Monthly Archives: January 2016

President salutes Professor Vilakazi

President Jacob Zuma has extended condolences on the passing of Professor Herbert Vilakazi.

The Presidency on Friday said Vilakazi was a renowned sociologist and one of the most insightful intellectuals in the country.

“We deeply mourn his passing and wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma.



ADDIS ABABA, The Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, five other entrepreneurs and human rights campaigners have written to the African Union to use upcoming summit to sort out conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi, as a matter of urgency.

In an open letter to the African Union, the Sudanese-British philanthropist and his colleagues said the meeting starting on January 30 should be “both opportunity and a responsibility to respond to these crises.”

“This is a grave test of AU credibility, and of the continent’s ability to solve its own problems,” they wrote on Wednesday.

“Failure to act now would dent the reputation of the institution and those at its helm, and constitute a betrayal of the ordinary civilians in both countries whose lives are gravely affected by continuing violence and a lack of accountability.”

The AU will hold the 26th Ordinary Session of the AU general Assembly for heads of State and government this Saturday under the theme “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women.”

But it comes amid rising tensions in Burundi where about 400 people have been killed and 230,000 displaced in a conflict following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for third term.

It also comes at a time when South Sudanese leaders have failed to agree on a transitional government as stated in a peace agreement signed last August.

President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar have disagreed over the 28 new states Kiir created last December.

As is tradition, a report on the crises in Africa prepared by the Peace and Security Council, AU’s top organ charged with security matters, will be tabled before the leaders during the AU’s 26th Ordinary Summit.

On Wednesday, the entrepreneurs said: “The people of Africa and the world are watching closely. We urge you to fulfill their trust, and act in the interests of the continent, the institution that you serve, and of your fellow Africans.”

This is the first time Mo Ibrahim, the founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which publishes annual governance rankings of African countries, is calling on the AU to make a move on the crises.

The letter publicised on Wednesday was also signed by South African, Jay Naidoo, who chairs the Board of and the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Uganda’s Victor Ochen, the Director of African Youth Initiative Network and 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Others are Dr Chidi Odinkalu, the Chair of the Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission, Ms Navi Pillay South Africa’s former Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR) judge and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr Ashish J Thakkar, founder of the Mara Group.

The group charged that despite various pronouncements by the AU on the two countries, the implementation has been slow, leading to more human suffering.

In Burundi, the AU Peace and Security Council endorsed the deployment of 5,000 troops to protect civilians back in December.

But Bujumbura rejected the decision calling the troops an invasion force. The AU has spent most of January trying to convince Burundi to allow the peacekeeping forces.

In South Sudan, the campaigners argued there has been no hybrid court to prosecute violence perpetrators, four months after the peace agreement was signed.

“It is critical that the AU’s decisions on Burundi and South Sudan are implemented immediately, in order to fulfill our collective commitment to prevent crimes against humanity? and assist those at risk of grave harm.

“Vested interests and political allegiances cannot be allowed to prevail,” they said.

They called on the AU to use “all diplomatic means and political leverage” to convince Burundi to allow the troops in.



ADDIS ABABA, Africa is making progress in women empowerment with African Union (AU) member states slowly bringing more women on board in traditionally male dominated sectors, according to the AU Commission for Political Affairs.

The AU is celebrating the fact that the continent is leading the world in the number of women parliamentarians as out of 37 African countries with the highest number of women legislators, 16 are from Africa.

The continental body has dedicated 2016 to Women’s Empowerment and the theme for this year’s annual summit of AU Heads of State and Government this week is “Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on the Rights of Women”.

The continental body is pushing ahead with gender parity, starting at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has implemented a 50-50 representation with five of its 10 Commissioners now led by women and slowly more women are being included.

The Head of the AU Commission for Political Affairs, Dr Aisha Abdullhahi, says: ”The AU currently has the highest number of women in peacekeeping forces and the highest number of women in political decision-making bodies globally.

“It is gratifying to indicate that, there are currently 37 countries in the world that have at least 30 per cent of women representation in their parliaments and 16 of these countries are in Africa. Rwanda is currently the leading country with the highest number of women in parliament worldwide.”

She also praised the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sub-region, commending the member countries for establishing ministries and parastatals to promote and protect women’s rights.

”Some of the above developments on gender transformation had also been replicated at the sub-regional level leading to the evolution of policies such as the SADC Women’s Rights Protocol. Further there are impressive numbers of AU member state that have toed the above continental and sub-regional pragmatic paths,” she notes.

