South Africa – Zuma comes out fighting at ANC NEC on land expropriation

The land move by Zuma smacks of Mugabe-style tactics when he resorted to land seizures to gain popularity in the face of growing threat of MDC. This is blatant populism and use of the land issue, which has been unresolved by the ANC for 23 years. Why now? Because a supposedly radical policy of seizures could boost Zuma’s flagging support. KS

City Press


President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma took a strong stand at this weekend’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Irene in Gauteng, defending his position on the issue of land expropriation without compensation, and challenging his critics to read the ANC’s 2012 conference resolutions if they disagreed with his views.

City Press heard that Zuma had “set the record straight” by “explaining where the policy comes from and calling those who have been criticising him in the media to order”.

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize and head of the economic transformation subcommittee Enoch Godongwana were among those who had described recent talk of land expropriation without compensation as “populist” and “playing to the gallery”.

An NEC member sympathetic to Zuma said the president detailed the historical background of the land question, dating back to the time of the late ANC president, Oliver Tambo, “who said the core of our struggle was about land”.

Zuma concluded that “talk of populism was an indicator that the people do not read [ANC] conference resolutions, and that is why they do not implement them”.

A meeting of the ANC’s national working committee on Monday had also debated the land question, resulting in a decision that a special NEC gathering be called before the national policy conference, set to take place from June 30 to July 5, to thoroughly discuss the ANC’s position.

Those with knowledge of the Monday meeting described it as “tense and hot”.

The NEC this weekend agreed with the working committee on the importance of holding a special meeting to discuss land policy.

The NEC member who spoke to City Press said Zuma was “reminding people that the ANC’s own resolutions could not be called populist statements”.

“[Zuma] said he did not want to talk to people through the media. That is why he kept quiet and waited for the NEC platform to explain his position.

“He was asserting his authority, challenging those who say the policy does not belong to the ANC to explain its origin,” City Press heard.

“It cannot be that we spoke about this thing in 2012, and when we point out that we failed to implement it, you talk about rhetoric. Are you saying the branches of the ANC did not apply their minds correctly?” he quoted the president as saying.

There had also been a push for the NEC to discuss the validity of Andile Lungisa’s election as the party’s regional chairperson in Nelson Mandela Bay – which was expected to set up another showdown between Zuma and Mantashe.

“There is no crisis”

Mantashe insisted on Friday that the case of Lungisa was not on the NEC’s agenda, but those close to Lungisa said it would be discussed as part of the national working committee’s report.

Mantashe had objected to Lungisa’s decision to stand for the post, on the grounds that he was still a member of the ANC provincial executive in the Eastern Cape, and this prohibited him from contesting a seat in the regional structure.

Mantashe added that the ANC’s top six had nullified Lungisa’s election.

Zuma’s close allies told City Press that he had a mandate to go to the weekend meeting and “confirm that [Lungisa] is properly elected and is not going to resign”.

“There is no crisis. That guy has been elected by a constitutional structure of the ANC. He is the chairperson of the region. The bigger agenda is that we need young leaders in the ANC and [Lungisa] gave us an opportunity for the ANC to be reinvigorated.”

However, others inside the ANC said a decision in favour of Lungisa would mean that other instances where members had been stopped from contesting in regional structures, while they served in upper structures, would also have to be reviewed.

For instance, this would mean the eThekwini regional conference would have to be reopened to allow Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele, also a member of the ANC’s NEC, to stand after he was blocked by Mantashe in 2014.

Nullifying eThekwini would also mean dissolving the follow-up KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial conference, which saw Zuma’s supporters make a clean sweep by taking the top five positions in the province. The provincial conference was also the subject of an ongoing court case over allegations of election-rigging.

“It would also mean that the ANC in the Western Cape should be dissolved so that Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha could contest for a position in the provincial executive, since he was also stopped,” said the insider.

Marius Fransman, a close Zuma ally, had won the position of chairperson at the Western Cape provincial conference, but he was later suspended on charges of bringing the ANC into disrepute following sexual harassment allegations.

Former ANC treasurer-general

said he expected that there should be consequences when ANC rules were not being followed.

“We have reached a critical point in the history of our country and movement, where the people of our country are fast losing confidence in us as we suffocate from one scandal to another. We have to restore the trust of our people as we reclaim our space,” said Phosa.

“We cannot continue to be seen as promoting a culture of immunity, with no consequences for wrongdoing. It is not going to be an easy road ahead.”


DR Congo – 40 policemen beheaded by local militia in Kasai conflict


UN vehicle in Tshimbulu, Kasai province, 20 March 2017Reuters  The UN mission in Kasai has reported 400 people killed since last August

Militia fighters in DR Congo have decapitated about 40 police officers in an ambush in the central province of Kasai, local officials say.

Fighters from the Kamwina Nsapu group attacked a police convoy.

Six policemen who spoke the local Tshiluba were freed, but the rest were killed, Kasai Assembly President Francois Kalamba said.

The unrest in Kasai began last August, when security forces killed the Kamwina Nsapu leader.

Friday’s attack targeted a police convoy travelling between Tshikapa and Kananga.

