Botswana – former President Masire dies at 91

News24

2017-06-23 08:28

Sir Ketumile Masire (File: AFP)

Sir Ketumile Masire (File: AFP)

 

Gaborone – Former Botswana president Sir Ketumile Masire has died. He was 91.

Reports on Friday indicated that Masire died on Thursday night after he was hospitalised last weekend in a critical condition.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Botswana government said: “This is to confirm that our beloved Former President Sir Ketumile Quett Joni Masire has passed away. May His Soul Rest in Peace and his family and the nation as a whole be comforted.”

Masire was the president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998.

He led various diplomatic initiatives in Africa, including chairing a panel that investigated the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and co-ordinating the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue.

Kenya – cholera outbreak affects dozens at health conference

BBC

 

People walk past a kiosk where a poster giving information on how to prevent Cholera is displayed in the Kibera area of Nairobi on May 20, 2015Image copyright AFP
Image caption It is not clear what triggered the latest cholera outbreak (file picture of Kibera slum in 2015)

Nearly 50 people have contracted cholera while attending a health conference in Kenya’s capital.

The infected delegates were among hundreds who had gathered for the four day forum organised by the Ministry of Health at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday.

They have been isolated in a city hospital, but health officials say the number of people infected may rise.

It is unclear how they caught the disease, which has led to five deaths in the past month.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms but, in severe cases, the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.

 

In Yemen, a large cholera outbreak is fast approaching 300,000 cases, according to UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien. He described it as a “man-made catastrophe” caused by both sides of the country’s ongoing civil war.

In a press release on 24 May, Kenya’s Ministry of Health said there had been 146 cases across the country since the outbreak began.

Some of those infected had attended a wedding at an upmarket estate in Nairobi.

As a result, authorities put in place emergency measures to try and curb its spread.

An outbreak two years ago killed 65 people across Kenya.

Nigeria – anger among Ogoni over delays in cleaning up oil spill

Guardian (Lagos)

By AFP   |   22 June 2017   |   3:26 pm

Under a leaden sky in oil-rich southern Nigeria, young men hang around with nothing to do, covering their noses from the noxious fumes of the polluted swamp.

The sight in Bodo, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Port Harcourt, is repeated in communities elsewhere in the maze of creeks that criss-cross Ogoni land.

One year after the launch of a much-heralded clean-up programme, the oil slicks which blackened the waters, killed the fish and ruined the mangroves remain untouched.

Locals, deprived of their livelihoods from fishing and farming, and with the billions of dollars extracted from under them channelled elsewhere, are angry and frustrated.

“The progress made on the Ogoni clean-up is known only to the government,” said Fegalo Nsuke, from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People pressure group.

“The people of Ogoni still cannot have access to safe drinking water, not to talk of electricity, basic schools and roads,” he told AFP.

– Environmental disaster –
In January 2015, there were hopes Ogoni land’s luck was changing after Shell agreed to pay £55 million ($70 million, 63 million euros) in compensation to more than 15,500 Bodo people.

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant also agreed to start a clean up of two devastating oil spills in 2008, following a three-year British legal battle that was settled out of court.

In June 2016, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo formally launched the project, which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said could take 30 years.

So far, however, only $10 million of the initial $1 billion programme has been released.

Since then, a governing council and trust fund have been set up, and a project coordinator appointed, but no equipment has been moved to the sites, residents say.

Drinking water is still not fit for human consumption.

“The fact is that Ogoni still drinks poisoned water and remains polluted and these cannot be changed by internal processes and media promotions,” said Nsuke.

“Our people are frustrated,” added Livinus Kiebel, chairman of the Bodo council of chiefs.

“The environment is completely devastated.”

Fish and carcinogens
Ignatius Feegha, 41, used to catch fish as a child in the waterways of the Niger Delta.

“I used to wake up around 5:00 am with my father to fish and would come back with baskets of fish before going to school,” said the civil servant.

Today, fishermen are lucky to catch even periwinkles.

Standing near a jetty, Buddy Pango holds up a plastic bottle filled with discoloured water as the heavens open and a boat heading to the Bonny Island natural gas plant speeds by.

“We can’t see no fish in this water because the water is stained with crude oil,” he said. “Before we can get some fish, we (must) go to the ocean and it is very far.”

In places like Ogale, wells and boreholes are contaminated with the carcinogen benzene at levels more than 900 times above the recommended World Health Organization limit.

Signs beside boreholes warn residents not to drink the water.

“Every week, at least five people die because of cancer and respiratory diseases,” said community leader Dandyson Nwawala.

