Category Archives: Africa – International

South Africa – Dlamini-Zuma says country needs more black-owned banks

News24

Tshidi Madia, News24

South African interior minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaks during a press conference as head of the African Union (AU) Commission. (Simon Maina, AFP)

Ekurhuleni – Former chair of the Commission of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has given a glimpse of her thoughts on the recent banking saga, saying the country needed more banks, especially banks owned by blacks.

She was speaking at the opening of a church in Thokoza, East of Johannesburg.

“Women and young people want to venture out into business but often find one of their greatest challenges is that there is no financial assistance,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

She attended the event, where she participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony flanked by leaders in the ANC Women’s League, including its president Bathabile Dlamini and secretary general Meogo Matuba.

Some of South Africa’s banks have been implicated in an international collusion scandal, where agents are accused of alleged price fixing and cheating fictitious bids on both local and international markets.

Since the collusion scandal was made public by the Competition Commission there have been growing calls for a state bank, with the Women’s League and the ANC Youth League supporting the idea.

Some have even called for an inquiry into South Africa’s banks, in some instances accusing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan of protecting their interests.

“Banks need to be open, in South Africa there should actually be many banks,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

She added that not only a few should be making so much money on their own.

She told those in attendance that in South Africa more black people had to own banks as they were in the majority, just like in other countries on the continent.

Kenya – Is Kenyatta trying to isolate William Ruto?

Star (Kenya)

Feb. 27, 2017, 12:00 am

Deputy President  William Ruto greets worshippers after a church service at AIC in Kericho. Ruto urged the church to preach peace, unity and harmony with the coming elections.Photo/REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS
Deputy President William Ruto greets worshippers after a church service at AIC in Kericho. Ruto urged the church to preach peace, unity and harmony with the coming elections.Photo/REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pact with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi has been interpreted as a wider scheme to either slowly neutralise or even isolate Deputy President William Ruto.

Ruto’s grip on the Rift Valley and specifically the Kalenjin community has been placed in an increasingly precarious position as it emerges that Gideon is working with Bomet Governor and Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Rutto.

Their aim is to take as much control of the region’s politics as they can, eating into Ruto’s turf.

On Thursday, Kanu announced that it will support Uhuru’s reelection but field its own candidates for other elective seats where it deems fit.

The deal is said to have been negotiated by President Kenyatta in person, sidestepping Ruto, who has long been seen as the de facto Kalenjin community leader.

The announcement by Kanu was made exactly a week after President Kenyatta paid a visit to retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarnet Gardens residence, Nairobi.

Uhuru’s mother, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, on January 21 made a courtesy call on Moi at his Kabarak home in Nakuru.

Expert comment: Getting votes at the expense of lives is barbaric

Read: Kenyatta promises Gideon Moi Cabinet slots

The newfound union between Uhuru and Gideon has raised eyebrows in Ruto’s camp, with questions on the wider plan.

All indications are that Kanu will work with CCM to exert a grip on the Rift Valley to reduce the DP’s grip on the region.

Today, Gideon and Rutto head to Narok county, where they will attend a ceremony at the home of Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu in the Olopirik area.

Gideon and Rutto have long been fierce critics of the DP and all his works.

Other Rift Valley rebels expected in the meeting are West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo, the vocal Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno, his Kuresoi counterpart Zakayo Cheruiyot and Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat.

Gideon plans to capture more elective seats to influence policy at both the regional and national levels. At present Kanu has just 6 MPs and JP 164 (89 allied to Uhuru and 75 to Ruto).

The scheme will see Jubilee’s elected Mount Kenya members try to dilute Ruto’s influence at the party level.

Gideon aims to use numbers to portray Ruto as a weak DP, hence not in a position to perform strongly in the 2022 contest, a presidential transition race if Jubilee retains power on August 8 this year.

Ruto’s political say, including formation of the next Cabinet, will significantly decline in case his wing loses a significant number of MP seats in the Rift Valley to Kanu and CCM, come August 8.

Those in the know have hinted that the deal Uhuru cut with Gideon includes Jubilee not fielding candidates for certain elective seats against Kanu, especially in the Rift Valley. This, however, has not gone down well with those Ruto’s allies.

The DP’s wing of JP has already identified the persons it wants to run for virtually all key posts in the Rift Valley.

Kanu has indicated that it will field candidates in the North Rift areas such as Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu and Nandi, while CCM will field in the South Rift, which includes Nakuru, Bomet and Kericho.

