Sunday, February 14, 2016

Iran Warns Against Saudi Intervention in Syria: General
Sunday 14 Feb 2016

A senior Iranian commander warned Saudi Arabia on Sunday against sending troops to Syria after the gulf kingdom deployed combat aircraft to Turkey, Iran's state media reported.

"We definitely won't let the situation in Syria to go forward the way rebel countries want... We will take necessary actions in due time," deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Aalam television.

Jazayeri was responding to a question on whether Iran planned to send more military advisors to Syria were Saudi troops to be deployed there, risking a direct confrontation between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh said on Saturday it had deployed warplanes to Turkey's Incirlik airbase in order to "intensify" its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Turkey hit Kurdish and Syrian regime positions in northern Syria, further complicating efforts to end the war, which has killed more than 260,000 people since it began in 2011.

Iran, Syria's regional ally, supports President Bashar al-Assad by sending "military advisers" and volunteers to fight alongside the Syrian army.

"The terrorists fighting in Syria today are forces of Saudi Arabia or the Americans or even reactionary forces in the region," Jazayeri said.

From "what country, except Turkey, do the terrorists commute to Syria? Which countries, if not the reactionary Arab countries, support them?" he asked.

"Today, with the victories of the Syrian army and the popular forces, they want to send troops to Syria, but it is a bluff and a psychological war," Jazayeri added.

"Saudi Arabia has used everything at its disposal in the Syrian front and so far they have failed not only in Syria but also in Yemen."

A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March, further straining ties between Riyadh and Tehran.

Saudi troop deployment in Syria up to US-led coalition

Sunday 14 Feb 2016

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that any move to deploy Saudi special forces into Syria will depend on a decision by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday he expected both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to send special operations forces to Syria to help local opposition fighters in their drive to retake the city of Raqqa, Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday confirmed it had sent aircraft to NATO-member Turkey's Incirlik air base for the fight against Islamic State militants."The Kingdom's readiness to provide special forces to any ground operations in Syria is linked to a decision to have a ground component to this coalition against Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria - this U.S.-led coalition - so the timing is not up to us," Jubeir told a news conference with his Swiss counterpart in Riyadh."With regards to timing of the mission or size of troops, this has yet to be worked out," he added.

Major powers agreed in Munich on Friday to a pause in combat in Syria, but Russia pressed on with bombing in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ally. Assad has promised to fight until he regains full control of the country.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending U.S. ground troops to Syria. But Turkey said that both Ankara and Riyadh would support a coalition ground operation.

Separately, Jubeir said Switzerland would handle Saudi Arabia's consular affairs in Iran and would facilitate Iranian pilgrims coming to the kingdom, following Riyadh's decision to cut relations with Tehran.

Relations worsened between the regional arch-rivals over Saudi Arabia's Jan. 2 execution of a prominent Saudi Shi'ite cleric. That led Iranian protesters to storm Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, after which Riyadh severed relations.

"Switzerland offered to ... handle the (consular) interests of Saudi Arabia in Iran, and we in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia appreciated that and accepted," Jubeir said.

But he said there was no need for mediation in Saudi Arabia's rift with Iran, citing what he described as Iran's long pattern of interference in regional conflicts.

The Islamic Republic said last week that Tehran and Riyadh must overcome their strained relations and work for stability in Syria and the middle East.
Yei State Women Demand Inclusive Government
February 12, 2016 (YEI) - Women in the newly established Yei River state in South Sudan have called on the state government to include women leaders in the new government in implementation of the gender equality policy.

“We women are appealing for a post in the new set-up of the state government. There are cases of beating and torture of women, women are not given their rights and we believe as the government is coming closer to us, this gender based violence will be ruled out so that we feel women are recognized in this government,” said Hellen Abure, Chairperson for Morobo Women Association.

“We should not sit alone in the Government, and we need men and women to speak all together so that the young women can feel that women can also work,” she added.

She said she would be happy if the 25% of the women that is always being talked about is reflected at the higher level of the state positions.

She further lamented that women have been tortured in Yei through traditional beliefs and rules by their husbands, including denying them to eat nutritional foods if they do not give birth to male child.

“One in which am not really happy is that; women here are being denied to eat meat until they gave birth to a male son, denied access to education, laboured with domestic work and not allowed to make decisions even at the family level. We need all these to come to an end,” she remarked.

Meanwhile in Yei River county, now one of the controversial states, women have appealed for strong measures against people who abuse children’s rights in the society.

According to the Chairlady of the Yei Women Association, Nadia Roseline, people who are found abusing child rights should be sentenced to many years of imprisonment and heavily charged so that similar circumstances will not occur in the future.

Nadia citied that rape, killing and forceful labour among the children are recorded to be on increase in all parts of the county.

“Among other cases, we have received a case whereby a seven year old young girl in Pakula quarter council was brutally raped by a 47 year old man and the perpetrator has not been arrested till today,” she pointed out.

She called on the government and development partners to build juvenile centres to enable protection of street children.

“We have also identified that the number of street children in Yei is on increase. We have found out that many of these children are either forced by their parents to sell food and clothes in the major streets of the town without education,”she added.

On employment, Nadia appealed for women consideration into positions. “We need to see that this time we need to see that women are granted equal opportunities in the employment sector. We don’t want to see that women are demanded sex or bribery before employment.”

The women made the appeal during a joint penal discussion organized by Centre for Democracy and Development, a leading civil society organization operating in Yei River state.

The organization’s Program Executive Director, Arike Joseph Moses, called on the women to wake up and demand for their rights. He expressed on the organization’s commitment to advocate for women representation in all processes of governance of the state.

“We as an organization would wish to see that women work side by side with men starting from the family, church, local and state government so that we see a transformed society in which human rights, democracy and inclusive decisions are made towards collective national development,” Arike.

However, speaking in a recent occasion organized by the Yei women association, Yei River state governor, David Lokonga Moses, said his government will recognize the participation of women, youth and the disables in the socio-political and economic development of the state.

“My Fellow citizens, your Government will recognize the potentials of our women, youth and people with special needs, the Government will empower them to efficiently participate in public life. In my time of office, I would like to inform [and] tell you that I will not entertain corruption. I will promote peace, unity, transparency and accountability.”

Late last year, President Salva Kiir called on the 28 newly appointed state governors to include women participation in the governance of the country.

However, Yei River state governor, David Lokonga, is yet to announce the composition of the state executive, and parliamentary organs of government.

Machar Says May Not Return to Juba Before Demilitarization
February 12, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The newly appointed South Sudanese First Vice President, Riek Machar, who leads an armed opposition faction, stressed Friday on the need to demilitarize the capital Juba in order for him to return to the national capital, Juba, and take up his new position in the government.

The opposition leadership responded to his “surprise” appointment on Thursday as First Vice President by President Salva Kiir and the subsequent directive from the president giving seven days to report to Juba and form with him a transitional government of national unity (TGoNU).

“The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/SPLA (IO), Dr. Riek Machar, has clearly stated, time and again, his willingness to return to Juba any time soon. However, this strictly depends on how fast the government demilitarizes Juba and arrival of the 2,910 SPLA-IO units of the joint forces in the capital,” James Gatdet Dak, the opposition leader’s spokesman, quoted the position of Machar.

Machar told Reuters on Friday he would only come back if the government went through with what he said was a promise to demilitarize the capital Juba. He said he had not spoken to Kiir since August.

"If this is done within a week’s time, it would accelerate my going back to Juba," Machar said by phone from Cairo. "If it takes two weeks, then I will wait for two weeks."

Dak told Sudan Tribune on Friday that without the implementation of the security arrangements in the capital in accordance with the peace agreement; it is unrealistic for Machar to return to Juba within the 7 days suggested by President Kiir.

“This is the reason we said the appointment of the First Vice President was rushed and did not follow the sequence of the implementation of the peace agreement. Although it is in line with the provisions of the power sharing agreement, it is a redundant action because the First Vice President will not take oath of office until he arrives in Juba,” he said.

He said Machar expected Kiir to instead concentrate on the demilitarization of the capital and transportation of the opposition forces into Juba before appointing deputies or forming a unity government, saying these were the priorities set out in the peace agreement and confirmed by the recent IGAD communique.

