Monthly Archives: March 2015

Yemen faces total collapse, warns UN rights chief

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Damage caused by fighting in Abyan Governorate, southern Yemen. Photo: OCHA/Eman (file)

The situation in Yemen is “fast-deteriorating” and those involved in conflict must do more to protect civilians as the country approaches “total collapse”, the UN’s human rights chief said Tuesday.

Amid attacks on hospitals and an airstrike at a refugee camp, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on “on all sides” to protect non-combatants and head for the negotiating table.

The development follows a Houthi rebel insurgency that has forced President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi from power in January and airstrikes led by a Saudi-led coalition force to restore the ousted leader.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Spokesperson for the UN human rights office Cecile Pouilly said that High Commissioner Zeid had been “shocked” by the deadly air strike at a refugee camp in northern Yemen.

In a statement, High Commissioner Zeid described the country as being on the “verge of total collapse”, before saying that the killing of so many innocent civilians is “simply unacceptable”.

Reports have varied on the number of victims from Monday’s attack Al-Mazraq camp, which Pouilly indicated was carried out by a Saudi-led coalition force.

In the last week alone UN spokesperson Pouilly said that “at least” 93 civilians had been killed in Yemen, while there had been airstrikes in Sa’da, Sanaa, and Hudayda.

Heavy fighting had also been reported in Aden in the south of the country, Pouilly said.

“Private homes, hospitals, education facilities, infrastructure in several locations have been destroyed…We again urge all sides to protect civilians from harm and to respect principles of proportionality distinction and precaution.”

There have also been reported attacks on three hospitals by an armoured division linked to Houthi rebels, causing an unknown number of casualties, according to the UN human rights office.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’14”

Vavi Dismissal – a Catalytic Moment in a Shifting Political Landscape [analysis]

On Monday night Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee voted to dismiss Zwelinzima Vavi. It had been a long time coming, and probably wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone. This is one of those moments where our politics enters once more the promise of possibility, a situation where almost anything can happen. It’s a catalytic moment on two fronts, both politically, and for workerboss relations.

The writing of Cosatu’s break-up has been on the wall for so long that we sometimes forget to be shocked. Monday night was one of those moments. As news brokewas leaked that Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee had voted to dismiss Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary, some would have been forgiven for not quite realising how important this move is. It cannot be underestimated, for the simple reason that there is now no going back. Short of boring drawn-out court proceedings (which would be a tactical error on Vavi’s part) it is surely now impossible for Vavi to return.

For over half of the time South Africans have been free, Vavi has been one of the biggest national figures. He’s been at the forefront of everything, from leading public sector strikes over wages, to…

Source : Daily Maverick

Ministers Assure President of Action

President Jacob Zuma has been assured by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko that they are attending to the matters relating to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks).

With regards to the Hawks, the Minister of Police has informed the President that he has to act on certain reports alleging wrongdoing on the part of some senior officials.

Minister Nhleko has assured the President that he would ensure that due process is followed when dealing with the matter.

The two Ministers have also assured the President that they are attending to the matters relating to the executive managers at the NPA and the issues that have played out in the public domain.

There have been allegations in the media that the President is not acting on a report by retired Judge Zak Yacoob. According to the Presidency, the President did not commission an investigation by Judge Yacoob and as such, he has not received the said report.

The matter relating to the inquiry into the fitness of the National Director for Public Prosecutions to hold office is also being attended to, the Presidency said.

“Government will ensure that confidence in the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster remains solid and that the Cluster continues with the critical task of fighting crime and corruption and ensuring the safety and security of the public,” the Presidency said on Tuesday.

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Jailbreak – Gumbura, 8 Others in the Dock

Jailed RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura allegedly told other inmates that they were foolish for not breaking windowpanes to escape in protest against poor food at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

This emerged in court yesterday where Gumbura, together with eight other prisoners, appeared facing several charges, including attempting to escape from prison.

The State contended that Gumbura’s utterances incited other inmates to go on a rampage two weeks ago, especially when he told them that in South Africa prisoners wouldn’t stand such a situation and would have escaped.

The State papers indicated that in the ensuing melee on March 13 as the prisoners attempted to escape, some of them were shot by the police Support Unit after they scaled the roof.

At least five of the prisoners succumbed to injuries sustained during the violence.

Gumbura was being charged together with armed robber Lucky Matambanadzo (39), Blessing Chauke (25), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Thulani Chizema (32), Jacob Sibanda (28) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38).

According to the indictment, the nine who are serving various sentences ranging from 12 to 40 years, are being charged with attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for allegedly maliciously damaging property.

