Monthly Archives: February 2014

South Africa: 26 Killed in SA Mines This Month

Johannesburg — February has been a deadly month in South Africa’s mining industry with at least 26 workers, both legal and illegal, killed underground.

At the beginning of the month, mines belonging to mining magnate Patrice Motsepe were cast in the spotlight after nine workers were killed. Their deaths followed a rockfall which triggered a fire at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine.

The fatalities sparked outrage, with the Congress of SA Trade Unions calling for a probe into the deaths.

“The department of mineral resources… [should] conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the accident, identify the causes, and assess whether there was any negligence on the part of the mine management,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said at the time.

The Economic Freedom Fighters said mining bosses were to blame.

“These deaths, like many in the mining industry, are preventable and, therefore, should be seen not as accidents but murder for profits,” EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

In a bid to compensate for the lives lost, Motsepe pledged R75,000 towards the education of each child of the nine miners.

In the same week, two more Harmony Gold mineworkers were killed in separate accidents — one at the Kusasalethu mine in North West and the other at Joel mine in the Free State.

Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said the deaths were unacceptable.

In the following week, a group of around 200 illegal miners were trapped in an abandoned mine shaft in Benoni, on the East Rand.

As some of them were rescued they revealed the ruthless world of gangs and robbers existing underground. A rival group of illegal miners had reportedly thrown boulders down a shaft, trapping the other group underground, and stealing their gold. Two men were killed.

Agence France-Presse quoted Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko as saying that the men died when a rock fell on them, and that one body remained pinned beneath it. Miners who were rescued from that shaft were arrested and charged with illegal mining. Many others, however, remained underground, fearing arrest.

It was unclear whether any more miners had died, resurfaced, or were still underground, as rescue operations were abandoned.

“When we initially went there, it was a rescue operation,” said Ekurhuleni emergency medical service spokesman Rogers Mamaila.

“Once we established that not all the people had wanted to be rescued, the matter turned into a security one. We handed over the mine security to Gold One International mine’s security and police.”

Since then, Gold One had not said anything more regarding the illegal activities on its property.

In the Free State, the naked bodies of two people, suspected to be illegal miners from Lesotho, were found in a shaft at the Eland mine in Welkom.

They had head injuries which were so severe that they were unrecognisable, Warrant Officer Mokgejane Khutsoane said.

“Their heads were cut into pieces.”

Again, the mine owners remained silent.

The highest number of fatalities were in Roodepoort, where the toll of illegal miners stood at 11 on Thursday.

Most of them died from toxic gases underground, said paramedics.

Five bodies were found on Wednesday, close to a hole which illegal mineworkers had dug to get to the ground they were mining.

“It looks like they died a couple of days ago. [The bodies] are already decomposing,” Johannesburg emergency services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said.

Another five bodies were found dumped there the previous day. At the weekend, rescue officials retrieved the body of an 18-year-old youth from the shaft.

While it was suspected that more illegal miners were still underground, Mulaudzi said rescue workers would not enter the mine. They were not willing to risk the lives of their employees and the miners had chosen to enter the mine at their own risk.

Warrant Officer Nonhlanhla Khumalo said she was not sure who the property belonged to. Mining company DRD Gold said it had no investment in that property.

“DRD disposed of some assets years ago and I am not sure who it belongs to now,” spokesman James Duncan said.

Mozambique: Two Former Prime Ministers in Race to Succeed Guebuza

Maputo — Two former Mozambican Prime Ministers, Luisa Diogo and Aires Ali, have joined the race to become the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party in the next presidential election, scheduled for 15 October.

The secretary of the party’s disciplinary body, the Verification Commission, Jose Pacheco (who is also Agriculture Minister), confirmed to reporters on Thursday afternoon that both Diogo and Ali have submitted their nominations, supported by the requisite number of Central Committee members (at least 20).

It is known that more than 60 Central Committee members have backed Diogo’s nominations. It is not yet clear how many supporters Ali has.

Luisa Diogo was Prime Minister from 2004 to 2010, first under President Joaquim Chissano, and then during Guebuza’s first term.

