear before Parliament to answer questions as required by the rules.

She then asked Ramaphosa what sanctions would be meted out on ministers who do not attend the question and answer sessions. She suggested that they be named and shamed publicly.

Ramaphosa said the issues that were covered in the agreement were an attempt at addressing some of the challenges the National Assembly faces.

“It was an attempt and the extent to which that attempt would have succeeded to address this clearly would be seen ‘either later this afternoon or in time to come’.

“I had thought that it was a real and serious attempt, an attempt that was applauded by many of our people who don’t sit in this House and many of the people who sit in this House and they felt that, for once, an incredible window had been opened for this House to regain its stature, its standing among our people as a House that can be respected and a House that makes the laws of our country,” he said to applause from the ANC benches.

‘Position in balance’
He added: “I think that that position is in balance this afternoon. It is in balance because it is possible that we may not all have been totally committed to going through with that position.

“And it fills me with a great deal of regret that having had the great opportunity of meeting the leaders of our people as represented in Parliament, we now face the situation where we are going to erase this wonderful development which was so well applauded by our people.

“I think that is a great pity,” he said to loud cheers from the ANC MPs and jeers from the opposition.

Ramaphosa appeared greatly annoyed by the heckling.

He turned to address Mbete: “Madam Speaker, I am required to stand here and answer questions. I am not engaging in a debate. This is precisely what we sought to address yesterday, that members of the executive ought to be given an opportunity to answer questions and they must do so in a climate that enables them to answer questions.

“If this very type of behaviour immediately goes against precisely what we were talking about yesterday, what it means is that what we struck yesterday does not hold. It doesn’t hold and if I was engaging in a debate I would have understood that, yes, there can be heckling and interjections. But I have been asked to come here and answer questions.”

No point
He said if he was going to be impeded, he did not see the point of being in the House to answer the questions.

At this point, Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder rose on a point of order, saying Ramaphosa had failed to answer Nkomo’s question, which had been about a sanction. Mbete ruled him out of order.

Maimane, also rising on a point of order, said the spirit of the agreement between the parties was to affirm the Constitution and the rules of the National Assembly, and that emanating from those rules is the conversation about accountability.

“How is it that when we ask about accountability, [we are accused of] going against the very agreement we entered into?” asked Maimane.

When Ramaphosa eventually answered this question, he said he has not seen any censure necessary for any of the Cabinet ministers as they have been doing a good job.

Somalia – another journalist killed

Reuters

Journalist killed in Somalia, third this year says union

BOSSASSO Somalia Wed Nov 19, 2014 

Reuters) – Gunmen shot dead a journalist in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, the third killed in Somalia this year, a colleague and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said.

Radio journalist Abdirisak Ali Abdi, nicknamed Silver, was killed in the Puntland town of Galkacyo late on Tuesday, said Faduma Yusuf, who worked with him at Radio Daljir. “Gunmen hit him with several bullets,” she told Reuters.

Abdi, who was 25 and married with two sons, also worked for a London-based television station, NUSOJ said.

It was not clear what motivated the attack, but journalists have often been targeted since Somalia’s descent into conflict in the early 1990s. Sometimes attacks have been prompted by reports on corruption or clan fighting, while coverage of the strict implementation of Islamic law has angered some Islamists.