South Africa – ANC NEC has motion of no-confidence in Zuma tabled


CAPE TOWN Senior politicians attending a top meeting of South Africa’s ruling ANC tabled a motion of no confidence on Saturday against president Jacob Zuma, News24 reported on its website.

Citing four unnamed sources with direct knowledge of the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), News24 said the motion of no confidence was proposed by a senior NEC member and supported by the current health minister and his deputy, among others.

The ANC’s spokesman Zizi Kodwa, who earlier in the week denied a Bloomberg report saying Zuma’s removal would be discussed, was not immediately available on Saturday evening.

Earlier the ANC’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, told reporters that Zuma’s removal was not on the NEC agenda.

“We are reading in newspapers that there is going to be blood on the floor. We have not seen that blood on the floor, yet,” Mantashe said in comments broadcast live on eNCA television.

Zuma has been under increasing pressure to step down from party veterans and members of the African National Congress’s communist and union alliance partners, as a series of scandals threaten to erode the ruling party’s dominance before the 2019 general vote.

The Public Protector, an anti-corruption watchdog, published a report in November that alleged Zuma was influenced by the Guptas, a wealthy South African family with business interests ranging from mining to media, in making government appointments.

Zuma resisted calls to resign over those claims, which both he and the Guptas have denied.

The ANC stood by Zuma at a similar meeting in November in a debate about whether he should step down, and analysts discounted suggestions that he might be ousted or might quit before his term as party head ends in December.

The NEC discussions continue on Sunday.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Legal victory for Kenya Ogiek hunter-gatherers


Ogiek womanImage copyright Barthazar Ndwayezu
Image caption Rashamba Debola, 96, says she does not want to leave the forest

Hunter-gatherers in Kenya have won an eight-year court battle against the government’s plan to evict them from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest.

The Ogiek were entitled to live on their ancestral land and the government should not have tried to evict them, a pan-African court ruled.

Campaigners hailed the ruling as a huge victory for indigenous communities.

The government had argued that the hunter-gatherers needed to be evicted to protect the indigenous forest.

But the African Court of Human and People’s Rights ruled that the government had violated a series of rights of the Ogiek people, including the right to property and the right to practise their culture in the forest in western Kenya.

Environmental degradation in the Mau Forest had been caused mainly by “ill-advised” logging concessions and settlement by non-Ogiek people, Justice Augustino Ramadhani said, according to Reuters news agency.

The ruling affects some 35, 000 traditional hunters who live in the forest, some 200km (125 miles) from the capital, Nairobi.

“They are one of the last remaining forest-dwelling communities and among the most marginalised indigenous peoples in Kenya,” said Minority Rights Group International.

Odiek hunter-gatherers in courtImage copyright Barthazar Ndwayezu
Image caption Hunter-gathers travelled to the court to hear the verdict

“For the Ogiek, this is history in the making. The issue of Ogiek land rights has finally been heard and the case has empowered them to feel relevant,” it added in a statement.

One community member, 96-year-old Rashamba Debola, told the BBC she had lived in the forest all her life.

“I grew up here, married traditionally, had my family here, buried my husband in this forest. I don’t know anywhere else. For now, I live here with my great-grandchildren. I would love to see them carry on our traditions.”

Amnesty International said the hunter-gatherers had fought for a long time in the Kenyan courts, before turning to the pan-African court to achieve justice.

“Today’s ruling is a historic victory for the Ogiek community, and gives hope to all indigenous peoples everywhere,” it said in a statement.

“But a ruling is not enough, it must be respected. The Kenyan government must now implement the ruling and let the Ogiek live freely on their ancestral land.”

The Tanzania-based court’s ruling is legally binding, but it cannot sanction countries for non-compliance.

The Mau Forest, covering 273,300 hectares (675,000 acres), is the largest forest of indigenous trees in East Africa.

South Africa – Zuma’s Dubai exit plana

City Press/News24

2017-05-28 06:00

Ajay Gupta with Jacob Zuma at Gupta residence gala dinner in June 2005 Picture: Supplied

Ajay Gupta with Jacob Zuma at Gupta residence gala dinner in June 2005 Picture: Supplied

An email trail between the controversial Gupta family and their employees has blown the lid off how they have managed to do business with government, ingratiate themselves with senior officials, and go so far as to help move President Jacob Zuma and his family to Dubai.

The emails, obtained by City Press this week, also reveal how the Guptas seduced many senior government role players in their bid to capture departments and state-owned entities.

