Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

editorial

Africa’s richest man Dangote mulls buying Nigeria oil fields
January 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

CHRIS KAY* [caption id="attachment_8083" align="alignleft" width="194"]Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images Billionaire Aliko Dangote. Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Billionaire Aliko Dangote.[/caption] Multi-billionaire Nigerian Aliko Dangote is considering buying Nigerian oil and gas fields from multinationals looking to sell. Dangote Group, controlled by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, is considering the purchase of Nigerian oil fields as international companies plan to sell onshore assets in the continent’s top crude producer. The company, which has interests from cement to sugar, needs to secure a supply of crude oil and a “substantial amount of gas” for a $9-billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex it plans in southwest Nigeria, Group Executive Director Devakumar Edwin (57) said in a January 17 interview in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital. The company also needs energy for its cement plants in Africa’s second-largest economy, he said. “We’re seriously thinking of investing in oil blocks both for gas and for oil,” Edwin said. “We’ve started talking with some companies who are divesting from onshore,” he said, declining to name them. International oil and gas explorers including Royal Dutch Shell and San Ramon, California-based Chevron are selling onshore and shallow-water fields in Nigeria amid persistent violence and crude theft in the oil-rich Niger River Delta, with smaller Nigerian companies taking their place. Dangote Group believes it can manage unrest and aggrieved communities in the region with corporate social initiatives, Edwin said. “We know the terrain much better, we know the risks and we believe that the risks can be managed,” he said. “The primary risk is people blasting your pipelines. I wouldn’t like to go and invest in a block which is totally inland and then I have to start buying inland pipelines.” Oil Theft Armed attacks mainly in the delta’s swamps and shallow waters reduced Nigeria’s oil output by 29% between 2006 and 2009, according to data complied by Bloomberg. Although the violence eased after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer and disarmed five years ago, a surge in oil theft by gangs tapping crude from pipelines pushed output down to four-year lows last year. Nigeria pumped about 1.9-million barrels of crude a day last month. Dangote’s complex will include a 400 000-barrel-a-day refinery, a 2.8 million-metric-tonne urea plant and a petrochemical factory to produce polypropylene, used to make plastics. The company plans to expand the refinery capacity by another 100 000 barrels, Edwin said. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with about 170-million people, relies on fuel imports to meet most of its needs due to mismanagement, poor maintenance and ageing equipment at its four refineries. Dangote’s refinery will cut fuel imports for the country in half, according to the company. 27th Richest Aliko Dangote, who is co-chairperson of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, has seen his wealth climb $1.1-billion in the month to date, making him the world’s 27th richest person with a net worth estimated at $24.9-billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index. Dangote Cement, Africa’s biggest producer of the building material and Nigeria’s largest company, is looking at expanding in three South American countries and has signed a preliminary joint-venture agreement with one company, according to Edwin, who is also the chief executive of the cement business. “The countries we’re looking at have huge natural resources and growth,” said Edwin, declining to name the nations so as not to alert competitors. “There are many large players in that region” that “may easily try to shut down entry to new players, but there’s still large scope of doing business,” he said. Mining Rights Dangote Cement, with a market capitalisation of 3.8-trillion naira ($23.8-billion), has three plants in Nigeria and plans to expand in 13 other African countries, bringing total capacity to more than 50-million tonnes by 2016. The company is also expanding in Asia and has signed limestone mining rights in Indonesia and Nepal, Edwin said. Dangote will delay a planned listing of its cement company’s shares on the London Stock Exchange until at least next year when plants in countries including Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia are commissioned, Edwin said. Dangote Cement’s shares strengthened 3.5% to 232.90 naira as of 10.57am in Lagos, increasing its gains for the month to 6.4%. The stock advanced 71% last year, outpacing the 47% gain of the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index. The sale will probably happen once investors can “see us as players outside Nigeria, not just as Nigeria champions and that we can repeat our success story elsewhere,” he said. – Bloomberg *Source Bloomberg/M &G]]>

0
Read More
-Anti Jonathan obsession borders on Paranoia,sinners who oppose President turn into Saints in Nigeria
January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

