|Africa News Digest
London Attempts To Destroy African National Congress
Aug. 4 (EIRNS)The smear campaign about kickbacks and corruption that the Sunday Times of Johannesburg initiated yesterday, against South African President Thabo Mbeki and South Africa's governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), seeks to destroy South Africa's leading institutions, a goal which has previously been publicized by the Economist, mouthpiece of the City of London financial circles.
While the material being used by the Times for the attack on South Africa's institutions is hearsay, and has been reported before, the Times is pushing to get Mbeki out of office before his term is up in eight months. Editor Mondli Makhanya, says: "We at the Sunday Times believe Mbeki betrayed us and cannot stay on for the eight months until the election."
The Times smear is a retread of a claim that the British press has been spreading around for a few years, to the effect that Mbeki and the ANC took a $5 million bribe from a German submarine builder, gave $330,000 to his then-Vice President Jacob Zuma, and the ANC got the rest. An added twist from the Times is that Mbeki ignored warnings that South Africa could not afford the submarine deal.
Zuma is already facing a trial on unrelated charges of graft. Mbeki had fired Zuma as his deputy in 2005, over charges that Zuma's financial advisor tried to solicit a bribe for Zuma. The advisor was found guilty.
Today, a judge announced that Zuma's trial will be delayed until December, while Zuma tries to get the charges thrown out. This raises the possibility that the verdict may not be given until after the election early next year.
This conflict will tie the country up in knots over internal political/ethnic competition, instead of dealing with Africa-wide problems, as Mbeki has done. One of Zuma's backers, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, today said that the Zuma faction in the ANC has a legal problem "because of Thabo Mbeki and his people. For that reason, Mbeki must leave now and Zuma must be President now. The solution to this problem is an early election. We must go and vote and we must vote for Zuma."
London is feeding the protracted infighting to destroy the ANC as an institution. The Times is majority-owned by Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited, which invests in gambling, media and broadcasting, hotels and leisure, transport, industrial, food and beverages, and information technology. Tokyo Sexwale, a political opponent of Mbeki, who was once charged with being part of a planned coup attempt against the President, has a 30% share in the holding company that owns the Times.
MAN Ferrostaal Denies South Africa Payoffs
Aug. 10 (EIRNS)German industrial giant MAN Ferrostaal announced today that it had never made any payments to President Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, or any other member of the African National Congress (ANC), or to any other South African public official, reports the South African daily Mail & Guardian. The statement was in response to reports in South Africa's Sunday Times and other newspapers. MAN Ferrostaal said in a statement from Essen, Germany: "These allegations are wrong and entirely unfounded," and pointed out that the articles contained a large number of factual errors and violated the basics of journalistic accuracy. "The company has requested the newspaper [Sunday Times] publish a rectification of the article," and is evaluating "the options of legal action are currently being evaluated."
President Mbeki's legal team is evaluating the possibility of a lawsuit against the Times.
South Africa Hit by Sudden 15% Rise in Price of Rice
Aug. 5 (EIRNS)Although South Africa is not among the major rice-short nations, it is experiencing a steep rise in the price of rice. The price shot up this week by about 15%. According to reports, the four retailers that are part of South Africa's monthly "Shopping Trolley" survey, have raised the price of rice by an average of Rand 5.71 for a 2-kg packet.
Rice prices have been soaring in all the countries neighboring South Africa for months, and now the price rise has hit within the country. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has issued a statement which says that the outlook for 2008 rice production is positive in Africa, where concerns about food import dependency in the region have led to a mobilization of resources into the rice sector, particularly in Egypt, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. However, until the next paddy crop is harvested in October-November, the continent will encounter an acute shortfall of rice.
South Africa imports rice from several major rice-producing countries, such as India, China, Vietnam, and Egypt, which have put on export restrictions in response to the world shortage.
Although prices rose sharply only this week, South African authorities had begun to warn the population as far back as April. At that time, South Africa's central bank governor, Tito Mboweni, warned consumers to "tighten their belts" as inflation reached a five-year high at 9.4% year-on-year in February, from 8.8% in January.
Rights Groups Threaten China with ICC Action vs. Sudan's Bashir
Aug. 7 (EIRNS)Two George Soros-influenced organizationsthe Save Darfur Coalition and Human Rights Firstyesterday threatened China, on the basis of the limited action so far taken in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. They told the press in a conference call that governments should put as much distance between themselves and Sudan as possible, to save themselves from being found guilty of complicity in genocide. Under the Genocide Convention, they claimed, states that become aware of even the possibility of genocide, are obligated to do everything in their power to prevent it, or else face the "serious risk" of being found guilty of complicity. The fact that the ICC prosecutor has presented his case against Bashir before the ICC judges, they claimed, triggers this obligation.
China is the real target of the threat. The groups said that China is the source of large quantities of Sudan's small arms, is training Sudanese fighter pilots, and is the single most influential government in Khartoum and is the key protector of Sudan in the UN Security Council. Human Rights First announced the publication of its "definitive study" of Sudan's acquisition of Chinese armson the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
When EIR asked the spokesmen of the two organizations how they explained the high level of resistance to the prosecution of Bashir from the African Union (AU) as a body, from individual African governments, and from the Arab world, Betsy Apple of Human Rights First responded that South Africa was unduly influential in the AU, and this resistance was coming mainly from South Africa and Libya. African governments are just trying to cover for their own actions, she said, and they don't reflect the views of "civil society" and the victims. "Civil society" is a term used by Soros-allied organizations for the opposition groups they create.