South Africa arrests over xenophobic attacks in Durban
April 11, 2015 | 0 Comments
Hundreds of people marched against the anti-immigrant violence that has hit Durban[/caption] South African police have arrested 17 people and opened murder cases after attacks on foreign nationals in Durban. The violence comes in the wake of alleged comments by the Zulu king telling migrants to go home – although the he says he was mistranslated. But Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has called on traditional leaders to stop making remarks that “could result in a loss of life”. At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks that swept the country in 2008. Following the alleged comments by King Goodwill Zwelithini at the end of March, 250 people have been attacked, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and foreign-owned shops have been looted in the port city of Durban. More than 1,000 mainly African migrants have fled their homes, some going to police stations and other are being housed in tents on a sports field. South Africa’s Business Day newspaper reports that at least three people have been killed and that a Somali shopkeeper is in a critical condition. Police spokesperson Maj Thulani Zwane told the BBC that the police do not know exactly how many people have been killed, but that some were South African nationals and some were foreigners.
‘Ticking time bomb’South African President Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward, has come out in support of the Zulu king’s alleged comments “We need to be aware that as a country we are sitting on a ticking time bomb,” he said, adding that foreigners were “taking over the country”. [caption id="attachment_17411" align="alignright" width="300"] Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, like other traditional leaders, is widely respected[/caption] Raphael Baheybwa-Kambambire, president of Congolese Solidarity campaign, told the BBC that religious leaders met with Zulu monarch on Thursday. King Zwelithini told them he was talking “only about those who don’t have papers and documentation in South Africa”. Mr Gigaba said on Thursday evening that it was important not to incite violence. “Africa in particular must not think that we hate fellow Africans so much that we are prepared to do the worst to cause them harm,” he said. On Wednesday, hundreds of people marched in front of the Durban’s City Hall in protest against the xenophobic violence. Durban-based journalist Jeff Wicks told the BBC’s Newsday programme that it does not take much to stoke tensions. Xenophobic violence flares up in townships where living conditions are poor for all those living there, irrespective of where they come from, he says. *BBC ]]>
S.Africa colonial-era statue damaged
April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
Johannesburg (AFP) – Another colonial-era statue has been vandalised in South Africa amid growing protests against historic symbols honouring the white colonial era.[caption id="attachment_17388" align="alignleft" width="300"] Another colonial-era statue has been vandalised in South Africa amid a debate over the status of colonial-era monuments (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]
The memorial recognising the role of animals in the Anglo-Boer war more than a century ago was attacked Monday in the southeastern city of Port Elizabeth.
Police said the bronze statue of a kneeling soldier offering a bucket of water to a horse was knocked down by supporters of the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
The soldier was pulled down, but the horse was undamaged.
South Africans are currently debating the status of colonial-era monuments after student activists at the University of Cape Town succeeded in having a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes boarded up.
Police at Humawood station in Port Elizabeth said a man was on Tuesday brought in for questioning but later released after the horse statue attack.
“We were acting on information brought by an eyewitness,” said station commander Brigadier Ronald Koll.
The Anglo-Boer war was fought between the British and two regions of Dutch settlers between 1889-1902, ending in victory for the British.
The new vandalism comes after a statue of an Afrikaner hero and former president of colonial South Africa, Paul Kruger, was desecrated at the weekend in the capital Pretoria.
The imposing statue which has stood in the heart of the capital for over six decades was splattered with green pain.
EFF supporters, whose party won six percent of the vote in the 2014 general election, initially claimed responsibility, but later denied involvement.
EFF leader Julius Malema last month called on his party supporters to tear down colonial-era statues.
Last week, EFF supporters in Uitenhage, west of Port Elizabeth, burned a monument to British soldiers who died in the Anglo-Boer wars.
