Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa president’s fate in hands of the ANC

Cyril Ramaphosa came to power in 2018 on a mission to clean up corruption

By Nomsa Maseko & Damian ZaneBBC News, Johannesburg and London

Leaders of South Africa’s governing party are meeting to discuss President Cyril Ramaphosa’s future amid a corruption scandal that has led to calls for him to resign.

He came to power pledging to tackle corruption but has now been caught up in his own crisis.

An independent report said Mr Ramaphosa may have broken the law by allegedly covering up a theft at his farm.

He has denied any wrongdoing and his spokesman said the report was “flawed”.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Ramaphosa said his fate was in the hands of the governing African National Congress (ANC). But he has also said that he will challenge the report in the country’s Constitutional Court.

Parliament will also get its say, with MPs set to discuss the report, which was commissioned from a panel of legal experts by the speaker, on Tuesday. They could decide to launch impeachment proceedings.

Leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema has said that he is confident that impeachment will go ahead, even though the ANC holds a majority of seats in parliament.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Mr Malema called for the arrest of the president alleging that he had committed a crime. Mr Ramaphosa has not been charged with anything at this point.

Faced with a difficult economic situation, South Africans are watching this unfold wondering how it could affect them and waiting to see if yet another president will be brought down by allegations of corruption.

Mr Ramaphosa became president in 2018 after the resignation of Jacob Zuma, whose time in office had been weighed down by mounting allegations.

This scandal erupted in June, when a former South African spy boss, Zuma-ally Arthur Fraser, filed a complaint with police accusing the president of hiding a theft of $4m (£3.25m) in cash from his Phala Phala game farm in 2020.

Mr Ramaphosa admitted that some money, which had been hidden in a sofa, had been stolen, but said it was $580,000 not $4m.

The president said the $580,000 had come from the sale of buffalo, but the panel, headed by a former chief justice, said it had “substantial doubt” about whether a sale took place.

South Africa has strict rules on holding foreign currency, which say that it must be deposited with an authorised dealer such as a bank with 30 days. It appears as though the president may have broken those rules.

Furthermore, if the money was from selling buffalo as he declared, this money should have been declared, rather than kept in cash.

The president is under pressure from his rivals within the ANC, as well as the opposition, to resign. The party remains deeply divided between supporters of Mr Zuma and those who back Mr Ramaphosa.

Herzog becomes first Israeli president to visit Bahrain

AFP , Sunday 4 Dec 2022

Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived Sunday in Bahrain, the first visit by an Israeli head of state to the small Gulf kingdom since the two countries normalised relations in 2020.

Israel s President Isaac Herzog (L) is greeted by Bahrain s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani upon his arrival to the capital Manama, December 4, 2022. Photo courtesy of Israeli GPO

Herzog, whose role is largely ceremonial, was greeted at the airport by Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, according to pictures posted to his Twitter account.

He said on Twitter he planned to meet King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, as well as Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, who is crown prince and prime minister.

Accompanied by an economic delegation, Herzog said he would discuss “ways to strengthen our economic cooperation” along with climate change and security issues.

Herzog said he would then travel to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

In 2020, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states in decades to normalise relations with Israel, following negotiations spearheaded by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

Israel had earlier established peace treaties with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.

“I call on more states in our region to join this partnership, strengthening the Middle East,” Herzog tweeted on Sunday.

“The expanding circle of (Middle East) peace is highly important, especially amid threats to global and regional stability. In the face of hate, threats & terror, there is one answer: alliances with friends.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, then Israel’s top diplomat, visited Bahrain in September last year to open the Israeli embassy there.

In February of this year, Israel signed a defence agreement with Bahrain and Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli premier to visit the country.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

Dior showcases fashion in shadow of Egypt’s pyramids

AFP , Saturday 3 Dec 2022

French fashion house Dior on Saturday held its first show at Egypt’s ancient Giza pyramids, presenting its 2023 fall men’s collection in the shadow of the millennia-old tombs.

A model presents a creation at the Christian Dior fashion show at the Giza Pyramids Necropolis on the outskirts of the twin city of Egypt s capital on December 3, 2022. – French fashion house Dior today held its first show at Egypt s ancient Giza pyramids, presenting its 2023 fall men s collection in the shadow of the of the millennia-old tombs. AFP

Dwarfed by the vast Giza necropolis — their imposing ridges illuminated by white light for the show — models showcased the collection titled “Celestial”.

