Category Archives: Africa

ANC in the Eastern Cape ‘loses’ half its members

The ANC in the Eastern Cape which lost the Nelson Mandela Metro to the DA in recent local government elections has lost more than 50% of its membership in five years.

TIMES LIVE

ANC Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane. Image by: SIPHE MACANDA

ANC Eastern Cape provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane. Image by: SIPHE MACANDA

The numbers have plummeted from 225 000 in 2012 to 105 000 as at February 2017‚ according to the party’s preliminary audit.

ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane blamed the drop on membership rigging‚ and said the picture may improve by June as the party’s national executive committee‚ which met last weekend‚ had ordered all provinces to deal “harshly with gatekeepers”.

He described gatekeeping as a tendency by either regional secretaries or organisers and branch secretaries to destroy or hide the membership information of those they viewed as supporting rival factions during audit processes.

Mabuyane said one reason behind the decline were branches with fewer than 100 people. In the Alfred Nzo region where the membership audit was finalised last week, 10 branches were left out as they had fewer than 100 members.

The ANC constitution dictates that for a branch to be declared in good standing it must have more than 100 members.

The region is due to elect its new leaders in May, meaning the 10 branches would be left out of this process.

“Preliminary audits suggest that we have 105000 members – a huge drop if you compare to our numbers three years ago when we had just over 225000 members,” said Mabuyane.

ANC membership costs R20 a year.

“What we have noticed is that some branch secretaries fail to do their job of reminding members to renew their memberships on time as a result some membership lapse. This is done intentionally in cases where a member has a different view on leadership preferences to the secretaries.”

These developments come on the eve of yet another watershed elective provincial conference scheduled for July.

Early indications are that Mabuyane is likely to contest Phumulo Masualle as provincial chairman, while three names are in the hat for the secretary position.

These include Nelson Mandela Metro’s Andile Lungisa, ANC Youth League’s Mziwonke Ndabeni, as well as OR Tambo’s Lulama Ngcukayithobi.

Mabuyane said auditors were now busy in OR Tambo, verifying membership.

“Auditors are likely to move to Joe Gqabi, thereafter Chris Hani, Amathole, Dr WB Rubusana (Buffalo City), Sarah Baartman and last in line Nelson Mandela Metro.”

Once the auditors have finished and branches in good standing identified, a roadmap on when branches can nominate their leadership preferences will be outlined.

Mabuyane said the planning towards the conference would be done so that there “is a two weeks cooling off period after the BGMs and the conference”.

“We want to eliminate cases in which branches sit the day before the conference, a situation which is unacceptable for conference preparations.”

Zuma declares special official funeral for Ahmed Kathrada

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma has declared a special official funeral for freedom icon Ahmed Khatrada. This entails the national flag being flown at half-mast at all government buildings from Tuesday until the evening of the official memorial service.

Kathrada was admitted to the Donald Gordon Hospital earlier this month, where he underwent surgery after doctors discovered a blood clot in his brain.

In paying tribute to Khatrada, President Zuma has described him as a stalwart of the liberation struggle for a free and democratic South Africa.

Presidency’s Bongani Ngqulunga says: “President Zuma has sent his deepest condolences to his partner, former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan the Kathrada family and his political home, ANC, which he served selflessly throughout his adult life.”

The family of struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada, also known as “Uncle Kathy”, is at the hospital, where the struggle stalwart died.

Kathrada’s grandnephew Aziz says the family will remember him for his sense of humour and wisdom.

Kathrada is expected to be buried according to Muslim rites.

Both the Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada Foundations are expected to give a briefing during the course of Tuesday morning.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described 87-year-old Kathrada as a man of remarkable gentleness, modesty and steadfastness.

Tutu has hailed Kathrada for his loyalty to the African National Congress (ANC), which also extended to criticising it.

The ANC has described “Uncle Kathy” as an extraordinary leader whose service to South Africa will forever be inscribed.

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa says: “We give our revolutionary banner in honour of this Isitwalandwe/Seaparankwe the highest honour in the ANC, which is bestowed to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution and sacrifice towards the struggle and liberation of South Africa. ‘Uncle Kathy’ was not just an ordinary leader, he was exceptional.”

Former Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison warder for Kathrada, Christo Brand, says the struggle icon was like a father to him.

“It’s a very sad day for us today, for me personally or the country because what he was fighting for should’ve happened in his time. We’ll miss him. He did a lot for South Africa.”

South African Communist Party General Secretary Blade Nzimnade says it’s important to never allow Kathrada’s memory and other stalwarts like Nelson Madela and Oliver Tambo to fade away.

