South African authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Grace Mugabe, wife of deposed Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, over the alleged assault of a South African model in August 2017.The arrest warrant was issued last Thursday, South African Police Services spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told CNN on Wednesday.”
I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday,” Naidoo said, adding that police were seeking Interpol’s help to enforce it. However there are doubts over whether Zimbabwean police would arrest Grace Mugabe, even if Interpol did issue a red notice.”We are not yet aware of the warrant,” Zimbabwean police spokesperson Paul Nyathi told CNN. “We will see when we cross that bridge.”
Model Gabriella Engels, seen here shortly after the alleged attack. South African model Gabriella Engels accused Grace Mugabe of attacking her in August 2017. Engels said on Twitter that the former Zimbabwe first lady “split my head open in 3 places. With an extension cord and plug to hit me.”
Latest blow for former first lady
Grace Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity over the incident by South Africa’s former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, allowing her to leave the country. However in July 2018 a South African High Court overturned the decision, paving the way for prosecution and possible extradition.The latest developments are another blow to Grace Mugabe, who was reportedly being lined up to replace her husband Robert as Zimbabwean leader before he was forced to resign in November 2017.
The former revolutionary leader ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years before leaving office after an apparent coup staged by the country’s military.At the time an army spokesman denied a military takeover was underway but the situation bore all the hallmarks of a coup: The military was in control of state TV in Harare, a significant army presence was at the city’s international airport, and Mugabe was not seen in public.President Emmerson Mnangagwa now rules Zimbabwe following disputed elections on July 30.
Brent Swails reported from Johannesburg. Jack Guy wrote in London.
South Africa often feels two different countries chaffing up against each other—one for the rich and one for the poor. This separation was legislated under apartheid, but post-apartheid South Africa has struggled to bridge the divide.
Today, the disparity in education, skills and income continues. Two recently released World Bank reports further show that the gap is not only widening, it is intergenerational. The circumstances that exacerbate South Africa’s inequality are both historical and a result of years of policy uncertainty, making it harder for ordinary South Africans to claw their way out of poverty.
More than half of the population already lives in poverty, and a further 27% of the population live in a state of susceptibility to poverty. These 27% are referred to as the transient poor by the World Bank in it’s report “Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa.” On the other hand 20% of the country can be considered middle class, while only 4% of the country is considered elite. In comparison, Mauritius’ middle class is nearly 80% of the population.
South Africans in the top-earning income bracket earn nearly five times more than the average low skilled jobs, according to the report. That disparity creates a gulf of two economies in one country, where top earners’ wages are comparable to developed countries, while wages on the lower scale are akin to those in impoverished countries. Much of that gulf is due to differences in education levels.
The middle class has particularly suffered from South African economy’s inability to create new jobs. To achieve a significant reduction in the country’s unemployment rate, the World Bank estimates 600,000 jobs would need to be created every year. The economy is producing half that number. Most of the new jobs are in the services sector, while low-skill agriculture and manufacturing jobs are on the decline. Unemployment disproportionally affects black South Africans, perpetuating apartheid’s inequality.
When identifying who “the poor” are, the profile has remained the same before and after apartheid. Two fifths of sons born to very poor fathers will never get out of the the bottom 40% of the next generation’s income distribution, according to World Bank’s South Africa Economy Update (pdf). The chances of a boy born into the bottom 20% of the income distribution even reaching the top 20% for one year are slim, at just over 16.2%. Nearly 43% of boys born into the top 20% reach those heights.
Post-apartheid economic policies have been unable to find a balance between job creation and economic growth. During the Mandela years, the country tried the Reconstruction and Development Program, which focused on social security but the program was costly and was not able to broaden the tax base. Then there was Growth, Employment and Redistribution, which tried to stimulate growth and reduce inflation and the deficit, but failed to create many jobs. It unsuccessfully depended on a trickle-down effect to grow the middle class.
These policy decisions have created so-called missing middle in various sectors of society who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied. It is glaring in South Africa’s higher education. Categorized as households who earn less than 600,000 rand per year ($47,800), the students who make up the missing middle don’t qualify for national assistance, but they simply can’t afford to pay tuition.
