South Africa – Zuma refuses to quit as ANC “premier league” protects him

BD Live

09 December 2016 – 12:22 PM Sam Mkokeli
Jacob Zuma. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jacob Zuma. Picture: SUPPLIED

President Jacob Zuma has rebuffed calls to resign over the scandals that have marred his administration and spread dissent in the ruling party, largely thanks to a bloc of politicians known as the “premier league” that is watching out for him.

With urban voters deserting the ANC, Zuma is increasingly counting on the backing of the premiers of three rural provinces. When Cabinet ministers pressed Zuma to resign at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in November, Free State Premier Ace Magashule said they should either quit or be fired, according to two people who attended the meeting. Magashule did not answer calls seeking comment.

“There is a reciprocal relationship between Zuma and the three premiers,” said Mcebisi Ndletyana, a politics professor at the University of Johannesburg. “They were propped up by Jacob Zuma so there is a certain level of personal loyalty to him.” Both Magashule and Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza became premiers within days of each other in May 2009, after Zuma took office as President.

Some analysts see the lobby formed by the premiers and their allies in the ANC’s youth and women wings as powerful enough to determine not only how long Zuma will stay in office but also who will succeed him. The front-runners in the contest are the president’s former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president who is backed by SA’s biggest union federation, Cosatu.

Succession battle

“It’s a virtual alternative superstructure within the ANC in which some of the provinces and the leagues — youth, women, veterans — combine their forces to constitute the major force lining up for the succession battle,” said Susan Booysen, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s school of governance, in Johannesburg.

Besides Magashule and Mabuza, the group includes the premier of the North West, Supra Mahumapelo. The three men deny that they are in a battle for control of the ANC. They say they represent SA’s “maize corridor”, because their poorer, rural regions rely on crop production.

“There is nothing called the ‘premier league’,” Mabuza said in an interview. “The fear emanates from our past, that we always approached things in the past in a factional way, and people believe if these three are grouping together, probably they want to approach things in the same factional way.”

Grassroots work

The three provinces, with about 29.5% of the ANC’s membership according to the party’s latest figures, are closely allied to the leadership in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, which represents 20.5% and should send the most delegates to the conference that chooses a new leader in December next year.

“They seem to be well-based in the grassroots structures of the ANC, compared to their opponents who prefer to play in the media space,” said Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst at the Mapungubwe Institute of Strategic Reflection, in Johannesburg. “The ‘premier league’ tends to do the hard work on the ground.”

Local elections in August confirmed the ANC’s growing dependence on its rural base. While the party’s support ebbed across the urban-rural divide, it lost most in the cities, ceding control of the capital, Pretoria, and Johannesburg, in Gauteng. Nationwide its vote slid more than eight percentage points to 54.5%. The loss of metropolitan areas, which also included Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, strengthens the hands of rural leaders inside the party.

“They are now pushing to take power from the metros,” Booysen said. “We know that the metros are decidedly anti-Zuma.”

Credit risk

Zuma’s seven years in office as president has been marred by a succession of scandals and policy missteps that have weighed on the rand and put the nation’s investment-grade credit rating at risk. A year ago he backtracked on a decision to replace Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister with a then little-known legislator, after the rand and government bonds plunged.

The Constitutional Court found in March that he had breached his oath of office by refusing to comply with a directive from former public protector Thuli Madonsela to repay taxpayer money spent on upgrading his private home.

Before stepping down as the nation’s graft ombudsman in October, Madonsela called for a judicial inquiry into allegations that Zuma allowed the Gupta family, who are his friends and in business with one of his sons, to influence Cabinet appointments and state contracts. Both Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

Through it all the “premier league” has stuck by Zuma. Its goal is “to capture the ANC itself and try and control it,” said Solly Mapaila, deputy secretary-general of the SACP, an ANC ally that has criticised Zuma.

When Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and several other Cabinet members urged Zuma to step down at the party’s recent NEC meeting, they were echoing complaints by civil-rights groups and opposition parties that he was not fit to hold office.

Zuma responded by saying a Western plot and opposition collaborators were behind the bid to oust him, a line analysts say is attractive to the “premier league” and the ANC Youth League and ANC Women’s League.

“They represent a sentiment of new nationalism that the ANC pushes very hard,” said Booysen. It is a new “patriotism, of anti-Western, anti-foreigner sentiment.”

Bloomberg

Ghana – President Mahama vows to respect result as early indications are that he’s losing

BBC

mahama votes AFP/Getty   Casting his vote, Mr Mahama said he had no regrets over his first term in office

Ghana’s President John Mahama has said that he will respect the outcome of Wednesday’s tightly contested election.

He also said in a tweet that the Electoral Commission should be allowed to carry out its mandate.

Local media are reporting that opposition candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 72, has an unassailable lead but official results have not been released.

Final results must be declared by 17:00 GMT on Saturday.

The electoral commission announced on Thursday that it was manually verifying the results because its electronic system had been targeted by hackers.

In a tweet, it urged people to ignore the “fake results” circulating on social media.

“I want to assure the nation that we will respect the outcome of the elections, positive or negative,” said Mr Mahama.

The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate’s quest for a second term is facing a strong challenge from a revitalised New Patriotic Party (NPP).

A run-off will be held later in the month if neither of the two main candidates secures more than 50% of the votes.

The campaign was dominated by Ghana’s faltering economy.

In the previous election in 2012, Mr Mahama defeated Mr Akufo-Addo by less than 300,000 votes.


Head-to-head:

L: John Dramani Mahama, R: Nana Akufo-AddoAFP   John Mahama (L) wants a second term; Nana Akufo-Addo (R) hopes it will be third time lucky

NDC candidate: John Dramani Mahama, 58

  • Vice-president under President John Atta Mills, who died in 2012. Completed his term
  • Now seeking re-election after serving his first term of four years
  • Main promise: Launch more infrastructure projects and create jobs

 

NPP candidate: Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 72

  • Campaigned for a return to multi-party democracy under military rule
  • A former justice and foreign minister in the NPP government from 2001 to 2007, he is running for president for a third time
  • Main promise: Build a factory in each of Ghana’s more than 200 districts

Defeat for Mr Mahama would make him the first incumbent to lose an election since Ghana returned to multi-party democracy in 1992.

He has been nicknamed “Mr Dumsor”, a local word that refers to the power cuts that have blighted the country during his term, but on the campaign trial has been trying to convince Ghanaians that he is delivering on his promise of creating more jobs.

Mr Akufo-Addo has promised free high-school education and more factories, but his critics have questioned the viability of his ambitions.

The other four candidates include former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP), whose husband Jerry John Rawlings initially took power in the 1979 coup.

She is the first woman to run for president in the West African country.

Although the EC is yet to declare the winner, parliamentary results declared at the constituency level show that the NPP has won 107 seats out of 175.

The results for 100 remaining constituencies are still to come.


Four parliamentary surprises

Parliament of Ghana AFP   Ghana’s parliament will feature young and new MPs next year
  • Minister loses: Veteran politician and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanna Tetteh lost her seat to former telecoms executive George Andah. In 2014, a tweet by the minister appearing to mock the low turnout of a protest march organised by pressure group Occupy Ghana, which Mr Andah was a member of, attracted criticism from social media users
  • A Rawlings in government: Zanetor Rawlings, the eldest daughter of former President Jerry John Rawlings wins her constituency in the Greater Accra region
  • Political newcomer: Popular talk show host Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah wins his constituency with a wide margin
  • The youngest lawmaker: 23-year-old Francisca Oteng-Mensah of the NPP will be the youngest MP

Zimbabwe – growing row over Grace Mugabe $1.4m ring

Zimbabwe Independent

December 9, 2016 in News, Politics

FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has been dragged to court after allegedly invading three upmarket houses in Harare belonging to a businessman in a dispute over the purchase of a US$1,4 million diamond ring, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

By Elias Mambo

President R.G.Mugabe and his wife Dr.Grace Mugabe

President R.G.Mugabe and his wife Dr.Grace Mugabe

Grace has been sued together with her son Russell Goreraza (1st respondent) and Kennedy Fero (3rd respondent) who, according to court papers, is part of Grace’s security personnel.

