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It’s time to lift the ideological haze in debates about Africa’s middle class

A side effect of the economic growth during these ‘fat years’ was a relative increase of monetary income for a growing number of households.

This also benefited some lower income groups in resource-rich African economies. Many among these crossed the defined poverty levels, which were raised in late 2015 from US$ 1.25 a person a day to US$ 1.90. As some economists had suggested, from as little as US$2 they were considered as entering the “middle class”.

The ominous term was rising like a phoenix from the ashes to characterise this trend. It added another label to the packaging of a neo-liberal discourse. By emphasising the free market paradigm as creating the best opportunities for all, it suggests that everyone benefits from a laissez-faire economy.

But the middle class concept remained vague and limited to number crunching. The minimum threshold for entering a so-called middle class in monetary terms was critically vulnerable to a setback into impoverishment. After all, one sixth of the world’s population has to make a fragile living on US$ 2 to 3 a day.

The African Development Bank played a defining role in promoting the debate. Using the US$2 benchmark, it declared some 300 million Africans (about a third of the continent’s population) as being middle class in 2011. A year later it expanded its guesstimates to 300 million to 500 million. It also set them up as being very important.

Such monetary acrobatics aside, the analytical deficit which characterises such classification is seriously problematic. The so-called middle class appears to be a “muddling class”. Rigorously explored differentiation remained largely absent – not to mention any substantial class analysis. Professional activities, social status, cultural, ethnic or religious affinities or lifestyle as well as political orientations were hardly (if at all) considered.

But lived experiences matter if one is in search of how to define a middle class as an array of collective identities. Such necessary debate has in the meantime arrived in African studies. And the claim to ownership is also reflected in a just published volume that documents the need to deconstruct the mystification of the middle class being declared as the torchbearers of progress and development.

Politics, economic growth and the middle class

As alerted in a paper by UNU-WIDER, a new middle class as a meaningful social actor does require a collective identity in pursuance of common interests. Once upon a time this was called class-consciousness, based on a “class in itself” while acting as a “class for itself”. After all, which “middle” is occupied by an African “middle class”, if this is not positioned also in terms of class awareness and behaviour?

Politically such middle classes seem not as democratic as many of those singing their praises assume. Middle classes have shown ambiguities - ranging from politically progressive engagement to a status-quo oriented, conservative approach to policies (if being political at all). African realities are not different.

In South Africa, the only consistency of the black middle class in historical perspective is its political inconsistency, as political scientist Roger Southall has suggested. They are no more likely to hold democratic values than other black South Africans. In fact, they are more likely to want government to secure higher order needs such as proper service delivery, infrastructure and rule of law according to their living circumstances rather than basic, survival needs.

It remains dubious that middle classes in Africa by their sheer existence promote economic growth. Their increase was mainly a limited result of the trickle down effects of the resource based economic growth rates during the first decade of the 21st century since then in decline. This had hardly economic potential stimulating productive investment that contributes towards sustainable economic growth.

Doubt shrouds claims that a growing middle class benefits the poor. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

There’s also little evidence of any correlation between economic growth and social progress, as a working paper of the IMF concludes. While during the “fat years” the poor partly became a little less poor, the rich got much richer. Even the African Development Bank admits that the income discrepancies as measured by the Gini-coefficient have increased, while six among the ten most unequal countries in the world are in Africa.

Nancy Birdsall, president emeritus of the Centre for Global Development, is among the most prominent advocates and protagonists of the middle class. She argues in support of a middle class rather than a pro-poor developmental orientation. But even she concedes that a sensible political economy analysis needs to differentiate between the rich with political leverage and the rest.

She remains nevertheless adamant that the middle class is an ingredient for good governance. This is based on her assumption that continued economic growth reduces inequalities. She further hypothesises that a growing middle class has a greater interest in an accountable government and supports a social contract, which taxes it as an investment into collective public goods to the benefit of also the poorDream on!

