Be More Tolerant Of Competition, Buhari Urges South Africans And Nigerians

 

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa, called for more tolerance, vigilance and heightened security in countries to ensure safety of citizens, noting that competition heralded by globalization, especially with ease in migration, will only get more intense for businesses.

Responding to questions during a press conference at the Union Building, alongside his host, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the President said authorities should be more pro-active in detecting early signals of violence between competitors, while migrants and companies should adhere to the local laws of countries.

“Police must be on alert not to allow violence to escalate,’’ he said.

President Buhari said the business world had turned out more dynamic over the years, with foreigners competing with locals in businesses that were initially considered low. He said the panacea would only be for security agencies to show more interest in market operations, players and likely areas of tensions.

The President likened the situation of Nigerians in South Africa to Ghana where competition at low levels of the economy breeds intense competition, noting that it will keep growing with population explosion.

The President told Nigerians living in various parts of the world, especially in South Africa, to adhere with the laws of the country they reside, and ensure compliance with market laws.

“Like it is said, ‘when you are in Rome behave like the Romans’. Always be law abiding,’’ he said.

Earlier in his remark, the President condemned attacks on Nigerians and the burning of their properties in South Africa, describing it as “unacceptable’’, while assuring the South African government that their citizens and businesses in Nigeria will always be protected from harm. He also condemned the reprisal attacks in Nigeria.

“In my discussions with President Ramaphosa and the Bi-National Commission meeting, we reviewed wide range of issues at national, regional, continental and global levels,’’ he added.

He said some of the issues were on trade, investment, mining, security, police affairs and environment. “Our two countries have also agreed to unequivocally address the challenges in our relations including the recent people to people challenges that saw attacks against foreign nationals, including Nigerians, and their properties, which we strongly condemned.’’

In his remarks, President Ramaphosa said the attacks on foreigners in South Africa, including Nigerians, were regrettable, assuring that his government will work hard to see an end to such attacks. He said the reprisal attacks in Nigeria were also condemnable.

“We will work together to promote cohesion and best values. What happened did not reflect our values. We both condemn the attacks and the reprisal in strongest terms. We will set up mechanisms for early signals,’’ he said.

President Ramaphosa said his country will also create a more enabling environment for Nigerian businesses to thrive in South Africa, acknowledging that more South African companies operate in Nigeria, while Nigerians were mostly in Small and Medium Scale sectors in his country.

“We have large corporations operating in Nigeria while you have small and medium enterprises from Nigeria here in South Africa.” He promised to deepen the reforms in his country to open the space for more Nigerian business to “address the imbalance”.

“The rule of law must be obeyed by all citizens. Nigerians in South Africa must obey the rule of law, while South Africans in Nigeria must obey the rule of law,’’ he said.

Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, signed agreements on the minutes of the 9th session of Bi-National Commission.

Obasanjo Visits President Ramaphosa Of South Africa

 

Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has paid a courtesy visit to South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa.

He presented the latest book he co-authored titled “Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage”, to the South African leader.

President Ramaphosa thanked the former President for working hard and still having the energy to write and contribute to current debates about the development of Africa.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: Buhari Pledges ‘Solidified’ Nigeria-South Africa Ties As Ramaphosa Apologises

The two leaders also used the opportunity to reflect on recent events in South Africa which saw more than four hundred Nigerians voluntarily evacuated from the country.

A statement by the presidential spokeswoman Khusela Diko says former President Obasanjo expressed his sincere appreciation of President Ramaphosa’s recent appointment of a team of Special Envoys who have in the past few days visited a number of fellow African states to deliver a message from the President regarding the incidents of violence against mostly foreign nationals.

Xenophobia: Nigeria’s Special Envoy Returns To Brief President Buhari

 

 

The special envoy sent to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari, has returned to the country after meeting with South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The special envoy, Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar held a closed door meeting with President Ramaphosa on Friday afternoon, where he conveyed President Buhari’s concern over recent events in South Africa, in the context of the strong and cordial relations that characterise the interaction between the two countries.

Although the envoy did not make any comment after the meeting, South African officials however hinted of  President Muhammadu Buhar’s State visit to South Africa  next month as scheduled.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: South African Govt Anticipates Buhari’s Visit In October

The South African president thereafter reaffirmed his country’s relationship with Nigeria, insisting that it remains firm and strong and that the two partners were resolute in their shared commitment to build an Africa at peace with itself and others.

