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State Capture Commission to hear how Eskom was captured
23 January 2020, 9:07 AM

Details about how Eskom was captured are expected to be revealed at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Thursday when the power utility’s former chairperson, Zola Tsotsi takes the stand.  In 2017, Tsotsi told Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee inquiry into Eskom how he was forced to shed top executives at the parastatal who did not toe the line. He also told that inquiry how one of the Gupta brothers threatened to have him fired and find someone else for the job because he was not assisting them.

The former chairperson is expected to shed more light on how and when Eskom was captured.  Eskom was amongst one of the State Owned Entities and the centre stage for corruption and state capture. Tsotsi in his previous testimonies has claimed that he was merely taking orders from above and that he was a victim of circumstances. The former chairperson is likely to give damming details of the extent of the rot at the power utility-and how involved the Gupta brothers were.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture deputy chief Justice Raymond Zondo is expected to brief the media on Thursday on the commission’s application to extend its work until the end of the year. The commission lodged an application at the High Court in Pretoria at the end of last year for an order to extend it to 31 December this year. It was expected to finalise its hearings at the end of next month. The commission was established by former President Jacob Zuma following a High Court ruling which ordered him to comply with the Public Protector’s remedial action.

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Democrats accuse Trump at impeachment trial of corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine
23 January 2020, 7:52 AM

Democrats accused President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial on Wednesday of a corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine to help him get re-elected and warned that America’s global prestige would suffer if the U.S. Senate acquits him.

The Republican Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, sounded a defiant note, telling reporters in Switzerland the Democrats did not have enough evidence to find him guilty and remove him from office.

In a two-hour opening argument for the prosecution after days of procedural wrangling, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff said Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son on unsubstantiated corruption charges last year.

“To implement this corrupt scheme, President Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into two discredited allegations that would benefit President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign,” said Schiff, leading the House Democrats’ prosecution team of managers.”

The Democratic team pressed its case against Trump in eight hours of arguments, which will resume on Thursday.

They contend that Trump was trying to find dirt on Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination for the November election, and his son Hunter Biden who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, to help the president win a second term.

Trump was impeached last month by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his dealings with Ukraine and impeding the inquiry into the matter.

Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled 100-member Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office. But the trial’s effect on his re-election bid is unclear.

 

FOCUS ON JULY 25 CALL

His fellow Republicans in the Senate say his behavior does not fit the description of “high crimes and misdemeanors” outlined in the U.S. Constitution as a reason to oust a U.S. president.

“We believe without question that the president will be acquitted,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told reporters at the end of Wednesday’s session.

Democrats have two more days to make their case. Trump’s defense team will have three days after that for rebuttal in atrial that could potentially conclude next week.

The case against Trump is focused on a July 25 telephone call in which he asked Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into the Bidens as well as a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. military aid to Ukraine was frozen for a period of time.

“We have the evidence to prove President Trump ordered the aid withheld, he did so to force Ukraine to help his re-election campaign … we can and will prove President Trump guilty of this conduct and of obstructing the investigation into his conduct,” Schiff said as the day concluded.

Making references to 18th century U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton and the late Republican President Ronald Reagan, Schiff said the world was watching.

“For how can any country trust the United States as a model of governance if it’s one that sanctions precisely the political corruption and invitation to foreign meddling that we have long sought to eradicate in burgeoning democracies around the world?”

He said senators would “also undermine our global standing” if they did not oust Trump three years into his tumultuous presidency.

Tuesday’s start of the impeachment trial drew about 11million TV viewers, according to Nielsen ratings data, a figure that fell short of the roughly 13.8 million who watched last November for the first day of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump.

 

HISTORIC TRIAL

It is the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. The opening days have been dominated by arguments over Democratic requests for more witnesses and records.

The Trump administration has not complied with subpoenas for documents and has urged officials like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to participate in the impeachment investigation.

A Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Wednesday found a bipartisan majority of Americans wanting to see new witnesses testify in the impeachment trial.

