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Zimbabwean First Lady urges ageing Mugabe to name successor (0)
Zimbabwean First Lady urges ageing Mugabe to name successor

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has confronted her husband, Robert, asking him to name his preferred successor to end deepening divisions in the ruling party. She believes that ageing Robert Mugabe’s successor could stem the crisis over the future leadership of the ZANU-PF party. Africa’s oldest leader, Mugabe, 93, has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980 but has insisted that ZANU-PF, and not him, will choose his eventual successor when the time comes. However, at a meeting of ZANU-PF’s women’s wing in Harare, Grace Mugabe contradicted the veteran leader, who also attended the meeting, saying he should name a successor. “The First Lady and Zanu PF Secretary for Women’s Affairs have challenged the President to name his successor saying this has been the trend in other countries. “The First Lady said there is nothing wrong with Mugabe naming his successor, saying the move will enable all members to rally behind one candidate,’’ ZBC said. However, Mugabe did not speak at the meeting. Fighting over leadership of a post-Mugabe ZANU-PF has intensified in the last three years, with two distinct camps emerging, one supporting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other rooting for Grace Mugabe. Mugabe is ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate for the 2018 election, his last under the constitution. Report says he will be 99 years if he wins and completes the five-year term. According to the constitution, elections are due after July 21, 2018. However, political analysts said Mugabe could call for an early vote, citing his frail health, and that he may want to take advantage of divisions within opposition ranks. Zimbabwe has since independence always held elections in March, with the exception of 2000 and 2013, both years when elections were delayed by a constitutional referendum. (Reuters/NAN)

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President Donald Trump's recent decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has ignited Arabs fury over Jerusalem,who have denounced it as a slap in the face, The move has been described as a tectonic shift in US policy for the past decades. In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years. The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. “I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and urged other countries also to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem. In the Arab world, the decision was roundly condemned. Trump had phoned allies in the Middle East late on Tuesday to tell them the United States would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and prepare to move its embassy there. “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace,” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, one of Islam’s most important institutions. “The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added, warning of the possible reaction. Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which it seized in the 1967 war, is not recognized internationally, and under the U.S.-brokered Oslo accords of 1993 the city’s status was to be decided in negotiations with Palestinians. Arab governments issued statements of concern or condemnation and emergency meetings of both the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have been called. But the U.S. decision has been taken. In a bitterly divided region, backing for Palestinians is often seen as a unifying position, but it is also often a source of internal recriminations over the extent of that support. A cartoon in al-Arabi al-Jadeed, a London-based Arabic news website, showed Trump raising a hand against an Arab as if to slap him, wearing a large glove marked with the Israeli flag. In Lebanon, the Daily Star newspaper ran a full page photograph of Jerusalem on its cover with the headline “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine”. Around the Arab world – including Egypt and Jordan, its only two countries to recognize Israel – and across the bitter divide between allies of regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, people denounced the move. “Neither I nor my children nor my children’s children will give up our right to Palestine and Jerusalem,” said Hilmi Aqel, a Palestinian refugee born in Jordan’s al-Baqaa camp after his family fled the fighting that accompanied Israel’s creation. “America does what it wants because it’s powerful and thinks it won’t feel the consequences … Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, not of Israel. It never can be,” said Nada Saeed, 24, a property broker in Cairo. “This is a provocation for the Arabs,” said Mahdi Msheikh, 43, a taxi driver in Beirut’s Hamra district. However, few people Reuters interviewed on Wednesday expected their governments to take any real action. “What saddens me most about this is that Palestine in the past was an ultimate rights cause for us as Syrians and Arabs … Palestine has retreated from our priorities,” said a lecturer at Damascus university, who asked not to be named. Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, pushed a plan in 2002 offering Israel peace with all Arab countries in return for a Palestinian state including east Jerusalem. But a recent newspaper report suggested it was willing to compromise on several areas that are regarded by Palestinians and some other Arab countries as red lines. Riyadh has denied that and called on Trump not to move the embassy. “The current events on the world stage and especially in the Gulf help Trump take this step because the most important thing is that Saudi Arabia is not against it,” said Adnan, a 52-year-old trader in Beirut. The kingdom’s top clergy issued a mild statement saying Saudi Arabia supported Jerusalem, but did not explicitly denounce Trump’s move. Many Saudi Twitter users posting under the hashtag “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine”, shared a film clip of the late King Faisal, who launched the 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West, pledging never to accept Israel. But one Twitter user posting with a common Saudi family name said that while Muslims and Arabs would be provoked by the move, its top royals would not be. Instead, they would “suppress any move or call to jihad against the Zionist enemy”, he wrote. REFUGEES In Cairo, Khaled Abdelkhalik, a lawyer, said: “We paraded Trump as an ally of the Arabs, but he turned out dirtier than his predecessors.” Jordan, which agreed peace with Israel in 1994 while the peace process with the Palestinians still seemed on track, held a special session of parliament. “I call on my colleagues to tear up the treaty of humiliation and shame,” said MP Yahya Saoud, referring to the peace deal. Jordan, like Lebanon, is home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. “This is a conspiracy that is denying us our rights, the first of which is to return. They think we are a branch of thorns that they can step on and break,” said Fadia, a social worker with two daughters in Lebanon’s Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp. “But we are a bomb. If they step on it, it explodes,” she said. In Israel, analysts said that despite such warnings, they expected little violence or opposition. “The moderate camp in the Arab world needs the United States as well as Israel in order to face their main threat, which is Iran,” said Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. “We may see some public announcements maybe denouncing the American decision, but in substantive terms I don’t think much will change.” *Reuters

Arab countries have a tradition of slavery dating back to centuries. This has persisted despite the existence of international conventions and legal frameworks classifying slavery as a crime against humanity. The current situation in Libya, involving slavery and human trafficking, has been brought to global attention because we now live in the age of communication where nothing good or bad can be hidden forever. But the situation is far worse than has been depicted. The Nigerians who have been brought back from Libya have told heart-rending stories of woe and misery: how they were sold into slavery by the Arabs and by their own Nigerian brothers and sisters, how they were subjected to all forms of indignity including rape, extortion, and torture, and how living in Libya is now the equivalent of a trip to hell. Quite a number of issues deserve closer interrogation to enable us appreciate the depth of this crisis. The Libyan story today is a sorry advertisement for the abuse of NATO and the failure of the American foreign policy process. The multinational coalition that intervened in the Libyan civil war in 2011 and made the removal of Libyan strongman Muammar Ghadaffi its primary objective must by now be full of regrets. It is instructive that former US President Barack Obama has described the failure to think through the consequences of that intervention as the “worst mistake” of his Presidency. The character of that mistake lies in the fact that NATO and other forces despite the division among the global powers on the question of Libya, saw the internal crisis in Libya as an opportunity to deal with a man who had been labeled at various times as the “mad dog of the Middle East”, and who was gradually expressing “imperialist ambitions” – “the king of kings of Africa” with a pan-African vision. NATO’s intervention was an act of vendetta, an orchestrated punishment for a man who had been declared guilty of dictatorship. It was most convenient for the multinational coalition, with its eyes fixed on Libya’s oil, to support the rebels. The result is the mayhem that has overtaken Libya since the fall of Ghadaffi. Under Ghadaffi’s watch, Libya was a stable, organized society. Following the bloodless coup that led to the flight into exile of King Idris 1 in 1969, the new leader, Muammar Ghadaffi, not only abolished the monarchy, he embarked on a mission of unifying the various clans under the umbrella of Libyan nationalism. He seized control of the country’s oil infrastructure from Western interests and redistributed wealth by creating a welfare system. The average Libyan had access to free housing, free medical care, and free education. The government provided infrastructure, and although Ghadaffi soon became a practical dictator, he managed to grow a sense of Libyan identity and unity. Seeing himself as a pan-Africanist, he encouraged closer relations with other African nations. Many Africans from Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria and other African countries lived and worked in Libya, even