Zimbabwean president arrives in South Africa for state visit
April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
By LYNSEY CHUTEL*
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwe’s president has arrived in South Africa for his first official state visit in more than 20 years.[caption id="attachment_17369" align="alignleft" width="257"] Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, front, and his wife Grace, rear, arrive in Pretoria, South Africa Tuesday, April 7, 2015 for a state visit to the country. Mugabe will be in the country until Thursday and will meet with South African president Jacob Zuma Wednesday.(AP Photo)[/caption]
President Robert Mugabe arrived with his wife, Grace, on Tuesday at the Waterkloof air force base outside the capital Pretoria.
“This is a bilateral visit,” said Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. “The focus is largely on consolidation of our bilateral ties.”
One of the main aims of Mugabe’s visit is strengthen economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and its wealthier neighbor, South Africa, according to an earlier statement by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
Mugabe will visit the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa’s government, on Wednesday where the two presidents will sign an agreement to increase trade. South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amount to about $2 billion dollars, while in contrast Zimbabwe exports goods worth about $170 million to South Africa.
Mugabe has visited South Africa on other occasions, such as presidential inaugurations and the state funeral of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela in 2013.*Source AP/Yahoo]]>
Mandela phone app for tourists in S.Africa
April 5, 2015 | 0 Comments
People take pictures of Nelson Mandela’s former cell at Robben Island on December 13 2013 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)[/caption]
Johannesburg (AFP) – A phone app tracing the footsteps of Nelson Mandela was launched Wednesday in South Africa to encourage tourists to explore his life story, 25 years after his release from prison.
Users can use the tool to plan their travels around major sites associated with the liberation icon, including Robben Island, the prison off Cape Town where he spent 18 years of his 27-year jail term, and Qunu, his childhood home and burial place.
The GPS-enabled app, which is named ‘Madiba’s Journey’ after Madela’s clan name, was designed by South African Tourism and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“This app makes ‘walking in the footsteps of Madiba’ much easier than before and greatly enriches visitors’ experiences of the attractions associated with one of the greatest men of our time,” said Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom.
The revered anti-apartheid leader became South Africa’s first black president after the end of whites-only rule in 1994.
He died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95.
Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and led negotiations that paved the way for the country’s first democratic elections. He was president between 1994 and 1999.*AFP/Yahoo]]>
Zuma's son wants foreigners out of the country
April 1, 2015 | 3 Comments
Edward Zuma (The Witness)[/caption] Durban – President Jacob Zuma‘s son, Edward, has come out in full support of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s controversial call to deport foreigners from South Africa. “We need to be aware that as a country we are sitting on a ticking time bomb of them [foreigners] taking over the country. “The reason why I am saying that is because some of the foreigners are working for private security companies where they have been employed for cheap labour. These companies are running away from complying with South African labour laws,” said the president’s eldest son. ‘Foreigners need to leave the country’Zuma told News24 in an interview he fully agreed with Zwelithini’s sentiments that “foreigners needed to leave the country.” Zwelithini allegedly made the comments, which have sparked criticism, at a moral regeneration rally in Pongola, northern KwaZulu-Natal, two weeks ago. The Zulu king reportedly said that foreigners were changing the nature of South African society as they were taking advantage of the poorly behaved and undisciplined locals. Zwelithini was also quoted as saying, “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave.” Despite the South African Human Rights Commission now probing the Zulu king’s utterances, Zuma junior said, as a citizen of South Africa, he fully agreed with the king. He said some foreigners didn’t have legal documentation permitting them to be in the country. Former soldiers a danger The time bomb, charged Zuma, was that some foreigners were carrying guns and some of them were soldiers in their home countries. “In South Africa you need to have a gun licence to be able to carry a gun. Where are their licences? We can’t rule out the possibility of a coup in the future. The government needs to clean out everyone that is in the country illegally. They need to leave,” said Zuma. He said foreigners were fuelling South Africa’s drug problem. “They are the reason why there are so many drugs in the country. They supply and sell the drugs to communities in our country. Take Radovan Krejcir for example, he came into the country because he knew he could commit crime and get away with it,” said Zuma referring to the Czech fugitive who has been charged, along with three others, for the murder of Lebanese national Sam Issa. “I am not only talking about foreigners from African countries, I am also talking about Asians and Europeans as well. They are a real security threat to this country and the police can’t catch them because they can’t be traced because some of them do not have proper documentation,” said Zuma. *Source News24]]>
Trevor Noah to replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show
March 30, 2015 | 0 Comments