-Obasanjo’s fight over diminishing influence as God Father -Jonathan has not lived up to expectations -Nigeria will be better served with two strong opposition parties….. Making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics with veteran Journalist and Author Chido Onumah By Ajong Mbapndah L It all boils down to 2015 when the first mandate of President Jonathan expires and judging by the speed at which gloves have been taken off and the viciousness of the political blows been traded, there is every reason to be nervous for Nigeria. If it is not former President Obasanjo hitting President Jonathan with political punches in a letter that strongly stoked the polity, then it is Jonathan and his team with an assist from Obasanjo’s daughter in her own controversial letter reminding the former President that he is part of what ever mess Nigeria is going through. If it is not Governors feuding, then it is political marriages of sorts with former enemies uniting in the common goal of frustrating President Jonathan out of office. But before anyone jumps to President Jonathan’s defence, has his leadership lived up to expectations? No, says veteran Journalist and author Chido Onumah, who is Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, in Abuja, Nigeria. Onumah says it is sad to see some of the most unscrupulous politicians in Nigeria elevated to sainthood just because there oppose President Jonathan. Onumah. From the controversial letter of former President Obasanjo, to Jonathan’s leadership, the defection of governors and MPS from the ruling party to the opposition, prospects of the military giving a shot at power again and more, Chido Onumah helps in making sense of the silly season in Nigerian politics in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L Q: Recently there was this rather tough letter from former President Obasanjo to President Jonathan, what do you think motivated the letter, and can you tell us what was fiction and what was reality in the letter? A: Personally, I think the letter was motivated by Obasanjo’s messianic proclivity. There was nothing particularly new about the contents of the letter. Agreed that the issues raised – corruption, abuse of office, clannishness, insecurity, etc., – are compelling and ought to worry anybody interested in the survival of Nigeria, but there was nothing in that letter that former President Obasanjo accused the current president of that did not happen during his (Obasanjo) government. We’ve been there and seen it all. Unfortunately, there is an anti-Jonathan obsession that borders on paranoia. Anybody who opposes President Jonathan, no matter his sordid records, is made a saint. It has become so entrenched that some people can’t see the scheming of the likes of Obasanjo. I think Obasanjo is fighting back because he appears to have lost his “godfather” role with the Jonathan administration. It has nothing to do with whether Jonathan is performing or not. For me, the thrust of the letter was the fact that according to Obasanjo, President Jonathan is not a “man of honour”; that he had promised him that he would only serve one term as president. Clearly, it was on the strength of that understanding that Obasanjo supported President Jonathan in 2011. Now, Obasanjo does not want to miss the opportunity of determining the next president of Nigeria. He is scared stiff that he is unlikely to do what he loves to do and did in 1979 when he handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari and in 2007 when he orchestrated the emergence of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then vice president Goodluck Jonathan.  Remember last May 29, during Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebrations, more than six months before what I have referred to as his “satanic” letter came out, rather than be with President Jonathan in Abuja to celebrate the national event he was in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria, to literally raise the hands of Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, as his anointed son and the next president of Nigeria. That is Obasanjo for you. I think he deserves to be ignored. For a man who had two golden opportunities to reverse the fortunes of Nigeria, first in 1976 as a military head-of-state and in 1999 as a civilian president and bungled both opportunities, it is hard to place too much importance on his message. Remember he foisted President Jonathan on Nigerians. Because he is now “opposed” to Jonathan, some people are not looking at the impropriety of his action. They don’t want to focus on that criminal conduct. Q: Correct us if we are wrong but many people think a former leader like Obasanjo has access to Aso Rock and President Jonathan, was it necessary for President Obasanjo to reach out to the President in a letter that was leaked to the press? A: That’s exactly the point I am trying to make. It was completely unnecessary. The former president I assume has direct access to Aso Rock. To be fair, it was reported that he had had private discussions with President Jonathan before the letter. But that is no justification for a former president, the man who imposed President Jonathan on Nigerians, to make such a public show of his “frustration”. Decency demands that Obasanjo be contrite rather than constitute himself into a public nuisance. Clearly, with that letter, we saw a man on a devious mission. What the former president did had the potential of causing serious political and social upheaval. Some of the issues border on national security and to have thrown them so casually in the public domain was completely reckless of a former president. Take the claim that the presidency had drawn up a list of 1000 Nigerians and was training snipers and other armed personnel to take them out! For someone interested in full disclosure, if he had the list, he should have made it public. There is nothing former president Obasanjo revealed about President Jonathan in that letter that Nigerians didn’t know about the latter before 2007 when he was handpicked to run as vice president and in 2011 when he ran for president as an incumbent. Obasanjo was aware of the corruption indictment against then governor Goodluck Jonathan when he picked him to run alongside the late Umaru Yar’Adua for the presidency in 2007. Q: On the content of the letter, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015, but the impression is that he does not have a full and firm grasp of developments in Nigeria, why has he faced so many difficulties? A: Yes, President Jonathan’s mandate ends in 2015. Of course, he is covered under the Nigerian constitution to run for re-election having been elected as president for the first time in 2011. But that is where the argument ends. The Jonathan presidency has been a disaster on all fronts, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, the crises in the education, health and energy sectors or the general state of insecurity in the country. Of course, it is important to note that many of the problems, particularly the poor security situation, were inherited, but the president has shown a total lack of capacity to deal with any of the problems. As a man who has held one political office or the other without break since 1999, Mr. Jonathan needs to do better. He has been deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president since May 2010. What other experience can one ask for? I think it speaks to the character and ability of the man. As the Noble Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said recently, “You can take the hippopotamus out of the swamp, but you can’t take the swamp out of the hippopotamus.” The task of running Nigeria and running it effectively is simply beyond the pay grade of Mr. Jonathan. And that’s why there appears to be so much desperation because you have a president that would have been in office for five years by the time he is due for re-election in 2015 and you can’t point to a single issue on which he can campaign for re-election. Q: When you look at developments in Nigeria, it is either attacks from Boko Haram, it is corruption scandals like Oduagate with no public officials been held accountable, if the buck stops with President Jonathan, should he not be held accountable for some of the unfortunate developments that are heating the polity? A: Of course, he should be held responsible. But by his body language and utterances, the man doesn’t think he should be held accountable. If he is not complaining that he is the most-abused president in the world, he is making light of the issue of corruption by saying that what Nigerians think is corruption is just stealing and not really corruption. It is wishful thinking to expect President Jonathan to fire any of his ministers for corruption. Here is a man who has consistently refused to make public his assets. During an interview on national television two years ago, he declared that he did not “give a damn” about such requests. One of the first actions President Jonathan took when he was sworn in as president on May 29, 2011, was to sign the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill into law. I remember my organisation, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, making an FoI request to the Code of Conduct Bureau, the custodian of asset declarations of public officers for the release of the president’s asset declaration. The bureau did not dignify our request with a response. Only for the chairman of the bureau to grant an interview later where he said the constitution didn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public. Of course, the constitution doesn’t require the president to make his asset declaration public, but the FoI empowers citizens to request information in the public domain. The question that readily comes to mind is:  what is the president hiding?   For me, that was a clear indication that the president was not interested in fighting corruption or leading by example on the issue of accountability. Ministers and other top government officials have taken a cue from the president’s body language. As far as this government is concerned, really as far as governments in Nigeria are concerned, the presidency is a financial buffet. Q: Recently a number of governors defected to the opposition APC, and some parliamentarians followed suit, how does this change the political calculus in view of the 2015 elections? A: Nobody can say for sure how this defection will play out. I was among those who supported the merger of the country’s main opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). Not that I believed the APC had the solution to the country’s myriad problems, but because I shared the view that Nigeria needed to get rid of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and create a level playing field; for the country to have two strong national parties and a semblance of choice. With the defection of many of the leaders of the PDP to the APC I don’t feel particularly confident that we can achieve even that minimum agenda. At the rate the defection is going, the APC may end up just being the “New PDP”. What it means is that the party may have the name APC but the major characters will be those who left the PDP. Clearly, the agenda of the defectors is to get rid of President Jonathan by weakening the PDP. It has nothing to do with any noble desire to improve the lot of Nigerians. It is possible that by the time the defection is over, the PDP will be the minority party in the National Assembly as well as in the number of states it controls. Considering that governors play a pivotal role in elections in their states that could affect the outcome of the election in favour of the APC. I don’t see the PDP or the president campaigning in the core north of the country where there is strong hostility toward him not necessarily because he is a non-performing president. But again you don’t want to discount the power of the Nigerian president, particularly a “wounded” one. There are conspiracy theories being bandied about in terms of how the presidency hopes to secure President Jonathan’s re-election. Elections may not hold in three states in the Northwest of the country (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) where a state of emergency has been in effect since May 2013. We have seen how the presidency has used the police to harass individuals, organisations and even state governors who are critical of the government. Imagine what will happen during the general election in 2015! I am looking at the bigger picture though which is that very few of those who are making these permutations for 2015 really care about the country. There is so much self interest at stake that something’s got to give! Q: In reaction to the APC’s charm offensive to former President Obasanjo, Wole Soyinka one of the most respected voices in Nigeria said the country was heading for a ship wreck, was he been alarmist or should his predictions be taken seriously? A: I think Wole Soyinka was right in his intervention and analysis. Very few people perhaps know and understand former President Obasanjo better than Wole Soyinka. That was not the first time Soyinka has had reason to caution the country against the antics of Obasanjo. I think Nigerians have more than enough reasons to take Soyinka’s words seriously. Remember Obasanjo once boasted that the PDP would rule Nigeria for 50 year or was it 100 years! The PDP has been in power for only 15 years. Q: And if we sought to find out in terms of ideology, in terms of the way Nigeria needs to be governed, what is the difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC? A: Of course, Nigerians are asking for ideology from these parties, understandably so. But the truth is that what they should be seeking is how to reclaim the country. That was what I was hoping the APC could help achieve before it opened itself up to a complete takeover by disgruntled elements in the PDP. The urgent task in Nigeria is not the 2015 election, but how to bring the country back from the brink. The entity called Nigeria needs to be salvaged, and urgently too. Ideology is the last thing on the agenda for countries in crisis like Somalia, Central Africa Republic and DR Congo. Nigeria is in crisis and we may end up like any of these countries I mentioned and even worse considering Nigeria’s population. To answer your question directly, I don’t see any difference between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC, not when about half of those who will emerge as leaders of the APC both at the national and state levels were up until a few weeks ago diehard members of the PDP. I am not yet convinced that APC can get the PDP defectors to accept whatever “progressive” agenda it has. Q: There are some people who think that Nigeria’s democracy will be better served with two strong political parties, do you agree? A: I agree completely and it looked like the two parties were going to evolve with the merger of opposition political parties to form the APC. You can’t overstate the importance of choice and a genuine and formidable opposition. It would have been a marked departure from the two-party system (the Social Democratic Party and National Republican Convention) that former military dictator, retired General Ibrahim Babangida foisted on Nigerians during his diabolical and endless transition programme in the late 80s to early 90s. As it is now, what we have are PDP and the APC plus “New PDP”. I don’t think Nigerians really have a choice. Remember that some of the leadership of the APC (before the current defection) were in PDP even though they left a long time ago to join other political parties, including those that merged to form the APC. The APC needs to do more to reassure Nigerians that it is a genuine alternative to the PDP. Q: A sitting Governor in one of the states recently declared that there was a pact between the North and the South that President Jonathan will serve just one term, is there any veracity to this statement, and in the face of such mounting opposition, can Jonathan make it for a second term, what does he need to do to survive the onslaught? [caption id="attachment_7976" align="alignright" width="300"]Chido Onumah Chido Onumah[/caption] A: Well, there have been all kinds of claims that President Jonathan signed a one-term pact. We have yet to see any documents to that effect. Of course, we read in the letter by former President Obasanjo that President Jonathan personally assured him that he will not seek re-election. It may well be true that there was a one-term pact. That is the nature of politics in Nigeria; the feeling of entitlement that makes it impossible for the best amongst us to emerge as leaders. Some decrepit men (and perhaps women) sit in a room at night and decide who will emerge president or governor. I don’t understand the fixation with the so-called one-term pact. Nigeria does not belong to President Jonathan or those he purportedly entered into a pact with. There is no zoning principle in the constitution for the presidency. Any qualified Nigerian from any part of the country can contest the office for the stipulated two terms. I understand the importance of keeping one’s word, but if the president denies there was no such agreement or decides to renege on the agreement, assuming there was one, the country should not come to a halt because of that. It is just an internal affair of a political party, in this case the PDP. Except we take it for granted that whoever is the candidate of the PDP will emerge as president in 2015. Q: And Mr. Onumah, about this eternal feud of whether a leader should come from the North or from the South, does it matter to the average Nigerian or it is just something used by the political elite in their power plays, we ask because, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians do not know South or North, from unemployment to poverty, infrastructure, education, security etc. What is this North–South issue all about and should it have relevance in a democracy? A: I would love to say it doesn’t matter to the average Nigerian, but it does. Very few people see themselves as Nigerians. Therefore it is so easy for politicians to play the ethnic card. That is partly why it is difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. A public officer steals money and he is indicted. You will find many people belonging to the same ethnic group who will rise to his defence. They will say he is being persecuted because he is from a certain ethnic group or adheres to a certain religion. They will ask you whether he is the first person to steal public fund and what happened to others from other ethnic groups who also stole public fund. You will hear argument like, “He is a thief, but he is our own thief.” In a sense, the national treasury doesn’t belong to anyone in particular so anybody who gets the opportunity can help themselves to it as much as they can. Of course, the issues affecting ordinary Nigerians – lack of electricity, poverty, poor infrastructure, etc. – are the same around the country, but when the chips are down people only hear the sound of your name. Nowhere is this issue more prevalent than in politics which in a way determines everything else: the way we fight corruption, the kind of infrastructure we will have, etc. If President Jonathan were from the north of the country he won’t be facing the militant opposition he is currently facing from the political class in the north just as he won’t have gotten the fanatical support he is getting from the Niger Delta. That is why some of us are calling for a Sovereign National Conference. There are so many fundamental issues that Nigerians have to address before we start talking about infrastructure, corruption, etc. Nigerians have to sit down in a Sovereign National Conference to address fundamental issues like the country’s political structure, citizenship rights, revenue allocation, etc. Q: With the kind of bickering going on with the political class, the underlying issue of whether the President should come from the North or the South and others, what are the odds that the military may be tempted to revert to its old habits of seizing power? A: There is that prospect. In fact, it grows every day. It is difficult to say how this crisis will play out. Nigeria is under siege on all fronts, but more so by a bankrupt ruling class from the North, South, East and West whose only aim is to control political power and they will do anything, including orchestrating a military coup to achieve it. Having said that, we must also note that the Nigerian military does not need the prompting of the political class to seize power. The military itself is as politicized as the politicians and they will manufacture any excuse to send the politicians packing. Of course, considering how polarized the country is, you will find people willing to jump on the bandwagon of a military coup. Q: Summing up the current developments, and going forward into 2015 which seems to be the critical focus of political actions and calculations now, what makes you nervous and what makes you hopeful about Nigeria? A: I am very nervous about Nigeria. There is very little politically that gives one hope. Unfortunately, there is no organized national mass movement that can provide an alternative to the dangerous politics of national destruction being played by our politicians. The only ray of hope, if one can call it that, is that 100 years after the creation of Nigeria, the country is so intertwined and the fear of it splitting into several countries is far-fetched. But again, the current scenario portends even something worse: the balkanization of the country along its various fault lines. We may have a Somalia on our hands here, except that in this case, the outcome will be ten times worse and the impact on the sub-region will be grave. That for me is a major source of concern. *Chido Onumah is a journalist, author and coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Abuja, Nigeria, He is currently pursuing a doctoral programme in communication and journalism at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. ]]>

0
Read More
No ambition is worth the blood of Nigerians – JONATHAN
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that no Nigerian should kill or maim himself or herself because of his presumed 2015 second term ambition, saying that “any ambition I have at any time is not worth the blood of Nigerians.”Meanwhile, President Jonathan has told the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that he would require the support of every Nigerian, not only him (Tukur), to win the 2015 election if he would contest the election.The President stated this at a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo, Tukur, and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC — Jonathan spoke on the need for peace in the PDP and warned that accusations and counter accusations must stop. He also said that he would “never, ever expect a Nigerian to spill a drop of his blood because Goodluck Jonathan has some ambitions. Nigerians should always preach peace and unity in all their engagements. This is the only way the country will achieve greatness.” Speaking at a special church service to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Jonathan reminded politicians that no ambition was worth the blood of innocent Nigerians, adding that if we continued to kill ourselves, there would be no nation to govern. He said: “Sometimes I get worried and embarrassed when I hear provocative statements that come from very senior citizens; people that ordinarily will be perceived as senior citizens, who ordinarily should know that the unity of this country is more important than the interests of any individual or a group of individuals. And that the peace of Nigeria is more important than any interest of individuals or group of individuals. Some people even encourage young people to take arms and fight themselves. “I always say as a politician that I pray all politicians should know that there will be no nation if we kill ourselves. If you want people to come out and vote, why do you threaten them? If you threaten people they will stay in their houses and how will you win election? “In an occasion like this, we should also admonish ourselves that we should preach peace and unity in all our conversations. If we do that all our problems will be resolved, our security issues will be resolved. If all of us collectively talk about the unity of this country, about peace in this country, then our country will progress and move in the direction we want the country to move.” The president noted that this year’s remembrance celebration was unique as it was coming at a time that the country is celebrating its 100 years of existence as a nation. He paid tributes to members of the Armed Forces, saying that their sacrifices had ensured that Nigeria remained one indivisible country, despite the challenges it had faced. “The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is unique and this year’s programme is more unique because first January marks 100 years of our existence as a nation. It is not easy to get here. The country faced a lot of challenges no doubt about that. Some of us witnessed the civil war. For us who have survived this 100 years, some people paid dearly for it, some people worked for it like the armed forces. We know the challenges they faced during the civil war. But for their sacrifice, Nigeria would have been more than one nation. They worked for it, some died in the process while some died serving in wars outside Nigeria. These are the people that we are remembering today. We all have to emulate them. Those of us who are alive, what we can do to honour them is to ensure that whatever we do, whatever we say, whatever song we sing is a song that will bring peace and unity to this country.” Earlier in his message, the Arch Bishop of the Abuja Diocese of the Methodist Church, Arch Bishop Job Ojei, who read from Hebrew 11:13. And 2 Timothy 4:7, called on Nigerians to stop making “unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership” while  those who are power drunk should be rebuked. “All politicians should give us peace of mind. Some of the utterances we hear from them make us begin to fear. If you need our votes don’t threaten us. If you continue to threaten us no body will come out to vote. Leave 2015 alone. God will take care of it. By hating other tribes or other religion, you will never eliminate those tribes or religion. By causing trouble for a particular religion will not eliminate any religion. God knows why he allowed the existence of other tribes and religion. Every religion is meant to build up the nation,” he said. While paying tribute to the fallen heroes, the Methodist bishop called on government to look after members of the. Armed forces and the family of those left behind by the fallen heroes. “Some of the fallen heroes did not only fight for the survival of this country but of other African countries and beyond. The fallen heroes and their blood was to keep Nigeria one. We should always remember them and especially those who are still in service. Nigeria must take good care of them. They have given us some respite from the Boko Haram attacks. We must acknowledge what has been achieved in the aviation sector, the power sector, by reducing unemployment, by not recruiting thugs and hired assassins. We must stop unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership but we must rebuke those who are power drunk” he said. The first reading was taken by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika while the second reading was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan. Those in attendance were the service chiefs, the president of the senate, David Mark, the chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the mother of the President, Eunice Jonathan, Anyim Pius Anyim,   among several others. *Source Vanguard Newspaper Nigeria  ]]>

