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Tag Archives: zimbabwe

Nigeria: Probe Into Calabar Soccer Fans Electrocutions Begin

By Simon Echewofun Sunday

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said it has launched investigation into an electrical accident in Calabar, Cross River State where several persons were reportedly electrocuted and others injured last weekend.

In a statement by the spokesman, Mr. Usman Abba-Arabi, NERC said the preliminary report of its investigation indicated that the accident occurred when an 11KV high tension line snapped under a television viewing centre causing the accident.

"Our team of experts have been dispatched to the scene of the accident to investigate the remote and immediate cause of this unfortunate occurrence. Pending the outcome of our investigation, the commission commiserates with the families, friends and relatives of the deceased as well as the government and people of Cross Rives State," it said.

The commission also urged industry operators and electricity customers to strictly observe the health and safety codes for the power industry, noting that the outcome of the investigation would be communicated in due course.


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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

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Boko Haram terrorists kill 11 soldiers in Borno attacks

N igerian troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists have suffered major setbacks, with the terror group sacking an Army Battalion, killing eight soldiers and wounding 11 others in two separate attacks in three days, reliable military insiders have said. The army formations involved in the incidents also lost several arms and ammunition, and were yesterday calling for urgent restocking of their armouries, according to reports.

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Paula Thompson Marshall guilty of killing husband over dog

EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Hernandez left behind a handwritten suicide note for his gay jailhouse LOVER - who is now on suicide watch - as well as two more for his fiancee and four-year-old daughter Furious neighbor sues Brooklyn brownstone owners after coming home to find they painted their historic million-dollar house BLACK as well as her own exterior wall and handrail Trump insists he's accomplished 'a lot' in his first 100 days including Supreme Court victory but says he won't get credit for it because 'media will kill' Trump enrages entire nation of South Korea with offhand claim it 'actually used to be part of China' - prompting protests against him and Beijing Is this the ULTIMATE baby changing hack? All you need to copy mother's ingenious trick is a box of baby wipes and a HAIR BAND 'She barely spoke': Caretaker reveals how he helped police bust armed Amber Alert teacher and his ... (more)

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‘The enemy is ever ready to pounce’ – Mugabe – News24

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News24'The enemy is ever ready to pounce' - MugabeNews24Zimbabwe marks 37 years of independence on Tuesday - but it's not clear if anyone will be really celebrating. Mugabe warns schoolkids against 'dozing off' · Zim First Lady evictees seek SADC intervention – report · Zimbabwe's new 'GOAT' currency ...Mugabe impatient over pace of reforms in mining sectorGulf Times[ 18th April 2017 ] Zanu PF factionalism excites Mnangagwa ZimbabweThe Zimbabwe MailMugabe calls for unity as Zimbabwe marks 37 years of independenceFree Speech Radio NewsArab Newsall 102 news articles

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Zimbabwe’s cash cows are signal of desperation – Financial Times

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Financial TimesZimbabwe's cash cows are signal of desperationFinancial TimesThey don't call it a cash cow for nothing. In Zimbabwe, new legislation would make it easier for small- and medium-scale farmers to use “moveable assets”, such as cows, goats and sheep, as well as farm machinery, vehicles and accounts receivable, ...[ 16th April 2017 ] Contesting 2018 with no reforms is born out of failure to comprehend 2008 events OpinionThe Zimbabwe MailThe fractured state of the opposition in ZimbabwePoliticsweb'Why I dumped Mugabe'The Zimbabwe StandardBulawayo24

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South Sudan: Fresh Fighting Erupts Across Nation

A senior United Nations official in South Sudan has called for restraint and underlined the need to ensure the protection of civilians as fresh fighting has erupted between Government and opposition forces in a number of locations across the country.

According to a news release issued by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups have taken place in Raga (western South Sudan), Waat (Jonglei state, eastern South Sudan), and in Wunkur and Tonga towns (northern, Upper Nile state).

"[The warring parties] must once and for all silence the guns, return to dialogue, reconcile their differences and bring the peace the South Sudanese people want and deserve," said Moustapha Soumaré, the acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country.

