S. Africa’s Zuma Faces Probe After Snubbing Anti-Corruption Panel

Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on June 23, 2020. - Former President Zuma stands accused of taking kickbacks before he became president from a 51 billion rand (3.4 billion US dollar) purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment manufactured by five European firms, including French defence company Thales. (Photo by KIM LUDBROOK / POOL / AFP) / “The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by KIM LUDBROOK has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [on June 23, 2020] instead of [on June 22, 2020].
File photo: Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on June 23, 2020.  (Photo by KIM LUDBROOK / POOL / AFP)

A South African commission hearing testimonies about rampant state corruption during Jacob Zuma’s reign said Monday that it would ask police to investigate the former president after he walked out last week.

After months of playing cat-and-mouse, Zuma appeared before the panel last week seeking what he called an “impartial” judge, demanding that the commission’s chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself.

But Zondo tossed out his application on Thursday, saying it “failed to meet the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias.”

Shortly after the ruling, Zuma’s lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane told Zondo that he would report him to the judiciary watchdog on the grounds that he had “become a judge in a dispute that involves yourself”.

The commission took a few minutes recess, after which Zuma and his lawyer did not return.

Zuma had been expected to be requested to take to the witness stand.

On Monday, the commission announced it would “lay a criminal complaint with the South African police against Mr Zuma so that the police can investigate his conduct”.

The commission will now issue summons to force Zuma to return to testify.

Judge Zondo said Zuma’s behaviour risks sending a wrong message to the rest of the witnesses that if they were uncomfortable to answer questions they could simply excuse themselves and “can come and go as they please”.

“If that were to happen this commission would not be able to operate,” Zondo said.

“It is therefore quite important for the proper functioning of this commission that Mr Zuma’s conduct be dealt with in a manner in which our law provides.”

The panel, which has been hearing testimonies since 2018, said it will also urgently approach the country’s top tribunal, the Constitutional Court, seeking an order that will compel Zuma “to comply with the summons”.

READ ALSO: Three Years After Mugabe’s Ouster, Hope Dissipates In Zimbabwe

Zuma is suspected of enabling the widespread looting of state assets during his 2009-18 presidency.

Lavish government contracts were awarded to an Indian business family, the Guptas, among other scandals.

– ‘Godfather of S.African politics’ –
The 78-year-old has only testified to the commission once, in July 2019, but pulled out after a few days, saying he was being treated as an “accused” rather than as a witness.

At least 34 witnesses have directly or indirectly implicated Zuma, who has denied any wrongdoing.

In the face of the corruption scandals, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) forced Zuma to step down in February 2018.

He was succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to confront the “scourge” of corruption.

Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.
File photo: Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.

 

The commission hearing has turned into a new political battleground, according to Xolani Dube, a researcher with the Durban-based Xubera Institute.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Army Threatens ‘No Mercy’ In Assault On Regional Capital

“Zuma is the godfather of South African politics,” the analyst said.

“This is the fight between the one who is perceived to be representing the condemned, the outcast, versus those who are ruling the economy of our country.”

“He (Zuma) is feeling betrayed by the so-called dominant class, the ruling elite. They want to make him the sacrificial lamb and he is refusing to do that”.

Zuma is due in court next month for a pre-trial hearing in a separate case where he is accused of taking bribes to facilitate a $3.4 billion arms deal with French arms company Thales.

AFP

South Africa’s ANC Secretary-General Charged With Graft

 

 

Photo Credit News 24

The secretary-general of South Africa’s ruling ANC party was charged Friday with multiple counts of fraud, corruption, and money laundering allegedly committed under the former president.

Ace Magashule is accused of stealing public money set aside to audit government houses with asbestos roofs in 2014 when he was premier of the Free State province.

The allegations revolve around the equivalent of $16.4 million (13.8 million euros) in asbestos audit contracts awarded during ex-president Jacob Zuma’s graft-tainted tenure of 2009-2018.

The hazardous roofs were never removed, leading investigators to believe that over $12 million had been pocketed.