“South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde and Madagascar are doing pretty well and making remarkable progress in terms of respect of women’s rights, women’s access to land and credit facilities, promotion of equal access to education for male and female child. At the political front our continent takes the lead,” adds Dr Abdullahi.



ADDIS ANANA, Africa should make paradigm shift in its education and training system for the implementation of Agenda 2063, the continent’s 50-year development blueprint, says the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga.

Briefing the media here Thursday on the final draft of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25), he said it was imperative to put in place a qualitative education and training system which focuses on African core values for the creation of new African citizens capable of becoming effective as change agents for sustainable development.

He pointed out the need for liberating education from its colonial legacy to promote the achievement of the African vision and ambitions aligned with Agenda 2063.

The commissioner said the pillars for the implementation of the strategy included strong political commitment, a peaceful environment, gender equity, domestic resource mobilization, and strong institutional capacity.

Dr. Ikounga underlined the importance of expanding education infrastructure to make quality education accessible by creating a student-friendly environment at schools.

The dissemination of scientific and cultural knowledge focused on curricula for science, mathematics and information communication technology (ICT) should be given priority, according to the commissioner.

He also stressed the need for expansion of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) opportunities in Africa, both at secondary and tertiary levels, over the next ten years.

Campaigns to eradicate illiteracy across the continent, revitalization of teaching staff, building the capacity of educational leadership and strengthening the coalition of stakeholders are cross-cutting strategic intervention areas in the coming decade, he added.

He called on partners to provide meaningful and consistent support for the implementation of the ambitious programmes embedded in CESA 16-25 which is expected to be endorsed by African leaders who hold their annual summit here this weekend.



UNITED NATIONS,Stressing the urgent need to end impunity in Central African Republic (CAR) and bring to justice those who violate humanitarian law, the UN Security Council renewed its sanctions against individuals or groups implicated in the country’s ongoing sectarian tensions.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council noted the critical importance of effectively implementing the sanctions regime as the situation in CAR “continues to constitute a treat to international peace and security in the region.”

Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the country witnessed a resumption of violence in December 2012 when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks.

A peace agreement was reached in January 2013, but the rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee.

A transitional government was established to restore peace but the conflict took on increasingly sectarian overtones as the mainly Christian anti-Balaka movement took up arms and inter-communal clashes erupted again.

The UN recently reported an upsurge in violence, in particular last September and October, committed by armed elements.

In light of this, the Council renewed a series of sanctions until Jan 31, 2017, calling on all UN Member States to maintain a series of measures, including an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze.

It applies to those designated by the Sanctions Committee “as engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of CAR, including acts that threaten or impede the political transition process, or the stabilization and reconciliation process or that fuel violence.”

The resolution also emphasized that any sustainable solution to the crisis should be “CAR-owned,” and called upon the transitional authorities to hold legislative elections and the second round of the presidential elections “in a free, fair, transparent and inclusive manner.”

According to the agreed time frame, the transition should be ending by March 31, 2016.

Meanwhile, the Security Council has commended the UN Integrated Multidimensional Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) and the French forces for their ongoing work to help the current authorities improve the security situation, which remains fragile.



ADDIS ABABA, Visa free movement across Africa could greatly reduce migration to Europe, an African Union (AU) official has said.

The AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, said free movement of Africans within the continent would reduce the number of migrants risking their lives on dangerous journeys.

“If you have alternatives within the continent, then you don’t risk your life with a dangerous journey [out of the continent],” Dr Kaloko said in Addis Ababa Friday.

“For instance, Rwanda and Mauritius have registered economic benefits by allowing Africans visa free movement to their countries. If you move freely within Africa, trade will also be encouraged,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the African Heads of State Summit set to open Saturday.

The commissioner urged member states to follow the examples of Rwanda and Mauritius and create opportunities for Africans within the continent to and boost their economies, while reducing the number of those who die during the risky journeys to Europe.

Dr Kaloko further noted that the African Union was focusing more on programmes that bring lasting solutions to the African migration crisis.

“We are not in the business of crisis management concerning migration.

“We are trying to build the future Africa focusing on programmes such as employment and education,” he said.

Reports show that hundreds of thousands of Africans died while making dangerous journeys to seek better livelihoods in Europe and other developed countries.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that last year alone, some 1,500 Africans died attempting to make the journey from Libya to Europe.