He says President Buhari conveyed his commitment to the values of prosperity and the advancement of Africa that are shared by both countries and pledged Nigeria’s readiness to assist south Africa in establishing the root causes of and developing sustainable solutions to the challenges concerned.

Killing Of Nigerians In South Africa: We Are Looking Into It – Ramaphosa Tells Buhari

 

Only days after the alleged killing of a Nigerian in South Africa by security agents, President Cyril Ramaphosa says discussions are ongoing to tackle the issue.

President Ramaphosa says he feels sad about the development especially with the long-standing relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.

The South African President spoke after a bilateral meeting with President Muhammad Buhari on the sidelines of the ongoing TICAD 7 in Yokohama Japan.

READ ALSO: ‘We Believe In Africa,’ Prime Minster Abe Says At TICAD Opening Ceremony

He says he had a fruitful meeting with President Buhari, and hopes that positive outcomes will follow as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, President Buhari also met with his counterpart from Benin Republic Patrice Talon.

At the meeting, the two leaders discussed the closure of the Benin- Nigeria border which Mr Talon says is causing hardship for his country.

President Buhari promised to convene a meeting to review the situation.

South African President Congratulates President Buhari On His Re-Election

This combination photo shows President Muhammadu Buhari and South Africa’s new President, Cyril Ramaphosa

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory in Nigeria’s Presidential election.

He also praised Nigerians for their patience after the elections were delayed by a week and their peaceful conduct during the elections, a statement by the South African Presidency said on Wednesday.

In his congratulatory message, the South African expressed his commitment to working closely with President Buhari’s government “to enhance the good bilateral relations which exist between South Africa and Nigeria, paying particular focus on the strengthening of economic cooperation”.

According to him, South Africa and Nigeria enjoy good political, economic and social relations formally established in 1994, immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections.

“The two countries have thus far signed 34 bilateral agreements covering various areas such as arts and culture, education, agriculture, trade and investment, mining, defence, policing, immigration, taxation, science and technology, health, tourism, environment and energy,” the statement read in part.

In July 2018, a few months after he succeeded Jacob Zuma, the South Africa President had visited Nigeria and met with President Buhari.

He recalled in his congratulatory message on Wednesday that he and President Buhari “held fruitful bilateral talks and recommitted their two government to deepening cooperation at the bilateral, continental and multilateral levels”.

South Africa’s Ramaphosa Appoints Acting Chief Prosecutor After Court Ruling

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Silas Ramaite as the country’s acting chief prosecutor on Tuesday, after a court ruling which declared the appointment of the previous chief prosecutor invalid.

The presidency said in a statement that Ramaphosa would appoint a permanent chief prosecutor within 90 days, as stipulated by the Constitutional Court on Monday.

Ramaite has served as the National Prosecuting Authority’s deputy national director responsible for administration and the office for witness protection.

He has served as deputy director of the NPA for 15 years.

 

South Africa’s Ramaphosa, Putin Agree To Discuss Nuclear Power Deal In Future

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa

 

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week ended with an agreement that the two countries’ governments would discuss a nuclear power deal in future.

Ramaphosa told Putin that South Africa could not proceed with a nuclear expansion for now because the economy was not performing optimally.

“We are not able to proceed with a nuclear build programme. President Putin was quite relaxed about this, he said you deal with your issues and when the situation changes we can keep talking about this. And that’s where we left it,” Ramaphosa told a news conference at the end of the BRICS summit.

South Africa Hikes Sales Tax In ‘Tough’ Post-Zuma Budget

Ramaphosa Replaces Zuma As South African President
South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa holds up his right hand as he is sworn into office after being elected by the Members of Parliament at the Parliament in Cape Town, on February 15, 2018.
Rodger BOSCH / POOL / AFP

 

South Africans were hit by the first sales tax increase since apartheid when the finance minister delivered a tough budget on Wednesday, dampening optimism spurred by the country’s new reformist president.

President Cyril Ramaphosa took over last week from the scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma, raising hope for a turnaround in the economy that slid into recession in 2016 and has grown sluggishly since.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba warned in his speech to parliament in Cape Town that “this is a tough but hopeful budget” as he announced Value Added Tax (VAT) on sales would rise by 1 percentage point to 15 percent.