Documents seen by this paper say that Grace placed an order for a US$1,4 million diamond ring in Dubai through Thatchfree Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a company owned by Jamal Ahmed. The expensive ring was meant to be President Robert Mugabe’s wedding anniversary gift to his wife. This year is their 20th anniversary. The two wed in August 1996.

Sometime in April 2015, the 2nd respondent (Grace Mugabe) placed an order for a diamond with my daughter in Dubai which she indicated her husband wanted to buy her for their anniversary,” reads the document.

As the diamond was not readily available, it had to be sourced from a third party who wanted to be paid upfront and when this was advised to the 2nd respondent, she indicated that she was in Singapore and could not immediately pay and that we could pay on her behalf in Harare and she would refund the amount. That was done.

The documents also state that Grace gave approval for the diamond to be polished by a third party who also needed to be paid and again we made this payment on the basis that she would refund these payments as she authorised the polishing by a third party.

Upon her return to Harare, the 2nd respondent instructed CBZ Bank to attend to the transfer of the US$1,350 million, being the purchase price for the finished diamond, which amount took time to transfer as it had become difficult to transfer the money out of Zimbabwe.

The transfer was ultimately done in May 2016 and the diamond was tendered to the 2nd respondent in Dubai.
Surprisingly, the 2nd respondent then refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund in Dubai.

She was advised that this was not possible for a number of reasons, which include that costs had been incurred during polishing and that there was no legal basis for her resiling from the agreement and that she could herself sell the diamond and recoup what she could.

The court papers also state that Grace was told that the seller could only refund her US$1,3 million through instalments.

Grace was also told that: Any refund would have to be done in Harare through the account from which the original funds had come from as a refund in Dubai could easily be seen as an externalisation of funds and I did not want to be party to anything that would appear illegal.

The court documents also say that Grace commenced a reign of terror and harassment where I was verbally threatened, harassed, insulted and told that I could not do anything to them as they are in fact Zimbabwean.

Threats of taking over my properties in Zimbabwe were also made and the respondents were joined in these abuses by the 2nd respondent’s son-in-law (Simba Chikore), Ahmed averred.

Court documents also reveal that on October 14 2016 “the respondents forcibly took control of the three immovable properties belonging to Ahmed where all the occupants were either evicted or put under house arrest with Grace’s armed guards who claim to be from the President’s Office were left on 409 Harare Drive and 18 Cambridge Road.

Ahmed also stated in his affidavit that he tried to engage his lawyers who then wrote a letter to Grace so that she could evict her security details from the properties, for which he is a co-owner. The other owner was not mentioned in the court papers.

The respondents became aware of the letter, Ahmed said. Grace began to call Ahmed who had decided not to answer her calls. When I did not answer her calls, she sent a message as follows: ˜Please serve those papers in my name. Don’t involve my son, it won’t help

Attached to the court papers was a letter Ahmed’s lawyers, Beatrice Mtetwa and Tawanda Nyambirai Legal Practioners, wrote to Goreraza, who had occupied a property on Harare Drive.

We are instructed that your mother, the First Lady of Zimbabwe, placed an order of a 10,07 carat diamond which, upon sourcing and mounting ultimately cost US$1,350 million, reads a letter dated November 23.

We are instructed that our client was thereafter subjected to verbal abuse and threats of violence against his person and that his properties would be taken without any form of due process. These threats were from yourself, your mother and your brother-in-law.

