Ex-footballer George Weah faces many challenges in Liberia

On the pinnacle of Monrovia are the remains of what used to be an impressive five-star hotel – DUCOR. There stands the black-and-yellow statue of Joseph J Roberts, the country’s first president, overlooking Monrovia.

The founding president would have glowed with pride at what has just taken place in Liberia – the key step towards the first transfer of power in the country from one elected president to another through universal suffrage.

Just outside Liberia’s election commission crowds gathered to celebrate the announcement that George Opong Weah had won the run-off. A young man, without a shirt on, looked teary-eyed. He summed up the mood.

An aide to the president-elect said he shed tears after hearing the news.

Hardly anyone is surprised at this victory. But the crushing margin could have stunned even the staunchest supporters of the former Fifa World Player of the Year.

Yet Mr Weah now faces his hardest battle yet. He might know how to score a goal on the pitch, but he has only been a senator for three years.

Liberian footballer George Weah (R) as he campaigns for Liberia’s 2005 presidential elections in Monrovia watched by people sitting on a roofImage copyrightAFP
Image caption
Mr Weah first ran for president back in 2005 (pictured on the campaign trail)
Apart from that, he’s not a tried and tested political figure. Perhaps if he’d been allowed to contest for the presidency of the Liberian Football Association when he wanted to do so in 2004, there would have been something to assess his leadership with.

And now he is running Liberia, a country which endured a brutal civil war for 17 years, started by Charles Taylor almost exactly 28 years ago, on Christmas Eve in 1989.

Taylor would later become president, eventually forced to stand down amid a huge international pressure following his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone. He is currently serving a 50-year jail term in a UK prison following his conviction.

So it might surprise some that Mr Weah’s vice-president will be Jewel Howard Taylor, the warlord’s ex-wife.

In fact, George Weah did a lot of political horse-trading to get here. Not only with Mrs Taylor but also with a former warlord, Prince Johnson who butchered the war-time president, Samuel Kayan Doe. Satisfying those interests will prove key for the new president.

What’s more, having secured 38% of the vote in the first round, he needed to do deals to make himself – and not his rival – the choice for the other 18 candidates who couldn’t make it to the run-off. Even the running mate to Charles Brumskine, who came third and went to court to stop the run-off, endorsed Mr Weah, going against his leader’s position.

It’s not clear who will get appointed to what position but usually reliable sources say the traders are more and bigger than the horse.

Another reason for Mr Weah’s win could be because of the man he ran against. For 12 years Joseph Boakai has been Liberia’s vice-president. And for decades the 73-year-old was a civil servant. He and his supporters touted his experience as his assets. His critics cited his age as his undoing.

Supporters of George Weah, former soccer player and presidential candidate of Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), celebrate after the announcement of the presidential election results in Monrovia, Liberia December 28, 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image caption
Weah ran with Jewel Howard-Taylor, a somewhat controversial pick
Whether it did or not may never be entirely clear. However, he and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have overseen a period of remarkable stability in the country, after all the wars and woes.

But Mr Weah takes control of a Liberia where corruption is believed to be endemic, poverty is rife and the economy is weak.

Fixing the economy of a country with huge natural resources including a large rubber plantation, iron ore and the prospect for oil will be crucial. And with that, providing jobs for especially the young people who comprise the majority of the population. This requires well thought-out policies and foreign assistance.

The head of the election observer mission of the regional block Ecowas has urged the world to assist Liberia. Ghana’s former President John Mahama has called on “the international community to provide the country with more support”.

Liberia has been a pioneer on the continent. As its first independent republic, it produced its first elected female president, its first winner of the coveted individual football award, and now its first former footballer president.

The teary-eyed young man needs a job to wipe his tears off. As the towering statue of President Roberts continues to watch, Liberians will ask themselves whether the euphoria was worth it.

Source : BBC Africa

Kenya opposition postpones Odinga’s December 12 swearing in

Kenya’s main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) has announced a postponement of the swearing-in ceremony of its leader Raila Odinga as president of the country.

A statement released on Sunday, two days to the December 12, event said the latest decision had been reached “following extensive internal consultations and engagements with a wide range of national and international interlocutors.”

NASA said it was aware that the postponement will be a disappointment to Kenyans who were looking forward to the day. They added that a new date for the event will be announced in the coming days

“We wish to assure them that our resolve has not changed. Specifically, we wish to reiterate that any national dialogue must have electoral justice on the agenda. We are not interested in sharing illegitimate dictatorial power,” a statement signed by Raila Odinga and three other leaders stated.

