Is there is new era emerging of relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM/JUBA) – Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the verge of bringing their relations to a new level following the current visit of First-Vice President Taban Deng Gai to Khartoum which Juba hopes would normalize ties between the two nations particularly as it faces mounting international pressures.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir look on during a photo opportunity at the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/James Akena)

On the one side, Gai and his senior economic and military delegation who arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday, have discussed outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border and oil issues.

However, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have sought to gain support of the Sudanese government in the face of the heavy international pressure that he encountered following the escape of his former First Vice-President Riek Machar which exacerbated the humanitarian and security situation in the newborn state.

Kiir had written a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir expressing full commitment to implement all cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2012 before asking Khartoum to deal the same way with his government.

He also underscored his personal commitment to work to achieve a homegrown solution to stopping the war that brought his country to the brink of economic collapse.

“Let me be clear my brother, Omer al-Bashir and members of your government that we are not opposed to the regional support. We need support of the region, particularly countries like Sudan but this support should be supplementary. It should be a supplementary to our own so it is not rejected by the people. The region also needs to know that imported solutions aren’t the answer. We have many examples where external intervention had been short lived in other countries. Only a domestic solution realised from understanding people’s needs and aspirations that can be permanent”, Kiir explained in the special letter addressed to al-Bashir, copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.

The South Sudanese government has declined to respond to a UN Security Council Resolution 2304 that authorized sending extra 4,000 troops to boost UN peacekeepers in country with a mandate to fight rival forces considering the move a violation to its sovereignty.

Washington is standing behind the resolution to send extra troops to South Sudan, saying it would participate to the protection of civilians in the country.

“It is absolutely indisputable that we need to push for the deployment of the regional force which has been approved by the UN Security Council” said US Secretary of State John Kerry during his meeting with five Foreign Ministers from the regional bloc IGAD on Monday in Nairobi.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

Earlier this month Sudan declined a proposal by some international partners to conduct a solo mediation between the warring parties in South Sudan and also refused to send troops within the regional force, saying it doesn’t want to create any sensitivities with the conflicting parties.

“Sudan is sticking to its role within the IGAD only,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters on August 2.

In his special letter, Kiir further projected the future of South Sudan to be brighter, saying the country was now moving forward after the appointment of Gai as his new first deputy in unity government in place of armed opposition leader, his main political rival for top office in the country, Riek Machar.

“We are moving towards a brighter future and the international community should support and not weaken us, the letter adds in part. It further added that South Sudan doesn’t need lessons on human rights from the international community. “Respecting human rights is enshrined in our culture, heritage and it is part of our values system. We are more respectful of human rights in terms of commitment and action,” it added.

It was apparent from Kiir’s letter that Juba seeks to win the trust of Khartoum by sending clear signals to assure the latter that it intends to open a new chapter in relations.

Also, these signals were sent by Gai when he directly addressed Khartoum’s major concern about the security file between the two countries and particularly with regard to Juba’s support for the Sudanese rebels saying his country is keen to resolve the outstanding security issues within three weeks.

On Monday, Gai also sent amessage from Khartoum to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) demanding the rebel group to resort to the peaceful settlement with the Sudanese government.

He stressed that his country wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for any Sudanese who wants to continue the war against Khartoum, adding “we hope that Sudan wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for Machar”.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Gai also on Tuesday denied that Darfur movements and SPLM-N are currently present in South Sudan’s territory, saying mutual accusations between the two countries “would continue until we agree on a verification mechanism”.

“We would go to Addis Ababa and all places where these [rebel] movements have presence and tell them that appropriate time has come to achieve peace and we would render the necessary support and advise them in a kind manner” he said.

“We advise them [SPLM-N] that wartime is over, and we say to them that your brothers in South Sudan shouldn’t suffer because of you, for even if the South didn’t support you Sudan is making use of that [pretext]” he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern Sudanese voters chose independence.

Relations between the two nations soured after South Sudan’s independence following a series of disputes over a number of issues.

(ST)

South Africa enters the era of coalition politics

Mail and Guardian/The Conversation

The DA's Herman Mashaba celebrates after being voted in as Johannesburg mayor. (Gallo)
The DA’s Herman Mashaba celebrates after being voted in as Johannesburg mayor. (Gallo)

South Africa is in a tryst with tumultuous times as coalitions take shape to unlock hung municipalities following the 2016 local government elections.

The implications for local government and the administration of municipalities is enormous. This is because most are largely politicised after 20 years of uninterrupted rule by one party, the African National Congress (ANC). An additional reason is that municipalities are not simply administrative outposts of the national and provincial governments. They are also required to play a developmental role. To do this the country’s Constitution stipulates that they must “structure and manage [their] administration and budgeting and planning processes to give priority to the basic needs of the community and to promote the social and economic development of the community.”

Can the coalition arrangements of hung municipalities, which largely spawned minority governments, live up to this? Do they portend the possibility of non-partisan administration of municipal affairs? These questions are important because institution-building and consolidation of state capacity for the country’s development require a professional bureaucracy. This issue has not been adequately considered amid all the talk about the political implications of coalition building in hung municipalities.

