Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

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 – “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

South Africa – African Diaspora Forum warns government against “criminalising” foreigners

News24

2017-02-25 11:37

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Johannesburg – The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) called on the government to stop making statements that criminalise people from other African countries amid fears that Friday’s xenophobic attacks in Tshwane could spread to other parts of South Africa.

ADF spokesperson Johnson Adeke told News24 on Saturday that President Jacob Zuma’s comments on Friday that government cannot ignore claims that foreigners might be linked to crime did not help to calm the situation.

“We have been criminalised by government institutions that are supposed to protect us,” he said as ADF field workers helped with an inventory of destroyed properties, and counted how many people have been injured and displaced in attacks in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Rosettenville since the violence started two weeks ago.

In a statement on Friday Zuma said: “We cannot close our eyes to the concerns of the communities that most of the crimes, such as drug dealing, prostitution, and human trafficking are allegedly perpetuated by foreign nationals.”

Statements such as these simply single out and stereotype migrants, he said.

Waiting for public apology

The ADF had written to Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, to Zuma, and other government institutions warning them that trouble was brewing after Mashaba’s statement that he would remove “illegal foreigners” from Johannesburg, but to no avail.

Adeke said that many of the houses torched in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, by people who accused the residents of running drug houses and brothels, were not all owned by migrants.

“It is a stereotype. There were drugs in South Africa before Nigerians came here. The man who lost [his] cars in Rosettenville was not dealing in drugs. The drug issues in Manenberg in Cape Town – those are not Nigerians living there,” he said.

On February 11, at least 10 houses were torched in Rosettenville amid claims that they were housing brothels and drug dealers.

That was preceded by people going into houses a week before and carrying out furniture and setting it alight as an apparent warning.

Adeke said the ADF is still waiting for a public apology from Mashaba for his comments, but Mashaba’s spokesperson Tony Taverna-Turisan said the mayor’s comments during his address in the council on his first 100 days as mayor, were misquoted.

136 people arrested

He said he would deal with all criminals, said Taverna-Turisan.

“We cannot accept lawlessness in our city and any criminal, whether a South African national or a foreign national, must be apprehended. To say that we must keep quiet about illegal immigrants is to say we must ignore the rule of law and that is simply unacceptable,” said the mayor’s spokesperson.

READ: Mashaba won’t keep quiet about illegal immigrants – spokesperson

Adeke said the situation had got to a point where migrants are surrounded by mobs who demand their identity documents, and then claim they are fraudulent when they are produced.

Police said they arrested 136 people in confrontations around Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Marabastad on Friday and managed to restore order again.

A group called the Mamelodi Concerned Residents had planned to march from Marabastad to the Hallmark building in Pretoria to complain about foreigners committing crimes.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo said a group of people from Atteridgeville blocked roads, burnt tyres and threw stones.

Excuse for criminality

They also marched into the CBD without permission and had to be dispersed when there was a confrontation with another group, apparently made up of migrants.

There were angry standoffs that were broken up, with the police firing stun grenades at times.

The Coalition of Civics Against Xenophobia said the violence and looting that accompanied Friday’s events showed that xenophobia is an excuse for criminality.

CCAX spokesperson Mametlwe Sebei also placed the blame on Mashaba.

“His public statements against ‘illegal foreigners’, demanding they ‘leave his city’, played a direct role in inciting the violence and emboldening peripheral groups like the Mamelodi Concerned Residents.

“He has wrecked lives. We demand the resignation of this divisive politician and will be pursuing every [and] all means to hold him accountable.”

The coalition is planning its own march to unite migrants against crime, xenophobia and poverty.

South Africa – Pretoria brought to a halt by anti-immigrant march

News24

2017-02-24 17:40

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Pretoria – Certain parts of Pretoria came to a standstill on Friday during an anti-immigrant march.

About 136 people were arrested in Pretoria West over the past 24 hours, including during the march on Friday morning, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane said.

However, Phahlane said the situation in Pretoria was “under control”.

“Although people from Mamelodi marched peacefully, a group from Atteridgeville threw stones and bricks. Confrontation with non-South Africans ensued,” he told reporters.

The police said they would update the figure of the arrested individuals on Saturday.

President Jacob Zuma said the march in Pretoria was evidence that citizens were fed up with crime.

Zuma was speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at boosting various sectors of the South African economy.

He said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.

“We do have a big problem. This time around this has been provoked by crime.”

He said the media should be careful about labelling the protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.

Mamelodi marchers accuse foreigners of destroying local business

2017-02-24 16:30

Atteridgeville. (CICA)

Atteridgeville. (CICA)

2017-02-24 15:06

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma says the march against immigrants in Pretoria on Friday is evidence that citizens are fed up with crime

Johannesburg – A memorandum that Mamelodi residents handed to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria on Friday strongly criticised how they perceived foreign nationals to be conducting themselves in SA.

The memorandum, with a “Concern community for service delivery in Mamelodi” stamp, said government should not allow African immigrants in the area to operate businesses freely and without regulation.

They also criticised authorities for “failing” to clamp down on those without the proper licences and papers.

“We are driven into slavery, both black and white South Africans,” they stated.

This message seemed to contradict the assertion by President Jacob Zuma on Friday that the march in Pretoria was by residents who were fed up by crime.

Speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, Zuma said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.

The three-page memo bemoaned foreign nationals’ involvement in industries like retail, transport, and hospitality.

“Our local hair industry was not protected by Competitions [sic] commission against foreign people charging unfair prices now our industry is destroyed,” it stated.

“Our tuck-shops were destroyed because government did not protect local industries when they know people lack confidence.”