Saturday’s show was the second by a European fashion house to use Ancient Egyptian heritage sites as a backdrop this year.

In October, Italian designer Stefano Ricci showcased his most recent collection at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor.

Egypt’s Giza necropolis, just west of the capital Cairo, has in recent years played host to ever-grander events, including pop concerts and contemporary art exhibitions, as the North African country seeks to project a revitalised image to draw in new tourism and business.

Media entrepreneur Amy Mowafi said events like Dior’s “put Egypt on the map as a new hub for creativity and design” where creators can draw on “seven thousand years of inspiration.”

March against Uganda oil pipeline in Paris

By Africanews 

Environmental activists, religious figures, and believers protested Tuesday in Paris against the mega oil projects of the French group TotalEnergies in Uganda and Tanzania, a first action led by the movements Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities and GreenFaith.

“Deliver us from Total”, “Warm hearts, not pipelines”: they were about thirty gathered in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in the south of Paris, according to a journalist of the AFP.

Extinction Rebellion Spiritualities is a branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement, well known for its civil disobedience actions. GreenFaith is an inter-religious NGO born in the United States which fights “for climate justice”, supported by religious volunteers

The protesters were opposing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Tilenga oil field project in Uganda and Tanzania, initiated by TotalEnergies. The NGOs accuse the multinationals of taking over land through expropriation and are concerned about the environmental impact of these projects.

“Our traditions and our religions urge us not to remain silent,” said Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace, one of the religious figures present, along with Pastor Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet, President of the Rassemblement des musulmans de France Anouar Kbibech, Buddhist Master Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh and Bishop Marc Stenger.

These religious figures arrived carrying an empty coffin with African landscapes painted on it.

“I’m Catholic and I think it’s great to see religious figures taking a stand on the divisive issue of ecology,” said Isabelle, 43, who like all the members of Extinction Rebellion refuses to give her last name.

TotalEnergies has been sued by several environmental NGOs over its activities in Uganda and Tanzania. The company will appear before the Paris Court of Justice on December 7 to discuss the matter.

The associations are targeting two colossal projects that are intrinsically linked: the Tilenga project, a 419-well drilling project in Uganda, one third of which is in the Murchison Falls natural park; and the EACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline) project, the world’s longest heated oil pipeline, which crosses Tanzania over nearly 1,500 km, crossing several protected natural areas.

TotalEnergies reacted in a press release, stressing that “all the partners in the Tilenga and EACOP projects are committed to implementing them in a way that places environmental and biodiversity issues and the rights of the communities concerned at the heart of the project, in accordance with the highest international standards.

These projects, the press release adds, “represent a major development challenge for Uganda and Tanzania and we are doing everything possible to make them exemplary in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, economic and social progress, sustainable development, environmental awareness, and respect for human rights.

Third round of DR Congo conflict talks open in Nairobi

By Halligan Agade -3 hours ago

Kenyan President William Ruto, Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye during the third round of talks on DR Congo Conflict.

The third round of talks on the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo started in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday.

Among those attending the dialogue were the Presidents of Kenya, Burundi and DR Congo, and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the facilitator of the peace process. They were flanked by observers from the African Union and United Nations, with DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi joined the discussions virtually.

Kenyatta said the main agenda of the talks in Nairobi were to create conducive conditions for the disarmament of armed groups, in addition to identifying the root cause of the conflict.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who addressed the meeting via video link, said participants must stay the course of the process and not allow the conflict to be a perennial problem, adding that the EAC block can count on Rwanda’s “full support” towards a lasting and permanent solution.

His neighboring counterpart from Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said any group that was “adamant” and “does not want peace” in eastern DR Congo could be dealt with by a combination of a political and, if necessary, “military process”.

Kenyan President William Ruto said that the prospects of prosperity for the East African Community (EAC) and Africa, in general, would remain dim as long as there was no peace in eastern DR Congo.

He further submitted that EAC leaders must recognize that the operational environment of the East African Standby Force remains “charged with threats” from various armed groups and negative elements.

Ruto said he believes the East African regional force would complement the efforts of the DR Congo military (FARDC) in restoring peace and stability in eastern DR Congo. He added that Kenya would remain a loyal and dependable partner of the DR Congo.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who is also the chair of the East African Community, will officiate the inter-Congolese dialogue.

With facilitation from the EAC, the Nairobi talks are being held in an effort to bring peace to the vast country where nearly 100 armed groups have wreaked havoc for close to three decades.