if many of them took the menial jobs that an average Libyan would not touch – at that time. The country’s foreign reserve was about $200 billion. Its life expectancy and literacy rates were among the highest in Africa and the Arab world. The average Libyan enjoyed many opportunities except the freedom to be different or query the government and the Constitution. Those who removed and killed Ghadaffi didn’t realize how much of a potentially divided country Libya was, and the extent of Ghadaffi’s efforts in managing the centrifugal tendencies. After Ghadaffi, Libya imploded. Anything is possible in Libya today because there is no responsible government in charge. People are resorting to self-help. Anybody that is armed exercises authority and does anything to make money. The welfare state has collapsed, criminality is widespread: kidnapping, slavery, violence, the economy is in shambles. Clannish and sectarian differences now predominate. The country is drifting. Most of the people are like prisoners, including those who are gainfully employed. In the absence of a government, the international community appears helpless. This is the setting for the chaos and the humanitarian crisis that has overtaken that country. Libya remains nonetheless, a major transit point and exit route for many Africans seeking to escape illegally into Europe. Libya, a country whose land area is almost twice the size of Nigeria, has over 2,000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline from the Egyptian border to the Tunisian border. Frustrated by the objective conditions in their own countries, in the form of crippling poverty, misgovernance, unemployment and the difficulty of getting a visa or being able to buy a ticket to Europe, many Africans, particularly West Africans opt for the cheaper, albeit illegal option of sneaking into Europe through the desert and across the Mediterranean sea, with Libya and Algeria as the most popular exit points. This has always been a risky venture, but the traffic continues to grow. It is also an organized criminal operation involving gangs at home, and along the route. Nigerians constitute the majority of these illegal migrants. Organized by a criminal gang at home, they usually travel through Niger, which is a contiguous, ECOWAS country. In Niger, another gang of human traffickers, mostly Touaregs take over from their Nigerian partners to take the illegal migrants across the desert to Libya. Only about 60-70% eventually make it to Libya. Many die along the way because of the harsh desert conditions and they are buried in the sand. Those who eventually make it to Libya are not necessarily lucky. They may be kidnapped at the border by rampaging Arab militants, turned into slaves, and asked to contact their families back home to pay ransom. The men are beaten; the women are raped. The images that we have seen from Libyan slave camps are sad. Arab racism has been an issue and violence towards foreigners is not necessarily new in Libya, but it is getting worse because now the issue is not strictly racism but the people’s desperation for survival in a state that failed. It is estimated that about 500, 000 – 700, 000 Nigerians are trapped in Libya. The Obasanjo government once had to repatriate over 17, 000 Nigerians from that country. In the light of recent developments, the Buhari government has also repatriated over 1, 000 Nigerians from Libya in 2017 alone, but there is no hope that all of them can be brought back home. Many will like to return home, but they don’t even have the means to transport themselves to the evacuation points. Those that are not enslaved are still hoping to make enough money to be able to cross to Europe. They wash cars, work as farm hands or as security guards, or prostitutes, and they get exposed to all the dangers imaginable. The few who manage to make the final journey to Europe are not always lucky either: they could perish in the sea like the 26 Nigerian girls who recently drowned while trying to cross into Italy. Libya is indeed now a jungle in the hands of armed militants, the Islamic State, tribal gangs, and an interim leadership authority. The jungle is a dangerous place: which is why it is surprising that more Nigerians would prefer to abandon their own country and go to the jungle. The saddest part of it all is that Nigerians are also involved in the trafficking and dehumanization of their own compatriots. In a shocking account by one Sunday Anyaegbunam, a Libyan returnee, who left Nigeria in April 2017, with his wife, we are told that: “The Nigerians selling people in Libya are more wicked than many of the Arabs. I have never seen people so heartless as the Nigerians who bought and sold me. There are many of them in Agadez and Sabha, who are making so much money from selling their own people. But there are other West Africans doing the business too. When you approach them and say “please, my brother, help me”. They would tell you: “No brother in the jungle”. Libya is indeed now a jungle in the hands of armed militants, the Islamic State, tribal gangs, and an interim leadership authority. The jungle is a dangerous place: which is why it is surprising that more Nigerians would prefer to abandon their own country and go to the jungle. About 70% of the Libyan returnees are reportedly from Edo State, and in general most of them are from Edo, Delta, Imo, Anambra and Rivers states. But this