Dak said it seemed there is an “ill-intention” rush to skip some of the “very important” provisions in the peace agreement, which he said was not healthy for safeguarding the agreement and building trust.

As the government celebrates blessing from IGAD communiqué to skip the constitution and form a new government without it, as well as provide a space for consensual dialogue “within the context of TGoNU” on its unilaterally created 28 states, the government also seems to be happy with Machar returning to Juba without first demilitarizing the capital and deploying the opposition forces, with the exception of few hundreds of personal bodyguards of the opposition leader.

While the opposition faction of SPLM-IO accepted the IGAD’s sudden change of sequence by putting constitutional amendment after formation of the new government, the opposition said they will not form the government until their forces are in Juba.

“We will not accept this. Dr. Machar will not return to Juba until the capital is demilitarized and our forces are deployed. This is what the peace agreement says. It is for rebuilding trust as well as for protection and deterrence. Somebody has to understand that this is very important,” he said.

However reports from Juba say that senior political and military leaders in President Kiir’s government resist the demilitarization of the capital, which should have taken place since November last year with the President until Thursday calling on the military leadership to withdraw forces.

Dak revealed that President Kiir has refused an invitation to Cairo by the Egyptian President to meet with the opposition leader who is on visit to Cairo so that they discuss some outstanding issues in the peace agreement.

SPLA-IO Accuses South Sudanese Army of Attacking Their Bases
February 13, 2016

(ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese government army has been accused of continuing to attack bases of opposition fighters in violation of the permanent ceasefire agreement signed in August last year by warring parties in the country.

The armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) said their forces came under attack in different locations over the weekend, accusing President Salva Kiir’s government of the violations.

“SPLM/SPLA (IO) forces have been attacked on Saturday, 13th February, and Friday, 12th February, by government forces in different states and locations,” said James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman of the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, in a statement he issued to media on Saturday.

Government forces, he said, attacked their military base in Magwi county of Eastern Equatoria state at around 5:00am local time on Saturday, but were repulsed. He also added that reports from the ground indicated that government forces were preparing for further offensive on the opposition forces.

Dak also cited that another attack took place earlier on Friday when government forces in Western Equatoria state attacked opposition forces in Ezo county and Rangu payam, hundreds of kilometres west of the national capital, Juba.

“It is unfortunate that the government or elements within its leadership are not committed to peace and continue to provoke the situation,” he said.

Early this week, SPLM-IO also reported multiple attacks on their bases in the oil rich Upper Nile state, now divided into three states. They said government troops attacked their base in Wadekona county, home to Shilluk ethnic group, and shelled their designated cantonment area, south of the state capital, Malakal.

The opposition faction also claimed that they spotted thousands of government troops moving out from Pariang county in Unity state towards Kodok areas.

“This act of aggression to try to capture more territories is a clear violation of the agreement on the Permanent Ceasefire,” he said.

The parties have not yet agreed on cantonment areas in which to assemble rival forces across the country, pending reunification process of the two armies per the provisions of the peace agreement. The process to unify the two rival forces will take at least 18 months.

The parties too have not implemented the security arrangements for the capital, Juba, and states capitals, where demilitarization is supposed to take place and joint police and military forces deployed.

In accordance with the peace agreement, there will be two separate armies during the first half of the transitional period of 30 months prior to elections. The rival forces will be assembled in cantonment areas to be agreed upon by the parties to the peace agreement.

Both President Kiir and his first deputy, Machar, will command the two separate armies with separate national structures headed by their two respective chiefs of general staff.

Grenade Attack Kills Child, Wounds His Father in Burundi's Capital
A grenade attack on a military base in Burundi's capital killed a child and wounded his father and one other person, an official and witnesses said on Sunday, as violence linked to the president's disputed re-election persists.

More than 400 people have been killed since April last year when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term. That sparked weeks of street protests led by the opposition which said his bid was unconstitutional.

Witnesses and an official said the attack late on Saturday had targeted the base in the Ngagara neighborhood in Bujumbura.

"The attackers were in a car and threw two grenades at a military station which injured two people including a child and his father, both coming from a hair salon," a Ngagara administrator on Sunday.

"The child died after but his father is undergoing treatment,” he said.

A witness who gave his name only as Paul, 33, said a soldier was also wounded, but the administrator could not confirm it.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible, but activists and authorities have in the past reported a number of apparently targeted killings.

On Friday, unidentified gunmen shot dead two people in an apparent targeted killing the Gisozi commune in Mwaro province some 60 km (37 miles) from Bujumbura.

According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, nearly quarter of a million people have fled the violence in Burundi, which emerged from an ethnically charged civil war ten years ago.

In December, the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Council announced plans to deploy a 5,000-strong force, saying it could invoke an article of the AU's charter that allowed it to intervene whether or not the government agreed.

Last week, the AU said it had appointed five heads of state to try to convince the government of Burundi to accept the peacekeeping force.

Nkurunziza, whose army foiled an attempted coup in May, is steadfastly opposed to the plan, saying its deployment would amount to an invasion.

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Louise Ireland)
How Burundi’s Political Crisis Has Crippled its Economy
By Désiré Nimubona
12 February 2016

(IRIN) - The crisis that erupted in Burundi in April 2015 following Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a controversial third term as president has claimed more than 400 lives and caused more than 230,000 people to flee the country, according to the UN. But it isn’t just citizens who have suffered - the economy is in a bad way too.

Alexandre Nyabenda works as a trader in a shop in Cibitoke, one of the so-called “contested areas” of the capital Bujumbura, which are really just the hotbeds of opposition to Nkurunziza that have seen most political unrest.

Nyabenda, who has been working there for the past six years, told IRIN that trade had really suffered as a result of the instability.

“Before the crisis … I was taking in around 120,000 francs ($76 dollars) of revenue each day,” he said. “Since April 2015, just to get 40,000 francs ($25) a day has been a real struggle.”

The fall is explained by the fact that so many customers fled the country as Burundi descended into violence. Those who have stayed don’t have the same purchasing power so the quantity of goods sold has markedly declined.

“A father who was buying two kilos of rice and two kilos of beans every day to feed his five children and his wife is now buying only half a kilo because his domestic helper, his wife and his children have fled into exile,” explained Nyabenda.

“A grenade was thrown near my restaurant”

Things are even worse for Sinkazi Kevin, 32, a coal seller in Cibitoke who has gone practically bankrupt due to the tough economic times.

“Before this crisis I was selling at least six to 10 sacks of coal a day, but now I’m only selling one,” Kevin told IRIN, clearly angry. “There are no buyers! People have fled, and restaurant owners who were good potential clients before are now doing hardly any business, or have even closed their restaurants.”

Micheella Kanyana was forced to close her small restaurant in Cibitoke because the unrest and insecurity was too great to carry on.

“A grenade was thrown near my restaurant. I was already scared. Next, our customers, who were the motorcyclists, the taxi bike drivers, they stopped coming. And then our coal suppliers, our food suppliers were too scared to come to our area. This is why I closed my restaurant,” Kanyana told IRIN.

“I asked three restaurant workers that I had taken on to return home for fear of seeing them arrested or killed because they were all young,” she added.

Even the prestigious University of Burundi, the only academic institution in the country with resident accomodation is not immune from the economic crisis. It recently suspended providing breakfast for its boarding students.

Voting with their feet - Burundian refugees at a temporary transit camp in Kigoma, Tanzania.
“The price of beans has gone from 1,200 francs (76 cents) before the crisis to 1,800 francs ($1.15) today. Rice has gone from 1,100 francs to 1,700 francs a kilo,” said Anatole Nzinahora, head of the university management, explaining that they simply didn’t have the means now to feed students three times a day.

According to him, the suspension of a morning meal will allow the management to at least feed the students sometimes, in a period when some of the school’s food suppliers are hesitant to deliver.

Rents in relatively calm districts of Bujumbura have risen as a consequence of their perceived stability.

“I lost my job because of the crisis. My wife no longer works,” Jean Marie Ndaruhayinda, the owner of a house in Gasenyi in northern Bujumbura, told IRIN. “The only income I have is rental income. Because my house is in Gasenyi (a calm area), I have had to double it from 150,000 francs a month rent to 300,000 francs a month.”

