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Africa – News and Analysis is a news and comment aggregation site for the best stories and analysis of what is happening in sub-Saharan Africa.. It will bring you the most important stories and sharpest comments. The stories linked to do not necessarily reflect the views of the site.

South Africa – state of crisis as budget cuts loom and student protests continue

2016-10-09 06:00

Police attempt to arrest activist Mcebo Dlamini on the Wits campus during this week’s protests. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Police attempt to arrest activist Mcebo Dlamini on the Wits campus during this week’s protests. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

The battle for free university education is headed for a crisis after government revealed plans to announce a draconian mid-term budget, which will include cutting its numbers of civil servants.

Senior government officials told City Press that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget – to be delivered in two weeks – will put the squeeze on salary budgets across departments, as well as those for goods and services.

While students take to the streets for a fourth week, government remains mum on new solutions, and the country’s clergy is calling for President Jacob Zuma to declare a state of crisis.

A senior government official privy to Cabinet matters said:

“There is no money to subsidise free universities. It is already a struggle to find money to fund the special dispensation announced by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to subsidise all households who earn less than R600 000 annually.”

The official said the continuing drought is placing additional strain on the economy.

“The question is, what would it take for government to yield to the demand for free education? Does it mean we stop social grants or building houses? Something has to give for that to happen.”

The official said it was likely that after the mid-term budget policy statement on October 26, government would start encouraging older civil servants to take early retirement to save money.

The officials also said government’s appetite to negotiate with students was waning because they negotiated in bad faith.

“Both the president and Nzimande have met with students on several occasions, but whatever was agreed on was discarded after the meetings,” the official said.

TARGETED ARRESTS

The police have decided on a strategy of targeting students who have allegedly committed particular crimes, rather than conducting mass arrests that end up with failed prosecutions.

According to senior police sources, some of these arrests have already been effected and some are due to be carried out in the next few days and weeks.

It is understood that some of those due to face the law include the #FeesMustFall leadership.

The arrests relate to incidents of public violence, intimidation, arson and assault.

The officials told City Press that the police decided to move away from a scattered response that involved dispersing protesters and arresting them en masse.

Last year and early this year, the arrest of student protesters ended in prosecutions being dropped because evidence was not properly gathered. Now the approach is to gather enough prosecutable evidence before pouncing on suspects.

The solidity of the evidence will be such that bail will be difficult to access.

Some of the crimes targeted will carry sentences of several years and the authorities believe successful convictions will deter future violent behaviour.

“We must deal with the criminals,” one police official said.

Discussions are also under way around the feasibility of moving lectures and final examinations to venues away from universities, which will be heavily guarded.

This, however, would only be done if the impasse is not resolved in the next week.

STATE OF CRISIS

General secretary of the SA Council of Churches (SACC), Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, told City Press this week that the SACC wrote to Zuma this week asking him to declare a state of crisis.

The SACC also wants him to form a Cabinet committee that includes parents of students to find a solution to the crisis and avoid protest action beyond Friday to save the academic year.

The presidency confirmed that the SA Union of Students wrote to its office on Thursday requesting a meeting with Zuma. This request is “being considered”.

But Zuma is expected to be out of the country from Tuesday on a trip to Kenya, after which he will travel to India for a Brics meeting.

It is not clear whether Nzimande has scheduled any meetings with students to try to resolve the impasse.

Meanwhile, Gordhan invited South Africans to make suggestions about how to fund university fees in time for his mid-term budget.

“As usual, there is a balancing act that must be struck to give attention to various competing priorities,” Treasury said on Friday.

Treasury said Gordhan particularly wanted public views on funding free tertiary education, as well as how South Africa can achieve inclusive economic growth and use its resources more efficiently.

WITS TALKS COLLAPSE

This week, mediated talks between students and management at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) collapsed.

Mediators – including university alumni Tiego Moseneke (brother of university chancellor and former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke), Economic Freedom Fighters national chairperson Dali Mpofu and Independent Electoral Commission deputy chair Terry Tselane – failed to help both sides find common ground.

