Kenya – three soldiers killed by landmine believed to have been laid by Al Shabaab

Reuters

MOMBASA, Kenya Three police officers were killed in eastern Kenya on Wednesday when their vehicle hit a landmine believed to have been laid by Somali jihadist group al Shabaab, a senior official said.

The officers were part of a three-vehicle early morning patrol in the Somali border region when their truck hit the improvised explosive device (IED), North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamud Ali Saleh said.

“The police car ran over an IED and we have casualties. All the dead officers are from one work station,” Saleh told Reuters, without revealing the number of wounded officers.

“From past incidences, it is easy to see that even this one is the work of our enemy, the al Shabaab. They plant these IEDs to target our security people.”

The Kenyan Red Cross said on Twitter eight officers had been wounded.

The Garissa county in which the incident happened has suffered several attacks linked to al Shabaab in the last few years, including a 2015 assault on a university in which 148 people were killed.

Al Shabaab, which seeks to topple Somalia’s government and impose its own harsh interpretation of Sharia law, says it will continue to attack Kenya until Nairobi withdraws its troops from an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The police said on Tuesday they were on alert for an increase in violence after al Shabaab fighters were detected moving into Kenya in small groups.

“These groups are dispatching operatives into parts of North Eastern Region to lay IEDs along the routes used by our security patrols in efforts to frustrate our security operations at the border areas,” it said.

(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Editing by George Obulutsa and Ed Cropley)

South Africa – Zuma banned from addressing COSATU meetings

Mail and Guardian

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. (Gallo)
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. (Gallo)

Labour federation Cosatu will not allow ANC president Jacob Zuma address any of its gatherings because it does not trust or support his leadership, and want him to step down.

“President Jacob Zuma will no longer be welcome to address Cosatu activities. This shall be communicated to the ANC, including engaging on its implications for our alliance,” Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said on Tuesday.

Cosatu has publicly called for Zuma to resign as head of state, saying he is not the right leader to lead and unite the ANC or the country. The federation has also publicly endorsed Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, to take over as head of the party and as president of the country.

The decision to bar Zuma was taken by a special meeting of Cosatu’s affiliates in Johannesburg on Monday. This is where the federation described the booing of Zuma at a May Day rally in Bloemfontein as a reflection of the “level of frustration felt by workers about the absence of leadership in the country”, according to the meeting’s statement.

Cosatu has also condemned leaders of the ANC who said the federation had attempted to “rent a crowd” in Bloemfontein to “disrupt and hijack our national event”.

The meeting promised to raise these concerns at the alliance political council meeting, scheduled to happen before the ANC’s policy conference in July.

Cosatu’s second deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, said the federation was not to blame for Zuma’s hostile reception at the May Day rally; it had advised the ANC that affiliates did not want the president there.

“We don’t invite certain people and say we want so and so. We only sent the communication to the ANC, to say ‘we have a May Day activity, can you deploy leaders?’. The issue of discomfort around the president attending – the ANC said it is them that shall decide who attends the May Day rally,” Losi said.

She confirmed that Zuma will not be attending or speaking at Cosatu’s central committee (CEC) next week, saying the ANC had sent a list of delegates and Zuma was not included on it.

“In terms of who shall speak, it’s a different case. The CEC said when we release that invite, we are not going to invite the president of the ANC to address,” Losi added.

Despite the move to ban Zuma from speaking at its national events, Ntshalintshali said this does not signal the end of Cosatu’s participation in the tripartite alliance.

“We will continue to fight to have an alliance … We also remain a reliable ally of the ANC,” Ntshalintshali said.

The ANC, however, said it had not been informed of the federation’s decision not to allow Zuma to address its gatherings and would respond in due course.

The federation also appeared to blame Zuma’s lack of leadership on the decision by General Motors (GM) to disinvest from South Africa.

GM has already served retrenchment notices, in terms of section 189(A) of the Labour Relations Act, to metalworkers union Numsa. It is estimated that 600 jobs will be lost and 1 500 workers will be affected.

Ntshalintshali said: “One of the unmentioned reasons for the disinvestment of GMSA [GM South Africa] is the question of lack of leadership, which has been raised by rating agencies.”

“[Rating agencies] have raised the issue that foreign investors will not invest until there is a new leader whom they can trust. While the issue of leadership is currently a challenge, it is regrettable that GMSA may be using politics to deal with business challenges,” Ntshalintshali added.

