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Zuma dismisses corruption charges as “nothing more than a witch hunt”3 minutes read

Both Zuma and Thales deny any wrongdoing and have applied to the court for a permanent stay of prosecution.

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South African High Court dismisses Zuma’s appeal to delay corruption trial
Former South African President Jacob Zuma looks on in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, on May 20, 2019 during his trial for alledged corruption. Themba Hadebe / POOL / AFP

Former South African president Jacob Zuma said Monday that he was victim of a “witch hunt” over corruption charges as lawyers argued in court that he could not expect a fair trial.

Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last year, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a multi-million-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.

Zuma, 77, is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.

He allegedly pocketed around four million rand ($280,000, 250,000 euros) from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser.

The charges were first brought against Zuma in 2005. They were dropped by prosecutors in 2009, shortly before he became president, and reinstated in 2016.

“My rights have been flagrantly violated,” Zuma told supporters gathered outside the court in Pietermaritzburg. “If this trial continues, it will be nothing more than a witch hunt.”

Zuma’s legal counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane told the court that the case was at the “intersection of law and politics” and that Zuma faced “mob justice” due to prejudice against him.

Sikhakhane argued that Zuma’s constitutional right to a prompt trial had been “violated to the point where we could say ‘a fair trial can never happen’.”

He accused prosecutors of being “over-zealous” and asked: “Does he get stripped of human dignity because he is Mr. Zuma?”

Both Zuma and Thales deny any wrongdoing and have applied to the court for a permanent stay of prosecution.

‘Politics is not good’ –  

“Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure -through no fault of Thales at all -together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial,” the company said in a press statement.

“Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees.”

Outside the Pietermartizburg high court, Zuma’s supporters held a rally for the former president.

Supporters of former President Jacob Zuma wait for him to appear outside the High Court where he faces corruption charges.

“Politics is not good. Some people, they don’t like Zuma -that’s why they took him to court,” Vukhani Khumalo told reporters, saying court proceedings against him should be scrapped.

Zuma sat in court wearing a suit and red tie and looking occasionally at papers in front of him.

A separate judicial enquiry into alleged state corruption during Zuma’s time as president is under way in Johannesburg.

His successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who held on to power when the ANC won national elections with a reduced majority earlier this month, has vowed to root out corruption in the government and the party as he tries to attract investment and revive the economy.

The ANC’s reputation suffered under Zuma’s leadership, and Ramaphosa still faces resistance to his reform agenda, especially from Zuma allies still holding senior positions in the party and government.

The main opposition, Democratic Alliance party fought a long battle to have the corruption charged reinstated, with Zuma’s lawyers fighting to prevent him going on trial.

Zuma, who is thought to have little personal wealth, was ordered by a court last year to pay back state funds and cover his own costs in the case, leaving him with large legal bills.

The hearing is set to last until Friday but the court will not sit on Wednesday.

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East Africa News

Nine airlifted from Mogadishu to Turkey following terrorist attack

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Nine people injured in a car bomb attack that occurred on Saturday in Afgoye, thirty kilometres north west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, were airlifted to Turkey on Tuesday morning for treatment. The airlift is the second medical evacuation of bomb attack victims in less than four weeks. Twenty one people were injured in the Afgoye attack that targeted Turkish construction workers who were having lunch with local police.

Turkey’s ambassador to Somalia, Mehmet Yilmaz confirmed that the nine to receive treatment in Turkey are three Turkish nationals and six Somalis. 

While speaking at a news conference in Mogadishu, he reiterated that his country would continue to support Somalia despite a spate of recent attacks by Islamist group… al-Shabaab. 

“This will not stop us from helping Somalia. We shall continue to work. Somalia and Turkey have good relations,” Yilmaz said.

A separate group of Turkish engineers constructing a road were among those hurt in a bombing that killed at least ninety people in December 2019.

On this matter, Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, met with the Turkish ambassador to Somalia and other officials in Mogadishu. He assured of his government’s commitment to providing adequate security for Turkish nationals.

“We thank our Turkish brothers for their support. The Somali government will take any action necessary to ensure the security of Turkish nationals,” Hassan Ali Khaire said.

Turkey has been a major donor to the Horn of Africa nation since 2011. It is involved in various initiatives such as military training, infrastructure development of roads, hospitals and amenities as well as other donor efforts.

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Politics

Nigeria outlines new visa, immigration policy for foreigners

The immigration boss said ECOWAS citizens require no visa into Nigeria but must enter with valid travel documents.

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Nigeria's Immigration Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede.

The Nigeria Immigration Service on Tuesday released a new policy that outlines the entry requirements for Non-Nigerians travelling to the West African nation.

Immigration Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede gave the requirements in a statement by the Service Public Relations Officer, Sunday James on Tuesday.

The immigration boss said ECOWAS citizens and countries with visa abolition agreement with Nigeria require no visa for entry into Nigeria.

“They however must enter with valid travel documents and through approved entry point, a report by the News Agency of Nigeria said.

Babandede said “holders of African Union Passport desiring to enter Nigeria on short visits can obtain visa upon arrival” at any of the country’s five International Airports.

“Holders of valid Diplomatic/Official Passport from countries with which Nigeria has Visa waiver agreement can enter Nigeria without Visa through approved entry point.

The immigration service said visas such as for Residence, Temporary Work Permit, and Dependants are to be “obtained at our Embassies/Consular Missions or Visa Processing Centers, before commencing such journey to Nigeria.”

“All other passengers who are not holders of passport of member countries of ECOWAS and Africa Union applying for Business purpose will apply for Visa on Arrival vide portal.immigration.gov.ng and must obtain approval online, before commencement of journey to Nigeria.”

“All categories of applicants that require Visa for entry into Nigeria are expected to pay online, since cash payment is not allowed,” he said.

Babandede also said that the new entry policy regime had been communicated to all airlines operating in Nigeria and international airports for compliance.

He said that airlines would not allow passengers to board without complying with the conditions stated.

The immigration authorities called on genuine investors and other categories of travelers to Nigeria to take advantage of the innovation as it “improves migration, transparency and security in our operations,” Babandede said.

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Central Africa Politics

Cameroon forces rescue 24 abducted school children held hostage by separatists

The children were kidnapped early Tuesday from their school in the southwestern city of Kumba and “taken to the forest where the camp of the separatists is located,” an official said.

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Cameroonian soldiers at battlefield./Wikiwand

Soldiers have rescued 24 abducted Cameroonian school children held hostage by armed separatists in the country’s restive English-speaking region of Meme division, an official has said.

The children were kidnapped early Tuesday from their school in the southwestern city of Kumba and “taken to the forest where the camp of the separatists is located,” Ntou Ndong Chamberlain, senior officer of Meme division, told reporters.

Chamberlain said the two armed separatists were shot dead during the rescue operation and that weapons and ammunitions were found.

The children, aged 5-10, have been reunited with their families, a Xinhua news agency report said.

Abductions have become rampant in the northwest and southwest Anglophone regions of Cameroon as general elections draw near.

Armed separatists have been clashing with government forces since 2017 in an attempt to establish an independent nation in the two regions.

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