Pan Africa Newswire
Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament. She says that Crimea has a right to self-determination., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Russian Parliament speaker urges to give Crimean people right to self-determination
Crimea’s authorities understand their responsibility to hold the referendum in accordance with international requirements, making it transparent and legitimate
Peskov: Part of Ukrainian population denied in its right to self-determination
MOSCOW, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/.
Russia’s parliamentary upper house Speaker Valentina Matviyenko has called on the international community to stop applying double standards to the right of people to self-determination and to give an exclusively legal evaluation of the situation in Ukraine.
“Deciding to hold referendum is a sovereign right of Crimea’s legitimately elected parliament,” she said, adding that “the right of people to self-determination has not been abolished so far”.
She told journalists that “Crimea’s authorities understand their responsibility to hold the referendum in accordance with international requirements, making it transparent and legitimate”.
Matviyenko noted that “if someone does not like the Crimean parliament’s decision, this is only a matter of taste, while what we need is a strictly legal evaluation”.
“I wonder why no one said that a referendum on Scotland’s independence, scheduled for September this year, is a priori illegal. We have not heard such opinions,” she said.
“Then why should the people of Crimea be deprived of their legal right to self-determination?”
“Double standards have become so obvious that it is time to stop using them and to start speaking the language of law,” she said.
Matviyenko especially stressed that “when Russia stated that the current authorities [of Ukraine] are illegitimate”, it was guided “purely by Ukraine’s constitution and Ukraine’s legislation”.
“If we read the same Constitution and the same laws, there can be no double interpretation,” she said, noting once again that “there was an anti-government takeover of power” in Ukraine.
“We have detailed legal opinions, and not only from Russian lawyers,” she added. “And we will circulate them to the international legal community to let them say what they would disprove.”
A referendum on the Crimean Autonomous Republic’s accession to Russia as one of the constituent regions is due to take place on March 16.
Crimean residents will be asked two questions: Do you support Crimea’s reunification with Russia as its constituent member and do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea of 1992 and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that his country will not allow a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention in Syria. The Syrian government is being targeted for imperialist regime change., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sanctions against Russia will have 'boomerang' effect, Lavrov tells Kerry
March 08, 2014 04:13
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his US counterpart on Friday that any sanctions introduced by the US against Russia will have a “boomerang” effect and urged Washington to steer away from actions that could hurt relations between the countries.
Lavrov told Washington to refrain from “hasty and reckless” decisions over Ukraine that would deteriorate US-Russia relations, RIA Novosti reported. His comments were made during a telephone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The foreign minister warned that any sanctions against Russia “would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.”
On Thursday, the US imposed visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean officials and private citizens who they accused of “threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity,” the White House said.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”
According to the White House, the order is a “flexible tool” that will allow the US to sanction those whom it believes are “most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea.”
The document does not preclude further steps in case the situation deteriorates, it added.
The announcement comes as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea prepares to hold a March 16 referendum on whether it wants to remain part of Ukraine or join Russia.
During a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama earlier on Friday, the two identified differences in approach and analyzed the root causes of the current crisis in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s press office said.
Putin stated that Russia and the US should not sacrifice their relationship for separate - albeit important - international problems. Putin added that Russia cannot ignore calls for help and is adequately responding within the framework of international law.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a state television program late Friday that Russia does not want to return to Cold War type relations with the US.
“There still remains hope...that some points of agreement [over the Ukrainian crisis] could be found as a result of dialogue - which our partners, thank God, have not yet rejected,” Peskov said.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to heap further pressure on Moscow, NATO announced on Wednesday a full review of its cooperation with Russia and said it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to the Syrian chemical weapons. Moscow slammed the move as an application of “Cold War” stereotypes and double standards.
Crimean authorities have denounced the coup-imposed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.
Ugandan People's Defense Forces contingent. The Ugandan government says it will incur the cost of its intervention in South Sudan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
Preferential treatment of UPDF sparked Juba violence: rebels
March 6, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s rebels led by Riek Machar said the government had not told the true story about the cause of the recent outbreak of violence among the army in the national capital, Juba, saying the dissent was caused by preferential treatment of the Ugandan Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) over the national army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
"New information has emerged indicating that the fighting was not only caused by a mere pay dispute as reported in the media. In fact, some units from the Presidential Guards and Commandos mutinied in direct protest against UPDF’s involvement and favours they receive at their expense," claimed the rebel’s military spokesperson, Brig Lul Ruai Koang.
Clashes occurred in Juba on Wednesday morning at a military barrack and resumed during the night between units of the Commando, leaving dozens dead and scores wounded.
Government officials said the violence was a result of salary payment dispute between members of the force.
An observer, told Sudan Tribune that the denial by the committee to pay those who were in the United Nations camp caused the shootings, adding the incident would have been avoided had the committee amicably addressed the issue.
"Also the rigorous system, specifically the requirement of individual beneficiaries to receive by themselves instead of third party angered some commanding officers because it appears they were benefiting from the previous system, which allows a commanding officer to receive for people he submitted their list to finance, some of which could be a makeup list of thousand soldiers," noted the observer.
But a verification exercise recently carried out to determine the actual numbers of soldiers on the payroll reportedly revealed some abnormalities within the system.
"It was found out more than half of the existing army were ghosts," he said.
Faced with fresh allegations that it was giving preferential treatment to Ugandan forces, the government resolved that the SPLA be given a three-month bonus pay at once.
"That means double payment in the salary of individual soldiers and officers. Say, for example, if a soldier was getting 1000 South Sudanese pound, this money is doubled to 3000 because it is three months bonus and paid at once." stressed the observer.
However, the rebel spokesperson, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, said the revelations indicated that there was a built up dissent among the forces in disapproval of how the government was preferentially treating the foreign army from Uganda and private militias at the expense of the regular army.
"SPLA soldiers complained of being neglected and spent three months without being paid salaries as well as do not get food rations whereas their counterparts from UPDF get paid huge salaries, daily allowances, food rations and compensations in an event of death or injury," Koang further explained.
He also accused forces loyal to president Salva Kiir of allegedly turning their anger against Nuer officers, saying some Nuer generals loyal to the government were attacked at their residential area in Tongping while a number of innocent Nuer civilians lost their lives in an alleged targeted killings during Wednesday’s violence.
Senior officials of the government’s security sector, including the country’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, have revealed that Juba was paying Kampala for the involvement of Uganda’s army (UPDF) in the over 10-week conflict.
Map of South Sudan where fighting has taken place between SPLA forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those aligned with Riek Machar., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
S. Sudanese security seize UN weapons in Lakes state
March 6, 2014 (RUMBEK) - Security officials in South Sudan’s Lakes state claimed they intercepted 11 United Nations trucks ferrying an assortment of firearms and military uniforms destined for neighbouring Unity state.
Authorities, claiming the items were being transported allegedly to aid rebels fighting in Unity state, have now instituted an investigation into the matter.
"There were all type of weapons, ammunition and blankets. Those items were on route to Unity state and rebel the controlled areas," a senior military official told Sudan Tribune, without further details.
UN ORDERS PROBE
The world body, in a statement, said the seized cargo were meant for its Ghanaian peacekeepers recently deployed as additional forces in the country following the mid-December outbreak of violence.
"In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labelled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition This is regrettable," partly reads its statement issued Thursday.
"It is the policy of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that during the crisis in South Sudan all arms and ammunition for peacekeeping contingents are flown into respective areas of deployment and not taken by road. This is an important security measure."
The UN, however said, its headquarter intends to dispatch a high level investigation team to look into this matter on an urgent basis, in cooperation with South Sudan government.
FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
Warrap officials split over minister’s resignation
February 6, 2014 (JUBA) - Officials in South Sudan’s Warrap state are reportedly divided following last month’s resignation of its information minister over alleged links to the country’s rebels.
Critics and some officials have accused Governor Nyandeng Malek Dieliech of allegedly influencing activities that led to Nyanaguek Kuol Mareng’s exit.
“What happened was just a revelation of a tip of an iceberg. I mean the resignation of information minister is the result of the exposure of the big scheme. You know that the event in Juba took place the same day governor Nyandeng travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, without permission from the president. And nobody knows what she went for," a senior member of the ruling party (SPLM) in Warrap told Sudan Tribune.
"Before that, she met the former vice president Riek Machar after he and his group conducted their press conference in Juba on December 6th. She also met other people, including Chol Tong Mayay, former governor of Lakes state. Nobody knows the details of what they actually discussed in these meetings, but there are evidences she met these people," he added on Thursday.
The official, a close and longtime associate of President Salva Kiir, warned that things would never be the same, unless the latter “shakes off the dust on his shoulder”.
“Precisely, this is what I am saying. The president is being buried by the same people who come around claiming to be serving our people and the country under his leadership, while they are doing things contrary to their claims.There is no way someone under your leadership would go out to say things you do not approve and expected to be treated differently, especially if you remained quiet," he stressed.
"Who knows, the information minister might have been speaking for her boss, otherwise there would have nothing which prevented her from dismissing her before," he added.
However, several officials closely associated with Nyandeng have denied claims linking the governor to opposition forces loyal for ex-vice president Riek Machar, while others blamed her opponent for allegedly working to bring her down.