The pact between Uhuru and Kanu has deeply dismayed some of Ruto’s allies. Ruto has publicly stated that he is Jubilee’s automatic Presidential candidate in 2022, if the ruling party holds together before and after the 2017 polls.

He hopes to have an even more substantial number of MPs as well as governors allied to him after the August elections, who will eventually act as part of his springboard to State House.

The DP also expects President Kenyatta and the Mt Kenya region to automatically back his 2022 bid.

Retired President Daniel Moi when he was visited by Mama Ngina Kenyatta at his Kabarak home recently. /File

Last June, the President publicly assured Ruto of his support in his 2022 bid for State House. The assurance followed assertions by some Jubilee politicians that the DP does not have their guaranteed support.

The announcement by the President did not please key politicians from the Mt Kenya region, who quietly complained that Uhuru was setting up the community.

A number of MPs from Central complained that the community, especially its numerous members in the Rift Valley, could be isolated and possibly subjected to violence as happened in 2008 if it did not support Ruto in 2022.

This has apparently led State House to consider a countervailing force in the Rift Valley to work with as early as ahead of the August election.

“It is better we go to the August election with them [the Kalenjin community] knowing that our support for Ruto’s 2022 bid is not automatic, instead of them believing we will support him and then something else happens,” an MP from Central told the Star.

The mounting complaints by the Mt Kenya leaders are seen as part of the reason why the President reached out to Kanu – as a wider plan to keep Ruto in check.

Speaking to the Star on Saturday, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso accused Kanu of attempting to sow discord within Jubilee by showing support for President Kenyatta’s reelection on a conditional basis.

Laboso said claims by Kanu that it supports Uhuru but not DP Ruto were likely to cause animosity among leaders and even the electorates in the community and across the country.

“Kanu should stop giving us unnecessary conditions, Jubilee is not Uhuru alone,” said the Sotik legislator.

Laboso said Kanu undermined the DP’s role in the ruling party, where Ruto brought together all the 11 parties to form the Jubilee Party.

“Uhuru cannot be the party leader alone without the deputy party leader, and so Gideon and his ilk should bear in mind they are coming in, but that Ruto is the only de facto leader of the Kalenjin community,” added Laboso.

Laboso warned Kanu to accept the fact that Ruto is the face of Jubilee in the Rift Valley and nobody can pretend to be working with JP and at the same time try to ignore the DP.

“Unless they are dreaming, it is not going to be possible to come to Jubilee with an agenda to isolate the Deputy President,” she concluded.

South Sudan – the hungry emerge from the swamps to get food aid

BBC

Three years of civil war in South Sudan have driven thousands of families into the marshes of the Nile to hide from the fighting. A famine has been declared some parts. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead has been to the rebel-held town Thonyor in Leer County, where people have been told to gather to get help.

They emerged from the marshlands of the Nile in their thousands, as word spread that help had come.

Forced by fighting to live on the isolated islands of the Sudd swamps, they have been surviving for months on wild plants.

Now they sat on the dry, cracked earth in long lines under a brutal sun – mostly women and children – waiting to register for the food aid which would be air-dropped in a few days time.

“We are only surviving by eating wild honey and water lilies from the river,” said Nyambind Chan Kuar as she sat with 16 of her children and grandchildren.

“The fighting has been disastrous – children have been killed, they are taking our things, our cattle, our goats, taking everything, even though we have nothing to do with this war.”

children cross water to register for aidReuters  Thousands have been hiding from the fighting in swampland

Each person is given a card that entitles them to 30 days of food rations when supplies arrive. Their finger is then stained with ink to avoid duplication.

“People are dying because of this hunger,” said Mary Nyayain. “That’s why we are here queuing for these tokens.”

The town of Thonyor in Leer County was chosen as the central point for distributing aid after long negotiations with both sides in the civil war.

It’s one of the four counties in Unity State suffering pockets of famine, which the latest hunger assessment says is affecting 100,000 people.

Leer is the birthplace of the former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar which is perhaps why it has been the centre of so much fighting.

waiting to be registered in Leer CountyReuters People in Unity State say they have been eating water lilies to survive

Thonyor is controlled by the rebels or the “IO” as they’re known – forces “In Opposition” – but the government troops are just 20 minutes up the road.

“The war has been so difficult for us,” said another woman waiting in line for a cholera vaccination.

“Especially for the old women who are not able to run to the river to survive in the islands. Our cows and goats were taken so that’s why we are only able to survive through the food agency.”

Under each tree is a different medical post – with health checks for the children.

The worst cases of malnutrition are treated straight away.