As for Audace Ndayisaba, the owner of a house in the “contested area” of Mutakura, his tenants left his houses seven months ago.

“I built small houses for tenants,” he told IRIN. “In total I was easily earning one million Burundian francs ($637) a month in rental income. Now, all the tenants have gone elsewhere because of the security situation. So I am earning nothing and I don’t even have a nightwatchman to look after the premises because of insecurity.”

Bleak picture

Prospects for the Burundi economy are not good. Annual GDP growth for 2015 was -7.2 percent, and it is set to fall further with insecurity, a deteriorating business climate and tense relations with donors weighing on the treasury.

The 2016 budget shows a fall in government spending of more than 46 percent, economist Léonce Sinzinkayo told the Iwacu newspaper.

He calculated that revenue has plunged by $14.3 million, with the budget deficit now at $891 million.

The downturn in food production and the difficulty in getting produce to market, is likely to see food prices continue their rise.
Angola President Gets Message From Burundi Counterpart
Luanda - Angolan Head of State José Eduardo dos Santos received Friday a verbal message from his Burundian counterpart, Pierre Nkurunziza, on strengthening of cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

The message was conveyed by the first vice president of Burundi, Gaston Sindimwo, during an audience the Angolan president granted to him at presidential palace in Luanda.

"We are conveying a message to the Angolan Statesman to express our thanks for welcoming us in this country and mainly on strengthening of friendship and cooperation between Angola and Burundi", Gaston Sindimwo told the press at the end of the meeting.

As for political and military situation in Burundi, the official said that it is getting back to normal despite some problems due to the tough period the country has experience amid war and political unrest".

"We are doing our best to defuse the situation in the country", stressed the official.

On the other hand,  he defended greater and better understanding with Rwandan authorities, who, according to him, are behind the hotspots recorded in neighbouring Burundi.
Burundi Government Sponsors Mass Protests Against Rwanda
The protests are part of an escalation in tension with Burundi's neighbors since a disputed election put its leader in power for a third term.

By Eloge Willy Kaneza and Ignatius Ssuuna,
Associated Press
FEBRUARY 13, 2016

Thousands of Burundians on Saturday participated in government-sanctioned demonstrations against neighboring Rwanda whom it accuses of supporting a rebellion to topple Burundi's president.

The demonstrations highlight the souring of relations between the Central African neighbors since Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza was re-elected for a disputed third term.

Burundi was rocked by violent street protests for months after Nkurunziza's April announcement that he would seek another term. At least 400 people have died since then in violent street protests, assassinations, attacks by a rebel group and a failed coup attempt. More than 200,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries, mostly to Rwanda. Burundi is accusing Rwanda of training and arming rebels in the refugee population.

Rwanda on Friday said it plans to relocate 75,000 Burundian refugees to other countries following the accusations.

Burundi's Interior Minister Pascal Barandagiye, in a radio broadcast urging people to participate in the demonstrations, accused the Rwandan government of trying to topple Burundi's government through military means.

Demonstrators camped at Rwanda's embassy in Bujumbura Saturday morning, singing songs against Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

The songs described Kagame as an enemy whom Burundians are going to "kumesa." The Kirundi word kumesa means wash. During Burundi's civil war a decade ago, "to wash someone up" was a euphemism for killing people perceived to be enemies.

A U.N. panel of experts has made similar allegations against Rwanda, saying in a new report that refugees from Burundi received training from Rwandan military personnel last year with the goal of removing Nkurunziza from power. The experts spoke to 18 Burundian combatants who said they had been recruited at the Mahama refugee camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015 and that their numbers total four companies of 100 recruits each.
Rwanda to Relocate Burundi Refugees to Other Countries
New Vision

Rwanda is to relocate refugees from Burundi to other countries, the government said Friday, amid accusations Kigali is meddling in the affairs of its troubled neighbour.

"The government of Rwanda... will immediately begin working with partners in the international community to plan the orderly and safe relocation of Burundian refugees to third countries," read a government statement that took the UN refugee agency by surprise.

The UNHCR said it was "concerned" over the announcement, saying it "seems to undermine the precedent of refugee protection Rwanda has set over decades."

Last week, UN experts told the Security Council that Rwanda has recruited and trained refugees from Burundi, among them children, who wanted to remove Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza from power.

Burundi has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing rebels intent on overthrowing the government in Bujumbura. Kigali has fiercely denied the accusations.

"Rwanda readily shoulders its obligations to protect and care for refugees," the government statement said.

"However, experience in the Great Lakes is that the long-term presence of refugees so close to their country of origin carries considerable risks for all involved."

Burundi has been in turmoil since Nkurunziza announced plans in April to run for a third term, which he went on to win. Hundreds of people have been killed and at least 230,000 have fled the country.

- 'Risks to national security' -

Some 75,000 Burundian refugees are in Rwanda, according to the UNHCR.

The agency said it had met with Rwandan officials who insisted Kigali "would continue to respect its international obligations to protect refugees, would not close its borders, and would not forcibly expel Burundian refugees."

The UNHCR, in a statement, "urged the government to make such clarifications publicly as soon as possible to prevent panic on the part of refugees in Rwanda."

Violence continues in Burundi. On Thursday, a grenade blast wounded 26 people in the capital Bujumbura, nine of them seriously, the latest in a string of attacks.

"The callous indifference to the well-known root causes of instability in Burundi, and the refugee exodus, is troubling," Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said.

"It also exposes refugees to increased threats from forces at home and compromises lasting political solutions. For Rwanda, the growing risks to our national security from the Burundian impasse and misunderstandings in our foreign relations are unacceptable."

The European Union, dissatisfied with the progress in Burundi, is expected on Monday to announce the suspension of direct aid to the government, a diplomatic source in Brussels told AFP.

Foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states, meeting in Brussels Monday, will approve a text outlining the stalemate in talks with Burundi on human rights and announce the upcoming adoption of "appropriate measures" including a suspension of direct aid, the diplomat said Friday.

The EU is the biggest donor to Burundi with a programme worth some 430 million euros ($468 million) from 2014 to 2020.

The measures should be in place before the end of the month, the diplomat added, while stressing that humanitarian aid channelled directly to the Burundi people would be maintained.

- 'Destabilising activities' by Rwanda -

On Wednesday, the United States accused Rwanda of involvement in "destabilising activities" in Burundi.

The US concerns were raised in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by two top diplomats, who cited reports from colleagues in the field that point to Rwandan involvement in the Burundi crisis.

"There are credible reports of recruitment of Burundian refugees out of camps in Rwanda to participate in armed attacks by Burundian armed opposition against the Burundian government," said Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Neighbouring nations already host thousands of Burundian refugees in overstretched camps, with Tanzania hosting some 130,000 and Democratic Republic of Congo over 18,000. Uganda, which borders Rwanda to the north, has 21,000.

It was not clear where Rwanda plans to send refugees.

"In recent months, Rwanda has made requests to international partners and organisations to host Burundians living in camps and in towns in Rwanda," Kigali's statement added.

"No party has come forward yet, even as the political situation in the refugees' country of origin shows no improvement."

- See more at:
No Ink Prevents Publication of Commission Report on Walter Rodney’s Death
February 9, 2016

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 9, CMC – The presentation of the report of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) to President David Granger was delayed on Monday because the ink being used to print the document had finished.

“Commissioner of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Sir Richard Cheltenham did not submit the COI Report to President David Granger, as was scheduled to happen today.

“Sir Cheltenham reported that he was unable to make the 12:00 pm scheduled time because he had run out of ink to print the document.  A detailed release will be sent out on the matter shortly,” the Ministry of the Presidency said in a brief statement.

Sir Richard and the two other Commissioners had arrived here last week to complete the writing of the report for its presentation to Granger on Monday.

The report was initially scheduled to have been presented to Granger on November 30, 2015.

The COI had been started during the Donald Ramotar administration’s term, in office.

Rodney, the leader of the social democratic political party, the People’s Working Alliance (PWA), was killed near the Georgetown Prison on June 13, 1980 when a bomb in a walkie talkie was allegedly to him by a Guyana Defence Force electronics expert Sergeant Gregory Smith, exploded in his lap.

