South Africa – could the cabinet appointment for Dlamini-Zuma to “ease” her succession path?

Mail and Guardian

African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has previously served in Cabinet as foreign affairs minister. (AFP)
African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has previously served in Cabinet as foreign affairs minister. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma is considering appointing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to Cabinet when she steps down on January 27 as African Union Commission chairperson, easing her path to succeeding him as national leader, government officials said.

The move would bolster Dlamini-Zuma’s profile and chances of replacing Zuma as ANC president at a conference in December, according to two deputy ministers and an ANC official who declined to be identified because they’re not authorised to comment. Zuma told state-owned Motsweding FM radio last week the ANC is ready for a female leader and the job won’t automatically go to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the other frontrunner for the top post.

Dlamini-Zuma (67) and Zuma (74) divorced in 1998 and have four children together. Dlamini-Zuma rallied to Zuma’s defence after some ANC leaders called for his ousting at a national executive committee meeting in November, following his implication in a series of scandals. Whoever wins the presidency of the ruling party would be a strong favourite to succeed Zuma as president after elections in 2019, given the party has won every election since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Smooth handover
“She has been out of the country, which means that she hasn’t played a very central role in South African politics,” Nic Borain, a political analyst who advises BNP Paribas Securities South Africa, said on Monday.

“Those running her campaign, and it’s widely speculated that Jacob Zuma is backing her, would probably try and move her into a more central role in politics before the party’s elective conference. I don’t think they would risk putting her in a controversial position in government, for obvious reasons.”

Although Dlamini-Zuma hasn’t formally declared her candidacy, she has said she’s willing to serve if asked to. She appeared to be in campaign mode on January 8 when she joined the ANC’s top six leaders during a walkabout at a rally commemorating the party’s 105th anniversary in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

“We are unaware of any plans of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after her tenure of office at the AU,” her spokesperson, Jacob Enoh Eben, said.

“That which we are certain of is that she will return to South Africa, after facilitating a smooth handing over to the next AU Commission chairperson.”

Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Experienced politician
“She’s a very experienced South African politician,” Borain said. “She held three Cabinet positions before she was the chairperson of the AU.”

Zuma’s successor will inherit a party plagued by infighting and haemorrhaging support, it had its worst-ever electoral showing in a municipal vote in August and lost control of several key cities, including Pretoria and Johannesburg. The party’s woes have been widely blamed on the president, who’s been implicated in a succession of scandals, including a finding by the nation’s top court that he broke his oath of office by refusing to repay taxpayer money spent on his private home.

Zuma has also been trying to fend off a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Alliance aimed at forcing prosecutors to reinstate 783 graft charges against him that were dropped weeks before he became president in 2009. If he is convicted, his best option for staying out of jail may be to secure a presidential pardon.

Medical posts
Dlamini-Zuma graduated as a doctor from the University of Bristol in 1978 and held several medical posts in the United Kingdom and Swaziland after going into exile during apartheid. When apartheid ended in 1994, Mandela appointed her as his health minister. Although she was lauded for extending access to healthcare to black people, she came under fire for squandering millions of rand of state funds on an ineffectual Aids education play.

Dlamini-Zuma was named foreign affairs minister after former President Thabo Mbeki took office in 1999, a post she held for a decade. Her tenure was marred by her support for President Robert Mugabe in neighboring Zimbabwe, who was accused by Western governments of stealing elections and violently suppressing the opposition. In 1999, Dlamini-Zuma was reassigned to the home affairs ministry and was lauded for overseeing a successful overhaul of the system of issuing identity documents, passports and birth certificates.

She was elected chairperson of the AU Commission in July 2012, after seeing off a re-election bid by Gabon’s Jean Ping. Although she declined to stand for a second term, her tenure was extended by six months last year after AU members failed to agree on a successor.

“It would be massively beneficial for her campaign to have her go back into government because she could get a position that would push her into the limelight,” Susan Booysen, politics professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance, said.

South Africa – ANC veterans still hoping for consultative conference

News24

2017-01-17 19:04

ANC leadership. (Leon Sadiki, file)

ANC leadership. (Leon Sadiki, file)

Johannesburg – A group of African National Congress stalwarts wants the party’s top six to again take their request for a separate consultative conference to its national executive committee.

