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Polity – News this Week

18th February 2010

By: Bradley Dubbelman


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South Africa

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties have lambasted President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address, saying South Africa has lost the hope held out by former President Nelson Mandela. "Your first year in office has hardly been stellar and your call for 2010 to be a year of action really rings hollow in our ears," Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader
Athol Trollip says during the debate on Zuma's speech in the National Assembly. "The reality is that the current crop of African National Congress (ANC) leaders are not comparable to the previous generation; certainly not to the person we are paying tribute to in this debate - [Mandela]." Trollip accuses Zuma of "meddling" with the judiciary and says his actions are a cause for grave concern. Congress of the People Parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala says that South Africa has lost the hope provided by Mandela, but is optimistic that many challenges can still be overcome. "We have debilitating poverty for millions of our people. In a country with our resource base, it is simply a shame that so many people live below the breadline." Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille agrees that government has failed Mandela's legacy and calls for a permanent commission to monitor and expose corruption in government. The African Christian Democratic Party calls on Zuma to respond to reports that the ANC stands to reap billions from State power utility Eskom's proposed tariff increases. Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder draws a comparison with Mandela in his plea for wider consultation on changes in the names of places of historical important. He says that ill-thought-out name changes would cause conflict and polarisation.


CAPE TOWN - The media and the judiciary are partners for "open justice", Constitutional Court Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo says in an address to the South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) in Cape Town. "Both [the media and the judiciary] have a vital role in the improvement of access to justice. The principle that brings them together is the principle of open justice," Ngcobo says. "Through this principle, the media helps to give effect to important constitutional values, such as the accountability of the judiciary, access to the justice system and judicial independence. Ngcobo says that he has made "open justice" a policy from the start of his tenure as Chief Justice. This policy will seek to tackle challenges within the judiciary, such as accessibility, efficiency and public confidence in the courts. As part of this, administration within his office is being improved and a new section will be established to deal with the media as well as the public at large, says Ngcobo.

Africa & the world


LAGOS - Nigeria's acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, expects swift progress in reviving an amnesty programme in the oil-producing Niger Delta and recent talks with militants give grounds for hope, his spokesperson says. Maintaining peace in the Niger Delta, the heartland of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) member's oil industry, is one of the four top priorities for Jonathan, who has assumed full executive powers in the absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua, spokesperson Ima Niboro says. The Niger Delta amnesty, under which thousands of gunmen laid down weapons last year, is driven by Yar'Adua and has faltered since his hospitalisation in Saudi Arabia almost three months ago, with militants threatening to resume attacks. "We have completed the disarmament process and are going to the next stage now; we need to get the militant leaders on board," Niboro says.

CONAKRY - Authorities in Guinea have named a caretaker government, unveiling a mix of civilian and military leaders charged with leading the world's top bauxite producer to elections after months of crisis. Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam retains his job while former central bank governor Kerfalla Yanfasane takes control of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, according to a statement read out on State television. The announcement comes after weeks of squabbling over who will oversee Guinea's return to civilian rule after over a year under the military.



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