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African press review 5 April 2018


South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba is in a spot of legal bother. Was Winnie Mandela deliberately discredited by the aparthied police's dirty tricks unit? And the DRC has a message for UN peacekeepers.

Is South African president Cyril Ramaphosa going to have to sack Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba?

The question is prompted by a front-page story in this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay where we learn that Gigaba violated the constitution by lying under oath.

The High Court in Pretoria found that Gigaba’s assertion that he had not given approval for a private airline to establish a VIP facility at Johannesburg's Oliver Tambo International Airport during a meeting in January 2016 was false.

Fireblade Aviation had sued Gigaba for allegedly going back on his undertaking to make officials available to staff the airline's customs and immigration facility. Gigaba denied that he had approved the deal, but the court found against him. In the light of his violation of the constitution, it denied him the right to appeal.

Opposition parties have called on the president to sack Gigaba following the court ruling.

In a written response this week to a question from opposition Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, Ramaphosa said the court ruling was of "great concern and needs to be given serious attention".

Dirty tricks operation against Winnie Mandela revealed

The South African Mail & Guardian reports that a massive post-1990 security police operation designed to discredit Winnie Mandela has been revealed by former police “dirty tricks” operative Paul Erasmus.

In the operation, sanctioned at police security branch headquarters level or higher, a mixture of fact and fiction was leaked to local and international media on the alleged marital infidelity of the ANC president’s wife, on criminal activities of her bodyguards, known as the Mandela Football Club, and on the death of teenage activist Stompie Moeketsie, kidnapped and tortured by those guards.

A spate of anti-Winnie reporting ensued which led to recriminations within the ANC and could have contributed to the break-up of the Mandela marriage, the paper says.

Ethiopia claims Nile Basin Initiative undermined

Ethiopia has accused unnamed parties of attempting to undermine cooperation between the Nile Basin Initiative member states.

The claim came as the tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed in Khartoum.

The talks focus on the Ethiopian Renaissance dam, which downstream states fear could interfere with the flow of the River Nile.

The tripartite talks resume after two years of suspension due to disagreements between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Sileshi Bekele, addressing the media in Khartoum on Tuesday, accused “unnamed parties” of intentionally undermining the cooperation between the neighbouring countries.

Egypt suspended its membership of the Nile Basin Initiative in 2000 to protest the Entebbe agreement setting Nile water quotas.

Rwanda denies Israel refugee deal

Rwanda has again denied the existence of any deal to receive African migrants from Israel.

Kigali has at various stages in the dispute claimed that it is “ready to receive any African migrant” from Israel, then denied the existence of a deal.

Rwanda’s comments earlier this week followed an announcement on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that more than 38,000 refugees and asylum seekers would no longer be deported to Africa.

Netanyahu said Israel had reached a deal with the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, to deport the migrants to Western countries after it became clear that the chosen host country in Africa did not meet the required conditions.

Rwanda accused Israel of scapegoating the Kigali government due to the mounting pressure the Jewish state is facing over the migrants issue at home.

UN peackeepers, go home!

The Democratic Republic of Congo wants United Nations' peacekeepers out of the country by 2020, according to DRC Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu. This follows a UN Security Council vote last week extending the peacekeepers' mandate for a further year.

She Okitundu, who is foreign minister and deputy prime minister, also confirmed that the DRC government will not attend a donors' conference in Geneva next week, organised by the UN and the EU.

The Geneva conference aims to raise 1.5 billion euros to tackle a crisis that Kinshasa says has been vastly exaggerated by aid workers.

The United Nations has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the DRC, with at least 13 million Congolese in need of aid, including nearly eight million who are severely food insecure.

The Security Council on Tuesday gave its huge peacekeeping mission in the DRC the task of helping to prepare for December elections meant to end President Joseph Kabila's rule.