“This is a great loss for South Africa. These are stalwarts who’ve served our country without any expectations. We must continue to hold them as examples, not just for us who are still alive today, but for our future generation… if we’re to build a South Africa that they dreamt of and sacrificed for.” – Eye Witness News

 

Struggle icon Khatrada dies

The late Nelson Mandela (left) and Ahmed Kathrada (right)

The late Nelson Mandela (left) and Ahmed Kathrada (right)

JOHANNESBURG – Ahmed Kathrada, whose life was dedicated to the struggle for freedom of the black masses in South Africa, died on Tuesday after a brief illness.

Kathrada had remained politically active until his dying days, critising the recent direction of his beloved African National Congress, to whom he had devoted most of his life, and even calling on President Jacob Zuma to step down.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which he founded, continues to work towards promoting ‘the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa’.

Kathrada is survived by his life partner, Barbara Hogan. – eNCA

Magufuli fires official over copper exports

 President Magufuli

President Magufuli

DAR ES SALAAM. – Tanzanian parliament said on Sunday it will review the east African country’s mining contracts with foreign firms in order to improve proper documentation of exported copper concentrates for the benefit of the country.

The parliamentary action came just a day after the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) in collaboration with security agents impounded over 260 export-bound shipping containers with copper concentrates from Buzwagi Gold Mine (BZGM) stored in Dar es Salaam.

Last week, Tanzanian President John Magufuli visited the Dar es Salaam port and ordered the seizure of 20 containers ferrying copper concentrates from the same mining firm. On Sunday, President Magufuli sacked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Justin Ntalikwa, apparently in connection with the copper concentrates exports.

Job Ndugai, Speaker of the National Assembly, accompanied by a team of Members of Parliament, inspected the seized containers with copper concentrates at the Dar es Salaam port and said the parliamentary review team will analyse the process of transporting the copper concentrates and how they were exported abroad for smelting.

“There has been a feeling that we are being cheated as a nation on this issue, therefore as parliament we have decided to play our role of advising the government on the issue,” said the House Speaker.

“We want to get details of how the copper concentrates are analysed, packed and exported from the source. This task will also involve reviewing mining contracts,” Ndugai added.

Deusdedit Kakoko, TPA Director General, said more than 50 000 containers with copper concentrates move out of the country every year. – Xinhua.

Zuma’s recall of Gordhan sparks cabinet change speculation

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan plans to return home after President Jacob Zuma ordered him to pull out of a roadshow with investors and ratings agencies in London, heightening concern that he’s preparing to change his cabinet.

Sam Mkokeli

Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

The rand plunged after Zuma told Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, to cancel the week-long roadshow in the U.K. and the U.S. Bongani Ngqulunga, the presidential spokesman, gave no reason for the decision in a statement on Monday. Gordhan will arrive in South Africa on Tuesday, the Treasury said in a statement.

Zuma’s order came a day after Gordhan left South Africa on Sunday to lead a delegation that included business executives and labor union representatives. Early Monday the officials met with some investors in London. The roadshow was later canceled, Dennis George, the general secretary of the Federation of Unions of South Africa who was on the trip, said by phone.

Speculation that Gordhan is on the verge of being fired has swirled for months, as he clashed with Zuma over the management of state companies and the national tax agency. While Gordhan has led efforts to keep spending in check and fend off a junk credit rating, Zuma wants to embark on “radical economic transformation” to tackle racial inequality and widespread poverty.

‘Live-Wire Situation’

“Whether this is a reshuffle or not, the timing is definitely picked to inflict pain and embarrassment on an already live-wire situation,” said George Herman, chief investment officer at Citadel Investment Services in Cape Town. “There is no other practical reasoning for the timing of this.”

Moody’s Investors Service, which rates South Africa’s debt at two levels above junk and with a negative outlook, is scheduled to publish a review of the nation’s creditworthiness on April 7. S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. kept their assessments at the lowest investment grade late last year.

The rand weakened 2.6 percent against the dollar to 12.7788 at 4:41 p.m. in Johannesburg. The government’s rand-denominated bonds due 2026 fell, driving the yield 35 basis points higher to 8.71 percent, the biggest jump since October.

If Gordhan or Jonas are fired, “the selloff will be vigorous,” said Jonathan Hertz, chief executive officer of Peregrine Holdings Ltd., which has 105 billion rand in assets under management. “There will be a shudder in the market. I see a big pullback. I think you could see 14, I don’t think you will see 15.”

