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China backs Congo’s ban on 6 small Chinese mining companies
14 September 2021, 4:40 PM

China gave its backing on Tuesday to a Congolese provincial government’s order last month banning six small Chinese-owned mining companies operating illegally.

The move comes as Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi increases scrutiny of Chinese mining activities, reviewing a $6 billion “infrastructure-for-minerals “deal with Chinese investors and reassessing China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume mine.

The governor of Congo’s eastern South Kivu province, TheoKasi, suspended the operations of the six small Chinese companies on Aug 20, ordering all local and foreign staff to leave the sites.

Kasi said the suspension came after the companies missed a deadline to register their activities with the authorities.

Kasi identified the companies as BM Global Business, Congo Blueant Minerals, Orientale Ressource Congo, Yellow Water Ressources, New Continent Mineral, and Groupe Cristal, ordering all local and foreign staff to leave the sites. Reuters was unable to reach the companies for comment.

The director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of African Affairs, Wu Peng, tweeted that the authorities of China’s Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces had ordered the six companies to halt business and leave South Kivu “as soon as possible”.

“We support the DRC in cracking down on illegal economic activities in accordance with the law,” Wu tweeted. The companies would be punished and sanctioned by the Chinese government, he added. He did not identify the companies nor describe in what way their activities were illegal.

“We’ll never allow Chinese companies in #Africa to violate local laws and regulations,” Wu wrote.

Political Task Team investigates killing of three women during political gathering in Inanda
14 September 2021, 3:48 PM

State Security Deputy Minister, Zizi Kodwa says the recent killing of three women in Inanda, north of Durban, should not deter people from participating in political activity, ahead of local government elections.  

Kodwa, accompanied Police Minister Bheki Cele, visited families of the victims, recently killed during a drive-by shooting.  

Five others were seriously injured.  

Fear has gripped Inanda township, following the shootings. Occupants of a car randomly opened fire during a community meeting to nominate a ward councillor candidate for the ANC. Three people died, while five others survived. But they remain in a critical condition in hospital.  

Seventy-five-year-old Beatrice Dlamini is one of the victims, who died during the attack.  

Her daughter, Nozipho Dlamini says the family in still in shock. 

“It is very painful because my mother left our home going to a community meeting to be killed there. We want justice and that government help us bury her with dignity.”

Cele says the task team set up to investigate political killings in the province, will also investigate the matter. He also says people must not be afraid to come out to vote during the up-coming local government elections. 

“This was a political gathering. It was on that score that the investigation has been taken by the Political Task Team that is dealing with those things in KZN. This is an attack to democracy. So, you need to intimidate (people). People must continue to practise their democratic right as these agencies will work hard so we don’t have the further loss of life, and (so that) we limit the disruptions and we chase and find those people and put them out (sic) of the system in terms of arresting them.” 

Kodwa says criminal elements will not be allowed to disrupt the holding of a free and safe election. 

‘The killing of these 3 women is an act of intimidation aimed at weakening our democracy’:

Former police officer accused of plotting to murder family members denies involvement
14 September 2021, 3:19 PM

A former police officer accused of plotting to murder six family members has denied involvement in the crimes.

Nomia Ndlovu took the stand at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court in Gauteng this morning. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder or conspiring to commit murder, defeating the ends of justice and fraud.

The state alleges that the former police officer has already claimed over 1.4 million rand from insurance policies paid out after allegedly orchestrating the murders of other family members over the years.

She was nabbed when she attempted to arrange a hit on her sister and five kids with the aim of claiming an insurance pay-out.

She has denied the charges.

Palestinian stabs two in Jerusalem shop before being shot and wounded
13 September 2021, 6:01 PM

A Palestinian stabbed and wounded two people in a Jerusalem cosmetics shop on Monday before being shot and wounded by police, Israeli officials said, amid heightened tensions since a prison escape by Palestinian inmates a week ago.

Israeli officials said a Palestinian entered the cosmetics store near Jerusalem’s central bus station and stabbed two people. Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said they suffered moderate wounds.

A policewoman then shot the alleged attacker, witnesses and police said. A paramedic who arrived at the site told Reuters he was seriously wounded and taken to hospital.

The incident came hours after a Palestinian used a screwdriver to try to stab an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, the military said, adding that troops shot the man, who was taken to hospital for treatment.