0
Read More
"A tremendous amount of work has been done.Nevertheless, there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done."-Ghanaian President Mahama
January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Mahama President Mahama[/caption] Good Morning, Ladies & Gentlemen of the Media … Thank you for being here, for this First Presidential Press Conference of the Year. A very happy and prosperous New Year to you, and to every one following this event across all media platforms. Today marks one year since I took the oath of office and began my first term as the duly elected President of our dear nation Ghana. In my inaugural address, I invited all Ghanaians, irrespective of party affiliation, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status to join me, in a renewed partnership that creates prosperity and equal opportunities for all our citizens. Over these past twelve months I have been working hard – despite some clear challenges and hurdles – to move our country’s prospects onto a firm and steady path that should truly make our nation great and strong. Together, with the prayers, support and hard work of all Ghanaians, and also the favour of the almighty God, we have not only survived but we have stood tall, as we tackled the devastating impact of a series of mysterious fire outbreaks in some of our markets.  These fires threatened the economic activities and livelihoods of some of our hardworking traders, especially our women. With the commitment, goodwill and determination of all Ghanaians we emerged out of the stormy clouds created by an eight-month-long election petition hearing.  Ghana emerged with her democratic credentials intact and continues to be the beacon of stability, good governance and democracy on the African continent. Despite the adverse impact the uncertainty generated by the petition had on our economy, evidenced by slow growth, postponed investment decisions, and delay of release of pledged donor funds, our economy bounced back in the latter part of the year and we are on track to achieve a respectable provisional GDP growth rate of 7.4% for year 2013. Again, working with organized labour we have been able to bring under control the spate of industial actions that characterized year 2013. While the wage bill continues to exert pressure on the budget, I am certain that understanding of the challenges our economy faces and a spirit of goodwill and consensus building with organized labour will see us through this difficulty too. Dear friends, sisters and brothers … I know we have  hard work to do, so we can improve the living standards of every Ghanaian  child, woman and man – whether it is the farmer or the fisherman, the trader, the businessman or businesswoman; whether it is the skilled professional, the labourer or artisan; the student or the teacher, or the nurse who is dedicated to her job of delivery health care, even under the most difficult circumstances.  Every Ghanaian deserves the best and I am constantly concerned about the plight and living conditions of every one of us. So, I am re-energised and more determined in my desire and ambition to build a prosperous, more stable, and more united nation with great opportunities for all our citizens.  Together, with my team, we are renewing our commitment towards the rapid transformation of the economy, so that we can all enjoy great improvements in the delivery of basic social services and infrastructure, especially for the vulnerable and deprived in our communities. During this first year of my first term as president,  my government has taken a range of important measures to ensure fiscal disciple.  We placed a moratorium on new award of new projects to reduce the deficit, we continued implementation of the single spine salary structure, we improved ministerial responsibility and accountability by having ministers sign performance contracts. In my continuing drive for responsible, transparent and accountable governance, we also began installing pre-paid meters in government offices and bungalows.  Overall, my government wants to be judicious and wise in the way we spend the resources entrusted into our care by the people of this great land. That is why I have banned any use of public funds for the purchase and distribution of Christmas hampers, for example. We want to ensure that the people’s money is used in a manner that brings the best and maximum benefit to our people. Commenced identification and registration of government vehicles. In addition, we are making progress in resolving a number chieftaincy disputes.  We have also taken decisive measures to deal with illegal mining.  In Parliament, we have acted quickly to present and support many important but long-delayed bills, including the Right To Information Bill.  We re-committed ourselves to the fight against corruption, by introducing and monitoring strong anti-corruption initiatives.  We must prevent corruption in every sphere of our national life, and where it occurs we must join together to deal with it forcefully. Dear Friends, my sisters and my brothers … A brand new year is here with us, and we have a bright hope for a great future. In this second year of my first term, we are forging ahead, with faith and fortitude to build on the foundations we have laid. In this new year, 2014, we have greater work to do. In the area of jobs and decent work, I am going to focus on implementing policies that generate jobs, especially for our youth. We are certain that a number of key projects we have embarked on, like the Takoradi Harbour Extension and the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, plus several road projects, will deliver some decent jobs. The drive to create jobs is one of the reasons why we have worked hard to ensure that any unscheduled power cut (or dumsor) becomes a thing of the past.  We have made some progress, and load-shedding – that resulted in many days of power outages – has been curtailed. But we not done yet.  We will work even harder this year to ensure that we achieve further and lasting improvements in our power supply.  With reliable and predictable power supply, jobs can be created, as more and more people set up small and medium-scale businesses. In the area of education, we have laid some strong and steady foundations for the construction of a good number of senior high schools. Through these building projects in the area of education we should also be able to generate some extra jobs. I recommit myself to the necessary hard work, dedication and wise leadership for the rapid improvement in  the lives of all Ghanaians. My pledge is to do everything, within the powers invested in me by the people, to take Ghana and Ghanaians to a better place. Together, we CAN make lives better.  We CAN build a more united, more inclusive and a truly better Ghana.  With every Ghanaian engaged and involved and by the grace of Almighty God, we shall attain a Ghana of excellent living standards, and a Ghana that is greater and stronger. We are a nation of great and hardworking people, let’s close our ranks, focus on the things that unite us, and renew our pledges and allegiance to this great land once again. I wish to thank every member of the media for your support, encouragement and constructive criticism.  With your help we can and must do better.  Thank you. I will now take your questions … *Opening Remarks at the Press Conference / Media Encounter Marking  First Year of the First Term as President of the Republic of Ghana Tuesday, 7th December 2014]]>

0
Read More
A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa’s employment challenge
January 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Tony O. Elumelu*
To Africa’s many challenges, add one more: unemployment. 

Unemployment, independent of any other factor, threatens to derail the economic promise that Africa deserves. It’s a time bomb with no geographical boundaries: Economists expect Africa to create 54 million new jobs by 2020, but 122 million Africans will enter the labor force during that time frame. Adding to this shortfall are tens of millions currently unemployed or underemployed, making the human and economic consequences nearly too large to imagine.

Thus, even with the strong economic growth we have seen over the past decade, job creation in Africa remains much too slow. Africa needs a comprehensive, coordinated approach akin to America’s “Marshall Plan” in Europe after World War Two. That effort focused on building infrastructure, modernizing the business sector, and improving trade. By the end of the four-year program, Europe surpassed its pre-war economic output.

We can, and must, do the same for Africa. Entrepreneurs, politicians, philanthropic foundations, and development organizations — such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and USAID — must all work together to solve the unemployment crisis and make Africa an engine of growth. If we are outrun by the employment challenge, Africa will be a drag on global growth and resources for generations to come.

Africa’s Marshall Plan should prioritize three interdependent “pillars” of development, which all work together to form a virtuous cycle of growth: policy reform and a commitment to the rule of law; investment in infrastructure, and a commitment to developing Africa’s manufacturing and processing industries. This virtuous cycle forms the heart of Africapitalism: the public, private, and development sectors all coming together, united in a single objective of creating jobs and social wealth.

First, we need enlightened government policies that help reduce administrative and operating costs for investors and businesses. We must streamline licensing and permitting processes, reduce import duties and tariffs and ease visa restrictions, among other reforms. Such policies would do much to attract investment, increase entrepreneurship and ultimately generate jobs.

Enlightened government policy in Kenya and Nigeria has already helped to advance the information technology and financial services sectors. Microsoft’s pilot project to expand broadband access in Africa depends on government policy that frees up unused “white space” in the TV and radio broadcast spectrum. Financial services reform across several African nations, starting with Nigeria, enabled United Bank for Africa to grow into a pan-African financial institution. The government’s privatization program has attracted billions of dollars of private investment to develop Nigeria’s power infrastructure.

Governments and the private sector must also commit to strong, transparent institutions to help boost confidence in Africa’s business climate. African nations such as Botswana, Rwanda and Liberia have made tremendous progress in this area, though in some countries, war and civil unrest continue to take a toll. Sustained economic and job growth requires creating a safe and reliable environment for capital — including strong civil and legal institutions, corporate financial transparency (such as efforts by the Nigerian Stock Exchange to improve the quality of financial reporting for listed companies), accountable, democratically-elected politicians, and modern, open and transparent markets (like the new commodities exchanges that Heirs Holdings, Berggruen Holdings and 50 Ventures and its partners are creating at African Exchange Holdings). Aggressive advances on such policy fronts will help support the development pillars of infrastructure investment and industrialization — both of which are vital to creating employment on the continent.

The second pillar of Africa’s development program must be infrastructure investment, particularly in power and transportation, without which business cannot function. Today, more than 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to electricity and every 1 percent increase in electricity outages reduces Africa’s per-capita GDP by approximately 3 percent. Access to affordable electricity is essential to unlocking the continent’s growth potential — reducing costs and enabling business growth, including homegrown businesses that create jobs and sustainable local economies.

Transportation infrastructure promises to have an equally transformative impact: roads, railways, waterways and airways are the backbone of a thriving commercial economy. The African Union should encourage and embrace transportation projects that first connect African nations to each other, and then to our global trading partners. Projects like the toll road between Entebbe and Kampala, and the Kenya-Tanzania highway will facilitate greater trade of agricultural and manufactured goods within Africa. Consider that today in Nigeria, 65 percent of our produce spoils for lack of storage infrastructure, and is difficult to export to other African markets for lack of rail and road infrastructure.

Major multinationals like Diageo, Wal-Mart, Barclays, and Microsoft are ramping up African operations in spite of infrastructure challenges. In some cases, they even build their own infrastructure. Stronger policy and physical infrastructure would bring more investment from those who cannot or refuse to bootstrap it. It would also help small and mid-sized enterprises grow faster, and these companies are the engines of job growth in any economy.

Africa’s third development pillar must be building our manufacturing and processing industries. Africa lacks the capacity to process and refine its own natural resources. Raw materials such as oil, cocoa and gold are shipped overseas, where they are processed into high-margin products and often re-imported into Africa — costing both jobs and hard currency. For example, Nigeria exports raw crude oil and then imports expensive gasoline, when the country should be able to refine the oil itself, supplying not just its own market, but also other markets across Africa. This inability to create finished goods at home, and trade them with other African nations, drastically limits the continent’s growth potential, and thus its ability to create businesses, jobs and wealth within Africa’s own domestic economies.

I believe we can solve Africa’s employment challenge, but only if we focus on these three development pillars with great urgency, and accelerate current investment and business trends.