One of the most astonishing emails is from Gupta-owned Sahara Computers’ chief executive officer (CEO), Ashu Chawla, to Zuma’s son Duduzane. It contains a draft letter from the president to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and shows how close Zuma is to the Guptas.

In the letter, Zuma writes: “I fondly remember our meeting in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and the gracious hospitality and warmth extended to me during my visit. It is with this sentiment that I am happy to inform you that my family has decided to make the UAE a second home. It will be a great honour for me and my family to gain your patronage during our proposed residency in the UAE.”

Last night, Zuma strongly denied any plans to leave the country, saying through his spokesperson Bongani Nqulunga: “I have my home in Nkandla and I have no intention of living anywhere else. When I retire I will go home to Nkandla. This is a pure fabrication. Duduzane has never spoken to me about living in any other country. He has never shown me any letter. It’s shocking in the extreme. It’s absolute mischief aimed at sowing confusion”.

The emails also show how the Guptas seduced Cabinet ministers and CEOs of state-owned companies with opulent hotel stays and chauffeur-driven trips in luxury cars to their home in the exclusive Dubai suburb of Emirates Hills, where they bought a R445m mansion.

One was Eskom executive Matshela Koko, whom they flew to Dubai in January last year, putting him up at the posh Oberoi Hotel. Others included Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, new Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, Denel chairperson Dan Mantsha, businessman and arms deal protagonist Fana Hlongwane, Duduzane Zuma and two of Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s sons, Thato and Tshepiso.

The Gupta’s grip

The emails are the latest indication of the grip that the Guptas have on the South African government and state-owned entities. They come in the week in which the SA Council of Churches and a collective of academics from top South African universities released reports showing the extent of state capture in South Africa. They come as pressure mounts on Zuma, inside and outside the ANC, in relation to his close association with the Guptas.

For Koko’s trip in 2016, an email, from employee Reya Pomar, confirms Koko’s reservation and the arrangement of transfers to the hotel from the airport. He also asks for billing instructions.

Chawla responds: “Sahara will pay the entire bill. Please do not ask any credit card guarantee from the guest at the time of check-in”. The hotel concierge informs Chawla: “Please note the chauffeur details mentioned below for the drop towards Emirates Hill (sic).”

At the time, Koko was Eskom’s group executive for power generation and the Guptas were busy buying the Optimum Coal Mine from Glencore.

The Oberoi Hotel was a favourite of the Guptas, and Duduzane Zuma also stayed there the month before Koko arrived.

The email trail also shows that, on the day Chawla booked Koko’s trip to Dubai, he also made Mantsha’s travel arrangements. An email shows that Mantsha, who swiftly axed Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee and replaced him before engineering the joint venture between Denel and Gupta-owned company VR Laser Asia, was booked to arrive by chauffeur from the Oberoi at the Guptas’ mansion at 07:00.

In the December of that year, the Guptas booked Zwane into the Oberoi and hired him a BMW 7-Series to chauffeur him to and from the Dubai airport and the Guptas’ house in Emirates Hills.

The emails also show that the Guptas appear to regard Zwane – the man they took with them to Switzerland to persuade Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg to sell the Optimum mine to them – as their personal property.

An email from JP Arora – CEO of Gupta-owned JIC Mining Services – to the Gupta brothers’ nephew, Kamal Singhala, and Oakbay CEO Ronica Ragavan, is included in the tranche. In it, Arora invites them and their partners to a “private – by invitation only – dinner with … Zwane during the Mining Indaba 2016 in Cape Town”.

Another email from Chawla confirms the passenger manifest for the December 2015 trip on the Guptas’ private business jet, ZSOAK. The seven passengers, which included Zwane, and three crew members travelled to Zurich, Switzerland, via Delhi, India. Also on the plane were Rajesh Gupta, business partner Salim Essa and Maleatlana Joel Raphela, the deputy director-general of mineral regulations in the department of mineral resources.

The email tranche also indicates the level of involvement of the Guptas in the appointment of Zwane to his ministerial position. Included is an email to Gupta brother Tony on July 31 2015 – two months before he was appointed. The email was sent by Oupa Mokoena of Koena Consulting and Property Developers, which is situated in Zwane’s home town of Vrede, Free State, and reads: “Please find attached the CV of Mr Mosebenzi Zwane for your attention.”

