Daily Archives: May 7, 2019

Cameroon: Clear ‘window of opportunity’ to solve crises rooted in violence – Bachelet

The UN human rights chief on Monday welcomed Cameroon’s willingness to cooperate over finding workable solutions to major human rights and humanitarian crisesrdquo;, caused by months of serious unrest and violence across the west and north of the country.

Theannouncementcame after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, concluded a visit to the West African country. During three days of meetings and consultations in the capital, Yaoundeacute;, she met President Paul Biya to discuss the human rights challenges facing the country, and initiatives the Government has taken to deal with them, as well as their broader linkages with peace, security and development.

I believe there is a clear � if possibly short � window of opportunity to arrest the crises that have led to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, as well as the killings and brutal human rights violations and abuses that have affected the northern and western areas of the country,rdquo; Ms. Bachelet said in a statement.

Warning that it will not be an easy process, Ms. Bachelet stressed that it will take significant actions on the part of the Government, and substantial and sustained support from the international community � including us in the UN.rdquo;

With ten or more separatist movements in the North-West and South-West region, the situation could spiral completely out of control, if measures are not taken to reduce tension and restore trustrdquo;, said Ms. Bachelet underlining that it’s essential to tackle root causes of violence, for the sake of long-term stability.

Reported cross-border incursions by armed groups and criminal organizations along Cameroon’s border with the Central African Republic (CAR), as communities continue to be terrorized and attacked by Boko Haram, and other extremist organizations, are a persistent challenge.

Cameroon is also hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.

In several regions, civilians and soldiers have been killed and mutilated, and entire villages have been burned. Children have been abducted and forced to join the armed groups and have even been utilized as unwitting suicide bombers by Boko Haramrdquo;, she said.

In the two western regions, schools, hospitals and other key infrastructure has been targeted and destroyed by the various separatist groups; and government employees, including teachers who have dared to continue teaching, have been targeted and killed or abductedrdquo;, the statement said.

With everyone – Government, opposition and civil society – in agreement that Cameroon is facing the most serious set of crises it has seen in years, and that they need to come to an end as soon as possible, the statement added that everyone can make important contributions to a drive for peace, if they can discuss options openly and freely.rdquo;

The UN human rights chief also offered to provide advice and assistance to the Government, to help ensure military operations are in compliance with international human rights standards and violations are prevented, when military forces are engaged in counter-terrorism operations and combat against armed groups.

Saying that this was a first step to the restoration of peace and security, Ms. Bachelet concluded that the stakes are high, not just for Cameroon itself, but for the whole region.

Source: United Nations (UN).

Cameroon: Clear ‘window of opportunity’ to solve crises rooted in violence – Bachelet

The UN human rights chief on Monday welcomed Cameroon’s willingness to cooperate over finding workable solutions to major human rights and humanitarian crisesrdquo;, caused by months of serious unrest and violence across the west and north of the country.

Theannouncementcame after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, concluded a visit to the West African country. During three days of meetings and consultations in the capital, Yaoundeacute;, she met President Paul Biya to discuss the human rights challenges facing the country, and initiatives the Government has taken to deal with them, as well as their broader linkages with peace, security and development.

I believe there is a clear � if possibly short � window of opportunity to arrest the crises that have led to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, as well as the killings and brutal human rights violations and abuses that have affected the northern and western areas of the country,rdquo; Ms. Bachelet said in a statement.

Warning that it will not be an easy process, Ms. Bachelet stressed that it will take significant actions on the part of the Government, and substantial and sustained support from the international community � including us in the UN.rdquo;

With ten or more separatist movements in the North-West and South-West region, the situation could spiral completely out of control, if measures are not taken to reduce tension and restore trustrdquo;, said Ms. Bachelet underlining that it’s essential to tackle root causes of violence, for the sake of long-term stability.

