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

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



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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Zimbabwe Buries 3 Government Officials Who Died of COVID-19



Zimbabwe on Wednesday laid to rest three cabinet ministers who succumbed to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the last two weeks.

Among the deceased is Foreign Minister, Sibusiso Moyo, who announced the ousting of Robert Mugabe on national television during the 2017 Zimbabwean coup d’état.

The others are Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza and prisons chief Paradzai Willings Zimondi.

The trio were buried at the Heroes Acre in the capital, Harare.

The country has recorded a surge in Covid-19 cases since the festive season.

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting has tweeted photos of the ceremony with a brief profile of the deceased.

Joel Matiza

Dr Joel Biggie Matiza was the ZANU PF Mash East Provincial Chairman & Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Born in 1960 in Murewa, he joined the liberation struggle in 1975 and was deployed to various ZIPRA training camps. He was known as “Cde Destroyer Ndlovu”. After suffering injuries during a raid on Freedom Camp in Zambia, Cde Matiza was hospitalised for a long time before being identified as one of the intellects in the ranks qualifying for educational courses offered by friendly nations. He was sent to Nigeria to pursue his education.

Post-Independence, Cde Matiza worked as an architect before being employed by the Urban Development Corporation. He went on to hold several portfolios in ZANU PF and Government.

He will be remembered for championing infrastructure projects in the country with passion. 

Paradzai Zimondi

Commissioner-General (Rtd) Paradzayi Willings Zimondi whose nom de guerre was Cde Tonderai Nyika, was born in 1947 in Uzumba, Mash East. He underwent military training at Mgagao Training Camp in Tanzania in 1974. After training, he was posted to Chimoio, Mozambique as Instructor.

Cde Zimondi was later deployed to Gaza and Manica Province where he was appointed Field Operations Commander from 1977. He successfully commanded ZANLA combatants in many battles. He was appointed member of ZANLA High Command. His record in combat was described as “legendary”.

At Independence, Cde Zimondi was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army.

In 1997, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of then Zimbabwe Prison Service.

In 2013, he was appointed first Commissioner General of the ZPCS, a position he held till retirement in 2020.

Sibusiso Moyo

The late Lt Gen (Rtd) Dr SB Moyo, whose nom de guerre was Cde Delumuzi, was born in 1961 in Mberengwa. He abandoned his studies in 1977 and crossed to Botswana to join the liberation struggle. He received his initial Military training at CGT base in Zambia before going to USSR.

After training in USSR he returned to Zambia and became an instructor at various ZIPRA training camps. During ceasefire period, he went to Romeo Assembly Point in Makonde where he was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army. He held several appointments in the army till 2017.

Dr SB Moyo was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2017. In this position, he never rested in his pursuit to improving Zimbabwe’s international relations.

He will be remembered as a diplomat par excellence and a committed, gallant patriot. 

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North Africa Politics

Sudan Welcomes Israeli Intelligence Minister, Eli Cohen, in a Historic First Visit



The Israeli intelligence minister, Eli Cohen, has visited Sudan to discuss implementing last year’s bilateral agreement to normalise ties.

Cohen has become the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Sudan.

An Israeli spokesperson said Cohen and the Sudanese defence minister, Lt Gen Yassin Ibrahim, signed a memorandum on diplomatic, security and economic issues.

Cohen led a delegation from his ministry and from the National Security Council. He also held talks with senior Sudanese officials, including Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council.

He also invited Sudanese leaders to visit Israel.

In a statement after his return to Israel, Cohen said he was confident his discussions had laid the foundation for bilateral co-operation and stability in the region.

His return to Israel was just in time before a week-long shutdown of the airport as part of efforts to control the spread of coronavirus variants into Israel.

Sudan earlier this month signed the “Abraham Accords” with the United States, paving the way for the African country to normalize ties with Israel.

The ‘Abraham Accords’ did not officially establish diplomatic ties between Khartoum and Jerusalem, a move that is expected to happen in the near future, at a yet-undetermined date.

Recent U.S.-negotiated deals between Arab and Muslim countries and Israel have been a major foreign policy achievement by former US president Donald Trump’s administration.

The deals were named the Abraham Accords after the biblical patriarch revered by Muslims and Jews.

Sudan’s economy has suffered from decades of U.S. sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since a 1989 terror-backed military coup.

The sanctions date back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

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North Africa Politics

Tunisia’s Parliament Approves Cabinet Reshuffle Amid Protests

11 new ministers were named by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who said he hoped it would inject new blood into his government.



Tunisia’s parliament has confirmed a cabinet reshuffle amid growing unrest that deepened an existing conflict between the prime minister and the president, as hundreds protested outside the heavily barricaded parliament over social inequality and police abuses.

Water cannons were used by riot police on protesters outside the parliament, in an attempt to quell the largest rally since demonstrations began this month.

Protesters in their hundreds had marched from the Ettadhamen district of the capital, Tunis, where young people have clashed with police several nights this month, and hundreds more joined the protesters near the parliament.

11 new ministers were named by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who said he hoped it would inject new blood into his government.

” Young people protesting outside parliament reminds us of our priorities. Their protests are legitimate and the government will listen to the angry youth,” he said.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told the assembly that by naming 11 new ministers to the interior, which included justice, health and other key portfolios, he aimed to create a “more effective” reform team. 

However, President Kais Saied indicated on Monday that he would reject the cabinet reshuffle, largely condemning the absence of women among the new ministers and said there may be conflicts of interest among some of the new Cabinet members.

Last year, President Saied appointed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi but has taken issue with some of his moves. The president said he would not swear in any ministers suspected of corruption.

Riot police mounted barricades to prevent protesters approaching the parliament building where lawmakers were debating the government reshuffle.

The parliamentary session came a day after protesters clashed with police in the town of Sbeitla, in Tunisia’s marginalized center, following the death of a 20-year-old man who was hit by a tear gas canister last week. 

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