The situation that’s emerged in South Africa is new for the country. But it is by no means unique.Nearly two thirds of the countries that make up the European Union are run by coalition governments. In most they have been part of the political system for a long time, with the exceptions of Britain, Spain, and Greece where they are relatively new. How they have fared differs from one to another. But a dominant lesson is that to optimise the efficiency of governance, a professional and stable bureaucracy in the administration of the state is important.

South Africa should take this into consideration as it experiments with coalition politics.

Patterns of patronage
A research report by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, Patronage Politics Divides Us, is edifying. Its analysis shows that the edifice of municipalities’ institutional disposition in South Africa is patronage. Their bureaucracies are staffed largely on a partisan basis, especially in senior management, where tenure in office is linked to an electoral term.

So too are their integrated development plans, which appear to respond more to partisan politics than community needs. This delegitimises municipalities. This explains why communities have adopted “extra-judicial measures” – such as protests and the destruction of public property – to communicate their concerns. It also explains, at least in part, the governing ANC’s fate in the elections.

The challenge in formulating a new approach to local government is that no grand coalitions have been formed in councils where the ANC has lost its majority but where no clear winners emerged.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) dashed this possibility by declining to go into alliance with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to constitute councils in hung municipalities.

The EFF has, however, said it will vote with parties in coalition arrangements against the ANC. The minority governments require the votes of the parties that are not part of the coalitions in councils, especially in major policy areas such as budgets and development plans. This is necessary as the margins of the electoral performance, especially among the major political parties, are close in the hung municipalities, with the ANC relegated to the opposition benches.

So does the outcome of the 2016 local government mark the beginning of the new era? We hope so. As opposed to the mediocrity that patronage politics produces, non-partisan administration institutionalises meritocracy and legitimises government. Is this where South Africa is destined to go? Can municipal officials become true professionals, with a sense of public service?

Not necessarily.

A professional bureaucracy will be hard to build
One possibility is that the new coalitions simply become arrangements for the politics of patronage tochange hands. This is highly possible if the motive of the DA and EFF is to work together for the sole purpose of keeping the ANC out of power.

An additional problem is that the ANC’s power in municipalities it has governed is consolidated in the bureaucracies. Although it is politically displaced in some, it is still bureaucratically intact. This suggests the possibility of governance paralysis for the new coalition governments.

Naturally, politicians fear bureaucrats becoming “the power elite” and that they then dominate the“governing process”. Because of this, we foresee widespread purging –- relatively easy in the South African system of local government where the governance framework is susceptible to partisan manipulation.

Given the EFF and DA’s steadfastness to get the ANC out of power, the coalition councils are likely to take advantage of the governance framework to influence staffing choices.

The gush with which the ANC is pursued is likely to go as far as flushing out those considered ANC loyalists in the administration. Often the risk with this is to lay off those who are efficient and competent – a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

This has happened before. When the DA took control of Cape Town after municipal elections in 2000 it dismissed senior officials appointed during the ANC’s administration and replaced them with those it considered “politically suitable and acceptable”.

This is likely to repeat itself, but perhaps discreetly this time around: a case of fighting patronage with patronage. This does not bode well for meritocracy in the administration of municipalities.

System invites partisan politics
What compounds the pursuit of an effective system of local government in South Africa is its governance framework, as prescribed in law, which is vulnerable to politicisation.

Legislative and executive powers are concentrated in the municipal councils. The executive authority is delegated to either executive mayor or an executive committee of the council, depending on the executive municipal system used.

This is at odds with the principle of separation of powers. Most scholars argue that the arrangement is fundamentally flawed.

It exposes the administration of municipalities to partisan politics. The municipal councils are directly involved in the administration. They appoint senior managers. Their tenure is linked to a five year electoral term. This institutionalises politicisation of bureaucracies. The spoils are dispensed to sustain political loyalties and allegiances.

Appointments are also partisan-based below senior management. In the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape province, the court found that, in 2009, the ANC dominated council took an instruction from its regional executive committee to appoint a particular candidate to the post of municipal manager. This was despite this candidate not performing as well as others in the interviews.

In the mix is also the partisan-driven planning system linked to a five year electoral term. This makes a mockery of the Municipal Systems Act, which stipulates that the planning process should be community-centred and widely inclusive. If development plans are community-driven, why do they change each time political power changes hands? What this shows is that the planning system should be delinked from the five-year electoral term.

The fate of coalitions depends on a rethink of South Africa’s system of local government. Otherwise tumultuous times await the country.

Mashupye Herbert Maserumule, Professor of Public Affairs, Tshwane University of Technology; Renosi Mokate, Executive director and CEO: School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, andSibusiso Vil-Nkomo, Research Professor in the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria

Should Africa pull out of CITES?

Daily Maverick

  • IVO VEGTER
The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has abandoned its original policy of sustainable utilisation of wildlife, under the influence of western animal rights groups. Africa ought to reject the power of rich elites in Europe or America to dictate how they manage their affairs.

