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Pro-democracy activist accuses King Mswati of using his power to silence dissenting voices
8 July 2021, 3:28 PM

Leader of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress in Eswatini, Sibongile Mazibuko, says the arrest warrants issued against two members of Eswatini’s parliament are aimed at silencing those who are calling for democracy.

According to reports, the warrants were issued against Bacede Mabuza and Mduduzi Simelane.

Last week, pro-democracy groups embarked on violent protest action. They set buildings alight and looted several shops.

Mazibuko has accused King Mswati III of using his power to threaten those who are calling for change in Eswatini.

“The warrant of arrest is to continue silencing members of parliament that are speaking the truth like he has been doing for the last 50 years. He is ready to kill and it is another way to maintain the status quo, because as I have said- he continues to derive his financial benefits from the continued status quo,” she alleges.

The government of Eswatini is yet to respond to the allegations.

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation is in the land-locked kingdom on a fact-finding mission.

The regional body has called for dialogue to resolve the ongoing impasse in the tiny kingdom.

Discussion on SADC’s return to Eswatini as pro-democracy civil groups raise red flags:

More bodies found in Florida condo tower collapse, first funeral held
7 July 2021, 9:08 AM

Search and rescue teams pulled the remains of eight more victims from the ruins of a Florida condominium tower on Tuesday, able to penetrate deeper into the site after demolition of a fragile section that had remained standing.

With a confirmed death toll now of 36 109 people who may have been inside Champlain Towers South when it fell on June 24are still considered missing. That number could change as police detectives work to confirm the names.

“I ask all of you around the world who continue to follow this story, please keep these victims in your hearts and prayers,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference. Levine Cava announced the updated death toll hours after several hundred mourners gathered in a Miami Beach church at the first funeral for victims of the collapse.

Marcus Guara, 52, his wife Ana Guara, 42, and their daughters, Lucia, 10, and Emma, 4, were remembered as a tight-knit family who loved taking walks on the beach and spending time together. “Who would have thought a few weeks ago that our community had so many ties to one little building in one small corner of Florida called Surfside,” Marcus Guara’s cousin Peter Mili án said in a eulogy for the family.

Tropical storm Elsa approaches 

The search for more victims carried on even as Elsa, which strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, was on track to make landfall on Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning.

Forecasters say Surfside will likely be spared the worst of the storm, but its approach prompted local officials demolish a still-standing section of the 12-story tower on Sunday night over worries that high winds could knock it down.

Lightning brought by Elsa forced search and rescue teams to halt their operation for a time on Tuesday. Officials said their task could be interrupted again before the storm passes. Though local officials say they have not given up hope of finding survivors, no one has been discovered alive in the rubble since the first few hours after Champlain Towers South collapsed.

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said rescuers have not found any “livable spaces” where survivors could have been spared.

More than 124 tons, or 5 million pounds, of debris has been removed from the site, with identifiable pieces sent to a police warehouse for use in upcoming investigations, including a grand jury probe.

Investigators have not determined what caused the tower to fall. Attention has been focused on a 2018 engineering report that warned of structural deficiencies. The disaster has prompted officials across South Florida to study residential buildings for signs of poor construction or structural weaknesses.

Residents of a North Miami Beach condominium, Crestview Towers, were told to leave immediately last week after engineers found serious concrete and electrical problems. They have not been allowed to return as city officials try to determine if the building can be shored up to make it safe.

Eswatini’s Pudemo threatens to intensify pro-democracy protests
7 July 2021, 7:40 AM

The President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) in Eswatini, Mlungisi Makhanya, says they aim to intensify their protest action.

Makhanya made the remark after the government of Eswatini called on businesses to resume their operations and residents to return to work.

Makhanya says they are opposed to the announcement.

“We reject that irresponsible call for people to go back to work. I think asking for our people to go back to work while there are soldiers in the streets, just to show the international community that you are in control or the situation has normalised is irresponsible. The situation here is still tense, volatile and dangerous,” he says.

Violent protests erupted in Eswatini 10 days ago and spread to several cities and towns. Demonstrators are calling for democratic reforms.

Unpacking Eswatini democracy challenges with Neal Rijkenberg:

In a recent statement released through the Eswatini acting Prime Minister, Themba Masuku, the kingdom’s government says while it continues to advocate and promote the full expression of all constitutional and human rights including, the right to protest, it cannot condone the attacks on people and their property.

