Category Archives: Africa – International

South Africa – SABC staff wear black in protest



SABC news staff revolt with united ‘blackout’
Thinus Ferreira, News24 | News24
10:47 23/07/2016
Cape Town – SABC news journalists, in an open revolt against boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng, donned black on Friday to show their support for their fired #SABC8 colleagues and to protest against the national broadcaster’s censorship policies.

The “blackout” was organised without a paper trail and with such secrecy that it caught SABC bigwigs and viewers alike by surprise.

Wearing black was a resolute show of strength by SABC staffers to show their open defiance of the public broadcaster’s Draconian policies and newsroom interference the last few months.

The on-air “blackout” on SABC News and the SABC’s various TV news bulletins was however primarily done to show their united support for the eight SABC journalists who were suspended, then fired for voicing concern over chief operating officer COO Motsoeneng’s censorship orders.
Four of the eight appeared in the Labour Court on Friday afternoon.
From junior to senior SABC reporters and producers to anchors, the SABC news staff sent a powerful and very clear message to SABC management and South Africa that they’re tired of intimidation in their radio and TV newsrooms and the misguided news censorship policy that was unilaterally imposed on SABC journalists on May 26.

Since no SABC staffers openly talked about why they’re suddenly all dressed the same, and with a large number of SABC journalists and anchors who showed unspoken solidarity by “co-incidentally” wearing black, the SABC’s acting CEO James Aguma and Motsoeneng won’t be able to suspend or fire, or take them all off the air for their “blackout” protest.
If SABC management suspended or took steps against every SABC staffer who “happened” to wear black on Friday the SABC’s television news division, its various TV news bulletins and its SABC News (DStv 404) channel would literally grind to a halt and implode.

The “blackout” was organised after SABC executives like Motsoeneng and SABC board members, SABC chairperson Obert Maguvhe and Aaron Tshidzumba at the last recent SABC media conference on July 11 told the media that there’s no crisis at the SABC since the only time there would be a crisis would be when there’s a blackout of the SABC’s broadcast signals and the SABC’s TV channels not being on air.

Nigeria – UN delivers food to starving IDPs in Borno


UN delivers food to starving IDPs in Borno

The United Nations has made the first food aid delivery to thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram Islamists in the Nigerian town of Banki, where hundreds have starved to death since March, the UN said on Friday.

Officials from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) delivered 30 tonnes of “various lifesaving food items” transported from neighbouring Cameroon, the OCHA said in a statement.

The convoy reached Banki on Thursday and distributed food to the more than 25,000 people in the town, it said.

“An additional 700 kilograms of supplementary food for malnourished children was airlifted from the state capital Maiduguri to Banki on the same day”.

It was the first aid delivery to the thousands of internally displaced in the northeast region in the last four months following deadly Boko Haram raids.

They have been without food and basic supplies and relied on paltry food handouts from soldiers who have been sharing their rations.

Last month a soldier and a vigilante assisting the military in fighting Boko Haram told AFP at least 10 people were dying from hunger every day, highlighting warnings about a food crisis in the Sahel region.

The vigilante said the cemetery in Banki, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, was dotted with 376 graves of displaced people who died of starvation.

The soldier said people had been reduced to “walking corpses” facing imminent death without food aid.

When Boko Haram intensified attacks on villages in the area, residents fled to Banki where a military detachment has been based since they retook it in September.

– Millions in need of food –

The United Nations said in May that 9.2 million people living around Lake Chad, which forms the border of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, were in desperate need of food.

According to the OCHA aid distribution in Banki and other areas recently liberated by the Nigerian military was “scaling up” but more funds were needed to meet the “lifesaving needs” of people affected by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria.

Only 28 percent of the $279 million required by the UN to help those affected by the violence has been realised, leaving a $200 million shortfall.

The Borno state government and aid agencies have warned about acute food shortages in the Lake Chad region as a result of seven years of violence.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead in Nigeria and devastated infrastructure in the impoverished northeast. The unrest has also displaced more than 2.6 million.

Nigeria’s government has been encouraging people to return home since the recapture of swathes of territory lost to the Islamist militants in 2014 but most are still largely reliant on food handouts.

