Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, speaking at a public forum on the looming imperialist war of regime-change against Syria. The event was held on June 30, 2012. (Photo: Leona McElvene), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.For Immediate Release
Saturday August 31, 2013
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast on the War Threats Against Syria
To listen to this global broadcast featuring host Abayomi Azikiwe, just click on the website below:
This program aired on Thursday August 29, 2013 in order to provide updates on the United States and European war threats against the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. That same day, the British House of Commons voted against the war resolution submitted by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
French President Francois Hollande said that his government was still committed to bomb Syria along with the U.S. France did not say whether it had the support of the French people or legislative body.
We here reports in this program from various news sources which make the case against war. In Britain only 11 percent of the people are reported to support a war against Syria.
An airstrike on Syria would result in many deaths and the destruction of the national infrastructure. The repercussions would be international and could spark other acts of aggression and resistance through the Middle East.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington--Part II
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, chairing the Detroit MLK Day rally at Central United Methdist Church on Jan. 21, 2013. (Photo: Sharon Black), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.For Immediate Release
Saturday August 31, 2013
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington--Part II
To listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
Wednesday August 28, 2013 represented the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington of 1963. In this broadcast we take a look at some of the speakers who delivered presentations or were involved in the organizing of the march.
We played again the pledge of A. Philip Randolph and the demands of Bayard Rustin. There was also an interview with Gloria Richardson of SNCC out of Cambridge, Maryland who discussed the role of women in the Civil Rights Movement and their marginalization at the March on Washington.
Also one leading critic of the march was Malcolm X. We listen to excerpts from his Black Unity Speech of August 10, 1963 in Harlem.
David Dayen: Student Loan Servicers, Like Mortgage Servicers, Failing to Inform Borrowers of Cheaper Payment Modifications
By David Dayen, a lapsed blogger, now a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Twitter @ddayen
We’re well beyond the Presidential “Message: I care about the middle class” tour, but among his priorities at one whistle-stop was a plan for reining in the cost of higher education. The idea for a ratings system tied to federal funding and eligibility for student aid has been shredded both here and elsewhere, but another part of the plan was to bulk up the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) system. Under IBR, loan recipients have their monthly payment capped at between 10-15% (depending on the IBR program) of annual “discretionary” income, defined as above 150% of the poverty line for a fixed period (between 10-25 years, again depending on the program – public service or teaching professions reduce the years, for example), and at the end of that period, any outstanding principal balance is forgiven. Right now it’s open only to those who get into financial hardship; under Obama’s proposal it would extend to every student who takes out a loan. There’s bipartisan legislation that would expand IBR mostly along the Administration’s lines (from Tom Petri and Jared Polis).
This is a least-worst option as far as I’m concerned – using available tax benefits and other resources already employed to “make college affordable” and simply making college free would be at the top of the list – but it’s an improvement over a student loan system that currently works more like an indenture. With IBR, there’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s mildly progressive in that people with a higher ability to pay do pay more, and it generally reduces the risk of default, and all the attendant problems that go with that.
Perhaps because it’s a better deal for debtors, particularly struggling ones, it’s not being used very much. According to CFPB, only around 30% of those eligible for IBR are signing up. In many cases, the debtor doesn’t even know about the option; a National Consumer Law Center survey in May found that 65% of borrowers “do not recall receiving any contact prior to default.” As for the “pay as you earn” plan, the Obama Administration’s contribution to this (President Bush actually passed IBR in 2007), the numbers are pathetic – just 40,000 have signed up, out of 1.6 million potential eligibles. Rohit Chopra of CFPB said in a recent report that “If borrowers were aware of and able to easily enroll in income-based plans through their servicer, many federal student loan defaults could have been avoided.”
Ah, there’s that word: “servicer.” Despite the fact that the government directly lends out about 85% of all student loans, they don’t directly service them. They hire for-profit companies to handle day-to-day operations, and they’re paid a sliver of the loan proceeds. (Does this sound familiar?) And though the government has laid out a payment option that would be more affordable for debtors in trouble, the servicers, who wouldn’t see the same profits under such programs, have not extended that information to their customers. (No, really, does this sound familiar?)