Many of Africa’s stock markets are delivering stellar returns, while institutional, retail mutual fund and private equity capital is flowing rapidly into African markets. Many multinationals and African conglomerates are investing heavily in Africa.

Despite such investment and economic growth, however, Africa is not creating nearly enough jobs. According to demographics, time is not on our side. But with a coordinated jobs plan for Africa, we can secure a productive, economically independent future for the continent and its people.

*Tony O. Elumelu is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, a pan-African investment company committed to driving economic prosperity and social wealth in Africa. He is former CEO of United Bank for Africa and current chairman of Transcorp. He can be found on Twitter at @TonyOElumelu. Source Reuters

0
Read More
African Solutions for African Problems – The Real Meaning
January 3, 2014 | 1 Comments

By Prof George Ayittey*

Prof AyitteyEver since I coined the expression “African solutions for African problems” in 1993, it has been hijacked and debauched or corrupted. American conservatives misinterpreted that to mean “Africans solving their own problems and therefore do not need any foreign aid or assistance from the US.” The Clinton administration also seized that expression to showcase Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Isaiah Afewerki of Eritrea, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Laurent Kabila of Congo DR and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as the “new leaders of Africa,” applying their own “African solutions to their African problems.” Then the AU subsequently jumped in.

“African solutions for African problems” does NOT mean just about any solution crafted by African dictators, organizations or a group of Africans. That was not what I meant. Rather an “African solution” is that which is anchored or tooted in African tradition, culture or heritage. There were two reasons why I coined that expression. First, our post colonial development experience can be characterized as “development-by-imitation.” We copied all sorts of foreign and alien ideologies, systems and paraphernalia and transplanted them into Africa. New York has skyscrapers; so too must we and we built them in the middle of nowhere in Africa. Rome has a basilica; so too must we and we built one in Yamassoukrou, Ivory Coast. France once had an emperor; so Bokassa of CAR spent $25 million in 1978 to crown himself one. The US has only two political parties; so Babangida created exactly two for Nigeria in 1992. Get the idea? I can go on and on. The continent is littered with the putrid carcasses of these failed systems. And we are still at it, having built 38 Confucius Institutes in 28 African countries – not “Ubuntu Institutes.” Enough copying! It is time we crafted our own African models and solutions.

Second, I have always believed that Africa’s salvation (or solutions to Africa’s problems) do not lie along the corridors of the World Bank or the US Congress. Nor do they lie in the inner sanctum of the Chinese politburo or the Russian praesidiium. Neither do they lie in the steamy sex antics of cockroaches on Jupiter! They lie in Africa’s own bosom – in her indigenous institutions. If you care to look, you will find that there is a Western way of doing things or solving problems and there is an “African way.” Here are three examples that are relevant.

1. GOVERNANCE

The traditional Africa system of government is open and inclusive, where strangers, foreigners and even slaves could participate in the decision-making process. The kings and chiefs of Angola and Asante, for example, allowed European merchants to send their representatives to their courts. The Dutch dispatched an embassy to the Asantehene’s court as early as 1701. In Angola, King Alfonso allowed the Portuguese merchants to send their spokesman, Dom Rodrigo, to his court. Europeans could even be selected chiefs. For example, in 1873, Zulu king Cetshwayo made an English hunter/trader, John Dunn, chief of an isifunda, or district. Dunn became fully integrated into the social system, married 48 Zulu women, accumulated a large following of clients, and even rose to the rank of isikhulu. In Ghana today, there are white chiefs http://bit.ly/18untAT

In governance, whereas the West practiced majoritarian, or representative, democracy, Africans have practiced participatory democracy, where decisions are taken by consensus at village meetings. When a crisis erupts in an African village, the chief and the elders would summon a village meeting and put the issue before the people. There the issue is debated by the people until a consensus is reached. During the debate, the chief usually made no effort to manipulate the outcome or sway public opinion. People express their ideas openly and freely without fear of arrest. Once a decision is reached by consensus, it is binding on all, including the chief. These village meetings are variously called asetena kese by the Ashanti, ama-ala by the Igbo, guurti by the Somali, dare by the Shona, ndaba by the Zulu or kgotla by the Tswana. It may be noted that the Nobel Peace Committee and the WTO also take decisions by consensus. More importantly, dictatorship and one-party state systems are incompatible with systems that reach decision by consensus.

By contrast, the type of governance practiced by modern African leaders can only be characterized as “politics of exclusion.” Power is monopolized by some buffoon or a group (military, religious or a political party) and that power is used to enrich that rat or advance the economic interests of that group. All other groups are excluded in an apartheid-like manner. Needless to say, nearly all the civil wars in post colonial Africa were started by politically excluded or marginalized groups. The fact that such as system was crafted and implememnted by an African leader does not make it an “African solution” because it violates the principle of inclusiveness.

2. CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Since 1970, more than 40 wars have been fought on the continent. Year after year, one African country after another has imploded with deafening staccato, scattering refugees in all directions: Sudan (1972), Angola (1975), Mozambique (1975), Ethiopia (1985), Liberia (1992), Somalia (1993), Rwanda (1994), Zaire (1996), Sierra Leone (1997), Congo DRC (1998), Ethiopia/Eritrea (1998), Guinea (1999), and Ivory Coast (2001, 2005 AND 2010), Libya (2011).

The vast majority of Africa’s conflicts are intra‑state in origin. They are not about driving away colonial infidels, or redrawing colonial boundaries. They are about political power, pure and simple: Power to plunder resources; power to allocate resources to oneself, cronies and kinsmen; power to perpetuate oneself in office; and power to crush one’s enemies. The wars invariably pit an autocratic “government” on one side against a rebel group, representing a politically excluded group, on the other.

Various attempts are made to reach a peace accord without success. More than 30 such peace accords have been brokered in Africa since the 1970s with an abysmal success record. Only Mozambique’s 1991 peace accord has endured, while shaky pacts hold in Angola, Chad, Liberia, and Niger. Elsewhere, peace accords were shredded like confetti even before the ink on them was dry, amid mutual recriminations of cease-fire violations. The most spectacular failures were: Angola (1991 Bicesse Accord, 1994 Lusaka Accord), Burundi (1993 Arusha Accord), DR Congo (July 1999 Lusaka Accord), Rwanda (1993 Arusha Accord), Sierra Leone (1999 Lome Accord), Ivory Coast (2003 Accra Accord).

All collapsed because they adopted the Western approach to conflict resolution. The cornerstone of this approach, often foisted on Africa by well-intentioned Western donors, is direct face-to-face negotiation between warring factions. But Africa’s own indigenous conflict resolution mechanism provides a better approach. It requires four parties: An arbiter, the two combating parties, and civil society or those directly and indirectly affected by the conflict (the victims). For example, in traditional Africa, when two disputants cannot resolve their differences by themselves, the case is taken to a chief’s court for adjudication. The court is open and anyone affected by the dispute can participate. The complainant makes his case, then the defendant. Next, anybody else who has something to say may do so. After all the arguments have been heard, the chief renders a decision. The guilty party may be fined say three goats. In default, his family is held liable.

The injured party receives one goat, the chief another goat for his services, and the remainder slaughtered for a village feast for all to enjoy. The latter social event is derived from the African belief that it takes a village, not only to raise a child, but also to heal frayed social relations. Thus, traditional African jurisprudence lays more emphasis on healing and restoring social harmony and peace than punishing the guilty. Further, the interests of the community supersede those of the disputants. If they adopt intransigent positions, they can be sidelined by the will of the community and fined say two goats each for disturbing social peace. In extreme cases, they can be expelled from the village. Thus, there is a price to be paid for intransigence and for wreaking social mayhem — a price exacted by the victims.

Africans have this proverb: “When two elephants fight, the grass gets trampled or hurt.” To resolve the conflict, the Western approach requires direct face-to-face negotiations between the two elephants. The African approach requires the participation of the “grass” as well. Therefore, the African way of resolving the conflicts in CAR and South Sudan requies the involvement of CIVIL SOCIETY (the grass) as well.

3. JUSTICE

In pursuing justice, there is a difference between the Western and African. Whereas Western jurisprudence emphasizes punishing the guilty, traditional African jurisprudence upholds 3Rs: Restitution, reconciliation and restoration of social harmony.  For example, in 2005, the International Criminal Court contemplated issuing an arrest warrant against Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord Resistance Army, which insists Uganda must be governed by the Ten Commandments. The LRA had abducted over 20,000 children, often at night, brainwashing them to kill to carry out this terroristic campaign in northern Uganda. Anyone who stood in their way was brutally slaughtered or maimed. But some victims objected to the arrest warrant, preferring the traditional path to forgiveness, In fact, one chief of the Acholi, the dominant tribe in the war-torn north, even traveled to The Hague to register his objection: “When we talk of arrest warrants it sounds so simple but an arrest warrant doesn’t mean the war will end.”  Lars Erik Skaansar, the top United Nations official in Gulu, has sought peace in as varied places as the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and the Middle East over the last 12 years. “I have never seen such a capacity to forgive,” he said (The New York Times, April 19, 2005; p.A1)

.Among the Acholi, a forgiveness ritual begins when an offender sticks his bare right feet in a freshly cracked egg, which symbolizes innocent life, according to local custom, By dabbing himself in it, a killer is restoring himself to the way he used to be. Next, he brushes himself against the branch of a pobo tree, which symbolically cleanses him. After stepping over a pole, he is welcomed back into the community by the chief. The forgiveness ritual however must be conducted in public with a confession (or admission of gilt), a public request for forgiveness and a promise to make restitution. That ensures that there are not only “witnesses” but also avowed sincerity.

Rwanda also has a similar vehicle known as gacaca. In 2001, it learned that if it were to apply Western jurisprudence to try the over 100,000 suspects in the 1994 genocide, it would take more than a century to bring al of them to justice. So to restore peace, reconciliation, and justice, the government turned to the traditional courts – gacaca in 2001. The gacaca court (pronounced ga-cha-cha) means “on the grass.” It emphasizes reconciliation, not retribution. Throughout Rwanda’s history, neighbors have settled disputes by adjourning to the gacaca to sit, discuss and mediate personal and community problems.

In sum, modern African leaders have been foreign solutions to teir problems much of the post colonial period. The fact that these solutions were or are applied by African leaders does not make them “African solutions for African problems.” The reason why Nelson Mandela stood so tall among them was he applied distinctly African solutions.

Mandela governed South Africa like an African chief. He was a consensus-builder, humble and adopted a style of governance that was inclusive. In addition, he had this unfathomable capacity to forgive – attributes that won him worldwide acclaim. But where did these attributes dome from? Form the indigenous system. Mandela came from a royal family; his father was a chief at Qunu and his grandson a chief at Mzevo. Mandela learned from his father style of governance:

  • The vehicle he chose to dismantle apartheid after his release from prison was CODESA – Convention for a Democratic South Africa. That vehicle was NOT for direct face-to-face negotiation between the National Party and the ANC. Rather, it was inclusive – 248 delegates. Even the right wing Afrikanner parties were invited to participate, though they chose to boycott it. CODESA was modeled after Africa’s own village meeting concept.
  • When he became president, he made F.W. de Klerk his deputy president (inclusiveness)
  • Mandela also set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is straight out of African jurisprudence.  The wisdom in resorting to this lies in the fact that, if Mandela were to apply Western jurisprudence and punish all those guilty of apartheid crimes, there would no whites left in South Africa.

So next time somebody touts an “African solution for an African problem,” ask him or her what is distinctly African about it or what African tradition is that anchored in.