At that time, the WPA had been leading a civilian rebellion against what the party had called the Forbes Burnham-led dictatorship of the then People’s National Congress (PNC).
Walter Rodney Commission Dropped Off Report on President Granger’s Instruction
by Denis Chabrol
February 13, 2016

The Commissioners of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry say the left their report with the Secretary to Guyana’s Attorney General on the instruction of President David Granger, after they failed to deliver the report on 1st February, 2016 because the printer’s ink had run out.

In a statement that was signed by Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham and Senior Counsel, Jainath Seenan, they said they have not been paid separately for writing the report.

When Sir Richard did not present the report on 8th February, 2016, Attorney General, Basil Williams had expressed concern especially against the background of the fact that the report should have been presented since 30th November, 2015.

Following is the full text of the statement by Sir Richard and Mr. Brown.

The date and time set for the handing over of the Report of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry was Monday 8th February, 2016, at 12 noon. Mrs. Samuels-Brown, Q.C. had to leave Guyana in the early hours of Monday 8th February, 2016, and Sir Richard L. Cheltenham, Q.C., and Mr. Seenath Jairam, S.C. remained in Guyana.

Before we arrived in Guyana the Chairman was assured that all the appropriate arrangements would be put in place to ensure that the Secretariat would be properly equipped to complete the Report. On arrival the Commissioners appreciated that that had not been done.

On the first working day in Guyana, Monday 1 st February, 2016, no fixed space had been assigned for the completion of our work. We were taken to a building being outfitted as the headquarters for all future Commissions. We also visited the premises previously assigned to us. We agreed that we would work there but the premises had to be cleaned overnight and staff recruited to begin work the next day. It was only close to midday on Tuesday 2nd February, 2016, that the premises were made available. However, the Secretariat had no printer, but only a photocopying machine.

At about 9 am on the morning of Monday 8th of February, 2016, when the typed version of the Report was being printed at the Hotel through private printing facilities, the Chairman received word that the ink had run out.

The Secretariat was contacted for a replacement. The Commissioners were advised that the Secretariat had no ink and it would have to be procured by the Administrator of the Commission Secretariat, Mr. Denbow. We were further advised that the Secretariat had tried and failed to reach the Mr. Denbow.

The Chairman tried to reach Mr. Denbow without success. At 11: 15 am on that said morning he came to see us at the Marriott Hotel and explained that he had been meeting with aviation officials visiting the country and apologised for being out of reach. He said further that he had provided ink days before in anticipation of the printing and was surprised that it had run out. He, however, left the hotel and returned at 11 :45 am with the additional ink which he purchased personally. We then re-commenced the printing of the report.

When the Chairman first learned of the ink problem he immediately contacted Attorney General Basil Williams, who was the link between the Commissioners and the President, and advised him of our difficulties. He said that the President, who was already fed up, would be disappointed and he gave us the contact numbers for the President at his Monday office. He suggested that the Chairman call the President. In the course of the conversation the Chairman suggested to the Attorney General that we would be happy to deliver the Report at the President’s convenience anytime that afternoon or evening. The Attorney General said that the President was unavailable to receive it at any of the times indicated. He further advised that he, the Attorney General, would be out of office early on Tuesday morning but that we should deliver the Report to his office.

As the Commissioners we felt that it would be improper and inappropriate to deliver a Presidential Report to the Office of the Attorney General and that we should try to discover when, on the next day, Tuesday, the President could receive us.

With that in mind the Chairman did try twice unsuccessfully to reach the President to explain our unavoidable difficulty and asce1iain whether we could deliver the Report to him personally on Tuesday.

On the third occasion the telephone was answered by a lady who confirmed that she was the President’s secretary. She advised that she could not transfer the call to him. However, she undertook to let him know that the Chairman had called. She was given the Chairman’s contact numbers to pass on to the President. We never received any call nor any message from the President.

However, we became aware on Monday night that a public statement had been made by the Attorney General to the press to the effect that the President was fed up with the Commission, among other things. The statement gave the distinct impression that it was the responsibility of the Commissioners, and particularly the Chairman, to make provision for ink and that the running out of ink was the fault of the Chairman. The Commission had been asked to submit a typed version of the Report. The Executive undertook to have the Report printed and bound by the Government Printery.

In Commissions of Inquiry the provisioning of the Commission Secretariat, staff, physical office and office supplies is done by the Executive, not the Commissioners.

On Tuesday morning, very early, the Chairman instructed Mr. Denbow to contact the President’s office to ascertain when on that day it would be convenient to the President to receive the Report. Mr. Denbow made a call and subsequently advised the Chairman that the hour for delivery at the President’s office was tentatively set for 12:30 pm but that the time had to be confirmed by the President’s office.

By 10:45 am we had received no such confirmation. The Chairman further instructed Mr. Denbow to call every ten (10) minutes to see whether we could have confirmation of the 12:30 pm hour for delivery. At a little after noon Mr. Denbow came to the Hotel and reported that the officer who had given him the 12:30 pm time was not in office and the other persons at the President’s office whom he contacted were of no assistance.

We were keen to discharge our obligation and hand over the Report. At 12:45 pm with no word from the President, the Chairman instructed Mr. Denbow to alert our security personnel and the police that we were going to the President’s office at 1:00 pm to hand over the Report.

On arrival at the President’s office we identified ourselves to the security at the front gate and stated that we were there to deliver the Report. The security officers called someone and in short order a lady came and asked that we follow her.

We were taken to a room where we waited for the President. After about twenty-five (25) minutes a lady (whom we assumed to be the President’s Secretary) came and informed us that the President would not be able to see us as he was otherwise engaged. She added that he had instructed that we should take the Report to the Secretary to the Attorney General and leave it with her. That we did just before 2:00 pm.

Photographs were taken at each stage of our journey, including at the security hut on the premises of the President’s office and at the office of the Attorney General/Ministry of Legal Affairs. There is a photograph of the Chairman handing over the Report to the Attorney General’s secretary as well as a photograph of the Minister’s secretary with Commissioner Jairam.

There is another matter on which the facts need to be set out by the Commissioners. The terms and conditions under which the Commissioners’ services were engaged were settled with the former Attorney General, Mr. Anil Nandlall, who, at all times, was acting on behalf of the President.

There was no signed contract which is not uncommon in Commissions oflnquiry. The Chairman was careful, however, to send a letter dated 10111 February, 2014, to Attorney General Nandlall reflecting the terms of our engagement which had .been agreed with the Chairman and the other Commissioners at the Amaryllis Hotel in Barbados on the 8111 of February, 2014. Subsequent to that letter the Commissioners agreed to a reduction of their fees with Attorney General Nandlall and were paid in accordance with the agreed reduction.

One of the elements of our engagement included a writing fee for the Commissioners, as is the norm.

A writing fee is a standard part of the engagement of Commissioners. It reflects the reality that Commissioners have to spend considerable time, separate and apart from hearing the evidence, in analysing and writing up the Report. It is the fee paid to Commissioners for the final phase of their responsibilities.

The foregoing notwithstanding, surprise is now being publicly expressed by the now Attorney General about a writing fee when it has at all times been part of the terms of our settled and established engagement, consistent with standard practice.

The writing fee was due to be paid in full ten (10) days before the delivery of the Report. A letter from the Chairman setting out the terms with respect to writing fees was provided to the Administrator, at his request, during the last sitting of the Commission in August, 2015.

The Chairman reminded the Attorney General in writing on 20th January, 2016, that a writing fee was due to the Commissioners. Notwithstanding that none of the writing fee was paid, the Commissioners went to Guyana determined to discharge their responsibilities under the Terms of Reference and have done so.

Our report was delivered in accordance with the instruction and direction of His Excellency

Saturday, February 13, 2016

South Africa: Slain Anti-apartheid Activist’s Killers to Prosecuted
Selinah NTOBONG  
12 02 - 19:40

Nearly 33 years since her disappearance, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has decided to criminally prosecute four former apartheid policemen who several years back confessed to killing Nokuthula Simelani – an underground anti apartheid activist for the African National Congress.

Her sister, Thembi Nkadimeng says this will give the family, particularly their mother, closure.

