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Saturday, 17th November 2018
8:08:26pm

Southern Africa

Articles related to Southern Africa

Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said on Thursday he would only testify before an inquiry into post-election violence that killed six people in August if President Emmerson Mnangagwa did the same.

The July 30 poll was the first after Robert Mugabe was forced to resign following a coup in November 2017. In the aftermath of the vote, civilians died in an army crackdown on opposition protests.

Chamisa lost a legal challenge to the election results but still maintains the vote was rigged and that Mnangagwa lacks legitimacy.

A commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlante has heard evidence from security chiefs who this week denied soldiers had killed civilians and blamed Chamisa and other opposition leaders for inciting violence.

Video from the Aug. 1 protests showed soldiers, some with their faces obscured by camouflage masks, opening fire with automatic weapons.

Chamisa said he and former finance minister Tendai Biti were among leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who on Thursday received letters calling them to appear before the commission when it resumes hearings next week. 

“If they are to be fair, what’s good for the goose must be good for the gander, they must be able to invite Mr Mnangagwa. If he is not going to go, why should I go alone?” Chamisa said to reporters at the MDC’s headquarters in Harare.

Police chief Godwin Matanga on Tuesday told the commission that Chamisa could be arrested any time for inciting violence. Chamisa said this was part of pressure on him to recognise Mnangagwa as president.

-Reuters

South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday that it was investigating Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, a close ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, for allegedly abusing his powers during his time as finance minister.

The watchdog said it was looking into allegations that Gordhan wrongly approved an early retirement package for a senior tax official at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in 2010, before allowing him to be re-employed at the agency on a contract basis.

Gordhan is currently leading efforts to shore up the country’s debt-ridden state-owned companies, which have been hobbled by years of mismanagement.

Public Enterprises Ministry spokesman Adrian Lackay said on Thursday that Gordhan was not able to comment because he had made a submission on the investigation to a separate judicial inquiry into state corruption headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and was not allowed to disclose that submission.

Gordhan has said in the past that the early retirement of tax official Ivan Pillay was entirely above board.

The Public Protector, an organisation mandated by the constitution to uphold standards in public office, said the investigation into Gordhan had started in 2016 but had now reached a stage where it was ready to conduct interviews.

“The Public Protector subpoenaed and is investigating allegations of impropriety against Minister Gordhan,” said Oupa Segalwe, a spokesman for the Public Protector.

“It has been alleged that the minister approved Pillay’s retirement and bought off his pension balance irregularly and later allowed him to be re-employed by the South African Revenue Service,” Segalwe added.

In an opinion piece in a South African newspaper last month, Gordhan said his efforts to clean up corruption in state-owned companies faced “dangerous” resistance which threatened the country’s sovereignty.

Gordhan has some powerful enemies in the ruling African National Congress and has been criticised by the radical Economic Freedom Fighters party as the power behind the throne. 

Ramaphosa has said Gordhan needs to be applauded for the actions he has taken as public enterprises minister.

Judge Zondo is leading an inquiry into claims of influence-peddling against former president Jacob Zuma.

The inquiry will review allegations that the three Gupta brothers unduly influenced Zuma over political appointments and winning government contracts. Both Zuma and the Gupta brothers deny wrongdoing.

-Reuters

South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba should be disciplined for lying under oath about the wealthy Oppenheimer family’s attempt to open a private airport immigration facility, the country’s official anti-graft watchdog said on Wednesday.

This is the latest setback for Gigaba, who said on Sunday that he had faced blackmail threats over a private sex video that was leaked after he said his phone was hacked. 

Gigaba was finance minister between March 2017 and February 2018 under scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma. He was moved back to the home affairs ministry by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a cabinet reshuffle in February.

A South African court ruled last December that Gigaba had violated the constitution when he denied having ever approved an application by the Oppenheimers to operate an immigration service for wealthy VIPs at Johannesburg’s main airport. 

Nicky Oppenheimer, former chairman of diamond miner De Beers and one of South Africa’s wealthiest people, told a parliamentary committee this week that Gigaba had initially approved his family’s plan to open a private terminal at OR Tambo airport in 2016.

On Wednesday Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane directed Ramaphosa to discipline Gigaba and to inform her of the action he had taken within 20 days. “The minister has committed a breach of the constitution,” Mkhwebane told a news conference.

Gigaba’s spokesman did not answer his phone when called by Reuters on Wednesday.

-Reuters

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has used his first state-of-the-nation address to openly attack his predecessor Ian Khama in an unprecedented clash in a country that prides itself on stability.

Masisi, who was hand-picked by Khama, took power in April when Khama stepped aside after serving the maximum 10 years in office.

But the two men have since fallen out in a public spat that threatens to undermine Botswana's carefully-crafted reputation for stable government.

"Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected," Masisi said in his keynote address to parliament on Monday, using the term for the people of Botswana. 

He said he had tried to "smoothen the process" by appointing senior politicians to negotiate with Khama.

"I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit," Masisi said, adding that a central cause of friction had been Khama's retirement entitlements and pension.

Khama hit back on Tuesday, saying his successor's speech was "regrettable" and accusing the government of being "engaged in actions against" him, without giving further details.

He said he was keen "to resolve this undesirable situation."

The former president has reportedly been enraged by Masisi's refusal to let him use government planes, while state media have been instructed not to feature Khama.

The two men have also battled over the former boss of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi, who was sacked by Masisi for insubordination.

Khama, 65, has sought to employ Kgosi as his private secretary but has been blocked by Masisi.

Masisi, 57, served as vice president to Khama, and the handover of power came ahead of parliamentary elections due in 2019.

Botswana prides itself on good governance and rule of law, and is widely seen as an African success story that has made good use of its lucrative income from diamond, beef and tourism.

It is rated as the least corrupt country in Africa by Transparency International.

"It is because of the peace and tranquillity that our leaders have sustained for so long that (we) have continued to enjoy relative prosperity," Masisi said after taking his oath in April.

Both men are veterans of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has held power since independence from Britain in 1966.

Khama's father, Seretse Khama, served from 1966 to 1980 as Botswana's first president.

Four opposition parties have said they could unite for the 2019 election to try to unseat the BDP.

-AFP

eSwatini’s King Mswati has appointed Ambrose Dlamini, chief executive of the local unit of telecoms group MTN, as new prime minister of the southern African kingdom, local media reported.

Mswati is Africa’s last absolute monarch and has tight political control over the impoverished, land-locked nation formerly known as Swaziland, where political parties are banned. The king chooses the prime minister and government.

The Times of Swaziland reported that Mswati made the announcement to supporters on Saturday at his royal residence. 

“The heavens told me that the person I will appoint should have your support and cooperation. You should cooperate with him so that tomorrow you don’t turn around and say the king gave you someone who knows nothing,” the paper quoted Mswati as saying.

The new prime minister replaces Sibusiso Dlamini, who died last month.

Swaziland also recently held legislative elections that are seen as largely symbolic and do not have party lists. 

The king, who has several wives, is accused by critics and rights groups of using the public purse to fund his family’s lavish lifestyle, which he denies.

In September, public sector workers clashed with eSwatini police as they marched through the streets of the country’s second biggest city, part of wider protests to demand higher wages and reforms to the way the state pension fund is managed.

-Reuters

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