She was succeeded by Aires Ali, who held the post from 2010 to 2012.

Later in the day, the former speaker of the Mozambican parliament, Eduardo Mulembue, announced that he too was putting his name forward to become the party’s candidate.

The current President, Armando Guebuza, was elected for two five year terms and, under the Mozambican constitution, he is not eligible to stand again this year. Under the Frelimo statutes it is the Party’s Central Committee, currently meeting in the southern city of Matola, which must choose the Presidential candidate.

Diogo, Ali and Mulembue join the three “pre-candidates” proposed by the Frelimo Political Commission in December – namely Pacheco, the current Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina, and Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi.

Shortly after the Political Commission announcement, the Frelimo general secretary Filipe Paunde told a press conference that there was “no space” for any other “pre-candidates”.

His words were widely denounced as a violation of the Frelimo statutes, and as an attempt by the Political Commission to usurp a role reserved for the Central Committee. Dozens of Frelimo members, some of them very senior, sent a petition to the Verification Commission demanding respect for the statutes.

Former President Joaquim Chissano was one of the many prominent Frelimo figures who declared publicly that the race for the succession could not be limited to the Political Commission’s short list of three.

Perhaps the most significant rebuff to Paunde came from the Association of Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle (ACLLN), which is affiliated to Frelimo. A meeting of the ACLLN National Committee, while not ruling out any of the three names on the short list, declared “there should be an opening for more candidates who are consensual”.

Luisa Diogo’s chances can only have been boosted by an opinion poll published in last week’s issue of the independent paper “Savana”, which showed that, of all the people whose names had been mentioned as possible Frelimo presidential she was by far the most popular.

1,348 people of voting age were interviewed in seven of Mozambique’s 11 provinces (Maputo City, Maputo Province, Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia, Tete, and Sofala), and were asked who they thought would be the best Frelimo candidate.

41 per cent named Diogo as their first preference. She was followed by Ali on 19 per cent. None of the names on the short list could obtain more than five per cent of first preferences.

Africa: A Look At Africa’s Anti-Gay Laws

African countries ‘dealing’ with gays the best way they know how – further criminalization

A trend is forming from African nations – which already criminalize same sex acts, albeit, through laws inherited from colonial masters – to further put in place legislation that amplify, further criminalize and increase punishment for same sex acts

When India’s Supreme Court – in a surprising ruling – upheld a 150 year old ban on same sex acts among consensual adults, the world reacted with shock at how, in just under four years – it was in 2009 that the High Court decriminalized consensual same sex acts – the law can change easily against homosexual persons.

Unfortunately, as the world – and by large, the global LGBTI, and to some extent, the sex work community – focused on the ruling, there is a worrying trend in the African continent as countries formulate new laws or amplify existing ones to further criminalize same sex persons.

In five countries around the world, same sex sexual conduct carries the death penalty while across the Commonwealth – with most African countries being members – penalties for homosexuality include jail sentences, flogging or death. According to the Human Dignity Trust (HDT), half a dozen Commonwealth countries specify life imprisonment.

38 African countries criminalize homosexuality . This criminalization stems from imported British laws in place in the late nineteenth century that, at that time, outlawed homosexual acts. Despite a 1967 Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales that repealed its own legislation and until the 1980s before Scotland and Northern Ireland did the same, these laws originally imposed during colonial times remain largely in place in these African, even in a post-independence era.

Of these 38, 10 have taken the extraordinary step of targeting LGBTI persons by strengthening existing sexual offences laws, or formulating ‘moral’ Bills that outlaw all forms non-heterosexual conduct or create anti-homosexuality specific laws. Here are some of them.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)