Magashule is the highest-profile politician to face graft charges linked to the previous presidency after Zuma himself.

The 61-year-old — who was placed under an arrest warrant this week — turned himself in to South Africa’s elite Hawks anti-corruption unit shortly before Friday’s court appearance.

He was charged with 21 charges of corruption and fraud, theft and money laundering and released on bail of 200,000 rand ($12,800), the National Prosecuting Authority said in a statement.

Seven other suspects have been arrested and granted bail in connection to the case, which has now been adjourned to February 19.

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court, holding banners and waving signs with photos of Magashule.

Scuffles broke out when they tried to access the building and push through a barbed-wire barrier set up by police.

Magashule walked into court without handcuffs, appearing calm in a dark suit and face mask as magistrates read out the charges.

He is a close friend of Zuma, who was forced out by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) over a slew of corruption scandals.

Zuma’s successor Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to root out corruption in South Africa and recently accused the ANC of being “number one” when it comes to graft.

Magashule is part of an internal ANC faction of Zuma backers who fervently oppose Ramaphosa.

The NPA said investigations were “complete” for Magashule and 13 co-accused, and that at least three more suspects were expected to be arrested and charged.

The case is set to be transferred to the High Court at the next hearing in order to begin trial.

-AFP

Unemployment Rate Skyrockets In South Africa, Highest In 12 Years

In this file photo taken on March 22, 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) conducts a media briefing at the end of a meeting with various business leaders and political party leaders on matters relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 22, 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) conducts a media briefing at the end of a meeting with various business leaders and political party leaders on matters relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Nearly a third of South Africa’s workforce was unemployed in the third quarter of 2020, a 12-year high, as the continent’s most advanced economy was battered by the Covid pandemic, according to government figures released Thursday.

Between July and September, the jobless rate surged by 7.5 percentage points to affect 30.8 percent of the workforce, the national statistics agency StatsSA said.

“In the 3rd quarter of 2020 there were significant movements in the South African labour market… which resulted in a significant increase of 7.5 percentage points in the unemployment rate to 30.8%,” it said.

“This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the (Quarterly Labour Force Survey) in 2008.”

In raw numbers, the tally of unemployed rose by 2.2 million in the third quarter over the April-June period, bringing the total to 6.5 million.

Young people were particularly badly hit.

Unemployment rate increased by nine percentage points among people aged 15-24, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of the jobless surge.

StatsSA said much of the increase in numbers was for technical reasons linked to the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Millions of people too discouraged to even look for work during the country’s mobility restrictions were not officially recorded as unemployed but instead defined as “not economically active”.

This pent-up number thus added to the jobless figures when the restrictions were relaxed in the third quarter and they were able to register as unemployed.

The expanded definition of unemployment — people who are employable but have stopped looking for work — also rose by 1.1 percentage points during the third quarter to 43.1 percent.

South Africa imposed a strict lockdown on March 27 to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

While most measures have gradually been eased, restrictions on movement braked economic activity, pushing the country deeper into recession.

More recently, three million people “not economically active” have re-entered the job market, although the total number of employed has only increased by 543,000.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa this week warned of the risk of a second wave of coronavirus infections that could “choke” the “green shoots” of economic recovery.

Noting a “concerning” resurge in cases in certain areas, the president on Wednesday urged caution to avoid another lockdown that would “shut down the economy”.

South Africa’s economy is expected to shrink by more than seven percent this year due to the pandemic, its biggest contraction in almost 90 years.

 

AFP

South African Main Opposition Party Elects New Leader

 

South Africa’s largest opposition party on Sunday elected John Steenhuisen as their leader, who vowed to take the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) to greater heights after a slump in electoral support.

Steenhuisen, who has acted as interim party leader since its first black leader Mmusi Maimane quit over a year ago, has also served as party chief whip in parliament.

The triumph will see him lead the DA in the 2024 presidential elections against the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

In his acceptance speech, Steenhuisen said under his leadership “people power” would be the order of the day, promising to “fight to give power and opportunities to every law-abiding, honest and hard-working citizen, regardless of their background”.