There have been concerns about high death rates from severe acute malnutrition in camps for the internally displaced, while it is feared some inaccessible areas could be suffering from famine.

A UN official compared the situation with the crisis in Dafur and South Sudan.


Ivory Coast to hold referendum on new constitution


Ivory Coast’s parliament on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favour of holding a referendum on a new constitution that would among other measures remove a controversial nationality clause that contributed to years of unrest and civil war.

President Ouattara pledged during his campaign for re-election last year to scrap the clause, which states presidential candidates must prove both their parents are natural-born Ivorians. They must also have never claimed citizenship of another country.

The motion to hold a referendum was approved in the National Assembly with 233 votes in favour and six against. Seven lawmakers abstained.

The plebiscite is expected to be held in September or October ahead of parliamentary elections later in the year.

However, opposition parties and some civil society groups are against the referendum, arguing that Ivory Coast must make progress towards post-war reconciliation first.

Ivorian nationality became a political issue at the heart of a decade-long crisis that began with a 1999 coup and included a 2002-2003 civil war that split the country in two for eight years.

The West African nation has long attracted immigrants from neighbouring countries, and the clause became a symbol of exclusion, particularly of northerners whose family ties often straddle regional borders.

Ouattara himself was barred from seeking the presidency over what opponents said were his foreign origins before he finally won election in 2010, although his victory sparked a second brief civil conflict that killed more than 3,000 people.

Through the referendum, Ouattara is also believed to be seeking to create the new post of vice-president to take over and complete the president’s term if he were incapacitated or died in office.

Currently, the speaker of parliament is second in line to the presidency, but the constitution states that new elections must be organised within 90 days, a time frame critics say is unworkable.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

South Sudan Machar fires Taban Deng

Sudan Tribune

July 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, has dismissed Taban Deng Gai from the party of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), accusing him of having defected to President Salva Kiir’s faction.

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SPLM-IO Chief Negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, speaking to journalists at Juba airport upon his return from Pagak with his team, 22 January 2016 (ST Photo)

Machar also asked President Kiir to relieve Gai from his position as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), to which he nominated him.

“In exercise of my powers, as First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, as per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Article 6, I hereby withdraw and recall Gen. Taban Deng Gai as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity as from today, 22nd of July, 2016,” partly reads the letter addressed to President Salva Kiir and copied to JMEC and IGAD.

“I am asking Your Excellency to relieve him with immediate effect,” Machar said in the letter extended to the media.

He told the President that he will nominate Gai’s replacement as soon as he returns to Juba once the security arrangement is put in place by a third party force as per the Communique of the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi, on 11 July 2016.

Machar, who is also the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA-IO), also relieved Gai from his party positions and dismissed him from the membership of the SPLM-IO.

“This is to declare to all members of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that Taban Deng Gai has defected to the SPLM-IG under President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” he further explained.

He said he had “therefore relieved him from his positions as member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) Political Bureau and as Chairman of the National Committee for Reconciliation and Healing.”

“By this, Taban Deng Gai is hereby declared dismissed and no more a member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO),” he added.

Gai, who was chief negotiator for the opposition faction until April this year, has been going publicly against the position of the SPLM-IO’s leadership, including the deployment of a third party force, despite his boss’ declaration that the leadership welcomed the regional troops’ deployment.

The minister who belonged to the SPLM-IO has instead been supporting President Kiir’s arguments against his leader.

He has been also reportedly campaigning to replace his chairman in his position as First Vice President in the Republic of South Sudan, accusing him of staying away from Juba.

Machar who fled the capital and relocated his base outside Juba due to recent clashes between his forces and the forces loyal to President Kiir, said he is willing to return to the capital as soon as a third party force is deployed to separate their rival forces.


Mali – 20 dead in fighting in north


Up to 20 people were killed and about 40 others were wounded in the northern Mali town of Kidal during two days of fighting between Tuareg rebels and pro-government militia fighters, health workers said on Friday.

“There are wounded people everywhere. Forty wounded, with four bad cases. One of them was shot in the throat, another in the back, another in the abdomen,” a doctor at Kidal’s main health centre told Reuters, asking not to be named for his safety.