Shahien Nasiripour and Joy Resmovits have the story:
Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest servicer of federal student loans, is failing to enroll many of its distressed borrowers into one of the Obama administration’s main initiatives for alleviating high student debt.
Documents obtained by The Huffington Post and estimates provided by the White House separately suggest that Sallie Mae, or SLM Corp., has enrolled relatively few borrowers into the Income-Based Repayment program. Sallie Mae dominates the now-discontinued Federal Family Education Loan Program, owning between 37 and 40 percent of the outstanding FFELP debt held by the private sector. But its share of FFELP borrowers who are enrolled in IBR is about half that, or 15 to 18 percent [...]
“It is concerning that Sallie Mae has such a disproportionately low number of borrowers utilizing the Income-Based Repayment program,” said Persis Yu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of data about Sallie Mae or other servicers’ performance.”
In an emailed statement, Martha Holler, Sallie Mae spokeswoman, criticized HuffPost’s figures, arguing that the “conclusion is misguided.” But despite several requests for data that could alleviate the alleged error, the company refused to provide any additional information.
Gotta love the “you’re wrong but we won’t tell you exactly how wrong” statement from Sallie Mae.
Data on student loan servicers is incredibly thin, but my guess is that this industry is as corroded and diseased as mortgage servicing, striving to wring every last dollar from their customers, denying them aid for which they are eligible. With IBR, like with HAMP, we have a program designed to help borrowers which is administered entirely at the discretion of the servicers. And here we have servicers just not complying with the program. In the case of mortgages, servicers used HAMP as a predatory lending accessory; here it appears that students just aren’t being told about IBR, or they make it so confusing to sign up that people don’t bother. The financial incentives are likely the same – additional late fees, collection fees, et al for servicers and their collection departments if the borrower slides into default. In addition, Sallie Mae’s chief executive said in an earnings call in July that it was labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive to move a borrower into IBR. That directly parallels the reluctance among mortgage servicers to engage in the high-touch business of loan modifications.
In this case, for the most part you have the US government as the underlying loan holder, rather than far-flung investors. Sallie Mae still has some legacy loans from when the government didn’t directly lend; many of those have been securitized, so there are VERY similar circumstances as with HAMP. But by and large, the Department of Education is in a far better position to do something about this.
So far, they have announced that they would use Sallie Mae less as a servicer. But considering that students aren’t picking up IBR across the board, I’d be surprised if just Sallie Mae were the culprit. In addition, the President has promised to publicize IBR, something CFPB has taken on as well. In March, the President cut commissions for debt collectors and retained them for low income-based repayments, which theoretically ends the incentive to avoid informing borrowers about IBR. But Sallie Mae’s statistics show that hasn’t worked yet.
One thing the Administration hasn’t done is auto-enroll students in IBR when they fall into hardship (eventually, every borrower could be auto-enrolled; that’s a feature of the Petri-Polis plan). The National Consumer Law Center recommended this in May, saying that “automatic placement into IBR will allow borrowers to avoid the draconian costs of collection and extraordinary government collection powers.” Because the private collection army wouldn’t have to be paid, the net effect for government finances is probably a wash, and borrowers benefit from a manageable payment.
Combining income-based repayment with auto-enrollment gets us close to the “Pay It Forward”-type plan under study in Oregon. Again, there are better options out there, but this isn’t bad. But it’ll never happen as long as it gets routed through rapacious servicers. It’s another failure of privatization of public processes, harming those who need the most help.
Frans Baleni, secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. He believes independent worker actions cannot win in the longterm., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sep 4 2013 7:13AM
Gold strike support is 'overwhelming': NUM
Support for a gold mining strike that started on Tuesday evening was "overwhelming", the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday.
"There has been an overwhelming response to the strike," spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.
"The strike will carry on indefinitely until our demands are met."
Employers in the gold mining industry were issued with a strike notice by the NUM on Friday.
The union rejected the final pay offer made by the Chamber of Mines.
Seshoka denied a report on Wednesday that NUM had dropped its wage increase demand to 10 percent.
"We are still at a [wage] increase of R2300 for surface miners, and R3000 for underground miners," he said.