Conferences of the parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are filled not only with government delegations, but also with representatives from a coterie of prominent animal rights groups. Although they do not have direct votes, they strongly influence the (nonsecret) votes of many of the 182 government representatives to CITES. As a group, CITES easily outvotes proposals brought by countries which actually have to deal with the conservation of species, ensuring sustainable development and combating poaching.

The radical groups that have the ear of the US and European countries should not be confused with conservation organisations who advocate pragmatic wildlife management practices that ensure sustainable use of natural resources and recognise the needs of the societies that live alongside wildlife. On the contrary. Animal rights groups are strictly opposed to any form of consumptive use of wildlife, and to management techniques that involve potentially lethal methods. They want nature to be left untouched, except perhaps by ecotourism. They reject the principle of “sustainable utilisation”, which is the bedrock of conservation practice in many African countries, including South Africa.

It is time for African countries to ask the question: what good has CITES ever done for us? The answer, in terms of both conservation and sustainable development, is very little indeed. If one African country goes against CITES, there will be repercussions. Rich countries are economically and politically powerful. However, African countries would send a strong message about their own conservation and socio-economic development interests by withdrawing from CITES en bloc.

There is rich irony in the idea that African countries can be outvoted in their wildlife management practices by rich countries which don’t have to manage the animals in question. In Europe, everyone lives in carefully planned cities or state-subsidised picture-postcard agricultural idyll. The largest wild animal that is still fairly abundant is the house fly, and they’re working on that. A dramatic 19th-century photo of a mountain of bison skulls about to be shipped off to the fertiliser industry illustrates that the US has a similarly sketchy record in conserving its wildlife.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, rich tourists from both continents came to Africa to establish their fame as big white hunters. In an era when wildlife was treated as a common resource, the well-armed foreigners, when they weren’t busy “converting” and “civilising” indigenous populations, spent their time illustrating the tragedy of the commons. If everybody is responsible for a resource, nobody takes responsibility for it. Game species that once roamed the wide savannahs were decimated by indiscriminate hunting. Some of them went extinct.

The response to this slaughter, according to Brian Child of Stellenbosch University, was effectively to nationalise wildlife and restrict or prohibit the commercial use of wildlife. Today, despite having so little wildlife left in their own countries, rich westerners are overcome with remorse, and determined to “save” Africa’s remaining wildlife. But apparently Africans cannot be relied upon to manage their own wildlife. In 1975, an international body was established to decide how Africa (and other countries) should conserve what little wildlife the Europeans and Americans have left it.

African governments, some out of a desire for international respectability, others because of desire for foreign aid and charitable donations, and yet others because trade prohibitions protected the corrupt poaching business, were happy to sign their sovereign rights away to CITES.

In their defence, the original aim of CITES was congruent with Africa’s own approach to wildlife: sustainable use. This concept was formalised in the 1980 World Conservation Strategy, prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in association with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), under which CITES falls. The subtitle of this document called for “living resource conservation for sustainable development” and its aims are to support continued economic and social development by maintaining essential ecological processes and life support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, and, particularly, “to ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems, which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries”.

The 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity defines sustainable use as “the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations”.

However, since those days, CITES has gone off the rails. It has become heavily influenced by animal rights groups which oppose the doctrine of sustainable use of wildlife. To them, nothing less than outright prohibition on trade and consumptive use of nature is acceptable.

Eugène Lapointe was the president of CITES during the 1980s, when the ivory trade ban was imposed. He now heads the IWMC World Conservation Trust. In an e-mail interview, he writes: “The problem at CITES is that the organisation has steadily become more politicised, with many animal rights NGOs promoting the idea that a listing equates to saving a species, while a vote against a listing is denounced as condemning a species to extinction. This is complete nonsense. Unfortunately, most of the media that reports on wildlife issues sides with the NGOs.”

These groups exercise their influence through donations to developing countries, by politically shaming developed country delegations, and by threatening tourism consequences for countries that do not toe their line. Their goals are ideological and rooted in elitist philosophies that value animals at least as highly as the humans who have to live with them. And they profit handsomely from their intransigent positions: they have annual fundraising budgets in the millions – and sometimes hundreds of millions – of dollars.

Lapointe explains the dynamic: “The wealthiest forces at CITES, and therefore the most powerful, are the NGOs that thrive on promoting protectionism. I don’t think the supporters of these organisations have nefarious intentions – in fact, I am sure they want to help conserve wildlife – but they don’t understand how bans on legal trade can actually make things worse. It seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, the leaders of these NGOs can see that prohibitions don’t improve conservation but they are often so ideologically opposed to the use of wildlife that they cannot countenance any way forward that would involve the death of an animal. So they demand more effective law enforcement without understanding its limitations. Ironically this all becomes self-sustaining because as poaching continues, the NGOs can continue to attract more and more donor money to ‘save’ a species.”

He continues: “NGOs work behind the scenes to get member states to sponsor and support listings. The animal rights and animal welfare NGOs are based and financed in the USA and Europe, which is why these countries are so heavily involved in listing proposals. They cater to their own constituencies. It seems to me that many westerners are driven to support NGO agendas by a misplaced desire to feel better about themselves, by ‘making the world a better place’.”