Noah tweeted this picture of himself with Jon Stewart following his debut on The Daily Show last year[/caption]
South African comedian Trevor Noah is to replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, the New York Times reports.The 31-year-old made his debut as a contributor to the nightly satirical show last December. His first appearance took aim at racial tensions in the US, saying: “I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa.” Stewart announced he would be stepping down in January. He has hosted the influential comedy show for 16 years. The presenter has yet to set a timetable for his departure, but the selection of a replacement should make the task easier. Producers will want to give Noah time to settle into this new role before next year’s Presidential election. Speaking to the New York Times from Dubai, where he is on tour, the comedian expressed disbelief at his appointment. “You don’t believe it for the first few hours,” he said. “You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.” “I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” said Stewart in a statement. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.” The star added he “may rejoin [The Daily Show] as a correspondent just to be a part of it!” Comedian Chris Rock, who had been touted as a possible replacement for Stewart, tweeted: “Thank you president Obama” Under Stewart’s guidance, The Daily Show has become one of the most important political programmes on US television. Even though he insists he is a comedian, not a journalist, Stewart’s passionate monologues on politics, race and social justice exert a real influence on political debate in the United States. “He essentially invented a new way to deliver the news that spoke to a younger generation less trusting of the traditional sources but still very interested in the world.” said Dan Pfeiffer, an adviser to President Barack Obama, when Stewart announced he was quitting. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren added: “Washington is rigged for the big guys – and no person has more consistently called them out for it than Jon Stewart. Good luck, Jon!” As well as Stewart, the Daily Show has also nurtured the careers of comedians such as Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver – all of whom started off a “reporters” in the show’s fake newsroom set-up.
Comedy careerNoah is a relative unknown in the States, but has hosted numerous television shows – including his own late night talk show – in his native country. It has garnered him an avid following on Twitter, where his two million followers will be aware of his ability to satirise the news without disengaging from the issues. One popular tweet, posted during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, read: “People shouldn’t have booed Zuma at Mandela’s memorial. But it’s crazy that their anger supersedes their pain.” And after the 2012 Olympic Games, he quipped: “I’ll miss the Olympics. It’s the one time, when a group of black people can run, with no suspicion.” Noah was previously the subject of David Paul Meyer’s award-winning film You Laugh But It’s True, which documented his career in post-apartheid South Africa. The comedian has also appeared on UK panel shows including QI and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, as well as performing on the BBC’s Live From The Apollo programme. He also performed at last year’s Royal Variety Performance, where he spoke about his parents – a white Swiss man and a black Xhosa woman, whose relationship was illegal under apartheid laws. His mother was fined and jailed by the South African government – Noah joked that he was “born a crime” – and he grew up in a Soweto township. A TV career began when he landed a role on the soap opera Isidingo, aged 18, and he went on to host reality shows and radio programmes before becoming a stand-up. “Trevor Noah is an enormous talent,” said Michelle Ganeless, president of Comedy Central, which broadcasts the show. “He has an insightful and unique point of view, and most importantly, is wickedly funny. “He has a huge international following and is poised to explode here in America, and we are thrilled to have him join Comedy Central.” Writing on Twitter, Noah added: “No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!” South African reaction: Milton Nkosi, Johannesburg South Africans are overjoyed at the news that their compatriot will succeed Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. It was even the lead story in some local news bulletins. The Soweto-born comedian is a much-loved figure here. In a polarised country like South Africa he cuts across racial divisions with his great sense of humour. The department of Arts and Culture told me it was great news. “No doubt this is a big development for Mr Noah’s career and a resounding statement that South Africa has the artistic talent of international stature and calibre,” said spokesman Sandile Memela. “We wish to congratulate him on this significant achievement.” *Source BBC]]>
Posthumous Nelson Mandela memoir to be published in 2016
March 25, 2015 | 0 Comments
By JILL LAWLESS*[caption id="attachment_17102" align="alignleft" width="300"] FILE- In this Dec. 7, 2005 file photo, former South African President, Nelson Mandela, smiles at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. The former political prisoner who became the country’s first black president in 1994 died in December 2013 at the age of 95. Pan Macmillan said Tuesday, March 24, 2015, that it will publish the sequel to Mandela’s best-selling autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” in Britain, South Africa, India and Australasia in 2016. U.S. and Canadian rights have not yet been sold. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)[/caption]
LONDON (AP) — A posthumous memoir by Nelson Mandela, recounting his time as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, is scheduled to be published around the world next year.