They made up the thousands of young people who created the#FeesMustFall movement, and they are overwhelmingly black. Only 5% of black students are likely to graduate, compared to 15% in 1975. In contrast, the number of white graduates had increased slightly during the same period.
While the reports show inequality is most pronounced in the labor market—through income, education and, skills—it is impossible to remove contemporary circumstances from the country’s history. Inequality and its effects still disproportionately affect black South Africans, especially women. While some previously disenfranchised may have escaped poverty, the country’s inability create jobs and find a sustainable solution means the ranks of the impoverished are swelling far faster than those able to climb out.
Looking down the barrel of a chrome hand gun, 357 magnum revolver.
A policeman who killed his ex-girlfriend when she yelled at him for cheating and making “the other woman” pregnant, will be sentenced next week.
State advocate Gugu Shange on Thursday argued in the Pietermaritzburg high court that Constable Vuyani Brian Welcome should be given a higher sentence than the prescribed minimum of 15 years, which is applicable in the matter as the murder was not planned or premeditated. She said that as a policeman, his job was to protect, not kill.
Welcome has explained in a guilty plea how he killed Zanele Sibiya, who was also a police officer, on August 19 last year in Estcourt.
He said he was involved with two women, neither of whom knew he was cheating on them. In February 2017, Sibiya fell pregnant, but later had a miscarriage.
The next month, his other girlfriend fell pregnant. In August Sibiya found out about the other woman. She was furious, so he dumped her.
The fatal confrontation happened when she came to meet him at a bar. He got into her car.
“The conversation between us started off politely but soon became very uncomfortable. She brought up the fact that she had lost our baby and now another woman was pregnant with my child. She was very angry and began screaming at me, indicating that I am a terrible person who used her. I tried defending my actions but she was not prepared to listen. She continued shouting until I reached a point when I could no longer take it.”
Welcome drew his firearm and shot Sibiya once in the head. He said when he realised she was dead, he began to panic. He drove the vehicle to a nearby embankment where he abandoned it. He then got a lift to the bar and picked up his car. He was arrested later that day.
His attorney, Lauren Marais, said his sentence should be less than 15 years because he had a clean record, admitted guilt and the murder happened on the spur of the moment.
The parents of education expert Professor Graeme Bloch have been found tied up and murdered in their Cape Town home on Saturday.
Rosalie Bloch, 84 and Aubrey Jackson, 94, were discovered at about 09:00 by a relative who went to fetch them.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said the provincial detectives were investigating a case of murder and house robbery following the incident.
No arrests have been made.
The ANC expressed its shock and sadness at the “brutal, callous and cold-blooded killing” of Bloch’s parents. Bloch is married to former politician Cheryl Carolus.
“We strongly condemn the cowardly act visited on the defenceless and elderly. It is disheartening to note that we still have amongst us, those who are determined to trample on other people’s right to live driven by selfish and cruel intentions,” ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.
He urged law enforcement agencies to work hard in their quest to ensure that the couple’s murderers were caught and that they face the full might of the law.
Mabe also called on all South Africans to act in concert to ensure that criminals had nowhere to hide.
“We express our sincere condolences to comrades Graeme Bloch, his wife and fellow activist comrade Cheryl Carolus and the Bloch family on their untimely loss.
“The ANC wishes Rosalie Bloch and Aubrey Jackson eternal peace,” he said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has released statistics on farm attacks and murders dating back to 2012. (GCIS)
Police Minister Bheki Cele has released statistics on farm attacks and murders dating back to 2012, which show that while attacks have increased, the number of murders reported have decreased year-on-year.
In a written response to a parliamentary question from the Freedom Front Plus’ Pieter Groenewald, Cele and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole provided a breakdown of farm attack statistics dating back to the 2012/13 financial year.
It was not clear from the response, however, what criteria were used to qualify an incident as a farm attack.
“The last time that these statistics were disclosed was in 2007,” said Groenewald in a statement on Saturday.