"During this holy celebration of Easter, which for many symbolises reconciliation and the rebirth of hope, I call on all parties to prove their commitment to peace," he added.

The escalation of violence follows recent fighting in Pajok (near the border with Uganda) that caused some 6,000 to flee across the border as well as in Wau that displaced many civilians and also claimed the lives of three workers contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

According to UNMISS, the Protection of Civilians site adjacent to its base in Wau has received some 13,500 newly displaced persons, taking the total number of the displaced sheltering there to 38,746. Around 3,000 others are also reportedly seeking refuge at other non-UN compounds.

SEE ALSO: 'Horrible attack' in South Sudan town sends thousands fleeing across border - UN refugee agency

The Mission also noted that it continues to push for access to areas affected by the conflict and that, despite challenges in reaching some parts of the country, it has successfully deployed a number of peacekeeping patrols to deter violence and protect civilians.

It also continues to monitor the human rights situation in line with its mandate.

South Sudan

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Nigeria: Chibok – Where Are the Remaining 197 Kidnapped Children? Parents Ask Buhari

Photo: Premium Times

President Muhammadu Buhari with released Chibok girls in October 2016.

By Marama Ndahi

Soldiers stood in strategic locations as residents went about their businesses. In a corner of the town, scores of other soldiers surrounded what you would think was a national asset. But you will be mistaken to find that what the soldiers were looking after were mostly rubbles. Welcome to the site which used to be Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State.

This was the site attacked by fighters of the terror group, Boko Haram, on April 14, 2014 and captured about 219 students - all girls. The girls, in boarding house, were writing their final examination at the time of the attack.

21 of the captives were released in October 2016 after government negotiated with the terror group. Also, on May 17, 2016, one of the girls, identified as Amina Ali, with her four months old baby, named Safiya, and purported husband, said to be a member of Boko Haram, were rescued by the military in what was described as "Operation Crackdown' in Baale village around Sambisa forest. But three years after the midnight attack, about 197 of the girls are still in the custody of Boko Haram, with some of them said to have been married off to the group's fighters or turned into sex slaves.

When Sunday Vanguard visited Chibok last week ahead of the third anniversary of the Boko Haram attack (next Friday), the sight everywhere was one of uneasy calm.

To the residents, the third anniversary is one of mixed feelings. Yes, some of the kidnapped schoolgirls have either been released or rescued. But most of the girls remain in captivity. And to make matters worse, residents said Chibok communities of Kantikari, Pwarangiliim, Kopchi and Takwilashu still come under Boko Haram attacks.

The parents of some of the 197 schoolgirls still in captivity were still pained that three years on, their children had still not been rescued.

They spoke about their anguish to Sunday Vanguard in unmistakable terms. Mr Amos Mustapha is one of such parents. Mustapha gave the name of his abducted child as Ruth. "The parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls would seem to have been scarred for life. Some of us still have our children in captivity. But even those whose children have been rescued or released by Boko Haram are also scarred because the parents will carry the stigma for the rest of their lives," he stated.

"My daughter is the type any parent would wish to have. Brilliant, obedient and dutiful. Since the abduction, we have not heard from her. It is now three years since the incident happened. We don't even know whether she is still alive or dead.

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"All we can say as parents is that God should have mercy. As we speak, our communities of Kautikari and Paya Yesu are still unsafe as Boko Haram continues to attack at will.

"And since the 2014 attack, our children have stopped going to school because no school operates here anymore. No hospital either. Even the little foodstuff we managed to produce have been looted."

Another parent, Mr. Modu Usman, lamented the continued absence of her abducted daughter (name withheld). He said, "Now that Easter is fast approaching, I still reflect on the fact that my daughter will not celebrate the festive period with me as it has been in the last two years.

"My daughter was brilliant and dedicated to God. At a point, she was the choir mistress in our church in Chibok. How I wish I can see even her dead body and bury it, rather than to continue thinking of her condition in the hands of the insurgents on daily basis".

Usman's wife also spoke. She said: "It is even better for me to have had a miscarriage when I was pregnant and I was expecting to be delivered of our abducted child than to experience what we are going through. The incident has affected my health. I became hypertensive two days after the abduction; and, since then, my BP has been on the upswing. There is nothing I can say; it has happened. It is bad, but there is nothing we can do as parents".