is not enough reason for this problem to be treated as Southern Nigerian or Christian. This should not be about North or South, or Christian vs Muslim. It is unacceptable for every Nigerian issue to be reduced to this kind of division, the same way some Nigerians tend to dismiss Boko Haram as a Northern problem. This is a crisis that affects all of us. It is embarrassing that Nigerians are deserting their own country and flocking to Europe in droves despite the risks of illegal migration. In the 70s, many Nigerians were proud and happy to live at home, but since the introduction of austerity measures in the 80s and the gradual collapse of the Nigerian economy, a new kind of economy has since developed around dangerous choices. The consequences are not limited to the tales from Libya. There are Nigerians in jail or on the death row across the world, in China, Thailand and the Middle East. We need to have a strong policy in place to check illegal migration. Massive enlightenment campaigns should be organized to educate the populace about the associated dangers. There is an assignment here for the National Orientation Agency (NOA), a strategic agency, which has been relatively sleepy since 2015. Our youths should be told that there is no safe route to Europe through the desert or a boat ride. Everybody should wake up – government, civil society, and all the people who have abdicated their responsibilities at the level of the family unit. The human trafficking gangs in the country especially in the identified major centres should be tracked, identified and sanctioned. Government should create a conducive environment for our youths to make a living at home. Government has a constitutional responsibility to empower all Nigerians and to guarantee their security and welfare. Nigeria should also engage the government of Niger. What can we do to prevent illegal migration through Niger? This has to be a joint responsibility between Nigeria and Niger. Although Chad is not in ECOWAS, quite a number of Nigerians also travel through that route. Joint border patrol and exchange of useful intelligence between Nigeria and her neighbors would be advisable. The Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Edo State Government and the International Organization on Migration, CNN, Pastor Temitope Joshua’s The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and every other group or agency that has responded decently and responsibly to the plight of the Nigerians from Libya, and the evil of slavery in Libya, deserve to be commended. In spite of the deviousness of a minority who earn a living by dehumanizing their fellow human beings, it is enheartening to see that warm blood still flows in the heart of mankind. The Edo State government has put in place perhaps the most comprehensive rehabilitation programme for the Libya returnees: counseling, accommodation, vocational training, and take off grants after training. These are worthy steps, but they are at best short-term. The long-term measures for all governments should be good governance, public enlightenment and concerted international action against slavery and all forms of cruelty and inhumanity.

Eight donkeys have spent four days in an Indian jail for eating expensive plants. They did not go for trial. They were summarily incarcerated as the illegal eating took place near a prison. It all happened in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The animals were arrested after eating up “expensive” plants just outside the compound of the main jail in the state’s Jalaun district, over 200 km from capital Lucknow. “Various types of saplings were planted in the jail premises for beautification. Those were damaged by the donkeys. Hence, I rounded them up,” jail chief Sita Ram Sharma told the media. The donkeys were freed on Monday after a local politician of the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intervened in the wake of a plea by the owner of the donkeys. “For two days, I could not find my horses and donkeys. When I came to know that they are in jail, I sought the help from local BJP leaders to secure their release,” owner Kamlesh S. said. *Reported by Xinhua

Beleaguered Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has agreed to the terms of his resignation and a letter has been drafted, an official source with direct knowledge of negotiations told CNN. The source said that the generals had given into many of Mugabe’s demands including full immunity for himself and his wife Grace, and that he would keep his private properties. According to the source, the aim of Sunday’s televised address in which Mugabe appeared to resist calls to step aside was to ensure the veteran leader openly declared the military’s actions to be constitutional. For the resignation to formally take place, however, a letter must first be sent to the Speaker of Parliament, added the source. Mugabe had stunned the nation on Sunday when he refused to say in a live televised address if he was stepping down. His party had given him 24 hours to resign or be impeached after military seized power and kept him under house arrest. On Saturday, thousands of Zimbabweans had taken to the streets calling for him to go. But in a bizarre and rambling speech, Mugabe instead insisted he was going nowhere, and that he would see his political party Zanu-PF through its congress in a few weeks. Zimbabweans who’d been glued to state television to watch the speech live came out into the streets afterward, some in shock. Harare resident Tina Madzimure called the speech “an embarrassment really. He made a fool out of the generals.” “This man will go to his grave with Zimbabwe in his hands,” she told CNN.