31 May

Kenya’s president vows to recover resources lost in corruption scandal

Kenya’s public prosecutor said on Wednesday 24 civil servants and business people charged with involvement in the theft of nearly $100 million of public funds will stay in custody pending a June 4 hearing on their application for bail.

The suspects, who include the public service ministry’s principal secretary, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to magistrate Douglas Ogoti to charges that relate to theft at the government’s National Youth Service (NYS).‏

“Accused to be remanded in custody until Monday 4th June, 2018 when court will rule on their bail application,” the office of the director of public prosecution said on Twitter.

The NYS is a state agency that trains young people and deploys them to work on projects ranging from construction to traffic control.

It is rare for prosecutors to bring such a large group of public officials to court to answer corruption charges.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials and ministers.

In the wake of the latest NYS scandal, the president vowed to recover all resources that have been lost to corruption schemes.

“These people who are corrupt should be jailed and we recover all the stolen funds to deliver on the things we promised Kenyans,” Kenyatta told residents of the capital Nairobi while launching a government project on Wednesday.

The president also called out any Kenyans that might entertain the notion of defending people implicated in the scandal, based on their ethnicity.

“I do not want to hear anybody defending those caught in corrupt dealings. A thief is a thief irrespective of the tribe he/she comes from,” said the president.

Chief prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji on Monday named 54 people, 40 of them government officials, to face charges including abuse of office and conspiracy to commit an economic crime. Some of those charged remain at large.

To read the full article, click here.

26 Feb

‘It’s Like 1994 Again’: South African CEOs Hail Ramaphosa Win

South African company heads cheered the start of Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency, saying that business and consumer confidence were sure to improve following the departure of scandal-hit Jacob Zuma.

The result should be economic growth and even job creation, while various stagnating business-friendly policy initiatives could be revived. Further downgrades to the country’s debt may also be avoided.

Below is a selection of quotes taken from interviews with chief executive officers as their companies reported full- or half-year financial results.

South Africa’s largest clothing and food retailer caters for customers in the higher income bracket in its home market and in Australia.

“We’ve gone from looking down to looking up. It’s incredibly positive. It will make a big difference in terms of consumer sentiment. We’re talking about greater GDP growth, we’re talking about fiscal responsibility, we’re talking about corruption being under control. It’s all the right things. It’s everything we wanted and I think our customer is going to respond well.”

Referring to last week’s Budget, which included the first rise in VAT since the end of apartheid:

“Yes, VAT has increased and it was a tough budget. But the good thing was that it was a fiscally responsible budget. Our customers are going to feel better about a fiscally responsible budget and the lower threat of credit downgrades coming back than they are about an increase of 1 percent on VAT.” Mark Lamberti, Imperial Holdings Ltd.

South Africa’s sixth-largest company by sales has a global transportation operation and is planning to spin off its African car rental and retail business later this year.

“If the President delivers on the kinds of things he spoke about in the state of nation address — and I have no reason to believe he won’t over time — I think you will see a level of regulatory certainty that we never had before, which makes it easier to make an investment decision.

To read the full article, click here.

14 Feb

Zuma Has Next Move in ANC Power Battle as Gupta Home Raided

The noose tightened on South African President Jacob Zuma as the police went after key allies while leaders of the ruling African National Congress vowed to force him from office.

Police raided the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family, who are in business with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, early Wednesday as the nation awaited the president’s next move in his struggle for power with Cyril Ramaphosa.

Time is against Zuma, South Africa’s ultimate political street fighter, as Ramaphosa has relentlessly grabbed political space since he won the presidency of the party by a razor-thin majority in December.

The ANC expects Zuma to respond to its decision to replace him Wednesday, its spokesman Pule Mabe told Johannesburg-based state broadcaster SAFM. The presidency said no media event was scheduled.

Zuma succeeded in delaying the inevitable last week when his apparent willingness to negotiate prompted Ramaphosa and the rest of the ANC leadership to postpone a meeting of their top body, the National Executive Committee, to decide his future.

But as the talks dragged on, the NEC decided late Monday that his time was up. When he countered by asking to remain in office for up to six months, the party bosses said enough is enough.

“It’s not up to Zuma now; he no longer has any option,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation. “They gave him the option to take control of his own resignation, and when that didn’t work the party took control. The idea of trying not to humiliate him didn’t work.”

While ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule was at pains to show respect for the president on Tuesday, saying Zuma had done nothing, critics say his tenure will be remembered as a time when South Africa went from being known as a “rainbow nation” to one colored by corruption.

To read the full article, click here. 

29 Jan

Zimbabwe: Fresh Moves to Arrest Grace Mugabe

The declaration by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week that former first lady Grace Mugabe is no longer immune to prosecution appears to have left Mugabe’s garrulous wife vulnerable to arrest as vultures circle above her, bracing for a kill.

Grace made a lot of enemies during her time as first lady and Mnangagwa’s pronouncement has opened floodgates of legal trouble for the once most feared woman in Zimbabwe.

In an interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Mnangagwa said Grace enjoyed no immunity and could be arrested and taken to court on any charges.

South African model Gabriella Engels, who was walloped with an electric cord by Grace and was left nursing a deep cut on the head and other injuries, has rekindled her fight for justice and is planning to have Mugabe’s wife dragged to South Africa to face the music.

“If I had the opportunity to meet the new Zimbabwean president, I would ask him to do the right thing and handover Grace for prosecution,” Engels told The Standard yesterday.

Engels’ lawyers were working hard to bring Grace to justice in South Africa so that she can answer to the case of assault.

“We are aware that she is no longer a person of power, that her husband was ousted from office and that the government of Zimbabwe said she does not enjoy any immunity anymore,” Engels’ mother said.

“In light of the latest developments, our lawyers are working on that case to secure justice for my child.”

Engels said her family was grateful and happy that Zimbabweans ousted the Mugabes because they were now abusing power to put fear into her family.

“Most definitely, I am happy, we are free and we will continue to fight until we get justice,” she said.

To read the full article, click here. 

22 Jan

Zimbabwe President Seeks to Woo Lenders by Paying Loan Arrears

Zimbabwe is committed to repaying arrears to external lenders so that it can resume support programs with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and end years of isolation from global capital markets, said the country’s president.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 75-year-old who took over as leader of the southern African country in November after the military pressured Robert Mugabe into resigning, said one of his priorities is reintegrating his country into the global financial system.

The economy has halved in size since 2000, credit lines from most lenders have been withdrawn and infrastructure has crumbled.

 Zimbabwe owes about $9 billion to lenders such as the World Bank and African Development Bank and has fallen behind in payments, with arrears recently amounting to about $1.8 billion.
If his bid to revive the economy is to succeed, Mnangagwa will need access to billions of dollars of support.
“There are limitations to engaging with Bretton Woods institutions — the limitations are as a result of our arrears with those institutions but they are giving positive indications that they would want to accommodate us,” he said in an interview in his office in the capital, Harare, last week.
“We shall recommit ourselves to paying our debts, our arrears. I believe that they will embrace us in the same manner they are embracing other countries.”
Re-engaging with international lenders would be a first step for the Zimbabwean government, which is also considering a debut international bond sale so that it can invest in infrastructure.
“If this succeeds, we would really need a substantial injection into our economy, in particular into the productive economy,” he said.
“Basically a capital injection into capital projects. Infrastructure development is what we want: dams, roads.”
Still, the Zimbabwean leader demonstrated little appetite for cutting costs in the manner that the IMF and other lenders have urged.
The country’s more than 500,000-strong civil service accounts for about 90 percent of budget expenditure, crowding out investment in much-needed projects such as restoring the capital’s water supply and fixing its roads.
To read the full article, click here.
22 Jan

Zuma’s Time Running Out as Ramaphosa Wields S. African Power

The clock is ticking on South African President Jacob Zuma’s scandal-ridden administration as his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, flexes his political muscles and shows he’s increasingly wielding state power to stamp out corruption and revive the economy.

While the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership has decided that Zuma, 75, must leave office — to win back voters and stoke investor confidence in the stagnant economy — without setting a deadline, newly elected party leader Ramaphosa and his supporters have moved decisively on two other fronts.

His office and the Ministry of Public Enterprises announced sweeping changes to the board and management of struggling state-power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. As well as deciding Zuma must step down on Friday, the ANC National Executive Committee suspended the party’s pro-Zuma provincial executive committees in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Free State that the courts said weren’t properly elected.

“It is as if Cyril is confirming that he has taken over the reins,” said Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance. “I would say Zuma will be gone in anything between 10 and 30 days maximum.