The figures show that over the last six years, since 2012, there were a total of 3 059 attacks reported to police, averaging 510 attacks a year in which 338 people – roughly 56 a year – were killed.
The figures showed that over the six-year period, the North West province had the highest number of attacks at 722, followed by Gauteng with 644.
Gauteng had the highest number of farm murders, with 69 murders recorded of the period.
For the 2017/2018 period, 581 incidents were recorded with 47 murders, compared to the 478 incidents between April 2016 and March 2017 where 66 murders were recorded.
The highest number of attacks in the last financial year were recorded in Gauteng (152), followed by the North West (94).
In the same financial year, the North West had the highest number of murders recorded (12) followed by Gauteng (9) then Limpopo and Free State (7 respectively).
“If these figures are compared to other available sources, then they seem to be fairly reliable. It is regrettable that these statistics were swept under the rug under the administration of former president Jacob Zuma,” said Groenewald.
Groenewald said the statistics would help the relevant role players to take meaningful action and implement preventative measures.
“In the interim, the FF Plus will continue with its action plan to inform the international community of the exploits and particularly the cruelty of murders in South Africa by actively liaising with, amongst others, the European Parliament and governments as well as the United Nations (UN) through the FF Plus’ UNPO membership,” he said.
Four robbers, who stole a car in Cape Town on Sunday morning, drove straight to Pollsmoor Prison in an attempt to flee from police.
Cape Town law enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said the four men allegedly stole the car in the Hout Bay area.
“They were then chased by police and drove straight to the West Lake entrance of the prison, which is used for visitors and the prison wardens who live on the property. They got out and ran into the grounds of the prison where they were arrested,” Dyason said.
He said when they were searched at the police station, it was found that they roughly had 35 cases of murder, attempted murder, theft and possession of illegal firearms pending against them.
In a separate incident, five suspects were arrested in Muizenberg and Steenberg on Saturday for possession of mandrax. Dyason said the suspects allegedly tried to bribe officers in a bid to avoid prosecution.
Two other suspects were arrested after the car they were travelling in was pulled over by police and were found in possession of a replica firearm, a crowbar, knives and the City of Cape Town marked overalls.
“These are the hallmark tools of the notorious crowbar gangs.”
They were charged with possession of a replica firearm, possession of house breaking implements and possession of presumed stolen property.
One suspect was also wanted on a 2014 Khayelitsha case for arms and ammunition.
File: Police said two vehicles were burnt by unknown suspects in two separate incidents in the North West. Photo: WERNER BEUKES
RUSTENBURG – A Nigerian national has been burnt to death in Rustenburg but North West police don’t believe the incident is related to violent protests in the area this week, according to media reports on Sunday.
Two vehicles were set alight in two separate incidents by a group of unknown people.
No one had been arrested and police were investigating, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported police spokesperson Ofentse Mokgadi as having said.
“We can confirm that in two separate incidents, two vehicles were burnt by unknown suspects. In one of the incidents, a man sustained serious burn wound injuries after being set alight. He later died in hospital.
“At this stage amotive is unknown and police are still investigating,” the broadcaster added.
King Mswati III declares name change 50 years after independence from British rule
Agence France-Presse in Mbabane
The king of Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has announced that his country has changed its name to the Kingdom of eSwatini to mark 50 years since independence from British rule.
Meaning “place of the Swazi”, eSwatini is the Swazi language name for the tiny state landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique. Unlike some countries, Swaziland did not change its name when it gained independence in 1968 after being a British protectorate for more than 60 years.
King Mswati III declared the name change during independence day celebrations at a packed sports stadium in the second city of Manzini. “I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name,” he said, wearing red military uniform.
“African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonised. So from now on, the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.”
The name Swaziland angers some citizens as it is a mix of Swazi and English.
The move had been mooted for years, with lawmakers considering the issue in 2015. The king had used the new name in previous official speeches.
Mswati, who was crowned in 1986 aged 18, rules by decree. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and only candidates approved by chiefs loyal to the king can stand for office. The country has a population of about 1.3 million people.