Pan Macmillan said Tuesday that it will publish the sequel to Mandela’s best-selling autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” in Britain, South Africa, India and Australasia in 2016. U.S. and Canadian rights have not yet been sold.
The publisher said the Nelson Mandela Foundation has “a substantial but incomplete personally written draft” of the book, written before the statesman died in December 2013 at the age of 95. On the wishes of his widow, Graca Machel, it will be completed by a group of Mandela’s former advisers.
Machel said Mandela began work on the book in 1998, near the end of his five-year presidential term. She said Mandela saw it as “a natural progression” from “Long Walk,” which covered his early years, his political struggle against South Africa’s apartheid regime and the 27 years he spent in prison.
Pan Macmillan said the as-yet-untitled book would be “candid and clear-eyed about the difficulties he faced while in office, but also about the fault lines which run through contemporary South Africa.”
Editorial director Georgina Morley said it would “remind readers everywhere what he stood for — and how it is still possible for his vision and his political philosophy to change not only South Africa but the world.”
A publication date was not announced.
Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and went on to win the presidency in South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with former South African President Frederik W. de Klerk, for negotiating the end of white-minority rule.
He stepped down in 1999 to concentrate on charity work.
South Africa 20 years on: A state in crisis
March 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
By Raymond Suttner, Activist and scholar*
It applies to state governance at all levels: to key institutions that are under attack and being rendered dysfunctional; to growth prospects dimmer with high levels of unemployment; and to violence in society, much of it at the instance of the state and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
President Jacob Zuma, who rose to power in the wake of the suppression of hundreds of fraud and corruption charges, has been implicated in fresh scandals since taking office.
Patronage and corruption are present at every level of government, and they are closely tied to Zuma and other ANC office-bearers.
How has South Africa arrived here, and is there a way out that can restore some of the hope that many cherished 20 years ago?
Democratic rule in April 1994 inaugurated the first legitimate and democratically elected government in South African history.
Many held high expectations related to the leadership of Nelson Mandela and the constitutional checks and balances put in place to provide safeguards against the abuse of power.
The new government had pledged to provide ‘a better life for all’, but to realise transformative goals required resources that were hard in coming.
The context within which the new government had to operate was not conducive to a developmental agenda.
Considerable international financial pressure was exerted to open up markets, reduce tariffs and deregulate labour markets, supposedly leading to investment and jobs.
The new government adopted conservative macroeconomic policies in 1996 through the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy.
Although GEAR did not lead to increased investment and employment, substantial state funding was devoted to social spending, notably in education, healthcare, water, electricity and social grants to the indigent.
Insufficient, slow in coming and often inadequately maintained as it was, it nevertheless brought fundamental changes to the lives of many.
Achieving transformative objectives posed challenges in terms of state capacity.
Until 1994, the state had been geared to meeting the needs of a minority of the population.
Existing state departments had weak institutional capacity and were unable to address the needs of all citizens.
One of the ways that capacity was augmented was through contracting skilled people with technical know-how, while simultaneously building the capacity of the new state.
Entrepreneurs and others outside state employment were drawn into state activities, providing what was lacking within the state in order to meet its socio-economic goals.
However, contracting and tender systems are vulnerable to abuse.
As the process developed, those granted tenders were often substantially enriched, while state capacity remained weak. Contracts to undertake work for the state also opened up possibilities for patronage networks tied to powerful individuals.
Very often, contractual agreements were not honoured.
