Daily Archives: April 22, 2018

11 Migrants Die, 263 Rescued off Libya Coast

The Libyan navy said it has recovered the bodies of 11 migrants and rescued 263 others in two separate operations off Libya’s western coast.

The migrants were from various sub-Saharan African countries, he said.

Libya is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 600,000 crossed the central Mediterranean to Italy in the past four years, the vast majority from Libya.

The United Nations migration agency said through mid-April of this year, 18,575 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain by crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The International Organization for Migration said that is less than half of last year’s pace.

More notable is the steep decline this year, to 9 percent, of the number of arrivals in Europe from 2016, which exceeded 200,000.

And yet, some of these attempts to flee conflict and poverty proved fatal. Last year alone, 3,116 people died attempting the crossing, according to the IOM, including 2,833 from Libya.

The conflict-riven country is regularly singled out for the exploitation and ill-treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICAN VILLAGES: NO WATER, MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN

GIYANI, South Africa–Hundreds of thousands of people in Giyani, Limpopo, and 55 surrounding villages have to go without water because multinational software giant SAP is in effect double-billing the water and sanitation department by hundreds of millions of rands.

The vanity project, signed by the department under its former minister Nomvula Mokonyane in 2016, saw the state buying R950m in unlimited SAP software licences for itself, all nine water boards and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA).

The R950m covered an upfront payment, annual renewal of licences and support and maintenance for the department, the water boards and the TCTA. The agreement was valid for five years.

But this week, the water boards and the TCTA said they were contracted to different software companies and were paying their own licences, maintenance and support fees. Some do use SAP.

Last year, the German software giant investigated allegations that the company had paid Gupta front companies about R130m to secure contracts at Transnet and Eskom.

Now, according to internal memos, emails and other documents City Press obtained, in June 2016 the chief financial officer of the department’s water trading entity, Mpho Mofokeng, argued against paying for SAP licences. This was contained in his letter to the water department’s former director-general, Margaret-Ann Diedricks, and infrastructure deputy director-general Zandile Mathe. The water trading entity manages water sales and rights.

In his letter, Mofokeng argued:

– The department had already acquired unlimited SAP licences for R178m in 2013 and didn’t need more;

– The water trading entity had not been consulted;

– Water boards had not been asked about the move even though they could be using different software packages;

– Money to pay for the SAP licences was simply not available; and

– The procurement of the licences had not been planned for.

Two senior executives in the department said this week that the R178m five-year licence deal would have lapsed this year. The department would have only needed to pay about the same amount to have them renewed for another five years.

This meant the department wasted R772m, the difference between R950m and R178m.

City Press reported last year that the department’s former legal adviser, Puseletso Loselo, and the State Information Technology Agency had warned the department not to sign the SAP contract.

The two executives in the department said Mokonyane and Mathe pressured Mofokeng to sign the contract.

Documents show that in October 2016, Mofokeng eventually signed the first invoice of R285m on condition that budget availability concern is addressed and the recoverability of the licence fees from the water boards is initiated as soon as possible.

Last year, City Press reported the department was broke, had racked up a R2.9bn overdraft and was unable to pay contractors working on a multibillion-rand project to provide water to Giyani and surrounding villages.

In a series of presentations to Parliament between October and last month, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu singled out the SAP contract for having contributed to the department’s overdraft and irregular expenditure of over R700m.

Mofokeng refused to comment and referred all queries to the department.

This week, TCTA spokesperson Wanda Mkutshulwa said they use Oracle E-Business Suite and treasury system FTI Star, which they bought for about R30m in 2015 and 2016. The entity was aware of water and sanitation’s SAP licences. She said the department informed them of the opportunity to use SAP as an operating system, but they were already contracted to Oracle and FTI Star.

Rand Water’s Justice Mohale said they use a number of software systems, including SAP.

Rand Water has had, and continues to have, a separate software licence agreement with SAP. Rand Water pays the annual software licence fees to SAP, as software manufacturer, in line with the existing software licence agreement.

He said the department had informed the water board about the SAP arrangement. Rand Water wrote back asking for clarity about the implementation of the arrangement, but got no response. Subsequently, Rand Water did not participate in the department’s SAP arrangement.

Mhlathuze Water’s acting chief executive Mthokozisi Duze said he was not aware of the department’s deal with SAP. We use different software, he said.

A senior executive at Lepelle Northern Water in Polokwane said they use SAP and pay their own licence, maintenance and support fees.

SAP spokesperson Ansophie Strydom said: While SAP’s investigation into the Transnet and Eskom contracts is complete, our review of all other public sector contracts dating back to 2010 is ongoing and includes contracts with the department of water and sanitation.