Source: http://www.africanews.com

Zimbabwe officially declares Mugabe national holiday

28 November 2017

Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday, the Herald newspaper reports.
New President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to form a cabinet this week.
Mr Mugabe resigned last week after a military intervention and days of mass protests.
The police and army are to stage joint patrols as the country returns to normal, the authorities have said.
They have already received reports of looting and illegal occupation of properties, particularly farms and houses.
Police had not been seen in public until 21 November when Mr Mugabe resigned and they slowly started returning to work. The army had effectively been in charge.
Before the army operation, police officers had been an ever-present sight in the centre of the capital, Harare, and roads around the country, although they were not always welcome as many complained of police harassment.

Calls for the former president’s birthday to be made a national holiday were adopted by the government in August, following intense lobbying by the Zanu-PF Youth League, the Herald reports.
The decision was officially recorded on Friday, it adds.

Media captionFather Fidelis Mukonori says he can not confirm reports that Robert Mugabe was given $10m (£7.5m)
Last week, President Mnangagwa said the former president needed to be given the respect and recognition he deserved as one of the founders and leaders of Zimbabwe.
“To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader,” he said during his acceptance speech at his inauguration on Friday.
Reports that Mr Mugabe was granted $10m (£7.5m) to ease him out of office have not been confirmed.
Break from the past?
There is speculation as to whether Mr Mnangagwa will select a broad-based government or keep figures from the Mugabe era.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has called for an inclusive “transitional authority” to mark a break with his 37-year rule and bring in reforms to pave the way for free elections next year.
There are fears that President Mnangagwa, who is associated with some of worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since independence in 1980, will not usher in the democratic reforms that many in Zimbabwe are hoping for.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in to replace Mr Mugabe as president on Friday.
Earlier this month Mr Mnangagwa was sacked as vice-president, triggering a political crisis that led to the army taking control and Mr Mugabe eventually standing down.

Mr Mugabe and his wife, Grace, remain at their house in Harare and have no plans to leave the country.

The military takeover came in response to Mr Mugabe’s decision to position his wife as his successor and sack Mr Mnangagwa from the vice-presidency.

Source: BBC Africa

Kenya election: Date set for Kenyatta-Odinga re-run


President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga side by side in collage addressing supporters in casual dress, with microphonesImage copyrightAFP/GETTY

Kenya’s presidential election will be re-run on 17 October after the original result was annulled, the chair of Kenya’s electoral body has announced.

Wafula Chekubati also confirmed that only President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga would be on the new ballot.

Mr Kenyatta had been declared the winner of last month’s vote.

But Mr Odinga complained of widespread irregularities and the Supreme Court declared the first poll void.

The decision is believed to be the first time in African history that a supreme court has upheld an opposition challenge in a presidential election and ordered a re-run.

In a ruling on Friday, Chief Justice David Maraga said the 8 August election, in which Mr Kenyatta won 54% of the vote, had not been conducted in accordance with the constitution, declaring it “invalid, null and void”.

They said that some members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had committed “irregularities and illegalities” in the transmission of results.

The court ordered a new poll to be held within 60 days.

The opposition demanded that some IEBC officials be removed to ensure that the problems are not repeated in the second ballot.

In the shock verdict, the court said it would give further details about the decision within 21 days.

IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati said it was “imperative that a detailed judgement… is released in order to allow the commission to identify areas that require improvement”.

Members of the The National Super Alliance (NASA) including Odinga appear on stage in front of supporters after the supreme court decision was announced

After the Supreme Court’s decision Mr Odinga called the electoral commission “rotten” and called for its members to resign and face prosecution.

He hailed the decision as a “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.

It is the third time Mr Odinga has disputed national election results, having also lost against the sitting president in 2007 and 2013.

Mr Kenyatta initially called for calm after the decision in a television address, but later referred to the judges as wakora (meaning crooks in Swahili), saying they had “decided to cancel the election”.

The decision to only include Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga on the ballot has been controversial, with at least one of the six other candidates threatening legal action over their exclusion.

The poll had raised fears of major violence similar to that following a disputed vote in 2007, when post-election violence left 1,200 people dead.

Although the unrest after this year’s vote was not as serious as that in 2007, days of sporadic protests left at least 28 people dead.


