Monthly Archives: May 2017

Aides of Ivory Coast Parliament Speaker Questioned About Arms Cache

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST � Authorities in Ivory Coast have questioned two senior military officers close to parliamentary speaker Guillaume Soro, one of his spokesmen said Wednesday, after an arms cache was found recently in the home of an aide.

The weapons were seized from a house in Bouake owned by Soro ally Souleymane Kamarate Kone � known locally as "Soul to Soul" � by mutinous soldiers during a four-day revolt over bonus payments.

Unrest within the ranks of the army this year has tarnished the image of the world's top cocoa grower, which has emerged from a 2011 civil war as one of Africa's fastest-growing economies.

Kone has been questioned twice by gendarmes accompanied by a prosecutor and was due to appear for a third session Wednesday, said Issa Doumbia, a member of Soro's communications staff.

Soro's head of security, Lieutenant Colonel Youssouf Ouattara � known as Kobo � and his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Adama Yeo, were questioned on Tuesday.

"They were questioned yesterday evening, first Kobo and [then] Yeo," Doumbia said. "For the moment we do not know what [authorities] want."

Reuters revealed last week that the mutineers were tipped off about the location of the arms in a phone call. The development shifted momentum in their favor and forced the government to capitulate to their demands.

The soldiers declined to say who had placed the call. But the discovery of the weapons at the home of Kone � Soro's director of protocol � has provoked a rift between the speaker's supporters and some other members of the ruling coalition.

Soro headed a northern rebellion between 2002 and 2011 that helped President Alassane Ouattara to power after his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to accept defeat in a 2010 election.

He is considered one of the main contenders to take over from Ouattara, who cannot run for re-election in 2020, but he faces strong opposition from others in the ruling coalition.

Soro has so far declined to comment on the weapons.

Diplomats and analysts worry that a series of army mutinies beginning in January, which have exposed a lack of civilian control over the armed forces, may be a symptom of jockeying for position by political figures ahead of the 2020 vote.

Source: Voice of America

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane: Valuing Water Regional Consultation workshop

Key note address for Minister Nomvula Mokonyane during the HLPW Valuing Water Initiative Regional Consultation Workshop during the High Level Panel discussion Different Policy Perspectives of Valuing Water

Esteemed Moderator,

Cabinet Ministers,

Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren, Chair of the Global Water Partnership Organisation

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary

Mr Zeph Ndlovu, President, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry and

Mr Mike Teke, President, South African Chamber of Mines

Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, Chief Executive-Water Research Commission

Ladies and gentlemen

Moderator, allow me at the onset to register my appreciation of this consultation that will change the narrative and the approach of the Water Sector Globally, as we all have an opportunity to engage and contribute our respective and very different policy perspectives on "valuing water", a subject that requires interactive political and national positions. I appreciate your consideration to seek political input and direction in this important that will give a policy perspective, including participation and engagements with, water expects, funders, investors, researchers, academics and industry in the category of bulk water users. I must also thank the Global Water Partnership (GWP) for partnering with the department to host this important consultation meeting.

It is therefore critical and important for the region to participate in this inclusive process in support of the eleven Head of States, Panel Members of the High Level Panel on Water, which presents a unique political opportunity to solicit buy in and express how such principles on Valuing Water could contribute positively to the respective regions and Member States management of this valuable resource. Our gathering here today creates a platform for the representatives of different governments and organizations to share national perspectives and positions on this important issue that talks to our different policy positions and legislative imperatives that should be considered in decision making on this critical topic on Valuing Water.

It is my submission that we engage honestly on these initiative, while raising awareness on harmful impacts of illegal usage of water and violation of laws, regulations and legislations to ensure that no one is left behind in the decisions that will come out of this process. I noted the activities that took place yesterday focussing on the regional consultations on the Global Water Partnership work and assessing the impact of the programmes in our region.