Citizens have on the other hand accused the government of human rights violations. They allege that the country’s security forces have killed at least 54 people.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for dialogue to resolve the impasse.

Latest from Eswatini with Lucky Lukhele:

TIMELINE | Zuma vs Constitutional Court
5 July 2021, 12:00 AM

Former president Jacob Zuma says he is ready to state his case before the Constitutional Court in his bid to stay out of jail.

On Tuesday, the Apex Court sentenced the former president to 15 months in prison for defying its order to continue testifying at the state capture commission.

Zuma says the court order had left him with no option but to rebel as it had taken away his right not to answer all questions at the commission. His other gripe is the chairperson of the inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s refusal to recuse himself from the proceedings.

Jacob Zuma’s Timeline:

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Zuma says he is willing to make his submission before any other judge at the state capture commission, except Zondo – whom he accuses of bias.

His application for the rescission of his jail sentence will be heard on July 12.

Below is the timeline of the events that led to this moment:

Zuma says SA is sliding into apartheid-like rule, likens jail sentence to death penalty
4 July 2021, 8:40 PM

Former president Jacob Zuma says South Africa is sliding back into apartheid-like rule. Addressing the media on Sunday evening, he listed various reasons for his remark, including his 15-month jail sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court.

The former president said he wasn’t seeking to destruct the work of the state capture commission, but all he is asking for is fairness and consistency in the application of the law.

“The fact that I was sentenced without trial should induce shock to all those who cherish the rule of law. The rule of law doesn’t deal harshly with those you may dislike for whatever reason. South Africa is sliding back to apartheid-like rule. I am facing detention without trial. Elsewhere the Secretary-General of the ANC has a banning order, prohibiting him from addressing masses. We have level 4 lockdown and a curfew of the 1980s. The only difference is we only use different levels, like contempt of court instead of detention without trial, but the substance is the same,” he says.

The former president also suggested that the apartheid regime was better than the current dispensation, citing the “persecution” of his children as reason for that perception.

He says Constitutional democracy should mean that no one, not even judges, is above the law; that the Constitution reigns supreme and anything contrary is annulled.

He again denied reports that he has refused to appear the State Capture Inquiry.

He says he only took issue with Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo being there during proceedings.

“That matter is being adjudicated in a court of law and I am still awaiting an outcome from that court. Had Zondo simply recused himself and allowed my submission to be heard by somebody neutral – the people of South Africa could have had all about he unsubstantiated allegations against me. All I am asking is fairness and consistency.”

Zuma addresses the media on the Kamphepe ruling:

Zuma reiterated that he doesn’t fear to go to jail and never operated as an individual.

“I must not be understood to be condoning any acts or conducts that seems to destruct the objectives of the commission. The only point is what I seek to make on how the state capture commission handled the cases of some individuals who refused to appear before the commission,” he says.

He says some of those people are in the private sector and refused to adhere to summons but were never prosecuted. Zuma says a strange procedure was adopted in his case.

“There cannot be that there are Zuma laws in South Africa. Only Jacob Zuma is told that normal procedures are not applicable. Only Jacob Zuma is told that appeal processes are too protracted. Only Jacob Zuma is asked to give mitigation before being found guilty. Only Jacob Zuma name is mentioned that the highest court in the land agrees to be a court of first instance in criminal proceedings.”

He described sending him to jail at the height of a pandemic as the same as sending him to death.
“And the death sentence was abolished in South Africa in 1995 as a result of my contributions and those of others.”

‘Judgment fair and objective’

Zuma has, however, welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision to hear his application for his 15 months jail sentence to be overturned.

He described it as objective, fair and in line with the provisions of the Constitution, which prohibits detention without trial.

“I must also hasten to acknowledge and appreciate the Constitutional Court for its recent announcement where it indicated that on the 12th of July it will give me audience. I trust that peace-loving people of South Africa will support me until this matter is concluded in a manner that the rule of law and the Constitution will reign supreme,” he said.

He also said the commission shouldn’t be referred as the Zondo Commission as this poses a possible conflict of interest should any of the judge’s relatives be implicated in the alleged abuse of state resources at the commission.

Zuma insists that Zondo is not objective towards him and that there is a conflict of interest there.

Political implication of events at Nkandla:

He thanked the media for ensuring that South Africans get to hear his side of the story over the Khampepe judgment that sentenced him to jail without trial.

He also thanked his supporters for showing resolute support for him, the rule of law and justice.

 

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