South Africa – rhino breeder John Hume to sell rhino horn in global online auction

timeslive (South Africa)

500kg of horn for sale as rhino owner hosts controversial global online auction

24 June 2017 – 09:49 By Tony Carnie
South African rhino breeder John Hume has a herd of nearly 1500 rhinos at his private ranch in North West province. Their horns are “harvested” on a regular basis.

South African rhino breeder John Hume has a herd of nearly 1500 rhinos at his private ranch in North West province. Their horns are “harvested” on a regular basis.
Image: Tony Carnie

The world’s biggest rhino breeder has announced plans to sell part of his massive stockpile of horns in a global online auction, sparking concern that this could undermine the 40- year-old international ban on rhino horn trading.

Billed as the world’s first “legal rhino horn auction”, the three-day sale is scheduled for midday on August 21.

South African businessman and game rancher John Hume, who has nearly 1500 rhinos at his game farm in the North West, has a stockpile of nearly six tons of horns that he wants to sell. This after he won a series of court battles earlier this year to overturn the eight-year-old moratorium on the domestic sale of rhino horns.

Hume – along with other private rhino breeders – has been removing horns from his herd for several years. The animals are anaesthetised and the top section of the horn removed so that they can regrow naturally as part of a “bloodless, horn-harvesting” operation.

In an attempt to halt the unrelenting slaughter of rhinos in Africa and Asia by poaching syndicates, a ban on the international sale of rhino horns came into force in 1977 by member states of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This was followed by a 2009 ban on the sale of rhino horns within South Africa that coincided with an unprecedented spike in horn poaching.

Now that Hume has overturned the moratorium on domestic sales within South Africa, he plans to sell 500kg of horns in an online auction that will be open to bidders from China, Vietnam and other nations. A condition of sale is that the horns will have to remain in South Africa until global trade is unbanned – or alternatively, until foreign buyers are granted import and export permits from South Africa and their home nations.

Senior officials of the Department of Environmental Affairs and South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA) held a meeting in Pretoria early on Friday to wrangle over the terms of the proposed auction. It it is understood that the department raised a number of concerns over import and export permit procedures yesterday, but Hume told TMG Digital that the auction was going ahead regardless.

“The (auction) dates are fixed” he said on Friday.

In a social media campaign notice, it was announced that the auction would start on August 21, with anonymous bids continuing until noon on August 24.

This was confirmed by the appointed Pretoria-based auction house. Van’s Auctioneers spokesman Johan van Eyk said Hume would offer just over 500 kg of rhino horns for sale. The horns would be split into 250 separate lots, mainly sets of front and back horns and some larger individual front horns.

A second, conventional auction would be held amid tight security in Gauteng on September 19.

Van Eyk said he was not willing to speculate on expected prices, but noted that current domestic black-market prices were considerably lower than end-of-market prices in the Far East.

Jo Shaw, rhino programme manager for the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in South Africa, has questioned why buyers would want to bid for rhino horn when the international trade remains illegal.

“There is no significant demand for rhino horns inside South Africa and the access to international markets is illegal – so why would buyers want to bid for horns at this auction?”

A spokesman for environmental affairs Minister Edna Molewa did not respond to written queries last night, while the CITES secretariat in Switzerland claimed it was not aware of the proposed auction.

Instead, CITES spokesman Yuan Liu pointed to a statement issued earlier this year after South Africa published draft proposals that would allow foreign nationals to export two rhino horns from South Africa for “personal purposes”.

This statement notes that – with the exception of legal hunting trophies – no rhino horns can be traded internationally “if the use is for primarily commercial purposes”.

“The Secretariat has received questions from CITES parties and journalists, as well as messages of concern from the general public, regarding measures proposed by the Republic of South Africa relating to the domestic trade and the export for personal purposes of rhinoceros horn…The application of relevant CITES provisions to South Africa’s proposal is rather complex.”

But private rhino owners – who now own 37% of South Africa’s increasingly threatened rhino population – are hoping that buyers from London, Tokyo, Beijing, New York and other major centres will still bid for a slice of the massive stockpile of rhino horns that has been building up for forty years in private and state storage facilities in South Africa.

PROA spokesman Pelham Jones described the latest move as the first move of a “two-step dance”.

“Why buy it illegally, when you can buy it legally? There is no intention nor desire to flood the market. After the first horn auctions are held we will be able to see how much interest there is. There is no legal bar to holding an auction,” he argued, noting that rhino owners had studied the relevant legislation very closely.