Students insist that free education should be provided immediately and that the university should be closed down until this is declared.

The university said it could not commit to the latter as most students wanted to complete the academic year.

A number of lecturers at Wits said they would not teach tomorrow – both in protest of the “militarisation” of the campus and in solidarity with protesting students.

A Wits insider said the institution battled to communicate with police deployed there this week when they launched stun grenades at students and observers who were marching peacefully, leading to a morning of running battles with police.

“Previously, the vice-chancellor [Adam Habib] was able to ask that police leave when he deemed their presence unnecessary, but on Tuesday, they would not comply,” the insider said.

Habib was not available for comment yesterday.

Police spokesperson Mashadi Selepe said the police needed no invitation to be on premises where “criminal activity or violence is taking place or lives and/or property is under threat”.

Selepe declined to comment on command and control on campuses, saying:

“The department will not peddle command and control issues through the media. Commanders on all levels within the department are well-equipped and competent to exercise command and control within the confines of their mandate.”

University of Cape Town (UCT) spokesperson Elijah Moholola said police were “called on to UCT campuses only on the explicit request of the vice-chancellor or acting vice-chancellor”.

UCT vice-chancellor Max Price was unavailable for comment on police deployments.

Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini, who was involved in a violent confrontation with police, told City Press that students were undeterred.

“There is no fear because there is no brutality above what we have already [endured], so we are going to continue because what is driving us is the determination and commitment to achieve the cause of free, decolonised education for all,” he said.

He added that students planned to march on either Treasury, the Union Buildings or both this week to demand free education and deliver their model on how it could be achieved.

Universities and the department of higher education had hoped a temporary shutdown would discourage students and that fatigue would set in, but students say they can’t “allow the moment to pass”.

“We are close, so we cannot turn back now. If it does not happen now, it will never happen. We also want to be in class, but we also know that if we back down, this will be an annual event and we will be divided as students,” said a student leader.

CONCOURT BID

Informal discussions are also under way to take the call for free education to the Constitutional Court. Mpofu said students made compelling arguments that could be presented to the court.

“There are a number of arguments to be made around inequality brought about by things such as Bantu education and that government must prioritise the question of education to redress imbalances of the past,” Mpofu said.

“We could use the past imbalances to anchor the argument and use the equality clause as a springboard, coupled with section 29. We would also have to consider whether we head to the high court first or directly to the Constitutional Court. Those are just some of the considerations.”

Questions to Nzimande regarding new plans to deal with the crisis were directed to Harold Maloka, deputy CEO of the Government Communication and Information System, who said government’s only comment was that stakeholders should continue with engagements.

South Africa – racism entering RhodesMustFall as non-black students barred from dining room

City Press

Students question #RhodesMustFall
Biénne Huisman
2016-02-21 15:00

The burning of paintings and the racist exclusion of students from a dining hall at the University of Cape Town has started to rattle the legitimacy of the #RhodesMustFall campaign.

Some students in residences affected by the destructive protests this week said they wanted to get on with their studies. They said they had withdrawn their support for the #RhodesMustFall campaign and feared for their lives. They were too afraid to let City Press identify them.

Students said that members of the #RhodesMustFall movement took over the food service in Fuller Hall’s dining room.

They barred white, coloured and Indian students from entering the hall, and served black students only.

The meal was chicken, rice and cauliflower with gravy. After that, they removed paintings from the dining room’s walls and set them alight in the parking lot.

Ivy-covered Fuller Hall houses 229 women students and shares a dining room with nearby Smuts Hall, where 230 male students live.

City Press spoke to a male resident of Smuts Hall and a female resident of Fuller Hall. They were both allowed to eat on Tuesday night, but they asked not to be named for fear of intimidation.

The woman student, dressed in a Fuller Hall house committee T-shirt, said she feared for her life.