Another mother of one of the abducted girls, who gave her name as Habiba Chiroma, said she had never attended any meeting of affected parents with government officials either in Chibok or outside the town, insisting that she would only do so when she was convinced that her only daughter had been rescued.

"Since the abduction of our daughters, we the parents have been invited to Maiduguri or Abuja, but there was never a time my husband and I honoured the invitations. This is because we learnt that some people were using the opportunity to make money. And so we will only go to a meeting with anyone when we are told our daughter has been rescued", Habiba said.

"Although there is no way we the parents can blame the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the inability to rescue our missing daughters, because the incident took place when this government was not in place, the fact remains that government is a continuous process, and all what we can tell the President is that we need our daughters back home".

The District Head of Chibok, Zanna Modu Usman, said that his people, especially the parents of the abducted school girls, will never feel the impact of the military in the fight against insurgency until the girls still held by Boko Haram are rescued and reintegrated into the society.

"It is unfortunate, pityful and disheartening that three years after insurgents stormed Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok and went away with the girls, government and security agencies were yet to live up to expectation", Usman said, lamenting that no amount of government delegations visit to Chibok or assistance to the community will cushion the trauma of the parents and relatives of the abductees.

The traditional ruler spoke during a function organized by Women Peace and Security Network (WPSN), a non-governmental organization (NGO), in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, in remembrance of the missing girls.

Representing the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai Elkanemi, at the event, he said statistics had shown that in less than four weeks of last year 2016, over 11,000 women and children abducted by the sect were rescued by the military. He stressed: "Unless the 219 schoolgirls are released or rescued, the parents of the girls and the people of Chibok will never understand the superiority of the military over the Boko Haram sect as claimed in some quarters".

Also speaking on the fate of the girls, the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese, Most Rev. Oliva Dashe, said security forces should not relent in the operation to rescue the victims.

Meanwhile, the Caretaker Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Hon. Yaga Yarakawa, has appealed to the Federal Government and security forces to intensify efforts to rescue the remaining kidnapped girls.

Yarakawa commended President Muhammad Buhari for his commitment towards the fight against insurgency, adding that the negotiation with Boko Haram leaders, which led to the release of 21 of the abducted girls, should be renewed in freed the remaining ones in captivity.

He also commended Governor Kashim Shettima for sponsoring most of the rescued girls, including the 51 others that managed to escape from the terrorists and are now schooling in a schools within and outside the country.

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Mujuru spindoctor injured in brawl with top party colleague – Independent Online

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Independent OnlineMujuru spindoctor injured in brawl with top party colleagueIndependent OnlineHarare ‑ Two National People's Party (NPP) top officials were reportedly involved in a nasty brawl on Thursday, leaving one of them suffering a fractured leg. They were allegedly fighting over the coalition talks. NPP is led by President Robert Mugabe ...WATCH: Mujuru Spokesmen In Street Fight, Assassination ThreatsZimEye - Zimbabwe

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Mali: Tuareg Factions to Boycott Mali Peace Conference

Photo: Le Pays

Armed groups in Mali (file photo).

Mali's main Tuareg factions say they will boycott talks with the government next week on implementing a 2015 peace agreement, dimming hopes of attaining peace in the West African country.

The main separatist groups in northern Mali - the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and Platform, a coalition of pro-government Tuareg - said they could not take part in the conference, explaining it was not sufficiently inclusive.

"We cannot take part in a conference which, far from uniting, risks being divisive," the groups said in a statement on Saturday.

The 2015 peace accord was meant to draw a line under a conflict that has pitted nomadic Tuaregs in the north against the government in the south.

But the implementation of the agreement has been held up by bickering, while armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda have exploited the security vacuum to step up attacks.

After months of delays and arguments, there had been some signs of progress in recent weeks with the return of state authority to some cities from which it had been absent since the Tuareg revolt began in 2012.

In April 2012, a nomadic rebel group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

In January 2013, France launched a military intervention in its former West African colony to stop the rebels' southward offensive.

Despite continued French troop deployments, a UN peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by unrest and ethnic strife.