South Africa – major land occupation in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township

News24

2017-05-24 08:32

Residents in Town 2 protest during an illegal land occupation in Khayelitsha. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Residents in Town 2 protest during an illegal land occupation in Khayelitsha. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Cape Town – Tensions simmered in Khayelitsha on Monday as residents flouted interdicts preventing occupation of open land at a number of sites.

The land occupations in Khayelitsha this past week are among the biggest in Cape Town in recent years, GroundUp reported.

“We are fed up with empty promises. We have to take action,” said Thando Mtombo, a backyarder in Town Two.

Many backyarders say they have lived their whole lives on someone else’s land and share a small space with numerous family members.

“People think we are criminals. We are not savages. We sacrificed work [to be here]. But when we talk, we aren’t taken seriously,” he said.

On Monday, GroundUp witnessed occupiers negotiating with law enforcement. It appeared that a representative from the city had agreed that the Anti-Land Invasion Unit would not remove the handful of structures that were erected until a meeting between the city and residents had taken place on Tuesday.

However, when occupiers left the site of occupation to attend a meeting with the Khayelitsha Development Forum, councillors and police, their structures were torn down.

One of the pieces of open land is next to the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court. After lying empty for years, backyarders in Town Two began their occupation on May 15, demarcating hundreds of sites on the wide expanse of land.

Zola Booi, a community leader from Makhaya, said that there were three occupations – one in Town Two, one in Makhaya and another in Kuyasa.

GroundUp has also been informed of a fourth site being occupied in Makhaza, but we have not been able to confirm this.

WATCH: Khayelitsha Land Occupation Protest

We asked the city on two separate occasions who owns the occupied land, but received no response to this question. But on Saturday, the city obtained an interdict against residents occupying the various pieces of land in Khayelitsha, which suggests it owns the land.

Delays

On the weekend, two Golden Arrow buses were torched and a MyCiti bus stoned, as tensions escalated following the repeated removal of structures.

The site alongside the Magistrate’s Court is possibly the most contentious site as it is meant to be developed for housing.

At least part of the land is specifically earmarked for gap housing, which usually caters for those earning more than R3 500 and less than R15 000 per month. Backyarders, who make up most of the occupiers, typically wouldn’t fall into this category.

The Khayelitsha Community Trust (KCT) is responsible for developing the occupied area in Town Two. In 2003, it signed a “land availability agreement” with the city, which according to KCT meant that “the rights for the development of all undeveloped land within the KBD (Khayelitsha Business District) precinct were allocated to KCT”.

In 2012, KCT submitted a request for proposals for a portion of the now occupied land to be developed for residential housing units. In addition, in a 2013 municipal notice the city states its intention to sell the land to KCT.


People erect new structures on the occupied land in Khayelitsha. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

Despite this, the CEO of KCT Mkhululi Gaula said in a City Vision article that there have been delays in the release of the land from the city. He said that despite a land sale agreement being signed, “the land transfer process has taken more than four years to be finalised”. The approximately 10 hectares of land was to be sold at R200 000/ha in 2013.

At the meeting on Monday chaired by the KDF, Gaula said that the first phase of the project was meant to be the construction of 368 houses. “When we had a meeting with the community it was agreed that the houses to be built should be gap houses,” he said.

In a sub-council meeting on May 15, sub-council 10 manager Clifford Sitonga said the land availability agreement was signed in 2003 when KCT was a municipal entity.

“The clauses in the land availability agreement are strict in terms of the city intervening and these clauses need to be removed from the land availability agreement as KCT is no longer a municipal entity,” he said.

Sitonga said that KCT’s accusation that the city is stalling the project was not true. He said that KCT approached the city looking for money to construct infrastructure and that they received money from the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG).

Not happy with houses

“KCT accepted the money on condition that they build affordable low cost houses. KCT proceeded to put the infrastructure on the ground using the USDG funds,” Sitonga said.

“Subsequently, KCT received a letter from the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) saying that the people of Khayelitsha are not happy with the type of houses that will be built. The board of KCT then changed the specifications of the houses to be built, which meant that they now no longer met the requirements for USDG funding.

“In order for the land to be transferred to KCT, the city required that the USDG funds already paid out to KCT be returned. KCT has not returned this money which means that the land cannot be transferred to them,” Sitonga said.

In the meeting on Monday, Gaula said that they were meeting with the city this week to discuss the issues and that they were also meeting with the national Minister of Human Settlements to ask her to intervene.