The 22-year-old third-year BA social sciences student said: “I have a lot to worry about; home, my studies. I mean I need really good grades to be accepted for honours. I can’t risk participating in this violence.”

She said she had supported the #RhodesMustFall movement until Tuesday.

“They are taking something that was pure and good and turning it into a fight: black against white. It’s that narrative, these generalisations which I don’t like.

“I have white friends, coloured friends and Indian friends. It was terrible to eat while they were watching from outside. Then Rhodes Must Fall took down the paintings in the dining room, at least 22 paintings, some dating from the 1930s…

“I used to support the #RhodesMustFall movement and Shackville [a campaign to support students looking for accommodation], but on Tuesday that changed.”

She has had her own room at Fuller Hall for three years. She said her studies were funded by the university’s financial aid programme. Her parents, a retired policeman and teacher from Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, contributed R18 000 a year.

She has applied to have this revised as her mother retired last year due to ill health, and now both her parents cannot afford to pay for her studies or those of her two brothers.

One brother studied civil engineering at UCT, but left in 2013 after he failed. He is set to resume his engineering studies this year at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

However, like many students at UCT, he has nowhere to stay.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have a huge comfortable room, but can’t let him sleep here at Fuller Hall because of the rules. It’s very stressful. One can’t really focus on studies when your brother is homeless.”

The 19-year-old male Smuts Hall resident, a first-year student from Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, matriculated with seven distinctions and an 89% average last year. He said his admission and application for financial aid through the university had been simple, but he was disturbed by the Rhodes Must Fall developments.

“At around 6.45pm, when I got to the dining room, there was a whole bunch of people at the doors, keeping some students out and saying: ‘No black child will go hungry.’ I was let in.

“We all stood in line … I had mixed feelings because I was hungry, but I felt bad for my friends outside, the Indian, white and coloured people.

“Before it got violent, I empathised with the protesters. But I don’t agree with the burning of paintings and they were ripping our stuff off the walls; announcements and textbook adverts, and so on.”

Nigeria – Dasuki doing everything to avoid trial and hide his secrets

Punch

Immediate Past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.)

 

The Federal Government has accused the immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, of avoiding trial in order to keep “the magnitude” of his alleged wrongs against the country away from the public.

It stated this in a counter-affidavit which it filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja in opposition to an application by Dasuki seeking an order discharging him from further standing trial on charges of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms instituted against him.

The ex-NSA had predicated his application on the grounds of Federal Government’s alleged “brazen” disobedience of a series of orders of court granting him bail.

He urged the court in his application to discharge him and prohibit the Federal Government from further prosecuting him on the grounds that his re-arrest by the DSS was tantamount to Federal Government’s alleged act of assault on the court which had released him on bail.

The Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is prosecuting Dasuki before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja on four counts of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.

In its counter-affidavit to Dasuki’s application filed by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), the Federal Government denied the allegation of disobeying the order granting bail to Dasuki with respect to the case.

A lawyer in Okpeseyi’s firm, Emmanuel Ikpebe, who deposed to the counter-affidavit, stated that while the prosecution was ready to proceed with the case, Dasuki was allegedly reluctant to go on in order to keep the details of his wrongs from the public.

The counter-affidavit stated, “That the respondent (FG) is willing and ready to proceed to prove the case with the order of this court at the last hearing on January 20, 2016 fixing the case for definite hearing.

“That I know that the applicant is not interested in facing his trial before this court.

“That I also know that the applicant is averse to general public knowing the magnitude of the wrongs against the Nigeria state he has been charged with in court.”

The prosecution insisted that Dasuki was re-arrested because of “multiple criminal cases” pending against him in different courts.

On Tuesday, at the resumed hearing before Justice Ademola at the Federal High Court, both the prosecution and the defence disagreed on the alleged violation of the order granting bail to Dasuki.

Dasuki maintained a blank facial expression while seated in the dock throughout the Tuesday’s proceedings.

His lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), insisted before Justice Ademola that the Federal Government had violated the court’s order granting bail to his client.

He said his application sought to prohibit the Federal Government from continuing to prosecute his client, adding that by further indulging the prosecution, which was allegedly in contempt of the orders of the court, to go on with the case, would amount to “mockery of the judiciary” and “an assault on the rule of law.”

He asked for an adjournment to file a response to the prosecution’s reply to his client’s application.

But in response, prosecuting counsel, Okpeseyi, opposed the application for adjournment as he also denied the allegation of disobeying court order.

But in his ruling, Justice Ademola granted the application for adjournment and directed that the defence should file its final reply within seven days.

The judge adjourned till March 3 and directed that the prosecution must produce the ex-NSA in court at the next sitting and subsequent ones.

The judge also said he would deliver a pending ruling on an application by the prosecution for witness protection on March 3.

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Kenya – after poisonings is the Marsh in Maasai Mara a no-go area for lions?

Jonathan and Angela Scott

The Marsh Pride: The Future?

December 9th, 2015

150415-111516 _DX14316

The Paradis Pride who share the same pride males – the 4 Musketeers – with the Marsh Pride.

The poisoning of members of the Marsh Pride will make a sorry end note to our Autobiography (Published by Bradt in August 2016). To be honest there is no longer a Marsh Pride – the Musiara Marsh area that gave the pride its name has become a ‘no go area’ for a proper pride with nowhere safe for them to breed now that Bila Shaka and the Marsh are cattle country. Remnants of the Marsh Pride are eking out an existence wherever they can – along Rhino Ridge and over on Paradise or keeping to the fringes of the riverine forest. But that means trying to avoid hostility from neighboring prides. Prime lion territory is fiercely contested – nobody is willing to cut any slack to their neighbors.

We do retain hope that all the furore over this incident may force some changes. The problem is ‘Where do all those cattle go?’ Sub-Division of Masailand has changed the landscape around the Reserve – it is no longer suitable in the main for large scale pastoralism. One suggestion is to set aside some of the Greater Mara as pasture for cattle that could be used on a rotational basis. In the Wildlife Conservancies surrounding the Reserve, use of the land for wildlife based tourism exists alongside pastoralism by rotational use of the area – tourists and cattle avoid being in the same place at the same time. Ideally of course it should be an absolute given that no cattle be allowed inside the Reserve – day or night. But with night time grazing becoming the accepted norm with the authorities simply pretending it isn’t happening, how do you revert to a NO CATTLE INSIDE THE RESERVE regime? The damage to the ecosystem by unregulated cattle incursions has been documented by the Hyena Research Team at Talek – showing a loss of biodiversity (less pasture for wild herbivores) and a drop in lion numbers, among other findings. There are no easy solutions to please everyone. We must try to think of the Masai Mara as sacred again – a place where wild animals can live in safety from humans. If we cannot set aside an area of just 1500 sq km for that purpose what hope is there?

There is no question that this has been a public relations disaster for the Masai Mara and Kenya. The Marsh Pride, along with the other star big cats such as Kike and Half-Tail, Bella, Honey and Toto, brought a sense of wonder and joy to millions of people around the world. Big Cat Diary changed people’s lives and promoted Kenya Tourism the world over. We can only hope that the fate of the Marsh Pride will prompt the relevant authorities in government to address the issues that have plighted the reputation of the Masai Mara for years. If it does that then something positive will have come of this and a new Marsh Pride will be able to reclaim the land of the lion around Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka.

Zambia – Glencore plans to cut 3,800 mine jobs

Reuters

Glencore’s (GLEN.L) Zambian unit Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) has notified the government that it plans to lay off more than 3,800 workers due to lower metal prices and high production costs, government sources said.

An electricity shortage in the southern African nation and weaker copper prices have put pressure on its mining industry, threatening output, jobs and economic growth in Africa’s second-biggest producer of the metal.