Surface workers currently earn R4700 per month and underground workers earn R5000.
This equates to a 49 percent wage increase for surface workers and a 60 percent wage increase for underground workers.
Seshoka said NUM had submitted the above figures to employers, and not a percentage.
Gold mining companies, represented by the chamber, offered a basic increase of 6.5 percent for category four and five employees, including rock drill operators.
An offer of six percent on the basic wage was made to category six to eight, as well as to miners, artisans, and officials.
In addition, accommodation allowances would be increased in accordance with the consumer price index.
The gold mining companies are AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Rand Uranium, Harmony Gold, Evander Gold, Sibanye Gold, and Village Main Reef.
Republic of South Africa Minister of Higher Education & Training Blade Nzimande is also the Secretary General of the South African Communist Party. Nzimande is being accused of by-passing university officials in developing new bill., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Education Act allows Blade to cut too deep
Universities are concerned that poor drafting
of amendments gives the minister too much power
30 Aug 2013 00:00 Njongonkulu Ndungane & Max Price
A new Act gives Blade Nzimande, the higher education minister, wide-ranging powers.
There is concern in the higher education sector about the Higher Education and Training (HET) Laws Amendment Act 2012. A recent discussion of the Act on the Forum@8 programme on SAfm on July 24 attracted a large number of callers. The minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, gave the impression throughout the programme that there is no problem with the legislation and accused vice-chancellors and other critics of lying when they claimed there had been inadequate consultation.
The HET Laws Amendment Act 2012 introduces into the Higher Education Act provision for a new type of national institute. It extends both the powers of the minister to intervene at a university in crisis and the grounds on which the minister must act. It allows the minister to appoint an assessor to investigate a university that is showing symptoms of an approaching crisis. The independent assessor has the power to summon personal testimony or documentation, or to exclude observers from attending any meeting he/she might call to investigate and interrogate such evidence.
We are writing to set down just a few of the more salient points that worry many university councils and vice-chancellors about the Act, as well as the process that was followed to bring it into law without an appropriate period of consultation with the higher education sector.
It is important to understand that this legislation started out in a very different form from the Act that was finally signed into law by President Jacob Zuma. The Bill, as published for comment in March 2012, was about enabling the minister to establish one or more national institutes with specific scopes of application, and a technical change to the National Qualifications Framework Act. It said nothing about suspending councils or vice-chancellors. Higher Education South Africa (Hesa), which comprises the vice-chancellors of all public tertiary institutions in South Africa, was consulted on this draft Bill in good time.
That Bill went before the portfolio committee in September 2012. At the meetings of the portfolio committee that month, while comments were being presented, the minister – without any consultation with the sector – introduced for the first time new amendments beyond the initial scope of the Bill. These amendments fundamentally changed the way an independent assessor would function, and they extended the powers of the minister to intervene and the grounds on which to do so.
The portfolio committee gave interested parties only two weeks to comment on these new amendments. This was clearly inadequate, given the nature of the amendments and their far-reaching implications for higher education institutions. The Council on Higher Education, Hesa and others sought an extension for further consultation on the proposed changes. They appeared before the portfolio committee in early October to argue for this, and to argue about the substance of the new amendments and drafting problems in the new Bill.
However, the minister persisted and both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces passed the measure – with further amendments that, in our view, aggravated the position – in quick succession, paving the way for it to be passed into law in December 2012.
So although it is true, as Nzimande claims, that Hesa was consulted on the early version of the Bill, there was no prior consultation on the new amendments and limited opportunity to comment on them once the new Bill was tabled. The Council on Higher Education, in its October submission to the portfolio committee, pleaded for an opportunity to study the proposals and advise the minister on the merits and implications of these changes.
It is not that we disagree with every facet of the new Act, or the spirit of most of the amendments. We agree that the minster has a responsibility to intervene if there is serious failure in public universities; that the minister needs the power to enforce interventions on universities in distress; and that crises such as serious financial mismanagement or corrupt governance can do serious, sometimes irreparable, damage to a university, requiring expensive government bail-outs and setting back higher education in the country.
So we can accept that the law needed more clarity on procedures in relation to independent assessors and administrators.