Time to lift the ideological haze

It remains necessary to put the record straight and lift the ideological haze. Already the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development 2013 report, which also promoted the middle class hype, predicted that 80% of middle classes would come from the global South by 2030, but only 2% from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent assessments claim that it’s not the middle of African societies which expands, but the lower and higher social groups.

According to a report by the Pew Research Centre only a few African countries had a meaningful increase of those in the middle-income category.

And the Economist, which earlier shifted its doomsday visions of a “Hopeless Continent” towards “Africa Rising” and the “Continent of Hope”, now concludes that Africans are mainly rich or poor but not middle class.

Fortunately, the debate has created sufficient awareness among scholars to explore the fact and fiction of the assumed transformative power of a middle class. This also includes the need to be sensitive towards ideological smokescreens which try to make us believe that a middle class is the cure. In reality, little has changed when it comes to leverage and control over social and political affairs.

The current engagement with the African middle class phenomenon is nevertheless anything but obsolete. Independent of their numbers, middle class members signify modified social relations. These deserve attention and analysis with the emphasis on social relations.

Cambridge Economist Göran Therborn stresses that discourse on class is always of social relevance. The boom of the middle class debate is therefore a remarkable symptom of our decade. Social class will remain a category of central importance, and bringing the class back in can do no harm.

Henning Melber is the author of The Rise of Africa’s Middle Class.

Henning Melber: Extraordinary Professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria

This article was first published in The Conversation



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South Africa: ‘I Am Coming for You’ – Police Minister Warns Ex Police Unit Chief

Photo: Government of South Africa

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula (file photo).

"General Ntlemeza, you must know I am coming for you. You are working 24-hours to do an illegal operation... I'm going to unleash the law."

This was the fiery warning from Police Minister Fikile Mbalula at a press conference on Wednesday.

Mbalula was briefing the media on his strategic plan to wage war against crime.

But it was questions on former hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza that stirred the minister's anger.

On Monday, Ntlemeza reported for duty, despite a High Court ruling that his appointment was invalid and should be set aside. He left with a state-issued car and cellphone. Mbalula threatened to issue an arrest warrant, and Ntlemeza later returned the car.

On Tuesday, Mbalula told reporters that there were certain Hawks officials meeting in safe houses with Ntlemeza to plot against him.

"I'm aware about operations, working in safe houses to undertake an operation on the minister of police. I'm aware and I'm coming for them," he said.

Rogue Hawks elements

An impassioned Mbalula warned these rogue Hawks elements that he would not allow resources to be invested in illegal operations.

"I am going to act. I'm not going to allow rogueness to happen in this country, willy nilly," he said.

He said Ntlemeza's legal counsels were "voodoo lawyers" who used provocative language to manipulate the media.

"If he thinks he is entitled to come to work, tell him to come now. He will not see me, but he will see me in terms of the law. I'm very clear about it. There is no beef between us... We must respect the law."

Mbalula said he would not allow Ntlemeza to blackmail him, and that only the African National Congress could stop him from exercising his mandate.

"A smart cop acts quietly, not through press conferences... I owe Ntlemeza nothing. He never did me any favours. I've served this country. I've served my organisation to the best of my ability. It's only the ANC that can tell me you are now out of line... I owe no policeman a favour. I'm here to work with them and, if possible, let's play golf."

He said he would wait for the courts before making any decisions against acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, who is under investigation for his lavish lifestyle.

Mbalula, however, said that it was concerning that so much scandal surrounded a high ranking police official.

"The minister will not defend any wrongdoing. Once evidence has been tested and found that there is authenticity, the minister will not defend any wrongdoing by whoever is in the police service. It is worrisome when one of our own at the helm of the police is receiving such accusations. We must follow the law," he said.

Source: News24

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SABC interim board says local content policy must go

SABC interim board says local content policy must go

TMG Digital | 2017-04-24 20:46:42.0

Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Image by: TMG Digital via YouTube

Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s imposition of a 90% local content policy has cost the South African Broadcasting Corporation more than R200 million.

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The SABC’s interim board told Parliament on Monday that the state broadcaster was facing a multiplicity of crises‚ including cash liquidity problems‚ a loss of credibility and audience.