(Reporting by Cheik Amadou Diouara; Writing by Joe Bavier)

South Africa – Lindela Tshwete says ANC no longer party of Mandela

BD Live

Lindela Tshwete. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Lindela Tshwete. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is seeking to divide SA along racial lines and the ANC is no longer the party it used to be, according to three DA members who come from stalwart families.

Madoda Mbeki, cousin to former president Thabo Mbeki, Lindela Tshwete, the son of struggle veteran Steve Tshwete and Ghaleb Cachalia, the son of stalwarts Yusuf and Amina Cachalia, on Friday criticised Zuma and the ANC following comments about black people who vote for the DA in the run-up to the August 3 polls.

Earlier in July, Zuma said he did not understand black people who chose to vote for the DA.

“After we liberated ourselves they came together, this name DA, Democratic Alliance, it was an alliance between the Progressive Party and the National Party,” said Zuma.

“If you are a black person, you join that party really? Really? It’s worse when you lead it,” he said, referring to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

Tshwete said this was no longer the ANC that his family, or Mbeki’s and Cachalia’s, had fought for.

All three have joined the DA and are standing as candidates in the municipal elections.

“The sad truth is that the ANC is no longer the party of Nelson Mandela, and no longer the party our parents and families brought us up in,” Tshwete said.

“Zuma has directly contradicted and undermined Nelson Mandela, who fought for the freedom for all South Africans to choose who they vote for. He should be ashamed of himself.”

Mbeki said the ANC no longer had the best interests of SA at heart.

“Leaving the party our families worked and struggled in was a very serious decision, but it was a decision we each made because the ANC cannot be trusted to take SA forward,” he said.

Cachalia said to call Maimane a “token” was the most “reprehensible” statement to make.

“It reminds me of people with certain Zionist elements in Israel calling people who criticise Zionism self-hating Jews.

“This sort of nonsense has to stop. Zuma should be ashamed of himself,” he said.

The three denied that it was a “cheap shot” to use their family names to drum up support for the DA.

When asked how their families felt about them supporting the DA, Tshwete became emotional and teary.

He described it as a very “sad time” for him, saying “it was not nice what I went through”.

However, he said in the end a number of family members came out and supported him, except his brother Mayihlome Tshwete and his stepmother Pamela Tshwete.

Tshwete said he was following his conscience and no one recruited him to join the DA, it was a decision he made on his own.

Mbeki reiterated that it was not an easy decision but for them and their families it was an important decision.

“Immediately after Polokwane, (and the) recalling of my brother (Thabo Mbeki), I started looking at the ANC differently, too many things happened and I believe getting into the DA was a wise decision … the home I feel comfortable in and it will be my political home forever,” he said.

Nigeria’s second richest man and his mountain of debt

Premium Times


ConOil, owned by Nigeria’s second richest man, is being pursued by creditors for a combined debt of over $140.5 million by two foreign and one local companies, PREMIUM TIMES has learned.

Despite making several pledges to pay, ConOil and other companies owned by Mr. Adenuga have reneged on paying the debts, multiple sources in the oil and gas sector have told this newspaper.

Things have got so bad that some of the creditor companies have either commenced or are considering commencing legal actions to force the billionaire businessman to pay up, having exhausted all options to make him honour promises and agreements to do so.

In fact, one company successful secured an interim order from a federal court to place one of Mr Adenuga’s companies under receivership.

The increasing debt profile of the telecom and oil mogul, who increased his net worth by almost $5 billion in the last year, according to luxury lifestyle magazine, Forbes, has hit some of his creditors so hard that they had to shut down some of their operations.

One of such companies is Depthwize, a local oil servicing company, which is owed $40 million by ConOil.

The refusal of the management of ConOil to pay Depthwize, a small drilling contractor, has forced the company to lay off workers and shut down services on two of ConOil’s rigs until the money is paid, those familiar with the matter said.

“Depthwize says it can no longer afford the day to day running cost of working on the rigs,” one source said.

Similarly, American oil and gas firm, Baker Hughes, was forced to lodge a court petition to wind up one of Mr Adenuga’s companies, Belbop Nigeria Limited, over a USD $12.09 million bill they have been trying to get the company to pay.

Baker Hughes argued that in 2009, Belbop awarded it a contract for the provision of directional drilling, MWD/LWD services and supply of drilling fluids and drilling bits, logging cabin and surface acquisition system.