By BBC Africa’s Dickens Olewe

The announcement of the date for the re-run of Kenya’s presidential election kicks off a series of events that will ultimately determine what kind of election Kenyans will have on 17 October.

The election commissioners have a tough task to win back the public’s trust after being criticised, mostly by opposition supporters, since Friday’s ruling.

The public will be watching to see if the electoral commission’s chairman, Wafula Chebukati, will follow through with his promise to restructure his team before the re-run to improve public confidence.

Eyes will also be on other groups including the international election observers, the Kenyan media and opinion pollsters – who are now perceived to have made the wrong call when it came to the 8 August presidential poll.

Source: BBC Africa

Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan signs for Turkey’s Kayserispor

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan (second from left) signing his contract with Kayserispor
Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan signs for Kayserispor who were 15th in the Turkish League last season.

Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan has signed a two-year deal with Turkish club Kayserispor.

He joins from the Chinese side Shanghai SIPG, who had loaned him to Al Ahli in the United Arab Emirates last season.

The 31-year-old ends a five-year absence from Europe after he left English club Sunderland in 2012.

Kayserispor have finished just one place above the relegation zone in the Turkish top flight for the last two seasons.

Source : BBC Africa

Robin Thicke headlines oil tycoon heir’s £5m wedding at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace

The lavish event celebrated the marriage of the son of a Nigerian billionaire and his Iranian-born wife

Sir Winston Churchill’s ancestral home was adorned with a million white roses as part of a wedding estimated to have cost £5 million.

Folarin Alakija, the son of a Nigerian oil tycoon, married Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar, a model, at Blenheim Palace. The event included a 12ft wedding cake and a performance by the pop star Robin Thicke.

Nazanin Jafarian Ghaissarifar and Folarin Alakija

The groom’s mother, Folorunsho Alakija, 66, has an estimated fortune of £1.6 billion and has been ranked as the 14th richest person in Africa by Forbes. She was placed 80th on the global Power Women list and in 2014 overtook Oprah Winfrey, the American chat show host, as the richest woman of African descent.

Wedding pictures were circulated on social media at the weekend, showing the couple sharing…

Source : The Times

Côte d’Ivoire : l’affaire de trop pour Guillaume Soro ?

Après la découverte d’une cache d’armes chez l’un de ses proches, Guillaume Soro se retrouve une nouvelle fois dans la tourmente. Face aux soupçons, l’entourage du président de l’Assemblée nationale dénonce une manipulation orchestrée par ses rivaux.

Le président a enfin demandé à le voir ! Ce mardi 16 mai, cela fait plusieurs jours que Guillaume Soro n’a pas rencontré Alassane Dramane Ouattara (ADO). En janvier, lors du soulèvement d’anciens rebelles intégrés à l’armée, il avait été étroitement associé aux négociations. Rien de tel cette fois-ci. Alors que, quatre jours durant, le pouvoir a une nouvelle fois été défié par des mutins déterminés, le président de l’Assemblée nationale n’a pas été consulté. « Il a été mis de côté, tout a été piloté par Amadou Gon Coulibaly depuis la primature », explique un visiteur régulier du palais présidentiel.

Il est près de 20 heures lorsque Guillaume Soro arrive à la résidence du chef de l’État. L’ancien chef de la rébellion des Forces nouvelles (FN) sait qu’il est au centre des rumeurs. Deux jours plus tôt, un important stock d’armes a été retrouvé à Bouaké, dans une maison appartenant à son directeur du protocole, qui, depuis, a été entendu à plusieurs reprises par la brigade de recherche de la gendarmerie du Plateau (Abidjan).

Guillaume Soro derrière les mutineries ?

La discussion entre les deux hommes est tendue. « Les chefs militaires avaient affirmé au président qu’ils avaient dû céder face aux mutins à cause de cette cache d’armes. Selon eux, cela expliquait toute leur déconvenue militaire », rapporte un proche de Guillaume Soro. « En réalité, ils se cachent derrière cette affaire. Ils tentent de faire oublier leur débâcle ! » s’agace-t-il. Pourtant, il semble bien que cet approvisionnement inespéré, pour des mutins arrivés à court de munitions et sous la menace d’une intervention du Groupement de sécurité du président de la République (GSPR), a été décisif.

À quoi devaient servir ces armes de guerre ? À un coup d’État ? En tout cas, ce n’était pas pour tirer des pigeons !