Though the M23 rebels have called for direct talks with Kinshasa, the government has insisted that the rebels withdraw from occupied territories as a prerequisite for talks.

The Nairobi talks are taking place less than a week after a summit of regional leaders was held in Luanda, Angola where they signed a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict involving M23 and called on all other armed groups to disarm.

Last week was meant to be the deadline for the M23 rebels to withdraw from occupied territories in North Kivu province, which hasn’t been respected. The rebels instead announced that they had agreed on the ceasefire.

The EAC has established a regional force to restore peace in eastern DR Congo, with Kenyan troops already in Goma. At the Luanda summit, the leaders said they would approve the use of force if the armed groups do not disarm voluntarily.

Leading lights: China, Kenya cooperation based on sincerity and mutual benefits

By CGTN Africa 

China and Kenya have deepened mutual political trust and expanded cooperation over the years, pushing their relations to the level of a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

In an exclusive interview with CGTN, Kenya’s Former foreign minister Raphael Tuju hailed China’s accomplishments under the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership.

” I think for me that was the most excellent news because it ensures stability in China. It also means that the same policies that have been followed in the last ten years will continue, and those policies are good for the rest of the world.’’

Former Kenya Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju.

Huge infrastructural projects in Kenya and the larger East and Central Africa also showcases China’s support to make greater contributions to world development and prosperity.

”The tallest building in Kenya today, the GTC investment is built by the Chinese,’’ Tuju observed

The fruitful and wide-ranging cooperation between China and Kenya has yielded to win-win results setting out a model for the China – Africa cooperation

”Cooperation of China with Kenya is really cooperation of China with East and Central Africa and has a lot of potential and room for growth. This growth can result in a win-win situation where both East Africans and Chinese people also benefit because the world is a global village’’

King Charles welcomes South Africa’s Ramaphosa for first state visit

Story by Reuters

Britain’s King Charles III and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa at Horse Guards Parade, in London, on Tuesday.

King Charles hosted his first state visit since becoming British monarch on Tuesday, welcoming South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace.

Charles, 74, rolled out the traditional pomp and ceremony for the first time as head of state, as Britain seeks to bolster its relations with its biggest trading partner in Africa.

Ramaphosa and his wife were officially greeted by Charles’s eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate at a central London hotel to mark the start of his two-day trip, the first state visit to the UK by a world leader since that of former US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania in 2019.

un salutes and a ceremonial welcome from the King and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, followed before a grand carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where a banquet will be held later in the president’s honor.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for former South African President Nelson Mandela. He will also address lawmakers in parliament and meet UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Britain hopes the visit, which had been planned before the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, will strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations, and show the importance of links with the Commonwealth of Nations, the international organization which Charles now heads.

The Prince and Princess of Wales stand with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) at the Corinthia Hotel in London.

“This is a einforcement of the strong bilateral relationship that we have with South Africa, a real opportunity to build on that close working relationship and discuss some of the issues that affect us all,” British Foreign Minister James Cleverly told Reuters.

The last state visit to Britain by a South African leader was that of President Jacob Zuma in 2010 when he was met by Charles and Camilla at the start of the trip.

Industrialization critical for Africa’s sustainable transformation: UNECA chief

By XINHUA 

UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Chief Antonio Pedro. /UNECA

Africa’s sustainable transformation requires sustainable industrialization that can withstand global challenges, acting executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Antonio Pedro said.

The UNECA chief made the remarks on the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day, which is commemorated every year on Nov. 20 in line with African leaders’ decision back in 1989.

“The Russia-Ukraine crisis we are in and the devastating COVID-19 pandemic we are recovering from have cruelly reconfirmed the accuracy of our diagnosis and prescription, but also the yawning gap between our lofty ambitions and our paltry performance in this crucial field,” a UNECA statement quoted Pedro as saying.

He emphasized that industrialization is critical for Africa as primary products, both extractive or agricultural, account for the bulk of African exports to the rest of the world, while processed products dominate the continent’s imports.

“In far too many cases, we export the raw product and reimport the same thing in processed form thereby exporting African jobs to others and effectively paying for the wages of foreign workers,” Pedro said.

Figures from the UNECA show that between 2016 and 2021, fuels accounted for the largest share of Africa’s total exports, ranging from 29 percent to 43 percent in any given year, and averaging 37 percent over the period. At a more granular level, petroleum and petroleum-related products comprise the largest percentage.

