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South Africa political deadlock as Jacob Zuma clings to power

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South Africa’s political impasse deepened on Saturday with no resolution to extended talks over President Jacob Zuma’s expected departure from office after his own party called for him to resign.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president-in-waiting, and the ruling ANC party have said negotiations should be concluded within days, but have given no details about how Zuma will be eased out of power.

The stalemate has left South Africa’s political scene in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled this week including the flagship State of the Nation address to parliament in Cape Town on Thursday.

Zuma cleared his diary of weekend engagements, but deputy president Ramaphosa is due to speak at a rally in the city on Sunday to start a year of celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.

February 11 also marks the day that Mandela was released from jail in 1990 — a key date in modern South Africa’s re-birth as apartheid white-minority rule crumbled.

Zuma and Ramaphosa will “conclude” discussions on Zuma’s exit within 48 hours and the outcome will then be announced to the nation, the News24 website said Saturday without naming its sources.

But 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 said.

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

“Zuma pretended to open the doors of negotiations, but he is digging in.”

Local media reported that a key sticking point in talks was over legal fees faced by Zuma, who is set for prolonged court battles related to multiple criminal cases.

On Friday, the president reportedly flew back from Cape Town to his official residence in Pretoria.

The ANC has said it is awaiting the “imminent conclusion” of the talks, and said the budget on February 21 will not be delayed.

Ramaphosa has made no official comment since Wednesday when he described the discussions as “constructive” towards securing “a speedy resolution of the matter.”

Zuma has made no comment since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials last Sunday.

The pro-Zuma New Age newspaper reported Friday that the president would gather his family at his residence in Pretoria this weekend to inform them of his decision.

Zuma’s wife Thobeka Madiba-Zuma posted a picture of the couple on Instagram on Friday, adding a defiant comment that warned against “picking a fight with someone who is not fighting you”.

Zuma, 75, who has been in office since 2009, has clung to power despite a string of corruption scandals, an economic slowdown and record unemployment.

His hold on the ANC was shaken when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a closely-fought race to be party leader in December.

Zuma faces several court cases, including action relating to 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power.

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

In 2007, 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 in 1994, winning less than 54 percent of the vote in municipal elections in 2016.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which promotes the legacy of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon, has called for Zuma to go as he had “demonstrated that he is not fit to govern”.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade unionist who led talks to end apartheid rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.

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Motherland News

Mozambique: Government set to impose license fees for local journalists.

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Mozambican government has announced plans to introduce license fees for local and foreign journalists.

Local correspondents will pay $2,500 per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.

Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.

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This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.

The plan fees have attracted serious criticism as the move has been viewed as an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.

Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has warned that the imposition of licensing fees on the country’s mass media must not compromise the fundamental right of the public to information.

In a statement, the CNDH, added its voice to the chorus of criticism of the proposed fees.

It conceded that the government has the right to update licensing and accreditation fees, but said such a measure should not undermine the right to information.

The CNDH points out that the current legal framework on access to information “takes as its guidelines the greatest divulging of information and free access to information… In other words, access to information is a matter of public interest and this access should be promoted and facilitated”.

It added: “The legal framework meant that the relevant state bodies must take measures to promote the broadest possible access to information”.

CNDS also warns that the enormous fees imposed by the July decree are not in line with the guidelines contained in the legal instruments on the right to information that are in force in the country.

The justification given for the fees is that they are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the sector – but none of the money raised by the fees will go to the media.

The decree states that 60 percent of the money from the fees will go to the state budget, and the remaining 40 per cent will go to the government’s press office (Gabinfo).

Meanwhile, the government is showing signs of backing down.

On Tuesday, its spokesperson, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ana Comoana, said the decree will be discussed with interested parties before its implementation.

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BREAKING: Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan dies

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Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family.

The Nobel Peace Laureate was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African man to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat.

He had been a member of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for human rights, since it was founded in 2007. In 2013, he became its chairman.

He was founder and Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, which issued a statement on social media, saying: “It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness…”

“His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days,” it said.
 
Also, the UN Migration Agency tweeted the news: “Today we mourn the loss of a great man, a leader, and a visionary.”
 
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres voiced deep sorrow at the news his predecessor had passed away, calling him “a guiding force for good”.
 
“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” Guterres said in a statement shortly after news broke of Annan’s passing.
 
“In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” he added.
 
He quickly became a familiar face on television, with his name making newspaper headlines, and he was a sought-after guest at gala events and New York dinner parties. 
The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan’s death.
“Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful,” he said.
“He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions.”
His home country of Ghana has now declared a week of mourning after his death.
Describing Annan as a “consummate” diplomat, Ghana’s Presdient Akufo-Addo said in a statement that Ghana was “deeply saddened” by news of his death.

 

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