Reported cross-border incursions by armed groups and criminal organizations along Cameroon’s border with the Central African Republic (CAR), as communities continue to be terrorized and attacked by Boko Haram, and other extremist organizations, are a persistent challenge.

Cameroon is also hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.

In several regions, civilians and soldiers have been killed and mutilated, and entire villages have been burned. Children have been abducted and forced to join the armed groups and have even been utilized as unwitting suicide bombers by Boko Haramrdquo;, she said.

In the two western regions, schools, hospitals and other key infrastructure has been targeted and destroyed by the various separatist groups; and government employees, including teachers who have dared to continue teaching, have been targeted and killed or abductedrdquo;, the statement said.

With everyone – Government, opposition and civil society – in agreement that Cameroon is facing the most serious set of crises it has seen in years, and that they need to come to an end as soon as possible, the statement added that everyone can make important contributions to a drive for peace, if they can discuss options openly and freely.rdquo;

The UN human rights chief also offered to provide advice and assistance to the Government, to help ensure military operations are in compliance with international human rights standards and violations are prevented, when military forces are engaged in counter-terrorism operations and combat against armed groups.

Saying that this was a first step to the restoration of peace and security, Ms. Bachelet concluded that the stakes are high, not just for Cameroon itself, but for the whole region.

Source: United Nations (UN).

MEC Mxolisi Kaunda: KwaZulu-Natal State of readiness for 2019 General Elections

Media statement by the KZN Justice, Crime Prevention And Security Cluster following the meeting to assess the state of readiness for the 2019 General Elections Durban

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) held an important session yesterday, with the sole purpose of assessing the state of readiness and providing an update on all safety and security issues ahead of the May 8 national and provincial elections.

The JCPS cluster, chaired by the Department of Community Safety and Liaison, also includes the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Education, Social Development, Agriculture, Transport, and the Office of the Premier � as well as all other key security agencies in the province.

The meeting was also attended by the representative of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), because we needed to satisfy ourselves that all areas that need attention are attended to urgently in order to guarantee peaceful, free and fair elections for the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

The JCPS acknowledged that the right to vote is indeed a coveted prize, achieved through supreme sacrifice and constitutionally enshrined as a fundamental right for citizens to decide the direction and future of their country.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this regard the JCPS acknowledges the fact that it has a legal, constitutional and a supreme responsibility to ensure the safety and security of citizens to freely exercise their right to vote. It is for this reason that we have spared no effort in developing a comprehensive master plan to ensure that peace and stability prevail during the election period.

This master plan addresses all the phases of the elections and we are pleased to report that during the registration and political campaign phase, there were no serious incidents that were reported in the province. The few incidents that were reported were attended to by the Multi-Party Political Intervention Committee (MPPIC), which is led by government, working with the IEC, security agencies and all political parties.

The master plan covers the following key areas:

Ongoing intelligence assessment and categorisation of voting stations in terms of risk;

Confirmed voting stations, including mobile and satellite;

Security provision for political events and demonstrations;

Stabilising operations and physical deployment in problematic areas;

Assembling of investigative teams;

Centralised co-ordination of reported cases;

Deployment of law enforcement officers to react to reported incidents;

Inspection of voting stations;

Securing the voting stations together with their presiding officers; and

Escorting ballot papers to voting stations.

We are happy to report that the assessment and classification of all 4884 voting stations has been done and we can assure all the 5.5 million registered voters in the province that they can go and exercise their democratic right freely.

During this period, we have only picked up pockets of violent public protests. The significant decline in incidents of political intimidation and intolerance is proof that this province is indeed turning the corner in restoring political co-existence.

We are now focused on the plan to secure the special votes and the main election day on 8 May 2019. The plan will also roll over until the announcement of the election results and the post- election celebrations.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to also mention that last week we had an engagement with the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, who was here to preside over the parade of deployment of police to various voting stations in the province. The Minister assured us that the national JCPS cluster had discussed the situation of KwaZulu-Natal and had agreed to support all initiatives aimed at stabilising the province, including deploying resources.

