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Posts tagged ‘Cape Land of South Africa’

South Africa’s ruling party finally turns against Zuma

February 14, 2018

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday disowned President Jacob Zuma after sticking with him through years of scandals, ordering him to resign in an attempt to resolve a leadership crisis that has disrupted government business in one of Africa’s biggest economies.

The announcement by the African National Congress did not immediately end the protracted turmoil in a party that was the main movement against white minority rule and has led South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994. If the politically isolated president defies the party’s order, the matter could go to parliament for a motion of no confidence that would further embarrass the party once led by Nelson Mandela.

Ace Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, said he expected Zuma to reply to the directive on Wednesday. Another senior party official suggested that Zuma would be unwise to flout the edict of the party, which is eager to recover from internal disarray ahead of 2019 elections.

“A disciplined cadre of the ANC, you are given a chance to resign on your own, but if you lack discipline you will resist,” party chairman Gwede Mantashe said at a provincial rally, according to South African media.

“Once you resist, we are going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence because you disrespect the organization and you disobey it, therefore we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” Mantashe said.

Business leaders welcomed the ANC’s decision to recall Zuma, saying the country needs to focus on economic growth and address social problems such as unemployment. ANC leaders must act “swiftly, but constitutionally” to remove Zuma so the “work of recovering our future, which was imperiled by his ruinous regime — characterized by incompetence, corruption, state capture and low economic growth — can begin in earnest,” said Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, a group that promotes development.

“State capture” is a term used in South Africa to describe the alleged looting of state enterprises by associates of Zuma, who denies any wrongdoing. A judicial commission is about to start a probe of those allegations. Separately, Zuma could face corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Tuesday that it had been informed by the chief prosecutor that his team will provide its recommendation on Feb. 23 about whether to prosecute Zuma on the old charges. The charges had been thrown out but the opposition fought successfully to get them reinstated.

In another scandal, South Africa’s top court ruled in 2016 that Zuma violated the constitution following an investigation of multi-million-dollar upgrades to his private home using state money. “We are determined to restore the integrity of the public institutions, create political stability and urgent economic recovery,” said Magashule, once a staunch supporter of Zuma.

The ANC secretary-general spoke respectfully of Zuma, saying he had “not been found guilty by any court of law” and that the decision to recall him was not taken because he had done “anything wrong.” Zuma had agreed to resign and wanted to stay in office for several more months, but the national executive committee decided at a 13-hour meeting that he had to leave at once, Magashule said.

The ANC said it wants Zuma to be replaced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader in December and has vowed to fight corruption. Zuma, who took office in 2009 and is in his second five-year term, has not made any public appearances in recent days.

Government leaders hope the standoff can be resolved ahead of the unveiling of the national budget in parliament on Feb. 21, which would go some way toward reassuring investors that the country is getting back on track. Zuma did not give the state of the nation address last week because of the political crisis, and a regular Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

A motion of no confidence sponsored by an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has been scheduled for Feb. 22 in parliament. Opposition parties want the vote moved up to this week and then want parliament to be dissolved so that early elections can be held.

Zuma has survived similar motions in the past, but ruling party members now see him as a political liability ahead of next year’s elections and likely would vote against him on the orders of the party leadership.


South Africa ruling party’s fight for its future kicks off

December 16, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader, with Zuma acknowledging “failures” that have threatened the party’s future.

The reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement has been battered during the tenure of Zuma, whose second term as party president is up. The new ANC leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president in 2019 elections.

The two clear front-runners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chair of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. The selection is expected to be announced on Sunday.

Voters are frustrated with the ANC as Zuma’s administration has been mired in scandal and corruption allegations. Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which celebrated its 105th anniversary this year, led the fight against the system of white minority rule known as apartheid and has governed South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994.

Observers say the party needs to restore its reputation or it could be forced into a governing coalition for the first time. Party divisions run so deep that analysts say either outcome, Ramaphosa or Dlamini-Zuma, could mean the end of the ANC’s dominance as members of the losing faction could form a new party.