That the doctrine of sustainable use has been abandoned can be seen in statements by several formal organisations. The international NGO monitoring wildlife trade, TRAFFIC, lists CITES itself among its donors. In direct contradiction to its stated mission and vision, however, it opposes any form of trade in, or sustainable utilisation of, wildlife.

It states its mission “to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature”, which sounds fair enough. It expands upon that in its vision “of a world where wildlife trade is: managed in a way that maintains healthy wildlife populations and ecosystems; contributes to meeting human needs; supports local and national economies; and helps motivate commitments to conserve wild species and habitats”.

Marvellous. That’s sustainable use and sustainable development, right there. The problem is that when it meets to discuss, for example, trade in rhino products, it flatly contradicts this position: “Trade or sustainable utilisation of wildlife is inherently wrong and should never be countenanced.”

Clearly, TRAFFIC is no longer true to its founding mission, and has departed from the aims of the World Conservation Strategy of 1980. It is governed by a steering committee composed of members of its “partner organisations”, the WWF and the IUCN. All of them are sister organisations to CITES.

“A central aim of TRAFFIC’s activities is to contribute to the wildlife trade-related priorities of these partners,” it says. The IUCN is usually careful to qualify its discussion of trade in wildlife by referring to “illegal trade”, but it is not immune to the pressure to oppose all trade in wildlife. Among its 1,394 members from 170 countries, many strongly oppose the principle of sustainable utilisation. In 2014, it called upon the public to “Stop Wildlife Trade, Celebrate World Wildlife Day”. As for the WWF, even ecologists are sceptical of the data in its reports designed to scare the public into donating more money.

Many ordinary Africans, rich and poor alike, depend on nature and the resources it offers for their living. If there is no reason to conserve wild game species, why would they? If they cannot trade wildlife products internationally, what is to stop them from shooting the game for meat, and turning unproductive bush into productive livestock or crop farms?

If CITES has betrayed the doctrine of sustainable use, why should African countries continue to take orders from foreigners, when the animals that need protection are not theirs? Why should former colonial powers, having raided Africa’s wildlife, now get a say in what Africans are and are not allowed to do in pursuit of sustainable development in a healthy and productive natural environment?

CITES, the treaty that was supposed to protect endangered wildlife, was signed more than 40 years ago, but has had very little actual success. In a 1997 paper, environmental economist Michael t’Sas-Rolfes considered the cases of rhino, elephant, bears and tigers, to assess whether the treaty actually worked. He found that the listing of these species by CITES was for the most part unsuccessful, either in conserving the species or curbing trade in their products. After trade prohibitions, prices for products derived from the protected animals skyrocketed, illegal markets flourished, poaching became a serious problem requiring military-style intervention, the wishes of range states were overridden at CITES conferences, and the blanket trade rules ended up punishing countries with successful wildlife management programmes, such as South Africa.

CITES listings and trade prohibitions – encompassing about 35,000 species now – are extremely blunt weapons with which to attack the complex and varied problems of managing wildlife. This decades-long experiment has largely failed. As Brian Child wrote in the South African Journal of Science, “No domestic species has gone extinct because it was valuable, so why is high value a threat to wild species, rather than an enormous opportunity?”

That is not to say there haven’t been positive outcomes under CITES from which one may learn something. Environmentalists like to argue that a legal trade in products such as ivory and rhino horn can only stimulate demand and encourage poachers to launder illegal products through legal channels, but empirical evidence is against them. There are many case studies that prove the opposite: that legal trade and sustainable use can provide the incentives to conserve species and curb poaching.

The case of the South American vicuña and its golden fleece is an illustration of how private or community ownership of an economically productive species can bring it back from the edge of extinction. Another example is crocodiles. Although all crocodilian species are protected by CITES, the campaign around crocodilians has focused on establishing a legal and sustainable international trade, instead of a trade prohibition.

Crocodiles are today widely farmed and subject to controlled harvesting in the wild. Notably, the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group found: “Despite predictions that legal trade would encourage illegal trade, an outstanding result of market-driven conservation of crocodilians is that illegal trade has all but been eradicated in the face of well regulated legal trade.”

Once-off ivory auctions likewise did not increase illegal trade, and in fact may have decreased it, according to CITES itself. “Poaching levels appear to be more closely related to governance problems and political instability in certain regions of the continent,” it says.

In countries where game populations have increased, like South Africa, this is highly correlated with the rise of private wildlife ownership and legal trade. More than two-thirds of the land and much of the wildlife under management in South Africa exists on private game ranches. This industry has significant conservation, economic and social benefits, according to a study by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. By imbuing wildlife with economic value, their future is assured. By subjecting that value to private ownership, their sustainable use is assured.

A wonderful example of this principle in action is the Bubye River Conservancy, in the heart of Zimbabwe. What was once the largest cattle ranching farm in the country has been turned into a sanctuary for wildlife, including all of the Big Five. Since few rich foreigners consider Zimbabwe an ecotourism destination, the conservancy runs entirely on the proceeds of hunting. Local communities, who benefit from regular supplies of game meat, have a vested interested in the success of the conservancy, and help form a bulwark against poachers. What was once a dusty, over-grazed wasteland is now a thriving wildlife conservation and research area, benefiting the environment, local landowners and surrounding communities.

