Rand Daily Mail
President Jacob Zuma’s hold on power is weakening, analysts say.
He announced yesterday the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, in which he has been repeatedly implicated, shortly after the Constitutional Court ruled that there was no impediment to a secret ballot of MPs on his future.
The announcement of the commission of inquiry follows weeks of continuous reporting by The Times and the Sunday Times concerning the hundreds of thousands of leaked Gupta e-mails which have shed new light on the scope and scale of state capture.
The court’s judgment on an application by the United Democratic Movement for a court ruling on a secret ballot imperils Zuma’s presidency further.
The court made it clear that Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete was mistaken when she claimed that she did not have the power to authorise a secret ballot in a vote of no-confidence in Zuma. It outlined the considerations Mbete would have to take into account in deciding on the ballot.
A statement from parliament shortly after the judgment indicated that a secret ballot is on the cards.
“Now that the court has clarified that the speaker has the powers under the constitution to conduct motions of no confidence by way of a secret ballot, she will, accordingly, ensure the judgment is given effect,” the statement said.
Opposition parties hailed the court’s decision. The DA said it would move to have the motion of no-confidence debated.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: “The UDM is vindicated because we asked the speaker to use her prerogative‚ but she put the interests of her party ahead of parliament … MPs are free to vote and follow their conscience.”
COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota said: “The court has made it clear that those of us who are elected‚ once elected and having taken an oath of office‚ owe it to the people of South Africa as a whole that no political party can compel a member of parliament to vote against their conscience and against their judgment.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said Mbete would have to give “sound reasoning” for her decision on a secret ballot.
“This constrains her space to manoeuvre‚ making it very difficult for her not to allow a secret vote‚” Mathekga said.
Because it is individual Members who really have to vote, provisions are couched in the language that recognises the possibility of majorities supporting the removal of the President and the Speaker. Conceptually, those majorities could only be possible if Members of the ruling party are also at liberty to vote in a way that does not always have to be predetermined by their parties
Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe said Zuma’s judicial commission announcement had more to do with pressure from within the ANC than with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
“There has been an increase in pressure from Luthuli House [ANC national headquarters]. When it became the decision of the ANC national executive committee that the judicial commission be formed, he [Zuma] became very constrained in his defence.
The least that he could do was appoint this commission,” said Hlophe.
He said the terms of reference of the commission would be critical.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her State of Capture report recommended that t he chief justice, and not Zuma, appoint a judge to preside over the inquiry because Zuma was implicated in her report.
Hlophe said other signs of the ANC’s national executive committee flexing its muscles had been the rescinding of the decision to reappoint Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO, and the challenge to the controversial mining charter released by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
The Hawks appeared to be probing state capture now.
“All these things indicate that there is a decline in terms of his authority … as a president who is at the end of his second term, his powers are institutionally getting weaker and weaker.”
Sir Ketumile Masire (File: AFP)
Reports on Friday indicated that Masire died on Thursday night after he was hospitalised last weekend in a critical condition.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Botswana government said: “This is to confirm that our beloved Former President Sir Ketumile Quett Joni Masire has passed away. May His Soul Rest in Peace and his family and the nation as a whole be comforted.”
Masire was the president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998.
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He led various diplomatic initiatives in Africa, including chairing a panel that investigated the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and co-ordinating the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue.
Nearly 50 people have contracted cholera while attending a health conference in Kenya’s capital.
The infected delegates were among hundreds who had gathered for the four day forum organised by the Ministry of Health at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday.
They have been isolated in a city hospital, but health officials say the number of people infected may rise.
It is unclear how they caught the disease, which has led to five deaths in the past month.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.
Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms but, in severe cases, the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.
In Yemen, a large cholera outbreak is fast approaching 300,000 cases, according to UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien. He described it as a “man-made catastrophe” caused by both sides of the country’s ongoing civil war.
In a press release on 24 May, Kenya’s Ministry of Health said there had been 146 cases across the country since the outbreak began.
Some of those infected had attended a wedding at an upmarket estate in Nairobi.
As a result, authorities put in place emergency measures to try and curb its spread.
An outbreak two years ago killed 65 people across Kenya.
The sight in Bodo, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Port Harcourt, is repeated in communities elsewhere in the maze of creeks that criss-cross Ogoni land.
One year after the launch of a much-heralded clean-up programme, the oil slicks which blackened the waters, killed the fish and ruined the mangroves remain untouched.
Locals, deprived of their livelihoods from fishing and farming, and with the billions of dollars extracted from under them channelled elsewhere, are angry and frustrated.
“The progress made on the Ogoni clean-up is known only to the government,” said Fegalo Nsuke, from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People pressure group.
“The people of Ogoni still cannot have access to safe drinking water, not to talk of electricity, basic schools and roads,” he told AFP.
– Environmental disaster –
In January 2015, there were hopes Ogoni land’s luck was changing after Shell agreed to pay £55 million ($70 million, 63 million euros) in compensation to more than 15,500 Bodo people.
The Anglo-Dutch energy giant also agreed to start a clean up of two devastating oil spills in 2008, following a three-year British legal battle that was settled out of court.