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has given its 93-year-old leader, Robert Mugabe, less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment. This came after he was sacked as the leader of the party. His powerful wife, Grace was similarly dismissed. Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence from Britain in 1980, was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the deputy he sacked this month in a move that triggered Tuesday’s intervention by the army. In scenes unthinkable just a week ago, the announcement was met by cheers from the 200 delegates packed into ZANU-PF’s Harare headquarters to seal the fate of Mugabe, whose support has crumbled in the four days since the army seized power. Mugabe was given until noon (1000 GMT) on Monday to resign or face impeachment, an ignominious end to the career of the “Grand Old Man” of African politics who was once feted across the continent as an anti-colonial liberation hero. Even in the West, he was renowned in his early years as the “Thinking Man’s Guerrilla”, an ironic nickname for a man who would later proudly declare he held a “degree in violence”. As the economy crumbled and political opposition to his rule grew in the late 1990s, Mugabe showed his true colours, seizing thousands of white-owned farms, detaining opponents and unleashing security forces to crush dissent. As the vote was announced, war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who has spearheaded an 18-month campaign to remove a man he openly described as a “dictator”, embraced colleagues and shouted: “The President is gone. Long live the new President.” Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife Grace, who had harboured ambitions of succeeding her husband, was also expelled from the party, along with at least three cabinet ministers who had formed the backbone of her ‘G40’ political faction. Speaking before the meeting, Mutsvangwa said Mugabe, who has so far resisted calls to quit, was running out of time to negotiate his departure and should leave the country while he could. “He’s trying to bargain for a dignified exit,” he said. If Mugabe refused to go, “We will bring back the crowds and they will do their business,” Mutsvangwa told reporters. Mnangagwa, a former state security chief known as “The Crocodile,” is expected to head an interim post-Mugabe unity government that will focus on rebuilding ties with the outside world and stabilising an economy in freefall. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Harare, singing, dancing and hugging soldiers in an outpouring of elation at Mugabe’s expected overthrow.

The head of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans association, Chris Mutsvangwa,said the plan of President Robert Mugabe to instal his wife, Grace as vice president, will be resisted. “This is a coup by marriage certificate ….and it will be resisted,” he told Reuters. Grace, who was a typist in Mugabe’s office before she became Mugabe’s wife, is likely to be installed the country’s vice-president when the ruling ZANU-PF holds its national convention next month. Mutsvangwa ruled out trying to remove Mugabe by force and said war veterans, who had publicly backed the sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and broke ranks with the president last year, would form a broad front with the opposition in elections next year. “We don’t want to abuse the military to resolve a political problem. We don’t want them to become the arbiter of political power,” Mutsvangwa said. Mnangagwa has not been seen in public since his dismissal from government but his ally Mutsvangwa said he was “safe and beyond the reach of the assassins”. Mugabe himself said on Wednesday the route to leadership was long and full of “pitfalls and death”, as he accused his fired deputy and former protege of showing impatience in his bid to succeed him. Addressing supporters at the headquarters of his ZANU-PF party in Harare, 93-year-old Mugabe accused Emmerson Mnangagwa of consulting witchdoctors and prophets as part of a campaign to secure the presidency. Mnangagwa, who was sacked by Mugabe on Monday and expelled from the ruling Zanu-PF party on Wednesday, said he had fled Zimbabwe because of death threats and was safe. “My sudden departure was caused by incessant threats on my person, life and family by those who have attempted before through various forms of elimination including poisoning,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. Mutsvangwa, said that Mnangagwa, 75, would travel to Johannesburg in neighbouring South Africa “very soon”. Mugabe said Mnangagwa, nicknamed “Crocodile”, had made the same mistakes as Joice Mujuru, who was the president’s deputy for 10 years until she was fired in 2014. “You should not try to say because the journey is long, then I should take a short cut to arrive quickly. The road has lions. There are pitfalls. There is death, beware,” he said. “There is no short cut to being the leader of the people. Just as there was no short cut to our independence.” ZANU-PF would move to discipline Mnangagwa’s “co-conspirators”, Mugabe added.