The new rate is the first hike since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

“We have not adjusted VAT since 1993, and it is low compared to some of our peers. We therefore decided that increasing VAT was unavoidable if we are to maintain the integrity of our public finances,” said Gigaba.

It is hoped that the increase, coupled with adjustments to income tax brackets, will raise some 36 billion rand ($3 billion) for the public purse in 2018-19.

The policy is a gamble for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as it could hurt its poor and black middle-class electoral base going into elections in 2019.

“The current zero-rating of basic food items… will limit the impact on the poorest households,” Gigaba said.

Social grant benefit payments to the poorest South Africans would also increase above the rate of inflation, he said, to mitigate the impact of the VAT hike.

“For the poor its an issue,” said University of Cape Town professor Co-Pierre Georg. “If you live on an extremely tight budget and have to count every rand you have, it will affect what you can buy.”

Gigaba also announced that duty on luxury goods would rise 2 percentage points to 9 percent and the so-called “sin tax” on alcohol and tobacco products would rise between 6 and 10 percent.

Despite being Africa’s most developed economy, South Africa grappled with weak growth, ballooning national debt, depressed investor confidence, record unemployment and junk status on its bonds during Zuma’s nine-year tenure.

– ‘A credible turnaround’? –

Growth rose to 0.9 percent last year from a paltry 0.3 percent the previous year. Analysts forecast this year’s growth will jump to 1.8 percent.

The budget’s proposals to generate an additional 36 billion rand in tax revenue will be essential to fund free university education for students from low-income families — a policy abruptly announced by Zuma on the eve of his departure from the ANC presidency last year.

Under pressure to remove ministers closely allied with Zuma and blamed for aiding state corruption, Ramaphosa told lawmakers on Tuesday that he will announce a new cabinet at an “appropriate” time.

Gigaba, who is widely seen as a Zuma loyalist, jokingly asked Ramaphosa “how much time do I have, sir?” as he started to deliver his speech.

“Gugaba has this tainted history and the problem with him delivering the budget is that people know that he has been involved so intimately (with alleged corruption) and cannot signal to international markets a credible turnaround,” said Georg.

Since Ramaphosa was sworn in as president, the rand has strengthened, the bond market is at its best level in almost two years and local equities rose nearly four percent on Friday when Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address.

“The markets believe Ramaphosa is good for our economy,” said Ken Swettenham, a financial analyst at Liberty Life. “There is positive sentiment.”

But opposition parties remained unconvinced.

“(Ramaphosa) has made some bland, very nice sounding statements about what he is going to do, but the proof is in the eating of the pudding,” said opposition Democratic Alliance’s shadow finance minister Alf Lees.

AFP

Ramaphosa Admits ‘Disunity’ In ANC As Zuma Fights Exit

Ramaphosa To Address Rally As South Africa Deadlock Tightens

Cyril Ramaphosa (C), South African Deputy president, and newly elected president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) greets people during a church service at St George’s Cathedral, on February 11, 2018, in Cape Town. The top decision-making body of South Africa’s ruling ANC will meet on February 12, 2018 following days of talks over President Jacob Zuma’s expected departure from office, a party spokeswoman said.
RODGER BOSCH / AFP

South Africa’s president-in-waiting Cyril Ramaphosa admitted Sunday to “disunity and discord” in the ruling ANC party as the deadlocked effort to oust scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma grinds on.

Ramaphosa said he wanted to replace “a period of difficulty, disunity and discord” with “a new beginning” for the party, and he vowed to tackle corruption that has tarnished Zuma’s government.

With Zuma refusing a party request to resign, the African National Congress’s top decision-making committee will meet on Monday.

The committee could recall the president from office, though he would be under no constitutional obligation to obey the order.

Ramaphosa told an ANC rally in Cape Town that the meeting would “finalise” the matter, but he gave no further details.

“We know you want closure — we will be doing so keeping our eyes on what is in the interests of all our people,” he said to loud applause.

Zuma has clung to power after rejecting a request by his party’s senior officials to resign a week ago.

Several thousand ANC supporters wearing the party’s signature yellow, green and black colours attended the rally at the symbolic Grand Parade in central Cape Town.

