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)View items...
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.
U.S. forces killed dozens of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS’) members in a strike on two ISIS training camps on Monday in Al Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Pentagon has said. The U.S. Department of Defense, in a statement, said the strike disrupted the terrorist organisation’s attempts to train new fighters. “ISIS used the camps to train militants to conduct terror attacks using AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and endurance training. “ISIS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world. “For years, Yemen has been a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and transit,” Pentagon said. In coordination with the Government of Yemen, U.S. forces are supporting ongoing counter-terrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “This is to degrade the groups’ ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen. “Strikes against ISIS targets disrupt and destroy militants’ attack-plotting efforts, leadership networks, and freedom of manoeuvre within the region,” Pentagon said.
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.
Mr Ularamu Ubandoma, the National Coordinator, Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) says 18 more states will benefit from 500 million dollars World Bank assisted projects. The project is under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP3). Ubandoma said this at the unveiling of selected participants in the 18 states under the RAAMP 3 project and Pre Appraisal Mission Wrap Up Meeting with the development partners in Abuja on Friday. According to him, the selected states are able to meet the criteria set up by RAMP and the three development partners were involved in their selection. He said that 50 to 60 million dollars would be used to construct about 500 km roads in each of the 18 participating states across the country. “The whole essence of the project sponsored by the World Bank, French Development Bank and Africa Development Bank is to provide suitable road network for rural farmers to convey their farm produce to the market to avoid losses. “What we are doing here today is a meeting with new RAAMP states. New RAAMP is rural access and agricultural marketing and we have about 18 states that have been selected to participate in this new project all over the country. “In the North East, we have Borno, Bauchi and Taraba. In North Central, we have Plateau, Benue, Kogi and Kwara. In North West, we have Kano, Kastina, Sokoto and Kebbi. “In South East, we have Abia and Anambra. In South South, we have Cross River and Akwa Ibo. In South West, we have Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States. These are states that emergence from the six geo-political zones. “The new RAAMP3 will be a little different from the usual RAMP1 and 2, and we have implemented projects in seven states and these projects are almost 100 per cent conclusion. “The only difference is that we are targeting RAAMP3 in line with president Buhari’s policy on agricultural transformation. “The policy is implemented through the Green Agricultural Alternative under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh. “The thinking now is zero rejection of our agricultural produce at the international markets,” he said. Ubandoma said that the third phase of this project, RAAMP3 was to improve rural access and agricultural marketing in the selected participating states, whilst enhancing sustainability of the rural and state road network. “We are going to target markets and the value chains by adding value to our agricultural produce right from production level. We will be looking at storage and processes. “We want to know how these produce can access different level of markets. We are trying to shift away from the usual market not considering the rural people. “We are now considering the rural people because they form the bulk of our production level and they are predominantly farmers living in the rural areas. “We believe if we develop the rural farmers through the provision of markets, definitely the economy will improve and we will be earning foreign exchange through exportation, ” he added. Ubandoma, however appealed to state governors to show some level of seriousness in paying their counterparts fund which is just eight per cent of the total cost of the project in their states. Mr Tesfamichael Nahusenay, the World Bank Task Team Leader said from the result of study conducted in Nigeria, 60 per cent of farm produce got wasted during transportation and lack of storage facilities. He said that World Bank hoped to add value to farmer’s income by giving them access to market after harvest, proper handling of farm produce after harvest and provide storage facilities to them. “World Bank has been providing assistance to Nigerian government for many years and we have standard for procedure in execution of any project in the country. “The Federal Government will receive the fund they lent to states. We have mechanism to process the procurement process to ensure that value for money is achieved and transparency in transaction. “At the end of the day, money intended for any project is used correctly. We do direct checking of the projects across all the states. The states bring back the money if they cannot achieve the set project. “We do field visit to ensure that the goods are delivered in appropriate time and ensure standard,” he said. Assessing the level of RAMP2 project, the Adamawa Project Coordination, Mr Abbas Adamu said about 201.4 km of roads had been completed in 13 locations under the first phase in the state. He added that about140 km was ongoing under the second phase which would be completed by December across the state. He said so far, farmers in the state had benefited from RAMP projects through easy access to market after harvest for better livelihood. The Project Coordinator however appreciated the support of the state governor on his intention to change the entire state with good and quality roads, adding that the governor did not deviate in payment of counterpart fund. Mr Gideon Akpan, the Project Coordinator, Akwa Ibom RAAMP3 said that the state decided to join in the project because of the state governor’s transformation agenda in agriculture. “Looking at the past resources we have in agriculture sector, we decided to express interest in joining the third phase of the project to bring development to our rural farmers. “Most of the challenges our farmers faced is the inability to access market after harvest due to bad road networks,’’ he said. NAN reports that RAMP is a Federal Government agency saddled with the responsibility of constructing rural roads to help farmers to access markets to avoid post harvest losses. RAMP is a co-sponsoring project of the World Bank, the French Development Agency, Africa Bank and the Federal Government.