In yesterday’s meeting, the JCPS received reports on the areas that are threatening stability, mainly threats of illegal public protests aimed at shutting down voting stations, report on the access challenges in areas that were affected by the recent floods, police deployment plan and we also discussed at length the election focusing on the voting day.

Furthermore, the committee also received reports on Special Votes that started yesterday. We are pleased that so far, special vote is proceeding smoothly, except for a few reported incidents in KwaMaphumulo and other areas.

PUBLIC PROTESTS THREATS

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the most disturbing trends we have observed is the mushrooming of illegal/violent public protests around the election period. As the JCPS, we have been made aware of the intention in some identified wards by some to use the election date to heighten demands and put pressure on government using elections as a strategic bargaining tool.

In some instances, government and the political leadership had to intervene to neutralise the situation in certain areas, where there were reports of instability. In an effort to curb these protests, we have reclassified some of these areas as high risk. Once categorised as high risk, it means more attention will be given and additional resources will be allocated to those areas.

The JCPS cluster would like to indicate that it is a right enshrined in the Constitution for anyone to use protest action to voice their discomfort on issues, but we want to state categorically that this has to be done in accordance with the rule of law and it must not infringe on the rights of other citizens, especially their fundamental right to vote.

To this end, as the JCPS we would like to send a clear message that no one will be allowed to interfere with the other citizens’ right to cast their special votes today and on election day tomorrow.

Demonstrations must be done peacefully without infringing on the rights of others. Police have been given a clear instruction to act decisively, within the ambit of the law, against illegal protestors.

Ladies and gentleman, the JCPS confirms that it will decisively deal with any illegal activities that seek to undermine the citizens’ right to vote in any part of KwaZulu-Natal. We ask everyone in the province to respect the rights of others and the Constitution. No one is above the law and the Constitution.

The situation is being monitored in eThekwini following the recent labour unrest and sabotage of essential services, such as water and electricity. We have no doubt that disgruntled employees and the eThekwini Metro are working around the clock to find a lasting solution to this impasse. We are confident that the interventions led by the Premier, Hon. Willies Mchunu, will yield positive results.

Tough measures have also been developed to monitor truck blockades, mainly on the highways, including the N2 and the N3. We view the ongoing threats by truck drivers to disrupt elections in a serious light. We have initiated engagements with the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department to attend to the cases of blockades speedily and impose harsh sentences that will serve as a deterrent.

Government is doing all it can to address the issues raised by local truck drivers, therefore, there is no need for further disruptions when the matter is being attended to and where there is a political will to address their genuine concerns. To illustrate that government is committed to addressing their concerns, the Minister of Labour convened a meeting on Saturday here in Durban with all affected parties. This year alone, government has convened several meetings with drivers and operators which were attended by Ministers of Police, Labour, Transport, Home Affairs and the Premier.

Access to voting stations damaged by floods

In the wake of the devastating floods that occurred during the Easter weekend, the JCPS cluster would like to assure the people of KwaZulu-Natal that all voting stations will be opened to public tomorrow. We are aware that in some areas, these floods destroyed election infrastructure. In fact, we had records of 233 incidents of damage to access roads to voting stations or voting stations themselves across the province. Over the weekend, our teams were on the ground doing final assessments and only few areas were highlighted to be experiencing challenges in terms of road infrastructure, which include Ntambanana, Mzumbe and some parts of eThekwini Metro.

The JCPS has, through the Department of Transport and the SANDF, made provisions for interim solutions to access those areas and all the teams are ready to respond to any situation on the voting day.

Plans have also been put in place where some voting stations, especially community halls, were used as interim accommodation for communities displaced by the floods. In this regard, alternative arrangements have been made by the IEC with assistance from COGTA.