The stalwarts are adamant it should be separated from party’s policy conference, to be held in June.

On Monday, five of the party’s top six officials met some of the older members at ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, to further discuss the consultative conference.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was absent from the meeting, as he was travelling to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

One of the stalwarts, Murphy Morobe, said the more than 100 veterans would wait for the ANC to present their suggestion to the NEC.

The stalwarts and the ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described the meeting as progressive.

“We have moved past the point of disagreeing on principles, more talking about the logistics and what is right, that will give us maximum benefit,” Mantashe told reporters on Tuesday.

‘Finding each other’

In 2016, the ANC’s executive agreed to the elders’ request to discuss the state of the party and its future at a consultative conference. They, however, insisted it must be combined with the policy conference.

The NEC decided to set aside the first two days of the policy conference, to be held in Gauteng in June, to do so.

A task team of ANC officials and stalwarts had been established to focus on the content, structure, and representation of the conference.

Mantashe explained that, for matters raised at the consultative conference to be discussed at the ANC’s 54th elective conference in December, they first had to be thrashed out at the policy conference.

“If it doesn’t go through the policy conference, it will not see the sun in the national conference. We are finding each other,” Mantashe said.

‘Current leadership must step down’

One of the stalwarts, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said the veterans, though hopeful, were waging a difficult battle, which they were unlikely to win.

“The outcome we are looking for is that this current leadership must step down and an interim structure must see the ANC through the policy conference and an elective conference,” the insider said.

The stalwart said they believed that ANC leaders did not want a gap between the two conferences because they wanted the current leadership to continue at the helm of the party.

Mantashe said organisational renewal was an ongoing issue.

“The process of consultation that goes on now, must go on after the policy conference and after the conference in December,” Mantashe said.

Nigeria – scores feared dead in air force strike on IDP camp

Punch

Dozens of people were killed on Tuesday when an air force jet bombarded a camp for those made homeless by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, medical charity MSF and a local resident said.

“A military jet mistakenly bombarded Rann,” in Borno state, Abba Abiso told AFP, adding that “at least 25 people were killed and many more injured”.

MSF said its teams “have seen 120 wounded and 50 dead”.

AFP

Nigeria – many feared dead as government warplane drops bomb on IDP camp

Premium Times

IDPs

IDPs

Several people are feared dead after a military plane mistakenly dropped a bomb inside the Rann IDP camp in Borno State.

The Rann IDP camp in Kala-balge Local Government Area caters for thousands of persons displaced by Boko Haram.

A source at the camp told PREMUM TIMES that at least hundred people were injured and needed to be evacuated to hospitals.

At least two people are feared dead from the incident and the injured included officials of the Doctors without Borders, MSF.

The military spokesperson, Rabe Abubakar, a brigadier general, confirmed the incident but explained that it was an error that the military deeply regretted.

He explained that soldiers got information of movement of Boko Haram members and deployed ground troops and air cover to tackle the terrorists.

It was the air support that mistakenly dropped the bomb, he said.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the state government has already ordered all hospitals in Maiduguri to be prepared to receive and promptly treat the injured.

Also, an International Red Cross, ICRC, helicopter has been deployed to the camp to evacuated the wounded to the various hospitals.

The Theatre Commander of Nigerian forces in Borno, Lucky Irabor, a major general, also confirmed the attack at a press conference.

“This morning today, we received reports about gathering of Boko Haram terrorists somewhere in Kala Balge Local Government area of Borno State. We got a coordinate and I directed that the air should go to address the problem.

“Unfortunately the strike was conducted but it turned out that the locals somewhere in Rann were affected.

“We are yet to get the details of the casualties. But we have some civilians that have been killed, others are wounded and we also have two of our soldiers that were also wounded. Among some that are wounded are local staffs of the Medicine Sans Frontiers as well as ICRC,” he said.

 

Reuters

The Nigerian air force killed an unknown number of civilians by accident in an air strike on Tuesday against Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the northeast, a military official said.

Regional military commander General Lucky Irabor said the strike took place on Tuesday morning at Kala Balge local government in Borno state.

“Somehow, some civilians were killed. We are yet to ascertain the number of persons killed in the air strike,” Irabor told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

“Many civilians including personnel of International Committee of the Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontieres were wounded,” he said, adding that the air force had acted on information that Boko Haram militants were in the area.

