South African Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Jacob Zuma

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018, former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges.
PHOTO: Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

A South African court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for embattled former president Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing over corruption charges he faces related to a 1990s arms deal.

But the execution of the warrant will be deferred until May 6 when the case is due to resume.

Zuma’s lawyers told the court that he was ill and receiving treatment abroad.

The High Court in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg issued the warrant after it questioned the authenticity of the sick note said to have been signed by a military doctor.

“The court accepts that Mr Zuma may be unwell,” said judge Dhaya Pillay. “But this court needs reliable evidence that Mr Zuma is indeed ill.”

“It is not clear that (the doctor) is indeed a regular practitioner,” she said.

Zuma’s lawyer Dan Mantsha told reporters outside the courtroom that “our courts have no sympathy, no compassion”.

“We are very concerned when courts issue warrants under the circumstances like this when the whole country knows that president Zuma is not well … indeed president Zuma underwent two operations in early January this year,” he said, adding the country knew Zuma was outside the country.

“When you start to issue warrants under such circumstances, people start to question whether we are all equal under the law,” said Mantsha.

Zuma was due in court on Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in a case that has seen numerous legal turns over a decade and a half.

He is alleged to have taken bribes worth four million rand ($270,000) related to a $3.4 billion arms deal in 1999 when he was deputy president.

In all Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment when he was deputy to the country’s second black president, Thabo Mbeki.

Both Zuma and French defence company Thales, which supplied equipment for navy vessels, deny the charges.

Zuma was forced to step down in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a nine-year reign marked by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.

AFP

S.Africa Deputy President Leads Ruling Party Leadership Race

SA Minister Assures Foreign Nationals Of Halted Attacks

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa enjoyed a sharp lead on Tuesday in the contest to become the leader of the ruling African National Congress party.

A majority of party regional delegates backed Ramaphosa ahead of an elective conference to be held in Johannesburg which will select a successor to ANC chief President Jacob Zuma between December 16 and 20.

Ramaphosa leads his closest rival, Zuma’s ex-wife and former African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by 529 regional delegates according to a provisional official tally released on Tuesday. He currently has 1,859 pledges to her 1,330.

They have been embroiled in an increasingly bitter proxy battle, with allies of the two trading insults and allegations in recent months.

The successful contender will go on to contest presidential elections in 2019 as the ANC candidate.

Other hopefuls include parliament speaker Baleka Mbete and presidency minister Jeff Radebe — although they are seen as outsiders.

There are 4,731 branch delegates in all who will make up roughly 90 percent of the votes that will be cast at the elective conference to pick a new leader.

The remaining votes are reserved for delegates from the ANC’s Women’s, Youth and Veteran’s branches as well as provincial executive committee members.

Branch delegates can change their votes up until the conference.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade union official turned successful entrepreneur who is the preferred contender of the business community.

They hope that he will be able to extricate South Africa from a spiral of high-unemployment, slow growth and soaring debt.

He will face-off against 68-year-old Dlamini-Zuma who previously held a string of ministerial posts and went on to chair the African Union Commission. Her detractors have suggested that she could shield her ex-husband Zuma from any corruption prosecution. He faces a slew of graft allegations and the possible reinstatement of 783 corruption charges related to a 1990s arms deal.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe sought to alay fears that divisions within the party could spill into the open at the elective conference.

“Contestation for leadership must strengthen the ANC rather than weakening it,” he said.

“We are working very hard to ensure that the conference is steady and successful.”

AFP

Thousands March In South Africa Against Zuma

Thousands Expected To March In South Africa Against Jacob ZumaThousands of protesters are staging a multi-city protest against President Jacob Zuma’s leadership in South Africa.

They are calling on President Zuma once again, to step down following a string of scandals.

The recent sacking of respected Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, last Thursday has outraged allies and opponents.

The reshuffle also caused rifts in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the end of the ‘white-minority rule’ in 1994.

