Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir hides behind the AU’s skirt

Wanted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, charged with war crimes has been avoiding arrest for the last six year. He has received protection from various of his AU friends and this past week was no different.

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WANTED: 71-year-old Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Photo: Provided

With war crime charges and a number of genocide counts against him, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir fled from South Africa as its government turned a blind eye.

As the host of the 25th African Union Summit, South Africa made themselves ready to receive 54 state leaders last weekend. Amongst these leaders was al-Bashir, who evidently has had two warrants out for his arrest since 2009. The International Criminal Court (ICC) alleged that al-Bashir committed war crimes against Darfur, leaving 300 000 people dead and over 2.5 million displaced. As South Africa is a signatory of the ICC, the government was called upon to meet their obligations in arresting Sudan’s president with his entering the country. The African National Congress (ANC) manoeuvred a gazette in which the AU meeting attendees were granted immunity- more specifically al-Bashir. Al-Bashir was given the freedom by South African government to roam in the country with an alleged promise from President Jacob Zuma that he would not be arrested by South African police. The wanted president attended the summit on Sunday in Sandton, Johannesburg.

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AU DISOBEDIENCE: 25th AU summit host, South African president Jacob Zuma (left) sitting next to the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir who has had two warrants out for his arrest since 2009. Photo: Provided

During the summit African states, including South Africa, accused the ICC of only targeting African political leaders, while disregarding the crimes committed by leaders of the Middle-East. The ANC called for a review of the ICC as it “is no longer useful for the purpose for which it was intended.” According to the African News Agency Zimbabwean president and AU chairman, Robert Mugabe said “[t]his is not the headquarters of the ICC; we don’t want it in this region at all,” after the Summit on Sunday night.

The ICC responded to the accusations, denying any discrimination arguing that most cases are brought to the ICC by African countries.

After not meeting their obligation to arrest al-Shabir, the human rights promoter, Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), filed an urgent application at the Pretoria High Court against the government to overturn its immunity grant decision. Judge Hans Fabricuis issued an interim order to prevent the accused president from leaving the country. Fabricuis urged the South African government on Monday to use all its power to keep al-Bashir in the country until the SALC’s application was heard. Fabricuis said if he left the country, South Africa’s international reputation will be at stake.

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CAUGHT FLEEING: President al-Bashir’s plane as it took-off from Waterkloof Airforce Base on Monday afternoon. Photo: Alet Pretorius.

As the court was in session the charged president’s plane took off from Waterkloof Airforce Base outside Pretoria. Questions linger whether the South African government had a hand in al-Bashir’s escape as no one can land or depart from the base without the authorities’ permission. After Al-Bashir’s mysterious departure Judge President Dustan Mlambo ordered government to file an affidavit to explain how and when the Sudanese president left the country. Advocate for the state, William Mokhari said al-Bashir’s name was not on the passenger list and further conveyed that State Security Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, said “the circumstances of departure will be fully investigated.”

Since al-Bashir’s illegal departure from South Africa to Khartoum, Sudan on Monday a formal application of non-compliance was issued against South African government for failing to keep al-Bashir in the country with the intent to report the matter to the UN Security Council. Meanwhile South Africans take to social media to question the decisions of their leadership as South Africa’s written word is questioned internationally.

Published: The News Hub on 18 June 2015

Gymnastics club and Wits Sport tussle

Wits Gymnastics may not be attending the USSA tournament over a demand for a fee of R1500 per gymnast by Wits Sport. Wits Sport has argued the club hasn’t done its part in fundraising and must now step up to the plate.

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HOOLA HOOPING:Senior Wits gymnast Makgotso Tibane showed impressive structure and skills doing her first competition in rhythmic gymnastics in the hoops section early May. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

Wits Gymnastics athletes were left disappointed when they learned will not receive funding from Wits Sport to attend the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament this June.

Wits head of sport, Adrian Carter, notified the club’s co-chairperson, Nonkululeko Mdluli earlier this week that the club has not met funding requirements to attend the USSA Gymnastics tournament end of June in Potchefstroom unless each competing member coughed up R1 500. The athletes were only given three days to raise the money.