Previously mainly related to political goals, patronage increasingly came to ensure personal enrichment and also corrupt dealings, at the expense of the state and the poor.
It is in this context that the rise of President Jacob Zuma may be understood.
His fortunes were linked to corrupt activities in relation to state tenders awarded to businessman Schabir Shaik.
When Shaik was convicted of fraud and corruption in 2005, the court found that Zuma had benefited. In consequence, President Thabo Mbeki dismissed Zuma as deputy president.
Instead of dismissal being seen as strong action against irregularities, a groundswell of support arose around Zuma among those who were aggrieved over the centralisation and austere macroeconomic policies associated with Mbeki.
Leftist forces, marginalised under Mbeki, and a range of business leaders formed a coalition with the expectation of benefiting from the displacement of Mbeki and the rise of Zuma.
Some of those businesspeople had connections to the underworld.
Zuma himself faced hundreds of fraud charges, but these were controversially suppressed, paving the way for him to become president in 2009.
Zuma’s presidency has maintained similar macroeconomic policies to those of Mbeki, contradicting the supposed reason why the left had advanced his candidacy.
His tenure has been marked by extensive violence, already a marked feature in South African society.
At the level of the state, law enforcement agencies have not hesitated to open fire on protesters, notably in the 2012 Marikana massacre.
But there has also been political violence against ANC opponents and violence including murders within the ANC itself.
The latter is connected with competition for office in provinces and local government.
One of the features of this period is that remilitarisation has tended to erase the possibility of negotiating differences or debating grievances.
When communities protest, they are not met by officials who can resolve their problems.
Instead they tend to be treated as a ‘mob’ that should be dispersed by police and gunfire.
A series of new and old scandals surround Zuma and the consequences have spread to many state institutions.
Most notorious is the R246m ($21.3m) in ‘security’ improvements made to his private home, for which the public protector has recommended that he pay back a reasonable proportion.
Zuma, supported by the ANC majority in parliament, has refused to engage with the public protector’s report and will not pay back any monies.
His failure to answer questions in parliament led to disruptions and the entry of riot police on two occasions in late 2014.
In this atmosphere of lawlessness, graft and institutional dysfunction, the climate for business is clearly unstable.
Yet business has not been very vocal in expressing opinions on the current situation, preferring, it seems, to use personal access to the leadership to secure its interests.
Another reason why business and other stakeholders may be reserved is a quiet hope in some circles that the new deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is seen as a potential successor to Zuma, could remedy many of the ills associated with Zuma.
The difficulty arising from vesting such hopes in any individual is that the problems encountered at the moment are not attached to one individual but comprise a series of relationships affecting all levels of government and political life.
Any sustainable restoration of a democratic and transformative agenda requires systematically addressing the various points where the rule of law and clean government are being subverted. ●
S. Africa puts first new power station on line in 20 years
March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments
A power company by South African state-owned Eskom, in Witbank, South Africa, on February 5, 2015 (AFP Photo/M[/caption]
Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa put its first new power station in 20 years on line Monday as the country grapples with rolling electricity cuts that have hobbled growth in the continent’s second-largest economy.
The state-owned Eskom power company said electricity from the first unit at the coal-fired Medupi power station will pump 794 megawatts into the strained national grid when it gets up to full power in three months time.
Chief executive Tshediso Matona said the process marked “an exciting milestone towards full commercial power”.
The station is expected to have a total output of 4,764 megawatts once all six units are finished in 2017, but the project has been repeatedly delayed since construction began in 2007.
South Africa’s aging coal-fired plants struggle to provide the 30,000 megawatts of electricity consumed each day.
Power cuts have been blamed for hampering growth, which slowed to 1.5 percent last year, as manufacturing was hit by the outages.
“This will contribute significantly to South Africa’s and the region’s economy in the long run,” Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said in a statement.
South Africa’s Eskom, which accounts for 95 percent of electricity production, is looking at building 8 nuclear reactors worth up to $50 billion (45 billion euros) to add 9,600 megawatts of generating capacity.