ICRC and MSF could not immediately be contacted for a comment.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks in the last few weeks as the end of the rainy season has enabled its fighters to move more easily in the bush. The northeast has been the focus of the jihadist group’s seven-year-old bid to create an Islamic caliphate.

(Reporting by Lanre Ola,; writing by Alexis Akwagyiram, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Gambia –

Umaru Fofana – Banjul

#Gambia declares a 90-day state of emergency as a warship leaves Nigeria for Banjul ahead of a planned presidential inauguration on 19 January which the incumbent says will not happen.

Sackings or resignations? #Gambia‘s cabinet seems to be changing its look almost every day. Finance. Foreign affairs. Trade. Information. Etc. At least three others have told me they’ll leave on the 18th Jan.

BBC

Gambia"s President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009REUTERS Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994

Outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency a day before his official mandate ends, state TV reports.

Regional leaders have been unsuccessfully trying to persuade him to hand over power to Adama Barrow, who won December’s elections.

The move comes after Nigeria deployed a warship to further pressure Mr Jammeh.

Regional bloc Ecowas has prepared a force but maintains that military intervention would be a last resort.

The exact terms of the state of emergency remain unknown, as no details were provided with the announcement.

Mr Barrow is meant to be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday.

Mr Jammeh initially accepted the election results but then decided he wanted them annulled after the electoral commission admitted some errors, although it insists this did not affect the final outcome.

The Supreme Court is unable to hear the challenge until May because of a shortage of judges, and Mr Jammeh has said he will not step down until then.

Show of strength

At least three Gambian ministers, including the foreign minister, have resigned in recent days. Thousands of Gambians have also fled to neighbouring Senegal amid fears of violence.

BBC Africa Security Correspondent Tomi Oladipo says the Nigerian warship is being deployed to put on a show of strength rather than to launch an attack.

A military source says that the vessel – the NNS Unity – is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana.

Mr Barrow won 43.3% of the vote compared with Mr Jammeh’s 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.

Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections.

Gambia: Four ministers resign from Jammeh government

Al Jazeera

Finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment ministers quit Jammeh’s government as end of his term looms.


Barrow has urged Gambians to ‘exercise restraint’ in the run-up to his inauguration [AP]

The Gambia’s ministers for finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment have resigned from President Yahya Jammeh’s government, according to ministry sources and state television.

The resignations were announced on Tuesday less than a day after the country’s Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle pulled out of a case filed by Jammeh seeking to stop the inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.

Fagbenle said late on Monday that he could not hear the new case, dealing a blow to Jammeh’s efforts to halt the inauguration of Barrow, who remains in Senegal.

The inauguration is scheduled for Thursday, when Barrow is expected to return from Senegal.

“Given that the injunction affects me in my capacity as the chief justice, I will recuse myself from hearing it,” he said.

“The motion therefore waits for the constitution of the Supreme Court or allow the judges to arrive in The Gambia.”

Edward Gomez, a lawyer for Jammeh’s party, conceded that it was “certainly not possible under these circumstances” to have an injunction barring Barrow from being sworn in.

On Tuesday, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and a top secret service official arrived in The Gambian capital Banjul to hold talks with Jammeh, Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reported from neighbouring Senegal.

There have been talks of a possible asylum or exile for Jammeh to an African country, in exchange for him stepping down.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, right, has appealed to Jammeh, centre, to step down twice in person without success [AFP]

Political turmoil

The small West African country has been plunged into political turmoil since Jammeh disputed Barrow’s December election victory and refused to cede power.

Jammeh has lodged a challenge to the election result with The Gambia’s Supreme Court and last week filed a fresh injunction to prevent the chief justice from swearing Barrow into office.

Last week the Supreme Court said Jammeh’s challenge to the election result could not be heard for several months as it did not have a full bench, and the extra judges needed to hear the case were not available.

The Gambia relies on foreign judges, notably from Nigeria, to staff its courts due to a lack of its own trained professionals.

With tensions running high, Jammeh said on Sunday that he had spoken to Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and was adamant he would not budge until the Supreme Court had heard his challenge to the poll result.

“The so-called deadline of January 19, 2017, is not cast in stone and all parties shall await the outcome of the Supreme Court,” he said on state television.