The email tranche also contains one written in February 2016 from former Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa in which he anticipates a question from the media about Zwane’s involvement in the landing of a chartered Boeing containing Gupta wedding guests at Air Force Base Waterkloof in 2013. In it, Howa writes to Duduzane Zuma and Tony Gupta: “I need some help on some of the answers. I think we should also prepare for a question of his role around the Waterkloof landing.” Zwane invited an Indian provincial minister to the Free State, which became the ruse by which the Guptas could land their wedding guests at Waterkloof.

Other revelations in the email trail include that:

– In March last year, British public relations firm Bell Pottinger, whom the Guptas had hired to clean up their image, had prepared a press release which would have implicated former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas in receiving bribes and other benefits such as flights upgrades and luxury hotel rooms from a South African businessman;

– The Guptas, Bell Pottinger and Black First Land First’s leader Andile Mgxitama cooperated to mount a campaign to discredit state capture allegations, including that the Gupta family had offered Jonas a R600 million bribe and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor a ministerial position

– The Guptas lobbied Zuma to arrange that the June 2015 departure of their guest, for Mauritius, should be through Fireblade Aviation, a luxury terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, owned by the Oppenheimer family.

Another controversial deal involving a state-owned entity and the Gupta family also appears in the email tranche: that of the Denel and VR Laser Asia joint venture. An email from the department of public enterprises to minister Lynne Brown, also sent in December 2015, was of an internal confidential memorandum to which the Guptas appeared to have easy access.

The memorandum shows that public enterprises was uneasy about the joint venture for which Denel was trying to obtain permission from Brown or then finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

The memorandum says: “The two companies estimate that the new [company] will require a R100 million cash injection over a five-year period for operational costs.

“At face value, the proposal is attractive; however, there are numerous fundamental gaps that need to be clarified by Denel in terms of the Public Finance Management Act before comprehensive advice can be given to the minister with regards to the merits of the application.

“The department is not comfortable with the impression that project funding will be provided by the shareholders … It is also not clear whether the R100 million investment by VR Laser in the establishment of Denel Asia is a loan and what the repayment terms are.”

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  guptas

Ethiopia – journalist given 18 month jail sentence for subversion


Ethiopia gives journalist 18-month jail term for subversion

By Aaron Maasho | ADDIS ABABA

ADDIS ABABA An Ethiopian journalist was sentenced on Friday to 18 months in prison on charges of subversion, his lawyer said, but is expected to be freed within a week as he has been in jail since his arrest in late 2015.

Critics say Ethiopia, an important Horn of Africa ally of the West sandwiched between volatile Somalia and Sudan, regularly targets journalists for alleged security offences as a way to stifle dissent and clamp down on media freedoms. The Addis Ababa government denies those accusations.

Getachew Shiferaw was arrested in late December 2015 and charged in May last year with involvement in the operations of the outlawed anti-government group Ginbot 7.

That charge was later dismissed by a court but he was convicted on Wednesday of undermining state power by trying to prevent a government official from performing his duties through collaboration with an anti-government group. The charge was punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

“The high court’s ruling means he can walk out as a free man next week because he has already spent 17 months under detention,” his lawyer, Ameha Mekonnen, told Reuters.

Getachew, formerly a freelance writer for several magazines, was also editor-in-chief of the opposition Semayawi Party’s Negere Ethiopia publication at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutors accused him of colluding with a member of Ginbot 7, which the government has designated a “terrorist” organisation, alongside two domestic secessionist groups, as well as Islamist groups al Shabaab and al Qaeda in Somalia.

Ginbot 7 was formed by opposition figures who took part in the disputed 2005 election. They subsequently fled into exile and launched a rebellion against Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s 547-seat parliament does not have a single opposition politician, and opposition groups accuse the government of constant harassment and intimidation.

On Thursday, an opposition politician was sentenced to six and a half years in prison over a series of anti-government comments on Facebook that the court deemed to have encouraged terrorist acts.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; editing by Katharine Houreld and Mark Heinrich)

Burundi – Nkurunziza orders unmarried couples to wed


File image of wedding in 2015 in 2015 in BujumburaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries and some say they cannot afford to marry

Cohabiting couples in Burundi have until the end of the year to get married or face legal consequences.

The government order comes after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a campaign “to moralise society”.

A government spokesman said a crackdown on informal relationships was needed to combat a population explosion.

He said too many schoolgirls were getting pregnant and men were taking advantage of women by cohabiting with several simultaneously.