The name change could mean the country’s constitution is rewritten, as well as changes for the royal Swaziland police force, the Swaziland defence force and the University of Swaziland.
After independence, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Nyasaland became Malawi, and Bechuanaland became Botswana.
Igo Mpambani was shot dead in broad daylight in Sandton. (Michael Butler, Sandton Chronicle) (Michael Butler, Sandton Chronicle)
A businessman who was gunned down in an apparent hit in Sandton last year can be linked to a questionable R255m “asbestos auditing” contract from the Free State department of human settlements.
Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani, then 37, was shot dead in broad daylight in June as he was driving down Sandton’s Bowling Avenue in a Bentley worth about R3m.
Police at the time confirmed that the shooter or shooters did not take any money from the scene, despite the fact that Mpambani had drawn cash from a nearby ATM before his death.
News24 has now established that Mpambani was one of the main beneficiaries of a controversial contract to “audit” and “assess” houses with asbestos roofs in the Free State.
According to documents from the provincial department of human settlements, a joint venture between Gauteng-based engineering consultancy firm Blackhead Consulting and Mpambani’s company, Diamond Hill Trading 71, scored a R255m contract in 2014 for the “audit and assessment of asbestos housing units”.
Further records from the provincial human settlements department show that the department paid the joint venture R230m in ten tranches between the end of 2014 and August 2016.
The body of Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani next to the Bentley he was driving when he was shot. (Michael Butler, Sandton Chronicle)
Blackhead Consulting, led by businessman Edwin Sodi, took Diamond Hill to court in October last year in connection with a final payment of R77.5m made by the Human Settlements Department to the joint venture in late 2016.
The executor of Mpambani’s estate and FNB, with which the joint venture opened a bank account for the asbestos auditing project, are also cited as respondents.
In his affidavit, Sodi claims that the joint venture agreement between Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill stipulated that the two companies were to share the proceeds of the project on an equal basis.
However, instead of dividing the final payment of R77.5m between the two companies, Mpambani allegedly paid the entire amount into his own account, according to the court papers.
In his founding affidavit, Sodi also claims that he tried to convince Mpambani to pay Blackhead the 50% cut of the R77.5m payment from the department of human settlements, but that these efforts were in vain.
“Mpambani did not agree with either of these options but did not provide reasons for this. In response to my querying the whereabouts of the funds he informed me in vague terms that the funds were ‘safe’ and provided no further detail,” reads Sodi’s affidavit.
Sodi’s lawyer, Sven Laurencik, says Sodi denies having any knowledge of the circumstances around Mpambani’s death.
The contract in question has received criticism from the DA in the Free State. The party in 2015 unsuccessfully brought an urgent court application against the provincial human settlements department in order to halt any further payments to Blackhead. It was not known at the time that Blackhead was in fact working in a joint venture with Diamond Hill.
Sources familiar with the matter claim that the human settlements department has not received any value for money for the R230m paid to the joint venture.
Asked to provide records of the work supposedly done by the joint venture, Sodi’s lawyer responded: “Unfortunately, the information that you have requested constitutes intellectual property owned by the department and accordingly, it would be inappropriate for Blackhead to provide you with this information. Naturally, the department would be best placed to disclose this information to you.”
The department, however, also refused to provide News24 with any records or documents detailing work done on the asbestos auditing project.
News24 was also able to establish that the joint venture has no valid VAT number, as would be required by law, and that the Blackhead-Diamond Hill joint venture submitted invoices to the Free State human settlements department that do not contain a VAT number or a company registration number.
The contract was also awarded without following an open tender process.
No arrests for murder
The department did not respond to detailed queries relating to the contract, based on its assertion that News24 first needed to provide it with the documents we had obtained.
The department also insisted that we needed to obtain its records through the Promotion of Access to Information Act before it could address queries relating to the contract.
“You were requested to provide the department with copies of the documents in your possession in order to consider replies to your questions. The department cannot rely on your assessment of the authenticity and your interpretation of what you may have,” the department’s spokesperson, Senne Bogatsu, said in an email.