The tension in the Korean Peninsula is gradually taking a different dimension as the U.S. Air Force is preparing to place its fleet of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since 1991. Report quoted a U.S. Military Chief Gen. David Goldfein, as saying that the escalating tensions with North Korea had made the deployment of the bombers inevitable. However, Defense officials denied to Fox News that bombers were ordered to go on 24-hour alert. “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward,” Goldfein said. Goldfein noted that in a world where “we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons,” it’s important to remain alert and think of new ways to be prepared. “It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union. We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability. “It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right,” Goldfein added. Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, home of the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which manages the service’s nuclear services, is being renovated, Defense One reported, so that B-52s would be ready to “take off at a moment’s notice.” The B-52, which can fly up to about 50,000 feet and at supersonic speeds, has the ability to release a variety of weapons, including cluster bombs, gravity bombs and precision guided missiles. The long-range bomber can also unleash both nuclear and precision-guided conventional ordnance. The 24-hour alert status for B-52s ended in 1991, in the waning days of the Cold War.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it had given President Jacob Zuma till Nov. 30 to make submissions before it. According to the authority, Zuma’s submission would make it decide whether to reinstate 783 corruption charges filed against him before becoming the president. The NPA said on Friday that any further representations by the South African president should relate to issues not previously considered by authorities. The Supreme Court of Appeal had on Oct. 13 upheld a High Court ruling to reinstate the charges filed against Zuma. They were set aside in April 2009 by the then head of the prosecuting authority, paving the way for him to run for president later that year. In another development, Zuma’s spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said there was no basis for the speculation that Zuma would axe his vice, Cyril Ramaphosa.The speculation has weighed on the currency and bonds. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party which Zuma leads and Ramaphosa deputises has been driven by bitter fights ahead of a party conference in December where a new leader will be chosen. “It’s rumours and gossip, and we don’t comment on them at all,” Ngqulunga told Reuters. Ramaphosa, a trade unionist turned business tycoon, is viewed as the most likely rival candidate to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former Chairperson of the African Union and president’s ex-wife. He has recently stepped up criticism of Zuma’s scandal-plagued government. Asked in parliament on Thursday whether he might be sacked, Ramaphosa said that he would only accept the president’s decision, if he loses his job. South Africa will elect a new president in 2019 and whoever the ANC picks in December is likely to take over from 75-year-old Zuma as the country’s leader. Zuma is under pressure to step down before then with the recent court ruling bordering on the 783 corruption charges against him. Zuma reshuffled his cabinet again within seven months on Tuesday, sacking a minister from the SACP and appointed his close ally to oversee an opaque nuclear deal. The development has irked some within the ruling alliance. Analysts said that Zuma might likely make further changes before December to strengthen his hand into the ANC’s elective conference. Speculation that he might remove Ramaphosa, who was the ANC’s chief negotiator during the 1990s transition from apartheid, weighed on the rand and bonds. “Other emerging markets are weaker but not as much as the rand. “This is because of lingering political uncertainty, especially the rumours about Zuma axing Ramaphosa,” currency dealer at TreasuryOne, Wichard Cilliers said.