The DRC has joined the league of African nations proposing for ‘preserve African cultural values’ by outlawing non-heterosexual practices from pornography to zoophilia to homosexuality. Recently, the National Assembly Member Steve Mbikayi, sponsored a Bill in Parliament which, he insists is meant to avoid “moral depravity” and protect the Congolese youth from “western morals.” The bill is necessary in order to “preserve African values,” which, he insists, “have never tolerated romantic relationships between persons of the same sex.” The bill ‘complements’ a 2010 proposed legislation, Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill, that was presented before Parliament aiming to criminalise homosexuality and zoophilia as sexual practices ‘against nature.’ Section 2 of the proposed Bill singles out zoophilia (sex with animals) and homosexuality as sexual practices against nature. It also criminalises any activities that directly or indirectly aim to promoting the rights LGBTI persons, therefore, in accordance with section 174h3 of the Bill, “all publications, posters, pamphlets, (or) films highlighting or likely to arouse or encourage sexual practices against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC (Section 174h3)” and “all associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC.”

NIGERIA

In May 2013, Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed a Law that further criminalised homosexuality by punishing those who try to enter same-sex marriages with a possible 14 years prison term. The bill, Prohibition of Same Sex Act, which passed through the Senate – Nigeria’s highest chamber – in December 2011 also punishes those “witnessing” or “abetting” same sex relationships with custodial sentences of at least eight years, and groups that advocate for LGBT rights were also penalised by the new bill. The bill – which was awaiting President Jonathan’s Goodluck signature to make it into law – re-emerged this December when reports said the Nigerian Senate ‘unanimously’ passed a harmonised Conference Committee report banning same sex marriage in Nigeria. It is also reported pressure is mounting on Goodluck to sign the Bill with Senate President, David Mark calling on him to sign the Bill into law. “We have been under series of attack from different quarters. I think we believe in this Bill. The earlier we sign it into law, the better. We (Nigeria) have many shortcomings, we don’t one to add this one (same sex marriage) to it,” Mark is reported to have said.

ZIMBABWE

Since 1995, the Zimbabwe government has carried out campaigns against both homosexual men and women. However, in 2006, the Government – under President Robert Mugabe whose own anti-gay public speeches are described as fiery and explicit (at one point, he called for the beheading of gays) – passed laws that criminalize any actions perceived as homosexual. It is now a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss. The “sexual deviancy” law is one of 15 additions to Zimbabwe’s Criminal Code. The sections involving gays and lesbians are part of an overhaul of the country’s sodomy laws. Before then, laws against sodomy were limited to sexual activity, and the revised law now states that sodomy is any “act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act.” In the run-up to the last elections, there was concern from LGBTI activists that following the re-election of Mugabe, who pledged during campaign rallies to impose tighter anti-gay legislation and called for gays to be jailed or beheaded, things might turn worse. Mugabe in his campaigns had been promising tougher measures against LGBTI people, including long prison sentences, and at one point called for beheading gays.

BOTSWANA

In November 2013, the Botswana Government was harshly criticized by human rights, sex workers rights and LGBTI groups after a new national policy draft HIV “Strategies to Address Key Populations” was said to provide for the police and immigration authorities to “arrest” local MSM and sex workers and “deport and evoke permits” of foreigners – with the authorities “even availing themselves over weekends” to enforce the crackdown. The policy was an HIV survey of MSM, female sex workers (FSW), and people who inject drugs (PWID) in the country and these provisions were part of the recommendations of the policy. Despite the Botswana Government refuting this, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), said the government did the ‘totally unexpected and deviated from the study findings by taking punitive, discriminatory, homophobic and xenophobic measures.’ However, the most surprising thing is that the Employment Act of Botswana has prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2010 even though same-sex sexual acts remain illegal.

MALAWI

In November 2012, it was reported that President Joyce Banda had suspended all laws that criminalized homosexuality. This was after Malawi’s justice minister said the government would review anti-gay legislation “in view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws.” Surprising, the government later denied issuing the statement thus the laws that criminalise same sex acts remain in place.

LIBERIA

Lawmakers in Liberia introduced two bills in 2012 that would strengthen existing anti-gay provisions in the criminal code. One of the bill, prohibiting and criminalizing same-sex marriages, was unanimously passed in the Senate but has yet to be taken up by the House of Representatives. Another bill in the House of Representatives is much broader, and includes a provision banning the “promotion” of gay sex. The bill has yet to be voted on.