“You have been previously advised to follow the procedures as prescribed by the Promotion of Access to Information Act when requesting information, which you have again failed to comply with,” maintained Bogatsu.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said that there had been no arrests in connection with Mpambani’s death.
Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, Britain needs to forge new and strong strategic alliances and trade relationships. Where and how does Africa feature in this equation?
Despite significant challenges, both Britain and Africa could emerge as winners from a rapidly shifting and uncertain global landscape. Smart policies and diplomacy could allow Britain to capitalise on the indifferent economic attitude the rest of the Western world has towards Africa. And African countries with strategic clout and collective bargaining acumen could broker favourable trade and investment deals rather than have terms dictated to them, as has been in the past.
First, to offset the detrimental effect of a split from Europe, Britain needs to look to alternative trading partners to catalyse its economy. Using foreign policy as an economic stimulus is vital in achieving this, and Africa is appealing in this regard. For British businesses, Africa’s high growth rates, urbanising population and growing consumer market provide a marketplace for British goods and services.
For Africa, the nature and scale of its development challenges, combined with its commodity export dependence, means that improved partnerships and increased demand for goods and services are welcome. Through trade, investment and donor support, there is huge scope for UK Inc to grow a more prosperous Africa while boosting its own economy.
There is huge scope for UK Inc to grow a more prosperous Africa while boosting its own economy
Second, the ‘pivot to Commonwealth’ is a strategy that has long been flaunted as a positive spin-off from Brexit. Indeed, many advocates of Brexit had argued that once the UK was freed from the chains of the European Union (EU), it could pursue a buccaneering future as ‘Global Britain’.
Given the cultural affinity with its former colonies, the linguistic, legal and educational symmetry, and sizeable diaspora in the UK, Britain has an advantage over other countries regarding Africa. Its deep historical (albeit controversial) relationships with regional powerhouses like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria could help secure trade and investment deals.
This year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London from 16-20 April is a clear attempt to both solidify and expand the UK’s network of influence with historical allies in a post-Brexit world.
Third, British rapprochement with Africa is likely to be well received in terms of trade policy. Africa’s relationship with the EU has often been tense, largely on account of the protectionist and distortionary polices Europe employs in the agricultural sector through the Common Agricultural Policy.
The UK has long been a proponent of freer and more equitable trade and would probably generate better opportunities for African markets to export their produce. This could be positive news for countries like Ghana (cocoa), Kenya (flowers and tea) and Ethiopia (coffee) in particular, who will benefit from fairer deals and better market access.
Thus disaffected countries may now see scope for more beneficial bilateral deals with the UK. Sensing this opportunity, Tanzania in 2016 refused to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, holding out for a more favourable deal with the UK. This could well be a sign of positive things to come – for both the UK and Africa.
But there are challenges.
Given the tight timelines for renegotiating trade deals with the World Trade Organisation, African countries’ placing on the list of priorities is unclear. African countries will likely fall behind larger trading partners like China, India and Brazil in the pecking order of who would offer more immediate and scalable benefits. Europe alone – with at least 759 treaties to be renegotiated – will probably receive most of the time and attention of British policymakers.
Britain must offer Africa a compelling value proposition to counter the surety and scale of EU offers
There is thus a risk that Africa’s status will be relegated to a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’ – especially given its low levels of integration into the global economy in terms of global trade (2% according to the World Economic Forum).
Success will also depend on the institutional bandwidth of the British government to execute ambitious plans. The country’s bureaucracy is already stretched and suffers from a lack of co-ordination, according to Nick Oliver, an infrastructure financier with NMS International Group.
If a new relationship with Africa is going to thrive, it also needs to be ‘business unusual’ for the UK. Given the country’s colonial past, any new relationship must be a strategic partnership of equals. Any attempt to re-engineer ‘Empire 2.0’ will fail.
Further, the UK will be negotiating from a position of weakness rather than strength. Europe remains Africa’s largest trading bloc and the multiple market access offered is still attractive to African countries. Britain will need to offer a compelling value proposition to counter the surety and scale that the EU offers.
