The Mozambique government and opposition party Renamo have resumed talks despite the Oct. 9 killing of a senior Renamo official by unidentified gunmen, the state news agency AIM said on Wednesday.
The death of Jeremias Pondeca, a member of the Joint Commission set up to find ways to overcome a standoff between the government and Renamo over a range of issues, cast a cloud over the negotiations.
AIM said the talks, which were originally supposed to have resumed on Monday, did so on Tuesday after a minute’s silence for Pondeca.
The commission has so far reached no definitive agreement on any of the matters on its agenda, including Renamo’s demands for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police.
The commission was also set up to prepare the ground for a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
There has been no progress towards such a meeting yet, with Dhlakama saying he had no interest in seeing Nyusi before signing a final agreement, AIM reported.
Renamo and the government were on opposing sides in a civil war from the late 1970s until the early 1990s before a peace accord ended the fighting. But Renamo retains its own militia.
In the run-up to elections in October 2014, Renamo partisans clashed sporadically with troops and police. Renamo contended that the election outcome was rigged.
(Writing by Ed Stoddard; editing by Mark Heinrich)
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Picture: AFP)
Pretoria – Government has failed to listen to students’ demands for free, quality higher education, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday.
She was surprised to discover recently how well thought-out and researched students’ proposals on the matter had been, she told News24 in an interview.
“I was quick to say, after they spoke to us, that we have not listened to these kids. They are making a demand, but in their documents there are clear proposals on how to solve this thing.”
She is part of the ministerial task team President Jacob Zuma announced on October 11. It was set up to help Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande end protests at universities. It includes the ministers of home affairs, state security, police, planning and monitoring, and justice.
‘Back to the drawing board’
She said she realised, while speaking to students, that the country’s leaders seemed to not have the full picture regarding their demands.
“To be honest, I was the first to go ‘Whoa!’ There are things we didn’t know, so we need to go back to the drawing board, and see what it is that we can do to appease them.”
Her participation in the task team has led to fears that the army would be deployed to universities. She said this was not the case and she would keep a low profile at the task team.
“I don’t want to be at the forefront, because when people see the minister of defence, they immediately shrink and get anxious, thinking defence is coming in.”
During apartheid, it was almost a guarantee that soldiers would be sent to deal with students.
“It’s not 1976,” she said.
She said police seemed to be acting in panic when handling protesting students, especially at the University of the Witwatersrand and Rhodes University.
“I think they are not confident in how to manage crowds.”
She referred to their using shields, batons, water cannons, teargas, and when the situation became difficult, rubber bullets.
“I even asked what happened to dye?” she said, referring to how police dispersed crowds during her days in the anti-apartheid struggle.
She expressed concern about how police were firing rubber bullets. They should be aiming at protesters’ feet or the ground, instead of at their upper bodies. They should not try and injure, but “neutralise” the situation, she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday restated his administration’s commitment at ensuring all the kidnapped Chibok girls are released.
The president stated this when he played host to 21 of the girls who were freed last week by the Boko Haram after over two years since they were abducted by the terror group.
Mr. Buhari, who indicated that about 197 of the Chibok girls could still be in Boko Haram’s custody, also congratulated the parents and family of the released girls.
Read the president’s full statement below:
My dear children. This is a happy moment for me and for all Nigerians. I welcome you back to freedom. It is a moment your parents, the nation and the International Community have been eagerly waiting for, since your abduction on April 14, 2014.
We must from the onset, thank Almighty God for this day that 21 of the Chibok girls have again breathed the air of freedom and are reunited with their parents. We are equally prayerful, that God in his infinite mercies and benevolence, will see to it that the girls remaining in captivity will be freed and returned to us soonest.
All Nigerians recall, sadly the night of 14th April 2014, 276 young female Nigerian students were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok Borno State by the Boko Haram.
Fortunately, 57 of the kidnapped school girls were able to escape, leaving 219 in captivity. One of the abducted girls, Amina Ali was found in May 2016. And today we are here celebrating the freedom and return of another 21 girls that regained freedom on Thursday 13th October. We are equally as hopeful as we are praying, that the remaining girls will be freed and returned to us without further delay.
The release of these 21 girls followed a series of negotiations between Government and the Boko Haram group, brokered by our friends both local and International. Since this Administration assumed office, we have been working towards the safe release of the girls. The Nigerian DSS, military and other security agencies have spared no effort to secure our girls. These 21 girls are the manifestation of our doggedness and commitments to the release and return of the Chibok girls.
While joining their parents to rejoice and praise the Almighty, we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home. Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely
These 21 girls will be given adequate and comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support. The Federal Government will rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the society is done as quickly as possible.
Aside from rescuing them, we are assuming the responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life. Obviously, it is not late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies.
These dear daughters of ours have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best that the world can do for them. The Government and all Nigerians must encourage them to achieve their desired ambitions.
The Federal Government appreciates the patience and understanding of the parents of all the abducted Chibok girls. We equally thank Nigerians and the International Community for their support and prayers, and for never losing confidence in our ability to secure the safe release of our girls.
Once again, I congratulate the 21 released girls, their parents, the Chibok Community the security agencies and all Nigerians on this day of delight and rejoicing.