A woman waits to be registeredReuters   About 36,000 people are expected to be registered – but the UN says thousands more are cut off by rivers or fighting

“You may think this child is actually very healthy – he’s fat, he’s looking OK,” said James Bwirani from the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“But this is just water accumulating in the body and he has not been consuming adequate food for some time.”

The child has a distended belly and his face and limbs are swollen.

“If left untreated for between a week to two weeks, this child is going to be dead,” Mr Bwirani said.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is coordinating this emergency response, expecting about 36,000 people to come in from the swamps for help.

MacharAP  Leer County is the birthplace of rebel leader Riek Machar, who has fled the country

But there are many thousands more who are too far away, cut off by rivers or in areas where the government and the rebels have not agreed to provide access.

“For many, many months humanitarian agencies have not been able to make it into this area. This is first time we’re doing so,” said George Fominyen from the WFP.

“Without safety, without assurance of security for the people that are in need and the aid workers, we’ll be having a catastrophic situation down the line.”

The UN describes this as “a man-made famine” – created by the civil war which has divided the army and the country largely along ethnic lines.

A political row between President Salva Kiir and Mr Machar led to killings in the capital and fighting which has spread across the country.

Armed man canoesReuters The UN says the “man-made” famine has been caused by the civil war

The war has displaced millions of people, many into neighbouring countries, and 40% of the population now depends on international aid.

Mr Machar fled South Sudan in July when a fragile peace deal collapsed.

He is currently in South Africa, unable to return but apparently still commanding his troops by phone.

Leer county commissioner Brig Gen Nhial Phan said there won’t be peace until Mr Machar is allowed back to take part in a proposed national dialogue.

He believes President Kiir wants to drive people out of his county.

KiirImage copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Leer County officials accuse President Kiir of orchestrating the bloodshed

“The government kills people – their militia is raiding, taking cows, killing and burning the church and the houses, forcing people into the islands,” he said.

There are scorch marks where the market used to be and the remains of a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic, destroyed when the government forces took the town for two days last November.

By getting help in fast, aid agencies hope to pull this region back from famine and stop the famine from spreading – if they are allowed to access to the worst affected areas.

Gambia – World Bank pledges $60 million to help fill empty coffers

Reuters

BANJUL The World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, said on Saturday he had agreed to give Gambia $60 million in budget support after government allegations that former ruler Yahya Jammeh took tens of millions of dollars in public money, leaving it heavily indebted.

Diop told reporters after meeting with the new government that he had pledged to give $40 million before June with the remainder to follow later.

Jammeh fled into exile last month after regional leaders convinced him after marathon talks that he should accept defeat in a December election.

Since then Gambia’s new pro-Western government has alleged that Jammeh committed fraud on a massive scale including siphoning off tens of millions of dollars in public money into various bank accounts not in his name but from which he withdrew cash, including at the central bank.

“All parastatals, especially the National Water and Electricity Company, GAMTEL (telecommunications) and Gambia Public Transport, are bankrupt and the government coffers are empty,” said finance minister Amadou Sanneh, who was one of more than 100 political prisoners pardoned at the end of Jammeh’s rule.

“We need real help from donors to sustain the country,” he added.

The World Bank has several projects in Gambia although direct budget support had previously been suspended over the former government’s alleged manipulation of exchange rates, a finance ministry official said.

Jammeh only conceded defeat last month under intense military pressure from West African regional body ECOWAS which sent thousands of troops into the riverine state entirely surrounded by Senegal. However, that dealt a blow to Gambia’s tourism earnings during the peak winter sun season and hundreds of European visitors were evacuated.

The International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank are also due to hold meetings with Gambian authorities in the coming weeks, officials said, and may offer additional support.

(Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

South Africa – after failing with Gordhan, Hawks target Jonas

News24

2017-02-26 06:10

Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas

Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas

After unsuccessfully pursuing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Hawks have now set their sights on his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.

City Press has established that the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State (Cats) unit is gathering evidence that could implicate Jonas in a case of corruption involving a supplier to SAA’s aviation maintenance division, SAA Technical (Saat).

The case is being investigated by Cats unit head Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, who also investigated the case against Gordhan and his former SA Revenue Service (Sars) colleagues, Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg.

Three months ago, the Hawks submitted their docket containing the case of fraud, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Provision of Communication-Related Information Act against Gordhan, related to the so-called Project Sunday Evenings, to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams for a decision on whether he should be prosecuted.

Abrahams is yet to announce a decision.

The Hawks’ investigation into Jonas and others, who, it is alleged, include several Saat board members, began late last year.