We have therefore been instructed to demand, which we hereby do, that you forthwith vacate our client’s premises which should be accessible to him and his agents not later than 1600hrs on 24 November 2016.

If you do not so vacate same, we have instructions to approach the High Court for appropriate urgent relief.

Mtetwa also stated that in the interim, and with regards the original agreement of sale, our client hereby tenders to your mother the diamond ring which she can collect at our client’s office in Dubai.

Before approaching the High Court, Ahmed, according to court documents, wanted the matter to be resolved amicably.

The letter (by Mtetwa and Nyambirai) did not motivate the respondents to consider returning possession of the properties to their lawful owner, the papers read.

An act of spoliation has been committed and it requires urgent redress. This court ought to intervene to correct this illegality. I therefore aver that any delay has been reasonably explained and that the matter cannot wait for the reasons that are stated in the founding affidavit.

South Africa – Zuma and ministers due in court over covert anti-AMCU union formation

News24

Zuma, ministers in court over ‘covert’ workers’ union

2016-12-09 09:49

President Jacob Zuma (File, AFP)

President Jacob Zuma (File, AFP)

Johannesburg – A huge civil suit involving staggering claims about the involvement of President Jacob Zuma, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and government intelligence agents in the formation of a new labour union aimed at destabilising anti-ANC labour union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is due to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

Rapport and City Press revealed in April and May this year that Thebe Maswabi, a founding member of the Workers Association Union (WAU), was suing Zuma, Mahlobo, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for R120m.

Maswabi claimed that he had allegedly received large bundles of cash from covert intelligence agents to establish the WAU in Rustenburg in 2014.

According to Maswabi, he had been told to set up the new union so that it could draw support away from labour leader Joseph Mathunjwa’s Amcu.

Maswabi also claimed that Zuma had orchestrated the project and that he had met with the president several times before the plan was implemented. This included a meeting with Zuma in London.

Cellphone connection

But the WAU ultimately failed to draw large numbers of platinum mine workers away from Amcu, and the payments made to Maswabi by the covert agents stopped, he claimed. He was left to pay the WAU’s debts himself, including the outstanding bills for houses and offices the new union had rented.

The defendants, who were represented by the state attorney’s office in Pretoria, originally filed a notice of intention to defend Maswabi’s claim. But in mid-2016 this reporter received word that Maswabi reached a settlement out of court with Zuma and others.

However, News24 recently learnt that Maswabi was pursuing the matter and that it would finally be heard on Friday.

Rapport’s original investigation found that a cellphone number listed on the WAU’s registration document at the Department of Labour belonged to Monde Gadini, husband of Zuma’s legal adviser Bonisiwe Makhene.

Gadini also happens to be closely associated with the State Security Agency’s (SSA) special operations unit, a shadowy intelligence outfit that has come under fire for getting involved in politically-motivated intelligence projects.

* This is a developing story. Follow News24 for updates.

Ghana – radios report Nana Akufo-Addo victory in presidential election

Reuters

Fri Dec 9, 2016 7:46am GMT

Ghanaian presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) waves during his last rally at a trade fair in Accra December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
 

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s main opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, has won the country’s presidential election with an absolute majority over President John Mahama, the private radio stations Joy FM and Citi FM said on Friday.

The two respected news stations based their projections on results from Wednesday’s election announced at the constituency level. The electoral commission is set to begin releasing results on Friday.

Joy FM’s website showed Akufo-Addo winning with 53 percent of the vote with Mahama on 45.15 percent, based on a count of 217 constituencies out of 275 in total. Citi FM gave Akufo-Addo 54.8 percent based on 190 constituencies.

Akufo-Addo, 72, served as attorney general and then as foreign minister in the New Patriotic Party government, which held power for eight years starting in 2001. It is his third time running for president on the party ticket.

Mahama fought the election against the backdrop of an economy that has slowed since he took power in 2013, in part because of lower global prices for the West African country’s exports of gold, oil and cocoa.