“There is nothing as such. These accusations are just rubbish. There are people working days and nights to see into that Governor Nyandeng is unconstitutionally removed but this will not work. They need to know this governor was democratically elected by the people of Warrap," a cabinet minister told Sudan Tribune by phone from the state capital, Kwajok.
These are the very people who would evaluate her performance, not individual politicians, added the minister.
A legislator close to the state administration also dismissed allegations that the governor had played a role supportive to the activities of the former information, who on several occassion spoke on the state radio denying government’s version the the mid-December outbreak of violence was an attempted coup by Machar and group.
“It is wrong to accuse the person for the sake of it. The governor is part of the government the rebel wanted to topple through violence so that they install their own. Would it make sense if the government in which you served is toppled and expect different treatment? I have never heard before," the legislator told Sudan Tribune.
What is happening in Warrap is just political rivalry and it is better you in the media approach it with objectivity so that you are not seen as taking side," he added.
FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
S. Sudanese army denies allegations of killing foreigners habouring Nuers
March 06, 2014 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese army (SPLA) has described allegations its forces killed foreign nationals harbouring members of the Nuer tribe, the country’s second largest ethnic group, as “unfounded”.
The allegations emerged in the wake of Wednesday’s outbreak of violence at Geida, a military barracks south-west of the capital, Juba, following a dispute among soldiers over salary payments.
“What happened yesterday (Wednesday) as I have said before was limited to shooting between limited individual soldiers in a limited place. It did not go beyond the military barracks. So it is not correct that some soldiers went out to hunt from members of [the] Nuer [group] and killed foreign nationals,” said Malaak Ayuen, the army’s head of information and public relations, told reporters on Thursday, adding the claims were unacceptable propaganda”.
Ayuen said the army regretted the sporadic shooting which later followed overnight on Wednesday, saying some of the gunshots heard were in fact the denotation of unexploded ordinances, while he described another similar incident in Thongpiny as an alleged misunderstanding between security forces.
However, in a series of interviews with Sudan Tribune on Thursday, residents said that more than 12 civilians, including a six-year-old boy, were shot dead in both accidental and targeted killings during the skirmishes that occurred around the military facility.
The clashes were reportedly triggered when the army’s payment committee restricted payments to its actively serving members present on duty, excluding those who fled to UN camps for safety reasons in mid-December last year after political tensions erupted in violence.
It’s alleged the soldiers, branded deserters by the army, turned violent after becoming angry over salary their arrears.
Three civilians were shot dead by soldiers at Nyakuron, a residential neighbourhood close to the barracks, which witnessed the genesis of the mid-December outbreak of conflict.
“Two government soldiers in full military attires with guns came to the compound and demanded they be shown where Nuer lives. It [was] like they knew that some Nuer were living in this compound, but we all kept quiet. We did not talk, but they kept asking, ‘Where is the Nuer [that] lives here?’ They kept asking, then one Ethiopian national, a man, also living in the same compound, replied that the Nuer residents had gone away two days ago. They accused him of lying and immediately shot him dead and then went into the house where two Nuer members were reportedly hiding and shot them dead,” an eyewitness told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Another resident claimed two Ugandans living in Jabarona and five Somalis residing in the Gudule area died in Wednesday night’s shoot-out, while a South Sudanese national was also reportedly ahit by stray bullets in Jabarona market area.
The army has put the official death toll at 25, although the actual number of people killed remains unclear. Civilian and military ambulances were seen moving around the town with their sirens blaring. Government soldiers continued to patrol streets on Thursday, with several roadblocks set up in key strategic areas and installations.
Former Vice-President Riek Machar in South Sudan during mediation. East African leaders are seeking an end to the fighting., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
Rebels downplay Salva Kiir’s formation of SPLM committee
March 6, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-In-Opposition) has questioned the legality of a joint committee formed by president Salva Kiir and comprising members of the ruling party’s politburo, including those that rebelled against the leader.
The preparatory committee is tasked with making the necessary arrangements for an upcoming meeting expected to bring together rival groups within the leadership of the SPLM.
The committee is a mixture of government loyalists, rebels, former detainees and third bloc officials. Daniel Awet Akot, Paul Mayom, Akol Paul, Jemma Nunu, Deng Alor, John Luk Jok, Kosti Manibe and Taban Deng Gai will serve on the eight-member committee.
The team will be primarily responsible for preparing the agenda for the next meeting of the SPLM political committee, which was proposed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by mediators from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
It is not clear what issues the committee will discuss, but multiple sources and officials with direct knowledge of the arrangement have told Sudan Tribune that the focus of the meeting would be on internal reconciliation among the party’s leaders.
However, the spokesperson for the former vice-president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, questioned Kiir’s authority to form a joint committee including senior rebel leaders.
“First of all, the proposal for internal reconciliation between the two SPLMs, as a new mechanism to try and resolve the ongoing violent conflict, was not initiated by Salva Kiir. Further, he is not the leader of some of those groups he has appointed to his committee, and therefore the formation of such a joint committee is unnecessary and procedurally illegal,” spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said in statements to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
He said the forum proposal was initiated by members of the IGAD mediating team, which he said the two parties had to simply study, and if acceptable, they would develop their respective positions or listen to the mediators if they have a draft.
“Kiir knows very well that, for instance, comrade Taban Deng Gai is our chief negotiator, whom he has no authority over. He also dismissed him (Gai) from memberships of both the Political Bureau and SPLM party, as well as charged him of alleged treason,” said Dak, adding that the opposition’s leadership had been surprised when they heard about the committee in the media.
He said the president, who also chairs the party, was the very person who resisted numerous calls to hold a political bureau meeting in 2013, which he claims would have resolved the political differences that have “consequently culminated in the ongoing violence”.
According to Dak, the first task of Kiir’s committee should be to reverse presidential decrees dismissing individual party officials.
He added that should there be a need for specialised committees to tackle the reconciliation process, then each side should be responsible for appointing its respective members.
Kenyan President Kenyatta (C) receives seven of the 11 political leaders on 29 January 2014. Also retired Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo (second right) and director-general of Kenyan National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.FRIDAY 7 MARCH 2014
Shots fired near UN compound in Juba following military clashes
March 6, 2014 (JUBA) – The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed concern on Thursday after shots were fired near its compound in Juba, injuring at least one person, with the incident linked to military clashes which erupted in the capital on Wednesday.
A UN spokesperson told journalists in New York that the gunfire was in the vicinity of the UN House, with fighting also occurring close to the site on Wednesday evening.
“Firing also occurred close to the UN House yesterday (Wednesday) evening. However, the situation within the compound is calm,” the spokesperson told media, citing the latest information from UNMISS.
The spokesperson said the situation in the capital remains “tense”, calling on all parties to “respect the work and inviolability of UN premises”.
Clashes broke out between military units at the Geida military barracks in southern Juba on Wednesday after a reported salary dispute turned violent.
The sound of heavy gunfire erupted about 9am (local time) on Wednesday, sparking widespread panic across the city.
The barracks, which is the headquarters of the Commando unit and hosts the presidential brigade known as Tiger, was the same site where fighting erupted on 15 December between soldiers aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar and those loyal to president Salva Kiir before spreading to other regions across the country.
DEATH TOLL PUT AT 25
Meanwhile, the South Sudan army (SPLA) on Thursday revised the official death toll from the clashes to 25, with the figure initially put at five.
Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen, the SPLA director of information and communication, told Sudan Tribune by phone on that Thursday that an assessment on the ground had revealed more dead bodies buried under rubble near the Geida military barracks in southern Juba.
“It is difficult to give exact figure [of dead] because the fighting happened in offices but now there are 25 killed,” he said without providing further details.
Ayuen has blamed Wednesday’s shootings on undisciplined soldiers trying to stir panic in the city.
“The soldiers were pre-empting a situation,” he said, adding that no soldiers had been arrested in connection to the incident.
His comments apparently contradict earlier statements, in which he said four officers accused of instigating the clashes had been arrested.
Ayuen said the death toll could climb further, with the large amount of rubble from collapsed buildings as a result of shelling in the area making assessments on the ground difficult.
“We don’t know how many [dead bodies] are there under the stones,” he added.
A soldier at the scene in Juba told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that he had counted 27 bodies at the scene, while other sources claimed the death toll could be at least 30.
Cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomoru has confirmed that salaries were in the process of being paid to soldiers when heavy gunfire heavy erupted inside the barracks.
It is alleged that some soldiers attempted to collect the salaries on behalf of some of their colleagues who were not on the payroll, but this was refused as government employees are now required to collect payments in person. The measures have been implemented to ensure wages are not paid to so-called “ghost” workers or those who do not show up during the payment period.
A thick column of smoke was seen billowing from the facility, where a military store was reportedly hit by a rocket propelled grenade.
Residents in the Tongping, Munuki and Geida areas reported hearing sporadic gunfire overnight on Wednesday, with the security situation on Thursday remaining relatively stable.
Wednesday’s clashes are the most serious incident since the mid-December violence, which saw thousands flee their homes. The UN is currently providing protection to some 43,000 civilians in its sites in the capital.