It is our intention and duty, not only to our employees, customers and partners, but also to the South African people, to get to the bottom of these matters, and we intend to keep that promise.

We want South Africa to know that we are pursuing this process as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

SAP welcomed the Public Protector and Special Investigation Unit’s investigations of the contract.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, did not respond to questions sent on Thursday. They needed Mathe’s attention, but she was away on sick leave, he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Thousands of Displaced in Southern Libya in Desperate Need of Help

The U.N. refugee agency is appealing to armed groups in southern Libya to allow humanitarian access to thousands of people displaced by fighting to provide urgently needed relief.

Recent deadly clashes between armed groups in and around the southern Libyan city of Sabha have forced an estimated 1,900 families or more than 13,000 people to flee their homes.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Andrej Mahecic says humanitarian help in this region of Libya is desperately needed.

The displaced Libyan population in the south badly needs adequate shelter and basic household items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, mattresses and kitchen sets,” he said. “To make matters worse, humanitarian access in this part of Libya has been restricted for weeks and the situation remains extremely volatile. Many have sought refuge in local schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

Libya has been riven by division and conflict since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, which toppled former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Rival governments and multiple armed factions are keeping the society in a state of perpetual chaos. Tribal fighting is a regular and disruptive occurrence in the region of Sabha city, some 760 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli.

Mahecic says the UNHCR was able to seize, what he calls a window of opportunity this past week to deliver urgently needed relief items to hundreds of displaced families in the city of Murzuk. This town, one of the hubs of Libya’s modern slave trade, is located about 135 kilometers south of Sabha.

Conflict has uprooted more than one-half million people throughout Libya. Mahecic says the UNHCR has increased its resources by 300 percent in recent months so that it can provide more humanitarian assistance to more people in need.

Source: Voice of America

Thousands of Displaced in Southern Libya in Desperate Need of Help

The U.N. refugee agency is appealing to armed groups in southern Libya to allow humanitarian access to thousands of people displaced by fighting to provide urgently needed relief.

Recent deadly clashes between armed groups in and around the southern Libyan city of Sabha have forced an estimated 1,900 families or more than 13,000 people to flee their homes.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Andrej Mahecic says humanitarian help in this region of Libya is desperately needed.

The displaced Libyan population in the south badly needs adequate shelter and basic household items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, mattresses and kitchen sets,” he said. “To make matters worse, humanitarian access in this part of Libya has been restricted for weeks and the situation remains extremely volatile. Many have sought refuge in local schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

Libya has been riven by division and conflict since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, which toppled former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Rival governments and multiple armed factions are keeping the society in a state of perpetual chaos. Tribal fighting is a regular and disruptive occurrence in the region of Sabha city, some 760 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli.

Mahecic says the UNHCR was able to seize, what he calls a window of opportunity this past week to deliver urgently needed relief items to hundreds of displaced families in the city of Murzuk. This town, one of the hubs of Libya’s modern slave trade, is located about 135 kilometers south of Sabha.

Conflict has uprooted more than one-half million people throughout Libya. Mahecic says the UNHCR has increased its resources by 300 percent in recent months so that it can provide more humanitarian assistance to more people in need.

Source: Voice of America

Thousands of Displaced in Southern Libya in Desperate Need of Help

The U.N. refugee agency is appealing to armed groups in southern Libya to allow humanitarian access to thousands of people displaced by fighting to provide urgently needed relief.

Recent deadly clashes between armed groups in and around the southern Libyan city of Sabha have forced an estimated 1,900 families or more than 13,000 people to flee their homes.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Andrej Mahecic says humanitarian help in this region of Libya is desperately needed.

The displaced Libyan population in the south badly needs adequate shelter and basic household items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, mattresses and kitchen sets,” he said. “To make matters worse, humanitarian access in this part of Libya has been restricted for weeks and the situation remains extremely volatile. Many have sought refuge in local schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

Libya has been riven by division and conflict since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, which toppled former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Rival governments and multiple armed factions are keeping the society in a state of perpetual chaos. Tribal fighting is a regular and disruptive occurrence in the region of Sabha city, some 760 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli.

Mahecic says the UNHCR was able to seize, what he calls a window of opportunity this past week to deliver urgently needed relief items to hundreds of displaced families in the city of Murzuk. This town, one of the hubs of Libya’s modern slave trade, is located about 135 kilometers south of Sabha.

Conflict has uprooted more than one-half million people throughout Libya. Mahecic says the UNHCR has increased its resources by 300 percent in recent months so that it can provide more humanitarian assistance to more people in need.

Source: Voice of America