Ghana’s two strong parties regularly hold peaceful and highly competitive elections. Twice since 2000, the government of the day has been overturned.

(Reporting by Kwasi

 

South Africa – Madonsela “murder plot” whistleblower arrested

News242016-12-08 18:06

Sylvano Hendricks, who also goes by the name Queenie Madikizela-Malema, was arrested for apparently breaking her parole conditions. (Twitter)

Sylvano Hendricks, who also goes by the name Queenie Madikizela-Malema, was arrested for apparently breaking her parole conditions. (Twitter)

Cape Town – A self-styled whistleblower, who earlier this year told former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that a Cape Town gangster had been paid R740 000 to have her killed, has been arrested for breaking her parole conditions.

The Department of Correctional Services confirmed this on Thursday.

Sylvano Hendricks, a transgender woman who calls herself Queeny Madikizela-Malema and who also goes by the name Seveno Hendricks, was arrested shortly after midnight in the northern suburbs on Thursday.

On April 1 this year, Hendricks, who has links to the 26s and 28s gangs, sent Madonsela a message saying a gang boss had been paid R740 000 to have her killed.

Madonsela took the message seriously.

Earlier this year, Hendricks also passed on information to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and was the source of an affidavit alleging a top cop and politician were working with gang bosses in the province.

Last week, Hendricks’s name again surfaced in the media when the owner of accommodation in Groot Brakrivier claimed she had racked up a nearly R90 000 bill, which he alleged was never paid, and that she had stolen a car.

Parole conditions broken

Hendricks was then quoted in a local tabloid, speaking out about the matter.

On Thursday, correctional services spokesperson Carla Williams confirmed her arrest.

“We cannot divulge information about where (she) is currently held for security reasons,” she said.

Hendricks was previously sentenced to 12 years in jail for various crimes, including making a bomb threat to then-public protector Lawrence Mushwana.

On Thursday, Williams said Hendricks was placed on parole two years ago and among the conditions under which she was released was that she may not change her residential address without the consent of the department.

“The offender eluded the department since 28 August, 2016, and we were unable to monitor [Hendricks’s] movement as required while on parole. [Hendricks’s] whereabouts were unknown until [her] arrest.”

A case under the Correctional Services Act was opened against Hendricks, who faces a charge of absconding.

“(She) is required to serve the remainder of (her) sentence, which amounts to 325 days,” Williams said.

Smear campaign

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said there was no record of Hendricks being arrested by the Goodwood or Parow police.

He asked at which police station Hendricks was being detained, so that he could try and gather further information.

But this information was not divulged due to security reasons.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Hendricks was one of three sources – whose credibility was questioned by, among others, some police officers – who had passed on information to Plato.

This had led to ANC members lodging a criminal complaint against Plato because of the “dubious sources” they believed he was using to write affidavits to smear, in particular, one of the province’s top police officers, Major General Jeremy Vearey.

Plato denied orchestrating a smear campaign against Vearey.

Hendricks made an affidavit implicating Vearey as being involved with the gang boss who she said was paid to plan Madonsela’s murder.

Earlier this week, Hendricks was active on Facebook.

Her last post on Tuesday appeared to taunt “Jeremy”, presumably Vearey.

Mali – government foot dragging traps peacekeepers in endless conflict

Reuters

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Children stand in front of a health clinic in Kidal, Mali, July 23, 2015. The graffiti reads, ‘You who say you’re a health worker, be careful, nothing is hidden. Long live Azawad!’ REUTERS/Adama Diarra

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By Tim Cocks | BAMAKO

Last week, the offices of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the desert city of Gao in northern Mali were flattened by a truck bomb. On Tuesday, just five suspected Islamist militants succeeded in freeing 93 inmates from a jail in the town of Niono.