Clean-up suspended
Roman Catholic priest Father Abel Agbulu, who has been mediating between Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary and Bodo locals, said the clean-up could have started earlier but for opposition from some youths.

He said the youths who were unemployed insisted on being paid the money instead of allowing Shell to give the job to contractors.

“The youths said they wanted money instead. So Shell, which had already engaged two companies to do the job, had to back out,” he added.

Agbulu said Shell was not ready to give cash to the youths and since they would not allow the contractors to handle the job, decided to suspend the clean-up.

The head of the government-appointed Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Marvin Dekil, said training local workers in the required skills is taking time.

“We don’t want… to rush it and get it done in a wrong way,” he explained.

In the meantime, some locals have taken matters into their own hands and begun planting trees to try to restore the damaged mangroves.

The United Nations Development Programme’s representative in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, visited Ogoniland last week and called for patience.

“This is a very technical investment, it is not a rural type of investment where you are going to see houses built within a short period of time,” he said.

How long they will have to wait is anyone’s guess.

Dr Congo – twelve reported dead in fighting with rebels in N-E Congo

Reuters

At least 12 killed in heavy fighting in northeastern Congo

By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

KINSHASA At least 12 people were killed in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in heavy firefights between the army and militia fighters on Thursday, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school, local activists said.

The fighting in and around the city of Beni between Congo’s army and what is believed to be a new coalition of armed groups, the National Movement of Revolutionaries (MNR), killed at least eight militiamen and four soldiers, said activist Teddy Kataliko.

The clashes, some of which occurred near the mayor’s office, broke out early Thursday morning but the army had driven back the militias by mid-afternoon, he added.

Gilbert Kambale, another local activist, told Reuters that at least 13 militiamen and three soldiers had died in Thursday’s fighting.

The mayor and a local army spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.

The fighting followed a breakout by more than 900 inmates, many suspected militiamen, from Beni’s main prison this month – one of a series of mass jailbreaks that have undermined security in Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December.

Worsening security in the vast central African nation has raised fears of a return to the civil wars of the turn of the century that killed millions, most from hunger and disease, and sucked in more than half a dozen neighbouring countries.

Kataliko and Kambale also said unidentified assailants set off an explosive device at a local secondary school, wounding several students sitting exams. A hospital source said at least three students were injured in the blast.

Eastern Congo contains dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Hundreds of civilians have died near Beni since October 2014 in a series of overnight massacres, mostly carried out with hatchets and machetes. It is still not clear who is responsible for most of the attacks.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Toby Davis)

Kenya – Kamba elders groups backs Uhuru rather than Kalonzo

Star (Kenya)

Kamba elders back Uhuru, says Kalonzo will be irrelevant in 2022

Jun. 22, 2017, 12:00 pm

Boniface Syengo, chairman of the Kamba Clans Governing Council of Elders, addresses the media at a Mwingi hotel, June 22, 2017. /LYDIA NGOOLO
Boniface Syengo, chairman of the Kamba Clans Governing Council of Elders, addresses the media at a Mwingi hotel, June 22, 2017. /LYDIA NGOOLO

A section of Kamba elders have said they are keen on the community’s journey to State House and that they regret being in the Opposition.

The Kamba clans governing council of elders said being in government will ensure more members of the community benefit.

Chairman Boniface Syengo asked all those under his leadership to support President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s re-election.

“The association is moving around advising people to elect leaders, especially the president, wisely,” he noted during a delegates meeting on Thursday.

“We endorsed [Uhuru] as a Kamba mzee currently baptised as Uhuru Muigai ‘Mutua’ Kenyatta during the inauguration of the Kibwezi-Kitui-Mwingi-Meru-Isiolo road.”

But the elders asked the President to tackle their community’s problems, noting they have been in the political cold for too long.

They said being in government is vital as resources have been limited.

James Ngului from the Office of the President said GEMA and the Kamba elders constitution states clearly that they must support the government of the day.

He added that there is no Kamba seeking the presidency and that they cannot support Kalonzo Musyoka as NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga’s running mate.

“Unfortunately Kalonzo will be irrelevant in 2022 since there will be young people seeking the same seat. Uhuru’s plan is to leave Kambas in a better place politically. He is not after our votes since we did not vote for him in 2013 and yet he won. He has done a lot of development projects in Ukambani,” said Ngului.

South Africa – ANC caucus says it won’t vote against Zuma even with a secret ballot

News24

2017-06-22 13:32

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)

 

Cape Town – The African National Congress in Parliament has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling that Speaker Baleka Mbete must decide again on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, saying it doesn’t change its stance.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday said the party will consult with its members and legal advisors on the implications of the judgment, but that it in effect won’t change their expressed position.