“We see a lot of nonsense on social media suggesting that this would enable ‘blood horns’ to be laundered and sold off. It’s nonsense because you have to be in possession of a permit in order to sell horns. Poaching will continue unless there is a regulated supply of horn available to meet demand,” he said.

DR Congo – UN to start investigation of Kasai killings

Reuters

By Stephanie Nebehay and Aaron Ross | GENEVA/KINSHASA

GENEVA/KINSHASA The United Nations opened an investigation on Friday into killings in central Democratic Republic of Congo, though some Western countries and campaign groups said they had hoped it would have a stronger mandate.

Kinshasa has been fighting insurgents in the Kasai region since August, triggering fears of a wider conflict in the large central African country, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources.

Congo’s Catholic church said this week the violence had killed more than 3,300 people since October, with both government forces and the militia responsible for hundreds of

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council, composed of 47 member states, adopted by consensus the resolution calling for an investigation, brought by African countries.

Congo’s Ambassador Zénon Mukongo Ngay, addressing the Council, said President Joseph Kabila’s government would cooperate to shed light on atrocities. But the Congolese justice system would be in charge of the joint investigations, with the U.N. providing “technical or logistical support”, he said.

U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who is to name fact-finding experts to the investigation, had called repeatedly for an international inquiry into events in Kasai, an opposition stronghold.

“We fully support the establishment of an international investigation …as a step forward in identifying the perpetrators of gross violations and bringing them to justice,” Zeid said in a statement.

His office counted on the “full cooperation” of the government and on the experts having unfettered access to all sites, files, people and places.

“The team will conduct investigations in a fully independent manner, in accordance with international standards,” he said.

Zeid told the Council on Tuesday that a militia linked to the government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers’ limbs and stabbing pregnant women.

Kinshasa has repeatedly denied that security forces systematically use excessive force and insists it is capable of conducting its own investigations.

Several government officials have said in recent days that they were pleased a European Union proposal for a fully-independent international investigation into the violence had been withdrawn. But diplomats said elements of that had been incorporated into the African text.

In a statement to the council, Jason Mack, a representative from the U.S. delegation, said Washington welcomed the resolution but retained doubts about the Congolese government’s commitment to a transparent investigation.

Paul Nsapu, the deputy secretary-general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a French NGO, said investigators might not have sufficient authority to identify perpetrators of rights abuses.

“This resolution risks not being enough to stop the massacres,” he said.

Human Rights Watch’s Leila Matar, however, said in a statement that the inquiry “brings hope of uncovering the truth about the horrific violence”.

(editing by Richard Balmforth and John Stonestreet)

South Africa – Mantashe on ANC owning up to #Guptaleaks

News24

2017-06-24 07:48

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Lerato Sejake, News24)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Lerato Sejake, News24)

 

Tshwane – The fact that some ANC members have confirmed being implicated in a trove of leaked Gupta emails is good for the political party says its secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

He delivered an address on Friday night at the ANC Gauteng’s policy conference taking place throughout the weekend in Irene.

“There is something positive coming out of these emails up, to now four of our comrades have owned up. Four, yes, owned up.” He told delegates.

Mantashe who used the opportunity to deliver a political school style lecture spoke about the state of branches and members of the party. He also praised those who confirmed their involvement with the family said to have close ties to the president.

The Guptas have been accused of having undue influence over President Jacob Zuma and some state owned enterprises. The family is also said to have had a hand in making key decisions such as appointing ministers in the country.

Their role in claims of state capture has been likened by some, such as the academic fraternity, as a soft coup.

‘We used to lie blatantly’

Among those who have confirmed the claims are Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo who admitted that she had taken a trip to Dubai courtesy of the Gupta family, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo who was cited as being one of the many faces in the liberation movement to have pitched at their Saxonwold home and the president’s advisor Lakela Kaunda has admitted that in 2008 she was a non-executive director of a Gupta owned company, but resigned after 6 months.

“It didn’t used to happen, we would deny everything [and say] no I don’t know what’s going on. We used to lie blatantly” said Mantashe in explaining how the posture of the party needed to change when it came to negative developments around the party.

“They all said it, yes I was there, yes it true, yes it’s true, yes it’s true,” said the SG in Xhosa.

He also reiterated the calls for a judicial inquiry, which the president has now said he would establish.