The company told the court that after it duly discharged its obligation and rendered all requisite services, Belbop refused to pay. Baker Hughes said it incurred a liability of $9.4 million in the course of executing the contract.

On April 12, 2016, Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Lagos placed an interim injunction on the accounts of Belbop, pending the determination of the suit.

The judge therefore appointed the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court as the receiver/manager of Belbop until the substantive suit is determined.

Mr. Adenuga is also causing multinational oil firm, Total, headache over a $28.5 million debt it owed the French oil giant since 2009.

Although Total is trying to resolve the debt problem without litigation, the refusal of Mr. Adenuga to pay the debt has forced the company to stop work on the OML 136 gas field. Total is ConOil’s technical partner in the project.

At a meeting held with Total in November 2015, it was agreed that ConOil would pay the $28.5 million dollars owed before January 31, 2016.

That meeting, which minutes is in the possession of PREMIUM TIMES, was chaired by Mr. Adenuga and attended by four executives from Total.

But those familiar with the matter told this newspaper Mr. Adenuga’s company was yet to pay up. All attempts by Total to make him release the money have failed, insiders said.

Some said they were baffled by Mr Adenuga’s refusal to pay Total the $28.5 million, which would have seen work commenced on the lucrative oil field.

The OML 136 asset is considered one of the largest gas fields in Nigeria, with a proven reserve of 11 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas.

The exploration of the oil assets can boost Nigeria’s economy by creating jobs and would have yielded massive return to Total and ConOil, experts say.

When contacted, Total’s spokesperson, Charles Ogan, in an email to PREMIUM TIMES, said the matter was an “obvious internal administrative subject.”

Also, ConOil is engaged in a decade-long dispute with British oil firm, Vitol, over its alleged failure to pay a $60 million debt incurred from lifting of cargoes of refined petroleum products.

Vitol secured a court judgement in the UK in respect of the debt but has been unable to enforce it in Nigeria because ConOil got a stay of execution from a Nigerian court.

ConOil’s financial problems, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, may have been caused by Mr Adenuga’s slowness in taking advantage of potential money earners for the company.

For instance, in 2005, ConOil was granted exploration licence for OPL 257 by the federal government, but the company surprisingly left the block fallow until its licence expired. Now it is asking the government for a two-year extension of its expired licence to enable it explore the field.

On January 22, 2016, Taiwo Olushina, the managing director of ConOil, wrote a letter to the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) blaming insecurity, high cost of drilling and technical hitches for its failure to explore the field before the expiration of the licence.

“Having attended to technical and financial challenges peculiar to ultra -deep offshore blocks, this approval will provide us with ample time in drilling three identified prospective locations in preparation for further development towards boosting national oil and gas reserves and production,” the letter read in part.

The spokesperson for Mr. Adenuga, Bode Opeseitan, could not be reached to comment for this story. He did not answer or return calls seeking comment.

Another spokesperson ducked when approached by this reporter to comment for this story.

Despite being identified by Truecaller app, Mike Oduniyi told PREMIUM TIMES that we had reached a wrong number and promptly terminated the call.

Tax palaver and bad loan

Mr Adenuga’s companies have also had tax issues in the recent past. In 2009, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) sealed the Lagos offices of ConOil, and Continental Oil and Gas, another company owned by the businessman, over the non-remittance of $610 million tax to government.

Last month, seven years after his companies were first sealed, the FIRS shut the Lagos offices of Globacom, the second largest mobile telephone company in the country, owned by the billionaire, for allegedly failing to remit Value Added Tax worth N24.3 billion.

Earlier in February this year, the Osun State Internal Revenue Service (OIRS) sealed the offices of the telecommunication firm in the state for failing to pay outstanding taxes and other levies in respect of mast/base stations and laying of fibre optics.

The state said several meetings were held with the company’s representatives in the past three years to resolve the issue, but that the company failed to comply.

The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) also listed Mr. Adenuga as one of the country’s biggest debtors for a N2.4billion loan his real estate company, Convenant Apartments Complex Limited, took from Wema Bank.

AMCON acquired the loan from the bank in 2010, after Convenant Apartments failed to pay up, authorities said.


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