However, we disagree with the minister on numerous points introduced by the Act that, in our view, contravene the constitutional rights of universities and those who manage them. For instance, section 35A (2) requires the minister’s independent assessor to impose a blanket embargo on any documents, records or evidence disclosed to the assessor. This constitutes a violation of the right of those affected by the investigation to answer allegations. As such it also compromises the integrity of the assessor’s proceedings.
Section 49A (1) gives the minister unwarranted powers to suspend a university council or its vice-chancellor, even when that university has no evidence of being in distress. It allows the minister, in effect, to decide who should be admitted to or employed by the university, and which staff members should be promoted if he/she is of the opinion the university is not doing this equitably. This would result in a direct violation of the institution’s academic freedom and autonomy, whereas the checks on unfair or illegal practices by a university are already adequately available in other legislation such as the chapter 9 institutions and the equality court.
We don’t believe Nzimande has ill intentions in creating such wide powers. In part these problems are the result of poor drafting, which could have been corrected during a proper consultation process. However, if these clauses are left unchanged they open the possibility for abuse of power by a less benign future minister. Fortunately, the minister, university vice-chancellors and chairs of councils have been meeting to discuss a way forward. They have agreed to set up task teams to address the problems with the Act as it now stands. Members of the task teams will be drawn from universities and the department of higher education. In this way we are hopeful that the government and the higher education sector can find common ground, leading the way to better legislation.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane is the chair of council and Dr Max Price is the vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
Gold bars illustration. The price of gold has been fluctuating in the international market., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Gold Fields buries BEE findings
Its decision not to write up its empowerment investigation raises yet more questions
30 Aug 2013 00:00 Lisa Steyn
Gold Fields has spent “millions of dollars” on investigating a controversial empowerment deal but the findings will not be written up.
Although the investigation has resulted in a R8-million rap over the knuckles for its chief executive, Nick Holland, it has not repaired the company’s reputation or removed the mystery that has surrounded the transaction from the start.
Last week, the Gold Fields board announced that an investigation of the empowerment deal linked to its South Deep mine had been completed and the transaction remained “one of lasting benefit to the company and its BEE [black economic empowerment] stakeholders”. But the board noted it had identified areas where internal policies and procedures can be strengthened.
The whole debacle “has caused us immeasurable harm and money”, the board chairperson, Cheryl Carolus, told the Mail & Guardian.
She said the services of lawyers from the United States and South Africa were enlisted and the cost of the investigation has run into millions of dollars.
Despite this, a report on the findings of the investigation will not be put in writing, which, she claimed, is to circumvent further expenses and not deemed necessary following a thorough briefing.
A number of mining analysts said that if any serious malpractice had occurred it would have come to light by now. The deal was seen to be more fair and equitable than most because the majority of the benefits went to employees and the community.
But Andrew Cadman, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, said that for the Gold Fields board to call for an independent investigation but then require that the results thereof not form part of a written report to the board is “most unusual and will only serve to increase the level of suspicion regarding the transaction, and rightly so”.
He said Gold Fields’ media release on the matter appeared to have been carefully scripted in order to absolve the board of any responsibility in relation to the transaction and to reveal as little as possible about the outcome of the investigation.
Cadman said the board was also responsible in law, something that is yet to be properly acknowledged.
“It appears that the directors at the time either approved a transaction which was of questionable integrity from the outset and/or failed to exercise adequate oversight in relation to its implementation.”
He said a responsible board should disclose the results of such an investigation: “Directors who have failed in their duties should have the decency to acknowledge this and resign, failing which they should be removed.”
No negative feedback yet Carlous said the board had not received any negative feedback yet, but said the company would account to shareholders at the next relevant opportunity. She said shareholders are entitled to ask questions, which the company would address.
Carolus said among the main areas in need of improvement was the issue of communication between management and the board, with chief executive Nick Holland’s handling of this matter being a point of concern.
“There were some [two in particular] matters we felt had not been reported to the board and caused a lot of embarrassment,” she said.
The R2.1-billion deal was finalised in 2010 but prompted a great deal of media speculation over how individuals in the Invictus Consortium, Gold Field’s BEE partner, came to be part of the deal. Media were repeatedly refused the list of beneficiaries, although it was eventually released in March this year.