S.Africa repatriates anti-apartheid heroes' remains from Russia
March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments
Johannesburg (AFP) – The remains of two prominent anti-apartheid activists who were among the mentors of Nelson Mandela were flown back home Sunday nearly 40 years after they died in Russia.[caption id="attachment_16775" align="alignleft" width="300"] ANC leader John Beaver Marks (C) in Johannesburg, South Africa, seen in this June 1952 photograph. The remains of Marks and Moses Kotane are flown back to South Africa nearly 40 years after they died in Russia (AFP Photo/)[/caption]
President Jacob Zuma led an official ceremony to receive the bodies of Moses Kotane and John Beaver Marks, whose bodies were exhumed from Russia’s prestigious Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow.
Kotane, ex-general secretary of the South African Communist Party and a former executive committee member of the African National Congress (ANC), was one of 156 defendants in the notorious 1956 treason trial.
The group, which included Mandela, was arrested in a raid and charged with treason by the apartheid regime. All the accused were found not guilty by the time the trial ended in 1961.
Kotane is credited with bringing the communists and the ANC together into an alliance that still remains solid. The two parties are part of a political tripartite alliance together with the labour federation, Cosatu.
“Our very own icon Nelson Mandela is a product of these two,” said Zuma. “They are the fathers of our revolution”.
Born in 1905, Kotane fled the country into exile to Tanzania in 1963 where he helped coordinate the setting up of the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe.
In 1968, Kotane suffered a stroke and was flown to Moscow for treatment where he died in 1978.
Kotane’s reburial on home soil will fulfil the wishes of his wife, Rebecca, who is 103 years old and wanted her husband back home while “I am still alive,” according to Zuma.
Zuma secured the repatriation from his counterpart Vladimir Putin during a visit to Russia last year.
“A valiant, courageous and stubborn fighter has fallen at his post, on the battlefield,” is how former ANC president Oliver Tambo described Kotane in a eulogy.
Fellow veteran activist Marks was banned from the country by the apartheid regime and sought asylum in Russia. He also died after suffering a stroke in Moscow in 1972.
South Africa’s Culture Minister Nathi Mthetwa said the two “giants in the struggle for the freedom of democracy” were at the “forefront of popularising the struggle” and made the 1994 democracy “breakthrough possible”.
They will be buried at state-assisted funerals later this month.
Last year the remains of prominent anti-apartheid journalist and writer, Nat Nakasa, were repatriated from the United States of America, nearly 50 years after he committed suicide while in exile.*Source AFP]]>
Foreign trader burned in S.Africa petrol bomb attack
February 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
Violence against foreign business owners in South African townships — many of them Somalis — has seen at least 80 shops looted in the past month, with more than 200 people arrested for theft and public violence (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]
Johannesburg (AFP) – A foreign shopkeeper was badly burned in a petrol bomb attack in South Africa’s Soweto township, police said Friday, in the latest outbreak of xenophobic violence which has killed at least six people.
Nine people have been arrested and charged with public violence and attempted murder over the attack on Thursday night, which came as local traders ordered foreigners to shut up shop.
“Foreigners were instructed to close their shops by a group of people driving in a convoy around the township,” said police spokesperson Kay Makhubela.
“They were not members of the community but business people from Soweto and Kagiso.”
The foreign shopkeeper, whose nationality was not revealed, was “seriously harmed” in the attack and was in a “critical but stable condition”, Makhubela said.
Violence against foreign business owners in South African townships — many of them Somalis — has seen at least 80 shops looted in the past month, with more than 200 people arrested for theft and public violence.
Police and local government authorities insist that the looting is not driven by xenophobia but is simply opportunistic criminal activity.
However, reports show that the only businesses being looted and business owners being attacked are foreign nationals.
Many South African owners of the small general stores common in South Africa’s townships complain that foreigners undercut prices and push locals out of business.
With poverty and unemployment widespread, frustration in Johannesburg’s run-down neighbourhoods often boils over into anti-immigrant violence.
The violence has been condemned by rights groups and politicians, with President Jacob Zuma urging the police to restore order.