Conversely, animals under the protection of CITES, such as elephants and rhinos, have become major targets for poachers, despite the assurance of international animal rights groups that prohibiting consumptive use of wildlife and the resulting trade in its products would protect the species.

It is as if these people have never heard of the effect of prohibition. If you ban something, all you do is increase its value and drive the trade underground, to the criminal class, out of reach of the protection of the law. The prohibition of alcohol has failed. The prohibition on sex work has failed. The prohibition of drugs has failed. Worse, all these attempts at prohibition led to unintended consequences, ranging from damaging effects on economic activity, lower government tax revenues, increased risks to consumers, turning millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens into hardened prison inmates, and killing thousands of people in increasingly militarised law enforcement operations.

Nowhere is the failure of prohibition more evident than in Kenya, which has long been under the spell of animal rights groups. In 1977, it instituted a ban on sport hunting and all consumptive use of wildlife, and instituted a comprehensive wildlife monitoring programme. According toa 2007 paper published in the World Economics Journal by Mike Norton-Griffiths, an ecologist resident in Kenya, that country has lost between 60% and 70% of all its large wildlife in the decades since the ban. The reason, he argues, is the differential return on land dedicated to agriculture, livestock and wildlife.

The potential return on wildlife ranching in so-called “concession areas” is about $10 per hectare per year, derived mostly from exclusive arrangements with tour companies. This pales by comparison to livestock ranching, and especially agriculture, which brings in up to $270/ha/y. Only in arid regions does the return on agriculture fall below the return on wildlife ownership.

Earlier this year, Kenya made headlines by burning a massive stockpile of ivory and rhino horn, worth an estimated $180-million. This seems like an extremely expensive way to flip the bird to poaching syndicates, but it was not as irrational as it seems. In effect, the ivory and horn was bought for this purpose by NGOs such as the African Wildlife Foundation. Kenya certainly did not do this publicity stunt for nothing. In fact, it was being rather hypocritical.

Other groups, notably the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), have also been active in Kenya for decades. They routinely issue veiled threats about “tourism boycotts” should Kenya change the failed wildlife management policies they advocated in the first place. Meanwhile, and despite the so-called fight against poaching, the ruling Kenyatta family and other political elites have been implicated in large-scale wildlife slaughter and trade. It isn’t hard to imagine that despite the show of officially destroying its stockpiles, some of the valuable contraband ended up in the hands of well connected poaching syndicates. When legal markets are prohibited, or buried under mountains of red tape, as CITES does, this opens the door to cronyism, corruption and criminal poaching syndicates.

Unless other African countries want to go the way of Kenya, watching wildlife populations dwindle while political elites enrich themselves and kowtow to the demands of western animal rights groups, they should act decisively.

Just as with the ban on ivory trade, African countries are not being heard at CITES. South Africa has already abandoned its plan to propose a legal, regulated market in rhino horn. There appears to be no rational reason for this turnaround in policy, other than influence by animal rights activists. Less than a week after this bombshell announcement, little Swaziland submitted a last-minute proposal to CITES to be permitted a limited and regulated trade in white rhino horn. It needs to convince two-thirds of the 182 parties to CITES. Although the handful of white rhino range states are likely to support this measure, Swaziland hasn’t got a hope in hell.

In 2012, a Tanzanian proposal to downlist the African elephant and permit the sale of its ivory stockpile was rejected by CITES. The same will probably happen to this year’s proposal by Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa to lift the ban on trade in ivory in favour of a De Beers-style monopoly. While this hardly amounts to a free market in ivory, there is no reason to believe that even such a limited proposal will attract the votes of a supermajority of CITES parties, the vast majority of whom have no elephant populations of their own to manage.

“I would like to think that the African countries could agree a way forward together, but I am not sure that would actually happen because there would still be a lot of outside interference from American and European interests (NGOs) that oppose sustainable use,” says Lapointe. “Even if African nations within CITES all agreed tomorrow to allow a carefully managed trade in ivory, they wouldn’t be able to outvote the Europeans. This situation is very frustrating for all those in Africa (and elsewhere) who know that sustainable use is the best way forward.”

For a fortnight starting on 23 September, the parties to CITES will hold their 17th bi-annual meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is an appropriate location, given that many of the species controlled by CITES occur in Africa. It is also a perfect opportunity for African countries to stop pandering to foreign interests in their wildlife, and exercise their sovereign right to benefit from the sustainable utilisation of wildlife. If CITES will not let them do so, African countries should reject the neocolonialism of western animal rights groups and withdraw from the treaty. DM

South Africa – SARS endgame as Hawks summon Gordhan

Daily Maverick

Photo: Finance minister Pravin Gordhan, the Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza. (SAPA)

 

The Hawks are again circling Pravin Gordhan as well as four SARS officials, former Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay, Group Executive Johann van Loggerenberg, Pete Richer, former SARS head of strategic planning, and initial head of the investigative unit, Andries van Rensburg, who have all been ordered to report to the Hawks in Pretoria on Thursday for warning statements. The threats of criminal action relate to allegations of an alleged “rogue unit” located in SARS. Pravin Gordhan has been in the Hawks cross-hairs since accidentally landing back in the hot seat as Minister of Finance in December.