Tensions have been stirred by last Monday’s breakout by six Palestinian militants from the maximum-security Gilboa prison in northern Israel. Four of the men have since been recaptured.

Palestinians view compatriots held in Israeli prisons as heroes in a battle against occupation. Israel says Palestinians involved in violent anti-Israeli activities are terrorists.

‘Voter and civic education can save local governments’
13 September 2021, 5:05 PM

South Africans are heading to the polls to elect their local government leaders but with the current state of municipalities, more than anything, these elections will be futile because the very same leaders will campaign for the next five years instead of accounting for the last five, which has led to protests, blocked roads and burnt buildings as ordinary South Africans, majority of whom are black –  subjected to horrible leaving conditions – take out their frustrations.

The basic indicators of economic development teach us that health determines the prosperity of a country as it ensures the productivity of the labour force participation; that education enables people to be mobile and acquire skills and training based on the changing dynamics of the world; that sustainable income to have basic standard of living enables citizens to cater to the needs of the economy as and when the country requires.

These economic development indicators are essential in addressing South Africa’s socio-economic issues which have led to the highest unemployment and inequality rates in the world. These indicators are inextricably linked to service delivery. Through service delivery, the standard of living can be better and multi-layered poverty can be addressed. This is because local government is the vehicle of service delivery given its proximity to the people.

However, that seems to be out of reach, with only 27 out of the 257 municipalities in South Africa getting a clean audit outcome which is attributed to the lack of transparency and accountability – a reflection of the dilapidating state of municipalities.

From owing billions to Eskom and water boards, increased irregular expenditures, mismanagement of funds which have led to failure to fill vacancies – key factor in this regard, are internal party politics: the inability to separate politics and bureaucracy, where some high-level positions in municipal departments have been left vacant and people have been in ‘acting’ capacity for years, which, in turn, has rendered municipal workers over worked leading to the dereliction of the sphere of government that is meant to implement government policies. This, in addition to corruption being embedded on the fabric of municipalities, seemingly getting worse each year, with little to no repercussions at all, municipalities, instead of being in touch with people, are effectively non-existent.

The disparities between service delivery and local government as provided for in the constitution to advance socio-economic rights show that those in power have failed in improving the quality of life and that the lack of accountable and democratic leadership, which are two of the five objectives of local government – do not inform decisions taken in municipalities

All of this has resulted in looming voter apathy which shows us that one thing South Africans don’t seem to understand is how powerful the ballot is:

As the quality of our democracy matures, what not only South Africa but all other democracies in the world can learn from the United States is that whenever you have misgivings about the state of the country and its direction, there’s no better way to respond than to go and vote.

Americans understand the power of a ballot. We saw it on Obama’s historic victory in 2008. After they were fed up with the Republican Party, they went to the polls in large numbers, broke a record for the most votes received by a Presidential candidate at the time.

They didn’t say, “We are tired of Bush and Republicans so we’re not going to vote”, instead they said, “We want change” and they acted accordingly

Twelve years later, they were at it again.

Firstly, those who were tired of Trump went out to vote for Joe Biden, in the process breaking Obama’s record (69 million), amassing over 80 million votes.

Secondly, those who supported Trump, who wanted 4 more years, went out in their numbers to vote for him (in 2016 he received 62.9 million votes and received over 74 million votes in 2020).

Regardless of the outcome of that historical election, what happened in the US was democracy at its best. Beautiful. And we, as South Africans in particular, can learn that voter apathy hurts no one else than the person who didn’t vote.

The IEC

Looking into the future, there must be a criteria by the IEC in consultation with South Africans through public hearings, that will be adopted by political parties for individuals they propose to stand for public office. This would allow the electorate the ability to assess and review whether individuals proposed for office have the necessary skills, background and capabilities to ensure that the Constitutional mandate of effective and efficient service delivery is attained – more like the vetting process used in the US.

There must also be electoral education to ensure that citizens engage the political process routinely, not just in election seasons. Ultimately, it is important to note that the lack of accountability and transparency at the local government sphere is a general overview of how all spheres of government function.

By Vusi Gumbi – Winner of One Day Leader Season 8 and a Masters candidate in Politics at the University of Johannesburg

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