‘Must be deported’

They said African immigrants brought vehicles in from Zimbabwe to run delivery businesses locally, “not paying taxes, not having international drivers’ licences”.

They were opposed to immigrants operating transport businesses with tuk tuks and other methods.

They also felt it was unfair that people, including foreign nationals, were registering to become Uber drivers.

“Local industries are not supported and respected… Stop those businesses. Support the local meter [taxi industry].”

The residents felt that foreign nationals were “destroying” the country’s image.

They accused Zimbabwean churchgoers of messing in public parks and having a hand in attacks at the Groenkloef Nature Reserve.

“They must be deported; immigration must be involved and deport them we are working backwards as a country.”

On living conditions, they said residents had to pay a lot of money toward rent, water and electricity, yet people who invaded land and RDP houses did not have to pay anything.

Zuma said the media should be careful to label protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.

Crime affected everyone and people were fed up, he said.

“If there are people who occupy houses and use them for crime, this will make people angry. How do we fight crime?

“We must focus on drug lords and deal with them. Those are the gaps we need to close.”

Zuma urges understanding

Whether South African or foreign, criminals should be properly dealt with, Zuma said.

He said it would be a sad day when crime and drugs caused chaos in the country.

He also urged South Africans to be understanding toward foreign nationals.

He questioned how xenophobic South Africans were, saying, if they were, “this country wouldn’t have this many immigrants”.

He said only 5% of immigrants were refugees.

“The number of foreigners in South Africa is far more than in Europe. They don’t want immigrants.”

Zuma said he had met with ministers to discuss what they could do to fight crime.

He would also be talking to police.

South Africa – Atteridgeville blocked ahead of anti-immigrant march

Mail and Guardian

Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)
Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)

A march against foreign nationals has already led to the shutdown of entrances and exits in Atteridgeville in Pretoria. On Friday morning residents woke up to find the township blockaded by protesters.

Shops owned by foreign nationals have been looted over the past two weeks in Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. The attacks follow the release of a pamphlet by a group known as the Mamelodi Concerned Residents who accuse government and businesses of giving work to foreign nationals and allege that people from other African countries are responsible for crime in the country. The group has been granted permission to march to the home affairs department in Pretoria on Friday morning.

 
 
 

On Tuesday the Gauteng Civic Association announced that various organisations had agreed to “form a coalition against crime, poverty and xenophobia”.

The African Diaspora Forum, the United Front of Johannesburg and the New Trade Union Federation announced on Friday morning that they too would be holding a press conference to present a “united voice of immigrant, community and labour organisations” on the recent outburts of attacks.

Amid doubt that the Mamelodi Concerned Residents would be given the go ahead to march, it was revealed on Wednesday that permission had been granted for the protest to take place. Organisers met with Tshwane Metro officials, and told SABC that they had been given strict conditions to abide by.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) said in a statement on Friday that it expects “scores of people” to march through the streets of Tshwane. The security structure, which is responsible for co-ordinating security and law enforcement operations nationally, has urged for peaceful protests and said that they have deployed security officials to keep an eye on the march. However, in Atteridgeville on Thursday morning, onlookers reported that there was no police presence in the area.

Anyone who experiences hate speech or other kinds of violation may report incidents to the police, the NatJoints said.

“The NATJOINTS also urges any person or group who feel that their rights have been infringed in any manner to report such at their nearest police station and not to take the law into their own hands,” the NatJoints said.

On Thursday Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba sent a series of tweets and a statement condemning xenophobic attacks. The statement comes after Mashaba has faced increasing pressure for linking “illegal” foreign nationals to criminality.

The anti-immigrant march is set to begin at 11am on Friday.

South Africa – Zuma condemns attacks on foreigners

Reuters

South Africa’s Zuma condemns violence against foreigners

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has condemned acts of violence between citizens and non-nationals, his office said on Friday.

Anti-immigrant violence has flared sporadically in South Africa against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from citizens and getting involved in crime.

Citizens in Pretoria are set to march against foreigners on Friday and domestic media are reporting vandalism and acts of violence in the Atteridgeville area west of the capital.

At least 20 stores in Pretoria owned by foreigners were looted on Tuesday, but police could not confirm that the attacks had deliberately targeted foreigners.

“Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively. It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers,” Zuma said in a statement.

“The threats and counter-threats on social media must stop,” he added.

In Nigeria, protesters on Thursday demanded that South African citizens and businesses leave the country and vandalised the head office of mobile phone giant MTN (MTNJ.J) in Abuja, in retaliation for anti-Nigerian violence in South Africa.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Joseph Radford)

South Sudan – Sudan’s Bashir says Egypt providing South Sudan’s Kiir with arms

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has ruled out the direct involvement of the Egyptian arm in South Sudan’s conflict but said Cairo provided President Salva Kiir with weapons and ammunition.

JPEG - 15.7 kb
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo Reuters)

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane returning to Khartoum from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, al-Bashir denied that Egypt had conducted any air attacks on the positions of the SPLM-In-Opposition in Kaka town of Upper Nile state, as it was claimed by the rebels on 3 February.

However “We have intelligence that they supported the South Sudanese government, and continue to support the government with arms and ammunition,” he disclosed in his answer to a question from a journalist.

“But I do not expect to fight in the South Sudan,” he further said.

Last January President Salva Kiir visited Cairo where he held talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian officials.

At the time, officials in Juba said the purpose of the visit was to thank Egypt for its diplomatic support to Juba government at the level of the United Nations Security Council.

Sudan as the rest of the IGAD countries including Uganda vowed to not support the warring parties in South Sudan’s festering conflict. They also agreed to keep the former Frist Vice-President Riek Machar out of the region.

Also, Washington called to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, pointing to UN reports about “strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with a potential for genocide”.

(ST)