This was revealed by the deputy chair of the board‚ Mathatha Tsedu‚ in a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

SABC interim board putting together financial rescue package for public broadcaster 

Tsedu said the interim board had drafted a recovery plan that included a proposal to reverse Motsoeneng’s content policy which had seen a drop in audience numbers and advertising.

WATCH: 10 Hlaudilusional moments from Motsoeneng's media briefing  

“The plan includes a proposal to reverse the 90/10 music policy‚ which has cost SABC radio R29 million and television R183 million. It also proposes the redrafting of the entity’s corporate plan‚” he said.

The interim board’s work had been made difficult‚ he added‚ by former Minister of Communications‚ Faith Muthambi‚ and some SABC staff members.



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Top conservationist wounded in Kenya gun attack

The 73-year-old, whose best-selling autobiography "I Dreamed of Africa" was made into a film with Kim Basinger playing Gallmann, was "shot in the stomach during an attack" by three men on the sprawling Laikipia Nature Conservancy, a senior police officer said.

Gallmann was airlifted to Nairobi by military helicopter, the officer said, adding that the attackers appeared to be raiders from the Pokot ethnic group which is spread across Kenya and eastern Uganda.

Violence has peaked in Kenya's Rift Valley in recent weeks following tensions and clashes involving semi-nomadic cattle herders following the drought. At least 30 people have died since December.

Local police chief Ezekiel Chepkwony said Gallmann was patrolling her property on Sunday morning "when herders opened fire on her", adding that her driver escaped the attack unhurt.

Police later engaged the attackers in a shootout, but did not manage to arrest them.

"We are tracking them and have intensified security," Chepkwony said.

The Laikipia Farmers' Association (LFA) said she was inspecting tourist lodges on the reserve that had been hit by arson attacks the night before.

A guard at Gallmann's compound said the herders had tried to enter the property after the attack.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta condemned the attack in a statement, warning politicians in the area "not to inflame temperatures through reckless rhetoric".

In the Laikipia region, thousands of herders -- some armed with spears and automatic weapons -- have illegally entered private ranches and reserves in search of pastures for their cows, sheep and goats.

Some attribute the growing tensions to drought while others say they are a result of racially charged language used by some politicians ahead of a general election due in August.

A British farmer was killed on March 6 while inspecting the damage caused by herders on his ranch.

Gallmann's property was also attacked in March, when raiders looted and torched luxury tourist lodges -- which were unoccupied at the time.

That attack was carried out by herders who accused security forces of killing livestock in the reserve, according to local media.

Martin Evans, chairman of the LFA, condemned what he called "a vicious assault against an elderly and defenceless woman".

He said "a small handful of inciters" were driving the violence in the region.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, a former prime minister, also condemned the attack, accusing "hooligans" of using the drought as an excuse to "subject these ranchers to unwarranted attacks".



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South Africa: 88 Days of Water in Cape Town Left

The City of Cape Town on Monday said the city's feeder dams only have enough water for another 88 days.

The city asked residents to decrease city water usage to 600 million litres per day. Previously the city's target was to have consumption below 700 million litres per day.

Water consumption in the city increased to 745 million litres from 685 million litres the week before.

Water and waste services and energy councillor Xanthea Limberg said in the statement it appears residents adjust water consumption according to weather conditions.

"In other words, they use more water as soon as it heats up, but seemingly also [more] when there is rain," she said.

"This is not sustainable. We must use water in a consistent manner during this time of crisis."

In the statement, the city said its dam levels decreased to 23,3%.

With the last 10% of our dam water mostly being unusable, dam levels are effectively at 13,3%, the city said.

The city also announced that mayor Patricia de Lille plans to have a water "festival of ideas" in June.

At the festival suppliers of large, utility-scale water supply and water saving equipment can share their ideas and offerings with city officials, the city said.