Securing a whopping 80 per cent of the historic virtual vote, veteran John Steenhuisen delivered a crushing victory over his youthful, energetic competitor Mbali Ntuli.

“We choose our leaders on the basis of their ideas, the content of their character and their potential to lead our party into new territory,” Steenhuisen said.

“Thank you to each and every DA delegate… for the trust you have placed in me,” he added.

Read Also: 21 Killed In New DR Congo Massacre By ADF Militia

The centre-right party has been plagued by internal factions, stoked by its electoral slump in the 2019 national and provincial elections.

It garnered 20.7 per cent of votes, compared to 22.2 per cent in the previous election.

Formed in 2000 as a merger of three mostly white parties, the DA has struggled to stave off its white, middle-class identity.

This was further compounded by a mass exodus of black leaders, including the former mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, who claimed the party was racist.

On account of the coronavirus pandemic, the party’s over 2,000 delegates voted digitally for their preferred candidate.

The DA, traditionally South Africa’s second party has positioned itself as a non-racial, liberal party.

But it faces an uphill battle to win favour with voters in the country grappling with the legacy of apartheid, where white households on average

South Africa To ‘Cautiously’ Reopen Borders As Lockdown Eases

A boy wears a face mask as a preventive measure against the spred of the COVID-19 coronavirus as he queues outside Makro in Soweto, Johannesburg, on March 24, 2020. – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 23, 2020 announced a 21-day national lockdown to start later this week to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus which has affected more than 400 people and ordered the military to enforce the ban. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

 

South Africa will reopen its borders to most countries next month, the president said Wednesday, part of a wider easing of anti-coronavirus measures announced as figures continue to improve.

The continent’s most industrialised economy shuttered its borders at the start of a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to limit the spread of the virus.

Restrictions on movement and business have been gradually eased since June, but borders stayed sealed to avoid importing the virus from abroad.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said most remaining rules will be rolled back from September 20, and that international travel would “gradually and cautiously” resume on October 1st.

“We have withstood the coronavirus storm,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.

“It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us.”

Under the new measures, most gatherings will be permitted at 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, with a cap of 250 people for indoor events.

A 10:00 pm curfew will be scaled back to midnight and a 50-person limit at recreational facilities will be lifted.

Restrictions on sporting events remain in place, however, and face-masks will still be required in public.

Travel may also be restricted to and from countries with “high infection rates”, Ramaphosa added, explaining that a list would be determined based on “latest scientific data… from those countries”.

– ‘Ready to open our doors’ –
South Africa has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 651,000 infections and over 15,600 deaths recorded to date — around half the total number of cases detected on the continent.

The lockdown, one of the strictest in the world, dealt a severe blow to an already ailing economy and many livelihoods have been lost as a result.

Gross Domestic Product contracted 16.4 percent in the second quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic, and by more than half compared to the same period last year.

Tourism, one of the country’s main economic drivers, has been particularly affected.

“Our economy and society have suffered great devastation,” Ramaphosa said.

“It is now time to remove as many of the remaining restrictions… as it is reasonably safe to do so.”

The president said the country had “succeeded in overcoming the worst” of its outbreak.

He noted that the number of new cases had dropped from an average of 12,000 per day at “the height of the storm” in July to fewer than 2,000.

South Africa will start by reopening its three main airports in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Travellers will be either be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result taken less than 72 hours prior, or quarantine at their own cost.

All will be screened upon arrival and asked to install a coronavirus tracing app on their mobile phone.

“We are ready to open our doors again to the world,” Ramaphosa said. “And invite travellers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence.”

South African President Ramaphosa In Self-Quarantine

In this file photo taken on March 22, 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) conducts a media briefing at the end of a meeting with various business leaders and political party leaders on matters relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 22, 2020 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) conducts a media briefing at the end of a meeting with various business leaders and political party leaders on matters relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has gone into self-quarantine after learning that a guest at a charity dinner he attended tested positive for coronavirus, his office said Wednesday.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has begun a period of self-quarantine,” acting spokesman Tyrone Seale said in a statement.