The recall “is not a positive omen and raises the level of policy uncertainty,” said Raymond Parsons, a professor at the North West University’s School of Business and Governance. “The rand has already fallen sharply because of the uncertainty which has now opened up around the political futures of both minister Gordhan and deputy finance minister Jonas.”

Zuma, who is due to step down as head of the ruling African National Congress in December and as president in 2019, has previously downplayed suggestions that he intends to reorganize his cabinet and fire Gordhan.

‘Radical Step’

“It’s quite a radical step to recall the minister and his deputy in the middle of an international roadshow,” Mike Davies, the founder of political advisory company Kigoda Consulting, said by phone. “This doesn’t necessarily mean a reshuffle is now more imminent than it was before, but it shows that tensions clearly exist in the cabinet.”

The trip was properly authorized, Gordhan’s office said. Treasury spokeswoman Yolisa Tyantsi referred queries to the presidency when contacted by text message and email. Ngqulunga didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

Sahara Computers, owned by friends of Zuma, the Guptas, filed an application demanding that Gordhan be present in court on Tuesday for a hearing on whether the minister can be forced to order banks to reopen bank accounts of companies associated with the family. Gordhan asked for the state attorney to appear for him.

“Tensions are already high between Zuma and Gordhan and so this will just serve to deepen their mutual hostility,” said Susan Booysen, a professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance. “Zuma is watching for any foot fault by Gordhan and Jonas to have a pretext to fire them. Cabinet members are routinely given permission for overseas visits and if they do so without authorization, a simple phone call would suffice to chastise them.” – Bloomberg

Divine diamonds: Sierra Leone pastor’s 709-carat find

FREETOWN. – Evangelical preacher Emmanuel Momoh prayed for five years that he would discover the diamond he needed to pull his family out of poverty in eastern Sierra Leone.

The 39-year-old pastor obtained his first mining licence in 2012 when the paltry income he received from the Deeper Life Church in Kono, the country’s key mining district, was stretched too thin for his growing family.

Momoh went on to build a small business of 18 employees, digging and sifting through gravel with pickaxes and hoes day after day, never finding gems larger than a speck in the dirt.

“Diamonds are extremely hard to find on the ground, it requires patience, hard work and prayers,” Momoh told AFP by telephone in Freetown, where his life is now taking a very different direction after finding what he believes was a gift from God.

The preacher declined to meet in person, citing security reasons, but pictures he provided to AFP show an angular, wide-eyed man wearing a suit that is too large, adding to his overall air of boyishness.

On March 13, the pastor was working in a village named Koryadu when a cry went up from one of his men in Krio, the most widely spoken language in Sierra Leone and used by Momoh throughout the phone interview.

“God don bless we tiday,” the worker shouted, brandishing a rock the colour of pale honey and as large as a child’s fist.

“We washed the diamond properly and put down our tools. Every one of us was in a jubilant mood,” the pastor said.

“I couldn’t sleep that night, we were all praying for what God has done for us.”

Momoh took the diamond the next day to be weighed by the kind of Lebanese dealer who once purchased the single-carat gems he sold to buy food, supplies and to pay his workers’ wages.

At 706 carats, an amount that would later rise to 709 when it was placed on the government’s official scales, Momoh’s diamond was between the 10th and 15th largest ever found worldwide, experts told AFP.

Such a find by a so-called artisanal miner, the term for workers who use basic tools or their bare hands to sift the earth, is exceedingly rare, and Momoh faced an ethical dilemma.

“I was tempted by many close friends who told me to smuggle the diamond to neighbouring Guinea Conakry,” he said, thereby avoiding paying any tax on the diamond.

Diamond smuggling has harrowing associations for many in Sierra Leone.

Cross-border diamond trafficking fuelled the country’s civil war of 1991-2002, when rebels allowed traders to exploit diamond mines and ship the gems abroad, largely via Liberia.

These became known as “blood diamonds”, since most of the labour was done by enslaved members of the population, who were killed or maimed if they refused. – AFP.

Egypt’s Mubarak freed from detention

CAIRO. – Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak left a military hospital on Friday where he had spent much of his six-year detention, his lawyer said.

Mubarak had been cleared for release earlier this month after a top court finally acquitted him of involvement in protester deaths during the 2011 revolt that ousted him.

“Yes,” his lawyer Farid al-Deeb told AFP when asked if Mubarak had left the hospital on Friday.

Mubarak was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt, in which about 850 people were killed as police clashed with demonstrators.

He was sentenced to life in 2012 in the case, but an appeals court ordered a retrial which dismissed the charges two years later.

Egypt’s top appeals court on March 2 acquitted him of involvement in the killings.

In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges.