South Africa

Commission to Meet With 'Afrikaans Only' University Residence

The CRL Rights commission on Monday announced it will meet with the management the "Afrikaans only" De Goede Hoop… Read more »

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South Africa: Commission to Meet With ‘Afrikaans Only’ University Residence

The CRL Rights commission on Monday announced it will meet with the management the "Afrikaans only" De Goede Hoop residence for students from the University of Pretoria (UP).

This follows a complaint by civic activists Yusuf Abramjee and Mantoa Selepe that the residence goes against the Constitution for being exclusively for one race. The residence however denied the allegation and said it rather aims to provide a safe space for Afrikaans speaking students.

In a statement on Monday, Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo said the commission also plans to meet with UP and the City of Tshwane.

We are meeting them to get to the bottom of this matter, Mkholo said.

In another incident, the commission said they ruled that a series of social media comments made during the so-called Valhalla Mosque controversy was Islamophobic.

In March 2014, 3000 residents in Valhalla in Centurion signed a petition against the construction of a mosque in the neighbourhood.

The commission will be meeting with representatives of Facebook South Africa to discuss the matter and what the company plans to do with the social media accounts in question, Mkholo said.

Freedom Front Plus councillor Sakkie du Plooy told News24 at the time that residents in the area have no problem with Muslims but were concerned with Muslims "taking over".

"This is a Christian Afrikaaner community... We have no problem with people moving in but if there is an effort to take over then we have a problem," du Plooy said.


South Africa

88 Days of Water in Cape Town Left

The City of Cape Town on Monday said the city's feeder dams only have enough water for another 88 days. Read more »

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Thousands attend Bloemfontein prayer service for SA’s future

Thousands attend Bloemfontein prayer service for SA’s future

Tmg Digital | 2017-04-22 19:34:21.0

Angus Buchan’s It’s Time prayer service has seen thousands of South Africans flock to Bloemfontein.
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

'Faith like Potatoes' preacher Angus Buchan’s It’s Time prayer service has seen thousands of South Africans flock to Bloemfontein.

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The people march to remove an 'elevated crook'

The prayer service‚ which was meant to begin at 2pm today‚ kicked off late this afternoon as organisers waited for hundreds who were stuck in traffic on the way to the massive event.

“We are tired of people taking the law into their own hands.  We are going to call upon The Lord to bring justice‚ peace and hope to our beloved South Africa‚” Buchan said in a statement on his website.

Buchanan is well known for his television sermons and the popular move‚ Faith like Potatoes‚ based on his book by the same title.

Some people travelled from as far as Cape Town to attend. Thousands are expected to camp overnight.

The Intercape bus company also provided transport to those travelling from the Western Cape and other parts of the country.

In a statement the bus company said it had arranged 29 coaches for the event – 24 from Cape Town‚ with others coming from Upington and Pretoria.

Some in attendance estimated that over a million people had traveled to Bloemfontein for the service.



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20 children killed in blazing wreck

20 children killed in blazing wreck

Kyle Cowan And Roxanne Henderson | 2017-04-21 15:46:58.0

20 children were killed in a minibus crash on the R25 between Verena in Mpumalanga and Bronkhorstspruit.
Image by: Supplied by ER24

It is a dark day‚ said Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi‚ after 20 children were killed in a minibus crash on Friday afternoon.

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ER24's Russel Meiring tweeted a photograph of the wreck next to a truck‚ with fire fighters extinguishing a blaze.

Meiring said the accident occurred on the R25 between Verena in Mpumalanga and Bronkhorstspruit in Gauteng.

“ER24 paramedics arrived on the scene to find the fire services already in attendance. Fire services had already extinguished the burning vehicle‚ which was found lying on its side.

“Paramedics assessed the scene and found that approximately 20 children had been inside the vehicle when it collided with the truck.

“Once the flames had been extinguished‚ paramedics found approximately 20 children lying trapped inside the vehicle. Unfortunately‚ nothing could be done for the children and they were declared dead on the scene‚” Meiring said in a statement.


The children were high school and primary school.

“It is with sadness to inform that‚ a minibus transporting learners was involved in a horrific accident‚ and about 20 learners died on the scene‚” Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said in a statement.

The Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi tweeted that he was on his way to the scene.