I must mention that having looked at the 12th Global Water partnership objectives that were set for the day one consultation process, I am very confident that if the world could deal with such matters in a responsible and considerate approach that ensures that we do not have events, and talk shows but intimate discussions that includes:

Report progress on governance and work programme implementation in the region,

Present the Change Agenda-Water, Jobs, Industrialisation & SDGs implementation,

Present and seek input in the Global Water Partnership Africa programme portfolio including climate resilience, SDGs, Water-Energy-Food nexus and integrated urban water change Agenda towards Water, Jobs, Industrialisation infrastructure development and SDGs as our main objective.

The HLPW Panel members have the same vision agreed to, and endorsed in the Action Plan, comprising of Panel Initiatives that includes Valuing Water, which is quite a highly political, socially charges, and economically inclined in nature. It is therefore important and imperative that we engage in this process in a manner that considers the different challenges that countries face that include,

Current levels of access to clean water the region,Current Value (Monitory) attached to water as a critical resource,

The Policy perspective in the region,Equity and User requirements,

Legislative imperatives and government obligations

These challenges will be the contributing and determining factors in deciding on the Principles of Valuing Water that we envisage at the end of the process

In my presentation of the Department's Budget Vote to Parliament last week, I emphasised on the importance and the links between our the National Development plan (NDP), the Constitution, African Union's Agenda 2063 and the United Nation's 2030 Agenda (SDGs) and our commitment to work with all Stakeholders at a Multi-lateral and Bi-lateral platforms to implement these visions adopted by our Head of States.

Engaging on this initiative is therefore critical as we have to find workable position within the region without compromising our policies where valuing water plays a prominent and important role on our service delivery obligations as our constitution stipulates that water is a human right, while in many countries water is a commodity paid for by all users, even if it is declared a human right. South Africa is one of the few countries that have imbedded the right to water in its Constitution. The right to clean water is therefore an obligation for government to ensure access at different levels of affordability and requirement that includes;

Indigent Communities, rural and informal settlements,

Metropolitan Municipalities

Industry, Mining and beverage companies

Agriculture other bulk water users.

The above impacts on the valuing water -Water pricing has become political. Failure of public provision results in high private cost. Businesses recognise the importance of pricing and want to see water priced for sustainability.

SA must ensure this issue is captured � the strong linkages between sustainable finance, governance and performance -as we have indigenous communities that rely on our scares water resources whether they can pay for clean water or not. Water Infrastructure is thus important as a solution, including the forging of partnerships such as the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN), a partnership forged with the aim of closing the water gap projected for South Africa between water demand and supply by 2030.

Water gaps can refer to both water quality and quantity, with water quantity being regional or seasonal. South Africa's Strategic Water Partnership Network (SWPN), which is a working model of Public-Private Partnership (Bulk water users from industry, infrastructure developers, water utilities and operators, technology providers, financiers and investors), and other stakeholders (civil society, international organizations, development agencies, and experts) was implemented in partnership with the Water Resource Group (WRG). We acknowledge and encourage the contributions of this partnership that ensure sustainability towards water security, and water resources management.

I therefore urge the participants to engage on the zero or draft document on Valuing Water Principles to ensure outcomes that will positively contribute to the work of our governments.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

National enquiry to fast-track land reform

Cape Town � Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete says Parliament will soon embark on a national land enquiry aimed at accelerating the slow pace of the land reform process.

The Speaker said this when she tabled Parliament's Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

She said out of the 50 debates that Parliament has held over the fifth term of Parliament, the land issue has been one of the most important topics in Parliamentary chambers.

According to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, government has restored nearly eight million hectares of land, which is 9.8% of the 82 million hectares of arable land in South Africa, the Speaker said.

Our people have long alerted us to their frustration on the matter of land reform and it is time that we listen to their voices. The most pressing of frustrations raised by our people is the slow pace of land reform and meeting targets for land redistribution, Mbete said.

The Speaker said more needs to be done to ensure that the country has a law that provides direction and gives teeth to the promise of equitable access to land.