Pendant de longues minutes, l’ancien chef rebelle tente d’imposer sa version et assure que les armes étaient stockées là depuis la crise postélectorale de 2011. Cela ne suffit pas à convaincre le chef de l’État. Depuis le début de l’année, une partie de l’entourage d’Alassane Ouattara est persuadé que Guillaume Soro est derrière les mutineries. « Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu », explique un dirigeant du Rassemblement des républicains (RDR), le parti présidentiel.

Pacte d’entraide

« Il est légitime de se demander pourquoi son nom revient toujours lorsqu’il y a de sombres affaires. À quoi devaient servir ces armes de guerre ? À un coup d’État ? En tout cas, ce n’était pas pour tirer des pigeons ! » dénonce-t-il. « De part et d’autre, il y a beaucoup d’intox », met en garde un habitué du palais présidentiel. Mais, « pour Alassane Ouattara, cette cache d’armes a été la goutte d’eau de trop », témoigne-t-il.

J’ai toujours démontré ma loyauté envers le président Alassane Ouattara

Dans l’interview exclusive qu’il a accordée à Jeune Afrique, Guillaume Soro assure au contraire que ses relations avec le chef de l’État sont « bonnes ». « Je ne suis pas un homme qui pourrait poignarder dans le dos. J’ai toujours démontré ma loyauté envers le président Alassane Ouattara », s’est-il défendu ces derniers jours. Entre les deux hommes, l’alliance remonte au début des années 2000. « Ils ont été présentés l’un à l’autre par Téné Birahima Ouattara, le frère d’Alassane », raconte un de ses amis les plus proches. « Je crois que le président a apprécié son courage et sa fougue. De son côté, Guillaume admirait son élégance et son intelligence. Ils se complétaient bien. »

Ouattara estime qu’il n’est plus aussi indispensable qu’avant

Jusqu’ici, le pacte d’entraide ne s’est jamais démenti. Lorsque, en novembre 2015, le nom de Soro apparaît dans l’affaire des écoutes téléphoniques au Burkina Faso, Alassane Ouattara le soutient. Un mois plus tard, quand, à Paris, il se retrouve sous le coup d’un mandat d’amener après une plainte déposée en 2012 par Michel Gbagbo, le président lui envoie son avion personnel pour qu’il puisse regagner Abidjan sans être auditionné.

Un homme qui divise

Peu à peu, ces derniers mois, le président de l’Assemblée nationale a pourtant été marginalisé. Avec l’avènement de la IIIe République, il a perdu sa place de dauphin constitutionnel et n’est plus que quatrième dans l’ordre protocolaire, derrière le vice-président et le Premier ministre. À la tête de l’armée, l’un de ses proches, Soumaïla Bakayoko, l’ancien chef d’état-major des Forces nouvelles, a été limogé en janvier. « Ouattara estime qu’il n’est plus aussi indispensable qu’avant », analyse un observateur basé à Abidjan. « Certains comzones ne lui sont plus si fidèles. Soro a-t-il encore vraiment la main sur les anciennes troupes rebelles ? » s’interroge-t-il, rappelant que les mutins, s’estimant oubliés, se sont mis progressivement à fustiger leurs anciens chefs.

Beaucoup continuent pourtant à se méfier de son ambition. Ses détracteurs le dépeignent comme un homme sans scrupule, prêt à user de tous les moyens pour parvenir à ses fins. « Il faut se rappeler de sa rivalité avec Ibrahim Coulibaly et de la lutte féroce qu’ils se sont livrée au sein de la rébellion », rappelle l’un d’entre eux. Pour ses soutiens, il est au contraire « le meilleur de sa génération ».

« C’est un homme très intelligent, impressionnant même », reconnaît un diplomate en poste à Abidjan. Lorsqu’il prend la tête de la puissante Fédération estudiantine et scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire (Fesci), en 1995, Soro étonne par son charisme. « Nous succombions devant le charme de ce gamin exalté, drôle et téméraire », se souvient un de ses amis de l’époque. Ce jeune militant ancré à gauche est alors surnommé « Le Che ». « La grammaire de Laurent Gbagbo est notre langue, et Guillaume la parle parfaitement », analyse un ancien camarade.