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – U.N. human rights officials accused the Mauritanian government on Wednesday of stifling anti-slavery campaigners jailed for up to 15 years for their alleged role in protests against forced eviction in the capital.
The West African country jailed 13 members of the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) in August for taking part in protests by residents of a slum in Nouakchott in June, many of whom were former slaves.
The activists said they were not present at the protests and that the trial was an attempt by the state to discredit the IRA.
“The government is hostile to civil society groups that criticise its policies, especially to groups like IRA, whose members are drawn from the Haratin minority and advocate for an end to slavery,” seven U.N. special rapporteurs said in a statement.
They said they were concerned the IRA had been targeted by the government because its members met Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, during his visit to the country in May.
Mauritanian government officials were not immediately available to comment.
Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981. The Haratin, who make up the main “slave caste”, are descended from black African ethnic groups in the south, and often work as cattle herders and domestic servants.
Today some 43,000 people or at least one percent of the population live as slaves, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. Yet other estimates put the number as high as 20 percent.
The activists’ trial in August was marred by serious rights violations, the U.N. experts said, citing reports of torture in detention and irregularities during the court proceedings.
The jailed activists were moved last month from Nouakchott to a detention centre in northern Zouérate, where they have been cut off from their families, doctors and lawyers, the IRA said.
“This is yet another indication that these proceedings are politically motivated and intended to suffocate those that promote human rights and oppose government policies,” the U.N. officials said. “Anti-slavery activism cannot be a crime.”
The activists have appealed their sentence, with a date for an appeal to be set this week, the special rapporteurs said.
Biram Dah Abeid, head of the IRA, said last month that the state had intensified a crackdown on its activists in response to the growing anti-slavery movement in the country.
The jailing of two slave-owners in May and the release of Abeid and activist Brahim Bilal, who had been in prison for 18 months after being part of an anti-slavery march, were hailed as a turning point in the fight to end the practice.
But Anti-Slavery International called the August sentences a “devastating blow” to the country’s anti-slavery movement.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Additional Reporting by Nellie Peyton, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)
In a letter to Gordhan, Oakbay Investments’ attorneys accuse the finance minister of wasting taxpayers’ money on the application
19 OCTOBER 2016 – 16:21 PM GENEVIEVE QUINTAL
Pravin Gordhan. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will not withdraw his court application for a declaratory order confirming that he cannot intervene in a dispute between the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments and four major banks.
Oakbay’s attorneys, Van der Merwe Associates (VDMA), have notified Gordhan’s legal team that the company intended to oppose the application, unless the minister withdrew it and paid the costs by Wednesday afternoon.
Gordhan’s lawyers informed VDMA on Wednesday morning that the application would not be withdrawn.
In a letter to Gordhan, VDMA on behalf of Oakbay Investments, accused the minister of wasting taxpayers’ money on the application.
VDMA note that to spend taxpayers’ money in a “reckless and inappropriate manner” would constitute a contravention of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act No 1 of 1999, which would warrant “further action against those officials responsible for same”, the company said.
It said the purpose of VDMA’s letter and offer to Gordhan was to offer him the “opportunity to save taxpayers’ money”.
Gordhan approached the court on Friday to ask for a declaratory order indicating that he could not interfere in the relationship between the Gupta family and the four major banks, which had closed its accounts earlier in 2016. The annexure to the application unveiled about R6.8bn in suspicious transactions from the family accounts.
In his application, Gordhan illustrated — by attaching letters former CEO Nazeem Howa, who resigned earlier this week — that Oakbay had repeatedly asked the minister to intervene or put pressure on the banks on the company’s behalf.
The Financial Intelligence Centre Act seeks to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Banks have previously been served hefty fines for failing to uphold the act’s provisions.
VDMA have accused Gordhan of making “defamatory and untrue remarks towards members of the Gupta family by insinuating that they have been involved in inappropriate conduct”.
The new public protector will not be releasing the “state capture” report until the court has given her the go ahead.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was briefing Parliament’s justice committee on Wednesday, where the report on state capture took centre stage.
MPs, including Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu, questioned her on when the report would be available.
“I think we unanimously agree as political parties that the report should be released,” Shivambu said during the meeting.
Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance MP Werner Horn asked her to reveal the contents of the letter sent to Parliament by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to Parliament when she was requesting a safe place for the report.
An unfazed Mkhwebane fielded questions on the report, the backlog of cases and allegations that she was a spy.
She refused to comment on the letter and said the matter was before court.
She was in the process of preparing an affidavit, which was due on Friday, she said.
“I cannot release the report until the matter is finalised, the matter is sub judice. If I can be given an opportunity to respond on Friday,” she said.
She was still consulting her office, she said.
“And I cannot commit to say tomorrow the report is released, because the court said it should be kept safe,” she said.
She had not yet read the report, she said, which was safe and sound in the office.
“The report is kept safely in the safe of the head of legal services. I don’t have a safe in my office.”
Questioned by ANC MP Bongani Bongo on the use of consultants to compile the report, and their security clearance, she said the report had been compiled by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).
Consultants were also used, including former Commission for Gender Equality commissioner Janine Hicks, who was in quality assurance.
She would not say how much it had cost to get the report compiled by PwC and merely said they would come back with a comprehensive report for the committee. – News24