In June 2016, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo formally launched the project, which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said could take 30 years.
So far, however, only $10 million of the initial $1 billion programme has been released.
Since then, a governing council and trust fund have been set up, and a project coordinator appointed, but no equipment has been moved to the sites, residents say.
Drinking water is still not fit for human consumption.
“The fact is that Ogoni still drinks poisoned water and remains polluted and these cannot be changed by internal processes and media promotions,” said Nsuke.
“Our people are frustrated,” added Livinus Kiebel, chairman of the Bodo council of chiefs.
“The environment is completely devastated.”
Fish and carcinogens
Ignatius Feegha, 41, used to catch fish as a child in the waterways of the Niger Delta.
“I used to wake up around 5:00 am with my father to fish and would come back with baskets of fish before going to school,” said the civil servant.
Today, fishermen are lucky to catch even periwinkles.
Standing near a jetty, Buddy Pango holds up a plastic bottle filled with discoloured water as the heavens open and a boat heading to the Bonny Island natural gas plant speeds by.
“We can’t see no fish in this water because the water is stained with crude oil,” he said. “Before we can get some fish, we (must) go to the ocean and it is very far.”
In places like Ogale, wells and boreholes are contaminated with the carcinogen benzene at levels more than 900 times above the recommended World Health Organization limit.
Signs beside boreholes warn residents not to drink the water.
“Every week, at least five people die because of cancer and respiratory diseases,” said community leader Dandyson Nwawala.
Roman Catholic priest Father Abel Agbulu, who has been mediating between Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary and Bodo locals, said the clean-up could have started earlier but for opposition from some youths.
He said the youths who were unemployed insisted on being paid the money instead of allowing Shell to give the job to contractors.
“The youths said they wanted money instead. So Shell, which had already engaged two companies to do the job, had to back out,” he added.
Agbulu said Shell was not ready to give cash to the youths and since they would not allow the contractors to handle the job, decided to suspend the clean-up.
The head of the government-appointed Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Marvin Dekil, said training local workers in the required skills is taking time.
“We don’t want… to rush it and get it done in a wrong way,” he explained.
In the meantime, some locals have taken matters into their own hands and begun planting trees to try to restore the damaged mangroves.
The United Nations Development Programme’s representative in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, visited Ogoniland last week and called for patience.
“This is a very technical investment, it is not a rural type of investment where you are going to see houses built within a short period of time,” he said.
How long they will have to wait is anyone’s guess.
KINSHASA At least 12 people were killed in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in heavy firefights between the army and militia fighters on Thursday, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school, local activists said.
The fighting in and around the city of Beni between Congo’s army and what is believed to be a new coalition of armed groups, the National Movement of Revolutionaries (MNR), killed at least eight militiamen and four soldiers, said activist Teddy Kataliko.
The clashes, some of which occurred near the mayor’s office, broke out early Thursday morning but the army had driven back the militias by mid-afternoon, he added.
Gilbert Kambale, another local activist, told Reuters that at least 13 militiamen and three soldiers had died in Thursday’s fighting.
The mayor and a local army spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.
The fighting followed a breakout by more than 900 inmates, many suspected militiamen, from Beni’s main prison this month – one of a series of mass jailbreaks that have undermined security in Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December.
Worsening security in the vast central African nation has raised fears of a return to the civil wars of the turn of the century that killed millions, most from hunger and disease, and sucked in more than half a dozen neighbouring countries.
Kataliko and Kambale also said unidentified assailants set off an explosive device at a local secondary school, wounding several students sitting exams. A hospital source said at least three students were injured in the blast.
Eastern Congo contains dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Hundreds of civilians have died near Beni since October 2014 in a series of overnight massacres, mostly carried out with hatchets and machetes. It is still not clear who is responsible for most of the attacks.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Toby Davis)
Kamba elders back Uhuru, says Kalonzo will be irrelevant in 2022
A section of Kamba elders have said they are keen on the community’s journey to State House and that they regret being in the Opposition.
The Kamba clans governing council of elders said being in government will ensure more members of the community benefit.
Chairman Boniface Syengo asked all those under his leadership to support President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s re-election.
“The association is moving around advising people to elect leaders, especially the president, wisely,” he noted during a delegates meeting on Thursday.
“We endorsed [Uhuru] as a Kamba mzee currently baptised as Uhuru Muigai ‘Mutua’ Kenyatta during the inauguration of the Kibwezi-Kitui-Mwingi-Meru-Isiolo road.”
But the elders asked the President to tackle their community’s problems, noting they have been in the political cold for too long.
They said being in government is vital as resources have been limited.
James Ngului from the Office of the President said GEMA and the Kamba elders constitution states clearly that they must support the government of the day.
He added that there is no Kamba seeking the presidency and that they cannot support Kalonzo Musyoka as NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga’s running mate.
“Unfortunately Kalonzo will be irrelevant in 2022 since there will be young people seeking the same seat. Uhuru’s plan is to leave Kambas in a better place politically. He is not after our votes since we did not vote for him in 2013 and yet he won. He has done a lot of development projects in Ukambani,” said Ngului.