Success in Africa for the UK will require not only cultural sensitivity, but also an appreciation of what African states actually want from a trade and investment perspective. This is an unenviable task on a continent with 54 vastly different counties, each with different priorities and preferences.
Collectively, Africa’s leaders could broker a game-changing deal that reshapes UK-Africa relations
Symbolically, too, Britain needs to show Africa that it matters. The last UK head of state to visit Africa was Tony Blair in 2007. Emmanuel Macron’s first overseas trip, just a week after his inauguration as French president, was to Mali in 2017, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa in 2016. Both leaders knew that these visits were important in shaping their strategic interest amid changing geo-political and economic influences in Africa. Britain is at a disadvantage here and needs build trust among African policymakers.
But African leaders must also play their part in getting this arrangement to work effectively. African states must use their negotiating power to their advantage. With other global powers jockeying for influence in Africa, both commercially and otherwise, competition is intense. But a strong and engaged Western partner to the continent is currently lacking, and this is where Britain could act as a counterweight to China’s muscular approach and increased interest from India and Japan.
To take advantage says Rohitesh Dhawan, director of strategy at Eurasia, African countries must be aware of the negotiating tactics used by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and India who have built fertile ground for detailed trade talks. ‘Keeping abreast of the acts of other countries can also help African nations know which issues the UK is more able to make concessions over (and is less hamstrung for negotiating space) than others, and where they should place their bets.’
Tactics, pragmatism and scalability are key – especially in light of the muscle that Africa could wield through the newContinental Free Trade Area agreement. By using its collective power, and prioritising agriculture, the continent’s leadership could broker a potentially game-changing deal that could reshape the nature of UK-Africa relations.
With Brexit negotiations at a critical juncture, it is still unclear whether the UK will emerge as ‘Great Britain’ or ‘Little England’. But the deadline is fast approaching and Britain would do well not to ignore Africa as it charts forward. With some out-of-the-box thinking, there are compelling reasons why the continent may yet emerge as a huge ally to the UK.
Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be laid to rest today following the special official funeral service at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. South Africans on Saturday, April 14, stepped out to pay their last tribute to wife of their former president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She died on Monday, April 2, at the age of 81. Winnie who was referred to as the anti-apartheid icon was honored at Orlando stadium in Soweto, South Africa. She was reported dead after in a hospital in Johannesburg after a long illness. Tens of thousands of mourners came out in loud cheers as the casket carrying Winnie Mandela’s remains was wheeled into the stadium less than two kilometres from her home. The stadium was full.
Her casket was draped with the multi-colored South African flag and placed in the middle of the 37,500-seater stadium in front of a stage, decked in white and yellow flowers. The emotionally charged official funeral began in Soweto, where she lived until her death. She will be buried as a national hero. The deceased who was fondly called Mama Winnie also fought to keep South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle in the international spotlight while her late husband, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Late Winnie Mandela’s corpse at the Orlando stadium In Soweto, South Africa Also in attendance of Winnie’s funeral was the civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. On Friday, April 13, he disclosed that the deceased was responsible for making the anti-apartheid movement a global struggle.
The impressive turnout at the African Union’s Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 21 March showed the continent’s united fervour to boost its economic opportunities. Delegations from 50 countries, including 27 heads of state, attended the summit in Kigali.
The fact that there were almost as many leaders present as attend the bi-annual AU summits contrasts with the majordivisions within the AU on much-needed reforms of the institution. Countries seem to agree on boosting intra-African trade, but disagree on strengthening the AU itself.
At the January AU summit, 23 countries signed up to the Single African Air Transport Market and 30 have signed the AU’s Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
African countries agree on boosting intra-African trade, but disagree on strengthening the AU itself
Even though many hurdles lie ahead in establishing the free trade area and even more in allowing free movement of Africans across the continent, these agreements are important first steps. The AfCFTA initiative in particular has been hailed as a major achievement, paving the way for greater intra-African trade and more economic opportunities for all African states.
However while 44 countries signed the agreement, two of Africa’s biggest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, didn’t. Due to their economic, military and diplomatic strength and their history of driving change in Africa, these two countries are crucial for such initiatives. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa did attend the Kigali summit, and made upbeat statements about the benefits of the AfCFTA.