The disaster operational centre has been opened at the eThekwini Disaster Centre to monitor developments and report on them daily. This operational centre will feed to the provincial JOINT for integrated and immediate response. This is essential in consolidating all agencies to respond to disaster challenges across the province led by the line function Department of COGTA.

Home Affairs has also extended operating hours to accommodate flood victims in the processing and collection of temporary IDs. Tomorrow, Home Affairs offices will be open from 7am to 9pm. Yesterday, their offices were opened to the public from 8am to 7pm. This is an indication that government is committed to ensuring that all citizens who are eligible to vote are able to exercise their right.

Deployment and hot spots

Ladies and gentlemen, we want to reiterate that we have classified the voting stations from low, to medium and high risk areas. The deployment of more than 70 336 personnel from all law enforcement agencies and entities of government will assist in securing these elections.

The majority of the personnel deployed are members of the South African Police Service, who have been deployed to all voting stations in the province. Other specialised teams will be placed on standby to assist with the reinforcements if needed. Areas, such as eThekwini (wards 4, 80, 88, 91, 45 and 102), Zululand District in areas, such as Abaqulusi and eDumbe, Alfred Duma municipality under uThukela, uMzimkhulu and areas under iLembe (Maphumulo, Mandeni, Ndwedwe and KwaDukuza) � will receive extra attention.

The intelligence structures have also been activated and will be operating throughout the province for early warning systems and to assist government in making proactive interventions.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are also disturbed by the ongoing killings of public representatives in the province. Last week, KwaMaphumulo ward 2 councillor was killed, ANCYL leaders in eNtshongweni and Alfred Duma municipality were also killed last week. Even though there is a general decline in these cases, the fact that they are still happening is very disturbing.

As the JCPS cluster, we acknowledge the work done by the Police Task Team on political killings, however, the continuation of these incidents is a serious concern. We urge our communities and political parties to work with the law enforcement agencies and to share with them all critical information that will assist in the prevention of this scourge.

Police have also been directed to speed up investigations in areas experiencing taxi conflicts and the killing of operators as this might threaten stability in the province. Over the weekend, two taxi operators were gunned down in Inanda. We want to assure the people of KwaZulu-Natal that police will be on high alert to prevent incidents of crime in our province during the elections and beyond.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, as the JCPS cluster, we wish to express our utter disgust at the attacks and harassment directed at IEC staff members. We have received a report that the IEC staff have been threatened in Alfred Duma municipality, uMkhanyakude and Zululand. We must work towards ensuring that IEC staff are protected and safe to do their work of delivering credible elections. Police are investigating those cases and we urge all the IEC staff who have received threats to share this information with the police urgently.

Whilst there will be close monitoring of all the hot spot areas in the province, we are confident as the JCPS cluster that this province has turned the corner against political intolerance. The spirit that characterised the political campaigns of the past must end and the spirit of peaceful co-existence must be maintained.

Once again, from the security point of view, we are ready to secure all the voters and the general population of this province. Indeed � free and fair elections are possible in KwaZulu-Natal.

I thank you!

Source: Government of South Africa

Two suspects nabbed for destroying unused ballot papers

POLOKWANE – As part of the commitment of the ProvJOINTS in the Limpopo province to ensure a safe and secure elections, the police in Giyani have arrested two suspects aged 30 and 35 for the contravention of the Electoral Act and malicious damage to property at Guwela village on Monday night.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials were about to enter a homestead at around 11am yesterday in the Guwela village where they were going to assist one citizen to cast a special vote when a group of men approached them, prevented them from executing their duties and damaged the unused ballot papers.

While the ballot papers were damaged, no one sustained any inquiries.

Police were mobilized and within hours the two suspects were arrested.

The ProvJOINTS Chairperson, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba has welcomed latest arrest and at the same time reassured the communities that the police in the Province are prepared and well positioned to ensure a safe and secure elections.

The suspects, both from a nearby Mnghongoma village, will appear before the Giyani Magistrate’s Court soon.

Source: South African Police Service