CAMEROON

Often said to be the only country in the world that ‘actively’ persecutes homosexual people, Cameroon occupies a unique place as the only country that has arrested more real or perceived gay persons than any other African nation. In addition to sustained media outings – of as many people as 50 – the justice system has jailed persons suspected of same sex acts. Further, a national association has now decided to mark the 21 of August as a national anti-gay, promising a homophobic parade through the streets of the capital in a bid to push for enactment of stricter anti-gay laws. Several human rights and LGBT groups criticized plans by Cameroon to increase the penalties for consensual same-sex sexual acts under the law to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 2 million francs CFA (£2660 GBP or $ 4104 USD).

GAMBIA

Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh said in 2008 that laws “stricter than those in Iran” against homosexuals would soon be introduced and vowed to “cut off the head” of any homosexual caught in the country. He further gave homosexuals 24 hours to leave the country. “Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence,” he told a gathering of world leaders. “It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behavior.” Jammeh even went further and ordered the director of the Gambia Immigration Department to “weed bad elements in society.” He further advised army chiefs to monitor the activities of their men and deal with soldiers practicing lesbianism in the military.

UGANDA

Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill was a private member’s bill by MP David Bahati in 2009 causing worldwide condemnation. Provision of the bill include the death penalty for same sex acts in certain circumstances. People who are caught or suspected of homosexual activity would be forced to undergo HIV tests; Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda will likewise fall under the jurisdiction of this law, and may be extradited and charged with a felony. It also provided anyone who is aware of a person who is gay to report them within 24 hours lest they face imprisonment. After much international pressure, the Bill was shelved and is awaiting a committee report that some optimists say may have ‘watered it down.’ It has been reported that the members of the Ugandan Parliament are looking to hold debate behind closed doors due to what one legislator said was the ‘sensitive nature of the bill.’

Denis Nzioka is a LGBTI rights activist based in Nairobi, Kenya

South Africa: Bafana Bafana/Brazil Game, a Special Moment – Gauteng Premier

The international friendly match between Bafana Bafana and Brazil was yet another opportunity to show the outside world how good the country was in hosting events, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane told the media on Thursday, 27 February.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Bafana Bafana versus Brazil game scheduled for 5 March 2014 at FNB Stadium, Mokonyane said the upcoming clash with five-time world champions was also an opportunity to show people how stable and united South Africa is.

Bafana Bafana take on Brazil in a match which is to mark 20 years of the country’s freedom. The match is scheduled to kick off at 19h00 and both teams will use the occasion to unveil their new kit.

Brazil will be unveiling their 2014 FIFA World Cup playing kit while Bafana Bafana will show off their new Nike gear.

“This is a special occasion which should be celebrated by all South Africans. We should also take this occasion to celebrate our late Father of the Nation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s legacy,” said Premier Mokonyane.

Current BRICS chair, President Jacob Zuma will be handing over the chairmanship to his Brazilian counterpart and South Africa will also be handing over the World Cup button to Brazil who will be hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan reiterated the fact that every match played between South Africa and Brazil was special. This upcoming one was more special, he said.”This is Brazil’s World Cup squad with an array of stars plying their trade in Europe for top sides like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris St Germain, just to name a few. You will never get another opportunity like this one if you don’t buy your ticket in time,” said the SAFA president.

“Let me take this opportunity to wish Brazil well in hosting the World Cup and we want them to know we are always on hand to offer any assistance if required,’ he added.

FNB Stadium management CEO Jacques Grobbelaar said all logistics pertaining to transport and security matters had been finalised and it was all systems go.

“Come to the stadium early, utilise the public transport and come and have a great day,” said Grobbelaar.

Tickets can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite and Shoprite Checkers stores countrywide and are going for R50, R100 and R200.

Africa: South Africa – a G-20 Misfit … or Not? a Response to David Hale

The Group of 20 (G-20) was formed in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. It was formed by the world’s most influential countries with a view to reforming the global financial architecture, with the intent that this would prevent a similar crisis happening in future. The G-7 would emerge to be the nucleus of the G-20 grouping. In order to arrive at twenty members the remainder had to be selected from economies which were influential in terms of size and/or geopolitical significance.