SPLM delegation with Ugandan forces in Bor County, Jonglei state. They were there to investigate an alleged massacre of civilians., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 6 MARCH 2014
70 civilians take refuge at UN base in Juba after Wednesday clashes
March 5, 2014 (JUBA) - About 70 civilians sought refuge at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in the capital, Juba, following military clashes which erupted on Wednesday over a salary dispute.
Heavy gunfire broke at about 9am (local time) at the South Sudanese army’s Geida barracks, not far from the UN House in Juba. Sporadic shooting was also reported around the university, the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse, and near the UNMISS compound in Tomping.
In a statement issued in New York, a spokesperson for the UN secretary-general , Martin Nesirky, said UNMISS is concerned by a number of shooting incidents in Juba.
“The mission also reports that some 70 additional civilians have sought safety in the UN House site,” Nesirky said.
The situation in the capital remained calm on Thursday morning, with troops deployed deployed around the city and several roadblocks set up.
Some 43,000 civilians sought shelter at the two UN bases in Juba after violence erupted in mid-December last year.
Nesirky also made mention of the situation in Upper Nile state’s Nassir, where he said youth continue to fire sporadically in the area, with a stray bullet hitting a UNMISS office on Wednesday. He called on those responsible to respect “the work and sanctity of UN premises”.
Central African Republic interim President Catherine Samba-Panza. Can her administration resolve the political crisis inside the mineral-rich country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Can Catherine Samba-Panza save the Central African Republic?
Dubbed 'mother courage', CAR's interim leader has pledged to bring reconciliation and respect to one of Africa's failed states
David Smith in Bangui
The Guardian, Sunday 2 March 2014 08.56
The tally of female heads of state in Africa now stands at three, and each took office only to find herself putting out fires. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had to begin rebuilding Liberia after a shattering civil war, going on to win the Nobel peace prize, while Joyce Banda inherited a Malawi mired in political and economic turmoil.
But no chalice carries more poison than that handed to Catherine Samba-Panza in January when she became interim leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), one of the continent's most failed and forgotten states. She must try to tame a hurricane of revenge killings between Christians and Muslims that has seen thousands flee the country and led the UN and others to warn of a potential genocide. And she only has a year to do it.
Walking regally into her somewhat kitsch office, with four photos of herself displayed behind her desk, Samba-Panza appeared nothing if not self-assured. The 58-year-old addressed the nation through the state broadcaster while projecting glamour bordering on bling with red nail varnish and gold and white necklaces, bracelets, earrings and gleaming adornments on a black dress. Then she chastised a French TV crew for having headlined on a gruesome lynching at a recent military ceremony instead of the speech she gave at the same event.
When asked by the Guardian about the politicians who inspire her, the French-speaking Samba-Panza made clear she was aiming high. "I take the president of Liberia, for whom I have great admiration, as a reference point," she said. "She's a woman who came to power in almost the same situation as me. She became the head of the country at a moment of great difficulty in a post-conflict period with many security problems.
"I can make an analogy between the situation in which Mrs Johnson Sirleaf arrived and my situation in the CAR. It's a very difficult situation, it's true, but I think finding a solution is not impossible. It is within our grasp and, with the will and the involvement of all the people and with the help of the international community, we can arrive at a solution."
Samba-Panza is a former insurance broker who led reconciliation efforts after a previous internal conflict and became a widely respected mayor of the capital, Bangui. She has also been active in civil society organisations, promoting women's rights in a country where men dominate government and business and most girls experience early or forced marriage.
"I've had the advantage of not having particularly suffered discrimination personally because I was always a fighter," she reflected. "I've always affirmed the rights that I know. It's important to know your rights and to want to be able to defend them so your rights are respected.
"The majority of my sisters and daughters in the Central African Republic don't know their rights so they can't defend them. But we who know our rights can help them. We must always help them: the battle is always to promote and protect the rights of women. When they are victims of violence, notably sexual violence, in the area of my activities in civil society, it was a battle I always led."
Samba-Panza's brand of feminism does not require that gender no longer be seen as relevant; instead, inevitably dubbed "mother courage", she draws attention to her uniqueness as the country's first female president at every opportunity. "I think the presence of a woman at the head of the state in today's context is fundamental.
"As you know, the politicians are fighting among themselves and it's not certain that the interests of the population are considered in this political struggle. The people express their anger at this political struggle and they wish for another kind of leadership, and this leadership could be represented by a woman."
She added: "In our community, even if we have difficulties, we do have some fundamental values that exist and among them are a respect for women. I think we've arrived at a moment when I can teach this reconciliation and respect as a woman, as a mayor and as a leader. Coming from civil society, I don't have a particular political bias. It's an advantage and I hope that I will use it for the population's interests."
But the presidential office, with its ostentatious gilded velvet chairs and sofas, one of which has a golden dog sculpted from an arm rest, recalls one of the most egregious men to rule the CAR: Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who crowned himself emperor in a Napoleonic coronation that wiped out a third of the nation's budget. History is a nightmare from which the CAR is still trying to awake.
The latest chapter, triggered by a coup last March, has set Christians and Muslims at each other's throats, with Christians now holding the upper hand through weight of numbers. Muslims have disappeared altogether from some villages, mosques have been demolished and Amnesty International has warned of "ethnic cleansing".
Samba-Panza admitted: "The fact that the Muslim community is leaving the country en masse is a real preoccupation for me and my government. They are deeply rooted in our country and most of them don't even know their [ancestors'] country of origin. They are Central African. We don't have to break the relationship that existed for many years among us and our Muslim brothers.
"Ethnic-cleansing is a bad phrase, it's not appropriate. We don't have an ethnic problem. We have problems with a community conflict with religious aspects. We are not killing an ethnic group."
But Samba-Panza herself is already under attack from political rivals. Drawing attention to the fact that she was born in neighbouring Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother, the front page of one newspaper mocked last week: "Samba-Panza: the president who thinks in Chadian, speaks in Cameroonian and acts in Central African." Others claim that she is a puppet of France, the former colonial power where she attended university and which eased her into office.
Johnson Sirleaf has attracted growing criticism in Liberia over nepotism and a failure to tackle poverty, while Banda's re-election campaign in Malawi this year could be derailed by a corruption scandal. No one imagines that Samba-Panza can turn the CAR around without major international support, given the moribund state of the national army and never-existent state institutions. Elections are due next year and, as interim leader, she is not allowed to run.
"I must remind you that I've only been in power for a month and you can't expect that I will solve all the problems of the state that have been around for many years in one month," she said. "I think we have to go slowly but surely. There are some urgent situations that we must respond to urgently but we must also look into the future and look at what over the next 12 months we can give to the CAR.
"We have to act and revive the machinery of government. As you know, I don't have the right to stay here forever. I only have 12 months for this transition towards the elections so that politicians can come back to live in a situation of democracy – clearly and transparently."
Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing the Central African Republic due to retaliatory attacks against their communities by the Anti-Balaka Christian militias. Chad is accused of siding with Muslims., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Muslims in Central African Republic under attack
UN debates deployment
UN chief Ban Ki Moon wants 12,000 peacekeepers for conflict-riven CAR. Muslims say they may be killed or driven out by the time the blue helmets arrive.
By Katarina Hoije, Correspondent
March 7, 2014
Christian Science Monitor
BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
With continued fighting in the Central African Republic between ousted Seleka rebel forces and what is called the “anti-balaka” militia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is ready to send 12,000 peacekeepers to the conflict-riven nation.
Yet UN officials said this week it would take six months to assemble a rapid deployment UN force – 10,000 troops and 1,180 police who would supplement the 2,000 French troops and 6,000 African Union peacekeepers now struggling to control the tit-for-tat attacks between Muslims and Christians. That is leading many local Muslims to protest that they will be killed or driven out of the country by the time the blue helmets arrive.
Last spring, Seleka rebels fomented a coup in Bangui, the capital, but were unable to govern coherently. By the fall, chaos and animosity had reached a point that French diplomats and military observers described a possible “genocide.”
In December, the Seleka government was driven out of Bangui along with much of the Muslim population, after brutal fighting conducted by anti-balaka forces who say they are fighting on behalf of the nation’s majority Christian population.
The anti-balaka are now pursuing Muslims, often violently, around the countryside, particularly in the mixed-population regions of the north and northwest of CAR; human rights advocates and senior diplomats, including the former American ambassador, are warning of an evisceration of CAR Muslims, who represent a middle-class of traders and artisans who have lived peacefully here for generations.
“The anti-balaka are killing us like animals and they won’t stop until there are no Muslims left in this country,” says Aboubacar Ibrahim, a trader who lives in Bangui's PK5 neighborhood. “By the time the peacekeepers arrive we will all be gone,” he says, standing in front of his house in a light green jellabiya, the traditional long shirt common among men in the Nile Valley.
“It’s too little, too late,” he says about the UN peacekeepers.
Until December, Ibrahim's PK5 neighborhood had been full of Muslims. But they are now scattered or have become refugees in neighboring states.
At least 2,000 people have been killed and about one-quarter of the country’s 4.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Hundreds of thousands, many of them Muslims, have crossed the nation's borders.
Cameroon alone has received 100,000 refugees. Still, the kind of Rwanda-style genocide some international figures warned about has not taken place, and the worst violence may have come in December during the fighting in Bangui.