The state Governor Alexis Nkande Myopompa said an investigation had been launched into the killings.

The UN says 400 people have been killed and 200,000 displaced in the Kasai region since Jean-Pierre Pandi, the Kamwina Nsapu leader, was killed.

This came two months after Kamwina Nsapu launched a bid, in June 2016, for him to be officially recognised as a local chief and for state bodies to withdraw from the region.

Why have 10 mass graves been found in Kasai?


The UN says it has identified 10 mass graves where those killed in the unrest have been buried, as well as another seven suspected mass burial sites.

Two UN experts, an American and a Swede, were kidnapped in the area two weeks ago with four Congolese colleagues and are still missing.

DR Congo is in a state of increasing political uncertainty as President Joseph Kabila remains in power beyond the end of his mandate ,which expired last December.

Elections are now due to be held before the end of this year, but no firm date has been set.

Nigeria – Buhari heading for Sambisa forest

Premium Times

FILE PHOTO: President Buhari in Army Uniform

FILE PHOTO: President Buhari in Army Uniform

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to declare open this year’s Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship in Sambisa forest in Borno.

David Ahmadu, the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army headquarters, disclosed this at a news conference on the championship in Maiduguri on Friday.

Mr. Ahmadu, a major general, said the event was slated for March 27 to 31 at the former stronghold of the terrorist Boko Haram sect.

He said the championship was part of the training activities of the Nigerian Army aimed at sharpening the marksmanship of its personnel.

“The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship otherwise known as NASAC is part of the training activities scheduled for 2017.

“It is a championship among the formations of the Nigerian Army, the objective of the event is to sharpen the marksmanship skills of the army personnel,’’ Mr. Ahmadu said.

He said, “All formations of the Nigerian Army will be competing with the best carting away the prestigious Chief of Army Staff trophy.’’

Mr. Ahmadu said the championship was aimed at consolidating on the total defeat and routing out of Boko Haram terrorists from their operational headquarters in camp zero in Sambisa forest.

“Furthermore, the championship will also mark the commencement of the ongoing plan to move speedily and make the Sambisa forest general area safe for habitation.

“It is also to make the place an area for the Nigerian Army training activities,’’ he said.

Mr. Ahmadu said: “To this end provisions had already been made for the reopening of more roads, construction of culverts and bridges by army engineers to facilitate easy movement to the general area.

“There is no gainsaying that the championship is set to another epoch making event that will further emphasise the Nigerian Army efforts and resolve in meeting its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation,’’ he said.

South Africa – ANC youth league denounces members who voiced support for Lungisa


2017-03-24 18:15

In the latest twist in the

ANC youth league denounces members who voiced support for Lungisa

In the latest twist in the Nelson Mandela Bay leadership saga over stubborn “chairperson” Andile Lungisa, members of Ward 28 have said the ANC Youth League regional task team who openly stated their support for Lungisa do not represent them.

Represented by Zolani Mdolomba, in his capacity as branch secretary for Ward 28, they denounced the regional task team, and said they were not a legitimate structure.

“It is unfortunate that a comment was made by Cde [Luyolo] Nqakula in respect of the Andile Lungisa issue, claiming to be the convener of the regional task team of the youth league,” said Mdolomba.

“As a legitimate youth league branch in Ward 28, we reject and disown their statements under the name of the ANC youth league,” he said.

Nqakula defended his position, and said that the league’s regional task team in the Nelson Mandela Metro was appointed on February 24.

“We have however, found ourselves in foreign terrain, in the sense that there is an unfortunate memo which was sent out to the structures of the ANC across the province, communicating a decision of the provincial executive committee not to recognise the provincial task team, as appointed by the national executive committee of the youth league,” said Nqakula.

What this decision translates to, is the illegitimacy of the regional task team structures across the Eastern Cape Province.

Citing an appeal process they lodged with national officials of the ANC, which defends their recognition, Nqakula said: “We view the appeal process and subsequently the memorandum sent out to structures as means that seek to sequestrate the autonomy of the ANC youth league,” he said.

The memo, which has been seen by the City Press, stipulates that any regional task team set up by the provincial task team of the youth league should not be recognised by the structures.

“It is within this context that we were chased out of an regional task team meeting of the ANC, prior to the regional conference, and subsequently denied the opportunity in participating in an organisational platform of critical substance.”

Nqakula said they were denied an opportunity to engage in the process of cross-pollination with branches of the ANC and contribute towards reshaping and rethinking the ANC in the metro.

“In light of these difficulties, we as the regional task team of the league have managed to convene a cadres forum which has provided us with the opportunity of not only to inculcate a culture of political education but to engage our constituency in the organisational renewal process and do away with gatekeeping and factionalism.”

He said they were visiting and engaging clusters in the region.

“The process of cluster visits will be concluded by this weekend.”

Mdolomba has his version of events which he called the “facts” on the status of the Nelson Mandela Region youth league.

He said the provincial executive committee of the ANC in the Eastern Cape made it very clear, that any structure elected by the provincial task team of the youth league must not be recognised.

