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

Violence on social media

The prevalence of Social Media has meant that ‘online violence’ has become an issue that needs to be grappled with.  Wits hosted a discussion to find a tactical way of handling and countering this.

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ONLINE VIOLENCE: Wits transformation manager Pura Mgolombane (right) opening the discussion on violence on online spaces and before introducing Nyx Mclean (middle) and Thoko-Jean Chilenga (left) as two of the speakers.

Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office hosted a discussion focusing on online spaces as platforms for ongoing violence yesterday afternoon.

It was necessary for a discussion about violence on social media because it is becoming a common problem at Wits, according to transformation manager Pura Mgolombane.

“Wits University is not sure how to deal with these kinds of situations.”

The discussion panel included Professor Tommaso Milani, Thoko-Jean Chilenga representing #TransformWits and Nyx McLean a co-editor of HOLAA.

The line between online violence and freedom of expression was discussed as Milani argued that “absolute freedom of speech doesn’t exist as there are laws that prevent it.”

Mgolombane explained that Wits encourages the Bill of Rights and its limitations on freedom of speech. “We cannot allow people of Wits to insult or discriminate, but we can do more to clarify the lines between free speech and violence,” said Mgolombane.

“People are scared of online spaces as it can fall over to private physical space,” said Chilenga.

According to Chilenga, who met with the Black Students Movement (BSM) from Rhodes University during the #RhodesMustFall protests earlier this year, when BSM posted on social media they received threats. “People should be held accountable for things they say and do online as much as you would want them to be held accountable in a physical space,” said Chilenga.

McLean argued that social media is not just a platform for resistance, but it is also for people looking for “affirmation of existence.”

“People do serious emotional psychological harm if someone attacks someone who can only use pages [social media] for interaction and support,” said Mclean. She continued explaining that people keep looking over their shoulder when receiving a threat as there is no way of knowing whether or not to take it seriously.

Mgolombane believes the problem won’t be necessarily solved by rules, but value systems that people ascribe to such as students and staff who take up the values of Wits when they join the university.

Watch full video recording of the violence on online spaces.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 20 May 2015

Wits takes sixth in varsity hockey

In the play-offs yesterday, Wits hockey lost to Pukke leaving themselves and the small audience disappointed. But the team was chuffed to take sixth place in the varsity hockey tournament.

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FIELD GOAL: Wits hockey’s bench watch the game in suspense as their teammates attempt to fend-off Pukke’s centre forward. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The Wits hockey team finished the varsity hockey tournament on a low yesterday when they lost round eight’s play-offs against Potchefstroom University (Pukke) 0-2 on the Wits astro turf.

The match started off badly for Wits after Pukke’s number 12, Stephanie Baxter scored a field goal within the first two minutes of the game.

The first three quarters of the game was intense and quick with a back and forth banter after Pukke’s first goal. But after Pukke scored their second goal in the beginning of the last quarter, Wits hopes seemed to have crumbled as their play started to slow down.

“We are a bit disappointed after this game, but we are happy with achieving sixth in the tournament, which was our goal,” said Wits’ captain Wendy Panaino.

Pukke went into the game with a great defensive tactics and put pressure on Wits’ weakness to convert opportunities. Wits’ centre forward struggled to keep the ball and execute goals.

Pukke hockey coach, Elun Hack believes his team’s defence was strong “but the offence let us down because they didn’t stay composed inside the 23.”

According to Wits hockey coach, Pietie Coetzee, her team’s energy was low and they didn’t accomplish what they planned for the game, but they exceeded everyone’s expectations in the tournament.

“Our weakness lies in that we are a young, inexperienced team, although there is unity and a fighting spirit amongst the girls,” said Coetzee.

Wits faced Pukke in round five last Friday and walked away with a 3-2 win. The tables turned yesterday and Pukke grabbed fifth place in the tournament.

Both teams saw the Varsity Hockey tournament as preparation for the University Sport South Africa National Institutional Hockey Championship end of June, which will be hosted in Pietermaritzburg by the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 12 May 2015

DA’s choice: Maimane

South Africa’s biggest opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA), gathered in Port Elizabeth today and elected a new party leader: Mmusi Maimane.

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The newly elected leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane. Photo: Provided

Maimane is the first elected black leader of the opposition party and also the youngest (aged 34) to hold the title.

Since DA leader of eight years, Helen Zille, announced that she would not be running for re-election in mid-April, candidates have scrambled to lock in support from their peers.

The DA’s elective conference opened with Maimane as the clear favourite to succeed Zille, but experience and knowledge of politics was on the side of his strongest opponent, Wilmot James.