Seleka forces are largely Muslims who last fall hired mercenaries from the Darfur region of Sudan, according to intelligence sources.
But the Muslim or Islamic identification of the group is self-constituted; the nation’s Muslim population did not ask Seleka to enter Bangui and take control, and the group lacks any broad support in the mosques of CAR.
Likewise, the anti-balaka forces, often described in the media as Christian, draw from a very wide spectrum of animists, mercenaries, thugs, and other assorted opportunists, along with some self-identified Christians. But the anti-balaka forces do not represent ordinary Christian churchgoers in CAR.
Showing little mercy
"The violence is spiking up and down, mostly in the countryside," said one NGO analyst who travels frequently to CAR and is not authorized to speak publicly. "We should not use the word 'genocide' to describe this."
Still, in Bangui, gangs of anti-balaka youths showed little mercy when they attacked PK5, says Ibrahim, who lost his shop, where he sold building materials, tools, and cooking utensils.
“They went door to door looting and burning,” he says. “My shop and entire stock went up in flames when they threw hand grenades into the market.”
In January, he put his wife and children on a plane to Chad. Now he prepares to follow them, traveling by road together with the few neighborhood inhabitants that remain.
The proposed UN force follows a call for help by the Central African Republic government. Vice-President Lea Koyassoum Doumta, sworn in two months ago, said that the backing of the idea by Mr. Ban on Monday came as a great relief.
“While the situation in Bangui has improved, we still need international support to help rid the country of the armed groups,” Ms. Doumta said.
In addition, the country will need help to train reinstated national forces and police when the international troops leave, she added.
Most of the country’s security forces were chased out of their barracks when Seleka rebels attacked the capital last March.
“From that day, the Army stopped to exist,” says a military official, Lt. Aurelien Mozongre.
On Feb. 5, Mr. Mozongre stood solemnly in front of President Catherine Samba-Panza and swore to defend the Constitution and fulfill his duties in the newly reinstated Army.
No sooner had the president left the scene than a nearby group of soldiers attacked and brutally lynched a young man they believed to be a Seleka member.
”What happened [in the lynching incident] was not good. It made the Army look bad,” says Mozongre. “We need international help to train our troops and to deploy in the countryside. Now that we have secured Bangui we need to take back the northeast where Seleka are still controlling towns and villages.”
We are ready to work with the “casques bleus,” as the peacekeepers are referred to in French, said Mozongre, using the colonial-era language of CAR.
President Mugabe receives the Broad Based Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework document from Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Olivia Muchena in Harare on July 19, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Editorial Comment: Graft: Deep surgery needed
March 8, 2014
Opinion & Analysis
The rot in parastatals and local authorities has been going on unabated for quite long, and it is overdue that Cabinet ministers seriously introspect in the way Government business is executed.A lot of nasty and corrupt activities have been exposed in the media relating to the operations of Government institutions.
In this respect, the public have been following the exposures with keen interest — somewhat to see whether the zanu-pf Government will walk the talk on graft.
We would want to applaud President Mugabe for taking the lead in condemning corruption, indicating very clearly that anyone found on the wrong side of the law will face the music.
As the leader of the State and Government, it becomes imperative for all of those who serve under him to take up the clarion call and ensure, in their various circles, that corruption is not tolerated and all guilty parties are brought to book.
More so, the guilty should pay restitution.
It is in this same vein that we should commend Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, and his Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology counterpart Dr Olivia Muchena for taking a cue from the President.
The two ministers have become torch-bearers in fighting graft in institutions they superintend.
Prof Moyo was the first to set the anti-corruption train in motion by impugning officials who were allegedly enriching themselves, while Dr Muchena swiftly appointed a taskforce to investigate alleged corruption at the Higher Education Examinations Council.
A lot of unprofessional conduct in many Government institutions has been reported in the media and by now we expected many ministries to have instituted investigations, made some discoveries and recommended appropriate action.
The public is also disturbed by the deafening silence by special police teams and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and other arms of the State mandated to institute such investigations.
Surely there is enough expertise in Zimbabwe to investigate even the most intricate cases of graft and action should be taken.
The minimal movement from Government following revelations of corruption seems to suggest that the media are whistling in the wind and they may as well shut up.
We call upon politicians and the executive not to take people for granted.
What comes to the mind of the voter who earns less than US$300 monthly when he/she hears that someone else is taking home hundreds of thousands?
What does the ratepayer who has to contend with shoddy services think when he/she reads that municipal officials are taking home mega-salaries and fat perks?
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono once described parastatals and local authorities as missing links in the country’s endeavours to turn around the economy.
These institutions are still dogged by poor service delivery, corruption, inefficiency, failure to refurbish infrastructure, bloated staff, and asset stripping, yet managers are still paid handsomely.
Are the responsible ministers not seeing this?
Perhaps Government should simply ask all parastatal heads to step down and re-apply for the jobs along with other interested members of the public and then the best man/woman can be appointed to the job.
There are many people in Zimbabwe who have the expertise in running public organisations without having to rely on political patronage to secure office.
These people should be given the opportunity to head parastatals and other State-linked enterprises because many in the current crop of leaders have evidently failed and are only concerned with feathering their already plush nests.
Dealing with corruption requires bold action, and Prof Moyo and Dr Muchena have already shown that such bold action can be taken.
Nothing short of deep surgery that reaches into the marrow can cleanse the rot.
Secretary for Information and Publicity Mr George Charamba (second from left) being shown how the Zimpapers’ new US$2,2 million Orient X-Cel printing press works at Natprint on September 3, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Zimpapers vendor jailed 18 months
March 8, 2014
A Beitbridge-BASED Zimpapers vendor was yesterday jailed for 18 months after he failed to remit US$5 500 he realised from newspaper sales in the district.Emmanuel Maramwa of Dulibadzimu Township, denied the charge of theft when his trial opened before magistrate Gwineth Drawo, but was convicted on the strength of evidence provided by the State.
Maramwa, who was being represented by Mr Patrick Tererai of Tererai Legal Practice, was left with an effective nine months to serve after Ms Drawo conditionally suspended three months of the sentence for three years.
She also set aside a further six months on condition Maramwa restituted Zimpapers a total of US$5 537,38.
Prosecutor Mr Tawonga Musina told the court how, between May 2011 and 2012, Maramwa was engaged as a Zimpapers agent on condition that he would remit newspaper sales on a daily basis to the employer.
But during that period, Maramwa failed to remit US$5 537,38 which he converted to his own use. The offence came to light during monthly audits of his account.
The court further heard that following the discovery of the theft, Maramwa promised to pay back the money by the end of last year, but since then he has been playing hide and seek.
This prompted Zimpapers to report him to the police.
Zanu-PF youth bosses accused of stealing Gushungo birthday sugar
March 8, 2014
Gumbo Senior Reporter
Two Zanu-PF Youth League senior executives have been accused of stealing one tonne of sugar donated by a local company towards President Mugabe’s 90th birthday celebrations last month.The company donated two tonnes of sugar for the 21st February Movement celebrations to mark the President’s birthday at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, but only one tonne was accounted for.
Politburo member Cde Edison Chakanyuka, who is the deputy secretary for the Youth League, and Central Committee member Cde Innocent Hamandishe, the secretary for Indigenisation in the Youth League, together with two more party officials allegedly stole the sugar that was kept at the party headquarters.
The sugar was donated through the Youth League headed by Cde Absolom Sikhosana and the management committee of the celebrations.
Cde Sikhosana said the matter was an internal issue.
“I don’t know anything about that,” he said.
“Where did you get that from? Those are internal matters. I have no comment.”
But a source confirmed that the youths leaders were implicated in the case.
“Chakanyuka was given responsibility to look after the sugar at the party headquarters,” said a source. “He then assigned Hamandishe, Edmore Samambwa, the Midlands Provincial Youth League chairperson; and Innocent Makuyana, who is deputy secretary for Lands in the Youth League, to take one tonne of sugar to their cars.
“It is not known where they took the sugar to. But Sikhosana had to declare one tonne to President Mugabe because he did not want him to know that some people had stolen his sugar.”
Another source added: “Security personnel at the party have implicated the four. Cde Sikhosana has since written a letter to the accused so that they answer to the charges.
“They will be appearing before the youth leadership and management committee next week. Some comrades wanted to cover up the case, but they have been forced to act on it because some youths are insisting that action must be taken.
“It is not the first time that some youths have stolen gifts meant for the President. They have been doing this for some time, but without tangible action being taken.”
President Mugabe receives a US$1 million check from Murowa Diamonds managing director Mr Zebra Kasete while Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere looks on in Masvingo on February 15, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Ministers fingered in diamonds scam
March 8, 2014
Lloyd Gumbo and Farirai Machivenyika
Minister of State for Manicaland Province Christopher Mushowe allegedly ordered Diamond Mining Company to deposit money into an account he provided, effectively sidestepping the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust launched by President Mugabe in 2012.
Further, Environment Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is accused of presenting a US$50 million false cheque to President Mugabe at the launch of the trust.
It is also alleged that the five diamond mining companies operating in Chiadzwa never pledged the US$50 million kitty presented when President Mugabe launched toward the trust.