“The President is showing no symptoms at this time and will, in line with COVID-19 health advice, be tested should symptoms manifest.”

According to his office, Ramaphosa on Saturday attended a fundraising dinner of the Adopt-a-School Foundation.

One of the guests tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, prompting Ramaphosa to go into self-quarantine on Wednesday.

The head of southern Africa’s worst coronavirus-hit nation will perform his duties remotely and will observe the guidelines that apply to self-quarantine, the presidency said.

As of late Tuesday, South Africa had recorded 717,851 cases of Covid, including 19,053 fatalities.

Daily cases peaked in July, when more than 10,000 new infections were reported on numerous days.

Strict lockdown rules and travel restrictions imposed in March have since been eased.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of neighboring Botswana has gone into quarantine several times since the pandemic hit southern Africa in March 2020.

Ramaphosa’s own health minister, Zweli Mkhize, contracted coronavirus last week.

AFP

Five Arrested Over S. African Football Captain Murder

In this file photo taken on November 01, 2014 Members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) stand guard at the coffin of Senzo Meyiwa in front of thousands of South Africans who gather at the Moses Mabhida stadium to pay their final respects to South African National Football Team Captain and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper during his funeral in Durban. Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP

 

South African police on Monday arrested five suspects over the 2014 murder of national football captain Senzo Meyiwa, a major breakthrough in a case that stunned the crime-ridden nation.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper and national squad captain was gunned down at the home of his pop-star girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, southeast of Johannesburg during the evening of October 26, 2014.

Until now, police failed to find the killers, sparking accusations of incompetence.

A newly-appointed cold case unit took over the sluggish investigation in 2018, gathering evidence that allowed police to make a first string of arrests exactly six years after Meyiwa’s murder.

“The first five suspects have been arrested… this morning,” police minister Bheki Cele told reporters on Monday.

“Investigations are still ongoing and more arrests cannot be ruled out,” he added, lauding the cold-case team for their “tireless” work.

National police commissioner Khehla Sitole said one of the detainees was “the key suspect suspected of having pulled the trigger”.

Sitole explained that key ballistic evidence emerged when investigators found the firearm used to shoot Meyiwa and linked it back to the crime scene.

“We have a concrete case this time because it is backed by evidence,” he said, noting that the “cracking of the case” had merely coincided with the murder’s anniversary.

The five suspects are scheduled to be formally charged in court on Tuesday.

Meyiwa was captain and goalkeeper of both the Bafana Bafana national team and the Orlando Pirates football club.

Cele deplored the “immeasurable pain” suffered by the sport icon’s family and fans, and vowed to “ensure justice”.

AFP

Life Returning To Normal In Nigeria, SA, Others As COVID-19 Fears Linger

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
File photo: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

“Things are getting back to normal, even though it will never be like it was before,” says a relieved Petunia Maseko, relaxing in a bar in South Africa’s Soweto township.

Africa has weathered the coronavirus pandemic relatively well in terms of infections and deaths, though its economies have been badly ravaged.

While many nations ease their COVID-19 measures and citizens dare to breathe a little easier, experts are warning against letting the continent’s success lapse into complacency.

There was plenty of celebrating at The Black and White Lifestyle Pub in Soweto on Friday as the first weekend of spring coincided with South Africa’s transition to its lowest level of lockdown.

The continent’s hardest-hit nation, South Africa has reeled under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

“It was tough staying in for six months without socialising,” said Maseko, a 21-year-old engineering student wearing a brightly coloured Ndebele traditional outfit.

But virus measures were followed, with masked revellers getting their temperatures checked at the bar’s entrance.

Sanitising gel in hand, 26-year-old DJ Tiisetso Tenyane was delighted to finally play in front of a live audience after months of live-streaming shows.

“I’ve been craving to play for the people again,” he said.

He said that face masks are “the only sign left that there ever was a pandemic”.

On the rest of the African continent, daily life varies vastly between strict observance of health measures and total relaxation.