James only joined the DA leadership in 2008 with no previous connection to the party or its ancestors. However, he was involved in the Black Consciousness Movement and the United Democratic Front before apartheid ended.  Since his involvement with the DA James shadowed several ministers, represented the party as a Member of Parliament and until now was its Federal Chairperson.

Maimane has as little as four years of formal political experience. He became noticed after the DA backed him as their mayoral candidate for Johannesburg in the 2011 Municipal elections. Although he didn’t become mayor, the DA appointed him as their lead representative in the Johannesburg City Council. November 2011 Maimane became the DA’s National Spokesperson and with the 2014 elections became the party’s official leader in the National Assembly.

Both candidates have worked their way up the party ladder quite quickly in the short time that they have been active members. Both have impressive educational backgrounds and both have served in important positions.

The two bulls stepped confidently into a televised debate Monday night, which political analysts have called a competition between merit and popularity. The debate demanded the candidates to convey their positions on sensitive topics, such as gay rights, religion and the death penalty.

These analysts believed that James won the debate because his debating skills were more impressive as he produced well formulated answers.  Maimane, on the other hand, used his charm and charismatic skills to win the audience over.

After the debate it seemed as if James headed in the bad-mouthing direction by telling The Star newspaper that he was presenting an alternative to the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party and Maimane was presenting a version of the ANC.  Following James’ comment, Maimane’s campaign manager, Geordin Hill-Lewis, re-informed the media of James’ past connection with the ANC.

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Mmusi Maimane dancing with outgoing DA leader of eight years, Helen Zille. Photo: Provided

 

The heated battle came to a halt when DA leaders made their votes early this morning. When the afternoon swung by outgoing leader Zille announced Maimane as the new leader.

No matter the banter that lead-up to the election, the party has spoken. Maimane is an intelligent man and popular with the people. Although apartheid ended more than 20 years ago, the majority of South Africans are continuously afraid that a white leader would bring back the oppressive system. If the leading opposition party is to stand a chance at taking national office, it had to get a black leader- no offense to Zille’s skills. Now that the DA has Maimane as its leader, the Municipal elections next year will prove intensely interesting. Will Maimane handle it?

Published: The News Hub on 10 May 2015

Clever boys end season with a win at home

Bidvest Wits come away with their second consecutive third place in the Absa Premiership. Although Wits let their guard down in the last game of the season, they came away with a win at home.

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HUMBLE WITS:Bidvest Wits squad posing for a photo with fans on the field after the game. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The Clever Boys slipped one goal past the Platinum Stars earlier today to finish third, one above Orlando Pirates, on the Absa Premiership table.

After taking to the field at the Bidvest stadium, the teams joined the crowd in a moment of silence for the victims of xenophobia.

The first half was very slow paced with Bidvest Wits holding the majority of the ball possession. The home team received many opportunities at goal but struggled to push it through.

After a number of attempts at goal,  Vincent Pule, in the number twelve jersey, sliced the ball past five Platinum Stars players to put Wits on the score board in the 30th minute.

In the last twenty minutes of the game play slowed as both teams seemed to have lost focus.

The ref gave an extra four minutes for injury time in which Hunt instructed his team to keep the ball and let the time run out. As time ran out Wits kicked the ball out of play and the final whistle blew.

“I’m happy we managed to get a point, but we just couldn’t convert chances,” said Bidvest Wits captain, Buhle Makwanazi.
“Platinum Stars have good individual players and are not an easy team to face … although we played well, we need to work on conversions,” said Makhwanazi.

Wits’ goal for the 2014/2015 premiership was to surpass last year’s third place season finish, according to coach Gavin Hunt. “We wanted to do better this year, but third is still fantastic,” Hunt said.

Compared to last season’s statistics, Bidvest Wits are down by three points and had one less win. Kaizer Chiefs won the premiership with Mamelodi Sundowns finishing in second.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 9 May 2015

Wits gymnasts aiming for gold

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Senior Wits gymnast Makgotso Tibane showed impressive structure and skills doing her first competition in rhythmic gymnastics in the hoops section.

The Wits Gymnastics club showed elegance and poise at the Gold Reef Rhythmic Gymnastics competition last Thursday afternoon on West Campus, Wits University.

Six of the club’s gymnasts participated in the competition in the balls and hoops sections. Even though the majority of the club are brand new to gymnastics, head coach of the Gold Reed Rhythmic club, Maureen van Rooyen believes “they will win USSA with a smile”.

“They are all starting out in rhythmic gymnastics and what they do, they do extremely well,” said Wits gymnastics coach Louise Brown.

There will be another competition in the coming weeks before the club sends its members to the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament taking place in Potchefstroom at the end of June.

Brown explains that these competitions before USSA will give the girls a better opportunity to polish their work and get a feel for what gymnastics competitions are really like.