Leaders of neighbouring countries and the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, have repeatedly called on the long-serving strongman to leave office peacefully, so far to no avail.

As well as Sirleaf, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Ghana’s President John Mahama, who left office 10 days ago, have appealed to Jammeh to step down twice in person, without success, most recently on Friday.

Barrow was the surprise guest at a Bamako summit over the weekend, where he was welcomed as a head of state and introduced to several world leaders.

On Sunday, a personal tragedy struck his family when his eight-year-old son Habibou died after being bitten by dogs, according to a family source.

The prospect of military intervention in The Gambia has even been floated in recent days, following declarations by the United Nations and African Union that boots on the ground could get the green light without a rapid resolution of the crisis.

The head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel said on Friday that ECOWAS would ask the Security Council to approve the deployment of troops to The Gambia if Jammeh continues to refuse to leave office.

On Friday, it was reported that the Nigerian military issued a memo to prepare 800 soldiers for a possible deployment in Gambia. There have also been reports that the Nigerian military has sought training and logistical support from British advisers before any military intervention.

Before his inauguration on Thursday, Barrow’s special adviser Mai Fatty read a statement on his behalf in Dakar, urging Gambians to “exercise restraint, observe the rule of law and not to respond to provocation”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Ivory Coast – two soldiers killed in frsh unrest

Reuters

By Ange Aboa | ABIDJAN

Two soldiers were killed in fresh unrest in Ivory Coast’s capital Yamoussoukro and gunfire erupted in other cities on Tuesday, signalling further upheaval inside the security forces just as it seemed the government settled a mutiny in the army.

The unrest appeared to have started in Yamoussoukro, where residents said armed men in uniform broke into the armoury at the Zambakro military training camp and also looted weapons from two police stations.

An instructor at the camp said it was started by soldiers training for deployment as U.N. peacekeepers in Mali who were protesting at the government’s payment of bonuses to a group of mostly former rebels to end a mutiny earlier this month.

“They also want the bonuses,” said the officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

The officer said two soldiers were killed when they approached a camp belonging to the elite Republican Guard and others were wounded and receiving treatment. A local journalist confirmed seeing the bodies of the dead soldiers.

The local governor was trying to negotiate an end to the unrest, the officer added.

Yamoussoukro is Ivory Coast’s official capital, though all government ministries as well as parliament are located in the main commercial city, Abidjan.

Yaya Ouattara, head of the local youth wing of the ruling RDR party in Yamoussoukro, said the soldiers stole several government cars and were firing shots in the air.

“Everyone is indoors. Yamoussoukro is empty.”

Gunfire was also heard in Ivory Coast’s second largest city, Bouake, as well as in Man and Daloa, a major trading hub for Ivory Coast’s world-leading cocoa sector.

Residents in those cities said it was gendarmes, who are paramilitary police, firing into the air. Reuters could not independently verify the residents’ accounts, nor was it immediately clear why they were protesting.

A spokesman for the national gendarmerie declined to comment before he was fully briefed.

In Bouake, the epicentre of the army revolt earlier this month, members of the mutiny again took to the streets on Tuesday and encircled the gendarmes’ base there.

“We heard shooting from the gendarmes’ camp and we went to see what was happening. The gendarmes said they were not happy but didn’t want to talk,” said Seydou Camara, one of the mutiny’s leaders.

Ivory Coast has emerged from a 2002-2011 crisis marked by two civil wars as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies under the leadership of President Alassane Ouattara.

However, it has struggled to contain growing unrest over the past two weeks as a strike by public sector workers’ escalated and former rebel fighters, now integrated into the army, mutinied.

Soldiers poured out of their barracks and seized Bouake on Jan. 6, and the mutiny quickly spread, forcing the government to capitulate to the mutineers’ demands.

Negotiators for the mutineers say that, among other promises, the government agreed to pay bonuses of 12 million CFA francs ($19,500) each to about 8,400 soldiers, beginning with an instalment of 5 million.

Government officials have declined to reveal details of the deal. Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi would not confirm the payments being made but said the government planned to make a statement on the issue after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

However Camara and a second mutiny leader confirmed the payments had begun.

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting and writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Louise Ireland and Richard Lough)