Similarly, S&P Global Ratings cited Gordhan’s dismissal as one reason for its downgrade of South Africa to “junk” in an unscheduled review on Monday.

The Rand has tumbled more than 11 per cent since March 27, when President Zuma ordered Mr Gordhan to return home from overseas talks with investors, days before firing him from the cabinet.

South Africa’s Zuma Gets Backing From ANC

South Africa's Zuma Gets Backing From ANCEmbattled South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, has survived another attempt to force him out of office for the umpteenth time.

This time, the President received the backing of a major decision-making body within the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The committee was reviewing a complaint by some of the ANC top executives that President Zuma had failed to consult them over reshuffling his cabinet.

After considering the complaint, the ANC body said it has decided not to press for the President’s resignation.

Mr Zuma has been under growing pressure since sacking respected South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.

Mr Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the ANC .

The former Finance Minister described an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification as ‘absolute nonsense‘.

South African Speaker Aborts Trip To Discuss Urgent Motion

South African Speaker Aborts Trip To Discuss Urgent MotionSpeaker of the South African Parliament, Baleka Mbete, has cut short her participation at the International Parliamentary Union in Bangladesh, to address pressing political developments in the country.

Foremost among the issues are opposition parties’ request for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma to be tabled before the Assembly this week.

This follows a controversial cabinet reshuffle carried out by the President, where a well-loved Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan was removed.

Although the parliament is on recess, but the opposition parties want an urgent sitting to debate the motion.

Ms Mbete, who is also the Chairperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), told reporters at the OR Tambo Airport on Sunday that there will be consultations from Tuesday before a date can be set.

Mr Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the ANC on Thursday night.

Reacting to his sack, the former Finance Minister described an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification as ‘absolute nonsense’.

South African Leaders Divided Over Gordhan’s Sack

South African Leaders Divided Over Gordhan's SackThere was a delay to the swearing-in of new ministers selected by President Jacob Zuma in South Africa, as the programme had to be rescheduled for Friday evening.

The President’s sacking of the country’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has drawn mixed reactions from South African leaders, with some praising Mr Gordhan’s virtues.

They believed he is victim of a witch-hunt, because he had been digging up dirt on the President.

Reacting to his sack, the former Finance Minister said an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification was ‘absolute nonsense’.

Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) convened by the South African President on Thursday night.

South Africa: Zuma Sacks Finance Minister, 14 Others

Jacob Zuma, South AfricaThere are strong indications that 15 ministers of the South African cabinet might have been sacked.

This comes as part of the fall out of an urgent meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) convened on Thursday night by President Jacob Zuma.

According to report, no names have been released, although it is said that nine ministers and six deputies have been fired.

At an earlier news briefing, it was gathered that President Zuma had hinted on his intention to remove the Minister of Finance, based on an intelligence report which stated that the Minister had set up meetings with people who could push for a change in government.

Meanwhile, a party source said that the President is considering to step down in 2018, at least 12 months before his term ends as South African President.

Mr Zuma is due to be replaced as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) at a party conference in December, after serving his allocated two terms.

South Africa’s Anti-apartheid Veteran, Kathrada Dies At 87

Courtesy: alchetron.com
Courtesy: alchetron.com

South African anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada, has passed on at the age of 87, in a Johannesburg hospital.

According to reports, he died peacefully  “after a short period of illness, following surgery to the brain”.

Along with the late former South African President, Nelson Mandela, Mr Kathrada was among the eight African National Congress (ANC) activists sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

They were convicted of trying to overthrow the apartheid government.

The anti-apartheid icon spent 26 years in prison, 18 of which were on the notorious Robben Island.

He was released in 1989, after which the late former South African President persuaded him to join him in government.

Ahmed Kathrada left parliament in 1999, but remained active in politics.

He criticised the recent direction of the ANC and called on President Jacob Zuma to resign.