Crucially, we must also repeal the 1975 law that prohibits sub-division of agricultural land, she said.

She said section 25 (9) of the Constitution requires Parliament to introduce a law that secures the tenure of those whose current insecurity arises from past racial discrimination.

Passing a law that adequately defends the tenure rights of rural people, who became victims of deals between greedy mining houses and some unscrupulous traditional leaders, thus becomes pressing, she said.

She said Parliament's urgent task is to stop the processes of dispossession by reviewing the laws and practices that enable them to happen.

To clarify and correct these and other weaknesses, as Parliament, we intend to embark on a major oversight process (land enquiry) on land to help accelerate the land reform process, Mbete said.

Speaker calls for separation of power doctrine to be observed

The Speaker said, meanwhile, that the principle of separation of powers recognises the functional independence of branches of government.

On the other hand, the principle of checks and balances focuses on the importance of ensuring that the constitutional order prevents the branches of government from usurping power from one another. In this sense, it anticipates and seeks to prevent the intrusion of one branch of government on the terrain of another, she said.

Citing a statement of the Constitutional Court in the 2006 case of the Doctors for Life International versus Speaker of the National Assembly and Others, Mbete said that the Constitutional Court stated as follows: The constitutional principle of separation of powers requires that other branches of government refrain from interfering in Parliamentary proceedings.

This principle is not simply an abstract notion. It is reflected in the very structure of government. The structure of the provisions entrusting and separating powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government reflects the concept of separation of powers.

Mbete said Members of Parliament have a responsibility to find solutions to the challenges facing all citizens.

But we have to do so in a manner that acts as an example to the people we represent. With structures such as the Rules Committee, Chief Whips Forum, and the Committee of Chairpersons, we are well placed to meaningfully resolve disagreements and effectively execute our mandate without inviting the courts to encroach on our constitutionally protected terrain.

Source: South African Government News Agency

UN Urges Algeria, Morocco to Release Trapped Syrian Refugees

RABAT, MOROCCO �Algeria and Morocco should to take action to assure safe passage to 41 Syrian refugees stranded along the border between both countries for weeks, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)said on Tuesday.

The Syrian refugees, including babies and a pregnant woman in need of medical care, have been stuck on the border since April 17, with Morocco and Algeria trading blame in what resulted in a diplomatic row last month.

The North African neighbors often exchange diplomatic barbs over their 1,500-km (970-mile) land frontier from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara Desert. It has been shut since 1994 because of disputes over security.

Last month, Morocco said the Syrians attempted to enter Morocco through the border town of Figuig, an area surrounded by mountains, between April 17 and 19. It accused Algeria of forcing them to cross into Morocco.

Algeria rejected the accusations, saying Moroccan officials had tried to dispatch a group of Syrians over the border from Morocco into Algeria.

"There is a sense of urgency in this matter and we call on both governments to take instant and constructive steps to uphold international humanitarian imperatives and evacuate this vulnerable group," the UNHCR said in a statement.

According to Human Rights Watch, the refugees arrived at the border after traveling through Libya and Sudan. The UNHCR said they are in dire circumstances, including exposure to snakes and scorpions in the remote area.

Last week, videos emerged on social media showing locals from Figuig demanding the Moroccan government allow the Syrian refugees in ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which began last weekend.

Some 5,000 Syrians have gone through a migration regulatory process in Morocco, with several hundred receiving refugee status, according to Morocco's ministry of foreign affairs.

Morocco and Algeria have had a contentious relationship since independence from France. Border disputes triggered an armed conflict in the 1960s known as the "Sand War".

One of their biggest disputes has been over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, most of which Morocco claimed in 1975.

Algeria supports and hosts the Western Saharan independence movement Polisario, a stance that angers Morocco.

Source: Voice of America

Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete addresses emerging farmers in Thembalethu

The Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation today met with a group of emerging farmers in Thembalethu George to listen to their water challenges. Today's engagement formed part of the post budget vote engagements.These farmers, under the Thembalethu Fa...