On the same day in 1990, Nelson Mandela spoke to euphoric crowds who filled the packed public square in front of City Hall, hours after his release from prison.

It was his first speech as free man, and a key moment in South Africa’s modern re-birth as apartheid white-minority rule crumbled.

Holding the microphone for Mandela that day was a young Ramaphosa, then a trade union leader.

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger in sharp contrast to national optimism after Mandela’s release.

The stalemate over Zuma’s departure has left South Africa in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled last week including Thursday’s State of the Nation address to parliament.

Dispute over exit deal? 

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

“We are in a very difficult space, and there’s no doubt it requires a great deal of courage and moral strength to pass this moment,” ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said Sunday.

The rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to try to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.

Local media said a key sticking point in the negotiations was the potentially huge legal fees Zuma is facing from prolonged court battles against multiple criminal cases.

One case relates to 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power.

He is also reportedly seeking legal protection for his family and other associates who have been involved in controversial deals.

“Even if the ANC meeting on Monday decides Zuma needs to step down, he can still refuse because they have no legal authority,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, politics professor at University of Johannesburg, told AFP.

“He is not willing to step down voluntarily. They need to close this thing early this week.”

Opposition parties are calling for a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.

 Decision time? 

The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget, which is on February 21.

Zuma has not spoken since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials on February 4.

In 2008, the party pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

Under Zuma, the ANC suffered its worst electoral setback since coming to power under Mandela in 1994, winning less than 54 percent of the vote in municipal elections in 2016.

AFP

Ramaphosa To Address Rally As South Africa Deadlock Tightens

 

Ramaphosa To Address Rally As South Africa Deadlock Tightens
ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa greets people during a church service at St George’s Cathedral, on February 11, 2018, in Cape Town. PHOTO: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

South Africa’s president-in-waiting Cyril Ramaphosa will address a major ANC party rally in Cape Town Sunday as the country is gripped by the deadlock over talks to oust scandal-hit President Jacob Zuma from office.

With Zuma refusing a party request to resign, the ANC has said its top decision-making committee will meet on Monday, without revealing what will be on the agenda.

The committee has the power to recall the embattled president.

“An NEC (national executive committee) meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in Pretoria,” ANC spokeswoman Khusela Diko told AFP.

Ramaphosa has said negotiations should be concluded within days, but Zuma has clung to power after rejecting a request by senior officials of the ruling African National Congress to resign a week ago.

On Sunday afternoon, tens of thousands of ANC supporters were expected to gather for the rally in the symbolic venue of the Grand Parade in central Cape Town.

On the same day in 1990, Nelson Mandela spoke to wildly celebrating crowds packed into the square, hours after his release from prison — a key moment in South Africa’s modern re-birth as apartheid white-minority rule crumbled.

Holding the microphone for Mandela that day was a young Ramaphosa, then a trade union leader.

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger in sharp contrast to national optimism after Mandela’s release.

The stalemate over Zuma leaving office has left South Africa in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled last week including Thursday’s State of the Nation address to parliament in Cape Town.

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December, when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

Sunday’s rally is part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since Mandela’s birth, when Ramaphosa will try to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.

Dispute over exit deal?

Local media said a key sticking point in the negotiations was the legal fees Zuma faces in prolonged court battles against multiple criminal cases.

One relates to 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power.

He is also reportedly seeking legal protection for his family and other associates who have been involved in controversial business deals.

“We are confident when (Zuma and Ramaphosa) finish they’ll give South Africa a positive way forward,” Environment Minister Edna Molewa said Saturday.

Susan Booysen, a politics professor from Wits University in Johannesburg, said Zuma may fight on for several more days.

“A stalemate is the best description for the situation,” she told AFP.

“Zuma is a fighter to the end and is refusing to resign, while Ramaphosa doesn’t want to be divisive.”

Not so speedy

The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget, which is on February 21.

Ramaphosa has made no official comment since Wednesday when he pledged “a speedy resolution of the matter”, while Zuma has not spoken since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials on February 4.

The pro-Zuma New Age newspaper said Zuma would gather his family over the weekend at his residence in Pretoria to inform them of his decision.

Many of the recent graft allegations against Zuma are linked to the Guptas, a wealthy Indian business family accused of improperly winning government contracts and influencing cabinet appointments.