It said about 72% agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with first hand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify,” including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans.

In Davos, Switzerland, Trump told reporters at the World Economic Forum that he was happy with the way the trial was going.

“I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,” Trump said.

Democratic U.S. Representative Val Demings, one of the House impeachment managers, said Trump’s comment amounted to boasting about obstruction of Congress.

“This morning, the president not only confessed to it, he bragged about it: ‘Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,'” she said.

But a senior administration official, asked to explain what Trump was referring to, said: “What he’s clearly saying is we have all the facts on our side, and those facts prove he’s done nothing wrong.”

Trump said allowing Bolton to testify at the trial would present national security concerns.

“He knows some of my thoughts, he knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive?” Trump said.

Bolton, a foreign policy hawk who was fired by Trump last year, has disdainfully described the Ukraine pressure campaign as a “drug deal” and testimony from him could be awkward for the president.

A parade of current and former officials spoke at House impeachment hearings last year of a coordinated Trump effort to pressure Ukraine.

But those televised hearings did little to change support for and against Trump’s impeachment. Reuters/Ipsos polling since the inquiry began shows Democrats and Republicans responding largely along party lines.

 

Thabane requested to appear before police commissioner
21 January 2020, 12:29 PM

Police in Lesotho have requested Prime Minister Tom Thabane to appear before the country’s deputy national police commissioner on Wednesday in connection with the assassination of his estranged wife. Dipulelo Thabane was assassinated in June 2017, two days before her husband’s inauguration.

Thabane and his current wife Maesaiah, are alleged to have links to the assassination.

Lesotho’s Deputy Police Commissioner, Paseka Mokete, sent a letter requesting to see the Prime Minister on Tuesday morning. This is the second letter requesting Tom Thabane to appear before the police – the first was sent in December.

Also read | Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane agrees to step down
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane has agreed to step down and retire from his position. This comes after his party, the ABC and the opposition coalition applied pressure on him to vacate office.

 

In the letter, Mokote points out that the solving of the murder is not only of national interest but it has international implications as well. He tells Thabane that concern outside the borders that this case be timeously investigated.

Meanwhile, the current Mrs Thabane Maesaiah is still on the run. Her warrant of arrest is still out and police don’t know her whereabouts.

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The ‘Movement’ aims to give South Africans their power back: Maimane
21 January 2020, 10:38 AM

Former Democratic Alliance leader, Mmusi Maimane, is officially making his way back into politics.  Maimane resigned as the leader of the main opposition party in October last year.

He will be launching his new party called the ‘Movement’ in the next two months.

“When I left the DA it wasn’t just the question of the DA, it was a question of the institutional body of politics. I left there believing that South Africans are feeling distant from the political principles and I said to myself for the targeted view – I want to engage society and business. I want to engage other political and different sectors of society. A movement that is non-racial, a movement that is focused on the future a movement that gives South Africans their power back.”

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Situation dire at QwaQwa hospital as water challenges continue
21 January 2020, 9:20 AM

Only a few staff members have reported for duty at the Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli and Elizabeth Ross hospitals in the eastern Free State due to water shortages in the QwaQwa area. Some of the nurses and doctors have been on duty for over 24 hours due to the protest over the poor water supply in the area. Nurses who reported for duty on Monday are trapped inside the hospitals and those who are supposed to relieve them cannot make it to work due to roads being blockaded.

On Monday the angry community protested over the death of an eight-year-old girl, Mosa Mbele, who drowned on Saturday while fetching water from a river. Doctor Manapo Mopeli says measures are in place to transport emergency cases to Bloemfontein for further care.  “I’ve been working for 24 hours but there hasn’t been any emergency that has needed outside assistance. If we struggle, we are able to take patients to Bloemfontein. Apart from that, we are just trying our best, that’s all we can do.”

Residents have threatened to render the area ungovernable until their demand for reliable water supply has been met. Angry protesters vowed to take more drastic action if the authorities fail to address their demands. They are also calling for the current mayor to step down.

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