Gaula added that national Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Zou Kota-Fredericks had also said that KCT was not supposed to return the money, because the money was a grant, not a loan.

When asked about KCT and KDF, community member Booi said that the residents didn’t know KDF or KCT, as these organisations had not consulted with them.

KDF chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said that KDF couldn’t associate with “criminality” [the land occupation]. He said that KDF had no involvement in the occupation or in the land that was to be developed as they were a separate entity from KCT.

He said that as much as he does “feel for the backyard dwellers” their “method” can “never be the correct” one.

He explained that they had called the meeting yesterday because the KDF was a “conduit of development in Khayelitsha”.

Councillor Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, said that although they “empathise with the plight of our residents, we simply cannot allow the invasion of land”.

She said that after obtaining the interdict on Saturday night it was served on Sunday morning, “which is when the city’s Anti-Land invasion Unit started to clear the areas that were invaded”.

Sudan – Bashir accuses Egypt of backing Darfur rebel attack

Sudan Tribune


Sudanese soldiers in North Darfur's Wadi Hawar on Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their recent attack in Darfur on 23 May 2017 (ST Photo)
May 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Tuesday has accused Egypt of supporting the armed movements that recently entered Darfur from Libya and South Sudan.

On Friday, fierce clashes erupted in North and East Darfur between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council, a splinter group from the SLM-Abdel Wahid.

The government says the rebels entered into the region from Libya and South Sudan where Khartoum claims they are based, while the armed movements say the government forces attacked their positions in North Darfur state.

“The army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have seized Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their attack last Friday on the two states,” al-Bashir told a ceremony honouring retired army officers Tuesday in Khartoum.

He pointed out that the rebel forces came from Libya and South Sudan aboard Egyptian armoured vehicles.

The Sudanese President added that Egypt refused to support his country in its long fighting against the insurgency in South Sudan and Darfur, pointing to Sudan’s support for Egypt during its 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

“We fought in South Sudan for 20 years and Egypt did not provide us with a single bullet under the pretext that what was happening in Sudan was an internal affair,” he said.

He stressed that the rebel forces entered Sudan within the framework of a larger plot, saying that attackers came from Libya and South Sudan but the army managed to disperse them and destroyed and seized their armoured vehicles.

Since several months Sudanese officials hint that Egypt supports Darfur rebel groups hoping to put pressure on Khartoum to stop its support for the Ethiopian government which constructs a dam on the Blue Nile. Cairo says the Renaissance Dam will reduce the volume of water reaching its growing population.

The Sudanese President further mocked neighbouring countries who support the armed movements, describing the recent fight as “mere training” not actual military operations for the army.

Al-Bashir’s statements come just hours after his envoy for diplomatic contact and negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer hinted to Egypt’s involvement in the attacks which he said were meant to delay the permanent lift of U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan.

On Monday, Facebook pages belonging to the Sudanese army and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) posted photos of armoured vehicles from the recent clashes in Darfur, claiming they are Egyptian vehicles.

It also posted maps showing the entry points of the armed movements from Libya and South Sudan.

The Sudanese government has long accused the Darfur movements of fighting alongside the forces of the Libyan General Khalifa Hafer, which is supported by Egypt.

The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Monday expressed deep concern over the recent clashes in the region, saying “Significant progress has been made on the road towards peace and security in Darfur, and it would be a serious setback to see these gains jeopardised.”

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman has accused unnamed neighbouring countries of supporting the recent attack of the armed movements in Darfur.

Abdel-Rahman, who addressed student crowd in the River Nile State Tuesday, accused the armed movements of being hypocrites, saying they sat at the negotiations table in Germany while they were preparing to terrorise the innocent people in Darfur.

He praised the victories of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces against the rebels, saying the doors of the national dialogue would remain open for anyone who wants to join the process.

On 12 April 2016, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nour stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel pockets in the mountainous area.

EGYPT DENIES SUPPORTING DARFUR REBELS

In Cairo, the Egyptian foreign ministry has categorically denied in a statement issued on Tuesday its support for the rebel groups in Sudan’s Darfur region.

In a statement released on Tuesday Egypt said it respects Sudan’s sovereignty over its territory and has never intervened to destabilise the sisterly country of Sudan or harm its people”

The foreign ministry spokesperson further stressed that “Egypt’s foreign policy is based on respect for international law and the principles of good neighbourliness and non-aggression, especially when dealing with countries with which Egypt has special fraternal relations such as brotherly Sudan”.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident group from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) joined the DDPD in April 2013.