Press coverage also threw the spotlight on the involvement of a controversial figure, Gayton McKenzie — formerly convicted and jailed for armed robbery and former business partner of “sushi king” Kenny Kunene — who was hired as a consultant to help put the empowerment deal together.
These two matters came into focus during the examination of the processes followed in securing the deal, Carolus said. “We had no idea the media had been requesting the list for such a long period of time. It was just crazy. I don’t know why they [management] felt they couldn’t release it.”
Opened up for scrutiny
Carolus said the list is, in fact, a public document, and had been opened up for scrutiny by shareholders before the deal went ahead and there was no reason not to rerelease it.
Management’s concern would likely have been around the controversial characters whose names pepper the beneficiary list.
l Jerome Brauns, one of the lawyers who defended Jacob Zuma in his rape trial;
l Baleke Mbete, then ANC chairperson;
l Nicole Lucas, daughter of then MP on the parliamentary mineral resources committee, Eric Lucas;
l Colonel Nkosana Ximba, a policeman and co-accused with the crime intelligence head, Richard Mdluli, on provisionally withdrawn charges of murder; and
l Vernon Watson, a former general manager of a Johannesburg nightclub, ZAR, which was owned by McKenzie and Kunene.
Comments by both Holland and former chairperson Mamphela Ramphele last year suggested that the names of beneficiaries had been forced on the company by the department of mineral resources as a condition for it to secure its mining licence, although Gold Fields distanced itself from the comments.
Asked if the investigation found any fault with the list of beneficiaries, Carolus said: “In all BEE transactions, there will always be some people who will not be happy. There is very high competition for people who want to be included and not everybody is going to be happy with every name [put forward].”
She said what was important was that all the parties in fact meet the requirements of the Act and that the deal’s beneficiaries included historically disadvantaged South Africans, youth and women.
Asked about the inclusion of prominent figures such as Brauns, Carolus said determining historical disadvantage was not based on a litmus test. She said any such deal could potentially look for people who are skilled.
“Attorneys would be seen as helpful and people with some business skills would become [an] asset to this consortium.”
The other matter was the use of “unorthodox consultants” like McKenzie. “I think it was bad judgment on his [Holland’s] part. He should have seen the possible consequences of reputational harm to the company … it was very poor judgment for someone at that level.”
In 2012, the M&G reported how both McKenzie and Kunene were investigated by the Hawks following accusations they had defrauded poor Sowetan communities by persuading them to participate in a mining rights application for Central Rand Gold in Johannesburg.
A source said Kunene was given the title of executive of communities by Central Rand Gold and was put in charge of procurement, while McKenzie apparently held the title of chief corporate strategist for the company.
In response to the M&G’s questions in 2011, Kunene said both he and McKenzie had become involved at Central Rand Gold as key executives. “The two of us played a strong role in the process of that mine applying for its mining rights,” he said.
That Holland would forfeit his R8-million bonus was not a sanction, Carolus said. “He offered it, we thought it was a very decent thing to do, and we accepted.”
While it is rare these days for the captain to go down with the ship, at least in the corporate sphere, Carolus said, Holland had identified that it was the right thing to do in this case. Another element of the debacle is the “sad casualties” — the children of the mine’s employees — as 60% of the transaction sits in an educational trust. “We had to wait for a year, [we] couldn’t activate that.”
Carolus said Holland was a smart businessperson and Gold Fields was keen to continue working with him.
How the deal was structured
Gold Fields’s empowerment transaction deal has been described by supporters as more fair and equitable than most others brokered in the mining industry, although elements of the deal related to its South Deep operations have been subjected to intensive public scrutiny.
But it came out of necessity when the gold mining giant’s former BEE (black economic empowerment) partner, Mvela Gold, pulled out, prompting the need for a new deal to satisfy its 2014 BEE equity ownership requirements.
The new R2.1-billion deal comprises an employee share option scheme, administered by the Thusano Share Trust. It received 10.75% of Gold Fields South Africa’s operations and benefits its 47 100 employees.
