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Ties with Mali in jeopardy: European Union
21 September 2021, 7:33 AM

The European Union says ties with Mali could be seriously affected if it allows Russian private military contractors to operate in the country.

Diplomatic and security sources told Reuters that Mali’s one-year-old military junta is close to recruiting the Wagner Group to supply mercenaries to train Mali’s military and protect senior officials.

France has launched a diplomatic drive to thwart the move. Paris says it would be “incompatible” with a continued French presence.

West Africa’s main political bloc, ECOWAS, as well as other allies combating militants in the Sahel region, have also expressed concerns over the potential deal.

Mali’s military junta has said it will oversee a transition to democracy leading to elections in February 2022.

Mali says it can seek military help from anyone, despite French concern

Mali has the right to seek military support from whoever it wants, the prime minister said, after France and other foreign powers expressed alarm at a report that Bamako was approaching Russian mercenaries for assistance.

Prime Minister Choguel Maiga did not confirm whether the government was in talks with any other party in his comments that were released by a Malian news site, but diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters Mali’s government was close to a deal with a private Russian military contractor.

The sources said Russia’s Wagner Group would supply mercenaries to train Mali’s military and protect senior officials, based on the deal being negotiated.

Bathabile Dlamini to appear in court on perjury charges
21 September 2021, 7:09 AM

Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will appear at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on a charge of perjury on Tuesday.

The charges relate to her testimony during an inquiry the Constitutional Court instituted into her role in the 2017 social grants crisis.

The head of the inquiry, Justice Bernard Ngoepe, said Dlamini lied about her role in the Cash Paymaster Services saga.

In 2018, civil society movement, Freedom Under Law, said it felt vindicated by the Constitutional Court judgment.

The court had ordered Dlamini to personally pay 20% of the legal costs of the court application by Black Sash and Freedom Under Law regarding the Sassa debacle.

The court also referred Dlamini to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution over suspicions that she lied under oath in her submissions to the court, as well as during the inquiry.

“Whilst we’re elated, I think it’s vindication for accountability,” says Freedom Under Law’s Chief Executive Officer Nicole Fritz.

Constitutional Court ruling on Social grants hearing: 17 March 2017

Last day for political parties to submit nominations and prescribed election deposits
21 September 2021, 6:32 AM

Political parties and independent candidates intending to contest the November 1 Local Government Elections have until 5pm on Tuesday to submit their nominations and prescribed election deposits.

This forms part of the amended timetable following the official proclamation of the election date by the Minister of Co-operative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa has until this Friday to notify parties of any candidates appearing on multiple party lists. A final list of candidates will be certified and published next Wednesday.

The IEC says that it will continue to make decisions based on the law and not on popular sentiment.

The Commission was reacting to the judgment of the Constitutional Court handed down on Monday which found that on the basis of Section 11.2  of the Electoral Act, it possesses the statutory powers to reopen the candidate registration and amend the electoral timetable in the way it has done.

The Democratic Alliance, however, remains suspicious of the Commission’s motives.

With the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of the DA’s application to have the reopening of the candidate list declared unlawful,  IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said clarity as to the impartiality of the Commission has been settled.

“The court held that on the papers before it the impartiality of the Commission could not be impugned, the clarity provided by the Constitutional Court on this matter has laid a solid foundation for all parties to prepare for the elections, for its part the commission will continue to discharge its responsibility with decisions rooted in the Constitution and the law. Such an approach ensures that we remain true to the constitutional duty of delivering free and fair elections.”

IEC welcomes Constitutional Court ruling on candidates registration:

UN General Debate to open on Tuesday
21 September 2021, 5:58 AM

The General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly opens in New York on Tuesday with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expected to warn of a world and a planet in crisis.

The theme for the current session is “Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people and revitalize the United Nations.”

The opening segment of the annual debate will also see speeches delivered by the Presidents of Brazil and the United States. International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor is also attending the General Assembly.

US President Joe Biden will make his maiden address to the General Assembly with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights likely to provide key pillars to what should be a markedly different tone at the UN, compared to his predecessor.

UN Chief Antonio Guterres is expected to, as he does annually, sound the alarm of a world in peril as it faces challenges on multiple fronts, none more urgent than recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly around the issue of vaccine inequity, while concerns around a planet on the boil and an inadequate global response to climate change have many here nervous.

South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor met with the UN Chief in person on Monday, while President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the Assembly virtually on Thursday.

VIDEO: UN General Assembly begins

Russian university shooter alive, being treated in hospital, say investigators
20 September 2021, 1:10 PM

A student who opened fire at a university in Russia on Monday is alive and being treated in hospital, the Investigative Committee law enforcement agency said, contradicting an earlier statement from the university that he had been killed.

At least eight people were killed and several others wounded in the incident at Perm State University, around 1,300 km east of Moscow.

More information on this story will follow soon.

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