South Africa did sign the Kigali Declaration – showing its intent to sign the free trade deal in future, pending finalisation of outstanding aspects of the agreement. South Africa in fact proposed the drawing up of such a declaration, says the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. Ratification of the AfCFTA would also need the nod from South Africa’s Parliament.
Nigeria has historically been at the forefront of getting the free trade deal off the ground
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari decided at the last moment not to attend the summit, citing the need for further consultation. According to local reports, concerns were raised by private-sector organisations such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. This came as a blow to Rwanda, the event’s host, and its President Paul Kagame, current AU chairperson.
Nigeria has a major role to play in Africa’s free trade deal. In fact, Buhari leads a country that has historically been at the forefront of getting the AfCFTA off the ground. The creation of such a free trade area was first mooted in the Lagos Plan of Action that followed a summit in Nigeria’s commercial capital in 1980. The 1991 Abuja Treaty on establishing the African Economic Community was the forerunner of the AfCFTA and trade experts often still refer to the process as the Abuja road map.
Nigeria initially proposed to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA. The country is also the undisputed leader of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – one of Africa’s most pro-active regional economic communities. Within the AU, Buhari has also been appointed the lead head of state on the AU theme for 2018 – winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation.
So why did Nigeria stay away?
While the only official explanation has so far been that the decision was put on hold ‘for further consultation with local stakeholders’, it is also clear that some Nigerians might not see intra-African trade in the same way as, say, South Africans do. Nigerians have in the past been on the receiving end of South Africa’s strong economic drive on the continent – the cellphone giant MTN being one obvious example.
This was also one of the reasons given for strong opposition in Nigeria to Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS at the end of 2017. Morocco is one of the biggest investors on the continent, especially in West Africa – and there have been fears that greater access via ECOWAS agreements on free movement of people and goods could threaten local businesses in Nigeria.
Trade experts concur that in the long run, the AfCFTA can work for all, especially bigger economies
However Nigeria is also a major exporter and investor on the continent in financial services, manufactured goods, agricultural products and the like. Trade experts concur that in the long run, the AfCFTA can be a win-win for all, especially the bigger economies. Former United Nations Economic Commission for Africa head Carlos Lopes commented during the summit that Nigeria would come around on the trade agreement – although he later tweeted that it had missed a symbol of historic significance by not signing.
Clearly the two giants of sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, both have a lot to gain from greater intra-African trade. In the past, strong cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria has led to major advances, such as the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity into the AU.
In his new book on Nigerian and South African foreign policy, The Eagle and the Springbok, University of Johannesburg Professor Adekeye Adebajo calls South Africa and Nigeria the two ‘Gullivers’ in their respective regions. After a ‘lost decade’ where ‘Africa’s indispensable bilateral relationship’ between South Africa and Nigeria was marked by competition and diplomatic squabbles, there is a need for greater cooperation between these African powers, together with others such as Algeria, Ethiopia or Angola, he says.
‘The combined political clout of these two states represents a potentially formidable force in shaping Africa’s integration and representing the continent’s interests on the world stage,’ he says.
The AfCFTA and other AU initiatives need both South Africa and Nigeria. Ramaphosa has so far indicated that he is committed to regional integration and intra-African trade. Now is a good time to strengthen diplomatic links with Nigeria to keep the Abuja road map on track.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whose hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela, died early Monday in Johannesburg. She was 81.
Her death, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, was announced by her spokesman, Victor Dlamini. He said in a statement that she died “after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.”
The South African Broadcasting Corporation said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend complaining of the flu after she attended a church service on Friday. She had been treated for diabetes and underwent major surgeries as her health began failing over the last several years.
Charming, intelligent, complex, fiery and eloquent, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela (Madikizela was her surname at birth) was inevitably known to most of the world through her marriage to the revered Mr. Mandela. It was a bond that endured ambiguously: She derived a vaunted status from their shared struggle, yet she chafed at being defined by him.