“It must be constitutional and enforceable,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe said the 105 year old liberation movement needed to change its posture on matters in the public domain, not only speak out against wrong doings but show that it was actually taking measures to address the problems.

He praised one of his comrades, former mayor of Ekurhuleni and now Member of Parliament Mondli Gungubele for his role in an adhoc committee on communications and its handling of the troubles at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

“When you started confronting the situation at the SABC then people began to see that the ANC knows the difference between right and wrong,” said Mantashe.

No political ideology

The ANC SG also decried the state of branches saying there was a decline in political ideology in the movement.

“Comrades begin to howl and use common sense that is not so common because they are guided by no ideology,” said Mantashe.

Giving insights on areas where current office bearers and stalwarts disagreed, Mantashe said former leaders of the party who had called for a national consultative conference had wanted to discuss the state of the organisation without the branches.

“We didn’t agree with veterans when they said we don’t want the branches [because] their politics [are] too poor,” he said describing the request as flawed.

When you say that you are blaming the victim, he added.

“You recruit a person say for 23 years, then say a member who has been around for 15 years is of poor quality, that member of the branch is a victim of you not doing what you should do,” he said.

Mantsashe said when he visited different branches across the different regions to deliver political school he found leaders, even in regions, did not know about the national democratic revolution.

“This is not isolated. It’s not rare, you come across it everywhere,” he said.

Mantashe said party members were not busy with discussions but too focused on issues around deployment and tenders.

He also said the party needed to accept that society was correct when it placed high expectations on the party.

“When people complain of state capture and that family [the Guptas] we then say what about white monopoly capital,” he went to define this as flawed.

“You are selecting the lowest common denominator to measure yourself because white monopoly capital is the essence of the revolution.”

Donors pledge $352 million to help Uganda’s South Sudanese refugees

Reuters

By Elias Biryabarema | KAMPALA

KAMPALA About $352 million has been pledged to help Uganda cope with an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan, donors said on Friday.

Uganda needs some $2 billion for its surging refugee population. The money would fund operations for the next 12 months .

About 1.3 million refugees have fled to Uganda, of whom an estimated 950,000 have come from South Sudan, displaced by the country’s escalating civil war.

Most of the South Sudanese are crammed into about five camps in Uganda’s northwest. One of them, Bidi Bidi is among the world’s largest refugee settlements, hosting about 270,000 people.

“I don’t think anyone ever anticipated that we would be dealing with one million refugees out of South Sudan alone,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told Reuters.

Food for the refugees will run out in July without more help, Beasley said.

Fighting erupted in Africa’s youngest nation in December 2013 between forces allied to President Salva Kiir and his then- deputy, Riek Machar. A peace pact in 2015 briefly halted the conflict, but it exploded into war again last July.

“The international community needs to step up and needs to give to the Ugandan people and to the refugees hosted by the Ugandan people the kind of support that is absolutely needed because the circumstances in which these sacrifices are being made are extremely, extremely challenging,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa, Larry King)

 

Nigeria – state security service says it has foiled plots for attacks in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Sokoto during Islamic holiday

Premium Times

SSS operatives

SSS operatives

The State Security Service, SSS, announced on Friday that it arrested suspected terrorists planning to attack Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna and Maiduguri during the Sallah celebration.

The federal government had earlier declared Monday and Tuesday next week as public holidays for the Islamic festival.

In a statement on Friday signed by Tony Opuiyo, the SSS said, “The past few weeks, this service has uncovered a sinister plot by terrorist elements to stage series of coordinated attacks using explosives on different cities across the country.”

Two suspects, Yusuf Adamu and Abdumuminu Haladu, were apprehended by the domestic intelligence agency during the early hours of Friday in Sokoto.

According to the statement, Mr. Adamu and his accomplice were to command the operation in Kano.

“However, the Service had earlier arrested the facilitator of the Kano attack, an explosive expert by name Bashir Mohammed at Unguwar Barnawa, Shekar Madaki, Kumbatso LGA, Kano State on June 20”.

“Their plan, together with others now at large, was to assemble the explosives and use them on select targets during the Eid-el-Fitr Celebrations”.

“Their aim was to hit on soft targets such as markets, public parks, public processions, recreation centres, as well as worship centres especially the Eid Praying Grounds and other densely populated areas during the forthcoming Eid-el-Fitr Sallah celebration.  The latest plan by the terrorists was to unleash mayhem on Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna and Maiduguri,” the agency said.