“We have already practiced a lot and we have the best coaches, so I feel 70% confident that I will win USSA,” said mathematics honours student Vhuhwavho Matibe, who took first place for the balls section with an impressive 12.4 score.

Second-year LLB student and senior in the club, Makgotso Tibane, is positive that the club will do well at USSA, but hopes that after the tournament Wits Sport will take the club seriously.

“We have good abilities and everyone is committed. It would be nice to have some back-up from Wits Sport, because when we get medals, they take the credit,” said first-year BA General student Lihle Petros.

Although funding is a big problem for the club, Brown is more focused on taking on the challenges that the gymnasts are facing within the sport itself.

“Flexibility is the most challenging aspect for those starting a sport like this relatively late in life, but the girls are committed and enthusiastic,” said Brown.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 8 May 2015

LPL widening Wits’ bounderies

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NO BALLS: The Wits performance cricket squad watching their team mates bat from the Walter Milton oval’s balcony during the first innings of Tuesday night’s game against Lenasia Premier League All Stars.

The LPL All Stars hit Wits’ high performance cricket squad for six on Tuesday night at the Walter Milton oval with three overs to spare.

The Varsity Cricket preparatory tournament has lined-up Wits to play a five match series against the Lenasia Premier League (LPL) All Stars.

Their first match on Tuesday night gave us a taste of some of the skills and action we can expect from the rest of the series.

Wits made 146 for the loss of five wickets in their 20 overs. LPL chased down the score in just 17.4 overs with 7 wickets remaining.

LPL’s opening batsman, 22-year-old Yassar Cook, was batsman of the game with an undefeated 71 off just 51 balls. Cook’s fellow Gauteng squad teammate Nono Pongolo (25) was Wits’ top scorer and captain, who scored an unbeaten 43 runs off just 33 balls.

“The main focus for us with this tournament is to make sure that our youngsters who were chosen from the LPL tournament learn something and become better cricketers”, said LPL coach, Juan Le-Maitre.

To the Wits squad coach, Neil Levenson, a win was important, “but it’s more about the development of the squad and pushing the players a bit more.”

After playing the same team a few times they start to pick-up your tactics, which is the challenge of this tournament, according to Coach Le-Maitre.

“The Wits team has a good young side and we shouldn’t underestimate them”, said LPL captain, Juanré Potgieter. LPL’s weakness lies in that they can take the Wits squad for granted, because they have a better team with more provincial players, according to Potgieter.

Before the game Pongolo told his squad to learn as much as they can from the more experienced LPL team and enjoy the ride. “This is such a big occasion and as much as we want to win the tournament, our sole focus is to grow as a team.”

Despite the loss, the Wits squad keeps a professional mentality. “We’ve been working on T20 skills after the season break. We studied the opposing team’s player profiles and know the players well,” said Levenson.

With four games left to play in the tournament the final wicket hasn’t fallen yet and Wits still stands a chance at lifting the trophy.

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 24 April 2015

Facing the Raptors

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EMPTY BASKETS: Wits Buck Ladies getting advise and a pep-talk from their coach Manyani Maseko during half-time with a score of 28-6 for Soweto Raptors. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The Soweto Raptors shattered the Wits Buck Ladies basketball team on Tuesday night at Hall 29 with an 11-64 win.

Wits’ second division girls’ team walked on to the court to open the 11th Annual Ashraf Lodewyk Basketball Tournament and took on the provincial and national players that make up the Soweto Raptors.

The Buck Ladies stuck to a run-of-the-mill ‘man-on-man’ defence, which the experienced Raptors took advantage of by stealing a lot of turn-overs. Although the Buck Ladies carried less experience and skills in their team, they appeared to be fitter than the opposition.

“For a team filled with first-time players and first-years, who never played together before, I am very impressed,” said Wits Buck Ladies coach, Manyani Maseko.

The Raptors played a good zone defence set and showed commendable skills, but the consistency in their game seemed to be lacking.

“They applied pressure and up-tempo in spirit, but as substitutions went on the performance was not as intense,” said Raptors coach, Nthato Selebi.

The Raptors’ girls went into the game knowing they would win, but the score wasn’t the most important factor, according to their captain Charmaine Amada. “The score doesn’t matter. Without effort the game is pointless.”

The Buck Ladies were thrown into the deep end with having to play the Raptors for their first game, but took on this massive challenge with confidence- after the nerves settled.

Wits Buck Ladies captain, Nyasha Chakanetsa, said she wasn’t phased by the major score difference. “The tournament for us is to bond and learn to play as a team. My girls did brilliantly and fought till the end.”

Published: Wits Vuvuzela on 24 April 2015