*Prof. Ayittey is a distinguished Economist and Founder and President of the Free Africa Foundation

0
Read More
“Let’s Work For national unity, peace, stability and progress” –Jonathan Urges Nigerians In New Year Message
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Goodluck JonathanI greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014. Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria. Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today. As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater. I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014. We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation. You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal. Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy. In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary. I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa. We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers. Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency. The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season. This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products. Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation. Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration. In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country. In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative. Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities. Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity. In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy. Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud. Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more. To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 young Nagropreneurs by 2015. We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country. In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country. Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries. We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria. JonathanDear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, forpainters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries. Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country. In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home. In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda. I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank. In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion. It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.   In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections. As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment. Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way. Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow. I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year  ]]>

0
Read More
Meaningful dialogue more feasible if President Salva steps down and releases political prisoners says Mabior Garang
December 25, 2013 | 6 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Leaders of SPLM join their hands following successful reconciliation between John Garang and Salva Kiir in Rumbek, Dec. 1, 2004 (ST)Can the current leaders learn from this?

Leaders of SPLM join their hands following successful reconciliation between John Garang and Salva Kiir in Rumbek, Dec. 1, 2004 (ST)Can the current leaders learn from this?

In a tale that leaves many heads wagging with incomprehension, the promised ushered in by independence for South Sudan three years ago may have been a mirage as a combination of inept leadership and power struggle have brought the country into what many fear could be a civil war. There are many who have pointed accusing fingers at President Salva Kiir for fomenting a crisis when there ought to be none. The loss of life has been senseless says Mabior Garang son of the late venerable South Sudanese leader Dr John Garang.Mabior who has been consistently critical of the present leadership in South Sudan for derailing the original vision of Dr Garang and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-SPLM says what is been described as a coup was nothing but a botched attempt by President Salva to purge political rivals. With the events which triggered the current crisis, President Salva squandered the authority he had to play a decisive role in putting the country back on the rails and the best option for him now is to step aside, and release political prisons for meaningful dialogue to have a chance.

Mr Mabior Garang, thanks for accepting to offer your perspectives on developments in Southern Sudan, what exactly is going on, was it a coup, and if it was why?

The events that took place in Juba on 15/12/2013 were not an attempted coup as was alleged by Gen. Salva Kiir and his government. I would instead call it an assassination attempt, designed to get rid of those that pose the greatest threat to the Chairman of the SPLM through the democratic process.

Opinion is divided now between President Salva’s camp that it was a coup and those who say there was no coup, but there was fighting, and there was blood shed, who was responsible for this?

I think it is important first, to pause and recognize that this was a senseless loss of life and that there are many families that have lost loved ones; my heart goes to them.

It is important to have a background of the events leading up to the violence that erupted on the 15/12, because people always see events at their precipice. In order to understand what led to the violence we must understand what happened on the 06/12/2013. This was the day that the current SPLM political prisoners held a press conference at SPLM House in Juba to inform the public about the stagnation in their Movement and the reason for the leadership crisis that had lingered for many months. The press conference ended with the Secretary General of the SPLM announcing that on Saturday the press conference would be followed with a rally by the SPLM to give further details to the public about how the Chairman had frustrated development programs within the movement.

I shall not go into the details of the press conference as it was made available to the press on that day; however, the main points that angered the President of the Republic (who is also the Chairman of the SPLM) was the charge by the 13 political Prisoners that the president had neglected the National Army and that he was building his own private militia. The other point that displeased the Chairman of the SPLM was the charge that his office had borrowed 4.5 Billion USD, yet neither the ministry of finance the Parliament or the public for that matter where aware of this loan; no one knew from whom it was borrowed, nor for what it was used.

The 13 Political Prisoners held this press conference after they had exhausted efforts to resolve the leadership crisis internally within the party, without going public. They had sent countless letters to the office of the Chairman via the office of the Secretary General, this is on record. These requests by the majority of the members of the SPLM Political Bureau where repeatedly ignored by the Chairman, leading them to go public on the 06/12/2013.

The leadership crisis within the SPLM was prompted by the fact that there were some senior members of the SPLM that had made their intentions known of their desire to contest for the Chair during primaries. This was in full exercise of their civil rights and liberties guaranteed to them by the constitution of the Republic and the SPLM constitution. It is also worthy to note that the Chairman had announced to members that he would not contest the 2015 elections, and he even confided this matter to President Thabo Mbeki when he was mediating during the Higlig crisis.

The Chairman then convened a meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) on the same day that the 13 Political Prisoners had scheduled their rally. Having been informed that the Chairman had convened a meeting of the NLC, the group of 13 was hopeful that it would be an opportunity for them to resolve their differences in a cordial manner. However, this was not to be. The meeting allegedly broke down to name calling which continued for two sessions over a period of two days, which prompted the group to boycott the meeting on the third day. This deeply angered the Chairman, and this is what he has labeled as a coup.

The truth; however, is that the president in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the SPLA ordered that the Tigers should be disarmed by their junior colleagues within the same unit. This problem was compounded by the fact that a rumor started circulating that an arrest warrant had been issued for the former Vice President. This series of events led to an argument, a gunfight ensued that rapidly spread to other units and has continued to cause massive desertions.

The President then quickly moved to call this mutiny a coup d’état, and arrest his comrades that had challenged him within the party without evidence. The government moved to bomb two of its own properties using T-72 Tanks, Mortar fire and RPG rocket launchers. These where the (government) houses in which Dr. Riek Machar resided and Hon. Gier Chuang, they were looted and destroyed; indicating that they were out to murder their victims.

These Political Prisoners have now been in government police custody since the 16/12/2013 without charge, they have not been provided with legal counsel, and have faced the police brutality that most of our citizens are so familiar with. I don’t believe that it was a coup d’état because there are no military commanders that have been arrested to link the coup plotters with the coup. There were some political prisoners that were at home sleeping when they were arrested; who mounts a coup and then goes to their home to sleep.

I would not say that what is happening in South Sudan was a coup d’état, I would say that it was an assassination attempt, the Chairman wanted to kill his political opponents by framing them.

It looks like this did not just come out of the blues, as people were forced out of government and the SPLM’s executive dissolved, why is these crisis?

The reason for the crisis apart from what I have explained above, is an accumulation of the dissatisfaction of the members of the SPLM with the slow pace of progress in the Movement. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ushered in a period of great hope for the people of South Sudan in particular and to everyone in the region and the world. The people expected to get their peace dividends and payback form government for their unwavering material and moral support.

The SPLM however, after the death of Chairman John Garang the new Chairman immediately began to undermine the CPA by abandoning some of the positions that had been so painstakingly reached during negotiations. The Chairman (on the political side) began to sanction the use of divisive terms such as “Garang Boys”, “Salva Kiir Boys”, “our government” etc. The system that had been evolved by the Movement in the liberated territories that it administered during the bush war (larger than the current RSS) was abandoned for a kitchen cabinet that has been directing the affairs of the SPLM ever since; a kitchen cabinet with alleged links to the National Islamic Front of Khartoum. The subsequent governments that have come and gone in Juba, every reshuffle of Ministers is done by this kitchen cabinet and is not done within the party.

These are other issues that led to the press conference on the 06/12…

We also get reports that much of the fighting or killings were along ethnic lines, is it true and why is the ethnic factor getting stronger when during the struggle, it was rare to hear about tribes?

It is true that the killings were along ethnic lines; however, it was the government that targeted its own citizens along ethnic lines. It started within the army, the Presidential Guards to be specific started the targeted killing when they tried to disarm their colleagues within the same unit. This violence ended up spreading to other units where the ethnic lines became clear; so, it must have started that way from the source (the President’s Guards).

The office of the President instead of exercising responsible leadership had decided to purge his force and the SPLA of supporters of the former Vice President and those of 91. It was a planned massacre by the Tigers (President’s Guards) and the National Security, the reprisals that followed where of those that had lost their relatives in the Juba Massacre. The Commander of the 8th SPLA Division lost many of his relatives in the Juba Massacre, which prompted his defection; as opposed to the propaganda being spread by the regime that they are loyal to Dr. Riek Machar.

I would say that those that are deserting from Salva’s army share a common interest with Dr. Machar, and so it is only natural that people with coinciding interests should work together. The mass desertions from the SPLA are another indication of the great dissatisfaction that the people of South Sudan have with their government. The regime has labeled any person that is against the government’s divisive policies as a supporter of Dr. Riek Machar, whom they have branded as the “prophet of doom”. I believe the crisis could have been worse had the opposition preached the same rhetoric as the government; however, the opposition has shown responsible leadership for the most part, and this has made the reprisals small in proportion to the Juba Massacre conducted by Salva Kiir’s Tigers (a private tribal militia).

How do you see this eventually playing out, what needs to be done for an end to the political crisis and a return to normalcy?

I believe in the people of South Sudan, we are a resilient and determined people that can do anything that we put our mind to; there is proof of this in our history. The SPLA/SPLM had been split in 1991 a dark period of our history when our people where divided giving our enemy the upper hand. The people of South Sudan managed to survive this crisis, and with no outside mediation where able to come together and put the past behind them; I believe that we still have this spirit and we can resolve our problems ourselves.

The SPLM under Comrade Salva needs to do what it should have done in 2005 after we lost our beloved Chairman Dr. John Garang, follow in the footsteps of the previous Chairman. The SPLM should have: “buried the man and continued the plan” – to paraphrase Dr. John Henrick Clark. This however did not take place; instead the Movement was abandoned and neglected.

There are many accusing fingers pointing at President Salva

There are many accusing fingers pointing at President Salva

The SPLM was at the time (before 2005) conducting several programs including the South – South Dialogue, Peace Through Development and SPLM Strategic Framework for War to Peace Transition. These programs spelled out what we needed to do to transition effectively into our new geopolitical and social realities. The South – South Dialogue would have gone a long way to heal wounds over the past eight to nine years.

It is to revisit some of the programs that we abandoned that we will be able to get out of this current crisis, and there will be no shortcuts, no easy fixes. The hard and tedious work of reconciliation must begin sooner rather than later and we must be serious about it, and with time we shall achieve the objective of “unity through struggle”. The Chairman should go ahead with the SPLM National Convention and allow free and fair competition so that the people choose their leader; it is the rejection of this democratic principle that led to the leadership crisis in the SPLM.

The SPLM should do what it should have done in 2005 and been the spearhead of nation building in the Republic of South Sudan. There are countries that we can use as examples for us to follow, countries that share a common historical reality as South Sudan. In this, South Africa comes to mid; what are some of the things that were done in South Africa that started the healing process.

The SPLM should hold its own convention, and also spearhead the calling of a national convention for the Republic. A national convention involving all political forces (political parties and interests groups) and social forces (religious, farming, sports, women, youth groups etc.) to determine the future of the Republic of South Sudan. The Chairman alone can’t determine the future of our country, the SPLM alone can’t determine the future of our Country. If the SPLM in 2005 had spearheaded such a process I believe the past eight to nine years would have been very constructive, instead the Chairman has been promoting division.

The fact that the Republic of South Sudan is so new dictates that such a convention should take place, so as to harmonize the structures evolved in the liberated territories during the bush war. These institutions were created under tuff conditions and only need to be reviewed to harmonize them with the current realities. The failure to do this has led to the country being defined in the image of those closest to the center of power, and this is a recipe for conflict. This is why my call has been for a national dialogue in the form of a National Convention of all the political and social forces in the country.

