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Polity - News this week

29th July 2010

By: Bradley Dubbelman


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South Africa

CAPE TOWN - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille should "buy an engagement ring", Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille says, as talk grows of a merger between the two parties. De Lille was welcomed with cheers and whistles as she arrived on stage with Zille at the DA's federal congress in Cape Town. De Lille says that the country is a few months away from municipal elections, which will represent a "new beginning" in opposition politics in South Africa. Crucial problems, such as poverty, poor service delivery, crime and education, exist, which only a strong opposition can fix, she says. "The problems are often a result of poor governance and greedy leaders. President Jacob Zuma is in the media for all the wrong reasons and, in the meantime, service delivery protests are on the increase. The real source of poverty is African National Congress corruption and greed."


JOHANNESBURG - Government is finalising proposals on the section of the Criminal Procedure Act that could force journalists to reveal confidential sources, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe says. He has told the South African National Editors Forum that the African National Congress (ANC) government will not treat the media in the manner that it was treated during the apartheid years. "As Minister of Justice, I want to assure you that any [new] law must be in conformity with the Constitution," the minister says, referring to the media freedom clauses in the founding document. Radebe's remarks come against the background of increased media concern about the ANC's proposed introduction of a State-appointed media appeal tribunal to adjudicate complaints against the press, and also restrictions in the Protection of Access to Information Bill. Radebe says that the ANC has been deliberating on various issues in preparation for its national general council meeting in Durban later this year. He expects the ANC to announce various decisions and proposals. "One of these [pertains to] information and communication technology and the media."

NELSPRUIT - Poverty and climate change are intimately interlinked and are both the Commonwealth's most pressing current global challenges, says Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor. "We cannot eliminate poverty without increasing the use of energy. As developing countries take their people out of poverty, there has been a strong growth in greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot stop development in the developing world, but we can control the emission of greenhouse gasses," she says. In South Africa, government, the business sector and universities have prioritised global-change science and technology, because of its centrality for sustainable development, locally, continentally and internationally. Pandor says that rising temperatures, new precipitation patterns and other changes are already affecting many aspects of human society and the natural world. "The climate system, as part of a broader earth system, is complex; and there are many areas where it is imperative for fundamental understanding to be substantially improved," she says. The Minister says that international cooperation and benchmarking provide important platforms for understanding and promoting the contribution of universities to economic development. "One of the major sources of economic growth and job creation, which is often overlooked by developing countries, is international cooperation in renewable energy technologies. "Not only does this new industry present opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it also presents new job opportunities," she adds.



Africa & the world

NEW YORK - There is a risk of increased instability in Sudan owing to a lack of a peace deal for Darfur and a looming referendum on whether South Sudan should secede from the North, the United Nations (UN) chief says in a report. In a bleak assessment of the situation facing the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's conflict-torn western Darfur region, known as Unamid, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's report says that violence rose in Darfur after nationwide elections in April. "Violence flared between government forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) troops in flagrant violation of their commitment to cease hostilities, signed in February, and causing May to be the deadliest month since Unamid's establishment in 2007," he says. Ban says he is concerned that the JEM's withdrawal from peace talks in Doha could prevent a swift resolution of the Darfur conflict. This, he warns, could have nationwide implications. "Without an inclusive and comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur, as South Sudan heads towards a referendum on its future status, there is a risk of increasing stability in Sudan," Ban says, adding that he is urging the JEM and Khartoum to return to the negotiating table immediately. UN officials estimate that as many as 300 000 people have died in Darfur since rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the arid region. Khartoum puts the death toll at around 10 000.

ABIDJAN - The African Development Bank is expected to nearly double its infrastructure funding on the continent in five years to $10-billion, to accelerate economic growth. Alex Rugamba, the bank's director for regional integration and trade, says that the recent increase in the bank's core capital has allowed it to allocate more funds for infrastructural projects. "We want to double our infrastructure funding," he says. "There's a big interest in projects that can transform economies . . . for instance there's big talk about railways. We want to revamp our railways. So, if the trends continue as they are now, I would say, within five years' time, we'll be committing up to $10-billion a year on infrastructure."

KAMPALA - Deadly attacks at a Ugandan restaurant and a sports bar during the FIFA World Cup final highlight the need to work together to combat the threat of terrorism, President Jacob Zuma says at an African Union (AU) Summit in Uganda. "The terrorist attacks were not just directed at the people of Uganda alone, but was directed at all the people of the continent and the world," Zuma says. Over 70 people were killed in the terrorist explosions at the bar and restaurant in the Ugandan capital Kampala. Zuma says that he is committed to "walking and acting together" with the Ugandan people through the AU as they fight to combat terrorism. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation says that other key discussions at the Assembly at its fifteenth ordinary session of Heads of State focused on maternal, newborn and child health and development, peace and security, political developments in Sudan and Somalia, science and technology and climate change. The summit adopted a declaration on concrete actions that should be taken on maternal, newborn and child health by 2015 and resolved to strive towards a peaceful continent. Regarding Sudan, former President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as chair of the High Level Implementation Panel, gave an update on political developments. "The Assembly was informed that negotiations are ongoing in Sudan and being undertaken within the context of the United Nations (UN) regarding the referendum in 2011. The Heads of State were also informed that the AU and UN were jointly coordinating peaceful transitional activities in the Sudan under the leadership of the AU," the department says.

CONAKRY - The candidate who came out on top in the first round of Guinea's Presidential election, Cellou Dallein Diallo, has won the backing of third-placed Sidya Toure for the run-off, sources in Diallo's party say. Toure became a possible king-maker after he secured 13,62%of the vote in the first round in June behind Diallo, who won 43,69%, and second-placed Alpha Conde. No date has been set yet for the run-off between the top two candidates. The elections are meant to pave the way for a return to civilian rule in the world's top exporter of the aluminium ore, bauxite. The country has been gripped by political uncertainty since a coup in late 2008. Sources in Diallo's UFDG party say that should he win; Toure's party has been promised the post of prime minister and 30% of cabinet jobs in return for its support. "All the details have been agreed upon," a UFDG party source says, asking not to be named. Three other UFDG sources also confirm the information. Toure's UFR party has not commented yet but Toure said last week that he would negotiate with the two leading candidates to try to secure an alliance. UFDG sources say that sixth-place Ibrahima Abe Sylla will also pledge his support for Diallo, a 58-year-old who served as both Minister and Prime Minister under the late President Lansana Conte. Months before Guinea held its election, Rio Tinto and Vale surprised many by saying that they will spend billions on iron-ore projects there. But analysts say that whoever wins the poll is likely to review several contracts signed under existing administrations. Results from the first round showed how ethnic allegiance swayed voters more than policy choice, with Diallo and Conde taking votes from their own large ethnic groups - Peul and Malinke respectively.




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