Insaisissable et incontournable

Soro est devenu proche du leader socialiste, mais la rupture idéologique intervient à la fin des années 1990. « Il n’a pas supporté les discours sur l’ivoirité et les dérives identitaires dans l’entourage de Gbagbo », poursuit son vieux camarade. En 1998, Guillaume Soro part pour la France, où il vit plusieurs mois sans papiers. Le jour, il se fait discret ; la nuit, il refait le monde au sous-sol de Chez Georges, un bistrot de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Un apprentissage de la clandestinité qui lui sera précieux par la suite.

Car, en 2000, Laurent Gbagbo devient président. Et très vite Soro cherche un moyen de le renverser. Avec la bienveillance du président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré, il s’installe dans une maison modeste de Ouagadougou, où, en toute discrétion, il met sur pied une rébellion. En 2002, les Forces nouvelles tentent un coup d’État à Abidjan, mais l’opération échoue. Recherché par les forces de Gbagbo, Soro quitte le pays déguisé en femme.

Quelques jours plus tard, l’ancien leader syndical se dévoile. « Quand j’ai vu que c’était lui à la tête de la rébellion, je suis tombé de ma chaise ! C’est un homme insaisissable », témoigne l’un de ses plus proches amis. Quand les FN prennent le contrôle de la moitié nord du pays, Guillaume Soro devient incontournable. En 2007, en vertu des accords de Ouagadougou, son adversaire Laurent Gbagbo – qu’il appelait « Papa » lorsqu’il était jeune – le nomme Premier ministre. En 2010, face au refus de Gbagbo de reconnaître sa défaite à l’élection présidentielle, les Forces nouvelles marchent sur Abidjan et aident Alassane Ouattara à s’installer au pouvoir.

House of Cards

Élevé par un père ayant milité au Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), se revendiquant de gauche et aujourd’hui encarté au RDR, Guillaume Soro reste inclassable. Grand amateur de séries politiques – il dévore House of Cards –, il aime brouiller les pistes. Proche d’Henri Konan Bédié, le président du PDCI, avec qui il aime fumer le cigare, il garde quelques relations au Front populaire ivoirien (FPI), fondé par Laurent Gbagbo. En 2016, son accolade avec Michel Gbagbo, le fils de l’ancien président, a ainsi défrayé la chronique.

Depuis plusieurs années, il a aussi mis sur pied des dizaines de « teams GKS » – pour « Guillaume Kigbafori Soro » –, afin de mailler le territoire. Animés par des jeunes, ces « fan-clubs » sont très actifs, notamment sur les réseaux sociaux. « Guillaume Soro est un électron libre », estime un observateur.

Rêve présidentiel

Une liberté que lui confère son poste de président de l’Assemblée nationale. « Lorsque tu es Premier ministre ou vice-président, tu dois en permanence en référer au chef de l’État. Même pour une rencontre ou un déplacement, il faut son autorisation. Ce n’était pas pour nous », explique un membre de son cabinet. Car depuis son arrivée au perchoir, en 2012 – il y a été réélu en 2017 –, Guillaume Soro voyage beaucoup. À Paris, au Maroc et en Égypte ces dernières semaines, il soigne ses relations, en particulier sur le continent.

La vie de Guillaume n’a été qu’une succession de combats, nous sommes prêts à parer à tous les coups

Proche de longue date du président togolais Faure Gnassingbé ou du Congolais Denis Sassou Nguesso, il fréquente également Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, le fils du président équato-guinéen. En Afrique de l’Ouest, seules ses relations avec le chef de l’État burkinabè, Marc Roch Christian Kaboré, ne sont pas bonnes.

« La vérité, c’est qu’on leur fait peur ! » considère un proche de Soro, assurant être la cible d’un « complot » fomenté par le « clan de Korhogo » – la ville d’où est originaire Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Alors que c’est maintenant le Premier ministre qui est vu comme le dauphin d’Alassane Ouattara pour la prochaine présidentielle, les rivalités entre les deux camps, mais aussi avec celui du ministre de l’Intérieur, Hamed Bakayoko, sont exacerbées.

« La vie de Guillaume n’a été qu’une succession de combats, nous sommes prêts à parer à tous les coups », poursuit ce proche. Le patron de l’Assemblée nationale s’exprime peu, mais son entourage se charge, sur les réseaux sociaux, de multiplier les attaques contre ses adversaires. Car s’il se garde bien de dévoiler ses ambitions, son rêve présidentiel est un secret de polichinelle. Catholique ayant suivi le petit séminaire dans un Nord majoritairement musulman, Sénoufo de Ferkessédougou marié à Sylvie Tagro, une Bétée du Sud-Ouest, Guillaume Soro se rêve en rassembleur.