The firms were said to have pledged US$10 million each, but yesterday they refuted the claim with some of them saying they had only pledged US$1,5 million each while others professed complete ignorance of the existence of the trust.
Minister Kasukuwere and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation are said to have instructed some of the mining companies to delay disbursement of the money.
The firms are Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company.
The mining firms told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment that the establishment of the trust was mired in confusion and disorganisation.
Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Cde Justice Wadyajena (Zanu-PF) chairs the committee. Anjin Investment board member Mr Munyaradzi Machacha said they had always worked with Minister Mushowe.
“The trust has not approached us. Minister Mushowe is the one we have been talking to. He was the contact person. He gave us the bank account. We have not had any meeting with Marange-Zimunya Community Trust.
“All the correspondence we have had is through the Minister of State for Manicaland because he claims he has a working relationship with the Marange-Zimunya Community Trust. We have not had any business meeting with the trust,” said Mr Machacha.
Mr Machacha also claimed that Minister Kasukuwere, who was then Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, advised them that fulfilling the pledges to the trust could be done over five years.
As such, he said they did not see the need to urgently fulfill the pledge considering that they had also hit a hard rock.
“When we made that pledge (US$1,5 million), we were made to believe that we could make payments over time. Minister Kasukuwere gave indications that we could do so over a period of five years.”
Quizzed by Cde Wadyajena if they had misled President Mugabe and presented a falsified cheque, Mr Machacha said: “He (Minister Kasukuwere) knew that there was no money at all. It was just a dummy cheque.”
DMC board chairperson, Brigadier-General (Retired) Ezekiel Zabanyana said ZMDC never gave them a go ahead to donate toward the trust.
“This is where we lacked the strategic plan or some means to ensure this was implemented. We did approach ZMDC and as our boss they said let’s leave that,” he said.
DMC general manager Mr Ramzi Malik also said they only pledged US$1,5 million.
“We never pledged US$10 million. We asked ZMDC to go and identify areas of major importance and give each company the programme which will take the contributions to. ZMDC went and did that exercise but never came back to us.
“We need engagement and a co-ordinated effort. Let’s not just throw figures out there. Let’s meet and discuss figures before we go to the press,” he said.
Mbada Diamonds board chairperson Dr Robert Mhlanga said they were never part of the trust but donated US$200 000 out of “courtesy”.
“I would like to initially highlight that Mbada Diamonds has contributed US$200 000.
However, Mbada Diamonds has never made a pledge to the share scheme. There was no formal communication soliciting for a pledge from Mbada Diamonds. Not even informal. We have not been contacted to make a pledge as a company,” said Dr Mhlanga.
“In fact, there is a lot of miscommunication which has taken place around this thing concerning the Marange-Zimunya Trust. To say there is anything organised no! Because if there was anything formal, we would have been advised by our parent ministry we then would have acted accordingly. We 100 percent have not made any pledge,” he emphasised.
Jinan marketing manager, Mr Enock Moyo said their company was not represented at the July 2012 meeting where pledges were made.
The parliamentary committee, however, booted out the team whom they felt were unqualified to comment on issues concerning the company after Mr Moyo said senior managers were busy elsewhere.
Marange Resources acting CEO Mr Mark Mabhudhu said his firm availed US$200 000 toward the trust but expressed willingness to contribute more if their financial position improved.
Trustees to the scheme last week alleged there was interference by politicians in Manicaland in the trust’s affairs. They said this resulted in the diamond mining companies not fulfilling their pledges.
Detroit Emergency Town Hall Meeting to oppose the bankers' plan of adjustment in the forced bankruptcy of the city. A program of action was adopted by the audience. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Court Hit With Sad Stories From Detroit Retirees Objecting To Bankruptcy Cuts
March 6, 2014 5:06 PM
DETROIT (WWJ/AP) — As courts, leaders in Lansing and Detroit struggle in the wake of the city’s bankruptcy filing with decisions about pensions promised to Detroit retirees, the pensioners themselves are speaking.
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has made it clear pensions have to be cut for the city to survive bankruptcy, with a proposal of a 26 percent slash for everyone except police and fire retirees, who would lose 6 percent.
Those potentially affected by the bankruptcy filing — about 34,000 pensioners — are able to object to it by filing complaints with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. There are about 90 objections in the file right now, according to court records.
Some are sending heartbreaking stories.
In one letter to Judge Steven Rhodes, a retiree wrote she’s “heart broken” and says her husband is blind and on dialysis. She writes if any part of her money was cut she “might as well dig a hole in my back yard to lay us both to rest because I surely cannot or will not be able to pay for a funeral.”
The letter ends with the woman asking the judge to “please help me to keep all my retirement benefits.”
Another man explains that his two-income household is now a one-income household since his wife lost her job in 2012. “I am in the poor house, or you can say out in the streets,” he wrote.
One man said he “drove garbage trucks, cut grass and did a lot of jobs that needed done,” as a longtime city employee, and says “I’m not crying, but I will be if you let them take our money.”
A 29-year bus mechanic says he has lingering neck and back problems from continual bending and stooping on the job, needs his health insurance, and says the cut “will make me eligible for state assistance for the first time in my life.”
Gov. Rick Snyder pledged $350 million of state money in January to help fund pensioners and the Detroit Institute of Art; another $330 million is expected to come from private sources. It’s unclear if or how much that would offset cuts.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting Detroit reached a new deal Thursday with Barclays to borrow at least $120 million to “speed the city’s bankruptcy restructuring and invest in new services.”
This comes after a federal bankruptcy judge who vetoed two previous deals between Detroit and lenders to settle hundreds of millions of dollars in pension debt had a hearing Wednesday on a third tentative agreement.
Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced Tuesday night the banks agreed to accept $85 million from the city to settle the debt.
Judge Steven Rhodes vetoed two earlier tentative deals for Detroit to pay $230 million and $165 million to UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to settle the debt incurred in 2009 when the city pledged casino taxes as collateral to avoid defaulting on pension debt payments. The city ended up locking itself into high interest rates on bonds, and the deal became too costly when interest rates plunged.
Bond insurer may oppose new deal to end Detroit swaps
Wed, Mar 5 2014
DETROIT, March 5 (Reuters) - Detroit's latest proposal to end costly interest-rate swaps is likely to be opposed by Syncora Guarantee, an attorney for the bond insurance company said in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday.
"There is a likelihood there may be an objection," Stephen Hackney, Syncora's attorney at law firm Kirkland & Ellis, told Judge Steven Rhodes at a status hearing on the city's motion on the swaps deal.
The city on Monday had asked the court to approve a new deal to terminate the swaps, which were used to hedge interest rate risk on some pension debt, at a cost to the city of $85 million.
Syncora, which insured some of the city's pension debt associated with the swaps, as well as the swaps themselves, fought prior deals to end the hedges, claiming that such a move would cause it financial harm.
The bond insurer and other Detroit creditors have also claimed that the city was affording more favorable treatment to swap counterparties UBS AG and Merrill Lynch Capital Services.
Robert Hertzberg, an attorney at law firm Pepper Hamilton who is representing Detroit, asked the judge to hold a March 20 hearing on the swaps deal with the city's emergency manager Kevyn Orr testifying, but Rhodes did not immediately set a date.
He rejected two previous deals on the swaps that carried price tags of $165 million and around $230 million as being too expensive for the city.
The swaps soured when interest rates dropped along with Detroit's credit rating and big termination fees owed to swap counterparties helped push the city in July to file the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
In its motion, Detroit said court approval of the new swaps deal would give the city unfettered access to casino tax revenue used as collateral for the swaps as well as leverage in efforts to win Rhodes' approval of its debt adjustment plan. That plan calls for cuts to worker pensions and even bigger cuts for some bondholders.
Rhodes also heard arguments on the timetable he released last month that set a trial beginning June 16 on the plan's factual issues. Some creditors wanted a trial date in July or September. The judge said he will issue a revised schedule soon.
Judge considers slight delay to Detroit bankruptcy timeline
6:16 PM, March 5, 2014
By Nathan Bomey
Detroit Free Press Business Writer
Judge Steven Rhodes today signaled that he may slightly delay Detroit’s fast-track bankruptcy to give creditors and retirees more time to consider the city’s restructuring plans.
Rhodes told attorneys that he plans to file a new scheduling order outlining dates for the city’s restructuring hearings.
He previously proposed a confirmation hearing to start June 16 on whether to approve Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring proposal, but it appears that will be pushed back.
The judge also signaled that he would give creditors more time to vote on the city’s plan of adjustment after a proposed April 14 hearing on whether the city has disclosed enough information about its restructuring plans. Votes from Detroit’s 170,000 creditors must be tabulated before the plan confirmation hearing can begin.
Separately, the city’s bankruptcy lawyers asked Rhodes to conduct a hearing on March 20 to consider approving a new proposed settlement with UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch over a disastrous pension debt interest-rate transaction called swaps.
The city on Monday night revealed a deal to pay the banks $85 million to eliminate the $288-million obligation, which secured a steady interest rate of 6% on a $1.4-billion pension borrowing transaction brokered in 2005 by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration.
Rhodes previously rejected settlements of $165 million and $230 million, saying it was “just too much money” to eliminate a deal that might have been illegal to begin with.