Is President Salva the right person to resolve these crises, if he had to regain the trust of the people or rekindle the kind of passion and excite Southern Sudanese had at the dawn of independence what does he need to do?

The answer to this would have been yes prior to the 15/12/2013; however, after this date it becomes very difficult for President Salva to be the right person to resolve the crisis. How do you regain the trust of the people when you have committed what history will later label as genocide in the Republic of South Sudan. The number of dead is still being compiled but so far the number is at 500-600 in Juba alone, with reports of death squads moving from home to home murdering innocent civilians in Juba.

This situation makes it very difficult for the President to be able to rekindle the kind of passion and excitement South Sudanese had at the dawn of independence. The best thing for him to do is step down and release the political prisoners held falsely by his authorities. This would create a conducive atmosphere within which meaningful dialogue can take place; this could arrest the situation as people would be able to see a way out. The convention should go ahead and members should not be intimidated for their wish to seek the nomination for the Chair of the SPLM and the people’s delegates should be allowed to choose.

In seeking the solution to any problem the solution must be provided in the context of what started the problem. The problem started when the president equated democratic pluralism with treason, when he frustrated the convening of the national conference were a new Chair for the party was to be elected; that convention should be allowed to go ahead. In addition to this, all the people of South Sudan must be engaged in a dialogue through a National Convention of all the political and social forces in the country so that we can determine the future of our nation. The alternative to this, God forbid, is total destruction.

South Sudan is young, it emerged from decades of war, could part of the problem be that people are expecting too much so soon, and are personal ambitions both on the camp of President Salva and his opponents taking precedence over national interests?

There is a degree of truth in the assertion that South Sudan is a new country and it would naturally face challenges; however, the seriousness of the Government of South Sudan and their determination to be successful is also another more important factor. The Republic of South Sudan did not fall from the sky, it has a history as the question suggest of decades of war.

The war created conditions for the people of the New Sudan, were they now controlled great swaths of ‘liberated’ territories greater than the area currently controlled as the Republic of South Sudan. These liberated areas had an administration and was recognized when it came to providing relief to those displaced by the conflict. This was the recognition by Operation Lifeline Sudan; this was the birth of the one country two systems idea and of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA). If the Movement during the bush war days had an administration more effective than the current one, I believe it is an indication of how far we have strayed from our objective.

The incidences of crime (cattle rustling), inter communal violence was much reduce than the current situation being faced by our civil population. The health care and education in the liberated territories was better than what our masses have now been subjected to; our people have been betrayed by their government.

The current crisis is being described by the regime’s media as a power struggle, and personal ambitions of rival camps. The blunt truth; however, is different. The crisis arose due to the President of South Sudan and Chairman of SPLM began to make increasingly unconstitutional decrees starting with the sacking of some democratically elected governors. This was followed by other incidents that although where constitutional where bad political decisions, like sacking the Vice President and the entire cabinet.

This was crowned by the dissolution of structures of the SPLM by the Chairman, when the only body that could make such a decision is the National Convention (the supreme body of the Movement). The 13 political prisoners where calling for a national dialogue to resolve a crisis in the leadership when the Chairman decided that contesting against him at the primaries was tantamount to treason. The former Vice President declared his intention, as did Mama Rebecca (Widow of late Chairman) and the Secretary General of the Party Pagan Amum Oketch to contest during SPLM primaries.

This declaration to contest by these three senior members of the SPLM was not in violation of the constitution of the SPLM, they are fully within their legal rights. It is the Chairman that is violating the SPLM constitution by dissolving the structures of the SPLM which he has no power to do, and he is violating the national constitution by holding the 13 political prisoners without charge, or access to legal counsel. It is the President that has violated the constitution by imposing unpopular governors in place of the sacked elected governors, who should have been replaced within 60 days of their dismissal.

In light of all this it becomes clear that it is the President that is putting his personal ambitions over that of the nation because he is the one in violation of all the constitutions, the national and that of the SPLM. It is the President that accused the political prisoners without evidence, not a single army commander has been arrested in connection to the alleged coup plot; and it is the president that is using inflammatory language that borders on hate speech. The president is the one that holds the monopoly on violence and the propaganda machine; therefore, he is the one in the position to reach out to his rivals. The course that the President has chosen is to deal with his adversaries militarily, and this is being resisted by those that feel victimized.

Does the present situation reflect anything that SPLM Founding President Dr John Garang ever envisaged?

This is not what was envisaged by Chairman Dr. John Garang; Comrade Salva could not have made a more complete change. The late Chairman was labeled by many as a ‘unionist’ and they believe that if he was alive that the country would not have broken up. This is not accurate; Chairman Dr. John was fighting for Self Determination. This as the word suggest is done by ‘self’, it is you that determines your destiny. The Republic of South Sudan has hardly determined anything for itself over the past decade; we have been and are still heavily dependent on the NIF regime.

The idea espoused by the late John Garang was that in order for the exercise and achievement of Self-determination to be complete in South Sudan, Khartoum should fall. It is only after this that the people of the New Sudan would exercise the right to self-determination, this did not happen. The late Chairman gave examples of Eastern European self-determination, achieved only after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the case of Eritrean self-determination, achieved only after the fall of Addis Ababa; and the case of Northern Somaliland self-determination, achieved only after the fall of Mogadishu.

The late Chairman explained that the independence of the South would not be complete without the demise of the NIF regime in Khartoum. The objective of the SPLM was the destruction of the old Sudan represented by the NIF regime, and we would dismantle it through war and/or through the peace process. The marginalized people after taking Khartoum could then freely and safely determine whether to remain as one country or to secede. The aspiration of the people of Southern Sudan to have their own state has never been in question; it was always known they would vote 99% for secession.

The regime of Salva Kiir has instead cooperated with the NIF regime, betraying the other marginalized Sudanese People who continue to suffer in abject poverty.

“Comrade Salva that he must step down before he does more damage to his legacy through this divisive politics” –Mabior Garang

“Comrade Salva that he must step down before he does more damage to his legacy through this divisive politics” –Mabior Garang

The people of Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei have participated fully in the liberation of the Republic of South Sudan from Arab Islamist Imperial domination. The SPLM war time diplomacy reached out to the People’s Governments of East, Central and Southern Africa for support in this cause of their liberation. In this spirit, the SPLM Government in Juba could have championed the cause of the Africans of Sudan in the AU.

The President by cooperating with the NIF regime has jeopardized the independence of the Republic of South Sudan; and squandered the hard won freedom that our people paid blood, sweat and tears to achieve. The Independence of South Sudan was a shared victory of the marginalized people of the old Sudan (including the South), of Pan Africanism and Humanity.

A word of advice to the people of South Sudan at home and abroad, how can there be of help or contribute in bringing the country back on the rails?

I would advise my country men and women not to fall for the propaganda machine of the Salva-cratic state that is promoting ethnic divisions. The war machine of the regime is directed inwardly towards its own citizens and it is his regime that is promoting the violence. The people must unite and put pressure on the regime to go ahead with the SPLM convention, and in addition to this hold a national convention of all the political and social forces in the country so that the people determine their own destiny. It cannot be done by Salva Kiir alone or Dr. Riek Machar, or Mama Rebecca for that matter; it is the people of South Sudan that will collectively determine for themselves the destiny of their Republic. I would call (if they will listen) to all vigilante youth groups not to fall for the propaganda machine of the Salva-tocracy, unite and show Comrade Salva that he must step down before he does more damage to his legacy through this divisive politics coming from the supreme office in the land. The time for a National Dialogue is nearly a decade overdue but it is not too late. 

0
Read More
“Mandela’s guiding Light will be missed but South African will not perish”
December 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

-Gen Bantu Holomisa

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Holomisa delivering a vote of thanks at Madiba's final memorial

Holomisa delivering a vote of thanks at Madiba’s final memorial

The larger than life image of Mandela with his legendary spirit of reconciliation and strong moral  credentials makes his absence a source of concern on the future of South Africa. The concerns are even more founded with the inequalities that abound and growing frustration from the majority whose economic fortunes have not changed much since apartheid ended. Lending his voice to those offering reassurances on South Africa surviving the absence of Madiba is Gen Bantu Holomisa, President of the United Democratic Movement. Holomisa , one of the last people to see Mandela in his last days was entrusted with the responsibility of giving a vote of thanks to all those who worked to give the celebration of Mandela’s life the grandeur it deserve.

“His guiding light will be missed but South Africa will not perish,” says Holomisa who heads the United Democratic Movement.  General Holomisa once a very popular figure with the ruling ANC before his expulsion , thinks it is time for South Africans to cast votes based on whether services were delivered or not and not just from historical perspectives. Interviewed by Ajong Mbapndah L, Bantu Holomisa shares his personal experiences with Nelson Mandela, his party-the UDM and other political developments in South Africa.

 

General Holomisa as the world mourns the passing of President Mandela what is your reaction?

I mourn as the people of South Africa, and indeed the world, mourn. But, I also grieve for the loss of a man who I considered a personal role model and father figure.

You probably met with Nelson Mandela several times, what recollections do you have about the man, what were some of the things that struck you about him when you two met?

I met Mr Nelson Mandela for the first time at his old four-roomed house in Soweto five days after his release from prison. When one considers where he had been (just a few days before) it was quite extraordinary that he made everyone feel welcome in his home in such a jovial and energetic manner – a style he maintained whilst he was president and even in the years after his retirement from public life.

I fondly remember times during our travels over the world, when he teasingly introduced me by saying: “Here, accompanying me is Bantu Holomisa… a dictator from the Transkei”.

At another occasion, in December 2007 during our annual Christmas lunch, Madiba received a phone call from President Jacob Zuma wishing him a Merry Christmas. Madiba said, with a deadpan face, “Nxamalala, ndinoBantu apha ndimgadile angasibhukuqi, ngoba ungumbhukuqi”. Roughly translated: “Nxamalala [Mr Zuma’s clan name], I am here with Bantu, we are enjoying lunch, but I’m keeping an eye on him so that he does not execute a coup d’état because, remember, he’s a specialist.”

What in your opinion is the biggest legacy he leaves in South Africa and on the world stage?

Bantu Holomisa (2nd left) waves to crowds from a helicopter while Nelson Mandela looks on, (seated back right) Bantubonke Harrington Holomisa (25 July 1955) is a South African Member of Parliament and President of the United Democratic Movement (UDM). Previously a member of the ANC, he was explelled from the party after, among other things, testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 1996.Source ANC Archives

Bantu Holomisa (2nd left) waves to crowds from a helicopter while Nelson Mandela looks on, (seated back right) Bantubonke Harrington Holomisa (25 July 1955) is a South African Member of Parliament and President of the United Democratic Movement (UDM). Previously a member of the ANC, he was explelled from the party after, among other things, testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 1996.Source ANC Archives

The spirit of reconciliation – a lesson he taught by example. How to listen; to acknowledge the dignity and views of the person on the other side of an argument. He also taught us to find common cause in spite of our differences.

Madiba was extremely concerned about poverty and education. He saw education has one of the tools to fight poverty. Every step he made was made with the view to free South Africans from the scourge of poverty and to ensure that each child receives a quality education.

Clearly Mandela’s passing has left a huge void, how does the present generation of leadership in South Africa managed the country in a way that the ideals he sacrificed his life for are preserved?

Madiba handed over the baton many years ago and had not for some years influenced decisions on daily basis. The doom prophets said South Africa would go to the dogs after he stepped down and it did not happen. Yes, we will miss his guiding light, but it is wrong to suggest that South Africa would somehow perish in his absence.