Meiring said several other children were found on the scene.

“It is believed that these children had been pulled out of the taxi by members of the community. Paramedics assessed the children and found that seven children had sustained injuries ranging from minor to critical.

“The children were treated for their injuries and provided with advanced life support interventions before they were transported to various hospitals in the area for further treatment.”

The cause of the collision is not yet known but local authorities are on the scene.



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South Sudan war strains Uganda’s generous refugee policy

"Business is not good. These people don't have money," he says, gazing out over a vast area that in only eight months has transformed from scrubland and trees to the world's biggest refugee settlement, Bidibidi, which houses more than 270,000 people.

Uganda has been praised for its warm welcome of refugees, but as civil war in neighbouring South Sudan continues to push more than 2,000 people a day into the country, local communities and aid agencies are buckling under the strain.

Many residents of Yumbe district -- population around 500,000 -- are frustrated that the massive aid effort in their backyard has not translated into more jobs but instead has spread already scarce resources even thinner.

"This (the refugee crisis) has changed the town so much. It has caused a lot of stress, stress for jobs. The food prices have gone up and up. It's bad for our environment because they cut down the trees," said Nachal Dovelay, a shopkeeper in Yumbe town.

Bidibidi opened in August last year to cope with a flood of people fleeing fighting when a peace deal between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his rival and former deputy Riek Machar collapsed, plunging the country back into a civil war that erupted in 2013.

In a matter of months it has overtaken Kenya's Dadaab -- hosting mainly Somali refugees -- as the world's biggest refugee camp.

But the 250-square-kilometre (97-square-mile) settlement is only the tip of the iceberg. A total of 830,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered the country and the UN expects this figure will reach more than a million by mid-year.

The number of refugees in the East African nation -- one of the world's poorest countries and the size of the United Kingdom -- is comparable to the number of mostly Syrian refugees who fled to Europe at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

"This emergency is like a tsunami, you know, very high speed," said Robert Baryamwesiga, the Ugandan government official in change of running Bidibidi.

On a recent afternoon a fierce dust-devil tore through a crowd waiting for food rations, sending people reeling and knocking supplies to the ground.

When calm returned, a girl aged about seven carefully raked up her family's fallen maize kernels and scooped them back into a sack.

Every scrap of food is precious. Refugees who arrived in Uganda before mid-2015 have already had their rations cut by half. This month food distribution was two weeks late.

"We are hungry. The food is for one month but it lasts less than that and now it's 15 days late. This is really challenging," said David Kepo, 41, a traditional chief who fled fighting in his community three months ago.

Cheryl Harrison, the World Food Programme's (WFP's) deputy head in Uganda, admits that the logistics involved in delivering 15,000 tonnes of food per month are daunting.

"We try to ensure that everyone knows that we're going to be late. If people have warning they're able to cope. They reduce the amount of food they eat and try to make their resources stretch."

Before the renewed fighting, WFP spent $6 million (5.6 million euros) per month on food aid for refugees in Uganda. That figure has now soared to more than $16 million.

The agency is $450 million short for the next six months.

Last month UN refugee chief, Filippo Grandi, described the situation as at "breaking point".

Getting water to the refugees in the arid area is another headache, with more than four million litres required a day.

Boreholes have been drilled but the vast majority of the water is trucked in from the River Nile at great expense.

The use of natural resources has lead to tensions with the host community.

In a desperate move local residents recently blocked access to one borehole for several hours, saying that they were not benefiting from the influx of refugees.

"The issue of the use of natural resources -- building materials, wood, fuel -- that one has been a disaster. With 272,000 people the effect is great and unemployment here is very high," said local government official Jacob Batemyetto.

In February about 100 people, unhappy that nine local staff had been fired for misappropriating aid, held a protest, holding up signs threatening to attack the settlement, according to NGO staff.

And last month the chief government official in Imvepi -- a newly opened nearby settlement -- was taken hostage by a group of machete-wielding youths and marched around the area to see the poor living conditions local people are forced to tolerate before being released.