City Press has learnt from four highly placed sources – three within the Hawks and one within SAA – that, as part of their probe into the airline, the Hawks are investigating Jonas for allegedly introducing US aircraft maintenance and engineering company AAR Corp to one of Saat’s board members, requesting that he “look after them”.

The complaint, which City Press has seen, was laid by an unnamed Saat board member.

It contains the allegation that Jonas used his political influence as deputy finance minister to have the company favourably viewed as a supplier of aircraft components and tyres. This, according to internal Hawks documents, was done despite the company failing to meet the stipulated tender requirements on three occasions.

The Hawks have already interviewed the Saat board member who made the claims. It is not clear when exactly the alleged interference took place.

“Another person of interest in the investigation is SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, who has already been contacted for her statement,” said a Hawks officer close to the investigation.

“The investigators will be obtaining her statement soon.”

Myeni confirmed this to City Press yesterday.

“I am aware of the allegations against Jonas. I am the one who is always painted as corrupt and I will see what will happen now,” she said.

Myeni confirmed that she would provide the Hawks with a statement and would cooperate with the probe.

The investigation comes amid widespread speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle, sparked by the appointment this week of former Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) Brian Molefe as an ANC MP.

Jonas is widely believed to be a target of the reshuffle.

In her State of Capture report, then public protector Thuli Madonsela revealed how Molefe and Ajay Gupta made 58 phone calls to each other between August 2015 and March 2016, and that Molefe’s cellphone records placed him near or at the Guptas’ sprawling compound in Saxonwold in Johannesburg.

This was in the lead-up to the family’s acquisition of the Optimum coal mine, bought with a R600m pre-payment which Eskom approved. Molefe resigned from Eskom shortly after the report’s release.

In the same report, Jonas revealed that the Guptas offered him the job of finance minister and a R600m bribe to work with them. The Guptas denied the allegations.

Treasury spokesperson Yolisa Tyantsi declined to comment on questions sent on Friday afternoon. Jonas could not be reached. Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to confirm or deny that Jonas was among their targets, but said the investigation was ongoing.

“For the record, the investigation was referred to us after a source blew the lid off serious corrupt activities at SAA. We intend to dig deep to uncover the truth based on the information that was referred to us,” Mulaudzi said.

“The probe involves billions of rands of state funds, and serious allegations have been levelled against senior government officials, the Saat and SAA boards, and businesses.”

Mulaudzi declined to reveal details, saying that doing so would jeopardise the investigation.

“We will also not reveal the names of the officials or businesses, or their accomplices, until we bring those linked to alleged corruption to court.

“We still have a lot of documentation to go through and to take statements from all those alleged to have played a role directly or indirectly.

“We are committed to bringing to finality the alleged abuse of state funds and collusion without fear, favour or prejudice using the rule of law at SAA,” he said.

On Friday, a spokesperson for AAR Corp denied the allegations, saying: “We have earned the trust of some of the world’s largest airlines, including carriers in Kenya and Ethiopia. As always, AAR conducts its business with the highest ethical and legal standards.”

However, from the documents City Press has seen, there so far appears to be little evidence implicating Jonas.

The case relates to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by AAR Corp CEO David Storch and Saat’s then CEO, Musa Zwane, in June 2015. Zwane is now the acting CEO of SAA.

According to an announcement at the time, the two parties signed the agreement to establish a joint venture to “reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies of the airline’s fleet”.

Documents before the Hawks allege the joint venture was an “effective noncompetitive method of bypassing the tender which AAR had failed to qualify for on two previous occasions”.

It goes on to state: “The MOU was a mechanism that resulted in the cancellation of the competitive and quantifiable tender process. The Saat board did, in fact, immediately after the signing of the MOU, cancel the tender process.

“Anonymous allegations were made that the unsolicited bid was motivated by a senior government official. This needs to be investigated.”

This senior official, said two senior Hawks officers, was alleged to be Jonas. At the time, SAA fell under the authority of Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown.

Six months after the MOU was signed, SAA was transferred to Treasury after Cabinet became concerned about the performance of state-owned companies, including the national airline, the SA Post Office and Eskom.

Although it is a subsidiary of SAA, Saat has its own board.

The Hawks’ Xaba and his Cats team made headlines last year when they sent 27 questions to Gordhan a few days before he was due to deliver his 2016 budget speech.

The fraud charges against Gordhan were withdrawn by Abrahams late last year before he could even appear in court.