“I should not be wiping my mum’s tears today, because I’m sure 20 years down the line, she should have healed, like any other parent who comes through a loss of a child. She should have healed. She can’t do that, it’s a pain she lives with daily. You don’t know what this process is doing to her currently. So they must be prosecuted,” said Nkadimeng

Simelani was part of the now ruling ANC’s military wing- Mkontho we Sizwe, translated into “the spear of the nation”. She was abducted and brutally tortured by the policeman, but her remains were never found.

The group confessed before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that was tasked with uncovering the past wrongdoings of South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Simelani’s family however said they are not entirely confident that the four will be succesfully prosecuted.

The four perpetrators are expected in court in two weeks.
Death of Two Black Farmers Prompts a Racial Reckoning in South Africa
By Kevin Sieff
February 12 at 7:12 PM

Photo: Norma Juberba, grandmother of one of the slain farmworkers, at her home last month in Tumahole township, in Parys, South Africa. (Graeme Williams for The Washington Post)

PARYS, South Africa — They lived in a township where homes were decorated with pictures of Nelson Mandela and neighborhoods were named after anti-apartheid activists. A poster hung in city hall said, “We restored the dignity of our people.” The mayor and the police chief and the country’s president were black, like them.

But in early January, when Samuel Tjexa, 35, and Seun Tangasha, 25, bolted through the fields of this small city, it was four white farmers who chased them with guns. And it was those white farmers who allegedly beat Tjexa and Tangasha to death, in a case that has highlighted the racial divisions haunting the new South Africa.

Twenty-two years after apartheid, this country is in the midst of another racial reckoning. It is evident in the recent uproar over a white woman’s Facebook post that called black beachgoers “monkeys.” The ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is trying to pass an “anti-racism” law that would jail anyone guilty of “racial bigotry.” An increasingly popular opposition group, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has called for a crusade against “white supremacy.”

This small farming city 60 miles outside Johannesburg offers a glimpse into the tensions flaring again in South Africa. When the four accused farmers had a bail hearing in their murder trial last month, whites and blacks gathered at the courthouse, separated by barbed wire.

“I could see the anger in their eyes,” said George de Beer, a white farmer.

“They looked at us like we were nothing,” said Ruth Qokotha, Tjexa’s mother.

The whites sang the apartheid-era national anthem and held the flags of the 19th-century Boer Republics, seen by most here as a racist relic. The blacks shouted: “Kill the Boer! Kill the farmer!” — a reference to South African whites of Dutch descent.

Like many parts of South Africa, Parys has evolved little since apartheid. Blacks live mostly in a sprawling township called Tumahole, next to an informal garbage dump, and whites live in a part of the city lined with antique stores, hotels and government buildings. There are 65 commercial farmers. All of them are white. In many cases, black farm laborers work for the same families that their great-grandparents worked for a century earlier.

“We were expecting change. We were expecting to live together. But nothing changed at all,” said Paul Oliphant, 48, a welder in Tumahole who was involved in the anti-apartheid movement.

The end of apartheid — “apartness” in Afrikaans — meant to many the beginning of social and economic equality in South Africa. Farmworkers could become farmers. Poor blacks could move from townships, underdeveloped settlements once reserved for nonwhites, into the same neighborhoods as their white countrymen. In some places, those changes occurred. A black middle class and an ultra-rich elite formed. The government mandated that private companies hire a certain portion of black employees.

But today, whites, who make up about 9 percent of the population, earn about six times what blacks do on average. Agriculture, mining and banking, three of the country’s most lucrative industries, are dominated by whites.

The continued economic inequality has contributed to a new wave of racial tension. The South African Human Rights Commission received 160 racism-related complaints in January, the highest monthly figure in its 20-year history, officials say.

Some say the ANC is using race to its political advantage, accusing its opponents of being anti-black to increase support from its base. The party’s proposed anti-racism law has only been vaguely described but is intended to ensure that “acts of racism and promotion of apartheid are criminalized and punishable by imprisonment.”

“The [ANC] organization is not in a strong state at this stage, and it needs an external enemy against which it can unite its own followers,” said Susan Booysen, a political scientist at the University of the Witwatersrand and the author of a recent book on the ANC.

White farmers say they’re the ones under threat, their farms raided and their families attacked in crimes that often feel like the expression of racial outrage. In 2014, black men in Parys raped an elderly woman and put her body in a freezer, where she died. The previous year, a white farmer was killed when intruders dragged him behind his truck. Last year, members of a primarily white group, the Transvaal Agricultural Union, complained to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that white farmers in South Africa were a persecuted minority. Sixty-two people were murdered during 270 farm attacks in 2015, according to the farmers, who say the number is growing.

“In some ways it feels like there’s more tension now than there was during apartheid,” said Wynn Dedwith, a farmer in Parys. “All it takes is a little spark to ignite a keg of dynamite.”

One of the slain farmworkers rented a room in the brown shack at left, in Winnie Section, an informal settlement on the edge of Tumahole township. (Graeme Williams for The Washington Post)

‘There will be revenge’

The spark came just before sunset Jan. 6, when Tjexa and Tangasha approached their boss on his farm outside central Parys. According to the 72-year-old farmer, Loedie van der Westhuizen, the men were armed with revolvers and were there to rob him of about $1,250. According to the families of Tjexa and Tangasha, they had gone unarmed to collect overdue wages, about $50 each. The police have found no weapons in their investigation.

The farmer told investigators that the two men hit him on the head and the torso until he managed to trigger a security alarm. That alarm alerted nearby farmers who had formed a self-defense force.

They chased Tjexa and Tangasha to a field near a maize farm.

“We got the message that the two attackers were on the run,” said Pieter Kemp, a farmer who helps coordinate the self-defense force. “There were a lot of us looking for them. Until that point, the system worked the way it was supposed to.”

When police arrived, they found the black men had been brutally beaten. They both died within hours. The alleged assailants have not entered a plea.

“For us, the reality facing farmers can sometimes lead to an overreaction,” said Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of AfriForum, an Afrikaner advocacy group helping to defend the accused farmers.

“You have a friend who was killed, or you know the lady who was put into the freezer, and maybe you think, ‘Finally, we caught the bastards.’ ”

Qokotha, Tjexa’s mother, heard the news about his death from a friend.

“The whites think they can do anything here,” she said. “It’s still apartheid.”

The whites called into their local Afrikaans-language radio station, Koepel Stereo, and spoke about the threat of more farm attacks, their sense of insecurity.

“We’re being killed like flies,” said the host, Sakkie van der Schyff. “The only reason you aren’t seeing a revolt by the whites is that we’re good Christians.”

The blacks called into Lentswe Community Radio, their own station three miles away, furious that the four farmers were granted bail.

“If these guys are acquitted, there will be revenge,” said Seun Tladi, the station’s newsreader.

Lingering exploitation

At his presidential inauguration in 1994, Nelson Mandela spoke of a “rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

Tangasha was a toddler when that speech was delivered, living with his family in the Free State, in South Africa’s breadbasket. His parents, like almost all black South Africans in the 1990s and early 2000s, were supporters of the ANC, Mandela’s party.

Tangasha was part of the generation that would profit from the rainbow nation, his grandmother remembers thinking. He would go to university. He would own a house, maybe a business. But like most black South Africans, he dropped out of a crumbling public education system before he turned 16. He found work on a farm, earning about $10 a day. He was never paid on time, his relatives said.

He started voting for the Economic Freedom Fighters, the party led by firebrand Julius Malema, who said in a speech last year: “We want a total overhaul of the state. We want a state that is not scared of the white minority.”

The ANC had made attempts to provide for men such as Tangasha in Tumahole. It purchased land that was meant to be parceled out to black farmers. But the farm equipment never arrived. Neither did the fertilizer. Locals blamed the mismanagement of the country's land reform program. Part of what was meant to be black-owned farmland is now the unsanctioned dump, where the white-owned businesses of Parys throw their trash.

Ironically, the white farmers have thrived under the ANC, which removed apartheid-era price controls and in some cases enabled them to increase their profit margins. Unlike in Zimbabwe, where white-owned farms were seized by force, the South African government has said it will purchase land only from white landowners who choose to sell it. Unlike Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, South African leaders, including Mandela, have emphasized the right to political representation but have spoken much less about economic equality. Experts say Mandela was concerned about upsetting economic stability during a fragile time.