Four persons were killed in Togo on Wednesday in clashes between security forces and demonstrators calling for an end to a half century of Gnassingbe family rule. Opposition activists have been demonstrating since August against Gnassingbe’s administration and say a constitutional reform he has proposed would allow him to rule the tiny West African country until 2030. Colonel Damehame Yark, the security and civil protection minister, told a news conference that one person was shot dead and around sixty others arrested in the capital, Lome. Another three died of gunshot wounds in the second-biggest city, Sokode. “These are too many deaths. We’d be wise to preserve the peace,” he said. The latest bout of protests followed the arrest in Sokode on Monday of a Muslim imam accused of urging his followers to murder soldiers. Clashes erupted after the arrest. A crowd killed two soldiers and one other person died in unspecified circumstances, the government said in a statement. About 20 other people were injured, it added. The deaths reignited a mass protest movement against President Faure Gnassingbe, who succeeded his late father Gnassingbe Eyadema in 2005. The protesters are calling for his resignation. “We deplore this toll and we say that backing down is out of the question. Despite what we have suffered, we will maintain our call for protests tomorrow,” said Brigitte Adjamagbo, one of the leaders of the opposition movement. She said the coalition was aware of two persons killed, including an 11-year-old child, as well as twenty others who were seriously injured and dozens of arrests. In a bid to curb demonstrations, the government has banned marches and mass protests on weekdays. But young protesters in Be, a working-class neighborhood in eastern Lome, defied the ban on Wednesday. They erected barricades with bricks and burning tyres and threw stones at security forces, who responded with volleys of tear gas. “This is our last bastion,” shouted one demonstrator, Ayi Koffi. “We have no arms, no gas. We do not have cars to pick up people. We have come out barehanded to say, enough!” In a statement, the International Organisation of La Francophonie, a group comprised mainly of French-speaking countries including Paris’s former colonies, said that nothing justified the violence. “Dialogue must be prioritised in all circumstances,” it said. The controversial constitutional reform will be decided by popular referendum after the bill failed to win approval from parliament following a boycott by opposition lawmakers last month.

Police in Britain are ramping up efforts to investigate cases of modern slavery, yet the true scale of the crime is hugely underestimated. UK’s anti-slavery chief, Kevin Hyland, appointed in 2014 as part of Britain’s widely hailed Modern Slavery Act, called for greater support for slavery victims and urged businesses to do more to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labour. No fewer than 13,000 people are estimated by the government to be victims of modern slavery, from sexual exploitation to domestic servitude, but police say the figure is the tip of the iceberg. Hyland said in a statement: “I deem this (the 13,000 estimate) far too modest, with the true number in the tens of thousands. “We must continue to prevent this abhorrent abuse.” Data from the report showed police in Britain recorded 2,255 modern slavery crimes in the past financial year, an increase of 159 per cent from 870 crimes during the same period for 2015 to 2016. Hyland said he was pleased by the figures, which showed that six in 10 reported cases of potential slavery were officially investigated, up from just 28 per cent for the previous period between August 2015 and September 2016. Britain’s Modern Slavery Act has been lauded as a milestone in the anti-slavery fight for cracking down on traffickers with life sentences, forcing businesses to check their supply chains for slavery, and protecting people at risk of being enslaved. Yet the British government’s scheme for identifying and supporting victims of slavery and trafficking, the National Referral Mechanism, has several flaws, according to Hyland, who said improving the system was now his top priority. He called for a complete reform of the system, including immediate support for victims to stop re-trafficking, training for staff to improve identification of victims, and a focus on long-term care to ensure they can rebuild their lives. “The safety of victims is paramount … their protection is non-negotiable. “Policies and processes mean nothing if they do not keep the victim at the centre,” Hyland said. He said that more and more firms in Britain are publishing statements detailing how they are tackling modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Act requires businesses with a turnover of more than 36 million pounds (48 million dollars) to each year outline the actions that they have taken to combat slavery in their supply chains. Hyland also urged greater international collaboration within the anti-slavery movement to tackle the evolving, global crime. Britain in September pledged to double its aid spending on global projects tackling modern slavery to 150 million pounds. “Potential victims identified in the UK in 2016 came from 108 countries; this is precisely why it is crucial to address the crime both at source and en route,” Hyland said, referring to top source countries such as Vietnam, Nigeria and Romania. The report comes a month after the first joint effort by key anti-slavery groups to estimate the number of victims worldwide. The International Labour Organisation, rights group Walk Free Foundation and International Organisation for Migration said that at least 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, either trapped in forced labour or forced marriages. Anti-Slavery International welcomed Hyland’s decision to put the care and protection of victims at the heart of his report. The anti-slavery international programme manager for the UK and Europe, Klara Skrivankova, told the Reuters that the organisation was disappointed by the omission of foreign domestic workers. “One area that should be improved … is the situation of overseas domestic workers, whose visa arrangements make their status dependent on their employers, and therefore making them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” she said.

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