“… Our initial understanding of the judgment is that it gives the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is the chairperson of the rules committee of Parliament, the powers to decide on a secret ballot…” Mthembu said in a statement.

“Notwithstanding these matters and the effects of the engagements that will ensue in the rules committee, we are still steadfast that whether such engagement will result in a vote by secret ballot or not, we have unqualified and unequivocal confidence in the ANC caucus not to vote in support of a motion to remove the President of the ANC, who is also the President of the Republic of South Africa and our government, from office.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled on Thursday that Mbete as speaker does have the constitutional power to decide whether or not to hold a secret ballot for a motion of no confidence in the president.

Focus on Mbete

She had erred in her previous stance that she did not have the authority, he said.

She and President Jacob Zuma were ordered to pay costs of the opposition counsel as well.

Mthembu said the party’s caucus will engage positively on the matter going forward, as eyes now turn to Mbete to make a decision.

He also affirmed the party’s right to decide how its members conduct itself in Parliament according to their party’s constitution.

“As Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng reminded us today, the South African electoral system is a party political system. The electorate votes for political parties who represent them in the legislature.

“ANC members of Parliament are therefore representatives of the ANC in Parliament and derive their mandate from the political party which deployed them in the same way as members of other political parties derive their mandate from their political parties.”

Mthembu cited examples in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature where the Democratic Alliance refused to vote with the ANC to remove Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

In Mogale City, the DA also instructed councillors to take a lie detector test after some of members voted in favour of removing the mayor.

“This is the level of hypocrisy of the opposition who expect the ANC to do something which they flatly refuse to do.

“We reiterate our long stated position that we will not support the motion of no confidence on President Jacob Zuma by opposition parties. We will defeat this motion of no confidence by the opposition as we have successfully done so in the previous four motions tabled in this fifth term of Parliament.”

‘Pivotal moment’

Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called on all political parties, especially the ANC, to allow their members to “do what they know is right, and to vote Jacob Zuma out”.

Maimane described the motion as “a pivotal moment for our country and its future.

“Jacob Zuma has abandoned the interests of the people, the economy, and South Africa, in favour of a kleptocratic Guptamocracy. We cannot allow this to continue any longer.

“For the sake of the country, it is important that members of Parliament, regardless of political affiliation, come together and put South Africa first by voting to protect the Constitution and to end corruption. Public representatives in Parliament are accountable to the people – first and foremost.

“The removal of Jacob Zuma is the first step in stopping the ANC that is destroying our country and its future.”

Shortly after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered his judgment, Maimane sent out a press release stating that he wrote to Mbete to request her to schedule the motion of no confidence at the earliest available opportunity.

Parliament, however, enters its winter recess on July 3, and there are no plenaries scheduled for next week.

“Regardless of today’s [Thursday’s] ruling by the Constitutional Court, the Democratic Alliance’s vote in the upcoming motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be no secret,” said Maimane.

“The DA will vote to fire Jacob Zuma – and we call on every other Member of Parliament, from all political parties, to do the same.”

African security – Is the Force Intervention Brigade still justifying its existence

Institute for Security Studies (South Africa)

This potentially effective unit is being hamstrung by politics and concerns about using force in peace operations.
22 Jun 2017 <!––> by /  by Peter Fabricius

The Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the sharp end of MONUSCO – the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – earned its stripes in 2013 when it helped the DRC’s army defeat the powerful Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in the east of the country.

But not a lot has been heard about the FIB since, though it has remained deployed in the eastern part of the country for four years. What has it been doing?

The unit of some 3 000 troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi has a more muscular mission than the rest of MONUSCO to use necessary force to ‘neutralise’ all the ‘negative’ armed rebel groups in eastern DRC. Its second target was supposed to be the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the armed group founded in the mid-1990s by Rwandan Hutus who fled the country after the genocide against the Tutsis.

That campaign took a long time to get off the ground, including a long delay when the UN withheld its cooperation from the impending campaign against the FDLR by FARDC – the Armed Forces of the DRC – because two FARDC commanders appointed to head the campaign had been implicated in human rights abuses in the field.

The delays fuelled suspicions that in the eyes of President Joseph Kabila’s government and his fellow SADC members in the FIB, the force’s real mandate was to give DRC rival Rwanda a bloody nose. The FDLR, which provided a pretext for Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s military interventions into eastern DRC several times since the genocide, did not seem to be a high priority for the DRC or the FIB.