“Farmworkers imagined that when we had a democratic government with black politicians in power that their exploitation would go away,” said Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist. “But that’s never what the democratic struggle was about.”

In recent weeks, the police have been trying to understand how and why Tangasha and Tjexa were killed. The investigating officer, Maj. Serame Mahlatsi, has been collecting accounts from the farmers, trying to follow the laws of the new South Africa amid the polarization of the old one.

He is a black police officer investigating white farmers. He knows it is a sensitive matter. In a brief interview, he showed a flash of exasperation.

“You can’t take the law into your own hands,” Mahlatsi said. “You can’t just kill people.”

But the situation turned out to be worse than even he imagined.

Just before the trial was to resume Feb. 19, Mahlatsi and his colleagues got a tip from a witness. One of their own, a 46-year-old white policeman named Hendrick Prinsloo, had allegedly helped the farmers beat the two victims when he arrived at the scene.

Prinsloo was arrested and now stands trial as well.
Iran Congratulates President Mugabe on AU Tenure
February 13, 2016
Abigail Mawonde
Herald Correspondent

IRAN has congratulated President Mugabe for successfully steering the African Union and Southern African Development Committee during his chairmanship of the two organisations.

President Mugabe handed over the AU chairmanship to Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno at the 26th Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month after steering the grouping to achieving financial autonomy by enhancing internal resource mobilisation.

Speaking on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran celebrated in Harare on Thursday, Iranian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mohammad Amin Nejad also hailed the relations between Harare and Tehran.

“Allow me at this juncture, to say a few words vis-a-vis the friendly Zimbabwe-Iran relations and to congratulate Zimbabwe on the successful chairmanship of the African Union and Southern African Development Community,” he said.

“During last year, the high-level contacts between the two countries and the successful holding of the 8th Session of the Zimbabwe-Iran Joint Permanent Commission in July showed the deep-rooted and dynamic nature of the relations between our countries and nations.”

Ambassador Nejad said Zimbabwe and Iran have set a new stage of relations which must be propelled to further heights to enable more mutual beneficial cooperation.

Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, who represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Zimbabwe cherished relations between the countries.

“We appreciate the close relations we have enjoyed with the Islamic Republic of Iran since our independence,” he said.

“We are committed to further strengthen these relations through exploring economic and other opportunities that will be of mutual benefit to our two countries.

“Through active exchange, we can further energize our already vibrant engagement as friends who share the membership of global bodies that champion the causes of peace, co-operation and development. I am happy to note in this regard the active schedule of reciprocal visits are pursuing.”
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Zanu-PF Must Not Suffer Mischief
February 12, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe addresses thousands of zanu-pf supporters ahead of zanu-pf’s first Politburo meeting for 2016 at the revolutionary party’s national headquarters in Harare on Wednesday

ON Wednesday, the ruling Zanu-PF party had a marathon 10-hour meeting of the Politburo where various issues were discussed, although the subject of factionalism continues to hog the limelight and dominate discussions.

It was feared that there would be a showdown of massive proportions at the indaba, and some people even went on to speculate that heads would roll.

But the meeting started and ended well with the party intact and with President Mugabe once again playing the conductor of the grand orchestra, as he guided his lieutenants on the path of unity. He, like everyone of goodwill, knows that for the country to succeed, unity is paramount and that the ruling party must stay focused.

It is the best hope of the electorate for the revolutionary party to do that, as per mandate the people gave Zanu-PF in 2013. In an environment of peace and unity, development will flow, and this is why the motto of the party is instructive.

Zanu-PF, as the ruling party and according to its tradition, informs Government, setting the agenda and trajectory for the country.

It is the revolutionary party that brought independence and game changers such as the land reform and indigenisation programmes.

The party rode on its 2013 winning manifesto which had the thematic pillars of Indigenisation, Empowerment, Development and Creating Empowerment; to give the nation Zim-Asset, which was fine-tuned and distilled into the 10-Point Plan for Economic Growth last August.

Zanu-PF has always been steadfast in putting the people first and making sure that their interests are protected and aspirations pursued.

It is rather unseemly and strange that in recent times, the revolutionary party has been characterised by everything that is antithetical to the espousals of its motto.

As we speak, factionalism has become a watchword for Zanu-PF, defeating organisational and unity of purpose, much worse raising fears that the party may as well experience a dangerous schism or gradual weakening.

Development — economic advancement of the country which the party should champion — has apparently taken a back seat.

In the run up to Wednesday’s crunch meeting, the dominating discourse had been around factionalism — as if factionalism has assumed a life of its own, and certain characters became pied pipers of a dangerous movement and narrative.

Officials from the party have been tearing each other in the newspapers and others have taken a particular notoriety for abusing social media to fight their party rivals.

The verbal exchanges have been anything from the un-comradely and unpalatable right down to the ridiculous. The world has been watching the soap opera and screaming matches between comrades. Rivals have been rubbing their hands in glee — and President Mugabe warned not to give that pleasure, that ray of hope to the moribund opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ordinary people have been asking, “Whither the ruling party?”

It has to be noted that while posing a real and present danger to the stability of the ruling party, factionalism and the continued infighting will have serious and deleterious effects on the economic fortunes of our country.

What messages are we sending to investors such as China and Russia that have so favoured us with cooperation in the mould of mega deals?

Aliko Dangote, the Nigerian billionaire, was here to invest. Many are waiting by the gate.

Now, how are these friends and potential investors going to take us seriously when we appear to be a country on the brink?

This makes a strong case for the proposition that Zanu-PF factionalism is a matter of national concern. In fact, it is. President Mugabe last year pointed out that factionalism had seeped to the ranks of the national security establishment, which is scary.

However, we insist it is within the power of the ruling party to halt factionalism and deal with the few mischief-makers that have stood out like sore thumbs.

Mischief makers should not be allowed to divert attention from the bread and butter issues so well captured by Zim-Asset.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mutsvangwa, Wife Booted Out of Zimbabwe War Veterans Association
February 13, 2016
Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

SOME members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) yesterday passed a vote of no confidence against their chairman Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa and three other executive members for allegedly disrespecting President Mugabe.

They said the suspended members were bringing the association’s name into disrepute.

Addressing a Press conference last night, war veterans led by ZNLWVA secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Mandi Chimene said they had resolved to boot out Cde Mutsvangwa and his wife Monica, secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda and member of the executive Cde Headman Moyo.

Cde Chimene said Cde Mutsvangwa should be removed as the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees.

She said war veterans wanted to make it clear that they were not part of the wayward and functionally sabotaged leadership of Cde Mutsvangwa.

They listed a plethora of issues that led them to part ways with their “wayward” leader.

The fallout came as result of recent utterances by Cde Mutsvangwa in the Press in which he used abusive language against other party and Government officials.

Cde Mutsvangwa is accused of disrespecting President Mugabe as First Secretary and President of zanu-pf and patron of ZNLWVA.

“Mutsvangwa failed to conduct the affairs of the association as directed by our patron his Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe, to mobilise, unite and restructure of war veterans association,” said Cde Chimene.

“Despite having been given guidance by the council of elders and JOC (Joint Operations Command) recommendations, the national chairman Cde Mutsvangwa chose to do his own way.”

Cde Mutsvangwa is also accused of denying the majority of the national executive committee rights to freely make contributions in the affairs of the association.

Further, Cde Mutsvangwa was alleged to be using divide-and-rule tactics in running the affairs of the association and unilaterally approving the dismissal of some members in the national executive without following proper procedures.

In some instances, Cde Mutsvangwa would allegedly come up with “spurious allegations” labelling some members as opposition MDC-T members.

Cde Chimene said Cde Mutsvangwa and his wife were taking the association as their personal property to pursue individual interests.

“We will not defend individual interests,” she said.

“We are not part of his agenda. We want to say to the President the person you gave us is not doing anything to help, but sowing seeds of discord in the association.”

Cde Chimene said war veterans’ children were failing to attend school, while the general upkeep of war veterans was deplorable despite revelations by Cde Mutsvangwa that $6 million had been availed for those purposes.