Detroit bankruptcy lawyer Robert Hertzberg said Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr would testify during the swaps hearing. He asked Rhodes to expedite the hearing and said it should only take a day.
The judge said he would consider the request and issue a written order on the issue.
Hertzberg said the city needs to proceed quickly with the swaps settlement to keep its broader restructuring plan on a fast track.
Stephen Hackney, an attorney for bond insurer Syncora, one of the city’s fiercest opponents in bankruptcy court, said the new deal shouldn’t be rushed.
“There is no emergency,” Hackney said.
Rhodes suggested Syncora’s opposition to the deal is inevitable.
“You’re not going to settle, so let’s just get to it,” Rhodes said. “Seriously, c’mon.”
Contact Nathan Bomey: 313-223-4743 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBomey.
People took the streets in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit during the first day of a bankruptcy trial. , a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Detroit retirees fight for health benefits
BY STEVEN CHURCH
MARCH 7, 2014
(Bloomberg) -- Retired Detroit public workers have sent dozens of handwritten letters to the federal judge overseeing the city’s record municipal bankruptcy.
In many, the retirees are pleading with the judge to protect their health benefits.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has posted more than 90 objections to Detroit’s proposed “plan of adjustment.” Each of the objections is one or two pages long. In each, a retiree asks Judge Steven Rhodes to reject Detroit’s proposal.
Detroit wants to cut the retirees’ benefits in an effort to reduce an $18 billion mountain of liabilities.
“How in the world can anyone be so ruthless and uncaring about other people and their future,” wrote Geraldine Chatman, who said she worked 39 years for the city. “Please if you would only think of the number of people who will be hurt by this effort.”
Under the proposal by Detroit’s emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, general workers would be forced to accept as little as 66 percent of their current pensions while police and firefighters would get at least 90 percent.
Retiree health-care benefits would be reduced in part by helping former workers who aren’t yet old enough to qualify for the federal Medicare program to get insurance through the exchanges set up under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
A committee appointed to represent former workers in the bankruptcy estimated that about 32,000 current and retired city employees will be affected by the plan. The committee said in a court filing that the proposed cuts would force 20 percent of the more than 23,000 retirees into poverty.
Rhodes moved the start of a trial over the debt-cutting plan to July 16 from June 16 after creditors complained that they needed more time to prepare. While it prepares to seek approval of the plan in June or July, the city continues to negotiate with creditors, including bondholders, retirees and union officials.
The case is In re City of Detroit, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).
--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Charles Carter.
Workers line up in Coney Island, New York looking for jobs. The unemployment rate rose again in March 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U.S. Adds 175,000 Jobs; Unemployment Ticks Up to 6.7%
Revisions Bolster Picture of Hiring in December and January
By BEN LEUBSDORF And JEFFREY SPARSHOTT CONNECT
Wall Street Journal
March 7, 2014 8:33 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The U.S. labor market in February picked up from recent months, though growth remained measured and the unemployment rate stubbornly high.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 175,000 in February, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions by the agency showed the economy added slightly more jobs in recent months than previously believed. Employers added 129,000 jobs in January, up from 113,000, and 84,000 jobs in December, up from 75,000.
The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7% in February from 6.6% in January. The labor force grew, but so did the number of unemployed.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had projected payrolls would rise 152,000 in February and the unemployment rate would fall to 6.5%.
U.S economic growth accelerated in the second half of 2013 but has shed momentum in recent months. Gross domestic product grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.4% in the fourth quarter, down from its 4.1% pace in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department. Many economists expect growth to slow further in the first quarter. The forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers projects GDP will grow at a 1.5% pace, and Barclays Capital predicts 2.2% growth in the first three months of the year.
The recent stretch of mixed economic data, including weak retail sales and a drop in factory output, has been blamed in part on harsh winter weather. The weather may have distorted Friday's reading on jobs, too. Last month's household survey, one component of the jobs report, coincided with a mid-February storm that brought ice and snow to much of the eastern U.S.
It's far from clear if weather is the primary culprit or if the U.S. economy is slowing down in earnest. "A number of data releases have pointed to softer spending than analysts had expected," Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen told lawmakers last week. "That may reflect in part adverse weather conditions, but at this point it is difficult to discern exactly how much."
The Fed has been scaling back its bond-buying program, which aims to stimulate the economy by lowering borrowing costs. It now stands at $65 billion per month and policymakers have signaled they plan to pare it in $10 billion increments this year as long as the economy continues to improve.
The central bank's policy-making committee is scheduled to meet March 18-19. Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley said Thursday that "the threshold is pretty high" for changing course and "the outlook would have to change in a material way relative to my expectations."
Payrolls grew an average of 129,000 a month in December, January and February, slower than the average for the last year of 189,000 a month.
The construction sector, which can be sensitive to the weather, added 15,000 jobs in February after adding 50,000 in January. Manufacturing firms added 6,000 jobs last month, retailers cut 4,100 jobs and employment in the leisure and hospitality sector rose by 25,000 jobs.
Professional and business services employers added 79,000 jobs in February. Employment in the health-care industry rose by 9,500, the third straight month the Labor Department said the field remained nearly flat.
The labor force participation rate held steady at 63% in February. The metric remains at historically low levels.
The number of Americans who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer rose in February by 203,000 to 3.8 million. Federal funding for extended unemployment benefits expired at the end of December, which could push many of the long-term unemployed either to take jobs or drop out of the workforce entirely.
The unemployment rate rose to 6.7% last month, but a broader measure that includes people working part-time who want a full-time job and others who are marginally attached to the workforce fell to 12.6% in February. It stood at 12.7% in January and 14.3% a year ago.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu). The labor organization is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Affiliates Press Statements
SADTU members ready to go on strike
6 March 2014
Members of the South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) in the Central Region of Gauteng are ready to go on strike over the 0,5% disparity on pay progression and all outstanding issues that have been ignored by the DBE.
This came out of a regional mass meeting addressed by SADTU General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke at Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto on Wednesday afternoon. The meeting was also attended and addressed by COSATU President S`dumo Dlamini and Deputy General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Both Maluleke and Dlamini appealed for unity in SADTU and COSATU. They appealed to members to defend these organizations from inside and outside forces at all material times.
They warned against lies and half truths that were being spread about COSATU. "There is an open agenda to dislodge COSATU," Dlamini said.
"We are calling for the unity of SADTU. When SADTU is united, COSATU will be united," Maluleke said.
He said people were being fed with the lies that the ANC had not made changes to their lives since it took over.
"SADTU says don`t allow lies and demagoguery rhetoric to influence you," Maluleke said.
On the issue of 0,5% parity, Mugwena said even though the amount was small, the main issue was about narrowing the gap in salary notches. The matter has been dragging for five years and the Department has not shown a sense of urgency in resolving it. Teachers were the only ones receiving a 1% pay progression while other public servants receive 1,5%. The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) has called the parties to a facilitation process to try and resolve the 0,5% parity. Over and above the 0,5% parity there were outstanding issues such as the basic salary structure for teachers to be at R15 000; the conditions for Early Childhood Development and ABET practitioners.
Maluleke urged members to start preparing themselves for the 2015 salary negotiations which begin in July and encouraged them to continue discussing whether they wanted a single term or multi-term agreement in salary negotiations.
He announced that ballots for the strike over 0,5% parity would soon be sent out for the members to fill. However, before closing the meeting, the Deputy Regional Secretary Moses Maluleke indicated that the region was ready for a strike.
Sdumo Dlamini reminded members of the resolution by the Federation that come elections time, COSATU should campaign for the ANC.
On the issue of a call for a special congress by some of the affiliates of COSATU, Dlamini appealed to the meeting to first read the report of the Federation`s NOB`s before making their decision.
He asked the members to work out the purpose of holding such a congress and what they wanted out of it. "Must we go there and say members must see us; we are divided?" he asked.
The National Executive Committee of SADTU will on Thursday and Friday (6 & 7 March) visit the Free State`s Maluti region as part of celebrating International Women`s Day. The NEC will address branch mass meetings similar to the Orlando meeting. Members of the Alliance are expected to provide messages of support in these meetings.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi 082 719 5157
- See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8501#sthash.gFm4CE3i.dpuf
Frans Baleni, secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. He believes independent worker actions cannot win in the longterm., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Affiliates Press Statements
NUM condemns the savage attack on its member at Union Mine in Limpopo
6 March 2014
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is once more distraught that another member of the union in Limpopo is in critical condition after being brutally savaged on his way to work this morning. NUM condemns the despicable attacks driven by vigilantes masquerading as unionists while carrying pangas and machetes to slaughter the weak and the poor workers.
The victim John Ntsime Mochanka is an NUM member working for Grinaker LTA at Union Mine. Mochanka was attacked at 5:20 am this morning when he was going to work with his colleague. His colleague managed to escape and alerted the local NUM branch leadership.
According to NUM Chairperson at Union Mine, Steve Modikwane “Mochanka suffered serious broken ribs, a broken hand and another hand with a very big open cut wound”. He has been admitted at Union Mine Hospital.
Modikwane accused the company of refusing to speak with NUM.
“The Company does not want to speak to us as leaders of the NUM at Union mine about the safety of our members. This company is exposing us to the striking workers to attack and kill us," he said.