Guillaume Soro est un repoussoir. Peu importe le masque qu’il mettra, nous n’oublierons jamais qu’il est l’homme de la rébellion

Dans son équipe, depuis peu, on aime le comparer au nouveau président français, Emmanuel Macron. « Transcender les clivages ? C’est impossible ! Il y a des régions qui ne voteront jamais pour lui », estime pourtant un cadre du PDCI. « Guillaume Soro est un repoussoir. Peu importe le masque qu’il mettra, nous n’oublierons jamais qu’il est l’homme de la rébellion », commente un dirigeant du FPI.

Après avoir échappé à plusieurs attentats – dont celui contre son avion, en 2007, qui a fait plusieurs morts –, Guillaume Soro est persuadé d’avoir un destin. « Alassane Ouattara pense que 2020 est trop tôt pour lui, et que son tour n’est pas encore venu. En 2025, peut-être », confie un proche du pouvoir. Est-il prêt à attendre ? Chef d’une rébellion à l’âge de 30 ans, ministre à 31, Premier ministre à 34 et président de l’Assemblée nationale à 39 ans, Guillaume Soro est un homme pressé.

Source : Jeune Afrique

South Africa: Jacob Zuma ‘plans second home in Dubai’


The skyline of Dubai is pictured from the Burj Khalifa (16 May 2017)

South Africa’s embattled president Jacob Zuma has been planning to set up home in Dubai, according to emails published in South African media.

The reports suggest deepening ties between President Zuma and the controversial Gupta business family.

But the president’s spokesman has dismissed them as an utter fabrication.

Pressure on Mr Zuma has been mounting in recent months because of corruption scandals, cabinet sackings and his handling of the economy.

Senior members of Mr Zuma’s governing ANC tabled a motion of no confidence against him on Sunday at a closed-door meeting of the party’s national executive committee.

But the chairman of the meeting blocked the move because it was not on the official agenda, state-owned broadcaster SABC said.

It is the second time in six months that party rebels have mounted such a challenge and they are thought likely to try again.

Under pressure

The BBC’s Karen Allen in Johannesburg says the ANC now looks like it’s in permanent firefighting mode

Protesters hold signs criticising President Zuma's links to the Gupta family and to Russia in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (04 April 2017)Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe president has been criticised for what are alleged to be his close ties to the influential Gupta business family
Jacob ZumaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPresident Jacob Zuma is coming under increasing pressure to step down

Emails between President Zuma’s son Duduzane and figures from a company owned by the controversial Gupta family – who reportedly wield considerable influence over Mr Zuma – include a letter to the Abu Dhabi royal family, our correspondent says.

“I am happy to inform you that my family has decided to make the UAE a second home,” the president is quoted as saying. “It will be a great honour for me and my family to gain your patronage during our proposed residency in the UAE.”

This opens up questions as to whether this is part of an exit strategy, with Mr Zuma’s party appearing to be turning against him, our correspondent adds.

Protesters in Pretoria (file photo)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSouth Africa has seen numerous protests to demand Mr Zuma’s resignation

Meanwhile Zuma loyalists will continue their efforts to block any no-confidence motion on technical grounds.

A motion submitted by opposition parties is being pushed through parliament and is now being examined by the constitutional court.

The president’s successor is expected to be selected at a major conference of the ANC’s top brass in December.

Until then the party looks set to limp from crisis to crisis, our correspondent says.

Mr Zuma’s allies say he will remain in office until his term ends in 2019, but evidence of his unpopularity seems to be growing. He was forced to abandon a May Day rally this year after he was booed by workers demanding his resignation.

His ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are vying to succeed him.

Source: BBC

Raila Odinga chosen to challenge president in Kenya vote


Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionRaila Odinga will run for the presidency for the fourth time

Kenya’s veteran politician Raila Odinga has been confirmed as the main opposition coalition’s presidential candidate for August’s election.

Mr Odinga, 72, is set to face incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, the man who beat him in 2013.

This will be the fourth time Mr Odinga runs for president.

He also ran in the disputed 2007 poll. The violence that followed led to the creation of a unity government in which Mr Odinga served as prime minister.

Mr Odinga will represent the National Super Alliance (Nasa), which is a coalition of the country’s main opposition parties including the candidate’s Orange Democratic Movement.