We are still grappling with the Apartheid legacy and to think that the damage and hurt will disappear over night is foolish. However, our Constitution is the contract that South Africans have with each other and we should at all time strive to live by those standards. Then there is the collective consciousness of our Nation and this includes the current day leaders of this country and those of the future. Nelson Mandela’s teachings and example form a part of this consciousness; we are accountable to ourselves and to each other.

I also think that there is an element of thinking: “What would Madiba do?” – just like that little voice of your elders in your mind, he now forms part of that choir that “regulates” our behaviour.

Still on leadership, how would you size the current leadership under President Zuma, where has he failed, where has he succeeded?

While there are many challenges facing the Country, the ruling party has also taken significant steps to improve the lives of the poor and President Zuma must be given credit for the things his government has done right.

Unfortunately he has made a number of critical mistakes, the Nkandla saga being the worst – it boggles the mind how this mess was denied, covered up and justifications conjured from thin air.

He was also shortsighted in the appointment of his cabinet. Aside from the obvious bias towards persons from his home province, he was also let down by the people in whom he placed trust. Names that come to mind are Ms Dina Pule and the USAASA debacle as well as the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, and the Public Protector’s findings on the lease agreement of their head offices in Centurion.

Obviously he will be in the race for a second term, what are some of the serious issues South Africans should consider in picking their next President?

Each South African has to make up his or her own mind based on the ruling party’s performance, and this includes President Zuma’s term, over the past two decades years.

There is still an element of people who will vote for the ANC because of the Struggle history, but I think voters are more-and-more casting their vote based on service delivery, or rather the lack thereof.

Institutionalised corruption should make voters think twice, in other words, do they want another five years of the unapologetic looting of state resources? The reality is that South Africa has been on a slippery slope for the past 19 years. Some of the most devastating corruption scandals go as far back as Sarafina-2, the Arms Deal, Oilgate, Travelgate, as well as the Chancellor House/Hitachi and Eskom Deal.

What is however disconcerting is that, instead of decreasing, corruption flourished under President Zuma’s watch and he himself was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

In addition, our people have been disappointed with the poor quality of the infrastructure that the ruling party provided over the years. Electricity is not reliable; water projects are launched only to break down after a few months and the RDP houses are worse than those built for blacks by the Apartheid government.

Where President Zuma and his government failed completely was on the question of employment.

What is your reaction to the criticism that while apartheid may be gone, the ANC leadership has succeeded in empowering a few people at the top with a majority still languishing in poverty?

I think the criticism is justified and to compound matters Government shows a fondness of engaging in ‘elite projects’ such as building soccer stadiums, the Gautrain, the much hated e-tolling system, etc.

Whilst some of these serve a good cause, we are doubtful of others. Government has its priorities all wrong! How can these elite projects be a priority whilst millions of South Africans still need access to a basic thing as clean water? The priority must be to use the resources of state to deliver basic services.

May we know what vision your party has for South Africa, and how different it is from what the ANC represents today?

§        For many years, the South African economy relied on labour intensive sectors like mining, agriculture and the textile industry to provide employment opportunities for the poor.

In 1994, the ruling party inherited an economy in which the previous regime was not reluctant to intervene, albeit under separate developments. However, due to the ruling party’s misplaced confidence in globalisation and the free market system, incentives to these strategic sectors were hastily withdrawn, resulting in millions of jobs being lost.

The UDM has since its formation said that for GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE! Government has a responsibility to intervene and protect the South African economy and South African jobs when necessary. Whilst Free Market Capitalism is the best economic system developed by humanity, it is still fraught with weaknesses and failures that must be actively managed.

§        The United Democratic Movement has a consistent track-record in fighting issues on principle. An example of this courage of conviction is that the UDM took the ruling party to the Constitutional Court to challenge the floor-crossing legislation.

We bat from the anti-corruption wicket, consistently promote clean governance and respect for rule of law. The ANC does not seem to understand that by tolerating corruption and allowing its members to act as though they are above the law undermines the most fundamental promise of government: earning and keeping the trust of the people.

§        Also, the UDM is of the view that South Africa needs to move towards a mixed electoral system, that draws from the strengths of both the proportional and constituency-based electoral systems. Our people should be allowed to directly elect their president. In addition, the cabinet appointed by that president should be subjected to the scrutiny of the Parliament’s Ethics Committee before they are sworn in – this kind of vetting would have allowed President Zuma to avoid a number of potholes.

How do you market that vision to South Africans and are you considering running for the elections?

Yes the UDM will be participating in these elections and it will be for the fourth time since 1999, in fact, the seventh if you also count our municipal election campaigns across the country.

Marketing our vision is a difficult question to answer without sounding self-pitying. The UDM has from its inception expressed strong views on the need to level the political playing field, because there are certain inherent disadvantaged for opposition parties.

The current system for the funding of political parties only serves to make the heavy weights stronger and those who box in the middleweights are eventually forced to fight as featherweights.

Proportional funding does not provide for the growth of all political parties but benefits only one party and this is therefore does not foster a healthy democracy. Unfortunately the big corporates, that have democracy development programmes, apply this same model when they spend their budgets.

Other factors that contribute to this skewed landscape is the bias of the so-called “public broadcaster” and the use of the state machinery with their “communication budgets” to conveniently (on the eve of elections) remind South Africans of the “wonderful things” “they” (in other words the ANC) have done for our people. .

A party can have the best policies in the world, but if you are unable to market those, it becomes demotivating. The UDM has however never given up the good fight and every election we find the energy and courage from somewhere to hit the campaign trail hard.

It is a fact that the UDM has never had the resources to use fancy spin-doctors and launch sophisticated nationwide advertising campaigns – the party has always grown through mere word of mouth.

“Nelson Mandela’s teachings and example form a part of this consciousness; we are accountable to ourselves and to each other.”The advent of social media has made it easier for us to communicate with South Africans, especially the youth. Widely accessible cellphone technology makes it easier for people to access the internet and social media, but the UDM will not have the funds to drive SMS and/or email campaigns as some of the political parties are already doing.

There seems to be quite some dissentions within the ANC, the widow of Steve Biko has a party, Julius Malema has a party, is this a healthy development for democracy in South Africa?

I start off by welcoming the new kids on the block and wish Dr Ramphele and Mr Malema the best of luck; they have the same rights as any political organisation to battle this out with the rest of us.

This is an interesting dynamic in South Africa, but the proliferation of political parties is hardly a new phenomenon. It has been a common, in many democracies across the world, for aspiring politicians to establish “new political parties” on the eve of the elections – each believing they have the magic recipe to fix all.

As the Congress of the People discovered the hard way, it is not very easy to retain the imagination of voters and the jockeying for positions inside a party sometimes does more damage than good.

The UDM is on record saying that the results of the 2009 National and Provincial Elections showed that the South African electorate wants a system where two large parties, of similar strength and size, compete for the mandate to govern.

A number of political parties have been talking along those lines, but one cannot realign the South African political landscape merely for the sake of opposing the ruling party – any such “marriages of convenience” has a slight chance of succeeding.

We however have a wonderful example on home soil of such strange partnerships that works i.e. the Tripartite Alliance. Where else in the world do communists and capitalists, labour and big business, sit around the same fire? As a testimony of how difficult it is to manage such relationships, I think it has recently become a little more difficult to manage them with the labour organisations flexing their muscles.

Last question Mr Holomisa, what future do you envision for South Africa in the post Mandela era?

It seems too obvious to actually say this, be we have to constantly have to remind ourselves to stay on course.

I join all South Africans in hoping for the best and doing my part to ensure that we fulfil the original agenda – which is to improve the lives of all South Africans; to ensure that our Rainbow Nation becomes a Winning Nation where all prosper and live in dignity.

 

0
Read More
Graça Machel on Mandela: ‘I learned to separate the man from the myth’
December 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

By David Smith*

Many South Africans will say they have lost their tata, as in father. But amid the outpouring of emotion here and around the world, it is easy to forget that there is a woman mourning her husband. Graça Machel married Nelson Mandela on his 80th birthday on 18 July 1998, providing an unexpected romantic epilogue to an epic life. She was to be his champion and companion in his twilight years and first witness to his inexorable decline.

Machel is 27 years younger than Mandela but has known the pain of loss before. Her first husband, Mozambican president Samora Machel, died in a mysterious plane crash in 1986. She is the only woman in the world to have been first lady of two countries.

Born in Mozambique in 1945, she trained as a soldier in Frelimo, the liberation movement led by her first husband. She became the country’s first education minister after independence from Portugal in 1975 and held the post for 14 years. It was the start of a long career dedicated to children and social causes. She once said: “It is the meaning of what my life has been since a youth – to try to fight for the dignity and the freedom of my own people.”

Mandela met Machel briefly in Mozambique after his release from prison in 1990, later recalling her as “a very impressive woman and striking personality”. She caught his eye again when she received an honorary doctorate in Cape Town in 1992. They got much better acquainted a year later when Mandela became a father figure to Samora Machel’s six children, taking over on the death of his old friend Oliver Tambo.

Mandela’s marriage to his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, had not survived his incarceration and they divorced in 1996. Soon there was no secret about the president’s new relationship – he and Machel were seen holding hands on overseas trips and kissing during a state function in Zimbabwe.

“I cannot describe my joy and happiness to receive the love and warmth of such a humble but gracious and brilliant lady,” Mandela wrote at the time. “It gives me unbelievable comfort and satisfaction to know that there [is] somebody somewhere in the universe on whom I can rely, especially on matters where my political comrades cannot provide me.”

Speaking to a TV interviewer, he added: “I’m in love with a lovely lady. I don’t regret the reverses and setbacks because late in my life I’m blooming like a flower because of the love and support she’s given me.”

In 1998, aged 80 and 52 respectively, they bought a house together and married. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who had previously complained about them living in sin, said at the wedding: “Graça has made a decent man out of him.”

In a 2008 interview with CNN, Machel insisted the age gap had never been a problem. “He is simply a wonderful husband,” she said. “We met in life at a time we were both settled. We were grown up, we were settled, we knew the value of a companion, of a partner. Because of that, we have enjoyed this relationship in a really special way.

“It’s not like when you are still young, you are too demanding. No, no. We just accept each other as we are. And we enjoy every single day as if it is the last day. Because of that, it has been wonderful to have him as a husband.”

Asked by CNN: “Do you look at him and go, ‘I married Nelson Mandela?’” the former first lady replied: “At the beginning, yes. I already had this very deep involvement with him. It’s … there was a sort of conflict between the man I loved and the myth. Particularly because people were saying things, and I couldn’t figure out the two would go together.

“I know him as a human being, a person, and this myth surrounding him. The aura around him was a bit confusing, but then I learned to live with it, in terms of separating the two.”

During Mandela’s increasingly scarce public appearances following his retirement, Machel was usually at his side. She supported his frail arm as he tried to wave to crowds at the 2010 World Cup closing ceremony. While the rest of the world speculated over his health, she was forced to watch the dying of the light first-hand.

“I mean, this spirit and this sparkle, you see that somehow it’s fading,” she told eNews Channel Africa in 2009. “To see him ageing, it’s something also which pains you. You understand and you know it has to happen.”

A formidable personality, Machel appears to have been unfazed by Madikizela-Mandela remaining part of Mandela’s life. In 2012 photographer Adrian Steirn spoke of them “laughing hysterically” together at his birthday party. It remains to be seen whether Machel will clash with Mandela’s children and grandchildren over his legacy.

Twice married and twice widowed, she has never allowed herself to be defined by Samora Machel and Nelson Mandela.