– ‘Back to our habits’ –

“We don’t care about corona,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said, oblivious to listening microphones, when he kissed a party official last month in front of thousands of people in clear defiance of virus restrictions.

Although masks are still compulsory, that rule is “not respected anywhere or almost anywhere” in Ivory Coast, a health worker said on condition of anonymity.

“The hysteria is gone and the state no longer communicates much about the subject”.

In DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, taking temperatures and washing hands are still the norm in the residential district of Gombe, which is also the city’s diplomatic and economic centre.

But in working-class communities, masks are being pushed down to the chin and people are shaking hands again.

For many the latest buzz phrase is “corona eza te”, which translates to “there is no corona” in the local Lingala.

In West African’s Burkina Faso, 43-year-old fish seller Ousmane Ouedraogo said he can’t wear a mask forever.

“We tried to wear it every day but it was the authorities who set the example by acting as if the disease was over. So we’re going back to our habits,” he said.

Nobody uses the hand-washing station at the entrance to Guillaume Traore’s restaurant in Burkina’s capital Ouagadougou.

“When you remind a customer, he tells you that the coronavirus does not exist,” he said.

In Chad and Gabon, many wear masks low down, covering only the mouth or just the chin, only to hastily lift them up when they come across the police.

In churches, mosques and markets, people jostle into each other. In the evening, however, a strict curfew remains in place.

– ‘Be very careful’ –

In the megacity Lagos of Africa’s most populous country Nigeria, civil servant Isiaka Okesanya said he now regularly forgets to wear his mask.

“It’s like God has helped us to get rid of the disease. We no longer read about those big figures of deaths,” the 41-year-old told AFP.

But Emmanuel Akinyemi, director of Lagos-based Estate Clinic, said that “coronavirus is real and is still very much around us”.

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said last week that while Nigeria’s daily infection figures have been trending downwards, “we, unfortunately, cannot afford to rejoice or speak of success”.

The World Health Organization’s Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti said the continent has been spared “an exponential spread of Covid-19 as many initially feared”.

However, John Nkengasong, director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that “we also have to be very careful that we do not over-project any successes”.

In West Africa’s Senegal, life has almost returned to normal since June.

This is in stark contrast to Rwanda, where one of the strictest lockdowns is still in place and police make arrests for “not wearing masks properly”.

In northern Africa, Morocco remains in lockdown, especially economic capital Casablanca, where large neighbourhoods are tightly sealed off.

Eastern Africa’s Kenya is meanwhile reopening its bars and allowing restaurants to sell alcohol again as infections drop.

“We are the most vulnerable and fragile at the moment where we think we have won,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday.

“If we have won one battle against Covid-19, we have not yet won the war.”

AFP

South Africa Minister Reprimanded For ANC Trip On Airforce Jet

 

South Africa’s defence minister has been reprimanded and will lose three months of salary after ruling party officials took an air force plane to Zimbabwe earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

The African National Congress (ANC) delegation’s presence aboard the flight sparked widespread criticism over the use of state resources for party business.

Their trip to Harare was for crisis talks with Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF ruling party aimed at helping tackle the country’s political and economic woes.

But they tagged along aboard Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s plane, rather than travelling privately.

She had a scheduled meeting in Zimbabwe to discuss regional issues following a recent summit of the Southern African Development Community bloc.

Mapisa-Nqakula will not receive her salary for three months from November 1, and the money will instead go to a fund to support the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ramaphosa said in a statement.

The defence minister did not act “in the best interest of good governance”, the statement said, adding that the incident showed “an error of judgement”.

The president, who had himself dispatched the ANC delegation, also said he expected the party to reimburse the government for use of the airforce jet.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), immediately called for the minister’s resignation, saying the presidential reprimand was “a mere slap on the wrist” and showed that Ramaphosa does not hold his government to account.

“The DA views these transgressions as a gross violation of (Mapisa-Nqakula’s) oath of office, a dereliction of duty and a complete disregard for ethical standards. Minister Mapisa-Nqakula must therefore be fired immediately,” the party said in a statement.

