Wednesday, 08 August 2018
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will not stand in December’s presidential election, a spokesman said on Wednesday, announcing that former interior minister Emmanuel Shadary would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.
The announcement by spokesman Lambert Mende at a news conference puts an end to years of speculation about whether Kabila would defy term limits to run for a third term.
Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate but the election to replace him was repeatedly delayed.
That sparked protests in which the military and police killed dozens of people.
Militia violence also rose in the country’s volatile eastern borderlands.
Kabila’s political allies had floated various legal arguments they said would justify his running again but he came under strong pressure from regional allies like Angola as well as the U. S. and EU to stand down.
The selection of Ramazani is, however, a defiant move by Kabila.
A former interior minister, he is under European Union sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, including deadly crackdowns by security forces on protesters.
“We are all going to align behind (him),” Mende said.
“It is Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, permanent secretary of the (ruling) PPRD.”
This choice of a die hard loyalist suggests that Kabila, who came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001, will remain closely involved in national politics after bowing out.
Kabila will remain at the head of his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and has installed loyalists across the federal bureaucracy, including in the courts and in the military.
But the announcement that he will not run again will ease fears in the region and beyond that a Kabila candidacy would drag the country back into the civil wars of the turn of the century in which millions died, mostly from hunger and disease.
The Dec. 23 vote should now herald Congo’s first democratic transition of power following decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and deadly conflict.
Mende said that Ramazani was on his way to the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa to file his candidacy.
Several opposition candidates, including former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and the president of Congo’s largest opposition party, Felix Tshisekedi, have also registered to run.
They fear that the goodwill Kabila could earn from not seeking a new term could make it easier for his coalition to cheat.
They say voter rolls are unreliable and are suspicious of electronic voting machines due to be used for the first time.
A nationwide opinion poll last month showed opposition candidates collecting a significant majority of the vote with potential candidates from the ruling coalition trailing far behind.
Published in World

This is no way to end an election that promised to bring a bright new post-coup and post Robert Mugabe dawn to a blighted Zimbabwe – 50.8% for Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa to 44.3% for the contending Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance’s (MDC-Alliance) Nelson Chamisa.

After a drawn out count for the last constituency, a suspect tally for the supreme ruler. As for the Zanu-PF MPs’ sweeps across the rural areas resulting in a more than two thirds majority in the lower house of assembly (155 to 53), fears triggered by memories of the violent 2008 run-off remain real.

Mnangagwa has been making gestures to Chamisa for “unity” or to play a

crucial role in Zimbabwe’s present and in its unfolding future.

He seemed furious when the police converged on journalists attending Chamisa’s presser at the subtly luxurious Bronte Hotel: the police apologised on Twitter very quickly.

Yet dozens or more MDC-Alliance supporters are running for their lives, or hiding in safe houses. This, just days after soldiers – not police – shot and killed at least six protesters and innocent bystanders. Some were shot in the back.

What start is this for a regime promising Lazarus-like revival for the ruling party and its friends around the world – not to mention ordinary Zimbabweans?

Yet there is an alternative: if Mnangagwa actually has the power he could call off the attack dogs and let the courts decide the merits, or not, of Chamisa’s case that the poll was rigged. This might not itself result in a peaceful resolution, given rumblings that a coup is in the making led by Vice-President and (unconstitutionally) Minister of Defence, Constantino Chiwenga. But it would be better than allowing the soldiers out onto the streets in force.

And it just could be that this is the tack. The MDC-Alliance’s lawyers will present their case on August 10. Mnangagwa is facing a sharp fork in the road. One hope he takes the right one.

The crackdown

The crackdown’s current phase started on August 2. As the election results were trickling in, drunken soldiers beat up equally inebriated MDC-Alliance supporters in the “high density suburbs” (poverty-riddled townships or locations) around Harare, where the opposition party did overwhelmingly well.

So much for the hypothesis that the poor soldiers would support their equally suffering brothers and sisters with the long-struggling opposition, poised to take the chalice only a few months after Morgan Tsvangirai’s death.

The crackdown continued the next day. An MDC-Alliance candidate in Chegutu challenged his loss, won on the recount, and proceeded to run away from rabid soldiers. Many more were chased in Harare’s townships, Marondera, and Manicaland. The Financial Times reported over 60 arrests, pointing to Chiwenga as the leader of the shakedown. It hinted at a coup – no surprise to many Zimbabweans.

A Vice-President’s coup?

Chiwenga has been the elephant in the room for a very long time. Many Zimbabweans say that Mnangagwa lives in fear of him. Lower ranking members of Zanu-PF members in propaganda and intelligence don’t dare challenge this mercurial man with a history of suicide attempts, and more.