 

Andre van Rensburg, original head of the unit, presented himself to the Hawks in Worcester. Former spokesperson Adrian Lackay has not been served with any letters or notices. The four former SARS officials who have been asked to present themselves to the Hawks on Thursday at 10am are Gordhan, Pillay, van Loggerenberg and Pete Richer, former SARS head of strategic planning.

The convoluted SARS “rogue unit” saga appears to be heading for a dramatic climax as the Hawks are poised to finally make a much anticipated move on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this week. This in spite of Gordhan’s answering of 27 questions personally delivered by the Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza in February with regard to the so-called “rogue unit” in SARS.

Gordhan has for some time, since his reinstatement as Minister of Finance in December after President Jacob Zuma’s disastrous firing of Nhlanhla Nene, been viewed as an obstacle thwarting the interests of individuals linked to Zuma including SAA’s Dudu Myeni, current SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane as well as the Gupta family’s interest in the country’s nuclear deal, among countless others.

In May Gordhan released a public statement saying that earlier reports of his arrest had been distressing for him and his family and urged South Africans to “protect the integrity of the treasury”.

“I cannot believe that I’m being investigated and could possibly be charged for something I am innocent of. Throughout my 45 years of activism, I have worked for the advancement of the ANC, our Constitution and our democratic government,” he said.

Daily Maverick has been reliably informed that Gordhan, Pillay, Van Loggerenberg, Lackay, as well as the original 2007 head of the unit, Andries “Skollie” van Rensburg, have all been asked to report to the Hawks at 10am on Thursday. Pillay, Van Loggernberg, Lackay and Van Rensburg were sent letters informing them of the charges they will face. Gordhan was informed that he would, along with the other, be receiving a “warning statement” given to an accused person before they are charged with an offence and to warn them of their rights in terms of the Constitution.

Daily Maverick also learned that Pillay, Van Loggerenberg, Lackay and Van Rensburg have been informed by the Hawks that each of them face possible charges in relation as to how the unit was formed. Pillay will also be questioned in relation to his pension payout and Van Loggerenberg in relation to a charity he ran. In addition to it, Pillay will also face questions about the alleged “project Sunday Evenings” and Van Rensburg’s (former head of the unit) involvement in allegedly bugging the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority in 2007 at the behest of the then Directorate of Special Operations, or the Scorpions, who were investigating police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, told Daily Maverick that he did not have a “mandate to discuss any case or any confidential information attached to any case that is still under investigation. Any matters related to this enquiry is mere speculation and we will also not comment on it.”

When approached for comment on the matter, Van Loggerenberg, Pillay and Lackay declined.

Earlier this year the Hawks sent the 27 questions to Gordhan who was SARS Commissioner when a request for a unit with special investigative capacity was signed off in 2007. This was done with the knowledge of then Finance Minster Trevor Manuel and in agreement with the NIA (National Intelligence Agency), who was to partner the unit in an attempt to curb the illicit economy.

Gordhan replied to the questions stating that, according to legal advice, the establishment of the unit had been lawful, that the finding by the Sikhakhane Panel (one of four investigations into the unit) that the establishment of the Unit contravened the National Strategic Intelligence Act was “wrong and based on a superficial and clearly mistaken reading of the aforementioned Act” and that the unit had been “an essential part of SARS’ enforcement strategy as it is with most tax and customs administrations globally.”

All of this also had been in line with then President Thabo Mbeki’s announcement in his 2007 SONA that government would “start the process of further modernising the systems of the South African Revenue Service, especially in respect of border control, and improve the work of inter-departmental co-ordinating structures in this regard, intensify intelligence work with regard to organised crime, building on the successes that have been achieved in the last few months in dealing with cash-in-transit heists, drug trafficking and the poaching of game and abalone”.

Under Gordhan, SARS was turned into one of the most efficient government departments. The National Research Group, as it was later to be named, was responsible for raking in millions in unpaid taxes and for investigating the criminal underworld, including abalone smuggling, rhino poaching, the importation of grey goods as well as drug and tobacco trafficking.

Some of the unit’s successes included a R40 million fine paid by former Hyundai SA boss Billy Rautenbach who had evaded local authorities for ten years, nailing of underworld drug lord Glen Agliotti, as well as investigations into billionaire Dave King’s tax affairs. The unit’s apparent crime/mistake was that it also began sniffing around individuals and companies who had alleged dealings with President Jacob Zuma and his family.

The “rogue unit” narrative was first advanced by a former NIA (National Intelligence Agency) operative Dr Mandisa Mokwena, a SARS group executive who headed the Segmentation and Research Division and who was later charged with 40 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering. It was also forwarded by State Security Agency double operative Pretoria attorney, Belinda Walter.