The opposition also accused the ANC delegates of breaching lockdown regulations, as South Africa’s borders are shut to control the spread of coronavirus.

AFP

South Africa Bids Farewell To ‘Hero’ George Bizos, Mandela’s Lawyer

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 14, 2018, former apartheid struggle stalwart and human rights lawyer George Bizos looks on at the inaugural George Bizos Human Rights Award in Johannesburg. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

 

South Africa on Thursday bade farewell to George Bizos, the “hero” anti-apartheid lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela at his trial for treason, at a state funeral filled with emotional tributes.

Bizos, a revered, soft-spoken figure, died at his Johannesburg home last week of natural causes at the age of 92.

His flag-draped coffin was wheeled into a Greek community hall by military pall-bearers on Thursday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance, before it was driven to a cemetery on a ceremonial military gun carriage.

Speakers before a small gathering of family and other dignitaries — due to coronavirus restrictions — paid heartfelt tributes to the man who became Mandela’s personal friend and defended human rights to the end of his life.

Ramaphosa described Bizos as a “hero”, a “lover of freedom” and likened him to a “baobab tree”.

“We are here to celebrate and also to bid farewell to a titan of the legal profession whose defence of the cause of justice was as tenacious and it was lifelong,” said Ramaphosa.

At the height of the apartheid era, Bizos secured a life sentence for Mandela and others fighting white-minority rule at the landmark Rivonia Trial in 1964.

Against all expectations, the defendants were spared the death penalty and instead given long jail terms — a verdict that turned them into the living embodiment of the anti-apartheid struggle.

– Mandela ‘waiting to welcome you’ –

Bizos arrived in South Africa as a 13-year-old war refugee from Greece and trained as a lawyer.

In a long career, he represented a string of activists against the white-minority regime and later helped draw up the constitution of post-apartheid South Africa.

For 30 years, he struggled to acquire South African citizenship — thanks to his activism against the white minority regime.

“The apartheid government punished him quite severely by denying him citizenship for over three decades and there he was living stateless in a country that he had adopted,” Ramaphosa said.

The regime told him “he was not fit and proper to become a South African citizen,” said the president.

Yet Bizos was a “patriot” and “the embodiment of a fit and proper South African citizen,” Ramaphosa said.

He continued working until he was past 90 years old, with one of his last major cases securing government payouts in 2014 for the families of 34 miners gunned down two years earlier.

His passing further reduces the number of surviving leaders of the apartheid struggle, whose status wields huge moral and political influence in modern-day South Africa.

Although a junior member of the defence team when he represented Mandela, Bizos was credited with the tactic of proposing that Mandela deliver a statement from the dock to present the group’s cause, rather than submit him to cross-examination.

The speech was electrifying, notably Mandela’s often-cited lines on his hope for democracy: “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Bizos would say later that he advised Mandela to avoid challenging the court over the possibility of a death sentence by adding the words “if needs be”.

In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” (1994), Mandela describes Bizos as a lifelong friend and “a man who combined a sympathetic nature with an incisive mind”.

Bizos continued to represent Mandela throughout his 27-year-jail term and also acted on behalf of his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, on more than 20 occasions.

Ramaphosa concluded his eulogy saying: “Madiba your friend of 65 years is waiting to welcome you”.

AFP

South African Economy Could Shrink More Than Forecast – Minister

A queue of cars are seen at the Maseru Bridge border post between Lesotho and South Africa on March 24, 2020. Molise Molise / AFP.

 

South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned Sunday the economy could shrink by more than the 7 percent forecast by policymakers and the central bank for 2020, adding that public finances are “overstretched”.

The economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation contracted by more than half in the second quarter of this year, an unprecedented decline caused by anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Looking ahead, there is a “risk that the actual GDP outcome for 2020 could be lower than previously thought,” Mboweni wrote in the local Sunday Times newspaper.

The Treasury and central bank expect the economy to contract by 7.2 and 7.3 percent respectively this year, after the country went into a strict lockdown in March already in recession.

Mboweni noted that public finances, already in an “unsustainable position” before the pandemic, were now “overstretched”.

“The reduction in economic activity in the second quarter has flowed through to lower tax revenue,” the minister wrote, adding that emergency tax relief to keep households and businesses afloat would compound the loss.

Government is expected to fall short of more than 300 billion rand ($18 billion) in tax revenue — over six percent of GDP — Mboweni said, forcing the heavily indebted country to “borrow even more”.

But he also promised reforms to climb out of the hole, writing “we must be bold in confronting what has impeded economic growth and the progress of our nation.”

He wrote that one of government’s priorities would be to ensure “adequate and reliable electricity”, backed by a commitment to unlock private investment in the public sector.

Unreliable electricity supply from state operator Eskom’s fleet of rickety coal-fired power stations is often blamed as a source of economic instability in South Africa.

The country accounts for around half of the continent’s coronavirus cases, with over 648,000 infections and 15,427 deaths recorded to date, although daily increases have been dropping since July.

AFP

African Leagues: Tanzania First To Start New Season Amid Virus

A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.
A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.

 

 

Tanzania again became the first African League to kick off during the coronavirus crisis when they opened the 2020/2021 league season on Sunday.

The championship was also the first to resume last season after a Covid-19 shutdown, playing from June with spectators permitted.

While Tanzanian clubs have started their new season, South Africa only completed their 2019/2020 season two days ago. Tunisia will finish theirs this Sunday and clubs in Egypt have between nine and 12 fixtures still to fulfil.

A resurgence of the virus in Morocco led to many postponements, but leaders Raja Casablanca and potential title rivals Wydad Casablanca are scheduled to play Wednesday.

Here is the AFP round-up of all the football action in Africa across the weekend.

Tanzania
Defending champions Simba SC won 2-1 at promoted Ihefu 2-1 after naming Barbara Gonzalez as the first female chief executive of a top-flight Tanzanian club.

Zambian Clatous Chama starred for the winners, who completed a league and cup double last season, and set up captain John Bocco for the opening goal of the match.

Likely chief rivals Young Africans were held 1-1 at home by Prisons in their first league match under Serb coach Zlatko Krmpotic, who has worked in five other African countries.

Egypt
Zamalek defeated third-place Pyramids 2-0 and mid-table El Gaish 1-0 to build a six-point lead in the race for second spot behind runaway leaders Al Ahly.

Mostafa Mohamed and Democratic Republic of Congo-born Kabongo Kasongo scored against Pyramids and Youssef Obama netted to sink Gaish.

Finishing second is significant because it secures a place in the CAF Champions League, which carries a $2.5 million (2.1 million euros) first prize.

Tunisia
Etoile Sahel, the only club to win all five current and past CAF club competitions, slipped to a 1-0 defeat away at relegation-threatened CS Hammam-Lif and remain fifth in a disappointing campaign.

Fares Meskini snatched the winning goal three minutes from time to lift Hammam-Lif above JS Kairouan and out of the danger zone, but only on goal difference, with two rounds to go.

Esperance, who were crowned champions last weekend, play at US Monastir Monday while second-place CS Sfaxien drew 0-0 at Stade Tunisien.

Morocco
Raja suffered a shock 1-0 home loss against second-last Ittihad Tangier, ending an unbeaten seven-match run since the league restarted in August after a five-month shutdown.

Youssef Anouar scored for Tangier on 74 minutes to boost the title hopes of third-place Wydad, the defending champions who trail Raja by five points but have two matches in hand.

Twelve of the 16 top-flight clubs have reported at least one positive case for Covid-19, leading to all teams having to stay in a hotel or sport centre.

South Africa
Mamelodi Sundowns won a third straight title at the weekend and now the focus switches to three-club play-offs for one lucrative 2020/2021 elite league place.

Black Leopards, who came second last in the Premiership, second division runners-up Ajax Cape Town and third-place Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila will contest a double-round mini-league.

The table-toppers qualify for the richest African league with clubs guaranteed a 2.5 million rand ($150,000, 125,000 euros) monthly allowance and millions more in prize money.

AFP