In recent months, joint patrols by fighters from the various armed factions and the Malian security forces have helped restore confidence, but tensions remain high.

Earlier this month, armed groups surrounded Timbuktu, once a popular tourist destination because of its fabled history of gilded Islamic empires that grew rich on trade connecting Africa's interior with its Mediterranean coast.

The armed groups were opposed to the return of state authority to the city, and no agreement has yet been reached to allow it to go ahead.


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Kenya: Kenyatta Blames Raila Odinga for 2007/08 Poll Chaos

By Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

President Kenyatta now claims Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga played a central role in 2007/8 violence.

Speaking on his tour of the larger Gusii region on Wednesday, Mr Kenyatta said Mr Odinga, who rejected the 2007 General Election results, had a hand in the chaos that claimed over 1,133 lives.

"Raila was at the centre of the 2007 chaos in which Kenyans fought but he blamed it on Ruto," he told a gathering of leaders at Nyanturago Stadium in Kisii County.


"Yeye ndio aliwasha moto (He is the one who ignited the flames," he said.

The President said the Abagusii were among communities that were affected by the violence and internally displaced persons in the region would be compensated next month.

The political turmoil uprooted over 650,000 people from their homes and cost businesses billions of shillings.

Mr Odinga has denied playing any role in the violence and the trial of Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court.


In one of the interviews with the Nation, Mr Odinga said he did not ask Kenyans to attack and kill one another during the mass action to protest alleged rigging of ODM victory by Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity.

He also blamed the indictment and trial of Ruto, who was in ODM at that time, on Parliament's and the then suspects' refusal to help set up a local tribunal to look into the chaos.

Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki, who was declared the winner of poll, were not indicted by ICC.

Six leaders, including Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, were indicted by The Hague-based court.


The others were former head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, former Indusrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and former radio presenter Joshua sang.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto faced charges of, among others, crimes against humanity, persecution and forcible transfer of population.

Mr Kosgey, Mr Muthaura and Mr Ali were acquitted due to lack of evidence linking them to crimes committed during the violence.

The cases against Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto and Mr Sang also crumbled due to what Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said was witness interference and lack cooperation from the Kenyan government.

More follows.


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Africa: Africa Trade Meeting Has No Africans After U.S. Visa Denials

Photo: Pixabay

(File photo).

By Michelle Quinn

Los Angeles — Each year, the University of Southern California brings delegations from Africa to meet with business leaders, government officials and others in the U.S. But this year, the African summit has no Africans. All were denied visas.

Visa issues are not uncommon for people traveling from African nations. During her prior three summits, Mary Flowers saw a high percentage of her attendees at the African Global Economic and Development Summit, unable to attain visas.

"Usually we get 40 percent that get rejected but the others come," said Flowers, chair of the African Global Economic and Development Summit. "This year it was 100 percent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened."

Flowers estimated that she lost about 100 attendees, including speakers and government officials. The countries affected included Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.

'A discrimination issue'

"I have to say that most of us feel it's a discrimination issue with the African nations," said Flowers. "We experience it over and over and over, and the people being rejected are legitimate business people with ties to the continent."

A request for comment from the State Department was not immediately returned.

Flowers said those who were denied visas were called for embassy interviews just days before they were supposed to travel, despite having applied weeks or even months ahead of time.

One of those denied a visa was Prince Kojo Hilton, a Ghanaian artist whose work includes special effects and graphic art. He paid his $500 fee to attend the event and was asked to lead a session on filmmaking. But he held off buying his plane ticket until his appointment at the embassy on March 13, four days before he was supposed to travel.

"I was really disappointed when I went to the embassy," Hilton said in an interview with VOA.

Travel ban

It remains unclear why all of the Africans heading to the event were denied visas this year.

Diane E. Watson, who formerly represented a Los Angeles-area district in Congress, said she had called the State Department to ask for information about the denial of visas for would-be delegates to the USC summit. But the State Department isn't allowed to discuss individual visa cases.

With the heightened attention on foreign nationals coming to the U.S., there have been stories of more visas being denied to people from countries other than those named in the Trump administration's executive orders. But visas are routinely denied by U.S. embassies without explanation.