However, the service assured Nigerians that the planned terrorist attacks in the states have been foiled by the agency.

The agency said during the arrest of Mr. Mohammed in Kumbotso, Kano, a search was conducted at his residence where it recovered “Eight (8) AK-47 rifles, Twenty (20) fully loaded AK-A7 magazines, Twenty-seven (27) hand grenades, Seven hundred and ninety-three (793) rounds of live ammunition.”

One gas cylinder, three laptops, one mobile phone, a motorcycle, a car, and a printer were also recovered.

The SSS also said it uncovered plans by the terrorists to infiltrate the ranks of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, which has been demanding the release of its leader Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, held without trial since December 2015.

“This is in an attempt to assume a formidable cover to unleash violence and evoke a complete state of chaos in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja during the group’s Qudus Day Procession/Rally scheduled for Friday in Abuja and several States in the Northern parts of the country”.

“Sequel to this, the Service is warning members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to desist from staging any form of procession or demonstration as the terrorists will seize the opportunity to unleash mayhem”. Mr. Opuiyo said.

The rallies by the IMN had, however, been held across many cities, in a largely peaceful atmosphere, before the SSS statement.

“The Service is working, in concert with other security agencies, to ensure that no section of the country is attacked during and after the Sallah celebrations”.

“Law abiding citizens and residents are not only assured of their safety but enjoined to go about their normal businesses without fear of attack. It pledges to engage all stakeholders to ensure a hitch free Eid-el-fitr festival across the country,” it stated.

Nigeria – pro-Biafra leader says no election in south without Biafra referendum

Premium Times

 

 

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No election in Southeast Nigeria without Biafra referendum — Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Kanu

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has warned that elections will be boycotted in the South East states starting with the Anambra State gubernatorial elections scheduled for November 18 if the Federal Government fails to hold referendum for the realisation of the state of Biafra.

“If the Federal Government does not agree with us on a date for referendum, there will be no elections in the southeast, we are starting with Anambra come November this year. There will be no governorship election in Anambra State”, Mr. Kanu said while addressing a crowd of protesters in his father’s compound in Abia state.

It is not clear when the video was shot. If it happened after Mr. Kanu’s release from detention in April, then it would appear a violation of conditions set by Justice Binta Nyako when she granted Mr. Kanu bail in April.

Mr. Kanu, who is facing charges of treasonable felony at the Federal High Court in Abuja, has been at the vanguard of the call for an independent Biafra Republic from the Nigerian state.

In granting him bail in April after more than a year in detention, Justice Nyako listed 12 conditions, including an order for Mr. Kanu to avoid being seen in a crowd of more than 10 people.

The court also instructed that Mr. Kanu desist from granting interviews or engaging in any form of rallies as part of his conditions for bail.

However, in the 16 minutes, 21 seconds video posted on Youtube, Tuesday, Mr. Kanu who is seen speaking to a congregation of Biafran supporters also said there would be no form of election in the Southeast during the 2019 general elections, stressing that he would not relent in his agitation for Biafra.

“In 2019, the whole of Biafra land will not vote for any president. There will be no Senator, there will be no House of Reps, there will be no House of Assembly and there will be no Councilor-ship elections in Biafra land if they (federal government) fail to call for a referendum.

“Nigerian government should build as many prisons as possible to jail all Biafrans because there is no going back and we are ready to go there (prisons) unless the federal government gives us Biafra.

“We are not like any other people. People like us don’t come twice. That’s why I know that with the last breath in this very body that Biafra will be restored. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. Tell them that’s what I said. Nobody on this earth can stop Biafra,” the IPOB leader said.

Since the IPOB leader was freed, he has not only addressed hundreds of his supporters but has also granted media interviews.

Last month, while addressing the members of the Jewish Synagogue at his residence in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia in Abia state, Southeast Nigeria , Mr. Kanu declared that the coming of the Republic of Biafra was imminent.

Similarly, Kanu had told Al Jazeera that he was not bothered about landing in trouble over his actions due to the bail conditions given to him Justice Binta Nyako of an Abuja Division of the High Court.

 

 

South Africa – Zuma on the ropes but is a knock-out blow coming?

Rand Daily Mail

 

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

23 June 2017 – 07:39 Nomahlubi Jordaan and Penwell Dlamini
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

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

Constitutional Court

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.”

– The Times