“We understand that there isn’t a lot of money and that we need to make a contribution, but three days is too short notice for students to pay such a large amount,” said Mdluli.

Carter said the gymnastics club knew since the end of February when they handed in their USSA budget, allegedly late, indicating the direct cost of R2 275 per student, of which each student would contribute R898. “They haven’t paid in their contribution nor did they meet the required fundraising amount,” said Carter.

Mdluli sent an official response on behalf of the club to Carter’s request, stating they have raised R25 656 from registration fees, a welcome braai and yet to be sold T-shirts. According to the response, over a 100 members registration fees brought the club R24 561. However, Carter said it would be unfair to allow the 14 gymnasts who qualified for USSA to use funds intended to benefit the entire club.

The gymnastics club’s USSA budget was R44 400, the club has R54 000 in their reserve account. According to Carter the money budgeted for transport is insufficient and the actual total cost to send 14 gymnasts to USSA would be more than R50 000.00.

“I’m trying to be fair as possible, but I’m not going to give this club R50 000 and leave less than R4 000 in the reserve for next year’s group to struggle,” said Carter.

Mdluli further protested that they were “thrown in the deep end” with Carter’s new financial system and there was no training from Wits Sport on how to approach businesses for sponsorship or how to draft a sponsorship proposal.

But Carter said Wits Gymnastics could have come to him for help at any time.

“Any club could’ve come to me earlier in the year to ask for help with sponsorship issues. Some took the initiative, but the gymnastics club didn’t,” said Carter.

Wits Gymnastics club is now facing cutting the list of members going to USSA or staying home altogether. Carter and the Gymnastics Committee are meeting next week once more to try and find a solution for the club to go to Potchefstroom in just two weeks’ time.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 13 June 2015

 

Zuma’s shady pardoning of Nkandla scandal

South African president’s scandalous R215 million home built with tax-payers’ money, was written off by Minister of Police as necessary for the security of the president and his family.

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President Jacob Zuma’s R215 million Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Provided

A second report on South African president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead was released last week by Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, which created an outcry of disappointment and embarrassment from the public.

Nhleko’s controversial report argues that all the features of Nkandla serve “clear” and ‘important” security tenacities. Nhleko concluded in his 50-page report that Zuma has no obligation to pay back any money for non-security features, as there are none.

Nhleko and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi even argued that more money should be spent to upgrade the president’s private rural homestead.

The first Nkandla report made by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was released in March 2014, which found that Zuma made unnecessary upgrades to Nkandla, costing tax-payers R215 million.

Madonsela concluded that Zuma has to “pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures as determined with the assistance of the National Treasury.”

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Minister of Polics, Nathi Nhleko trying to reason for his Nkandla report pardoning Zuma of paying back money.

Some non-security related features of Nkandla (a fire pool, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, chicken coup and a visitors’ centre) were described as unjustifiably benefitting the president and his family by Madonsela and it is these costs that should be repaid. The fire pool itself cost R3.9 million, but was justified as a security feature by Nhleko to help with fires.

After Madonsela’s report the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party used its dominance in parliament November 2014 to adopt a report which would clear Zuma of any misconduct.

The committee, which was made up of only ANC MPs shoved the blame of Nkandla on the architect, Minenhle Makhanya. The committee then took Makhanya to court to recover the costs.

Opposition parties have ignored the committee’s findings and called Nhleko’s report as “whitewash” and “insult” to South African citizens.

Madonsela argues that Nhleko’s report is full of “misstatements, inaccuracies, incomplete information, innuendos and false accusations.” She contests that the statement that no public money was used to fund Nkandla couldn’t be further from the truth.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu released a statement in which he conveyed his unhappiness about the report. The archbishop said public representatives have humiliated South Africans and Zuma laughed at those trying to hold him accountable for spending tax-payers’ money on Nkandla.

Various civil society organisations, opposition parties and the public protector are looking in to taking the case to court. It is evident that the Nkandla saga is far from over.

Published:  The News Hub 1 June 2015