“We must attend to enormous challenges facing our movement,” Zuma told the gathering, which opened with emotional appeals for unity. He pushed back against allegations of graft, asserting that “theft and corruption” in the private sector is just as bad as in government and that “being black and successful is being made synonymous to being corrupt.”

But Zuma said “greed is posing a serious threat” to the party and pointed out warnings that the ANC could implode. “We need to find ways of protecting the ANC from corporate greed,” he said. He rejected the party’s “petty squabbles” that have distracted its work and said challenges to inclusion are “killing our movement.” He also lashed out at the media, the judiciary and civil society, accusing them of fighting the ANC or interfering in party matters.

The president defended the party’s worth despite the challenges, saying it continues to stand for millions of people on the fringes of society. “A heavy responsibility lies upon the shoulders of delegates here … to renew our movement and to restore its timeless values,” he said. “We must give people reason to have faith.”

Zuma didn’t endorse a successor, saying any of the seven candidates would make a “first-class president.” He said he met with them and all agreed to abide by the party’s selection. Zuma could carry on as head of state until 2019, when his term ends, or he could step down or be ousted before then by the new party leader ahead of the general elections. He said “I bear no grudge” against those who already have urged him to step aside.

Under Zuma, unemployment has risen to nearly 30 percent and economic growth has slumped, briefly dipping into recession this year. More than 55 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. Ramaphosa, who helped negotiate an end to apartheid and has become one of the wealthiest men in a democratic South Africa, has pledged to crack down on corruption and get the economy back on track. Dlamini-Zuma, a doctor and former government minister and an ally of the president, has promised to bring more black South Africans into the fold through “radical economic transformation.”

The president told the gathering that land, for example, “must be distributed in an equitable manner while enhancing its productivity and ensuring food security.” Some South Africans worry, however, that Dlamini-Zuma would be influenced by her ex-husband and perhaps shelter him from prosecution. Others were excited by the idea of her taking charge.

“Now I want a woman president,” said Lerato Godi, a delegate from North West province. The growing frustration around Zuma led the party to suffer its worst-ever performance in municipal elections in 2016, with its vote share falling below 60 percent for the first time.

“Anyone who wins we are going to support and rally behind,” said Sasekani Manzini, a spokeswoman for the ANC in Mpumalanga province. She said she supports Dlamini-Zuma but “we want to see a united ANC.”

South Africa sees protests against murders of white farmers

October 30, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thousands of white farmers have snarled traffic on some major roads in South Africa in what they call the Black Monday protest against the high rate of murders of farmers. Convoys of hundreds of slow moving trucks and cars brought traffic to a crawl on highways leading from farming areas to Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg and white farmers and their supporters wore black in memory of farmers killed. The protests have been peaceful and the South African police have accompanied the demonstrators.

The protests are backed by AfriForum, a lobby group which promotes the rights of South Africa’s white minority, especially the Afrikaner population descended from Dutch settlers. AfriForum claims that 70 white farmers have been murdered in 341 attacks on farms so far this year.

The rate of murders of white farmers is much higher than South Africa’s general murder rate, said Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s head of community safety, speaking at the Afrikaners’ Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria where hundreds of protesters gathered.

“A farmer has 4.5 times more chance of being murdered in South Africa, than an average South African,” said Cameron, according to the African News Agency. “That means a farmer is three times more likely to be murdered in South Africa than a police officer in this country. So farmers have by far the most dangerous job of all people in this country, at the moment. We cannot allow this to continue the way it is.”

The protest has been criticized by the Black First Land First group which claimed in a series of tweets that white farmers are perpetrating violence against black people.


South African opposition protests Zuma, who celebrates 75th

April 12, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Tens of thousands of South Africans on Wednesday marked the 75th birthday of President Jacob Zuma with a protest against him, pushing for his resignation because of scandals and his dismissal of a widely respected finance minister. The president, meanwhile, danced at a party where well-wishers said they loved him.