Promoted to armed forces head by Mugabe well beyond his seniority and capability, but kept to one-year contracts to ensure his fealty, he waited until Grace Mugabe pushed her doddering husband into firing his long-time ally Mnangagwa – who was then vice-president – in early November last year.

Chiwenga returned from a China trip and then helped Mnangagwa in what the American Jesuit magazine called the

unexpected, but peaceful, transition

away from the nonagenarian ruler.

Chiwenga has kicked out a good number of Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, suspected of loyalty to the “Generation-40” faction, which lost out with the coup. So too with the police, pared down through the year, That’s why the soldiers were called in last week.

He’s been awaiting his due – the presidency – ever since, and he might be in a hurry. A demotion could ensue if Mnangagwa takes the royal road to respectability via a pleasant deal with the MDC-Alliance, whom the recalcitrant “war-vets” consider a cabal of imperialist puppets.

It’s surprising that the local and international cheerleaders for the “military assisted transition”, with a lot riding on peace and goodwill after the election, seemed blissfully unaware of the power behind the already tarnished throne.

South African military intelligence are supposed to be well-connected with their counterparts to the north, and should not be prone to think like the British. The defenders of diminishing empire are more likely to think like Lord Soames, temporary governor of Rhodesia as Zimbabwe was on the cusp. His comments as Robert Mugabe came to power on the wave of a violent election in 1980 included the fact that he wasn’t surprised at bit of bloodshed.

This isn’t Puddleton-on-the-Marsh. Africans think nothing of sticking poles up each others whatnot and doing filthy things. It’s a very wild thing an (African) election.

British officials, and their global compatriots, presumably don’t think like that anymore. But even if they don’t, they should have known that coups are prone to eat their own children.

Yet there could be another road to take.

The other fork

There is still time for Mnangagwa to change tack. The MDC-Alliance’s contention that the election was cooked will be tested in the courts.

This, say Zimbabweans on the run, is what the soldiers are after: they are chasing copies of the V11 forms. These are the results of every polling station that were posted after the local count: they can be captured by anyone on site but are also transported to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s headquarters for the final count. The V11s might be Chamisa’s ace: he claims to possess a tally that will invalidate Mnangagwa’s slim victory.

If the presidential praetorians are sure their man has won, why didn’t they allow Chamisa to present the papers to the constitutional court – stacked with Zanu-PF judges as it is? In any case this will happen at the end of the week and the presidential inauguration should be postponed.

Mnangagwa is used to waiting for the right moment. He will have to move faster against Chiwenga than he did against Mugabe.

The ConversationIf he’s too slow there could be real coup, soldiers running rampant again. Or an electoral rerun? The choice might be Mnangagwa’s. Or it could be Chiwenga’s. No matter: it will be a game-changer.


David B. Moore, Professor of Development Studies and Visiting Researcher, Institute of Pan-African Thought and Conversation, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Economy
A ship captain and 9 screw members of a local vessel, MV Peace, were on Monday sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria for oil theft.
The convicts are Captain James Abatan, Wasiu Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johnson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC which filed the charges against them alleged the crew members engaged in the dealing of 200 metric tons of petroleum product without lawful authority.
Justice Mohammed Idris sentenced each of the 10 crew members to a jail term of 12 years.
He ordered that the vessel and the recovered petroleum product should be forfeited to the Federal Government.
In the course of the trial, the EFCC called three witnesses and tendered eight exhibits to prove the charges against the convicts.
In his judgment on Monday, Justice Idris said the prosecution proved the allegation against the convicts beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge held, “The prosecution has been able to lead overwhelming evidence against the defendants. The defendants have not been able to adduce evidence capable of puncturing the evidence put forward by the prosecution. I, therefore, find all the defendants guilty as charged.”
In his allocutus, counsel for the convicts, Dada Awosika, pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy, saying his clients were victims of circumstances.
“They only acted on the instruction of the vessel owner. They are mechanics, stewards, generator repairers. None of them gave evidence of having an interest in the product,” the defence counsel said.
But the prosecutor urged the judge to reject the plea for leniency and impose the maximum penalty, so as not to encourage others to engage in the criminal act.
Ruling, Justice Idris held, “I have listened to the plea of allocutus; there is no doubt that they (convicts) are first-time offenders. It should be noted that this crime is rampant and it is almost crippling the economic survival of the country.
“In this view, I hereby sentence the convicts to five years on count one of conspiracy, five years on count two of dealing in petroleum product without an appropriate licence, and two years on count three. The jail terms are to run concurrently.”
Published in Business
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