“The so called regional task team led by Nqakula did not even take part in the regional conference due to its illegitimacy and only the expired youth league regional executive committee, represented by Xolani Mgxoteni and Siphiwo Tshaka, participated,” said Mdolomba.

“Even they were not delegated by the league branches to represent us in the conference, Mgxoteni and Tshaka delegated themselves and voted on our behalf illegitimately,” he said.

“Therefore, it cannot be correct for the so called regional task team to hijack the name of the league and misuse it for their own interests, which are unknown to the legitimate structures of the youth league in this metro.

“I therefore put it to you that they were speaking on their capacity as members, not as a legitimate structure,” he said.

“The appeal process is one of the avenues within the ANC constitution and its course should be allowed to unfold and if they feel that they have been aggrieved by the said memo and appeal, they also should consume the same avenues available to them as members. The ANC views are discussed and adopted at a conference as policy not by individuals using their own discretion.”

Somalia – US general wants more authority for US forces to act against Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda


WASHINGTON The head of U.S. forces in Africa told reporters on Friday that greater authority to fight al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants in Somalia would lead to more flexibility and quicker targeting, but that a decision had not yet been made by the White House.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government.

The United States has a small presence in Somalia and is allowed to carry out strikes in defence of partnered forces.

“Regardless of what combatant commander was sitting here this afternoon, I think they would all tell you that it is very important and very helpful for us to have a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness in terms of decision-making process and … it will allow us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion,” Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top U.S. military commander overseeing troops in Africa, said at a press conference.

Critics of former President Barack Obama’s administration said that it took too long for Washington to approve strikes against militants when they surfaced, allowing some to escape.

Obama’s supporters, however, said greater scrutiny of U.S. military power helped reduce civilian casualties and the risk of “mission creep.”

Waldhauser also said there was no need to “sound the alarm” about a potential resurgence of piracy off Somalia’s coast after pirates seized a small oil tanker, the first such incident since 2012.

“It is too early to say that now we have an epidemic, but it did catch our attention,” Waldhauser said.

In their heyday in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.

Separately, Waldhauser said the United States had severely weakened the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebellion group, but had not been able to capture its leader Joseph Kony.

A regional task force, including U.S. troops, has been hunting the down the group.

“This thing is coming to an end to be very frank … We think that we have a plan in place for a steady state, sustainable transition that will not only look out for Kony or any other groups that would emerge in that part of the country,” Waldhauser said.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart.; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Gambia to set up truth commission to probe Jammeh’s rule


Yahya JammehAFP  Yahya Jammeh first seized power in a coup in 1994

The Gambia will set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate abuses committed during ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s rule, the justice minister has said.

The finances of Mr Jammeh would also be investigated, Abubacarr Tambadou added.

People would be encouraged to confess to crimes, and victims would be offered compensation, he said.

The former regime was accused of widespread torture and enforced disappearances during its 22-year rule.

There were also unconfirmed allegations that more than $11m (£8.8m) went missing from The Gambia’s state coffers following Mr Jammeh’s departure in January.

He fled to Equatorial Guinea in January after regional troops entered the tiny West African state to force him to accept defeat to property developer Adama Barrow in elections the previous month.

“A Truth and Reconciliation Commission with appropriate reparations for victims will be set up within the next six months and public hearings will be expected to commence by the end of the year,” Mr Tambadou said in a statement.

Former intelligence chief Yankuba Badjie was arrested in January, making him the first of Mr Jammeh’s security officials to be taken into custody by the new government.

No official reason was given for his arrest.

Five notorious cases for The Gambia’s TRC:

  • Opposition member Solo Sandeng allegedly beaten to death in detention in April 2016
  • Journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay allegedly forced to drink cooking oil and beaten unconsciousness in detention in July 2015
  • Ex-army chief of staff Ndure Cham allegedly ordered to dig his grave and shot dead in 2013 for plotting coup
  • Journalist Ebrima Manneh missing since he left his newsroom on July 2006
  • Newspaper editor Deyda Hydara shot dead in his car in December 2004

Jammeh’s inglorious end

After his election victory, Mr Barrow pledged that his government would not seek vengeance against officials of the former regime, and would instead set up a South Africa-styled Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal wounds of the past.

In a 2015 report, campaign group Human Rights Watch said Mr Jammeh’s regime “frequently committed serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition”.

Torture methods included the “electroshock of body parts, including genitals and dripping melted plastic bags onto the skin”, it said.

The regime relied heavily on its intelligence agency to target opponents, and was also accused of running paramilitary hit squads.

It denied the allegation, insisting that it upheld the law.

South Africa corruption – 8 Sassa officials in court for fraud


2017-03-24 18:14

Sassa head office. (News24)

Sassa head office. (News24)

Tonga – Eight Sassa officials appeared in the Tonga Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of committing social grant fraud amounting to R5.5m, Mpumalanga police said.

Seven women and a man, aged between 32 and 63, allegedly manipulated the SA Social Security Agency’s system by registering able-bodied people as suffering with disabilities for them to receive social grants, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said in a statement.

They were released on R2 000 bail each. The case was postponed to May 26 for further investigation.