Economic Revival

Zuma’s exit would catapult Ramaphosa, 65, into the presidency and allow him to begin to repair an economy that suffered its second recession in almost a decade in 2017 and has struggled to mount a strong recovery. He’s also vowed to fight the graft that have marred Zuma’s administration.

An open question remains whether Zuma will step aside before Feb. 8 so that Ramaphosa can deliver the annual state-of-the-nation address. Zuma announced on Sunday that Water Minister Nomvula Mokonyane will represent him at the inauguration of Liberian President George Weah.

One of the wealthiest black South Africans, Ramaphosa is expected to adopt more business-friendly policies, even though he enjoys the support of the communist party and the biggest labor union federation.

To read the full article, click here.

19 Dec

Scarred South Africa Turns to Mandela Favorite

Cyril Ramaphosa wiped tears from his eyes moments after his election as leader of South Africa’s ruling party — a reflection of his arduous journey to the pinnacle of power and possibly of what lies ahead.

Many South Africans are relieved at the prospect of one of their brightest political minds possibly replacing the scandal-plagued president, Jacob Zuma. But the final step won’t be easy. To capture the presidency, Ramaphosa would need Zuma to step down voluntarily or to be ordered out by the fractious African National Congress.

And then there’s Zuma’s mess. The economy is moribund, one in four people are out of work, corruption riddles state institutions, and a divided ruling party faces a real threat of losing power in 2019 elections.

But don’t count Ramaphosa out.

The man who became the ANC’s top negotiator in talks to end apartheid is nothing if not resilient. After the party blocked his bid to succeed Nelson Mandela — even though he was Mandela’s preferred heir — he went into business to become one of the richest black South Africans. And just to win the ANC presidency, he had to beat Zuma’s candidate — his ex-wife — a feat few thought possible.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-19/scarred-south-africa-turns-to-mandela-favorite 

13 Dec

Zuma ordered to pay legal costs for attempts to stop state capture report

President Jacob Zuma has been told to cover the legal costs of his frivolous attempts to stop the Public Protector’s state capture report from making it to court.

The judgement, handed down by Justice Mlambo at Pretoria High Court, highlighted the ‘frenzy’ Zuma caused when he asked for an interdict of the PP’s report. It sparked as mass of counter-applications for all other major political parties. At the end of October, he abandoned the process.

Zuma must cover costs for state capture hold-ups

After wasting the court’s time by eventually abandoning his appeal against the state capture case, Jacob Zuma must now foot the bill himself. Which also means, the investigation into the state of capture is looking increasingly likely to go ahead without any further challenges.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela made a 2016 ruling that the ANC leader must face an inquiry into state capture, as details of his overly-cosy business relationship with the Guptas became public knowledge.

Madonsela’s decision meant that an investigation team would have to be chosen by a neutral party. However, Jacob Zuma wanted this particular detail reviewed, given that he’s the president and he argues it falls under his remit.

Will Zuma face a state capture inquiry?

After spending the best part of a year protesting, Zuma eventually withdrew his application two months ago. However, the reviews and legal processes had come at a great cost.

Judge Mlambo ruled out a ‘punitive costs’ punishment, as this would burden the taxpayer. Instead, he hit the President where it hurt: his wallet.

Judge Mlambo ruled out a ‘punitive costs’ punishment, as this would burden the taxpayer. Instead, he hit the President where it hurt: his wallet.

The fun hasn’t finished quite yet, though. JZ is also facing judgement day over who will be allowed to appoint an independent judge to lead the state capture commission of inquiry. Could it be double-trouble for Zuma? We’ll keep you all updated.

To read the full article, click here.

06 Dec

Angola Gem Firm Distances Itself From Former President’s Family

An Angolan state-owned diamond company is pulling out of an investment in a Swiss firm controlled by the husband of the billionaire daughter of the former president, as the country’s new leader untangles it from the business interests of his predecessor’s family.

Sodiam will divest a stake in Geneva-based jewelry maker De Grisogono for “reasons of public interest and legality,” it said in a statement after a board meeting on Dec. 1, without giving details of how the transaction would be completed.

The company is controlled by Sindika Dokolo, the husband of Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, according to Ana Gomes, a Portuguese member of the European Parliament who has done research on the business interests of Africa’s richest woman.