he Nigeria Union, South Africa (NUSA) says it has protested alleged beating of five Nigerians, a day after the killing of Mr Olamilekan Badmus, 25-year-old native of Ogun, by Police in South Africa. Its President, Mr Adetola Olubajo, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Johannesburg, South Africa. Olubajo said the union received information that the police in South Africa had brutalised another five Nigerians in the same area where Badmus was killed. The NUSA president said information made available to the union indicated that the police were looking for the witness who saw the killing of Badmus. “In the process, some Nigerians were picked up and beaten by the police. “We also understand that the witness, a flat mate of Badmus, was arrested and beaten by the police. “In all, five Nigerians are hospitalised, because of the beating they allegedly received from the police. “The union has protested again this act. We condemn this cruel treatment of our people, because they did not commit any crime,” he said. Olubajo, however, urged Nigerians in the area to be calm and remain law abiding. “Investigation on the killing of Badmus has commenced. “A special police unit, the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID), is handling it. We have met them and on top of the situation,” he said. Olubajo said that the union had reported all incidents to the Nigerian Mission in South Africa. I found this interesting
U.S. and South Korean wartime operational plans, including a plan to wipe out the North Korean leadership, were stolen by North Korean hackers last year, a South Korean ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday. Some 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken from South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year, Democratic Party representative Rhee Cheol-hee said in radio appearances on Wednesday, citing information from unidentified South Korean defense officials. In May, an investigative team inside the defense ministry announced the hack had been carried out by North Korea, but did not disclose what kind of information had been taken. The disclosure came as the U.S. military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force late on Tuesday, just as President Donald Trump met top defense officials to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea. Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it fast advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. The two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers were joined by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Wednesday. After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, the release said. The U.S. military said in a separate statement it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time U.S. bombers have conducted training with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night. The U.S. bombers had taken off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In August, Pyongyang threatened to fire intermediate-range missiles toward the vicinity of Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory that is frequently subjected to sabre-rattling from the North. GUARD RAISED South Korean and U.S. government officials have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s ruling party, which fell on Tuesday. Trump hosted a discussion on Tuesday on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
A 25-year old Nigerian has been killed during a police raid in Vaal near Johannesburg, South Africa. Ibrahim Badmus was killed on Tuesday, barely one week after 35-year-old Jelili Omoyele was shot dead in Johannesburg over an alleged 300 Rand (about N7,500) parking lot debt. According to eyewitnesses, the victim was allegedly handcuffed, tortured and suffocated while being questioned by about three policemen at his home. One of the witnesses, a flat-mate of the deceased and a Congolese, Steve Lumbwe, said, “I found Omo (the deceased), my tenant on handcuff. There was a plastic where they put paper spray on him.” “I asked the police ‘why are you doing this to him’? They said he’s a drug dealer, he must take out the drug and I was like ‘no, he doesn’t sell drugs’. “My tenant was on handcuff and he started calling ‘Steve, I can’t breathe’. I started fighting with them and tried to help the guy but the other one (police officer) took me out as well. “So when I went back inside, Omo was sleeping, looking at them and the police officers were like ‘he just fainted’ that they would call the ambulance,” Lumbwe added. The Nigerian Consul General Godwin Adama and the Police Commander of the local police station Brigadier Nikiwe Hoeane were at the scene, calling for calm while investigations were ongoing, Channels Tv reports. s
A Nigerian, Jelili Omoyele, 35-year-old cellular phone technician, was allegedly shot dead in Johannesburg on Saturday, the Nigeria Union, South Africa, has said. Its President, Mr Adetola Olubajo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Johannesburg that Omoyele, a.k.a Ja Rule and native of Ibadan, Oyo State, was killed at a parking lot at Doornfontein, Gauteng Province. He said a fact-finding team to the scene led by him and National Welfare Officer, Mr Trust Owoyele, met an eyewitness, Mr Sipususo Mkalipi, a South African taxi driver, who confirmed the killing. “The deceased and the son of the caretaker of a parking lot had an argument over an unpaid R300 (N11,400) rent. “The witness said that the deceased decided to leave his car in the parking lot till Monday because he had no money to pay, but the caretaker’s son shot him on his way out of the building. “Omoyele gave up the ghost a few minutes later,” he said. Olubajo said Mkalipi was the driver, who brought the victim to the parking lot. According to him, a murder docket has been opened at Jeppe police state near Johannesburg while the case has been forwarded to the union’s legal adviser, Mr Omoreige Ogboro, for a follow-up. The Nigeria Union President also said the incident had been reported to the Nigerian Mission in South Africa. “We implore the mission to give necessary support to the union in order to ensure that justice is served. “Omoyele is survived by a pregnant wife also in South Africa and his parents in Nigeria,” he said.