In 2008, the party pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

Under Zuma, the ANC suffered its worst electoral setback since coming to power under Mandela in 1994, winning less than 54 percent of the vote in municipal elections in 2016.

AFP

Zuma, Ramaphosa Face Battle Of Wills Over S.Africa’s Future

South African and African National Congress President Jacob Zuma sits on stage flanked by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (R). Photo: GULSHAN KHAN / AFP

 

South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa wrapped up Thursday the party conference that elected him ANC leader, with a vow to stamp out corruption in the organisation and in government.

But the result of the party’s other leadership races will mean that even if Ramaphosa becomes president in 2019, he will have to share power with the party faction that opposed his leadership bid.

And in the meantime, President Jacob Zuma remains head of state, limiting Ramaphosa’s room for manoeuver.

– Knives out –

Even though Zuma and Ramaphosa presented an amiable front to the world during the conference, relations between the two remain badly strained.

During the long and frequently acrimonious campaign, Ramaphosa regularly denounced corruption at the highest levels of government and argued that the perceptions of graft were tarnishing Nelson Mandela’s legacy and eroding the ANC’s electoral appeal.

His criticism of alleged official misconduct were seen as attacks on the legacy of Zuma, who has been embroiled in dozens of corruption and cash-for-access scandals.

It also helped to undermine his rival for the party leadership, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by raising fears that as Zuma’s ex-wife she might seek to shield him from prosecution.

Images of her disconsolate reaction to Ramaphosa’s victory quickly went viral online.

In his inaugural speech as leader Ramaphosa did not sidestep criticism of Zuma’s eight years as president, though he used guarded language.

“(Leaders’) actions should always be a source of pride, and not a cause for embarrassment,” he said.

If the ANC has a hope of keeping its absolute majority in general elections due in two years, Ramaphosa will quickly need to address the Zuma situation.

“Given the negative image of the president and the looming 2019 elections, he will have to distance himself,” said Victor Magnani, an Africa specialist at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

– Early exit for Zuma? –

Zuma’s second term leading South Africa concludes in mid-2019.

The constitution states that the president, who is elected by parliamentarians, cannot be recalled once in office, meaning he can be forced out only by a vote of no confidence — or pressured to resign.

Despite the numerous legal scandals dogging him, Zuma has until now always survived no-confidence votes, protected by the ANC’s large parliamentary majority.

Which leaves the option of resignation. A precedent exists: in 2008 Zuma successfully forced his predecessor Thabo Mbeki to cut short his term by eight months after assuming the party leadership.

This scenario has gained traction in some corners of the ANC in recent days.

Delegates at the conference have spoken out about the risk of having “two centres of power”, split between the party and the government.

Fikile Mbalula, the police minister and a Dlamini-Zuma supporter, told the media that any such tensions would be handled by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

“The ANC takes decisions and its deployees in government must abide,” he said referring to party members appointed to jobs in the executive.

But in the election of NEC members Wednesday, three posts went to Dlamini-Zuma loyalists — seen as favourable to Zuma himself — and three to Ramaphosa’s camp, including the party leader himself.

Divisions would probably come to a head over any move to recall Zuma before the end of his term.

– Battle of the grievances –

Even before the end of the conference, backers of the new leader had already begun a campaign to ease Zuma towards the exit.

In its final resolutions, the party agreed to quickly put in place a commission of judicial inquiry to investigate high-level corruption.

The move was a major snub to Zuma, who has stalled for months over demands that he open an inquiry into his ties with the influential Gupta business family, which is accused of influence peddling and misappropriation of public funds with Zuma’s blessing.

Three days before the conference a court ordered a judicial inquiry into the alleged “capture” of state influence and spending, to begin within a month.

Zuma suggested that he would appeal the court ruling, a move which some in the ANC would probably consider sufficiently serious defiance to justify a recall or vote of no confidence.

“Zuma may be at a disadvantage, but he will use every weapon in his considerable arsenal to maintain power for as long as possible,” said Augustine Booth-Clibborn, an analyst at ARC Risk.

“The fight for South Africa’s future will be between the ANC and the government.”

That prospect quickly tempered market optimism that a Ramaphosa victory would return political stability to the system.

“Mr Zuma still occupies South Africa’s presidency — a cohabitation that may cause a period of policy uncertainty,” said John Ashbourne of Capital Economics Africa.

AFP