But the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were freed.

On Thursday, a court ordered a renewed corruption investigation into Mubarak for allegedly receiving gifts from the state owned Al-Ahram newspaper.

Meanwhile several key activists in the 2011 uprising are now serving lengthy jail terms, and rights groups say hundreds of others have been forcibly disappeared. – AFP

Former Egyptian President Mubarak freed after 6 years in detention

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has left the Cairo military hospital where he spent most of his six years in prison, his lawyer Farid al-Deeb said on Friday.

Africa News

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

An Egyptian court decided earlier this month to release Mubarak, 88, after his acquittal by the Court of Cassation for the death of protestors in 2011 during the revolt that caused his fall.

He was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder demonstrators, sowing chaos and creating a security vacuum during an 18-day revolt which began in January 2011, but an appeals court ordered a retrial.

The former long time Egyptian ruler has long maintained his innocence in the case and has said history would judge him a patriot who served his country selflessly.

An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the reopening of corruption investigation against Mubarak but maintained that the decision will not affect the decision of the public prosecutor’s office to release Mubarak.

The new investigation concerns allegations that he, his wife, two sons and daughters-in-law received gifts from the government daily Al-Ahram worth about $ 1 million.

In 2013, an judge agreed to abandon the investigation after the money was returned by the parties concerned, but the prosecution appealed.

Mubarak is also the subject of another investigation for unlawful gain, but has not been brought before the courts for that case.

Zambia announces tough measures on churches

Minister Sumaili

Minister Sumaili

LUSAKA. – The Zambian government has announced tough measures to deal with mushrooming churches amid calls to curb “fake churches” and mercenary clergymen.

Godfridah Sumaili, Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affair, said no church would be registered without clearance from her ministry.

In a ministerial statement delivered in parliament, the minister said a legal instrument would soon be announced that would compel all churches to be registered under the Registrar of Societies.

According to Sumaili, currently some churches hide under the guise of companies by registering under the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA).

“This scrutiny will be extended to foreign mission. Foreigners who come into the country for missionary work will be subjected to this same scrutiny before travel visas are issued for them to travel to Zambia for their missionary work to avoid fake people,” she said.

The government, she said, was concerned with the mushrooming of churches and fake church leaders who were deceiving people.

There has to be a minimum standard for churches in the country, and the ministry is working with the existing church organisations to empower them so that they can regulate these churches, she added.

The conduct of some churches and clergymen has been a source of concern in Zambia for some time, with stakeholders calling on the government to come up with regulatory measures.

Some churches and their leaders have been accused of taking advantage of the gullibility of people to make quick money on the pretext that they were able to end all their problems.

News headlines of clergymen engaging in illegal and clandestine activities in the name of the church are common in Zambia, where about 87 percent of the people are Christians. Some clergymen were reportedly demanding for money and sexual favours in exchange for miracles to change people’s lives.

Last week, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), one of the church mother bodies, called on the government to protect citizens from unscrupulous individuals pretending to have powers to deal with people’s problems.

The organisation urged the government to come up with measures to control the operation of churches in the country, saying the conduct of some churches was tarnishing the image of the church. – Xinhua.

Floods kill 11 in Angola, destroy 700 homes

LUANDA. – Floods in Angola have killed at least eleven people and left thousands homeless after the country was hit by torrential rain, rescuers said yesterday.

Over 700 homes were destroyed following the deluge in the coastal north-western Luanda Province which began on Tuesday afternoon and lasted into the early hours of yesterday, rescue service spokesperson Faustino Mingues told AFP.

“The victims died when houses collapsed, or after being swept away by the water,” he said.

Others were killed after being electrocuted by high-voltage power lines that had been downed by the extreme weather. Among the dead were a two-year-old baby and a 70-year-old, according to Mingues, who added that at least 5 300 homes have been flooded. A school and a church were also demolished by the deluge which has paralysed the Angolan capital Luanda, affecting the supply of electricity and clean water and causing traffic chaos on the city’s roads.

Mingues warned that several reservoirs on the outskirts of Luanda were almost full and threatening to overflow. There were reports of several people still missing following flash floods, according to the state-run Angop news agency.

Officials warned last week that the ground in many areas had been left saturated following heavy rains that have already affected more than 500 000 people and followed five years of drought.

“With the high level of rain, we are afraid that many homes . . . are submerged because the soil is saturated and cannot absorb water,” regional official Goncalves Namweya told the Lusa news agency on Friday.

Farmland has also been affected and many roads are impassable – especially in rural areas – forcing people to travel on canoes supplied by emergency services, Namweya added. – AFP.

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