The rally in the capital, Pretoria, which followed nationwide protests on Friday, comes amid sharp criticism of Zuma within the ruling African National Congress party, although the president still commands the support of powerful ANC factions. Zuma, who is in his second five-year term after becoming president in 2009, has become a flashpoint for concerns about government corruption and mismanagement in one of Africa’s most powerful economies.

“Take a permanent holiday!” said one protest sign mockingly wishing a happy birthday to Zuma. Some demonstrators carried a mock coffin covered with a South African flag. Crowds gathered at a central square and marched peacefully to the Union Buildings, which house Zuma’s offices. Police estimated the crowd size in Pretoria at 30,000. Protest organizers said the number was higher.

The protest united groups with sharply different ideologies. The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, includes many members of the white minority that still controls much of the economy 23 years after the end of apartheid. The smaller Economic Freedom Fighters party, led by former ruling party member Julius Malema, says it seeks the rapid transfer of land and industry to South Africa’s poor black majority.

“All political parties have come together to send one message,” Malema said. “Zuma must leave office, and the soonest he does that, the better, because this country must recover economically.” Later Wednesday, Zuma attended a birthday party for him in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, sitting in a high-backed armchair on a stage before dancing. Supporters praised him, saying he would overcome political challenges and serve out his term until 2019.

Zuma last month fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who coincidentally turned 68 on Wednesday, in a Cabinet reshuffle. Some top ruling party leaders openly criticized the decision. Two agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, responded by lowering South Africa’s credit rating to below investment grade, raising concerns about a weakening currency and price increases in a country with high unemployment.

In a birthday message, the ruling party commended Zuma for his record as an anti-apartheid leader and tenure as president. Zuma spent 10 years in the same Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was held, but his anti-apartheid record has been overshadowed by scandals, including the spending of millions of dollars in state funds on his private home. He paid back some money after the Constitutional Court ruled against him last year.

On Monday, Zuma said many white demonstrators calling for his resignation are racist. Opponents described the remark as an affront to legitimate protest. Key allies, including the South African Communist Party and the country’s biggest labor group, have urged Zuma to resign. The divided ANC, however, is seeking to project an image of unity and says it will defeat an opposition bid to oust Zuma in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

A small opposition party has opened a court challenge to try to have the vote conducted by secret ballot, which analysts believe could allow some ANC lawmakers to vote against Zuma with less fear of reprisal from ruling party loyalists. The vote, originally scheduled for April 18, has been delayed pending the outcome of the legal challenge.


South Africans hold nationwide protests against Zuma

April 07, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thousands of South Africans gathered in major cities on Friday to demonstrate against President Jacob Zuma, whose dismissal of the finance minister fueled concerns over government corruption and a struggling economy.

Protesters began marches in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other big metropolitan areas to push for the resignation of the scandal-tainted Zuma, who for now retains the support of a ruling party facing an internal revolt against the president.

“Fire Zuma,” read some placards. A march organized by the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s biggest opposition party, was expected to pass near the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress in downtown Johannesburg. ANC members in military uniforms who oppose the protest were posted outside.

The government appealed for calm and said it respects the right of South Africans to protest peacefully, a legacy of the struggle against white minority rule that ended in 1994 with the country’s first all-race vote and the election of Nelson Mandela as president.

Pravin Gordhan, who was fired as finance minister in a late-night Cabinet reshuffle a week ago, was widely respected for his anti-corruption stance. The Standard & Poor’s agency lowered South Africa’s foreign currency credit rating after the dismissal, citing political instability and threats to economic growth.

Gordhan was seen as a counter to the alleged influence of the Gupta family, Indian immigrant businessmen who have been accused of trying to influence some of Zuma’s Cabinet picks. The Guptas deny any wrongdoing, and Zuma has said there was nothing improper in the way he chose ministers.

Zuma and the ruling party have been weakened by other scandals around the president. Zuma was forced to reimburse some state money after the Constitutional Court ruled against him last year in a dispute over millions of dollars spent on his private home.