“Industrialization is not an option for Africa, it is an imperative. Simply put, by adding value to our raw materials here on the continent, we can convert our resources to the real blessings they are, rather than allow them to continue to be a curse imposed on us,” Pedro said.

Britain and South Africa agree health partnership on second day of state visit

Reuters

South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa looks on at the Francis Crick Institute during a state visit in London, Britain, November 23, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls12345

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Britain and South Africa on Wednesday announced a new health and science partnership to mark the second day of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state visit to London, the first such official guest hosted by Britain’s King Charles.

Charles, 74, had rolled out traditional pomp and ceremony to welcome Ramaphosa, hosted a banquet in his honour on Tuesday. Ramaphosa also addressed lawmakers at the Houses of Parliament.Advertisement · Scroll to continue

On Wednesday, Britain announced a new set of research collaborations as Ramaphosa toured the Crick Institute, the biggest biomedical research facility in Europe, and Kew Gardens, with Charles’ brother Edward.

British foreign minister James Cleverly said the partnerships, on areas such as vaccine manufacturing, genome sequencing and climate change, will “benefit us all”.

“The UK and South Africa have shown global leadership in joining together to protect people by preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, and by working to halt climate change.”

Ramaphosa will meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak later in the day, and attend a UK-South Africa business forum to discuss trade and investment. South Africa is Britain’s biggest trading partner in Africa.

Ramaphosa had highlighted the role that industrialised nations had to play in helping other countries cut emissions in his speech on Tuesday, and welcomed Britain’s involvement in initiatives helping South Africa to decarbonise.

Britain will support genome sequencing at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which played a key role in detecting COVID-19 variants such as beta and omicron, in a push improve antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Africa.

Kew Gardens – a botanical garden in west London – will also work with South Africa’s National Biodiversity Institute on preserving South Africa’s plant diversity.

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean

King Charles to host South African president in first state visit as monarch

Cyril Ramaphosa is the first foreign leader in three years to travel to the UK for a state visit

King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will host a banquet for President Cyril Ramaphosa at Buckingham Palace as part of the two-day trip.

Mr Ramaphosa is also set to address politicians in a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.

It is the first state visit to the UK in more than three years after they were stopped during the Covid pandemic.

The Prince and Princess of Wales will first greet the South African president at his London hotel on Tuesday morning and escort him to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremonial welcome with the King.

His Majesty will then ride down the Mall with Mr Ramaphosa in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

There the King will host the president at a private lunch and show him an exhibition of Royal Collection items relating to South Africa.

Mr Ramaphosa, who has been head of government in South Africa since 2018, will follow the tradition of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, and then address MPs and peers in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster.

Later, the King will host a glittering white-tie banquet at Buckingham Palace for President Ramaphosa where both men will give speeches.

The visit follows the traditional format put in place during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

This is the diplomatic equivalent of getting out the poshest plates and cutlery to impress the visitors.

Flags are out on the Mall, there will be a ceremonial carriage ride, honour guards and a banquet in Buckingham Palace.

The dinner service for the banquet dates back to George IV – and the motives, buttering up visiting dignitaries, are even older.

Because there is a serious soft-power intent behind the toasts and tiaras. Trade with South Africa represents 30% of the UK’s entire trade with the African continent, worth almost £11bn per year.

The King is also now head of the Commonwealth and will want to send a positive message about strengthening relations.

There will also be sensitivity to concerns closer to home, with the backdrop of a deepening cost of living crisis. It will be red carpets, but with a purpose.

BBC southern Africa correspondent Pumza Fihlani says the president is hoping to use the state visit to drum up support for UK investment in South Africa to bolster the country’s economic development and industries.

But his visit comes at a time when the head of state is facing criticism over South African unemployment levels and a return to power outages affecting households, businesses and schools across the country – almost every day for a number of hours at a time.

This month he also said he would “step aside” if charged over an alleged cover-up of a robbery at his private farm, which he denies.

On Wednesday, the Earl of Wessex will escort Mr Ramaphosa to the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew in south-west London.

The South African leader will then visit Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, before returning to the palace to bid farewell to the King.

Mr Sunak said: “South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together.

“I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great nations and capitalise on shared opportunities, from trade and tourism and security and defence.”

The president is also set to receive a call from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and attend a Guildhall banquet with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.