She established the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique, a UN independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children and she was a founding member of The Elders – a group of eminent global figures promoting peace and human rights. She is fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English, as well as her native Tonga. –

*Source Mail & Guardian

0
Read More
“The struggle was Madiba’s life.”
December 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

-Jacob Zuma’s Speech At Mandela’s Memorial

“Mama Graca Machel, mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela and the entire Mandela family and the abaThembu clan,

Excellencies heads of state and government,

Excellencies former heads of state and government,

Deputy presidents and representatives of governments,

Heads of international organisations in all regions of the world,

The leadership of the ANC and alliance partners,

Leaders of fraternal political organisations in Africa and abroad,

Activists of the former anti-apartheid movement,

Eminent persons, friends of South Africa from all over the world,

Fellow South Africans,

Sanibonani!

Good day!

Molweni!

Dumelang!

South Africans sing a popular freedom song about former president Nelson Mandela.

We sing that he is one of a kind, that there is no one quite like him. Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela akekho ofana naye.

The song is one of the most accurate descriptions of this global icon who is the founding president of a free and democratic South Africa and also the former president of the oldest liberation movement in the continent, the ANC.

His passing has marked an unprecedented outpouring of grief across the world. Yet, it is grief, tinged with admiration and celebration.

Everyone has had a Mandela moment, when this world icon has touched their lives.

Let me begin therefore, by thanking all the heads of state and government and  international delegations present here today.

We also extend our deepest gratitude for the messages of condolence that we continue to receive.

The Mandela family, the South African people and the African continent as a whole, feel stronger today, because we are being comforted by millions throughout the world.

Dear South Africans,

That we are Madiba’s compatriots and have lived during his time, is a cause for a great celebration and enormous pride.

Never before has our country celebrated a life as we are doing with that of Madiba.

We do not call Madiba the father of our rainbow nation merely for political correctness and relevance.

We do so because he laid a firm foundation for the South Africa of our dreams – one that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous.

We do so because Madiba was a courageous leader.

Courageous leaders are able to abandon their narrow concerns for bigger and all-embracing dreams, even if those dreams come at a huge price.

Madiba embodied this trait. He was a fearless freedom fighter who refused to allow the brutality  of the apartheid state to stand in the way of the struggle for the liberation of his people.

Being a lawyer, he understood the possible consequences of his actions. But he also knew that no unjust system could last forever.

He said at an ANC Youth League conference in 1951;

“True, the struggle will be a bitter one. Leaders will be deported, imprisoned, and even shot.

“The government will terrorise the people and their leaders in an effort to halt the forward march; ordinary forms of organisation will be rendered impossible. But the spirit of the people cannot be crushed … until full victory is won.”

The struggle became Madiba’s life.

He was at the forefront of the radical change in the ANC in the 1940s, advancing the long walk to freedom.

He became a volunteer in chief during the Defiance Campaign in the early 1950s and became the first commander in chief of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe, in the early 1960s.

He paid dearly for his beliefs and actions through imprisonment.

He stated in 1962;

“I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience.”

Arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment during the Rivonia Trial later in 1964, he never lost his fighting spirit.

For 27 years, the South African people spoke about him in hushed tones, out of fear. In fact, if the apartheid government had its way, they would have been banned even from thinking about Madiba.

But the powerful name of Nelson Mandela lived on.

He continued to inspire our people every single day, from inside prison walls.

He demonstrated unique leadership in starting negotiations with the enemy whilst in prison. He also negotiated for the release of his fellow political prisoners first before his own release.

His release from Victor Verster prison on the 11th of February 1990 was one of the most remarkable and moving moments in world history.

The world came to a standstill watching this tall imposing figure walking out into a world he had left behind 27 years before.

The emotions and feelings we felt on that day are difficult to express in human language.

A downtrodden people who had been dehumanised and made to feel like pariahs in the land of their birth, suddenly saw signs that freedom would be attained in their lifetime.

South Africa needed a leader like Madiba to help us through a difficult transition from apartheid to a free democratic society.

In the bumpy road to our historic first free and fair elections, there are many times that he brought our nation back from the brink of catastrophe.

The massacre at Boipatong in 1992 and the killing of the popular leader of our people, Chris Hani in 1993, are some of the occasions when our country faltered in its long walk to freedom, when we stared into the heart of darkness.

It is at these times that Madiba restored a sense of calm and purpose and brought us back on the road to freedom.

South Africa’s first democratic elections were largely peaceful because of this leadership that he displayed.

Indeed, there is no one like Madiba. He was one of a kind.

Today, on International Human Rights Day, we celebrate Madiba the man of peace. Today is the 20th anniversary of his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, on the 10th of December 1993.

This freedom fighter had always stated that the ANC had resorted to arms because of the intransigence of the apartheid regime which responded with violence, bannings and detentions to simple demands for equal citizenship, human rights and justice.

To him, for South Africa to attain peace, the armed struggle was inevitable, but it was a means to an end but not an end in itself.

Madiba’s love for peace was also evident in the work he did in the continent. The people of Burundi enjoy peace and democracy today because of the seeds of peace planted by Madiba.

Following the historic national elections on April 27 1994, an unprecedented number of Heads of State and Government and eminent persons from around the world descended upon our shores for Madiba’s inauguration as the first president of a free and democratic South Africa.

Today, the whole world is standing still again, to pay tribute to this greatest son of South Africa and Africa.

Fellow mourners,

There is no one like Madiba, he was one of a kind.

The world speaks fondly of Madiba’s promotion of unity, reconciliation and non-racialism during his Presidency.

He had declared as follows during trial in 1964;

“The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy”.

Thus his promotion of non-racialism and reconciliation during his tenure as president of the Republic was not surprising.

Compatriots and friends

Speaking at the adoption of a new Constitution of the Republic adopted in 1996, Madiba outlined the vision of the new society.

He said;

“Let us give practical recognition to the injustices of the past, by building a future based on equality and social justice.

“Let us nurture our national unity by recognising, with respect and joy, the languages, cultures and religions of South Africa in all their diversity.

“Let tolerance for one another’s views create the peaceful conditions which give space for the best in all of us to find expression and to flourish.  Above all, let us work together in striving to banish homelessness, illiteracy, hunger and disease.”

With the magnitude of challenges facing the young South Africa in mind, Madiba set about uniting the nation.

He carefully managed the anger and frustrations of both the oppressors and the oppressed, and reminded us of our common humanity that transcended racial boundaries.

He also managed both the fears of the minority and the high expectations and impatience of the majority.

He told us that the promises of democracy would not be met overnight and that the fears of the few would not be allowed to derail the newly won freedom.

We all agreed with him, as Madiba never hesitated to speak his mind when it was necessary to do so, regardless of how uncomfortable the words may be to recipients!

Many leaders, some of whom are present here today, have experienced his sharp tongue.

Realising the power of sport to conquer prejudice, former president Mandela embraced South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup ambitions, donning the Springbok jersey at a time when it was much-maligned by the majority of the population.

This would be a hallmark of his Presidency.

Our sports teams yearned for the “Madiba magic”that his visit would bring, each time they faced formidable opponents.

Beyond promoting reconciliation, Madiba also laid a firm foundation for transformation as well as reconstruction and development.

He knew that reconciliation without transformation and reconstruction, would be meaningless.

Under his leadership, the new democratically elected government focused on addressing historical injustices and creating new institutions to facilitate the building of a democratic society based on the principles of non-racialism and non-sexism.

Close to 800 racist apartheid laws were removed from the statute books in the first 10 years of democracy.

The dismantling of the legal framework of apartheid and transformation of many state institutions led to the visible improvement of the socio-economic conditions of millions of people.

Thus, Madiba laid a foundation for a better life for all, which was the rallying cry of his Presidency.

Madiba also laid the foundation for our country’s now successful fight against one of the greatest scourges of our time, that of HIV and Aids, while still in office and during his retirement.

The global 4 666 4 campaign gave birth to Mandela Day, a global call to action, mobilising people to spend at least 67 minutes helping those in need.

In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 18th of July as Nelson Mandela International Day.

Each year on the 18th of July, the world comes together to celebrate Mandela Day, recognising Madiba’s selfless sacrifice in betterment of others.

Indeed, Madiba was one of a kind.

Bantu baseNingizimu Africa,

Silahlekelwe kakhulu ngobaba wesizwe uTata uMadiba.

Siyazi benimthanda kakhulu, futhi nisamthanda kakhulu namanje.

Leliqhawe liyibekile induku ebandla. Sikhumbula namhlanje leliVolontiya elikhulu likaKhongolose.

Sikhumbula umkhuzi wokuqala wamabutho oMkhonto weSizwe.

Sikhumbula iqhawe elalizimisele ngisho nokufa imbala, ukuze abantu abamnyama bathole inkululeko.

Sikhumbula iqhawe elalwela ukuthi abantu baseNingizimu Africa baphile ngentokozo ezweni elingenakho ukwesaba, elingenanhlupheko nalapho abantu belingana bonke khona.

Yingakho nje sithi akekho ofana no-Tata uMadiba.

Compatriots and friends,

While saying Madiba was one of a kind, we also remember that he believed in collective leadership and that he never wanted to be viewed as a messiah or a saint.

He emphasised that all his achievements were derived from working with the ANC collective, among whom in his own words, were men and women who were more capable than he was.

Thus, the South Africa that you see today, is a reflection of Madiba and many others like him, who sacrificed their lives for a free nation.

We thus remain truly grateful to his peers, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Dorothy Nyembe, Florence Mophosho and countless others who left indelible marks in the history of our struggle.

Compatriots and friends,

Today Madiba is no more.

He leaves behind a nation that loves him dearly.

He leaves a continent that is truly proud to call him an African.

He leaves the people of the world who embraced him as their beloved icon.

Most importantly, he leaves behind a deeply entrenched legacy of freedom, human rights and democracy in our country.

In his honour we commit ourselves to continue building a nation based on the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

United in our diversity, we will continue working to build a nation free of poverty, hunger, homelessness and inequality.

As the African continent led by the African Union, we will continue working to fulfil his desire for a better Africa and a more just, peaceful and equitable world.

Tomorrow, our people will accompany Madiba on his last journey to the seat of government, the Union buildings in Pretoria, where his body will lie in state for three days.

I have the honour today, to announce, that the Union buildings amphitheatre, where Madiba was inaugurated as president in 1994, and where his body will lie in state, will, with effect from today, be called the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.

This is a fitting tribute to a man who transformed the Union Buildings from a symbol of racism and repression to one of peace, unity, democracy and progress.

Compatriots, comrades and friends,

We extend yet again, our deepest condolences to mama Graca Machel, mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the entire extended family.

Madiba has run a good race. He declared in his own words in 1994;

He said;

“Death is something inevitable.

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.

“I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity.”

I thank you.”

0
Read More
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,our people have lost a father”
December 6, 2013 | 0 Comments

Full Text of Jacob Zuma’s Speech

“My fellow South Africans,

“Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 8.50pm on 5 December 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.

“His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude. They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.

“Our thoughts are with his wife Graça Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and the entire family. Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.

“Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood. Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.

This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost its greatest son.

“Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves. And in him we saw so much of ourselves.

“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.

“Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a state funeral. I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from 6 December, and remain at half-mast until after the funeral.

As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified. Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.

“As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought. Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.

“Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.

“This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow. Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.

“A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world. We will always love you Madiba! May your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.”

0
Read More
1 24 25 26 27 28 31