Two weeks back NUM member Thapelo Morapedi was set alight while going to work at Union Mine. He sustained serious burned wounds on his left hand and some wounds were caused by the panga when they attacked him and fortunately he survived.
On Monday, 3 March 2014, NUM member William Nkoebele a Winch Operator at Union Mine suffered serious head injuries, broken ribs and broken arms when he was attacked while going to work.
As NUM we appeal to the mine security and the law enforcement agencies to be visible next to the squatter camps where the majority of workers live. We are extremely troubled that there is no visibility of the mine security and the police in the squatter camps.
The above-mentioned incidents demonstrate that there is no safety for NUM members. We call on Police to leave no stone unturned in finding the blood-suckers who have failed to defeat their class enemy and now resort to easy targets to appease a false sense of achievement.
Furthermore, we appeal to companies to enforce discipline at work to stop intimidation.
We call on all our members to remain on high alert and report any important information to their regional offices. Vigilantes are driven by lust for blood and have nothing to do with the wages and better working conditions for workers.
For more information, Please contact:
Livhuwani Mammburu: 083 809 3257 (Acting NUM National Spokesperson)
Steve Modikwane: 082 511 0193 (NUM Branch Chairperson at Union Mine)
National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257
NUM Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NUM/100860023402167
- See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8505#sthash.Sf31pWj1.dpuf
South African march against e-tolling on November 30, 2012. The demonstration was supported by COSATU, the SACP and ANCYL., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Mine strike not good for the workers
6 March 2014
The strike in the platinum mine which started on 23rd January 2014 is now about to complete its sixth week, yet there is no reasonable movement from either the employers or the union.
In the meantime workers are at home not because of their liking but because they fear for their lives if they go to work. Some companies have placed their employees on is reported to be special leave, while the reality is that this leave will be taken from their leave days in the coming year and this might force some workers to work up to forty-eight months without taking leave as they would have taken their leave in advance; this is against the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Every week there are reports of violence in the mines, meted against those who attempt to go to work, while some workers have indicated that they want to leave the striking union but they are unable to do so as they fear for their lives. This was illustrated when a car of one lady was burnt after she indicated so.
From the COSATU side we have cautioned in the past that the situation in the platinum mines, if left unattended, will lead to something which will be uncontrollable and this strike is a confirmation of what we said.
COSATU has several times called for the intervention from the provincial government, national government and the mine bosses to look at the situation in the mines seriously and take action.
COSATU has called for the respect of the rule of law and the enforcement of such rule by all the state law enforcement agencies.
COSATU has always raised a caution on the failure of the other union to sign the peace accord as this is an indication of their non-commitment to peace.
COSATU has again raised a caution on the violation of the labour laws and internal labour related policies by some companies in the platinum mines, and in this regard Impala is leading.
COSATU has made many attempts to get all stake-holders to give attention to what is taking place in the platinum mines but all the calls fell on deaf ears.
COSATU further notes that the effect of the strike is not only on the mine workers but it trickles down to the Rustenburg area and the North West province and eventually the whole country will be affected by this strike.
COSATU notes that the working conditions of most workers in our country are unbearable and their wages are still very low, but COSATU believes that these conditions cannot be addressed by worsening them.
COSATU also notes that most companies present very impressive social labour plans when they are requesting government to grant them mining licenses but these plans remain on paper and are not implemented by the companies, e.g. most mine workers do still not have ownership of houses.
COSATU believes that proper interaction through dialogue is the only solution to the challenges which are facing the workers in the country and no amount of violence will resolve this challenge. Forming one union or another is not going resolve the workers’ problems and this is an indication of workers being forced to join the union that they did not want.
We call all workers in the mining sector to revisit their decisions if they were forced to resign from NUM in 2012 and join the other union.
It is clear that NUM is the only union that can take up their issues and call workers to come back and build a strong COSATU-affiliated NUM union in the mines.
COSATU calls on the Department of Mineral Resources to do an inspection on the implementation of the social labour plans in all the mines in the country.
Those which will be found to be behind with these plans must come up with a catch-up plan on how they are going to implement them, failing which the mining licenses of these companies must be withdrawn and be given to companies which are willing to comply with their plans.
The department should also make sure that there is compliance with all the provisions of the Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
COSATU calls on the government to convene a labour summit where there will be binding resolutions taken to improve the working conditions and the wages of the workers in all sectors of the economy.
COSATU has been calling for a legislated minimum wage as we believe that this will improve the income of most workers and will assist them to get out of poverty.
We are also calling all unions to assess all strikes in the mines and come up of way forward to resolve all disputes of violence.
Since the strike in the mining sector in 2011, we have lost many lives; many workers are disabled; many families are without parents due to the mining sector violence and only African black workers are affected in this situation.
Workers’ rights must be respected by all of us and all mining houses must take responsibilities for all crimes that took place in the mining sector in particular in Rustenburg.
As the federation unapologetic, Impala must respond to all those criminal activities that took since 2011 until today.
We are still calling for the president of our country to call for a state of emergency in the mining sector until all unions and employers in the mining sector respect the peace accord and all the legislation that we have in this country.
For more information contact Solly Phetoe COSATU North West Provincial Secretary at 082 304 4055
Crowds march during a memorial for former ANC leader and President Nelson Mandela., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
We need to invest aggressively in new plant, technologies and skills
VIEWPOINT BY MALUSI GIGABA
ANC Today, Feb. 28-March 6, 2014
The current global economic crisis has forced policy makers to rethink our macroeconomic management approaches. The South African economy is facing the classic structural challenge of a middle-income economy and if it is to grow and develop, we need to invest aggressively in new plant, technologies and skills.
As a response to the structural constraints in our economy and global economic externalities, we identified infrastructure as both a driver and an enabler for economic development. Our infrastructure development programme is specifically designed both to expand our mineral exports and build our capacity and capability to design and manufacture intermediate and complex trade-able goods, for internal use and for exports.
Accordingly, we have made significant strides in embedding the Competitive Supplier Development Programme and philosophy into the very procurement fabric of State-Owned Companies (SOC). In this regard, the 75% local procurement target has become more probable and realistic! Furthermore, we have integrated economic transformation processes into every aspect of our investment programme.
In the context of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, we have a long-term infrastructure plan that is carefully integrated and coordinated into 18 strategic integrated projects at an estimated costs of R877bn that are currently in construction and more than 177 000 construction jobs are tracked on these projects. Enablers such as skills, transformation and industrialisation underpin this plan.
Under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, the State Owned Companies have tremendously increased their capital investments, thus creating new jobs, developing new skills and contributing towards the country's industrialisation agenda. His administration has spent more than R1 trillion over the past five years on infrastructure. Our country is indeed a country at work and a much better place to live.
Each day we witness the improvement of the quality of life of the citizens of our country when we connect households with electricity to the grid; install solar water heaters; build new houses; improve integrated bus routes in our cities; improved road and rail transport; open new factories to support jobs and develop new artisanal skills at our training centres to support the build of our state-owned companies. And yet whilst we are focusing on the infrastructure build and industrialisation we appreciate the impatience and frustration felt by those who still do not have access to decent basic services.
The President has committed us relentlessly to addressing all backlogs to ensure that every person in our country has access to water, electricity and sanitation and that by 2020, every household will have access to broadband. He addressed in brutal detail, and much to the chagrin of the opposition, the exceptional strides made by our country led by the African National Congress (ANC) during the past twenty years as we strove decisively to end the tragedy of apartheid-colonialism through programmes of social and They wished that the President either did not acknowledge these achievements or that you had no facts to back your account with.
They wished that this impeccable delivery record did not exist so that they would be able gleefully to substantiate their narrative of failure, which hopelessly disintegrates in the face of all the detailed record acknowledged even by independent monitors. Instead, their own flagship project in the Western Cape cannot be backed up by reality and the lived experiences of black South Africans who live in this province.
The website, Africa Check, recently published a report in which it said the Democratic Alliance (DA) has made false claims about service delivery on Twitter which it cannot back up with data, or quotes it from unknown sources. They suck them up from the thumb.
The recent ill-fated march to Beyers Naude, or was it to Luthuli House, was not only opportunistic but was a deviation from the real and serious issues before the nation. First and foremost, the ANC's jobs plan is premised on the NDP and the NGP which direct us to create an additional 11 million sustainable, decent and quality jobs by 2030, including the public works programmes.
The 6 million work opportunities arise in the ANC manifesto as part a broader jobs plan based on 7 pillars; namely:
Infrastructure investment to unlock economic opportunities, industrialise the economy and create jobs;
Increase investment in the key growth sectors by improving and better aligning existing manufacturing in incentive schemes;
Boost local production by buying local goods, with the state buying 75% of its goods and services from local producers;
Provide more work an training opportunities for the youth, setting aside nearly two-thirds of new infrastructure jobs for the youth;
Encourage businesses to hire more youth through the youth employment tax incentive;
Expand and improve education and training by creating and strengthening the university and FET sectors as well as the SOE artisanal training academies; and
Massively expand the public works programme by creating 6m work opportunities, setting aside about 60% for the youth
The state and private sector must collaborate in a national effort to create jobs. We believe in an active role for the state in the economy, unlike our more neo-liberal opponents who are unreformed market fundamentalists even in light of the global economic crisis and its lessons for developing as well as developed countries. It is simplistic, opportunistic and misleading to claim there can be a single set of programmes that can create decent jobs at once, especially when you either have no plan or have one hatched quickly out of expediency in order to try deceive a nation that keeps on asking the nagging question, what is your plan!