“Each time we meet he will be bragging about his stay in China (as the ambassador of Zimbabwe) and his chrome mining ventures instead of coming up with a policy of empowering the war veterans,” she said.

“We do not know who are being given those empowerment projects, maybe its just for the few whom we do not know.”

Cde Mutsvangwa said he had no comment on the issue.

Cde Matemadanda dismissed the vote-of-no-confidence as “nonsense, unconstitutional and useless”.

He said Cde Chimene, who chaired the meeting that passed the resolution, had since ceased to be a member of the war veterans association’s executive after she failed to attend three consecutive meetings since she became a Resident Minister for Manicaland last year.

Cde Matemadanda said there was no quorum at the meeting.

“Only the chairman, the vice chairman and the secretary general can call for such a meeting,” he said. “They were supposed to make one of these people call the meeting.

“Not to just come from Chiweshe, get into Harare and call for the vote of no confidence as if its a wife divorcing her husband. Izvi ndezve chibhawa bhawa. They may say that they have a splinter because we are still in charge and going ahead with our programmes.”

Cde Matemadanda said war veterans who presented their case to First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe at her rally in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, in the afternoon were not members of the executive.

He said some of them had been suspended by their provinces for different issues.

Cde Matemadanda said the ministry of war veterans had no budget and the $6 million alleged by Cde Chimene to have been abused had not been allocated to any ministry.

Cde Monica Mutsvangwa and Cde Moyo could not be reached for comment.
Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia Summit Meeting to Be Held in Sharm El-Sheikh 
Ahram Online
Friday 12 Feb 2016

The meeting will see discussion of the latest developments concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

A summit meeting between the presidents of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held on 20 February in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh during the African Investment Conference, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday.

According to foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zied, the decision to hold the summit meeting was reached after talks held between Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom at the security conference in Munich.

The two had discussed the latest meeting of the three countries' irrigation ministers in Khartoum on the developments of Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam, which Egypt fears could reduce its share of the Nile water.

They also discussed a number of African regional issues including the situation in South Sudan and the peace agreement between the opposition and the government.

The two foreign ministers met during Shoukry's visit to Germany and his participation in Munich.
How Tunisia’s Crooked Cops Are Undermining the Revolution
FEBRUARY 9, 2016 - 3:29 PM

Something went wrong when Mohammed and his fellow cops raided a terrorist hideout near Tunisia’s border with Algeria last September. It’s not that there was a dangerous firefight, or booby-traps, or that their targets escaped. In fact, there weren’t any terrorists at all — just a couple of smugglers and 129 large cartons of black market Marlboro cigarettes worth almost $100,000. The cops detained the smugglers, loaded up the cigarettes, and headed back to the station in a six-car convoy. But suddenly three of the cars, carrying 100 cartons and the detained smugglers, split off and drove away. Neither the cigarettes nor the smugglers ever made it back to headquarters. Mohammed says the remaining 29 cartons were switched out with much cheaper cigarettes before an official seizure report was filed.

It is well known that the Tunisian revolution began five years ago when a young street grocer set himself on fire to protest his abuse at the hands of local police in the poor town of Sidi Bouzid. Less well known is that the grocer was an entrepreneur who had been forced into the black market by impossible bureaucratic barriers, leaving him vulnerable to constant extortion by the police, who eventually seized his equipment and sole means of income. Exasperation at this form of widespread corruption — no less than demands for dignity, freedom and employment — played a key role in fueling the uprising.

But in the five years since the revolution, stories like Mohammed’s make it very clear that corruption in Tunisia has not been defeated. Last month countrywide protests erupted after a young man in Kasserine, another poor interior town, electrocuted himself after his name was removed from a list of potential public sector employees.

In the case of Mohammed, it’s not clear whether the “terrorism” scenario was a set-up, a miscommunication, or an intelligence failure. His district is also in Kasserine, which is very close to Mount Chaambi, a refuge for reported insurgents. But his account suggests a level of advance planning by police officers. Moreover, a 2013 Crisis Group report examining the links between jihadism and contraband on Tunisia’s Algerian border asserts that local police have become enmeshed in the smuggling trade.

“R-19. Renault 19. That was the make of the cars,” Mohammed tells me of the cars that split away, jabbing a finger at my notebook to make sure I get it all down. Mohammed (which isn’t his real name) wants to tell his story, but remains skeptical that the English-language press can change anything. “I’ll tell you my story, and what will the result be?” he asks me probingly, then implores my fixer to help get him onto a national TV channel. For now, he wants either to stay anonymous or to come out in a big way.

It was his district commander who sent him on the raid in September. But after Mohammed filed a report detailing what he saw, the same commander refused to sign it. When he went to his commander’s superior — a regional official — he was told to mind his own business. He’s heard of plenty of other cases when his fellow police officers have had murky links with smuggling operations.

“There’s a group that works together with smugglers,” Mohammed alleges, saying that some officers have made fortunes in the process. “These cops have nice cars, they have chateaus.”“These cops have nice cars, they have chateaus.”

Mohammed insists that corruption in the police force is widespread — in fact, he says, the problem has gotten worse since the revolution. Some officers, he claims, tamper with drug test results for a fee of 5000 dinars, or almost $2500. Such a high price can only be meant for dealers and traffickers, not ordinary drug users — and may be a way for cops to keep leverage over the bigger crooks. He has even seen well-known smugglers coming in and out of the district police center where he works. But the case of the cigarettes just happened to be the first time he saw a corrupt scheme with his own eyes.

So Mohammed went to the media and spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. His story made national news, and by mid-October, the Ministry of Interior had opened an investigation and temporarily suspended four officers. Investigators from the capital came for a week, he said. That was when he started to feel serious pressure from some of his superiors.

“They offered me 20,000 dinars [almost $10,000] to say ‘no, there was nothing with the cigarettes,’” Mohammed says. When he refused, they told him they would give the money to someone in the Ministry in Tunis instead, to make sure the inquiry found nothing. “Why didn’t you take the money?” I ask. It was brave to speak up in the first place, but now he had an opportunity to cash out while saving himself.

“If I took the money, I would end up in prison. These guys have links everywhere,” Mohammed says.“If I took the money, I would end up in prison. These guys have links everywhere,” Mohammed says. He insists that if he had taken it, the accusations of impropriety would have turned against him. But more than that, he feels a moral pull. “My colleagues all tell me that they don’t say anything when they see things like this because they’re scared. I’m not scared because I’m following the truth. I do what’s right. I’m on the straight and narrow.”

Mohammed started getting death threats in late September. When he refused the money, he says his commanding officer and two other cops beat him up to dissuade him from talking to investigators.

“Did you sustain any injuries?” I ask. By way of answering, Mohammed draws a line with his finger across his right hand. Then he points to his neck, and then to the back of his left thigh. He claims he has medical certificates from a doctor ordering 12 days of bed rest, but he could not immediately produce copies. A researcher for Human Rights Watch who interviewed Mohammed in October confirmed his injuries but could not confirm their severity.

Mohammed was grateful when press reports in October generated enough pressure to get his tormenters suspended. But last month, he says, their suspension was quietly reversed. His reinstated commanding officer tried to have Mohammed transferred, but Mohammed refused; he wants to face the situation and try to change things, despite the threats and abuse.

On February 2, the ministry inquiry was closed without any conclusion, Mohammed says. A newly appointed spokesperson for the Interior Ministry promised to look into the inquiry to confirm basic details, but was unable to do so before publication.

Under popular pressure, the ministry has opened up numerous other investigations since the uprising, with topics ranging from corruption to police brutality to political assassinations. But virtually all of these inquiries remain inconclusive. Tunisia may have a new democratic electoral system and hard-won freedoms, but the vital work of tackling corruption and reforming state institutions hasn’t even begun. In fact, corruption may be getting worse.
Tunisia to Get $560 Mln Loan From European Union
An unemployed Tunisian arriving in the city of Gafsa walks near a tent during a protest at el-Mourouj park to demand the government provide job opportunities, in Tunis, Tunisia, February 11, 2016. (Reuters)

Reuters, Tunis
Friday, 12 February 2016

Tunisia is to get a loan of half a billion euros ($560 million) from the European Union to boost the economy, just weeks after an unemployed man committed suicide when he was refused work, sparking riots by thousands of young men across the country.