One day in 1957, when she was waiting at a bus stop, Nelson Mandela drove past. “I was struck by her beauty,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” Some weeks later, he recalled, “I was at the office when I popped in to see Oliver and there was this same young woman.”
Mr. Mandela, approaching 40 and the father of three, declared on their first date that he would marry her. Soon he separated from his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a nurse, to marry Ms. Madikizela-Mandela on June 14, 1958.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was thrust into the limelight in 1964 when her husband was sentenced to life in prison on charges of treason. She was officially “banned” under draconian restrictions intended to make her a nonperson, unable to work, socialize, move freely or be quoted in the South African news media, even as she raised their two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa.
In a crackdown in May 1969, five years after her husband was sent to prison, she was arrested and held for 17 months, 13 in solitary confinement. She was beaten and tortured. The experience, she wrote, was “what changed me, what brutalized me so much that I knew what it is to hate.”
After blacks rioted in the segregated Johannesburg township of Soweto in 1976, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was again imprisoned without trial, this time for five months. She was then banished to a bleak township outside the profoundly conservative white town of Brandfort, in the Orange Free State.
“I am a living symbol of whatever is happening in the country,” she wrote in “Part of My Soul Went With Him,” a memoir published in 1984 and printed around the world. “I am a living symbol of the white man’s fear. I never realized how deeply embedded this fear is until I came to Brandfort.”
Contrary to the authorities’ intentions, her cramped home became a place of pilgrimage for diplomats and prominent sympathizers, as well as foreign journalists seeking interviews.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela cherished conversation with outsiders and word of the world beyond her confines. She scorned many of her restrictions, using whites-only public phones and ignoring the segregated counters at the local liquor store when she ordered Champagne — gestures that stunned the area’s whites.
Banishment Took Toll
Still, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s exclusion from what passed as a normal life in South Africa took a toll, and she began to drink heavily. During her banishment, moreover, her land changed. Beginning in late 1984, young protesters challenged the authorities with increasing audacity. The unrest spread, prompting the white rulers to acknowledge what they called a “revolutionary climate” and declare a state of emergency.
When Ms. Madikizela-Mandela returned to her home in Soweto in 1985, breaking her banning orders, it was as a far more bellicose figure, determined to assume leadership of what became the decisive and most violent phase of the struggle. As she saw it, her role was to stiffen the confrontation with the authorities.
The tactics were harsh.
“Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we will liberate this country,” she told a rally in April 1986. She was referring to “necklacing,” a form of sometimes arbitrary execution by fire using a gas-soaked tire around a supposed traitor’s neck, and it shocked an older generation of anti-apartheid campaigners. But her severity aligned her with the young township radicals who enforced commitment to the struggle.
In the late 1980s, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela allowed the outbuildings around her residence in Soweto to be used by the so-called Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante gang that claimed to be her bodyguard. It terrorized Soweto, inviting infamy and prosecution.
In 1991 she was convicted of ordering the 1988 kidnapping of four youths in Soweto. The body of one, a 14-year-old named James Moeketsi Seipei — nicknamed Stompie, a slang word for a cigarette butt, reflecting his diminutive stature — was found with his throat cut.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s chief bodyguard was convicted of murder. She was sentenced to six years for kidnapping, but South Africa’s highest appeals court reduced her punishment to fines and a suspended one-year term.
By then her life had begun to unravel. The United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of organizations fighting apartheid and linked to the A.N.C., expelled her. In April 1992, Mr. Mandela, midway through settlement talks with President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, announced that he and his wife were separating. (She dismissed suggestions that she had wanted to be known by the title “first lady.” “I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone,” she said.)
Two years later, Mr. Mandela was elected president and offered her a minor job as the deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. But after allegations of influence peddling, bribetaking and misuse of government funds, she was forced from office. In 1996, Mr. Mandela ended their 38-year marriage, testifying in court that his wife was having an affair with a colleague.
Only in 1997, at the behest of Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did Ms. Madikizela-Mandela offer an apology for the events of the late 1980s. “Things went horribly wrong,” she said, adding, “For that I am deeply sorry.”