But many foreign business owners have fled, leaving their shops standing empty.
Amin Ahme, 23, who worked at a shop in Soweto told AFP: “We can’t go back right now, because even yesterday they started looting other shops in a lot of locations, so we are still scared.”
In 2008, xenophobic violence and looting killed 62 people in Johannesburg townships.*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>
South Africa caught in US-Iran spy games
February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Leaked intelligence documents show that South Africa has found itself caught up in foreign spy games, coming under intense pressure from the US to act against Iran, amid Western fears that Iran wants to get hold of African uranium for its disputed nuclear programme.The South African cables, published by Al-Jazeera and London’s Guardian newspaper, suggest that intelligence officials had yielded to some of the pressure by going to extraordinary lengths to spy on Iranians, including its diplomats in Pretoria. The dossier includes details of alleged spies posing as journalists and shops selling Persian carpets being fronts for Iranian intelligence agents.
The leak – the biggest in South Africa’s history – is a massive security breach, embarrassing the African National Congress (ANC) government.On Wednesday, State Security Minister David Mahlobo ordered an investigation, saying it undermined national security. The leak shows that South Africa’s institutions, formed after white-minority rule ended in 1994, are not yet equipped to deal with international crises, infiltration or hacking by rival spy agencies or other groups. And why would South Africa, far removed from global stand-offs such US v Iran, find itself at the centre of the spy games? The answer lies somewhere between South Africa’s role as a regional powerhouse, its view of itself a global player and pressure from the US. Although keen to maintain close relations with the US, South Africa does not see Iran as a threat. It declines to hold the view that “My friend’s enemy is my enemy” and enjoys strong ties with Iran, signing a bilateral agreement to boost trade in 2013 But, as The Guardian noted, South Africa is unlikely to ignore pressure from the CIA, the world’s most powerful intelligence agency, the UK’s MI6 or Israel’s Mossad – all of whom spend considerable resources, the newspaper points out, focusing on Iran’s search for alternative sources of uranium in Africa because its own stocks are of poor quality or almost depleted. The constant US requests for South African state security agencies to spy on Iran have been overwhelming to say the least. The Guardian report states: “The South African Iran dossier, marked secret, is 128 pages long and provides biographical details about every suspected Iranian agent in South Africa. It lists their age, marital status, address, car registration, mobile phones, visits in the country and overseas, people they meet, their career before arriving in South Africa and their personal habits.” ‘Spirit of humanity’ National Intelligence Agency (NIA) spokesman Brian Dube told me that South Africa is a “member of the international community and cannot avoid getting involved in global matters”. “We can’t downplay our involvement in world affairs. For example, we are championing how the UN needs to be transformed. We are an active participant,” he said. One intelligence source told me that South Africa’s foreign policy, since the presidency of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, has been based on the African concept of Ubuntu, or the spirit of humanity. To this end, Mr Mandela ignored Western pressure in the 1990s to cut ties with then-Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and eventually brokered a deal between Libya and the UK over the Lockerbie bombing, in what was a major foreign policy success for South Africa. [caption id="attachment_16668" align="alignright" width="300"] President Jacob Zuma’s government is investigating the security breach[/caption] South Africa also helped bring warring parties from Northern Ireland to the negotiating table, and has been deeply involved in efforts to bring about reconciliation in Sri Lanka following the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebel group in 2009. On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, ANC leaders have organised various “bosberaads”, an Afrikaans word for meetings in the bush, between the two sides, hoping they will find each other just as black and white South Africans found each other to end centuries of minority rule. To understand South Africa’s foreign policy, one has to look at the ANC’s history as a liberation movement. It often punched above its weight, and globalised the anti-apartheid struggle by painstakingly building alliances in the West, what was then the Soviet bloc and the Middle East. This scandal is a double-edged sword for the South Africans. While the revelations have certainly caused deep embarrassment to the country’s spies, they also demonstrate that South Africa is taking its rightful place among the family of nations – not just when there are peace agreements to be signed but when there is dirty work to be done too. *Source BBC]]>