South Africa backs Polisario at talks


PRETORIA – South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday held talks in Pretoria with the leader of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement, in a show of support for the territory’s struggle against Morocco.

Brahim Ghali was making his first visit to South Africa — a long-time ally of Western Sahara — since he was elected in July.

Morocco insists the sparsely-populated desert region is an integral part of the kingdom, despite UN resolutions to hold a referendum on self-determination.

“It is unfathomable that Western Sahara… still remains colonized,” Zuma said.

“We remain committed to continue to walk with the people of Western Sahara until you are free to live in your own land and able to determine your own future.”

Morocco quit the African Union more than 30 years ago when Western Sahara — known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) — was accepted as a member.

But Morocco is now lobbying to return to the AU.

“The Sahrawi people are struggling to recover the total sovereignty of their state, of all their national territory,” Ghali told reporters.

“We are unfortunately confronting military occupation from the neighboring state, the kingdom of Morocco.”

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

An insurgency pushing for independence ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991.

Morocco says it will not change its stance on Western Sahara despite its efforts to rejoin the AU.

Source: Middle East Online.



South African opposition to push for president’s removal

November 03, 2016

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s biggest opposition party said Thursday that it is pushing for a parliamentary vote to remove President Jacob Zuma next week following the release of a state watchdog report indicating possible government corruption linked to Zuma and some associates.

The Democratic Alliance will even lobby members of the ruling African National Congress party who defeated a similar move in parliament against the president in April, said opposition leader Mmusi Maimane. The opposition has received “provisional confirmation” that the motion will be debated in the National Assembly on Nov. 10, he said.

The opposition party’s effort is likely to encounter the same kind of resistance from the ruling party in a new vote as it did earlier in the year, even though more ANC members have spoken publicly against Zuma in recent months.

In April, the South African parliament rejected a motion to remove Zuma by a vote of 233 to 143; the motion required a two-thirds majority for approval. It followed an apology by Zuma after the Constitutional Court ruled that he failed to uphold the constitution in a scandal over millions of dollars in state spending on his private home.

On Thursday, the ruling party said it welcomed the report on corruption allegations linked to the president, but commented only in general terms about curbing graft. “This report provides a concrete basis for the ANC and society in general to discuss the allegations contained therein and deal with its outcomes,” the party said in a statement. It said it supports a plan to introduce “lifestyle audits” for all party leaders.

Pressure on Zuma intensified Wednesday when a South African court ordered the release of the state watchdog report about the relationship that Zuma and some state officials had with the Guptas, a business family of Indian immigrants accused of meddling in the government for financial benefit. The report by the public protector’s office found possible ethical violations centering on allegations that the Guptas were involved in the removal and appointment of Cabinet ministers and directors of state-owned firms.

The Gupta family wants to present its case and will cooperate with any judicial inquiry, said family lawyer Gert van der Merwe. “We will prepare for the allegations and that is what we concentrate on,” eNCA, a South Africa media organization, quoted van der Merwe as saying.

The Guptas have previously denied wrongdoing and said they were being framed as scapegoats for South Africa’s economic problems. The watchdog report recommended that a judicial commission investigate the allegations against the president and others. Zuma would be required to appoint the commission, though the chief justice of the Constitutional Court would select a judge to head the panel. Zuma’s office said he was not given a chance to provide “meaningful input” in the investigation and is considering whether to challenge the report in court.

Zuma, meanwhile, traveled to neighboring Zimbabwe on Thursday to discuss trade with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. In prepared remarks there, Zuma did not mention the scandals that have sapped his popularity at home. He appeared jovial, joking with some of Mugabe’s ministers.

Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980 despite public discontent and economic hardship, referred to Zuma’s problems in welcoming remarks. “We are happy you are still in one piece in spite of what the papers are writing every day,” the 92-year-old Mugabe said. “So we continue to say, well, long live our solidarity.”

Associated Press writer Farai Mutsaka contributed from Harare, Zimbabwe.


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