JEM and SLM-MM have engaged in peace talks with the government under the auspices of the African Union.

(ST)

Kenya – Isaac Ruto says he was picked to be NASA candidate but declined in favour of Raila

Daily Nation

I declined offer to be Nasa flag bearer, says Isaac Ruto

Tuesday May 23 2017
Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto addresses his Chama Cha Mashinani supporters at Ngesumin in Bureti, Kericho County on May 21, 2017 where he claimed that he had been picked to be the Nasa presidential flag bearer but he declined the offer, instead leaving it to ODM leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO | TIMOTHY KIMEI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto addresses his Chama Cha Mashinani supporters at Ngesumin in Bureti, Kericho County, on May 21, 2017. He claimed that he had been picked to be the Nasa presidential flag-bearer but he declined the offer, instead leaving it to ODM leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO | TIMOTHY KIMEI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANITA CHEPKOECH

By TIMOTHY KEMEI

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has claimed that he had been picked to be the Nasa presidential flag-bearer but he declined the offer, instead leaving it to ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Ruto made the claims on Sunday at Ngesumin in Bureti Sub-County in Kericho while endorsing aspirants who won various tickets in his Chama Cha Mashinani party primaries.

He said his importance in Rift Valley politics has been felt by other Nasa principals who had had picked him to be the presidential flag-bearer.

He, however, said he turned down the offer because he was not ready.

TOP SEAT

“I went to negotiate with my fellows in Nairobi. It was a hard bargain, for everyone wanted the top seat. I also wanted it.

“At one point, I won the support of the others who thought that if I was picked, we would be assured of 90 per cent of the Rift Valley votes plus others,” Mr Ruto said.

He said he thought it wise to let the eldest in the Nasa team to carry the mantle on condition that the change of power to the next principal would be done after only one term in office.

“They challenged me over my 2013 vow that we would never vote for Raila. But I said that since we reconciled as a country over the (2007/2008) bloodshed in 2013, it is easier to reconcile with Raila and [give him] our support,” said the governor.

 

“Raila is not a bad man. Let us support him as he will only take us to the Promised Land, where there is no poverty and economic challenges. We now call him Joshua arap Mibei,” Governor Ruto added.

He also said that he and Deputy President William Ruto are both political brokers in the Rift Valley.

Mr Ruto said the DP should not condemn him for brokering votes for the National Super Alliance presidential flag-bearer, since he (the DP) is also doing the same for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Governor Ruto said that just as the DP is seeking to retain his seat, he is also fighting for the position of deputy prime minister, adding that “deputies are the same”.

POLITICAL BROKERS

“William Ruto and I are both brokers. He is also seeking for votes for Uhuru just like I am (doing) for Arap Mibei (Raila Odinga).

“He would be the Deputy President and I a deputy prime minister. Are deputies not the same? Is there a better deputy than another?” asked the governor.

“But I can say I am a better broker than him because I am doing it for the common person.”

The governor accused the Jubilee administration of presiding over an unbearable economy that has seen the cost of basic commodities skyrocket.

Mr Ruto also challenged the Jubilee government to come clean on the source of maize that is said to have been imported to solve an impending food crisis, claiming that part of it could be the 60 metric tonnes harvested from the Galana Kulalu project.

MAIZE

The Nasa co-principal claimed that the government could have released maize which was harvested from the irrigation scheme and hoodwinked Kenyans that the same had been imported.

“Where did the government get thousands bags of maize so quickly? We suspect that that maize was harvested from the failed irrigation scheme and stored for that purpose,” he said.

He said he had decided to join hands with opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi after they pledged to set aside 45 per cent of the annual budget for devolution, noting that enhanced resources would boost development in the counties.

Dr Congo – investigation into Kasai violence to look at role of former minister

Reuters

 
By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

KINSHASA Congo’s attorney general said on Tuesday he had opened an investigation into a former minister over allegations he played a role in militia violence in central Congo that a U.N. employee was investigating when she was killed.

His announcement followed a report by The New York Times on Saturday that Zaida Catalan, a U.N. investigator killed in March in central Democratic Republic of Congo, had a recording of a phone call between ex-development minister Clement Kanku and a presumed militia member.

In it, the newspaper reported, Kanku is heard speaking approvingly of violence perpetrated by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, whose insurrection against government forces in the Kasai region has resulted in hundreds of deaths and displaced more than a million people since last July.

Kanku rejected all the allegations in a later news conference.