Since then at least four “investigations” have been conducted including the controversial KPMG report, which cost taxpayers R23 million and which has still not been released.

Some of the allegations included that the unit, headed by Johann van Loggerenberg, had gone “rogue”, had spied on politicians including Jacob Zuma, had set up a brothel and had used a slush fund.

Walter was a double agent for the SSA and British American Tobacco (BAT) while she worked as an attorney for BAT competitors Carnilinx. She also chaired the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA). After a relationship between Walters and Van Loggerenberg turned sour, in 2014 Walter lodged a complaint with the HAWKS and SARS.

All of this loops back to 2013 when Pillay, shortly after being appointed as acting Commissioner of SARS, announced that the revenue service was requesting the NPA to prosecute 15 local tobacco manufacturers and importers for tax evasion and illicit trade in an attempt to collect around R12 billion in unpaid taxes.

On 14 November SARS wrote a letter to the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA), and the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) as representatives of the majority of the stakeholders in the tobacco industry in South Africa. The bodies were advised that SARS had implemented programmes to monitor and increase compliance particularly with regard to the tobacco industry identified as “as one such high risk area for reasons which include the on-going trade in illicit cigarettes.”

Tax and Customs Enforcement Investigations (TCEI), a new division that fell under Gene Revele, was mandated to investigate serious non-compliance issues and gathered information on the tobacco industry.

About 18-months later, Pillay and several other top officials, all found themselves jobless.

This after the Sunday Times, under then editor Phylicia Oppelt, was instrumental in publishing reports on the “rogue unit” and which subsequently directly led to new Commissioner Tom Moyane culling SARS top leadership.

The Sunday Times, under its new editor Bongani Siqoko, later apologised for the newspaper’s role in the “rogue unit” saga. He admitted that a 9 November 2014 report that the unit had run a brothel was not true and that this had merely been an allegation by a disgruntled former member of the unit.

“In another article in the same edition, we reported incorrectly that Johann van Loggerenberg had written a ‘confession’ letter to SARS commissioner Tom Moyane admitting that he had indeed run a ‘rogue unit’. The document contains no such confession. It was, in fact, a denial. More errors were repeated in other reports, such as ‘the infiltration of politicians as bodyguards’, ‘breaking into homes and conducting house infiltrations’, ‘running front companies’ with secret funds of over R500-million, and ‘spying on taxpayers and top cops’,” wrote Siqoko.

Earlier this month, an anonymous Twitter account @EspionageSA leaked the largest data dump ever pertaining to British American Tobacco’s alleged role in tax evasion, bribery, corruption and industrial espionage in South Africa. Hundreds of affidavits by whistle blowers, photographs, lawyers letters and sound clips were leaked by the account holder and linked to a Google docs folder (owned by ‘Black Widow’) and suggesting serious criminality on the part of British American Tobacco. BAT responded to the leaks with a standard, unsigned statement that it did not condone illegal behaviour.

The Hawks, in the meantime, have responded that they are not investigating these leaks and the serious allegations that BAT might have destabilised a state institution and been involved in bribery and industrial espionage. Brigadier Mulaudzi told Daily Maverick“we only comment on official complaints and the BAT is one of those that was leaked to the public and no formal docket has been opened.”

This suggests that, incredibly, until a private citizen or someone else lodges a complaint with regard to the massive and serious leak the Hawks are going to ignore it and go after South African former SARS officials instead.

The response by the Hawks is curious and inconsistent as in March 2015, Minster of State Security, David Mahlobo, announced that government “noted with great concern the allegations of espionage against the Head of the Office of the Public Protector [Thuli Madonsela] and certain political leaders in our country A search conducted on these allegations made, led government to the following website: africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com, including other social media platforms.”

It appears that law enforcement agencies, when it comes to probing allegations that Madonsela was a “CIA agent” are prepared to investigate an Internet leak while this strangely does not apply to British American Tobacco. DM

Photo: Finance minister Pravin Gordhan, the Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza. (SAPA)

South Sudan – Machar in Khartoum for medical treatment

Reuters

South Sudan opposition leader in Khartoum for treatment, Sudan says

(This August 23 story has been corrected to change the date of the final peace deal from 1995 to 2005 in paragraph 9)

South Sudan opposition leader, Riek Machar, is in Khartoum for medical treatment, a Sudanese minister told the state news agency SUNA on Tuesday, after he left the country to escape government forces.

President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from his post as vice president after renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba last month between forces loyal to the long-time rivals. The clashes forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Machar withdrew to the bush during the fighting in Juba and was picked up this month by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury. His spokesman earlier said Machar had left South Sudan to evade Kiir’s forces and had said his injury was not serious enough to require medical attention.

However, on Tuesday, Sudan said he was receiving treatment.

“Sudan has received, lately, Dr. Riek Machar, for pure humanitarian reasons, especially his need for treatment and medical care,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said.

“Dr. Riek Machar’s health is stable currently and he will remain in the country under comprehensive healthcare until he leaves to a destination of his choice to complete his treatment,” he added.