Globally, more than one million refugees and migrants fled to Europe by sea, many on board dangerously inadequate vessels run by people smugglers last year.

UNHCR’s latest figures also show that around 1.5 million people had reached Europe across the Mediterranean, mainly to Greece and Italy, in 2015. Of these, 3,735 were missing, believed drowned.



JOHANNESBURG, It is time for an African to run for the position of FIFA president, says South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, one of five candidates shortlisted by the FIFA selection committee to contest the presidency of world football’s governing body.

Sexwale said this in an interview here Thursday with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Prior to the interview there has been speculation that Sexwale would withdraw from the race, but he has now confirmed his readiness and determination to lead FIFA.

The other candidates are Italian Gianni Infantino, Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain, and JerA�me Champagne of France.

Since Sexwale’s announcement concerning his campaign for the FIFA presidency, a lot of people have been asking if he is the right person to run for the position.

In response to his critics, he says he has been with FIFA for years. “Fifa says I qualify to run for presidency of the organization, I have been with FIFA for eleven years. Desmond Tutu, Lucas Radebe, Aaron Mokoena believe I am the right candidate for FIFA presidency.”

He says his involvement with soccer goes a long way back to his days growing up in Soweto, Johannesburg. “My father was a football administrator in Soweto. I used to play football growing up.”

The current leadership race has been an unusual one, as Sexwale points out that such campaigning is usually a four-year long exercise.

He states that things are different this time around and candidates are expected to canvas for support within four months.

Sexwale says he has been approached by people who have assured him of their support. “I was called by an Arab leader who supports me. But I will not disclose who he is.”

He says he is the right man for the job because he knows what needs to be done to fix FIFA.

“For me it’s not about only the presidency, I’ve been in many FIFA structures including the racism committee, now money has started to flow in the campaign, in the FIFA we are trying to clean up, this can’t happen. The main issues for FIFA are accountability and credibility.”

He says he is focused on leading FIFA but he would be happy with another leader from Africa or Asia. “I am focused on making sure that the president of FIFA comes from either Africa or Asia, but not Europe.”

Sexwale concluded by saying his campaign is bigger than him. “I wish it was Lucas Radebe, Irvin Khoza, George Weah or Danny Jordaan running for this position, but I am doing it for the African child to be able to say Tokyo built this bridge for us to succeed.”

Fifa will announce Sepp Blatter’s successor after an election to be held in Zurich, Switzerland, on 26 February 2016.



PRETORIA, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) has vowed to take action to tackle economic challenges facing the country.

This is one of the key decisions taken at the ruling party’s three-day National Executive Committee Lekgotla (caucus meeting) which ended here Wednesday night.

The lekgotla is an annual meeting which determines government programmes and priorities to ensure consistency between government work and the ANC. The state of education, economic growth and the upcoming local government elections were at the top of the agenda at this year’s meeting.

The lekgotla received a report on the domestic economic situation from the National Treasury and one on global factors from the Department of Trade and Industry. Party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said the ANC was concerned by the current economic look.

“The creation of decent work, more jobs and sustainable livelihoods remains a key priority of the ANC. While accepting the challenges emanating from a depressed global economic climate, the pressure on emerging markets and sluggish economic growth, bold actions are expected from government to grow the economy inclusively and avert the possibility of a credit ratings downgrade,” he said.

“More needs to be done to create an enabling environment for more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods.”

The NEC lekgotla now wants a review of trade agreements between South Africa and other countries. This is due to a recent fallout between Pretoria and the United States over the implementation of trade privileges for South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the US.

Mantashe said: “The NEC took a decision that there must be a review of all trade agreements entered into by the democratic government since 1999. The review must the assess socio-economic impact and the extent to which the agreement advances South Africa’s economic interests.

“At all times, government must be alive to the need for an exit strategy where agreements have a potential to defeat the core objective which is to expand, increase and grow our domestic industries and markets.”

With local government elections expected to take place later this year, the ruling party plans to retain all its metropolitan municipalities and also reclaim the City of Cape Town.

“National and provincial government have intervened decisively where necessary to ensure that weak or dysfunctional municipalities are capacitated and in the interest of better governance, political leadership has been changed,” said Mantashe.

“Our efforts in the coming year must be on consolidating the gains of the Back to Basics programme and creating thriving and sustainable local economies. The ANC is confident of retaining all metropolitan municipalities. We currently govern and will be fighting to win the City of Cape Town.”