Uganda has long been praised for having one of the world's most progressive refugee policies.

The government allows refugees to work and move around the country while communities in the north have donated land for settlements.

Refugees receive a plot of land to build a shelter and it was planned that land would be allocated for people to farm but in Bidibidi that has yet to happen.

"We can't feed ourselves because they have yet to set up any agriculture programme and there's no land," said Wila James, 40, a former agricultural officer who fled to Uganda last year.

Bidibidi settlement chief Baryamwesiga highlighted the dangers of a growing population unable to produce their own food.

"They will automatically go and steal and stealing will create violence so you'll find that the coexistence that we're enjoying between refugees and the host community will collapse.

"It's a very, very fragile situation."




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South Africa in uproar over painting of president in sex act with Mandela – New York Post

JOHANNESBURG — A South African painting showing the president in what appears to be a sexual act with Nelson Mandela is stirring outrage as well as calls to respect freedom of expression.

Artist Ayanda Mabulu said his painting is meant to show how scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma has violated the hopeful legacy of Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president after the end of white minority rule in 1994. Thousands of South Africans have protested against Zuma in recent weeks after his dismissal of a widely respected finance minister increased concerns about government corruption. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Thursday that it respects Mabulu’s freedom of expression but finds the painting “distasteful.”

The ruling African National Congress party made a similar statement while calling the work “grotesque.” It urged South Africans to ignore the painting, which has been posted on some news websites.

Earlier this month, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, who signs “Zapiro” on his work, penned an image that showed Zuma zipping up his trousers and walking away from a distraught woman wearing a dress with the colors of the South African flag and being held down by Zuma supporters. Some people criticized Zapiro for alleged insensitivity to rape victims. The cartoonist said he wanted to send a strong message about the impact of Zuma’s conduct on South Africa.

The president’s tenure has been overshadowed by scandals, including the spending of millions of dollars in state funds on his private home. He paid back some money after the Constitutional Court ruled against him last year. Zuma also continues to face occasional protests over his acquittal for rape 10 years ago.

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The Times journalist manhandled by ‘policeman’ while Zuma attends Gupta event

The Times journalist manhandled by 'policeman' while Zuma attends Gupta event

TMG Digital | 2017-04-20 20:27:17.0

File photo.
Image by: Daniel Born

A journalist from The Times‚ covering President Jacob Zuma’s attendance at a religious event arranged by the Gupta family‚ was manhandled‚ had her phone confiscated and its contents deleted on Thursday evening.

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Katharine Child said security guards allowed her into the premises of the Military Museum in Saxonwold but she was turned away at the venue’s entrance.

A man in plain clothes‚ who said he was a policeman and told her his name was Morne‚ told her to leave when she identified herself as a journalist. She queried this and he then grabbed her phone.

Stand up against state capture‚ business leaders ask ANC and MPs 

"He told me to go. He put his arm around my neck and pushed me and then I said I’m not leaving until you give me my phone back‚" said Child.

He had threatened to arrest her and at one point motioned to the hand cuffs tied to his trousers. The man had then phoned someone and told them that she had taken photographs of the event on her phone.

"I did not take any pictures because it was dark. But he deleted everything from my phone - all my apps‚ all my photos‚ all my phone numbers."

Brian Molefe scores ‘R30m payout’ from Eskom 

He then returned the phone to her but security refused to let her back into the premises so that she could get to her car. "He told me to get out the way because the presidential motorcade is leaving‚" she said.

The Times editor Andrew Trench said: “The treatment of our journalist is despicable bullying and is contrary to the police’s own Standing Order 156 which prevents the police from stopping a journalist taking pictures or any visual recording.

“The standing order is clear that under no circumstances may a journalist be verbally or physically assaulted nor their recordings damaged. Their equipment cannot be seized unless to be used as an exhibit. We will be laying criminal charges”.



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Kenya leader warns against violence as poll fever hits

Kenya leader warns against violence as poll fever hits

AFP | 2017-04-20 14:18:46.0

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta. File photo

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta warned Thursday against violence as election season gets into full swing, with chaotic party primaries already leading to bloody scuffles.