The deal also includes the South Deep transaction, in which Invictus — a broad-based BEE consortium consisting of 73 individuals and the South Deep Education Trust — and the South Deep Community Trust, together hold a 9% stake in its South Deep operations and an additional 1% of Gold Fields International Mining South Africa.
The cost of the South Deep transaction to shareholders was approximately R1.1-billion.
The education trust, by virtue of its shareholding in Invictus, will be entitled to receive 60% of all distributions made by Invictus. The 73 individuals will receive the remaining 40%.
At the time the deal was approved by shareholders in 2010 the chairperson of the Gold Fields board, Mamphela Ramphele, said the transaction “set a benchmark for the nature and structuring of empowerment transactions”.
According to a report in Business Day in March this year, Gold Fields said the education trust had received R35.3-million. Based on that, the 73 individual shareholders in Invictus would have received dividends of about R23.5-millon.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Republic of South Africa President Jacob Zuma as the Southern Africa state takes on the presidency of the Security Council in New York. Zuma blasted the UN for its role in the war against Libya., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Zuma opens up on Syria, Phiyega before jetting to Russia
President Jacob Zuma has praised national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and called on countries to rely on the UN to intervene in Syria.
03 Sep 2013 17:05
Rapule Tabane, Matuma Letsoalo
President Jacob Zuma spent Tuesday morning before his trip to Russia cozying up to the media, briefing them on pertinent national and international matters, while asking them to promote hope and unity through their reporting.
Unusually, Zuma was accompanied by the majority of his Cabinet ministers, who mingled with journalist and editors at the Sefako Makgatho guest house in Pretoria.
Zuma spoke on a variety of matters including the crisis in Syria, Nelson Mandela, Zimbabwe and the police. Individual ministers also chatted to the media, taking questions on their departments.
On Syria, Zuma reiterated his stance that countries should try to utilise the United Nations Security Council to resolve matters, in effect criticising the US's stated intention to attack Syria for unleashing chemical weapons on its citizens. "South Africa is not qualified to prescribe the kind of punishment that should be used against countries for using chemical weapons against its people. If we support individuals, we might have war. We don't want the world to be run by individuals, but a collective in the form of UN. I don't know if people who are questioning our position on Syria have an alternative."
He expressed happiness that Mandela had finally been discharged from hospital and was now at his Houghton home. But Zuma had no response to calls that Mandela should be sent to his home in Qunu, saying it was up to the family to decide that. He said the Southern African Development Community had accepted the outcome of the Zimbabwean elections and had no basis to question them. “We believe democracy has returned to Zimbabwe," he said.
He praised the national police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, saying she was competent and that he was satisfied with her performance despite the controversy surrounding her appointment and reversal of appointment of Bethuel Zuma as the new Gauteng provincial commissioner.
Drunken driving charges
Phiyega appointed Bethuel Zuma as the Gauteng provincial commissioner earlier on Saturday in Pretoria but had to withdraw the appointment after it was discovered he was facing drunken driving charges. Phiyega said she was not aware of the criminal investigations against Zuma.
"I became aware of the court charges against Major General Zuma just after the media briefing today. I immediately met with him to establish the facts," Phiyega said in a statement on Saturday.
"He confirmed that indeed he has appeared several times in court since 2008 when the matter was first heard. He will be appearing again next month, during September 2013."
Zuma said Phiyega deserved to be complemented for acting swiftly after receiving the information.
The subject and question that appeared to unnerve Zuma from his otherwise friendly demeanour was about the spy tapes that controversially cleared him and which the Democratic Alliance has battled to access for the past two years.
Waving his hands to indicate that he knew nothing and did not want to comment about spy tapes, Zuma said he never listened to the tapes, as this was a matter that was dealt with by his lawyers.
He said the matter was out of his control. "I never touch [court] papers. It's a matter that is dealt with by my lawyers. I don't usually want to comment about matters that are before courts. My lawyers are dealing with that."
Asked why he was appealing the high court ruling that he should submit the tapes, Zuma claimed he had nothing to do with the decision to appeal the matter but it was his lawyers who did that.
Military forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be deployed throughout the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
DRC's M23: 'We didn't start the war'
The M23 rebels have written to UN secretary general saying they are not responsible for the DRC's war, saying the world body's Monusco is to blame.