If there has been an increase in the number of visas rejected under the new administration, it's hard to verify. The publicly available State Department data dates only to late 2016.


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Burundi: Burundi Declares Malaria Epidemic

By Moses Havyarimana

Burundi has declared a malaria epidemic after more than nine million cases were recorded since last year.

According to the Burundi's Health minister Dr Josiane Nijimbere, more than 3,700 people have died from the mosquito-borne disease since 2016.

"There is an increase of 13 per cent of the cases related to malaria," she said adding that this "is why we have decided to declare the disease as an epidemic."

She singled out Kirundo, Muyinga and Kayanza in northern Burundi and Cankuzo in the east as the areas in which an increase in the number of people suffering from the disease have been reported.

The situation is further compounded by climate change and prolonged drought leading to people going without food, she said.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO's) priority now is to work with the Burundi Ministry of Health to finalise the outbreak response plan, engage in resource mobilisation and provide technical support including deploying malaria specialists," Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO representative in the country told The EastAfrican.

About $3.1 million is needed for the response plan, according to both government and WHO.

Burundi previously declared a malaria epidemic in 2002.

According to WHO, last year 212 million malaria cases were reported globally with 429,000 deaths recorded.


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In Zimbabwe, grave of Cecil Rhodes draws tourists, debate

Lizards scamper around a grave that, while occasionally vandalized, attracts tourists and has been tolerated by longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe, who turned 93 last month. In this picturesque place, the burial site of a historical figure who is increasingly vilified seems secure, for now, in a country that has long accused Western powers of clinging to a colonial mindset.

Start the conversation, or Read more at WRAL.com.

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Zimbabwe: Mugadza to Know His Fate Today – AllAfrica.com

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NewsdzeZimbabweZimbabwe: Mugadza to Know His Fate TodayAllAfrica.comSelf-proclaimed pastor Phillip Mugadza will know his fate today, when the High Court is expected to make a ruling on his bail application on charges of allegedly "prophesying" the death of President Mugabe. In January this year, Mugadza allegedly ...Pastor Mugadza's 53 day detention ordealBulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)'Mugabe death prophecy': State opposes bailNewsDay“Mugabe To Die In October” Pastor's Freedom BlockedZimEye - Zimbabwe Newsall 8 news articles »

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Zimbabwe: Mugabe Wants Zuma’s Powers To Appoint Chief Justice

Photo: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma and President Robert Mugabe (file photo).

columnBy Carmel Rickard

In the week that President Jacob Zuma announced his pick for the second highest judicial position in South Africa, his Zimbabwean counterparts made it clear they are determined to obtain the same powers of virtually unfettered choice for top judge, even if it means amending that country’s new constitution to get their way.

Zuma announced on Friday that he wanted to appoint Constitutional Court Judge Ray Zondo as Deputy Chief Justice. He will now ‘consult’ with the political parties about his choice, but he is not required to obtain consensus or even agreement about his choice. Zondo, whose elevation to the post is almost inevitable, replaces the recently retired, highly-respected Dikgang Moseneke, one of several judges in South African history denied the position of Chief Justice apparently because they did not share the political views of the then ruling party.

But while Zuma goes through the constitutionally-mandated consultation process to elevate Zondo, extraordinary machinations in Zimbabwe show that Robert Mugabe, with at least one of his likely successors, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwe, wants the same broad power as the South African President to choose the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice, unrestricted by the JSC.

It is a particularly urgent quest in Zimbabwe given that Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku retired at the end of February 2017 and his deputy, Luke Malaba, is now acting CJ until a formal appointment is made. That urgency has been seen over the last three months via a series of court cases and urgent interventions.

Zimbabwe’s new constitution, barely four years old, provides that a judicial service commission interviews candidates for all judicial posts. But in the case of the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice the JSC presents the President with a list of three candidates from which the President must make a choice. (There is provision for one ‘send-back’ in case no-one on the first list appeals to the President.)

Mnangagwe is a powerful figure in Zimbabwe’s legal and justice arena in addition to his position as Vice-President – and, in the view of many media, the heir apparent to Mugabe. Wielding the power resulting from this complex network of positions, he has been pushing for some time to amend the provision dealing with the appointment of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice. He wants to follow South Africa’s example and empower the president of Zimbabwe to make an unfettered choice for the top judicial spots.