“Peace” in Mali looks increasingly like war by another name. As both rebels and government go slow on implementing a deal signed last year, it is the U.N. peacekeeping mission, which has lost 100 lives and is costing nearly a billion dollars a year, that is paying the price.

“The war makes a living for a lot of people,” said Moussa Mara, a former prime minister who led an abortive effort to retake the lawless desert town of Kidal in 2014 but no longer has a government post.

“There are those in the peace process who don’t want it to conclude. They get their ‘per diems’, they get their travel paid. These armed groups are not in a hurry,” Mara told Reuters, recalling that one meeting on implementation that was supposed to take an afternoon had ended up dragging on for weeks.

Ever since French forces intervened in 2013 to push back Islamists who had hijacked an ethnic Tuareg uprising in Mali’s desert north, world powers, especially former colonial master France, have invested huge sums in trying to soothe the complicated rivalries that caused Mali to implode.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, has 13,000 staff from 123 nations. France maintains a 4,000-strong parallel peacekeeping operation, “Barkhane”. And the European Union has 580 instructors training the Malian army.

“TIME IS OUR ENEMY”

The aim is to ensure the success of the July 2015 peace pact, which offers Tuaregs and other northern groups some autonomy if they give up on independence, and to prevent a resurgence of Islamist militants adept at exploiting any power vacuum.

But the setting up of interim authorities has stalled, and Islamist militants based in the desert north are venturing further and further south with their attacks. One of the north’s main cities, Kidal, lies completely outside government control because of fighting between pro- and anti-government Tuareg factions, partly over trafficking routes.

The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Chadian diplomat Mahamat Saleh Annadif, has pressed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita personally for more urgency.

“I’ve told him that this is an emergency, and that time is our enemy,” Annadif told Reuters in his office in Bamako, inside a U.N. building protected by security barriers of sandbags.

Annadif said he believed Keita was sincere about wanting to implement the deal, but that he had said Mali was a democracy and had to work through its institutions, which took time.

“I told him, regardless of the justification, we could have moved more quickly.”

A spokesman for the president did not respond to a request for comment, but Security Minister Colonel Salif Traore told Reuters: “It’s the nature of a deal that nobody can get all they want … but I’m confident this deal will permit us to stabilise our country.”

Meanwhile, the security situation worsens.

Andrew Lebovich of the European Council on Foreign Relations said the northern rebel groups were becoming more fragmented, and had little trust in the U.N. force.

“Even supposedly pro-government militias (in the north) don’t really want the government back.”

FOOT-DRAGGING

Some analysts even say that all the international support has allowed Mali to delay rebuilding its own army, brutally exposed in 2012.

Mara said the government was dragging its feet elsewhere, too. Civil servants drawing up legal documents to enact the peace deal were sometimes sitting on them for months because they did not want to give up that power.

This has led the Tuaregs to suspect more sinister motives.

“The government signed the deal but they don’t like the deal,” Ilad Ag Mohammed, spokesman for a Tuareg umbrella group, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), told Reuters during a visit to Bamako to brief U.N. officials. “It’s bad faith.”

Yet Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, Mali’s defence minister until he was removed in September, told Reuters the Tuaregs had only put forward the names of local officials two months ago.

Meanwhile, the international effort goes on.

Instructors from EU armies have so far trained 9,000 Malian troops, almost half the army’s complement.

At least one of them has since been wounded fighting alongside the insurgents, the head of the EU training brigade, General Eric Harvent, told Reuters at the mission’s headquarters in Bamako’s Nord-Sud hotel — protected by sand-filled barriers since an attack by suspected Islamists in March.

“We have to be realists,” Harvent said. “Reform of an … army can take 10 years.”

France, for its part, is resigned to being in Mali for perhaps another 15 years, a senior diplomat said.

“The small progress we’ve achieved is because we’ve piled on pressure each time,” he said. “We shouldn’t imagine that we hold an election, deploy some blue helmets — and it’s solved”.

(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Kevin Liffey)