The same unit is also investigating Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema for inciting violence; Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride, former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart, Shadrack Sibiya, in connection with the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans; and forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan on a string of charges.

Xaba and his unit were also implicated in the alleged kidnapping of Sars executive Vlok Symington, who revealed legal advice exonerating Gordhan of any wrongdoing in the granting of early retirement to Pillay, his former deputy.

South Africa – “we know who is behind Tshwane violence”, says Mayor Msimanga

News24 wite/allAfrica  

 
 

Those who instigated violent protests around parts of Tshwane in the lead-up to the 2016 municipal elections were responsible for the violence in Atteridgeville during the anti-immigrant march on Friday, says Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga.

“The same people responsible for the Thoko Didiza saga were blocking W F Nkomo street,” Msimanga told News24.

He was speaking after a marathon day of attempting to quell tensions between South Africans and their foreign national counterparts in the city.

Parts of the country’s capital were brought to a standstill by the march. Protestors in Atteridgeville threw rocks, burned tyres and allegedly looted shops belonging to foreign nationals.

He was speaking after a marathon day of attempting to quell tensions between South Africans and their foreign national counterparts in the city.

Parts of the country’s capital were brought to a standstill by the march. Protestors in Atteridgeville threw rocks, burned tyres and allegedly looted shops belonging to foreign nationals.

Msimanga admitted that the constant tension between locals and their foreign counterparts spoke to a greater socio-economic problem which government needed to resolve urgently.

“We have a shrinking pie and ever-growing demand, especially with young people who are saying they want to do things for themselves but lack opportunities, and this is the frustration that is growing now,” said the Tshwane mayor.

Msimanga said he had met with different leaders behind the groups and even understood the motive behind those who were demonstrating against foreign nationals.

“I got an assurance that the march was a noble one, it was not going to deteriorate into violence. They said they just wanted their voices to be heard, for government to take their concerns seriously,” said Msimanga.

Although he never mentioned the ANC by name and refused to single out individuals, he said it was obvious to see that other issues were at play in the demonstrations.

“The same white Camry that was doing the rounds during Thoko Didiza’s debacle is doing it again, the same group is causing mayhem,” said the Tshwane mayor.

Msimanga was referring to what was dubbed “Tshwane Burning” at the time when violent protests broke out in the townships in 2016.

This, after the ANC had announced long-standing member Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate ahead of last year’s local government elections.

“I don’t want to point a finger at an individual but look at the facts, what happened during the Thoko Didiza debacle and what’s happening now,” continued Msimanga.

It would serve other people to destabilise government, by ensuring there is chaos and violence as it was done last year when there was dissatisfaction over a certain party’s candidate list, he added.

His claims come on the back of a discovery of what is believed to be an ANC baseline document of strategies and tactics on how to bring the DA-led administration into chaos, so the ANC could win back the capital city.

“I can tell you there is definitely more being planned to galvanise municipal workers to rebel against the city and to ground service delivery to a standstill,” said Msimanga.

He said even municipal union leaders were in discussions with “the caucus of a certain party” on ways to bring the city to its knees.

“We are working every day to ensure people get the services they deserve. We will be very strict and those using their position in the city to score political points will have to go,” concluded Msimanga.

Police said on Friday that 136 people had been arrested in Pretoria West following the protests.

Source: News24

Angola says charges against Vice-President amount to an attack by Portugal

Reuters

Angola says Portugal decision to charge vice president a ‘serious attack’

LUANDA Angola said on Friday that Portugal’s decision to charge its Vice President Manuel Vicente with corruption and money laundering was a “serious attack” that threatened relations between the two states.

A foreign affairs ministry statement said Angola “considers unfriendly and nonsensical the way the Portuguese authorities conveyed this news which constitutes a serious attack on the Republic of Angola and is likely to disrupt the good relations existing between the two states.”

The prosecutor general’s office in Lisbon last week said it was charging Vicente, who is accused of bribing a magistrate when he was chief executive of state oil company Sonangol.

Vicente is a powerful figure in Angola, Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, but he is no longer seen as a successor to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who said earlier this month he would not run in this year’s presidential election, calling an end to 38 years as head of state.

The ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) approved Defence Minister Joao Lourenco, 62, as its presidential candidate instead of Vicente, at one time seen as the next in line.

Angola is a former Portuguese colony and has branded previous attempts by Portugal to investigate Vicente as “revenge by the former colonial master” and “neo-colonialism”.

Rights groups and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund have frequently raised concerns about graft and the squandering of oil revenues in Angola, where most of the population lives in abject poverty.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Tom Heneghan)