It is in this context that Argentina – whose economy was doing quite well at the time – was chosen as one of the members of the G-20 group, as David Hale rightly points out in a recent article published on this website. South Africa was also identified as a suitable member of the grouping due to having the largest and most sophisticated economy in Africa. Its particularly sophisticated financial services sector also made it a natural choice for the G-20 grouping. Over and above this, South Africa became a member of the G-20 for geopolitical reasons. It was seen as being able to easily play a gateway role into the continent and also articulate issues on behalf of the continent.

In making an assessment of South Africa’s continued relevance to this mega grouping vis-a-vis Nigeria’s potential candidature and Argentina’s perceived redundancy it is prudent to be guided by the foregoing factors.

A lot has indeed changed since the formation of the G-20: September 11 happened; the Argentinian economy went through a rough patch; South Africa won the bid to host the Fifa Soccer World Cup and did so it against all pessimism. Mbeki was recalled as South Africa’s president.

But has anything changed to warrant South Africa’s replacement in the G-20 by Nigeria and in addition Argentina’s removal? I argue the negative. Argentina should rather be helped to recover from its crisis instead of being expelled from the grouping.

To expel it would undermine the whole idea behind the G-20’s formation. Instead, Argentina’s membership of the G-20 should be utilised to steer it in the direction of better democratic governance and trade liberalisation. This could be done through peer pressure within the group. Australia, instead of focusing on the relevance of some members in the group, could instead put good governance and trade liberalisation on the agenda and use the opportunity to place Argentina in the spotlight. Furthermore, singling Argentina out would seem odd as there are other culprits within the grouping, such as China which manipulates its currency, Russia which has governance issues, and not to mention members such as Saudi Arabia which is an absolute monarchy. Before Argentina is taken to task about its indiscretions, caution must be taken that focusing on its failings could open a Pandora’s box with respect to some other key G-20 members who are also not faring well in such areas.

It is a bit disconcerting to note that Hale sees market liberalization as a condition sine qua non for G-20 membership. He lauds Nigeria for engaging in Washington Consensus, Chicago School-type of economic reforms. This is a paradox as the G-20 was formed to reform the global financial architectural institutions and protect the market from itself.

What the financial crises have taught us is that the state still has a role to play even in a market economy. To benchmark Nigeria’s success on privatisation may therefore be deemed to be flawed. Nigeria further suffers from rampant corruption. It has virtually no institutions to support any kind of democracy. In 1995 the military elites simply donned civilian garb and ran for elections. No one has bothered to build the institutions necessary to sustain a credible 21st-century democracy. Nigeria is literally waiting for its Mandela moment before it builds a true democracy. This and many other socio-economic challenges facing Nigeria such as rampant poverty, lack of infrastructure, and religious extremism make it a ticking time bomb which cannot qualify for G-20 membership, let alone displace South Africa as a leader in Africa.

South Africa in contrast to Nigeria has all the reasons to remain within the G-20 club. Its economy has grown substantially since 1999. It was able to host a successful soccer world cup and preparations for the tournament brought infrastructural development and goodwill. South Africa’s democratic institutions have grown strength by strength. The recall of President Mbeki from office and the smooth handover bore testimony to the resilience of the very young democratic culture. The recall of a sitting president in Nigeria would have plunged not only the country but possibly the whole region into conflict. While the ascendancy of President Zuma has undermined the goodwill towards the country and sought to threaten its democratic institutions it has not permanently damaged its institutions in general. Ironically, the institution of the Public Protector has fared quite well under his stead, even though it is not what he intended.

Given its strong democratic and institutional culture and uniquely sophisticated finance sector South Africa remains Africa’s most viable choice for G-20 membership. Nigeria could best learn from South Africa not only with respect to developing a democratic culture and institutions but devising and running a modern 21st-century economy.

Azwimpheleli Langalanga is an intern with the Economic Diplomacy Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs.