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DA urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Lynne Brown 'immediately

The Democratic Alliance on Thursday said it was vindicated by the Public Protector’s finding that Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was guilty of misleading Parliament after she failed to disclose business dealings between Gupta-linked Trillian and Eskom.

Natasha Mazzone, DA public enterprises spokesperson, urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to act swiftly against Brown.

“The [Public Protector’s] report has now given President Cyril Ramaphosa 14 days to take action against the minister after it found that Brown had violated the executive ethics code,” Mazzone said.

“The DA urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to act swiftly against the minister and immediately fire her from his Cabinet.”

“If the president is truly committed to building a government that is beyond reproach, he must immediately remove anyone who is found guilty of unethical behaviour from his Cabinet,” Mazzone said.

She said Brown, in a response to a DA parliamentary question, had denied any agreement between Eskom and Trillian.

“The complaint has now found Minister Brown guilty of misleading Parliament and contravening the executive ethics code,” Mazzone said.

She said Brown had acted with “utter impunity” for too long and that under her leadership parastatals such as Eskom had been “financially ruined and ethically ruined”.

“Her time has finally come to face the music,” Mazzone said.

“The Public Protector’s finding is a victory for all those who have fought bravely against state capture.”

 

 

Source: News24

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President Donald Trump again attacks Obama over Russia

US President Donald Trump is again attacking his predecessor, suggesting he should have done more to prevent Russian election meddling.

Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday: “Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling?”

The president also took a swipe at his attorney general, misspelling his name. He said: “Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Session!”

Trump has previously criticised Obama for not doing more to prevent meddling.

During the 2016 campaign, President Barack Obama called out Russia for political interference when much less was known about it and followed up after the election by expelling 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being intelligence officers.

 

Source: News24

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Igbo president as APC’s survival strategy

From 1960 till date, the Igbo have been marginalised by the other major ethnic groups from having its own become the president of Nigeria.

This marginalisation has been extended to the present civilian regime since 1999. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) divided the country into six geo-political regions with six states in each. It is only the Southeast that has five states. Unfortunately, Igbo politicians and elites are not interested in reversing this disadvantage so long as it does not diminish their access to state funds for personal use. Indeed, it is this group of politicians and elites that have effectively frustrated the Igbo from having access to the position of the President of Nigeria. Yet, other Nigerians cannot remove the fact that ordinary Igbos feel saddened and frustrated with this fact which from time to time, leads ordinary Igbos to demand for their own country called Biafra.

So, where is the solution? Which political party is in a better position to concede its presidential slot to the Igbo in 2019 or 2023? Although in politics, no one is given a political office without a fight, but at times, it could be given or allowed to assuage and arrest future negative political feelings and actions.

That was why the idea of rotation or zoning of key political offices was created. Also, in some cases, some political parties may allow some group of people to have access to key political positions in order to harvest acceptance and votes from that group for the political survival of the party.

Looking at the key political parties in Nigeria today, the Igbo do not have any chance in the PDP to produce the president come 2019 or 2023. This is because that position has been zoned to the North by the party for 2019 and it affects 2023. For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it is likely to present President Muhammadu Buhari for election in 2019. Consequently, come 2023, the North under the APC, may not present a presidential candidate. Will it go to the West, the likely answer is no because they had been vice president under PMB. Again giving it to the Yoruba in 2023 would add salt into the marginalization injury suffered by the Igbo since independence. To give it to the Igbo will at least heal this long inflicted injury and favour the APC. Therefore, come 2023, the slot should be made available to the East (Igbo).

The most qualified Igbo politician should be Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, current Minister of Science and Technology. He has been the key Igbo politician in the APC, which was the amalgam of three major political parties: the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was until then, the national chairman of the ANPP. He was the first civilian governor of Abia State in 1992. He is a simple and sincere politician with lots of integrity. He is a very marketable candidate in all parts of Nigeria.

If 80% of Igbos in Nigeria vote for Onu as the presidential candidate of the APC in 2023, and with some added sympathy votes from the rest of Nigeria, the long dream of the Igbo to rule Nigeria especially after the civil war, will be achieved and APC as a political party will survive the political earthquake called Nigerian politics.

Source: The Nation

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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Says she is full of energy, i am not resigning

ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Sunday refuted reports that she is tired and planning on quitting her parliamentary role.

“Dr Dlamini-Zuma is full of energy and is neither resigning nor fatigued,” said a statement released on her behalf by Mandown Media.

“Dr Dlamini-Zuma wishes to emphasise that she remains at the service of South Africa as a member of the South African parliament, and no fake news will dissuade her from her duties,” continued the statement.

Describing Dlamini-Zuma as a “loyal member” of the ANC on a branch level and as a NEC and NWC member, “no mischievous attempts of wedge driving will persuade her out of the movement she has dedicated all her life to.”

On Sunday, an article published on the Times Live website alleges that Dlamini-Zuma told President Cyril Ramaphosa that she wanted to leave Parliament as she was tired.

 

 

Source: News24

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Ramaphosa sings a song of unity at SONA

They came in singing, the EFF, dressed in their red overalls and hard hats – a scene which, at previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONA), signalled that trouble was brewing.

MPs from the other parties came into the National Assembly chamber in dribs and drabs, mingled across party lines, and taking selfies.

ANC MP Derek Hanekom, a staunch supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa, took a picture of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – Ramaphosa’s main opponent at last December’s ANC presidential battle – along with two other female ANC MPs.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan stood with his hands in his pockets, chatting to DA MP Kobus Marais and ANC MP Gerhard Koornhof.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa’s jogging buddy, Trevor Manuel, who happens to also be a former finance minister, and his wife Maria Ramos took their seats in the gallery reserved for the president’s guests.

Later, Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law, Patrice Motsepe, also took a seat in the presidential gallery.

In the public gallery sat former president Thabo Mbeki and former deputy president and final apartheid-president FW de Klerk, with one seat between them. Further along the same row was former speaker Max Sisulu next to his son Shaka.

The EFF continued to sing as the Chamber and gallery filled up, with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who sat in front of them, shooting a few glares in their direction. EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi led a spirited rendition of Azania.

They continued to sing as the premiers from various provinces walked in to applause from the ANC benches.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was at the back of the line of premier and she stopped to say hello to Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, who sat closest to the aisle. Whether or not the prolific tweeters exchanged social media strategies, has not been confirmed.

The EFF remained singing when the provincial speakers entered the Chamber. But when the judiciary, led by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng walked in, they stopped abruptly, and started applauding, with the rest of the House.

The judges all walked past DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who shook each jurist’s hand.

The EFF then took their seats.

They didn’t rise for the presiding officers but, when Ramaphosa entered, they shot to their feet and applauded with the rest of the House. The DA’s applause seemed lukewarm.

Usually, a few seconds after the imbongi (praise singer) finishes his part of the proceedings, and the president is called to the podium by Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, an EFF MP would rise for their first point of order of the evening.

But this time it didn’t happen. Instead, a smiling -not a scolding – Malema had something to say as Ramaphosa started his address by acknowledging the dignitaries.

Ramaphosa responded with a laugh – a hearty one – not a “heh, heh, heh” laugh, and included “Honourable Malema” in the list. Malema responded with a big smile.

Ramaphosa got going

Gone were the large print letters on folios in a folder. Instead, the SONA was on a large tablet – white letters over a black background.

He thanked his predecessor, Jacobs Zuma, and the EFF MP’s groan evolved into cries of “Booooo!”

But no one in red jumped up for a point of order.

Tentative cries of “Hear! Hear!” rang out of the DA benches when Ramaphosa said: “We are continuing the long walk he [Nelson Mandela] began, to build a society in which all may be free, in which all may be equal before the law and in which all may share in the wealth of our land and have a better life.”

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had been photographed playing a game on his tablet the day before. The photograph went viral. But, on Friday there was no electronic device seen near him. Instead, he opted for an old school pen and paper on his desk.

Ramaphosa got into his stride, speaking fluently, and not pausing in the middle of sentences.

Sometimes the whole house applauded; sometimes only the ANC.

When Ramaphosa spoke about expropriation without compensation, the EFF ruptured into applause, along with the ANC. The DA MPs remained quiet, glum.

The whole house cheered when Ramaphosa commended the people of the Western Cape for saving water.
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo turned to Zille, seated next to him.

If you watched last year’s SONA, you might recall how Mahumapelo shouted: “F**k you!” to the DA.

But this year there was none of that. He sat snugly next to Zille. They whispered in each other’s ears and shared the odd smile.
The whole house cheered vociferously when Ramaphosa said he “will personally take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines” set by the Constitutional Court, regarding the payment of social grants. Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini wasn’t present – just as she wasn’t the day before when Ramaphosa was elected.

Ramaphosa then turned his attention to state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions. We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the Auditor-General to strengthen external audit processes,” he said.

This was again received with enthusiastic applause from both sides of the aisle. Lynne Brown, Minister of Public Enterprises, didn’t join in. She just glared in Ramaphosa’s general direction.

Behind her, in the section of ministerial benches one could call Gupta Corner, sat Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, looking particularly glum.

Ramaphosa promised strong action against corruption.

“Aaaaaace! Aaaaaaaace!” the EFF began chanting in reference to beleaguered Free State Premier and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who laughed and gave a slight shake of his head.

When Ramaphosa was about an hour and twenty minutes into his speech, Mbete called for order for the first time.

At previous SONAs it took that amount of time before the president could get a word in.

The EFF calmed down, without arguing with Mbete.

When Ramaphosa began to conclude by quoting the late, Hugh Masekela’s “Thuma Mina”, Malema, sporting the naughty grin of a benevolent class clown rather than the vicious scowl at previous SONAs, said: “Sing it! Sing it!” Ramaphosa laughed and did not oblige.

When the president stood back from the podium slightly, after he uttered the last word of his address, the whole House rose.

At previous SONAs this didn’t happen, largely because most of the opposition had either been kicked out or left on their own accord.

The ANC MPs broke into song, tapping their left wrists with their right index fingers and then raising their arms, singing “It is time for Ramaphosa to rise”.

The usually reserved Mathole Motshekga danced particularly animated, while Dlamini-Zuma tapped her wrist in a rather stately fashion.

The EFF joined in, but they tapped their wrists together, like someone would when being cuffed by the police, singing “It is time for Ramaphosa to ensure arrests”.

Brown didn’t join the singing particularly heartily, clapping her hands a few times before packing her belongings in her handbag and heading for the door.

By this time Zwane was long gone.

 

Source: News24

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says Tsvangirai will be remembered for his 'profound role in Zim politics'

President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to Zimbabwe, following the passing away of veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

“On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, President Ramaphosa has conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr Tsvangirai, the government and people of Zimbabwe on this sad loss.

“He assured the Tsvangirai family and the people of Zimbabwe of the solidarity and compassion of the people of South Africa,” the department of international relations and co-operation said in a statement.

Tsvangirai died on Wednesday in South Africa after battling against cancer.

Tsvangirai, who founded the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in 1999, was among the most prominent critics of of former president Robert Mugabe, the long-time authoritarian leader who was ousted from power in November.

Ramaphosa said that Tsvangirai would be remembered for his “profound role in the Zimbabwean politics and his prominence which saw him serve as prime minister from 2009 to 2013 in the government of National Unity”.

 

 

Source: News24

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10 things Cyril Ramaphosa should do immediately

President-in-waiting Cyril Ramaphosa will have no chill after being sworn in as head of state on Thursday.

His first call of duty will be finalising the State of the Nation Address to be delivered on Friday night. The speech needs to give South Africans hope – for a better future, economic growth and severe anti-corruption measures.

After brainstorming with my colleagues at News24, we came up with a list of ten things Ramaphosa should immediately do to set the right tone and show that he is not only a man of words, but action.

1. Fire Bathabile Dlamini

The minister of social development has overseen the destruction of our social welfare payments system and is a legal delinquent. She can no longer be trusted to oversee this critical government function.

Ramaphosa should dig deep to find the appropriate person for this portfolio. In the interest of “unity”, he will probably not make wholesale changes to his cabinet, but this is the one portfolio that urgently needs a new minister.

We have three suggestions: Barbara Creecy, currently the Gauteng finance MEC, Angie Motshekga, minister of basic education, or Senzo Mchunu, the former KwaZulu-Natal premier who has a reputation for getting things done.

This is a critical government function and a permanent solution needs to be found soon.

2. Fire Mosebenzi Zwane

The minister of mineral resources is probably the most captured of all the Gupta ministers in former president Jacob Zuma’s cabinet.

A former MEC who oversaw the Estina farm transaction (for which he will probably be arrested or questioned), Zwane’s first task in his portfolio was to ensure that the Guptas acquire the Optimum mine from Glencore.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi would be a great choice to replace him – he was booted from this portfolio when he objected to state capture and has deep knowledge of the intricacies this position requires.

3. Fire Bongani Bongo

The minister of state security has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. He allegedly tried to bribe the leader of evidence in the state capture inquiry and has been implicated by the Hawks in a corruption investigation in Mpumalanga.

Bongo was a backbencher plucked from obscurity when Zuma appointed him in this sensitive portfolio.

With all the mopping up that this portfolio and the State Security Agency need, Ramaphosa needs a loyal, trusted and experienced cadre to steer the spooks.

We suggest he considers Pravin Gordhan or Mondli Gungubele, who both serve on the ad hoc committee into state capture at public enterprises. Mchunu would also make a good intelligence minister.

4. Fire Faith Muthambi

Another Zupta loyalist, the minister of public service and administration is a Zuma sycophant who doesn’t deserve to be in cabinet.

The Guptaleaks showed how she passed on classified documentation to the family.

This ministry needs a diligent bureaucrat who has nerves of steel and can negotiate with the unions like a pro.

We have two suggestions for Ramaphosa: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or Motshekga. Ramaphosa will have to find a place for Dlamini-Zuma in cabinet and this position will keep her busy and out of harm’s way.

5. Fire David Mahlobo

As minister of energy, David Mahlobo was tasked by Zuma to get the nuclear deal through. This will no longer happen under Ramaphosa’s administration and Mahlobo, a stooge who ran intelligence for Zuma before he was reshuffled, is no longer needed.

We suggest that Ramaphosa merge the mineral resources and energy portfolios into one department and ministry, headed by Ramatlhodi.

6. Move Fikile Mbalula

Despite his youthful energy, Mbalula is unfortunately not of the right calibre to steer Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption ship as head of police.

Ramaphosa will probably need to retain Mbalula in cabinet, but he needs a new police minister who is strong and skilled enough to deal with the country’s massive challenges of crime.

Bheki Cele, the former police commissioner, is an obvious candidate, but he carries baggage from his stint as police chief which may be off-putting to Ramaphosa.

Thabang Makwetla, Jackson Mthembu and Gungubele are others he should consider.

7. Fire Shaun Abrahams and appoint a new NPA boss

Ramaphosa has already been given the legal authority by the North Gauteng High Court to appoint the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), because Zuma was conflicted over his own corruption case.

The court found the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) was irregular, but Zuma and the NPA are appealing the matter.

Ramaphosa should immediately withdraw the appeal and appoint a competent NDPP. There are lots of excellent lawyers in the country – Ramaphosa can pick and choose.

Some names that came up during our brainstorm were Vusi Pikoli, Thuli Madonsela, Gerrie Nel, Dumisa Ntsebeza and Glynnis Breytenbach.

8. Fire Tom Moyane and appoint a new SARS boss

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) suffered immensely under Zuma and saw the departure of numerous skilled and dedicated officials after Tom Moyane – a Zuma loyalist – was appointed as commissioner.

Ramaphosa needs to urgently get rid of Moyane and find a new SARS head that will restore confidence in the organisation and attract skilled investigators, analysts and IT specialists.

It would be very symbolic and hugely beneficial if Ramaphosa could appoint someone from the Gordhan-era at SARS to succeed Moyane.

9. Cancel the nuclear deal and embrace green energy

Ramaphosa has already been quoted that we cannot afford nuclear energy. He now needs to very publicly announce the cancellation of the entire acquisition process for nuclear and that government will be investing in more renewable energy over the next decade.

Our electricity consumption has decreased significantly and there is no longer the need for large, dirty and expensive nuclear plants. Ramaphosa needs to make sure his announcement is translated into Russian.

10. Establish anti-corruption unit

For Ramaphosa to deal effectively and swiftly with corruption, he will have to set up a mechanism for people to reveal and expose corruption. This may include a small amnesty period for wrongdoers to fully disclose their deeds and pay back the money looted from state coffers.

As talented as some Hawks investigators may be, the unit is simply not efficient to unravel and investigate a decade of looting and plunder at government departments and parastatals.

Ramaphosa will need someone like Pikoli or Robert McBride to set up a strong and well-staffed anti-corruption unit outside of the police.

 

 

Source: News24

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Shaun Abrahams Says Justice 'will be seen to be done' in Guptas, Zuma matters

National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has a strong case against the Guptas and he is still waiting for the prosecuting team to advise him on the Jacob Zuma matter.

Abrahams was speaking outside of Parliament on Thursday as Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as president of South Africa.

Earlier this week the NPA said Abrahams had given prosecutors until February 23 to provide him with their recommendations on whether or not former president Jacob Zuma should be prosecuted for the 2009 “spy tapes” case.

Last month, just hours before his deadline, Zuma submitted his representations to the NPA on why he should not be prosecuted.

Abrahams said on Thursday he was still waiting for the recommendations from his team before making a decision.

Citizens must ‘work together as a collective’

“I’m waiting for the prosecuting team to advise me, to make their recommendations to me and I will then consider the matter,” he said.

Regarding the case against the Guptas and their associates, some of whom appeared in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on charges relating to the Estina dairy farm project, he said the NPA had a strong case.

“Well, of course, that’s why they have been taken to court. So I’m confident that justice will be seen to be done at the end of the day in all these respective matters,” Abrahams said.

“I think as a country we need to move forward and work together in unity,” he added.

“There’s a responsibility on each and every citizen of this country to work together as a collective to take this country forward. That responsibility lies on all our shoulders.”

 

Source: News24

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ANC order President Jacob Zuma to step down

The African National Congress decided to tell President Jacob Zuma to step down after he refused the top party leadership’s request for him to resign voluntarily, according to five people familiar with the matter.

The ANC’s national executive committee took the decision during a 13-hour meeting that ended early on Tuesday in Pretoria. It was called to decide on a transition of power to the party’s new leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, said the people, who declined to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public. Calls to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe’s mobile phone didn’t connect.

“Zuma is clearly digging in, fearing what could come next should he resign prematurely,” Mark Schroeder, vice-president of Africa analysis at geopolitical advisory company Stratfor, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday.

“It’s an open question whether the ANC members of Parliament will vote with the multiple opposition parties to compel the president to resign.”

The ANC is trying to remove Zuma to allow Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as president more than a year before the 2019 elections, giving him time to convince voters that he’s committed to meeting his pledges to rebuild a battered economy and clamp down on the graft that critics say has become synonymous with the Zuma era.

The rand weakened 0.3% to R11.9697 to the US dollar at 03:28 in Johannesburg.

Parliamentary action

Should Zuma refuse to obey the NEC’s order to step down, the party could tell its MPs to use their majority in Parliament to vote him out of office, clearing the way for Ramaphosa to take over.

Opposition parties want the National Assembly to debate a motion of no confidence in Zuma this week and for Parliament to be dissolved immediately after that ahead of an early election. The Economic Freedom Fighters last month proposed the no-confidence motion that’s currently due to be debated on February 22, and plans to go to court if it isn’t brought forward.

Ramaphosa is widely expected to adopt more business-friendly policies, prompting the rand to rise more than any other currency against the dollar since his election as ANC leader in December.

Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009, just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him. He spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family, who are in business with one of his sons, to influence Cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

Policy missteps

Under Zuma, economic growth has averaged just 1.6% a year since he took office in 2009, undermined partly by a series of policy missteps and inappropriate appointments that rocked investor and business confidence.

Disgruntlement with his rule caused support for the ANC to fall in 2016 municipal elections and cost it control of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Zuma’s second and final term was due to end around mid-2019. He survived two previous bids to topple him in the ANC’s NEC since November 2016, but the balance of power in the panel shifted after Ramaphosa won the party presidency.

Source: News24

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ANC NEC meeting to decide Zuma's fate today

The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) members will seal President Jacob Zuma’s fate when they meet on Monday afternoon, as hope for a speedy resolution dwindles among South Africans who want him out of office.

NEC members also want the meeting to affirm party president Cyril Ramaphosa as Zuma’s successor as state president.

The ANC called the urgent NEC meeting following Ramaphosa’s direct talks with Zuma. An emergency NEC meeting that was meant to happen last Wednesday was cancelled by Ramaphosa after his Tuesday meeting with Zuma.

Cautious NEC members want the party’s highest decision making body, between conferences, to also give the Parliamentary caucus a mandate to support a motion of no confidence against Zuma in case he defies the NEC decision to recall him.

“There are two process: tomorrow [Monday] it will be the NEC process. From that process obviously we have reached the end of the road with the man – we will recall him,” an NEC member told News24.

“But then people are able to defy [that recall], that is why we need the parliamentary process. So it will end tomorrow because if we say step down and he refuses, then the ball shifts to Parliament.”

Humiliation

Ramaphosa did not give much insights into his talks with Zuma when he delivered the first keynote address at the Grand Parade in Cape Town on Sunday to mark 28 years since late former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

“As leadership of the ANC we are currently engaged in discussions around the transition to a new administration and specifically to resolve the issues of the position of the president of the Republic,” Ramaphosa said.

He did not mention Zuma by name, but said the NEC will finalise the matter. Zuma refused to step down two Sundays ago when he met with the party’s top six.

“Zuma has humiliated the ANC enough, we must end this thing on Monday,” another NEC member told News24.

The Economic Freedom Fighters have already tabled motion of no confidence in Zuma, due to be heard on February 22. However, ANC members said that would be too late, as the State of the Nation Address (SONA) should be delivered before then.

Last week Parliament took an unprecedented step to indefinitely postpone SONA amidst ANC wrangling over Zuma’s continued stay at the Union Buildings.

‘Looking at options’

A long and drawn out debate is expected at the NEC meeting to be held in Irene at 14:00 on Monday, with Zuma still enjoying support from some Cabinet ministers who also sit in the NEC. Zuma has survived two other motions of no confidence tabled before the NEC.

ANC Youth League secretary general Njabulo Nzuza, who has defended Zuma throughout his tenure, told News24 that the NEC has other options beyond recalling him.

“The transition is not about the removal of President Zuma, but we could be looking at options of giving the [country’s] deputy president [Ramaphosa] more responsibility which is not something new. It happened when President Mandela handed over to Thabo Mbeki, the transition worked well.

“Rather than saying President Zuma simply go, we should be looking at this from an honest point of view, [and] not [be] vindictive,” Nzuza said.

He is expected to be at odds with his president in the league, Collen Maine, who is expected to back Zuma’s removal.

Internal matters

NEC members have defended Ramaphosa for failing to give details on his ongoing talks with Zuma.

He is expected to report back to the NEC when he delivers his political overview.

“It would have been out of order. He can’t address things before giving a report to the NEC. The NEC will decide if there is a stalemate and it will give instruction on next step,” an NEC member said.

However, party treasurer-general Paul Mashatile is expected to come under fire for disclosing to investors details of the top six meeting with Zuma.

In a leaked audio recording of his address, Mashatile told investors who attended the mining indaba that Zuma had refused to step down.

“The problem is we have ill-disciplined people like Mashatile who go and discuss internal matters with random people who are said to be investors, where there has been no decision,” Nzuza said.

 

 

Source: News24

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Ex-Donald Trump aide Omarosa warns things 'bad' inside White House

Reality TV star turned political operative turned reality TV star Omarosa Manigault has issued a cryptic warning that things are “bad” inside the White House and the public should be worried.

The fiery former star who was pushed out of the White House appeared in a preview of Thursday’s “Celebrity Big Brother,” warning all is not well in that other Big House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I was haunted by tweets every single day, like what is he gonna tweet,” she told a fellow contestant in what was billed as a candid late-night exchange with a co-star.

“I’m not there. It’s not my, it’s not my circus, not my monkeys. I’d like to say it’s not my problem but I can’t say that because, like, it’s bad.”

She does little to assuage the concerns of her housemate, who asks if everything is going to be okay.

“No, it’s gonna not be OK,” she says. “It’s not.”

Manigault’s White House role was short-lived and lacklustre.

She could be seen at presidential photo ops, walking the corridors and occasionally in the White House briefing room, but the impact of her “Office of Public Liaison” was unclear.

Although one of the most prominent African Americans in the Trump administration, raking in $179 700 a year, colleagues often questioned her role.

Her departure came shortly after it was revealed that she held her bridal shower in the White House.

 

 

Source: News24

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Kenyan opposition politician charged over mock inauguration

Kenyan police on Tuesday charged a politician over witnessing the mock inauguration last week of opposition leader Raila Odinga, an event the government considers treason, while the passports of more than a dozen opposition leaders were suspended.

Lawyers, rights activists and opposition supporters demanded the freedom of Miguna Miguna, who remained in detention despite court orders on Friday and Monday for his release. Police said they charged Miguna in a court outside the capital, Nairobi.

The government suspended the passports of 14 opposition leaders including strategist David Ndii and financier Maina Wanjigi. Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalangwa said the suspensions were due to ongoing investigations but did not give details.

Odinga’s ceremony last week proclaiming himself the “people’s president” was meant to protest President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win last year. The opposition claims the original vote was rigged and that electoral reforms were not made after the Supreme Court nullified the election and ordered a fresh one. The opposition boycotted the second vote.

Kenya’s government responded to the mock inauguration by shutting down the broadcasts of the country’s top three TV stations for nearly a week. At least one other opposition figure has been arrested.

Miguna’s arrest has sparked protests. His supporters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city in western Kenya clashed with police, who fired tear gas at them.

“There is no way they can arrest our general and jail him for one week before presenting him to court,” protester Denis Ouma said. “We want Miguna Miguna to be released.”

 

 

Source: News24

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President Zuma tells ANC, 'The people still love me,

An “arrogant” President Jacob Zuma told the ANC’s top six during their meeting on Sunday night that the “people still love him”, sources inside the party’s national working committee (NWC) said.

The officials gave the NWC feedback following their two hours of deliberations with Zuma, during which they asked him to resign.

However, Zuma refused to step down, telling the party’s leadership that he had done nothing wrong and that only the national executive committee (NEC) had the powers to recall him.

Zuma was so confident that he would still get party support that he wanted to make a presentation to the party’s NEC.

But his request was rejected by the NWC, which then held an urgent meeting on Monday at Luthuli House.

“They told him we want to start an election campaign and we cannot do it with his face and with him in office with all his baggage, but he told them the people still love him,” a source said.

‘When your organisation says you must go it is humiliating’

The top six also put pressure on Zuma with the prospect that he could be forced out of office via a vote of no confidence already set for February 22 and an impeachment process that could cost him his pension if successful.

However, NWC members said Zuma was undeterred even by the state capture inquiry that will investigate his relationship with his friends, the Guptas, who are accused of looting state coffers.

“Zuma told them that he has survived eight or nine votes of no confidence and he believes he will survive another one. Even his supporters were shocked,” another source said.

“The officials said they tried to tell him that an impeachment or motion of no confidence ‘is bad for you’, but he said to them ‘when your organisation says you must go it is humiliating’,” said another.

The NWC meeting lasted four hours, with some Zuma supporters coming to his defence and arguing against a recall.

“We started the debate all over again on why he should step down, despite the fact that the last NWC had agreed,” another said.

Fired ministers didn’t get chance ‘to argue their case’

The debate ended in the defeat of Zuma’s supporters and the NWC deciding to hold an emergency NEC meeting on Wednesday in Cape Town to decide Zuma’s fate.

The meeting will be held on the eve of the State of the Nation Address (SONA), with some ANC members threatening to walk out if Zuma insists on addressing them.

– Read more: ANC special NEC to decide Zuma’s fate on Wednesday

The last NEC meeting in Pretoria mandated the top six officials to meet with Zuma to engage him on his exit.

“He told the NEC that he wants to make a presentation to the NEC, but it was rejected. One member said the NEC is not a trial and when he fired the other ministers they didn’t come to NEC to argue their case. Like them he is a deployee of the party,” the source said.

Some members now fear that SONA could be postponed if the NEC decides to recall Zuma.

Speaker Baleka Mbete is due to meet with political parties in Parliament on Tuesday following the DA’s call for SONA to be postponed until Parliament “elects a new president”.

The EFF wanted a vote of no confidence to be held before SONA. However, their request was denied, with a date for the motion set for later in the month.

 

Source: News24

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ANC Top 6’s meeting with Zuma ends

Pretoria – A meeting of the ANC’s top six officials with President Jacob Zuma at which he was allegedly asked to step down has ended after 22:00.

The motorcades of ANC chair Gwede Mantashe and secretary general Ace Magashule was seen leaving the president’s official residence in Pretoria at about 22:15.

The ANC is expected to ask Zuma to step down as the head of state.

“We want to ensure that there is stability in the country and stability in the ANC. That is why tonight we are meeting with President Zuma,” said Mantashe earlier on Sunday afternoon.

The ANC chair insisted that the intention behind the meeting was not to humiliate Zuma but instead to discuss what was best for South Africa.

“We are asking for you to pray for us, so that there is peace in that meeting,” he added.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee mandated the top six to discuss with Zuma what the party is calling a “leadership transition”.

 

Source: News24

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Donald Trump vowed to bring down prescription drug prices

US President Donald Trump vowed again on Tuesday to bring down prescription drug prices in the United States, an issue on which his government has been accused of dragging its feet.

Trump has also raised eyebrows by naming a former pharmaceutical executive, Alex Azar, to be the secretary of health and human services.

In his State of the Union Speech, Trump said bringing drug prices down was one of his top priorities. He noted that in many countries, prices for medicines are often much lower than in the United States.

“That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities,” Trump said. “Prices will come down.”

One way the government could do this is by exercising its purchasing power in the drug market. But despite Trump’s pledges, his administration has shown little interest in this approach and Azar himself – formerly president of drug maker Ely Lilly – has said he opposes it, according to the news website Axios.

Prescription drugs are often cheaper in western Europe and Canada because of price controls imposed by governments, but mainstream Republicans and Azar have said they oppose such controls, Axios said.

 

 

Source: News24

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Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa, Says Mugabe 'never made mistakes' in power

Two months after pushing aside his former boss in a military takeover, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa still carefully maintains that Robert Mugabe made no mistakes while he was in power.

The new Zimbabwe leader does, however, repeat the line that those around the former president took advantage of his advanced years to usurp some of his powers.

Woke up under house arrest

Mugabe, 93, had been in power for 37 years when he woke up to find he was under house arrest by the military last November. He was eventually persuaded to step down to allow the former vice president to take over – even though Mugabe had recently sacked him.

Mnangagwa, 75, has said he’ll hold free and fair elections later this year.

Asked by journalists from Russia’s Sputnik news agency whether there were any mistakes Mugabe made that he would not want to repeat, Mnangagwa replied: “No, the president never made any mistakes.”

Mnangagwa repeated his claim that a small cabal around Mugabe’s wife Grace had taken advantage of the former president’s advancing years. That’s a reference to the G40 faction of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party that was bitterly opposed to Mnangagwa’s Lacoste faction.

Until the military takeover on November 15, G40 appeared to have the upper hand, ready to take over power should Mugabe die or step down.

“We were having persons (other than the president) who were making executive decisions, which is against the constitution of the country,” Mnangagwa told Sputnik. He said that “hundreds and hundreds of thousands” had marched in support of the military takeover in protest against this.

“Our people reacted to people usurping power, which is not given to them by the constitution, so this was corrected by the masses of Zimbabwe,” he said.

 

 

Source: News24

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Donald Trump calls for 'unity, new American moment' in national address

Addressing a deeply divided nation, President Donald Trump called upon lawmakers on Tuesday night to set aside differences and “summon the unity” needed to make good on promises to fix the nation’s infrastructure and immigration systems, using his State of the Union address to infuse his presidency with a sense of optimism, for at least one high-profile night.

“The state of our union is strong because our people are strong,” Trump declared.

Despite his calls for bipartisanship, Trump spoke with tensions running high on Capitol Hill. An impasse over immigration prompted a three-day government shutdown earlier this month, and lawmakers appear no closer to resolving the status of some 700 000 young people living in the US illegally ahead of a new February 8 deadline for funding operations.

The parties have also clashed this week over the plans of Republicans on the House intelligence committee to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation involving Trump’s presidential campaign – a decision the White House backs but the Justice Department is fighting.

2018 agenda

At times, Trump’s address appeared to be aimed more at validating his first year in office than setting the course for his second.

He devoted significant time to touting the tax overhaul he signed at the end of last year, promising the plan will “provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses”.

He spoke about potential agenda items for 2018 in broad terms, including a call for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector.

First Lady Melania Trump, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight following the latest allegations of Trump infidelity, arrived at the capitol ahead of her husband to attend a reception with guests of the White House.

Those sitting alongside the first lady included an Ohio welder who the White House says will benefit from the new tax law, and the parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members.

 

 

Source: News24

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Donald Trump Ordered Mueller Firing, White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

President Donald Trump reportedly ordered that special counsel Robert Mueller be fired, and White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit rather than ask the Justice Department to do that.

According to The New York Times, citing “four people told of the matter,” Trump then backed off.

McGahn reportedly told his colleagues at the White House that terminating Mueller would have disastrous implications for the administration and fuel obstruction of justice accusations against the president.

The president has floated the idea in the past, prompting lawmakers to develop legislative backstops that would prevent an unjust firing of the special counsel, which is investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Those efforts on Capitol Hill have fizzled in recent months.

 

 

Source: Thedailybeast

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Nigeria's government Says Buhari re-election talk 'a distraction'

Nigeria’s government on Wednesday hit back at claims that President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure had been a failure but refused to say if he would seek re-election.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday called for Buhari to step down as he had a poor grasp of economics, foreign affairs and Nigeria’s complex internal politics.

The 75-year-old Buhari “needed a deserved rest”, his 80-year-old former military colleague suggested, and asking Nigerians to return him for four more years was “unrealistic”.

Nigerians go to the polls in February next year. Obasanjo’s intervention comes as political parties and candidates begin jostling for position in preparation for campaigning.

Obasanjo retains an influential role in Nigeria’s patronage politics and his criticisms have been seen as a possible way of bringing in contenders to challenge Buhari.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed dismissed the former leader’s criticisms, saying the administration had scored successes fighting corruption and the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency.

On the economy, too, he said the government was making “steady progress” and that “Nigerians will definitely get a new lease of life a short while from now”.

“This administration is not unaware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation but we are up to the task,” Mohammed said in an emailed statement.

“We have taken the bull by the horns and long-suffering Nigerians will begin to experience a new lease of life as our efforts yield fruits.

“We will not go into a state of funk for whatever reason.”

Buhari, who like Obasanjo headed a military government before being elected civilian president, spent much of last year being treated for an undisclosed illness in London.

He has made few public appearances since his return in August, prompting speculation about whether he is strong enough to endure the rigours of an election campaign.

There have been indications, too, that his wife, Aisha, will not back a second, four-year term of office. She has criticised the so-called “cabal” of advisers around Buhari.

His close ally Mohammed said the issue of whether Buhari will stand again was “a distraction for the president at this time”.

“This is because Mr President spends every waking hour tackling the enormous challenges facing the nation, most of which were bequeathed to his administration by successive past administrations,” he added.

“He is committed to fulfilling the mandate given to him by Nigerians in 2015. And that’s where we are right now.”

 

 

Source: News24

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George Weah to be sworn in with Liberian hopes sky-high

Former international footballer George Weah will be sworn in as Liberia’s new president on Monday, a landmark moment that marks the troubled country’s first peaceful democratic transition since 1944.

Weah will become the 25th president of the West African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years, with expectations running sky-high among Liberians that he will deliver on his promises of jobs and better schools.

The inauguration is due to begin at 09.45 in Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium near the capital, Monrovia, with heads of state from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo expected to attend along with friends and former colleagues from his football years.

Weah played for a string of top-flight European teams in the 1990s and was crowned the world’s best player by FIFA and won the coveted Ballon d’Or prize, the only African to have achieved this.

After losing his first run at the presidency to Sirleaf in 2005, he has spent the last 13 years attempting to gain the political credibility to match his wild popularity at home, becoming a senator in 2014.

Volunteers were putting the final touches to decorations and giving the streets a final lick of paint on Sunday, and many expressed hope the everyday difficulty of their lives would change.

“It’s my very first time to see Liberia transferring power peacefully. People expect real democracy,” said Samuel Harmon, 30, a street trader.

“The expectation of the people and the country is all up to him (Weah). Everybody believes that if he fails us, the majority will be disappointed with politics,” he added.

Under pressure

Sirleaf will be remembered for maintaining peace after the harrowing 1989-2003 civil war left an estimated 250 000 dead. But extreme poverty remains pervasive and Liberia ranks near bottom in international rankings for health, education and development.

At a church service attended by Sirleaf and Weah on Sunday, the pair presented a united front following a bruising election campaign in which Sirleaf’s longtime vice-president Joseph Boakai failed to convince as her successor while alleging fraud had marred the ballot.

Legal proceedings lodged by Boakai delayed a run-off vote and the transition period, meaning Weah has had less than a month to prepare for government rather than the three months initially scheduled.

Sirleaf told AFP the inauguration “implies continuity; it implies meeting the challenges,” as she left the event.

Weah faces the challenges of a depressed export economy highly reliant on rubber and iron ore, and outsized expectations he can turn the country around within months and provide jobs for the overwhelmingly young population.

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s 4.6-million citizens are under 25, and many voted for Weah in the expectation he would quickly boost employment.

He told journalists on Saturday at a football game — a friendly with the army — that his first priority was keeping the peace, and hit out at critics who say he is unqualified for the position.

“I am a human being, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful,” Weah said.

“When I work hard I believe what I believe in and I showed I could persevere,” he added, referring to early disbelief amongst his countrymen that he could make it in the top European leagues.

Experts are concerned however that hopes of tackling rampant corruption and bringing technocratic expertise into his cabinet are at risk from the need to repay favours.

“He is under pressure from various constituencies and unlikely to nominate a cabinet of experts as he claimed he would do shortly after his electoral success,” said Malte Liewerscheidt, Senior Africa Analyst at global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

The rumoured names were “clearly tilted towards re-paying political and personal debts of gratitude, suggesting continuity rather than a new dawn in Liberian politics,” he wrote in a briefing note.

 

 

Source: News24

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