Category Archives: Key Issues

Hawks nab notorious syndicate

The Hawks have arrested five suspects who are members of a notorious syndicate as they were allegedly en route to poach wildlife.The syndicate comprising of individuals aged between 35 and 41 from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were arrested in ...

State Department Terrorist Designations of Tony-Lee Thulsie and Brandon-Lee Thulsie

The Department of State has designated Tony-Lee Thulsie and Brandon-Lee Thulsie as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. E.O. 13224 imposes strict sanctions on foreign persons determined to h...

Botswana Seeks Option to Buy Unusually Big Diamonds From Its Mines

GABORONE � Botswana is amending its law to give the government the first option to buy diamonds that are unusually large or have other unusual features found in its mines, such as the world's second-biggest 1,109 carat diamond discovered two years ago.

The cornerstone of Botswana's success has been one commodity, diamonds, coupled with a rigid adherence to prudent use of revenues, a rarity on a continent where natural riches are routinely squandered or stolen, or the cause of civil war.

A draft bill amending the Precious and Semi-Precious Stones Act says any producer coming into possession of what it terms an unusual rough or uncut diamond shall notify the minister within 30 days after which government shall have the first option to buy the stone.

The bill did not give a precise definition of unusual.

But an official told a local newspaper that it referred to stones that were unusually large, were particularly clear or had an unusual colour.

Moses Tshetlhane, chief minerals officer in the Mineral Resources Minister, told Mmegi Newspaper the amendment was motivated by the recovery of Lesedi La Rona, or Our Light, the largest diamond uncovered in over a century.

The price to be paid by government for a rough or uncut precious stone offered for sale by the producer shall be agreed between the parties in accordance with the current market price of the rough or uncut precious stone, the bill says.

The tennis ball-sized stone was found in November 2015 at Lucara Diamond Corp's mine in Botswana and is yet to find a buyer after it failed to sell at Sotheby's auction house in June 2016.

These outliers carry special features and any producer would celebrate such or even have them in museums as national treasures. So it is not unusual for governments to have options in such unusual diamonds, Tshetlhane said.

Lucara also unearthed another 812.77 carat stone, The Constellation, at the same mine, which fetched $63 million at an auction in 2016.

Source: Voice of America

Kenya’s Opposition Urges Reform of Electoral Commission

NAIROBI, KENYA � Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga Sunday said the coalition he leads will hold nationwide campaigns to urge reforms of the electoral commission before the fresh presidential elections next month.

Odinga has maintained that the electoral commission must be reformed or he will not participate in the new election ordered by the Supreme Court when it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election in August. One of the reforms he wants is the removal of a dozen top officials he accuses of electoral fraud. The electoral commission has set Oct 17 for the repeat election.

Those who perpetrated illegalities and irregularities in the nullified election remain in place, "claiming readiness to conduct another election," Odinga told thousands of supporters at a rally.

"We are ready to go for elections, even tomorrow, but we will not go to elections with a compromised electoral commission," Odinga said. Odinga accused the electoral commission of working with Kenyatta's Jubilee party to rig the elections.

"IEBC (the electoral commission) and Jubilee are partners in crime," said Odinga. "The two need each other. If Jubilee is in power, it will protect the co-conspirators and fraudsters in IEBC. Those IEBC officials have every reason to protect Jubilee as their only source of protection."

Kenyatta has said the electoral commission should not be changed and he even warned the judiciary from interfering.

Other changes that Odinga wants include disqualifying a French firm, OT-Morpho, from supplying equipment to transmit results, claiming that only two of more than 40,000 kits were used to transmit the nullified election results and that staff from the company may be complicit in electoral fraud.

Odinga also said the Al Ghurair printing firm should be blacklisted from supplying ballot papers because the Supreme Court found that some of the forms it printed that were used to transmit presidential results lacked security features such as serial numbers and water marks which were meant to prevent rigging.

Odinga has complained about the electoral commission for some time. In May 2016 he led protests calling for the removal of top officials of the electoral commission who oversaw the 2013 elections, which Odinga lost to Kenyatta and the Supreme Court upheld the results. At least five people were killed in those protests after police responded with live ammunition. Those electoral commissioners were eventually removed by parliament and replaced with the current officials.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE CALLS FOR PROBE INTO TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE PURCHASE

CAPE TOWN, -- Members of the South African Parliament's Committee on Trade and Industry have called for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the local content in the locomotive procurement contract of Transnet, a State-owned rail, port and pipeline company.The...