Mandela Foundation Rebukes Zuma, Joins Calls For Leadership Change

zumaThe foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela on Tuesday blamed South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma for the “wheels coming off” Africa’s most industrialised nation and urged a change in political leadership.

Since coming to power in 2009, Zuma has survived a string of corruption scandals almost unscathed. But South Africa has had to bear the cost of his antics as investors worry about its political stability, business climate and rule of law.

The non-profit Nelson Mandela Foundation, whose board consists of ten prominent South African academics, politicians and journalists, called on the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation movement once headed by Mandela and now led by Zuma, to change its leadership.

“We call on the governing party to take the steps necessary to ensure that the vehicle of state be protected and placed in safe and capable hands,” it said in a rare statement entitled: “Time to account for crippling the state”.

There has been no comments from Zuma’s spokesman or from the President.

Several ANC members have called for the 74-year-old to quit but the ANC’s top echelons have backed him. In August municipal elections the ANC suffered its worst losses since taking power when apartheid fell in 1994.

Opposition parties and civic groups are planning to march in the capital Pretoria on Wednesday to demand, among other things, that he resign.

In a blow to Zuma and the ANC, Ndileka Mandela, a grandchild of Mandela, backed the foundation’s stance.

“As Grandad always said, if the ANC does what the apartheid government did, you have every right to do what we did to the apartheid government,” she said. “That statement could never be more true than now with what we are seeing happening.”

Ruling ANC, Zuma Face Test In South Africa Polls

Jacob-Zuma-ANCThe people of South Africa have trooped out in large numbers to vote in local elections perceived as a test for President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

There was heavy security presence at the polls after a number of ANC local councilors were shot dead.

The tragedy is assumed to be the outcome of a hidden crisis in the final weeks of the campaigns.

The election reveals that the ANC, who has been ruling since 1994, might lose dominance in three major cities of Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

President Zuma has had to weather the scandal, after being ordered to refund taxpayers’ money spent on his private home.

Some senior officials of the party have asked the South African President to step aside, as a result of the scandal and the weak economy.

South Africa Elections: Zuma And ANC Face Test

zumaPresident Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress’s popularity will be put to test as South Africans go to the polls for local elections.

The ANC has dominated the political landscape of South Africa since the first all-race elections in 1994, but Mr Zuma has had to weather scandal, after being ordered to repay taxpayers’ money spent on his private home.

Opinion polls see a close race in the capital Pretoria, economic-hub Johannesburg and other key cities, alongside the symbolic Nelson Mandela Bay municipality named after the anti-apartheid icon.

“I’m voting because I want access to electricity, water and other services. Unemployment is rife and I think voting will help change that,” William Mahlangu, 58, a pensioner, at a polling station in Pretoria told Reuters.

The ANC, at one point the main anti-apartheid party, is under pressure from two parties – the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, who are competing in their first local elections under firebrand leader, Julius Malema.

South African Shanty-Town Demolition Sparks Riots, Two Guards Killed

south africa3The demolition of shacks north of the South African capital Pretoria triggered riots on Monday and overnight in which two security guards were killed, police said on Tuesday.

Four people had been arrested and would be charged with public violence while a fifth faced a charge of murder, police spokesman Tsekiso Mofokeng said.

Poverty, a swelling population and migration from the countryside is aggravating a shortage of urban housing in South Africa, leading to sprawling informal settlements springing up.

“We have intensified our patrols in the area and the situation is under control at the moment,” Mofokeng said.

He said the operation to demolish shacks in the Hammanskraal township, which had been ordered by the local authorities, had been suspended.

The latest flare-up comes ahead of local government elections in August where the ruling African National Congress, which came to power in 1994 when white minority rule fell, is expected to face a tough test especially in urban centers where unemployment and poverty have led to mushrooming shanty-towns.

President Jacob Zuma is also beset with scandals and his opponents are seeking to capitalise on what they see as his economic and political missteps.