Connect with us

Government

Rivals Disrupt Jacob Zuma’s Speech on South African Economy

Published

on

South AFrica

JOHANNESBURG — Weakened by scandal and policy missteps, South Africa’s president, Jacob G. Zuma, pledged in a state of the nation address on Thursday to revive the country’s economy and cut excessive spending. But the speech was delayed and repeatedly interrupted by rivals who angrily demanded his resignation.

In a sober address that experts had considered critical to shoring up his presidency, Mr. Zuma focused largely on the stagnant economy, and on repairing some of the recent damage caused by what some see as his mishandling of the finance ministry.

Analysts say that South Africa’s economy, Africa’s second largest and its most sophisticated, could slip into a recession because of government mismanagement, severe drought and the economic slowdown in China.

Jacob Zuma, South African Leader, to Repay Part of Money Spent on His HomeFEB. 3, 2016
Acknowledging that the country’s government debt was at risk of being downgraded to junk status, Mr. Zuma highlighted measures — including policies to facilitate investment, streamline state enterprises and pursue nuclear energy — that were clearly designed to fend off such a move by credit agencies.

Mr. Zuma did not directly address a longstanding spending scandal involving his private residence that has now reached the nation’s highest court. Yet Mr. Zuma seemed to be trying to assuage public anger over the issue by announcing steps to cut unnecessary government spending.

Mr. Zuma, in his ninth state of the nation address since taking power in 2009, faced the country and Parliament more humbled that he has ever been. In the days leading up to the address, Mr. Zuma, who has typically handled his critics by mocking them, made a point of listening to South Africans: meeting with business leaders in Cape Town and talking to drivers and customers at a taxi stand in Pretoria.

During Mr. Zuma’s address on Thursday, opposition lawmakers demanded that he explain his firing in December of a well-respected finance minister who had clashed with one of Mr. Zuma’s closest allies, and replacing him with a little-known lawmaker. It was a decision that further eroded investors’ confidence in the country’s economy and the health of its institutions.

Mr. Zuma reversed himself a few days after the initial firing by firing the new minister and reappointing a former finance minister.

The reversal, which further weakened the South African currency, the rand, and placed the nation at greater risk of a credit downgrade, is believed to have eroded Mr. Zuma’s standing within his own party, the African National Congress, and in business circles close to it.

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest, heard arguments from two opposition party lawyers that Mr. Zuma had acted illegally by defying an order to pay back part of expensive upgrades to his private home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal Province. The court has yet to rule on the case, which for many has come to symbolize widespread corruption inside the A.N.C., the party that has held power since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Mr. Zuma’s lawyers said in court that he was prepared to repay part of the money, reversing years of refusals to do so. During last year’s address, a fight broke out between security guards and rivals who demanded that Mr. Zuma “pay back the money.”

But opposition parties are now seeking a court ruling that the president violated the Constitution, in a bid to start impeachment proceedings against him. Any impeachment attempt would likely fail, given Mr. Zuma’s control of Parliament, but it could hurt his party in important municipal elections later this year.

Before Mr. Zuma’s speech on Thursday, Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said in a statement that “South Africa continues to suffer from a leadership crisis, as the president hops from one scandal to the next, all to protect himself and his cronies.”

“The president should himself expedite the process of his removal from office by doing the honorable thing and resigning,” Mr. Maimane said.

Members of the second-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, repeatedly interrupted Mr. Zuma’s speech, delaying its start by nearly an hour.

“Zuma is no longer a president that deserves the respect from anyone,” the party’s leader, Julius Malema, yelled as he and his members were eventually expelled from the parliamentary chamber.

“He has stolen from us, he has corrupted the economy of South Africa, he has made this country a joke and after that, he has laughed at us.”

The New York Times

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

Published

on

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

Continue Reading

Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

Published

on

China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

Continue Reading

Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

Published

on

President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

Continue Reading

Trending