Burundi has been in crisis since 2015 when Mr Nkurunziza, a born-again Christian, announced he would run for a controversial third term.

‘We want order’

Interior ministry spokesman Terence Ntahiraja told AFP news agency that church and state-sanctioned weddings were the solution to the country’s population explosion – and a patriotic duty.

“We want Burundians to understand that everyone is responsible for his life, we want order in this country,” he said.

“All this is done within the framework of the patriotic training programme,” he said, referring to an initiative launched by President Nkurunziza.

It is not clear exactly what sanctions those not tying the knot will face.

However, one farmer quoted by AFP said local officials had already threatened him and his partner with a fine and said any child born out of wedlock would not qualify for free education or medical treatment.

The farmer, named only as Pierre, said he had not married because he could not afford the bride price demanded by his partner’s family.

Hundreds of people have since died since Mr Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term. But the country had been relatively calm in recent months.

Zambia – president Lungu considering moving capital from Lusaka

Sowetan -live

Zambia is considering a proposal to move its capital from fast-developing Lusaka to a nearly uninhabited marshland district in the centre of the country, a minister said yesterday.

Lusaka has been the national capital since 1935 when Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia under British colonial rule. “Within the next 10 years, you will not be able to conduct business in Lusaka because of congestion,” National Planning and Development Minister Lucky Mulusa said.

“The city is overcrowded, and so the sensible thing to do is move the capital out.”

Mulusa said President Edgar Lungu’s cabinet was due to discuss the move to Ngabwe district within the next two weeks.

Ngabwe is a rural district in Zambia’s Central Province, close to Kabwe town, and about 120km north of Lusaka. It is often cut off when roads flood during rains, but Mulusa said the district was well-positioned in the middle of the country.

He said Ngabwe would be planned to ensure it could host regional bodies such as the AU, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Southern African Development Community, based in Gaborone, Botswana. “If Lusaka was properly situated, it would have benefited many institutions.”

Nigeria moved its capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991, while Myanmar’s military rulers moved its capital 200 miles north from Yangon to a new site at Naypyidaw in 2005.

Tanzania’s capital Dodoma was designed in the 1980s but many government activities remain in Dar es Salaam.

Maimane says Zambia has reminded him what makes a dictatorship

BD Live

26 May 2017 – 12:25 Claudi Mailovich
Mmusi Maimane at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria. Picture: CLAUDI MAILOVICH

Mmusi Maimane at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria. Picture: CLAUDI MAILOVICH

DA leader Mmusi Maimane wants to go back to Zambia, from where he was deported on Thursday, to show his support for jailed opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Maimane arrived at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday morning to demand answers as to why he was thrown out of the country.

“I want to go back and stand side-by-side with them,” Maimane said.

He travelled to Lusaka on Thursday‚ to attend the trial of Hichilema, which was due to start on Friday. Hichilema, who narrowly lost to Lungu in August 2016 presidential election, was charged with treason after he allegedly refused to move his motorcade for Lungu’s.

Prior to Maimane’s arrival at the Zambian High Commission, groups of protesters — some supporting Zambian President Edgar Lungu and others opposed to him — maintained a presence in front of the building. Police tape kept the small groups apart.

As Maimane spoke, saying he stood with Hichilema, the pro-Lungu protesters booed in an attempt to drown out the DA leader.

Maimane expressed concern that the Zambian pro-Lungu protesters were free to protest in SA, but that Zambians were not free in their own country.

“When I went to Zambia I was reminded of what a dictatorship is,” Maimane said.

Maimane travelled with his private passport. He said he had wanted to support his friend.

Of the altercation on Thursday, Maimane said Zambian officials came onto the aircraft, a South African Airways flight, “manhandled us” and refused to allow them access to legal representation.

The DA leader said there were about 20 officials who stormed the aircraft, identified him and told him that he was denied entry into Zambia.

He said the altercation, in which his cellphone and iPad were taken off him, lasted about an hour.

“All I simply wanted was to arrive to stand side-by-side with a friend, a fellow comrade, somebody who stands with the rule of law in Zambia.”.

Maimane emphasised that the charge of treason that Hichilema is facing could result in capital punishment.

After a meeting at the High Commission, Maimane said he was still demanding the release of Hichilema, and that he wished to attend the next court appearance.

He said nobody could give him reasons so far as to who gave the instructions to bar him from the country. He said he has asked the South African authorities to write to the Zambian government seeking an explaination as to why he was denied entry into that country.