That amendment is still in its infant stages, with public meetings being called to discuss the proposal – some of these meetings, however, resulting in strong condemnation of the proposed scheme because it could undermine judicial independence.

Then, in December 2016, two days before the JSC was due to interview four candidates to replace Chidyausiku, a law student suspected to be a front for Mnangagwa, brought an urgent High Court application to stop the hearings, pending this possible amendment. Judge Charles Hungwe granted the order on Sunday 11 December and it seemed the interviews, scheduled for the next day, would have to be halted.

Key in the Hungwe decision was the role that this possible amendment should play. The court ruled that the existing system should be put on ice in deference to the planned amendment, something that may be sent to parliament for approval at some point in the future. The judgment speaks of the government’s ‘clear intention to canvass the public for a change in the law’ and that any change ‘so it would appear’ ... ‘may lead’ to an amendment.

In his written judgment handed down on 12 December, Hungwe criticised the JSC for wanting to go ahead with the interviews on the basis that ‘internal memos and draft Bills do not constitute part of the law’. He said this approach ‘reflects poorly’ on the JSC since it suggests ‘that even in the face of clear intention of the policy-makers, (the JSC) is bent on proceeding with a process which the applicant is challenging and which challenge appears to have caught the attention of the policy-maker.’

Under the leadership of the CJ, the JSC immediately noted an appeal against the Hungwe judgment. Since the effect of the decision was thus immediately suspended, the JSC sat as scheduled on 12 December. Only three candidates were interviewed. The fourth, said to be Mnangagwa’s pick, George Chiweshe, did not arrive. The other three candidates were interviewed and ranked by the JSC as required by law.

Then mid-January came another shock: speaking at the traditional opening of the court year just a few weeks before his retirement, the Chief Justice gave some background to the pressure he has been under – from apparently mysterious sources – to block the JSC from doing its work. He said at one stage he was informed that an ‘executive order’ had been issued to the effect that the JSC process (of interviewing candidates for the position of CJ) must stop. He had responded to this order, he said, by explaining to the government that the directive ‘could not be complied with, without breaking the constitution’ and that the JSC interviews would continue as planned. Local media then quoted him as saying: ‘I have since established that the President never issued the alleged executive order to stop the interviews.’ He did not speculate, however, about who might have done so in the President’s name.

Shortly after this the JSC’s appeal against the Hungwe order was heard by the Supreme Court. Though reasons are yet to be delivered, the three judges unanimously upheld the appeal, saying that the JSC was correct to go ahead with its hearings.

On 22 February, the same student who brought the initial case to Judge Hungwe applied to the Constitutional Court for an order against the Supreme Court judgment. Unlike an appeal, this application does not suspend the effect of the Supreme Court decision, and the JSC position still stands, along with its list of candidates.

And there the legal situation pauses for the moment, until the application is heard.

Among reasons given by Mnangagwa for wanting to change the constitution is an allegation that provisions for appointment were the work of the opposition party and should be redrafted to reflect the majority party’s position. Just as controversially, he is quoted as saying that the present system in the constitution was not suitable. This was because various ‘inappropriate people’ would sit on the panel to interview people being considered for the post of Chief Justice. In particular, he said he objected to the idea that the Chief Magistrate would be able to ‘question a judge’.

Many provisions in South Africa’s Constitution have won world praise for their humanity and far-sightedness, for the way they establish and support transparency, accountability and a balance between the arms of government. So it is deeply ironic – but hardly surprising – that that with all these to choose from, the man who is apparently Zimbabwe’s new leader-in-waiting only wants to copy this particular section.

The South African constitutional provision that he wants to clone clearly concentrates appointment-making power (in relation to the most senior judicial posts) within the virtually exclusive grasp of the executive. It is not uncontroversial even in South Africa, where Zuma and his appointments are regarded with increasing suspicion against the background of corruption and ‘state capture’ allegations. It is even more suspect at a time when a new discussion paper for the ruling party’s June policy conference appears to propose strong party influence to ensure judges appointed in the future make decisions that accord with ANC philosophy.

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