Tunisia was the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, triggered by a street vendor setting himself on fire after his vegetable cart was confiscated, and has been hailed as a success story for its transition to democracy.

But economic development and reforms have failed to keep pace with the political changes since the fall of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

“The assistance proposed today is part of broader efforts by the EU to help Tunisia overcome the serious economic difficulties that beset it from the beginning of its political and economic transition process,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Three attacks last year by Islamist militants: against a museum in Tunis, tourists in a Sousse beach resort and a suicide bombing in the capital, have hit the tourist industry especially hard. Tunisia relies heavily on tourists for jobs and revenue.

The EU said the assistance came at the request of Tunisia and will take the form of medium-term loans on favorable financial terms.

France, Tunisia’s former colonial ruler, last month pledged 1 billion euros over five years to help Tunisia, whose young democracy brought a new constitution, a political compromise between secular and Islamist parties and free elections.

Tunisia managed to avoid the violent after-shocks seen in other Arab Spring countries that toppled long-standing leaders in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.
Tunisia Prepares for Possible Strike in Libya

Tunisia said Friday that it was asking its regional authorities to work on a plan to cope with the fallout of a possible foreign military intervention in neighboring war-torn Libya. In 2011, hundreds of thousands of people fled from Libya to Tunisia to escape fighting that led to the imperialist-led overthrow of Pan-Africanist Moammar Gadhafi.

Tunisia shares a southeastern border with Libya, where Western powers are openly considering an intervention against Daesh (ISIS).

“In preparation for the situation developing and its consequences, Prime Minister Habib Essid has authorized governors in the southeast regions to form regional committees,” a government statement said. These will include “the different parties concerned in order to draw up a plan for each governorate to successfully face ... exceptional events that could occur.”

The Health Ministry said Thursday it had met to discuss “an emergency plan for the health sector ... in preparation for the influx on Tunisian soil of refugees and migrants fleeing military airstrikes that could occur in Libya.”

Last week, President Beji Caid Essebsi issued a warning to countries considering an intervention in Libya. “Before any such act, please consult us, because it could serve you, but adversely affect us.”
Tunisia Braces for Impact of Possible Libya Action
Tunisian soldiers listen to the national anthem along the frontier with Libya in Sabkeht Alyun,Tunisia Feb. 6, 2016. (Reuters)

AFP, Tunis
Friday, 12 February 2016

Tunisia said Friday that it was asking its regional authorities to work on a plan to cope with the fallout of a possible foreign military intervention in neighboring war-torn Libya.

In 2011, hundreds of thousands of people fled from Libya to Tunisia -- a country of around 11 million -- to escape fighting that led to the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Tunisia shares a southeastern border with Libya, where Western powers are openly considering an intervention against the Islamic State jihadist group which has gained influence there in the chaos following Qaddafi's ouster.

"In preparation for the situation developing and its consequences, Prime Minister Habib Essid has authorized governors in the southeast regions to form regional committees," a government statement said.

These will include "the different parties concerned in order to draw up a plan for each governorate to successfully face... exceptional events that could occur," it said, without giving further details.

On Thursday, the health ministry said it had met to discuss "an emergency plan for the health sector... in preparation for the influx on Tunisian soil of refugees and migrants fleeing military air strikes that could occur in Libya."

Last week, President Beji Caid Essebsi issued a warning to countries considering an intervention in Libya.

"Don't just think of your own interests," he said. "Think of the interests of neighboring countries, starting with Tunisia."

"Before any such act, please consult us, because it could serve you, but adversely affect us."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Black Workers Were Decimated by Racism
By Stephen Millies
Workers World
February 11, 2016

Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t the only criminal who should be punished for lead poisoning Flint’s children. General Motors impoverished the Black majority city of Flint, Mich., by closing nine of the 10 plants it had there. GM owes billions in reparations.

Flint was the center of what was once the world’s largest manufacturing corporation. So why did GM slaughter Flint?

GM and other industrial giants wanted to end their dependence on Black labor. Forty-five years ago a quarter of the workers in U.S. steel mills and auto plants were African American. (“Organized Labor and the Black Worker,” by Philip Foner)

Malcolm X had worked at Detroit’s Lincoln-Mercury plant. So had Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records.

Deindustrialization wasn’t just the result of automation and superexploiting workers in other countries. It was also a political decision targeting Black workers.

Wall Street never forgot how African Americans shook auto plants in the 1960s and 1970s. The League of Revolutionary Black Workers led wildcats in Detroit. There was a Black Panther Party caucus in GM’s Fremont, Calif., plant.

“Like a tremendous explosive charge, the irresistible drive for Black freedom, a drive which necessarily includes all oppressed nationalities, is being brought into the plants,” was how Vince Copeland described this period in “Southern Populism and Black Labor.” Copeland was the founding editor of Workers World newspaper.

On July 24, 1973, two Black workers — Larry Carter and Isaac Shorter — turned off the power at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant in Detroit. This was the first big sit-down strike in 36 years.

Capitalism’s answer was to build most of the new auto plants away from large Black communities. This became standard practice starting in 1968, when GM opened its Lordstown, Ohio, plant.

The capitalist class economically destroyed Detroit, just as it let Black people drown and starve in New Orleans.

Chrysler got rid of 35,000 workers in Motown. From 1979 to 1982, Chrysler’s entire workforce went from 70 percent African-American to 30 percent.

Jails, not jobs

The wholesale destruction of heavy industry in the Midwest caused the median income of African Americans to drop by 36 percent between 1978 and 1982. (Census Bureau, Historical Tables) A reverse migration began back to the South.

The firing of hundreds of thousands of Black workers in auto, steel and other unionized occupations was accompanied by their wholesale incarceration.

Capitalism closed the factories and poured in drugs and guns. The 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. are workers, too.

The racist character of new capitalist investment can be seen in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee County has large Black and Latino/a communities. Some 55,000 manufacturing jobs were destroyed there between 1977 and 1992, before the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented. But the rest of the state, which with few exceptions is overwhelmingly white, gained 66,000 of these factory jobs. (Census of Manufactures)

Milwaukee’s Black community has never recovered from the closing of the A.O. Smith auto frame plant, American Motors and many other factories. One out of 25 African Americans in the Badger State is now in prison.

When Black workers matter, all workers matter

The attacks on Black workers were a defeat for the entire multinational working class. The United Auto Worker contracts that Black workers helped win through strikes became a standard for workers coast-to-coast.

Even workers in nonunion offices and other workplaces were to receive dental insurance and other benefits that came to be expected as part of the wage package.

The biggest reason for declining union membership was thousands of closed factories, many of which had large numbers of African-American workers.

The number of strikes involving more than a thousand workers fell from 424 in 1974 to a mere five in 2009. That’s a drop of 99 percent. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Militant labor organizer Al Stergar told this writer that 16 Black workers were the key to winning an organizing strike in his small Milwaukee sweatshop. Stergar was a Workers World Party leader who died in 1996.

Bosses knew that African Americans were the bedrock of union organizing campaigns. Clarence E. Elsas — owner of Atlanta’s now closed Fulton Industries bag and textile mills — admitted in 1962 that he didn’t hire Black workers in order to keep unions out. (“Hiring the Black Worker,” by Timothy Minchin) So even in the deep South of 54 years ago, bosses feared African Americans leading whites to a union.

The 1973 Detroit sit-down strike at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant sparked a revolt of Black and white, largely Polish-American, workers against unsafe working conditions at Chrysler’s Lynch Road Forge plant. (“Detroit: I Do Mind Dying,” by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin)

Bosses put new factories and warehouses in locations like rural Wisconsin or just a mile beyond the last bus stop to avoid hiring Black workers. These tactics go hand-in-hand with staging ICE deportation raids against immigrant workers during union campaigns.

For decades, the largest private employer of African Americans was the Pullman Co., with its sleeping car porters. Later, U.S. Steel and then General Motors opened up their hiring and moved to first place, with Ford and Chrysler close behind. That was a quantum leap forward.

It’s a big step backward that the biggest employer of African Americans today is Walmart, with its poverty wages. Yet these “big box” stores represent a new concentration of workers that will inevitably force a union contract out of the Walton family and its $149 billion fortune.