Machar’s spokesman in Nairobi, James Gatdet Dak, could not immediately confirm he had travelled to Khartoum. He said Machar’s original plan had been to travel to Addis Ababa, which has previously hosted South Sudan’s troubled peace process.

Machar and Kiir have long been rivals, even before South Sudan’s independence in 2011 when they were both commanders in the SPLA force that fought Sudan’s Khartoum-based government.

Machar, at one point in the two-decade-long conflict, led a splinter group that signed a unilateral peace deal with the Khartoum government in 1997 that give him an official post in Sudan. Sudan’s government and the SPLA finally signed a peace deal in 2005, which led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

But by December 2013, the political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had again boiled over into a civil conflict, which often followed ethnic lines.

The two men signed a peace deal in August 2015. Under that deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as vice president. But fighting flared last month and he was then sacked.

During a visit to Kenya, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged South Sudan’s leaders to “get the job done” by fully implementing the peace deal or face a U.N. arms embargo and sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to authorise sending an extra 4,000 troops to the country to bolster the existing U.N. mission, which South Sudan said it was considering.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Asma Alsharif and Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

Angola – MPLA picks leaders ready for 2017 elections

Reuters

Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) elected new party leaders on Tuesday, including a former army general seen as a front-runner to succeed long-time president José Eduardo dos Santos.

MPLA’s Central Committee elected João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, a retired general and defence minister, as vice president ahead of 2017 parliamentary elections where the leader of the winning party becomes president.

Dos Santos, president of oil-producing southern African nation since 1979, was re-elected party leader over the weekend by an overwhelming majority. But in March he indicated he would be step down by 2018, although he failed to name a successor.

Dos Santos’ billionaire daughter, Isabel, is seen as another potential successor after her appointment by presidential decree to chief executive of state oil firm Sonangol, the main source of government revenues.

The appointment in June was seen by some analysts as dos Santos laying the ground for dynastic, family succession if the president follows through on his indication to step down in 2018.

The party also elected former prime minister António Paulo Kassoma as secretary general of the organisation.

Angola, a member of OPEC and Africa’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria, has been battered by the slump in global crude prices that has dried-up revenues and provoked opposition to dos Santos’ 36-year rule.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana)

South Africa – Mantashe says negative narrative about Zuma hurt ANC at polls

News24

2016-08-23 16:13

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Johannesburg – A constant “negative narrative” about President Jacob Zuma, including the issue of his Nkandla homestead, hurt the ANC in the local government elections, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

“We said, among the issues in our analysis that we had, was the negative narrative that was consistent towards the president of the ANC. That would include a number of issues that are raised in the public domain, including Nkandla,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.

“That is one of the issues we are grappling with, because we must deal with it, whether it is a fact or a perception. Any perception left unattended is more dangerous than facts.

“Every negative narrative that went to the president, did hit at the ANC because you can’t separate the president of an organisation from the organisation… it will actually hurt the organisation. We acknowledge that, upfront.”

He said the party took collective responsibility following its decline in the elections. The party importantly lost control in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros.

Last week, the ANC Youth League hit out at Mantashe after he said that it would be easier for some in the party to resign than for them to be asked to leave.

“We do not support the call made by Gwede Mantashe of people resigning. If he wants to resign he must do so alone,” ANCYL secretary general Njabulo Nzuza told journalists at the time.

‘If we made blunders, we did them together’

Mantashe said on Tuesday that there needed to be “collective responsibility”.

“If we take collective responsibility, our conscience must allow us to accept that, if need be, we must resign in numbers… It is not individual responsibility.

“I can tell you that if you say because of these results, I must resign, I will go to [ANC spokesperson] Zizi [Kodwa] and say, ‘why are you remaining behind?’ … If we made blunders, we did them together.”

Mantashe brought up the example of British politics, saying Ed Miliband had resigned when the Labour Party lost, and that David Cameron had resigned as prime minister after a referendum in favour of leaving the European Union.

“The idea of leadership resigning because of bad results is not a far-fetched idea,” Mantashe said.

He said that if the ANCYL believed he should “take the fall”, then “so be it”.

“That’s my attitude to this issue… Leadership means taking responsibility, being accountable. If the constituents say “pack your bag”, [then] pack it. Simple. But the debate must be in the organisation… but its not about Gwede, its about a leadership.

“The leadership must have a debate about what happens when we lead an organisation and there is an 8% decline.”

No lifelong presidents

He said the leadership of the ANC would always change when needed, and it would not have lifelong presidents, like other parties.

“Many of the opposition parties that have clubbed against us have  life presidents’. Some of them formed parties a few years ago and they are president for life. In the ANC, we go for elections every five years.”

Mantashe said members of the National Executive Committee would start engaging with people around the country from this coming weekend.

“This will be the commencement of a programme throughout the country, especially in areas where we have witnessed a significant electoral decline.”

He said this programme was so that the party could “understand and appreciate” the objective and subjective factors that had led to the election outcomes, and “take decisive action against this”.

Mantashe said the party wanted to go to the people and “own-up where we have erred” and commit to do the right thing.