The move comes as President Joao Lourenco seeks to distance the oil-rich country from the influence of Dos Santos and his family. He’s fired Isabel from her position as chairman of state-owned oil company Sonangol, and last week announced plans to auction a new telecoms license to compete with Unitel SA, which she controls. Lourenco, known as J-Lo in Angola, replaced dos Santos, who has nevertheless remained head of the ruling MPLA party.

Tribune de Geneve reported earlier Tuesday about Sodiam’s exit from De Grisogono. The company lost money on the investment, it said. A call to the offices of De Grisogono wasn’t answered.

Sodiam is a former unit of Endiama, another state-owned diamond company in Africa’s biggest producer of the precious gems.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-05/angola-gem-firm-distances-itself-from-former-presidents-family 

09 Aug

Kenya election 2017: Raila Odinga says election systems hacked

Hacked

Kenya opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga has said the electoral commission’s IT system has been hacked to manipulate the election results.

He rejected early results from Tuesday’s vote indicating a strong lead for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The electoral commission has not yet responded to Mr Odinga’s accusation, but politicians have called for calm.

Many fear a repeat of the violence after a disputed election 10 years ago.

More than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced following the 2007 vote.

Mr Odinga said that the hackers gained access to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) computer system by using the identity of the commission’s IT manager, Chris Msando, who was killed last month.

The opposition leader had earlier told journalists the results coming in were “fake”, because the authorities had failed to present documents verifying the results.

Electoral officials say that with 91% of results in, Mr Kenyatta is leading with about 54.5%, to Mr Odinga’s 44.6%.

These results mean Mr Kenyatta appears to be heading for a first-round victory. In order to avoid a run-off, a candidate needs 50% plus one of the votes cast and at least a 25% share of the vote in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

There were eight candidates in all, but apart from Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga none polled more than 0.3% of the vote.

What is Mr Odinga’s complaint about the vote?

The opposition has described the results being released online as a “fraud” because they were not accompanied by original result forms 34A and 34B from the polling stations.

“They are fictitious, they are fake,” said Mr Odinga.

He said that the results were “the work of a computer” and did not reflect the will of voters.

“We have our projections from our agents which show we are ahead by far,” he added.

Opposition officials have said that, despite assurances from the electoral commission, they still have not received the result forms.

What does the electoral commission say?

The electoral commission has been urging people to wait calmly for the full results of Tuesday’s vote.

“During this critical phase, we urge all Kenyans to exercise restraint as we await official results from the polling stations and indeed as they start trickling in,” the commission said.

However, it admitted that a lack of mobile data coverage had delayed the delivery of the supporting documents, forms 34A and 34B.
There had been reports on election day of the failure of some voter-identification equipment. Also, one in four polling stations were apparently without mobile phone coverage, meaning that officials were asked to drive to the nearest town to send results.
The presidential candidates’ agents would have “special access” to the forms, though, the electoral commission said.
The Daily Nation newspaper quoted commission head Ezra Chiloba as saying only results supported by the forms had been published.
How did the voting go?
Voting passed off largely peacefully and some polling stations remained open after the scheduled 17:00 (14:00 GMT) closing time.
People started queuing early to ensure they could cast their vote. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured after an apparent stampede.

There were reports that one man had been killed in clashes in the Kilifi area.

But there was one heartening moment when a woman gave birth to a baby girl as she queued in West Pokot to cast her ballot. New mother Pauline Chemanang called the circumstances of the birth a “blessing” and called her baby Kura, Swahili for “ballot”, according to local radio.

However, in the run-up to election day, a top election official was murdered, there were claims of vote-rigging and hate speech flyers and rhetorical text messages began circulating.

Some nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water, while police prepared emergency first aid kits in the event of violence.

What is at stake?

Mr Kenyatta is hoping for a second term in office.

Voting for the national and local assemblies has also been taking place

Mr Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, beat him in the last election in 2013, but their rivalry is generations old – their fathers were political opponents in the 1960s.

Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago. The case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.

  • Six separate ballot papers: For president, national assembly, female representatives, governors, senate and county assemblies
  • 47 parliamentary seats and 16 senate seats reserved for women
  • Eight presidential candidates: President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are favourites
  • Kenyatta beat Odinga in 2013 – their fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s
  • A candidate needs 50% plus one vote for first-round victory
  • More than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections
  • More than 45% of registered voters under 35
  • Some 180,000 security officers on duty nationwide in case of trouble

Read full article on BBC