Ownership patterns in our country still reflect racial and gender patterns of colonialism, and the structure of our economy remains backward and inhibiting to job creation - this is what the DA does not want to challenge and would rather die in the trenches to defend. Radical economic transformation is the most critical question the next five years must answer.
Instead of marching to oppose the ANC's plans, they should place their own plans before the electorate and let the people decided - May 7 is the deadline! What was funny though was that whilst most of you never dared to march against our oppression, you are today most vocal about all that is going wrong in our country!
The choices before the people of South Africa today have never been more sharp, stark and grave. As we usher in the second decade of our freedom, the fundamental question before our people is, what type of future do we want and how do we want to get to that Indeed, this is no time for our country to turn backward; now is the time to move South Africa forward, together, as a people!
In 1994, we created the possibility for our country to make head ways towards this future we envisioned in the struggle. Today, as a result of the massive progress we have made, we have reason not only to celebrate what we have achieved, but as a result of this, to be more positive about the future, confident that we will bequeath our children an even better society that is more equal and just, with a thriving and sustainable economy and quality basic services.
The ANC is modest and honest enough still to admit it that still more must be done to carry forward the change. The ANC is an interminable reservoir of hope and national pride. Of course, the ANC never promised our people short cuts and easy resorts to total emancipation. It never said the journey to be traversed in the struggle would be short, easy and laden with gold, milk, honey and all sorts of goodies.
We have been true and honest to our people about the challenges ahead, the sacrifices required and the difficult choices to be made! Yet, we have stayed faithful to this truth, refusing to be detracted by populist and expedient temptations, and we have remained loyal to our course! In the process, as we dirtied our hands in the course of the struggle, and precisely because we are human, we have committed many mistakes.
Nobody involved in the trenches of social change can emerge out of that process clean and without fault. The DA thinks politics is an issue of personalities and not substantive issues. It's about people's lives. We know all they are opposed to, all they regard is wrong with South Africa, but we still do not know how they would fix it, how they'd make it right! We know all they are against, everything they whine and whinge about, but we have no clue what they are for!
Let me join you in quoting Sir Winston Churchill when he said:
"You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks." If I may add, if you stop and bark back at every dog that barks at your unstoppable progress. He further added; "Any idiot can see something wrong. But, can you see what is right?"
The DA's Tim Harris argues we are underperforming our peers. But, he neglect to mention that many of our peers whose growth outperforms ours are coming off a low base. For example, South Sudan and Afghanistan are growing higher than our own. Zimbabwe grew by 10.6% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2012. Does this mean the Zimbabwean economy is outperforming ours?
He also did not mention that the Brazilian economy grew below ours at 0.9% last year after the end of the commodity super cycle. Turkey, which he cited as outperforming our economy, grew by 2.2% in 2013, down from 8.5% in 2011. Ultimately, these fluctuations depend on the economy's reliance on primary products and external shocks; whereas, it is only industrialised economies that are more consistent and this is precisely where we want our economy to go.
What we have heard during the debate on the State of Nation Address is the very sharp and blatant contractions between the message of abiding hope as articulated by the President's State of the Nation Address, and the message of doom and gloom articulated by the vestiges of the past. The DA is incapable of shaking off the past and firmly believes, twenty years post-apartheid, that the best way into the future is by turning backward.
This is why,
they reject black economic empowerment, and rather came up with a policy charade that will leave the current racial and gender economic ownership patterns unchanged;
they reject employment equity, and rather have ensured in their model province that most top management positions in government remain in the control of those constituting only 17.5% of the population of this province;
they reject prefer one in which workers have no rights to organise themselves into unions or fight for a living wage, and yet claim to seek decent jobs - just ask the farm workers of Du Noon if the DA really supports decent work!;
they reject the National Health Insurance, and rather prefer the status quo in terms of which only about 25%South Africans have access to medical aids and hence access to quality healthcare is limited;
they reject the notion of a developmental state that plays an active role in the economy, and
they reject the radical land reform policies of this ANC-led government which will end the landlessness and destitution of the majority!
The DA made extravagant claims regarding their role in job creation in the Western Cape. First, we are very pleased as government that we had excellent job growth in 2013 for the year as a whole in all nine provinces. Every job, whether in Limpopo, or North West, or Western Cape, must be celebrated. As the President said, the economy created 653 000 new jobs and we celebrate this.
In the last three months 2013, we saw an increase of jobs in the Western Cape after a period when it battled with job creation. However, the funny thing is that when jobs are lost in the Western Cape, the ANC is blamed, but when there is jobs growth, then the DA like in the Chicken Little story, is first to claim credit. What do the facts show?
Jobs grew in manufacturing in the Western Cape. I can point to the opening by Minister Patel of the Hisense factory and by Minister Davies of the Telumet factory as examples of national interventions to support job creation in Atlantis last year. I can point to the billions of rands of support offered to various sectors by national departments. I am just struggling to see what support the DA is giving.
Jobs grew in the retail and financial sectors in the Western Cape. Now even the DA spin doctors will find it hard to point to what the provincial government does that can account for this expansion of retail and finance. Jobs grew in the employment of domestic workers in the Western Cape. Okay, perhaps the madams were taking on more workers, but hardly as a result of DA policies. Incidentally, the DA regards these jobs as real jobs, while those who work on expanded public works programmes are seen somehow not to have real jobs.
Jobs actually shrank by 8000 in government services in the Western Cape. Now Mr and Mrs spin doctors, that is actually something that the DA DOES have control over and is directly responsible for! But these are all numbers for just one quarter. If we actually take the past four and a half years, the picture shows that the top-performing province is Limpopo.
When the country should be celebrating having achieved15.2 million jobs, the highest level of employment ever in our history, the Desperate Alternative seeks to bring the country down and claim for itself what it did not achieve. But there is one more matter: let us not play loose and fast with periods. What does the DA's record show over the four and a half years it has been in government in the Western Cape?
Over the almost five years since April 2009, 61% of the new jobs created in the Western Cape have gone to whites, who constitute only 17.5% of the total provincial population. 31% of new jobs went to Coloureds, who make up 53% of the provincial population. Africans actually lost jobs but constitute 28.5% of the population of the province.
Is this what the DA is boasting about? Shame on you, DA. The DA sells itself as the party of delivery. We did an analysis recently of spending by province up to the latest date for which figures are available. It showed that the top four provinces, measured by percentage of spend against budget, were KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape.
Where did the Western Cape feature? It is on spot number 8. That is called second last. It only spent 65 percent of its half-yearly budget, or to put it only a province that was placed under national administration did worse. Yet the DA lectures us about delivery. It must clean up its act in the Western Cape or better still, step down and let the ANC run the province. We will be a government of all, not a government for a small group of people living in affluent areas.
Malusi Gigaba is an ANC NEC member and Minister of Public Enterprises. This is an edited extract of his input during the debate on the State of the Nation Address
Workers on strike in the Northwest platinum belt in South Africa. AMCU has been on strike since January 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Amcu marches on Union Buildings
Amcu members are marching to the Union Buildings, where they are set to hand over a petition raising grievances with government and mining companies.
06 Mar 2014 13:39 Sapa
Hundreds of Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) members marched to the Union Buildings on Thursday to hand over a petition raising their unhappiness about how government departments and mining companies have handled their strike.
Demonstrators blew vuvuzelas and whistles as they marched down Struben Street to the Union Buildings. They carried banners and flags as the sang union songs. A large police contingent was deployed to monitor the strike.
Earlier, marshals formed a human chain around Amcu members in Marabastad ahead of the march.
"Comrades, order, stay within this circle," commanded a marshal walking around hundreds of marchers.
Police vans and nyalas were stationed at Marabasta and union marshals were on hand to stop members leaving the assembly venue.
"Comrade, where are you going? The march starts now," shouted one marshal to three men leaving the assembly point
Talks to resolve the strike via the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, have stalled. The mining companies have offered staggered increases of seven to 9% over the next three years.
On Tuesday, Amcu said it had revised its demand and that the R12 500 minimum monthly salary could now be achieved over three years.
"We are not exactly reducing our demand. Our move is meant to give the employers a breather," Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg.
However, the companies rejected Amcu's revised demand. The platinum producers' chief executives said the revised Amcu demand was not affordable.
"We remain far apart. The revised demand by Amcu of an average basic wage increase of between 25% to 35% year-on-year over a four-year period remains unaffordable."
At the march on Thursday, mineworker Jukulunga Joka from Marikana, North West, said he was more determined to fight for a living wage.
"Our fellow workers died for a living wage. I cannot betray them," he said.
He was referring to 34 mineworkers killed by police at Marikana on August 16 2012. Joka held aloft a poster reading: "Our journey for a living wage is stronger than before."
He said with R12 500 he would be able to provide for his family in the Eastern Cape.
"I am prepared to go on strike for future mineworkers to earn a decent wage," he said.