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Pravin Gordhan, South African Finance Minister to be Prosecuted for Fraud

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Pravin Gordhan
  • Pravin Gordhan, South African Finance Minister to be Prosecuted for Fraud

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will be prosecuted for fraud, officials said Tuesday, in a move that sent the rand tumbling over concerns about political rivalry and the country’s fragile economy.

Gordhan, 67, was appointed only late last year to calm panicked investors after President Jacob Zuma sacked two finance ministers within four days.

Since then, Gordhan has regularly clashed with Zuma loyalists after vowing to battle poor governance and graft in a government that has been engulfed by regular corruption scandals.

Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), told reporters that Gordhan would be prosecuted over alleged misconduct when he was previously chief of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) tax collection department.

Gordhan and two others “must be prosecuted and arraigned on the following crimes: count one, fraud,” Abrahams said.

Abrahams repeatedly denied that the NPA was being politically influenced, and he lashed out at criticism that it was not independent.

“The days of disrespecting decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority are over,” he said vehemently.

“The days of non-accountability and not holding senior government officials accountable are over.”

The NPA said the case focused on allegations that Gordhan illegally authorised an early retirement package for a senior colleague at SARS, which Gordhan headed between 1999 and 2009.

– Junk status –

Gordhan, who also served as finance minister from 2009 to 2014, is widely seen as being engaged in a fierce battle within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party over control of the treasury.

Zuma has publicly said he backs Gordhan, who has also been targeted by investigators over a so-called “rogue unit” set up to probe top politicians when he headed the tax service.

Gordhan, a respected technocrat, has often clashed with Zuma and senior ministers over alleged excessive spending, particularly at cash-bleeding state-run entities such as South African Airways.

South Africa’s economy has been struggling with record unemployment, drought and political scandals surrounding Zuma.

Growth is set to be flat this year, and the country risks a damaging credit ratings downgrade to junk status.

Abrahams on Tuesday said he believed that Zuma, who is currently visiting Kenya, knew about the prosecution.

“I informed the (justice) minister of the decision that had been made, because this matter affects a sitting cabinet minister… I deemed it prudent for the minister to inform the president,” he said.

The rand dropped as much as 3.4 percent against the dollar shortly after the announcement.

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

Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.

On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.

Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.

“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.

“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.

“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”

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Government

Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria

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Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.

The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.

However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.

Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.

In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.

Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.

“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.

“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.

On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.

The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.

He added that people are facing desperate choices.

In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.

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In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari

In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”

Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.

This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.

He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.

Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.

The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.

“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.

“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).

“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.

“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”

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