Attorney General Flory Numbi announced the government investigation to reporters in the capital Kinshasa, saying he had written to the National Assembly to request permission to conduct preliminary searches of Kanku’s property because he enjoys immunity as a member of parliament.

“If at the end of this investigation, I am convinced that the facts are established regarding the relevant charges, (Kanku) will be charged with participation in an insurrectional movement, assassination, voluntary arson, malicious destruction and association with criminals,” Numbi said.

Catalan and her American colleague Michael Sharp were investigating such acts in Kasai when they were killed in March. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave in the same month.

“I am disturbed by these allegations of implication in criminal actions which I refute completely,” Kanku, who served as development minister from last December until a reshuffle earlier this month, told reporters at his house in Kinshasa on Tuesday.

Earlier, two truck loads of police had prevented him from meeting press at a downtown restaurant, saying the news conference had not been authorised.

According to the Times story, Catalan had a recording of a phone conversation — which she had told Kanku about — in which an apparent militiaman informs Kanku that the militia has set fire to a town in Kasai-Central province.

“It’s good that we burn everything; that is good news,” Kanku is quoted as saying on the tape.

Kanku and his lawyer Aime Kilolo declined to comment on the alleged recording. Kilolo said it would be “premature” to respond as Kanku’s name is nowhere stated in the phone call.

Congolese military investigators said on Saturday that two alleged militiamen would soon face trial for Catalan and Sharp’s killings but that another 14 suspects were at large.

A U.N. board of inquiry is investigating the experts’ deaths but is not expected to assign blame. Sweden has also opened a police investigation.

(Editing by Tim Cocks)

South Africa – rand rallies on report of Zuma removal talks; ANC denial

News24

May 23 2017 16:07

Fin24 with Bloomberg

Cape Town – The rand raced to R13.02/$ on Tuesday as traders reacted on a Bloomberg report that the top leadership of the ruling African National Congress will discuss the option of removing President Jacob Zuma from his post at a May 26-28 meeting.

The news agency quoted two senior party officials who will be in attendance, but asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorised to speak publicly on the matter.

By 15:54 the local unit was trading at R13.09 to the greenback as the suspected terrorist attack in Manchester still weighed on risky emerging market assets. The rand traded as high as R13.31 to the US dollar on reports that 22 people were killed on Monday night in a suicide bomb attack after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

According to Bloomberg, the ANC’s national executive committee is due to discuss a motion of no confidence in Zuma that has been filed by opposition parties in Parliament. Some members of the panel will also raise the possibility of the ANC taking the matter into its own hands, according to the party officials, who sit on the decision-making panel.

The rand gained as much as 1.5% against the dollar on the news.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that while the agenda will only be set at the meeting, the committee wouldn’t discuss Zuma’s removal.

While the committee rejected the possibility of ousting Zuma at a meeting in November, opposition to his rule has mounted within the party’s ranks following his March 31 decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, a move that prompted S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to junk.

The ANC will want to avoid a situation in which its MPs back the opposition motion to force Zuma to resign, Anthony Butler, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town, told Bloomberg.

Reuters

South Africa’s ANC dismisses Zuma removal report as ‘fabrication’

 

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) dismissed a media report on Tuesday that President Jacob Zuma’s removal would be discussed at a key party meeting this weekend as untrue.

Opposition to Zuma inside the ANC and from opposition parties and civil society groups has swelled since he axed respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in late March, triggering credit downgrades to “junk” by two rating agencies.

The Bloomberg news agency quoted two anonymous sources as saying the ANC would discuss the removal of Zuma at a meeting of top party leaders at the weekend, sending the rand 1.5 percent firmer against the dollar.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa denied the report, saying it was “a complete fabrication and not true”.

A senior member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) told Reuters he was unaware of any changes to the draft agenda of a major policy meeting next month to include a debate on Zuma’s future as party leader.

“Clearly it must be on the minds of many people but I don’t know of anything specific,” the member of the ruling party’s top leadership structure said.

Zuma, 75, whose term ends in 2019, survived an internal bid to remove him in 2016 following a Constitutional Court ruling that he had violated his oath of office by refusing to reimburse the state for upgrades to his personal residence.

Zuma was also implicated in a report by an anti-corruption watchdog for allegedly allowing members of a family of Indian-born businessmen to influence cabinet appointments and tenders given by state firms.

Zuma and the Gupta family have denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla and Ed Cropley; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Ed Cropley)