Mopani had initially said it planned to cut 4,300 citing lower metal prices and high production costs.

“Mopani has served the labour commissioner with a notice stating that they plan to declare 3,817 workers redundant,” a source at the labour ministry told Reuters late on Tuesday.

“They now have to wait for the labour commissioner’s opinion. The labour commissioner has to consent before they can implement the plan,” the source said.

Mining firms are required by law to notify the government when planning to reduce jobs, another source at the ministry of mines said.

“They are still engaging the unions and other stakeholders like the government, so that number can’t be final,” the second source said.

Glencore had raised the amount of money it planned to invest in Mopani to almost $1 billion dollars from $500 million over the next 18 months to improve efficiency, the source said.

Mopani’s spokesman Cephas Sinyangwe declined to comment on the planned job cuts and the proposed investment.

President Edgar Lungu’s spokesman Amos Chanda said that government officials had met executives at Glencore and Mopani to urge them to follow the law while implementing the job cuts.

“We don’t want a lot of jobs to be lost but we welcome Glencore’s plans to invest huge amounts of money in Mopani to enable it withstand shocks like the current one,” Chanda said.

Nigeria – Jonathan sacks Inspector-General of Police

Premium Times

Jonathan sacks IG of Police, Suleiman Abba; appoints replacement

Acting Inspector General of Police, Solomon Aranse

Acting Inspector General of Police, Solomon Aranse

President Goodluck Jonathan  has fired Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.

The sack was announced by the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, in a statement on Tuesday.

No reason was given for the sack.

A Deputy Inspector General of police, Solomon Arase, was appointed to act in his stead.

Mr. Abba’s removal and the assumption of office of his replacement are with immediate effect.

Mr. Abati’s statement read in full, “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has relieved the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba of his appointment and duties with immediate effect.

“President Jonathan has also appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, as Acting Inspector-General of Police, also with immediate effect.

“Until his appointment as Mr. Abba’s replacement, Mr. Arase was the Head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.

“Mr. Arase holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Law, as well as  Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Political Science and Strategic Studies.

“He is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.”

Mr. Abba, 56, became acting Inspector General on August 1, 2014 following the retirement of his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar, after 35 years of public service.

He was confirmed substantive IGP on November 4, 2014.

Mr. Abba was until that appointment an Assistant Inspector General, AIG, in charge of Zone 7 command, a position he occupied since May 25, 2012. He was also a former Aide-De-Camp, ADC, to the wife of a former military Head of State, Maryam Abacha.

With his removal, Mr. Abba will proceed on forced retirement four years before he attains retirement age.

He enlisted in the Nigerian police as cadet inspector on December 31, 1984 and is actually due for retirement on March 22, 2019.

 

South Sudan – abandoned Unity State oilfield a toxic wasteland

Al Jazeera

Leer, South Sudan – The Thar Jath oilfield in South Sudan’s war-torn Unity state has been abandoned.

The unmaintained facility, which lies inside rebel-held territory, is slowly rotting and leaking toxic oil into the earth.

According to rebel soldiers stationed in the area, international employees deserted the oilfield in August 2013, four months before civil war broke out in South Sudan.

Researchers from German aid group Sign of Hope and water drilling experts African Water Ltd have released the results of an extensive investigation showing that drinking water sources for at least 180,000 people in Unity state have been contaminated by oil exploration and production here.

Wells dug for communities contain water with salt levels so high that it is undrinkable. Abnormal heavy metal deposits such as lead and zinc were also found in the water supply.

The investigation found no natural source for the salt levels and presence of heavy metals in the water supply. The researchers attribute the contamination to oil extraction activities and poor waste disposal procedures.

Villagers cannot use their contaminated wells and instead are sourcing water from swamps and rivers, increasing the risk of catching deadly water-borne diseases.

Currently, rebel officials say the government and oil companies have no presence at these oilfields and safe drinking water sources for the population are disappearing.

More on the story