04 Sep 2013 00:00 Mmanaledi Mataboge
South African Globe & Mail
The Movement of March 23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo has written to the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, seeking to clear themselves of any blame for the conflict that ravaged that country’s North Kivu province last week.
M23 chairperson Bertrand Bisimwa claimed in the letter that his movement did not start the war; they did not shoot into neighbouring Rwanda or Goma and other towns. Instead, Bisimwa said UN peacekeeping unit Monusco is "committed to pursue war against our movement".
"This war initiative of which the Republic of France has become the torchbearer is being directed against our movement on three dimensions: on the military front by attacks from the Intervention Brigade, through the media by unfounded and biased news reports and fabrications by Monusco," said Bisimwa.
He added that the war was also fought "on the diplomatic front through negative resolutions presented by France for adoption by the United Nations Security Council in order to reinforce the military option as the means of resolving the ongoing conflicts in the Great Lakes region in general and in the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular".
M23 has accused France of supporting the Congolese government's military.
Bisimwa said it wasn’t M23 that bombed Rwanda for the following reasons:
It was not possible that M23 hit the affected Rwandan targets because they "were behind our frontline"; M23 does not use the type of weapons that were used to shoot into Rwanda, such as long-range artillery T55, 122mm, 107mm, rocketshooters (ballistic missiles) and mortars 120.
The Rwandan government threatened to retaliate after the bombing.
"We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated," said Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo.
"We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory," said Mushikiwabo.
M23 accused the DRC's government army, FARDC, of "coercing" Monusco to get involved in the fighting by manipulating civilians to protest purportedly against M23 attacks.
"The haste with which the DRC government leaders, in particular the governor of North Kivu province, sought out, through the media, an outcome from the manipulations as a basis for intervention by Monusco against M23, is a clear indicator of a planned strategy," said Bisimwa.
In an earlier letter to Ban, the M23 called for an independent commission to investigate the fight that took place in the past two weeks. This commission should be chaired by the the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) appointed experts and include experts from the African Union.
The M23 ordered what it called "a unilateral ceasefire" last Friday, though Monusco forces claim it was the intervention brigade's strength that pushed the M23 away and made it leave its positions, abandoning heavy weapons in the process.
Bisimwa said a ceasefire was initiated to give peace talks a chance.
Though fighting has stopped, a senior Congolese army officer told Agence France-Presse that an attack on Kibumba is expected "in the very near future" in order to take back a rebel base at this area about 30km outside Goma. President Joseph Kabila’s government wants M23 to lay down arms and disband.
The M23's letter ended with a subtle threat.
"Our troops remain free to use their right to re-take control of the positions assigned to us by the November 24 2012 ICGLR member countries heads of state statement, in the event that the DRC government maintains the option of war in lieu of the Kampala dialogue."
The letter was copied to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who is a mediator in the Congolese conflict, heads of state of the International Committee of the Great Lakes Region member countries and all diplomatic corps represented in the DRC.
African National Congress headquarters at Luthuli House. The building was the scene of a suspicious fire on September 3, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ANC condemns 'an attempt to burn down' Luthuli House
The ANC has viewed a "suspicious" fire that broke out in parts of its headquarters "as an act of attempting to destabilise" the party.
03 Sep 2013 19:15 Staff Reporter
South African Mail & Guardian
The ruling party condemned what "appeared to be an attempt to burn down its headquarters, Chief Albert Luthuli House", in Johannesburg, at around 6pm on Tuesday, it said.
According to spokesperson Jackson Mthembu, "A suspicious fire broke out at the reception of the building next to the main entrance. The suspicious fire burned a reception couch and damaged glass.
"We view this in serious light as it appears as an act of attempting to destabilise the ANC through acts of arson and sabotage."
The fire was doused when the headquarter's security personnel used fire extinguishers to douse the flames "that were almost reaching the ceiling of the reception area", said Jackson.
"The police have taken over the parameters of Luthuli House with a view to investigate the source the fire and to ensure that there is no other pending threat to the building and people in the building," he said.
Neither the police nor the Johannesburg emergency services could confirm the incident.