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East Africa's largest economy holds a general election on August 8, a decade after disputed polls fuelled violence that left more than 1,100 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

"As a party, we will not tolerate violence. As president, I will also not tolerate violence and anybody who engages in acts of violence will be dealt with in accordance with the law, irrespective of who they are," Kenyatta told a press conference in Nairobi.

Kenyatta is seeking a second term in office with his Jubilee Party. Opposition heavyweights including his longtime rival Raila Odinga have united in a coalition called NASA, but have yet to pick a flagbearer with a little over three months to the vote.

However, the country is already gripped by election fever and primaries to choose candidates for local government and parliament have seen violence and dramatic last-minute floor-crossings.

Albino lawmaker Isaac Mwaura claimed on Facebook he had been shot in the ear and his car sprayed with bullets in an "assassination attempt" while out campaigning for Jubilee, just days after defecting from Odinga's ODM party, the main opposition group.

Dozens have been injured in clashes over nominations, including at ODM headquarters in Nairobi earlier this month when youths supporting one nominee for senator drew guns claiming her rival had already secured the party ticket.

On Wednesday, local media reported fistfights between rival supporters of ruling party candidates which left at least nine injured while one aspirant was hospitalised with neck injuries.

About 19 million voters have been registered to take part in the election, pending a final audit to remove dead voters or double listings.



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BREAKING: IPID drops Phahlane cash payments bombshell – Times LIVE

BREAKING: IPID drops Phahlane cash payments bombshell

Graeme Hosken | 2017-04-20 21:41:39.0

Khomotso Phahlane. File photo.
Image by: Simphiwe Nkwali. © Sunday Times.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigators have laid bare the trail of an alleged series of cash payments from the boot of a state car in a damning affidavit involving acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

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The affidavit‚ filed in the Pretoria High Court late on Thursday‚ is in reply to Phahlane's court challenge in February which argues that IPID's corruption investigation into him is unlawful.

IPID spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed to TimesLIVE earlier on Thursday that their investigation had been expanded and that they were now‚ over and above corruption charges‚ investigating allegations of money laundering‚ defeating the ends of justice‚ intimidation and racketeering against Phahlane.

Phahlane won't answer to Ipid 

Phahlane is accused of receiving undue benefits while he headed the police forensic science laboratory services‚ related to the awarding of multi-million rand tenders to certain forensic equipment service providers.

They allegedly included having his house and the land that it occupies paid for in addition to his bond.

Rich cop, poor cop: The glaring gap between the haves and the have-nots in the police force 

In his affidavit IPID investigator Mandlakayise Mahlangu‚ who labelled Phahlane's court challenge as "incompetent"‚ painted a picture of alleged dubious cash payments which occurred from the back of a state car. " ... payments were from the back of the car in plastic bags‚" the affidavit claimed.

The alleged payments‚ to the builder of Phahlane's house and subcontractors‚ were‚ according to Mahlangu‚ done either by Phahlane or with assistance from his assigned police "protector". The payments‚ he claimed‚ ranged from R10 000 to R250 000 in cash.

Phahlane dismisses conspiracy theories about burglary at Chief Justice’s office 

Mahlangu's affidavit speaks of mysterious death threats against himself and other IPID investigators‚ which‚ according to cellphone data analysis‚ emanated from the SAPS crime intelligence headquarters.

It alleges how the IPID investigation team suspected that a senior policeman had used his position to threaten witnesses into making certain statements.



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Africa News – So many think of visiting Africa as an impossibility. Yet for Pasadena local Sarah Culhane, access to the continent is a birthright-and one that she's eager to share with others. (c) Africa News – Read entire story here.

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Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali is being held by militants: police

A Colombian nun who was kidnapped more than two months ago in Mali is being held by the Macina Liberation Front Islamist militant group, Colombian national police said on Tuesday, citing intelligence reports. Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was seized by armed men on Feb. 7 in Mali's southern Karangasso region, where she had been working in a health center.

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