Instead the FIB conducted some successful operations against the ethnic-Hunde based Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) and went after another nasty armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Through 2014 and 2015 MONUSCO and the FIB’s role in that campaign appears to have been confined largely to logistical back-up and intelligence sharing. But after the DRC government and MONUSCO signed a technical agreement on 28 January 2016, the FIB became directly involved in FARDC’s two large-scale operations against the ADF: Usalama I and Usalama II, according to the UN Group of Experts on the DRC in its report of December 2016.

The UN troops contributed ground combat troops and special forces, artillery and ‘air assets’, as the experts group put it, referring to attacks by South Africa’s Rooivalk attack helicopters.

The FIB and the rest of MONUSCO did eventually contribute to FARDC operations against the FDLR, the experts said, but not much. And the FDLR now seems to be imploding of its own accord, splitting in two in 2016 when more than 50 of its officers defected to create a new group called the Conseil national pour le renouveau et la démocratie-Ubwiyunge (CNRD). Several other officers were captured, turned themselves in or deserted.

Countless other armed groups also operate in the region, all of them theoretically on the FIB’s hit list, though what exactly the FIB’s role has been in countering them is not clear.

South African military analyst André Roux says where it has been deployed, the FIB has acquitted itself well. Another military analyst, HelmoedRömer Heitman, confirms this. Nevertheless Roux questions whether the FIB is ultimately serving its mandated purpose.

The main reason for his doubt is that the ‘framework’ forces – the other elements of MONUSCO – are not always providing the necessary back-up, he says.

He notes that when FARDC and the FIB clear ADF forces, for instance, out of a camp or stronghold, the function of the framework troops should be to hold the captured ground. But this often doesn’t happen and so the rebel forces eventually return to occupy their previous positions. The UN experts confirm this pattern.

One of the main problems, Roux says, is that several of the governments that contribute troops to MONUSCO have given their troops strict instructions not to put themselves at any risk, so they will not defend territory.

He adds that there have been several instances in eastern DRC where civilians have been attacked within a stone’s throw of MONUSCO camps. ‘The local MONUSCO commander then got on his phone to his headquarters back home to request orders. By the time the order went up and back down the chain of command, it was of course too late to help the civilians.’

He prescribes a comprehensive counter-insurgency operation to defeat the negative forces but says Kinshasa politics are frustrating such ambition.

Another military analyst Richard Cornwell notes that there is a widespread misapprehension that the non-FIB ‘framework’ troops in MONUSCO have a less muscular so-called Chapter 6 mandate which allows only peacekeeping but not peace enforcement.

Both he and Roux also note the anomaly that while the FIB has been relatively under-utilised and frustrated in the pursuit of its mandate in eastern DRC, massive violence has been running unchecked in central Kasai, to the West.

FARDC troops have been the ones most accused of several massacres in the running battles that erupted last August when government forces killed tribal chief and militia leader Kamwina Nsapu. DRC authorities recently rebuffed a UN threat to launch an independent probe by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into the violence after the discovery of dozens of mass graves in the area.

The South African government has been vocally opposed to this inquiry. Kinshasa wants a joint investigation it can control, DRC experts say, and Pretoria is backing up its ally by falling back on the tired old argument of national sovereignty. The UN is expected to vote on the investigation this week.

Whether or not the FIB’s mandate technically extends to Kasai is perhaps moot. But the spectacle of a gigantic UN peacekeeping force with a potent spearhead in the form of the FIB not doing much in the east while thousands are massacred in Kasai, does not look good.

It now seems MONUSCO is sending some 3 000 reinforcements to Kasai, though FIB elements will apparently not be among them.

The enormously expensive MONUSCO mission, which has been in the DRC since 1999, is increasingly attracting international criticism and the European Parliament this year deemed it to be ineffective. Some observers suspect that the UN is contemplating the termination of the FIB mission in particular.

Last month General Derrick Mgwebi, the South African force commander of MONUSCO, briefed the UN Security Council and complained about the council’s recent decision to reduce the size of the mission when the demands on it were rising, including support for what should be imminent elections and protection of civilians in new theatres like Kasai.

He also alluded diplomatically to the problem Roux outlines above – that the chain linking the council’s intentions to the actions of troop- and police-contributing countries and peacekeeping missions broke when it came to the use of force.

It is clear that whatever the positions might be of his political chiefs in New York and in Pretoria, Mgwebi the soldier is feeling the frustration of having a potent weapon in his armoury – the FIB – which he cannot properly use.

Peter Fabricius, ISS Consultant

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