Odinga v Kenyatta round two, Dickens Olewe, BBC Africa

Nasa leaders at the lrally
Image captionThe Nasa coalition’s leaders were presented to the adoring crowd

Raila Odinga’s nomination is not a surprise.

He has performed better than his rivals in opinion polls and has shown that he has wide support beyond his ethnic base in western Kenya.

Going into his fourth election, Mr Odinga is rehashing a strategy used in the 2002 campaign when opposition parties united to defeat Kanu, the party that brought Kenya independence.

The coalition that won that vote did not however survive as former President Mwai Kibaki reneged on a pre-election deal.

To try and avoid this, the Nasa coalition has unveiled a power-sharing structure involving the party leaders.

During Thursday’s rally Mr Odinga called himself “first among equals”.

The announcement was made at a rally at Uhuru Park in the capital, Nairobi.

Thousands of opposition supporters turned up and live video footage from the rally showed them breaking out into wild cheers as Mr Odinga’s name was read out.

His running mate will be former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

In a statement, President Kenyatta described the Nasa nominations as “about giving jobs [to the politicians] instead of the millions of Kenyans who need jobs”.

Supporters of Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalitionImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe supporters were ecstatic when Mr Odinga’s name was read out

Mr Odinga is trying to run on an anti-corruption message and is also emphasising that he is the candidate of national unity, says the BBC’s Dickens Olewe.

President Kenyatta says that Kenya has achieved a lot of economic development under his government and he has managed to increase opportunities for the country’s large youthful population.

Source : BBC Africa

South Africa: Can President Zuma survive outcry over sacking?

Protest in Pretoria against President Zuma and his cabinet reshuffle 03/04/2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionProtests over Finance Minister Pravin Gorhan continue

President Jacob Zuma’s back is against the wall following his sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at midnight on Thursday.

The fallout from his comrades is unprecedented. His deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, came out in public to say the president’s decision to get rid of Mr Gordhan without consultation was “unacceptable”.

While the Secretary-General of the governing African National Congress, Gwede Mantashe, said the list of ministers which Mr Zuma presented to the party leadership was compiled “elsewhere”.

A fellow KwaZulu Natal province comrade Zweli Mkhize, who runs the ANC’s treasury, also came out against the president. “I have my reservations on the process followed and the manner in which this cabinet reshuffle was done,” he said in a statement.

But one of the major consequences for President Zuma since his controversial reshuffle is the call by his own allies from the South African Communist Party for him to resign.

And so the domino effect starts. Mr Zuma’s old allies in the trade unions are also considering a call for him to step down.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Secretary-General Bheki Ntshalintshali said “the federation cannot ignore current political developments”.

There is no doubt that the knives are out for President Zuma. The question is whether all the protests and the public outcry will yield any results.

Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (centre) and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas (right) 31/03/17Image copyrightAFP
Image captionPravin Gordhan: much respected as finance minister

Mr Ramaphosa, who is not known for his brevity, suddenly came out guns blazing over the weekend.

“The events that are unfolding now, are not events that should make us scared. They are not events that should make us afraid of the future that beckons.”

And then he went further.

“A moment of great renewal is upon us and we should not let it go by. We should grasp this nettle because that moment has arrived,” said the man who helped write the country’s constitution.

“Let us act together in unity! Unite our movement, unite our country around one goal.

“The goal of making South Africa great. The goal of making South Africa corruption-free. The goal of making South Africa a South Africa we can all be proud of – and getting rid of greedy people, corrupt people within our land.”

President Jacob Zuma speaks at a rally after launching a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg 01/04/17Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe president has faced and survived significant challenges in his political career

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the shrewd lawyer was saying here.

This is a clarion call for the people to rise and support him.

But will they?

At a crossroads

We have been here before.

President Zuma’s obituary has been written many times before only for him to rise from the ashes.

Political analyst Dumisane Hlophe told me that Mr Zuma is unlikely to be removed.

“He is not going down any time soon. In fact he may be in pole position. He has consolidated his power where decisions are taken within the party. In the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC).

“The numbers within the NEC are what counts and in there he has considerable support.”

In its 23 years of freedom South Africa, which came with much promise when Nelson Mandela took over as the first black president in a post-apartheid world, finds itself at a crossroads yet again.

The question is whether this time around, the people of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Ruth First will cross the Rubicon.

Source : BBC