They are facing an additional charge of incitement to assault or alternatively conspiracy to assault.

All the suspects were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before magistrate Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe.

According to the State, on February 13 in the morning in B Hall, Gumbura allegedly incited other inmates to protest over alleged infringement of their rights by the type of food they were being given in a bid to create chaos so that he and his accomplices could escape during the commotion.

“Gumbura told the inmates that Zimbabweans were foolish,” read the indictment papers. “(He told them that) if it was in South Africa, inmates would have protested and broken all prison windowpanes.

“He told the inmates to protest for better quality food by singing throughout the night. On the same day during the night, all inmates in B, C and D halls spent the whole night singing and hitting cell bars denouncing the type of food they were being served at the prison.”

Gumbura, who is the only suspect being represented by Mr Tapson Dzvetero, is accused of having created the ensuring chaos.

This month, with the intention to escape, Chiduke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha and Chizema allegedly gathered and addressed inmates in C hall and influenced them to refuse food on that day and protest over poor food quality.

It is alleged that at the same time Sibanda, Vhumbunu and the other three inmates who are now deceased were addressing inmates in D hall to do the same.

According to the allegations, their intention was to escape during the commotion.

At around 9am, the inmates refused to eat the porridge which had no sugar and demanded to see the officer-in-charge Chief Superintend Marange who then sent his deputy, Superintend Dumbura who addressed them.

At that time, the inmates pushed out the food containers which had been brought for lunch as they did not want to be addressed by Supt Dumbura.

Supt Dumbura left C hall and went to D hall where he ordered for food to be brought in so as to be served to those who wanted to eat.

Before the food was served, Titus Mandikodza, who is now late, went on top of the roof through a hole in the asbestos sheets which they had already drilled, the court heard.

At that moment, it is alleged, Vhumbunu and Sibanda took sadza and dried vegetables and threw it at Supt Dumbura and that is when violence erupted, with prisoners vandalising property whose value is estimated at $450 000.

It is the State’s case that the inmates attacked prison officers, seriously injuring three of them.

During the melee, they tried to escape, but their bid was foiled by the Support Unit that was called for reinforcements and fired shots at them.

The prisoners yesterday gave a chilling account of how they are being ill-treated by the prison guards after the incident.

Some of the suspects even went on to remove their shirts to show the court the degrees of their injuries, while some of them appeared in court with their hands in plasters.

They said prison guards on duty take turns to brutally assault them throughout the day.

Matambanadzo said: “Your Worship, sometimes we are not allowed to wear any clothes during the day and we sleep on the floor naked without blankets. Despite all these injuries we are denied medical attention.”

The inmates also complained that they were not allowed access to their lawyers and relatives.

Mr Chikwekwe took note of the complaints and ordered the prison authorities not to take the law into their own hands and allow due process to take its course.

He warned them that they may faced prosecution for allegedly violating the prisoner’s rights.

Six inmates challenged their placement on remand and the court is expected to rule on the application today.

The State was being represented by Mr Michael Reza assisted by Mr George Manokore, Mrs Leonella Chitanda-Matowa and Mrs Molly Mutamangira-Mavhondo and the proceedings were held under heavy security.

Promising Prospects for Algerian-South African Cooperation

Private discussions bringing together Tuesday, in Algiers, the Algerian ministers and their South African counterparts allowed identifying “promising prospects” for the Algerian-South African cooperation in several fields.

Organized on the sidelines of the 6th session of the Algerian-South African high cooperation bilateral commission, these talks brought together, on the Algerian side, Minister of Housing, Urban Planning and the City Abdelmadjid Teboune, Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technologies Zohra Derdouri, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Abdelwaheb Nouri and Minister of Industry and Mining Abdesselam Bouchouareb.

On the South-African side, Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana as well as Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans Sam Gulube took part in these talks.

At the end of his meeting with his South African counterpart, Bouchouareb welcomed the creation of an Algerian-South African committee aimed at encouraging the investments in the two countries.

For his part, Nouri said that the talks with his South African counterpart allowed agreeing on the revitalisation of three or four agreements signed between the two countries in the beginning of 2000, as part of the cooperation for food safety.

Minister of Housing, Urban Planning and the City Abdelmadjid Teboune dubbed “excellent” his discussions with his South African counterpart which focused particularly on the Algerian experience in the eradication of shanty towns.

The two countries are in favour of a partnership in the development of internet content by encouraging the creation of start-up likely to constitute a lever for the digitization in Algeria and South Africa, according to Derdouri.

Concerning cooperation in politics and defence, Foreign Affairs Minister Ramtane Lamamra affirmed that two countries, supported by common history and values, are working to further strengthen it.