Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Africa's Largest Oil Summit Opens in Nigeria
Xinhua
2018/2/20 3:28:05

The first edition of what is said to be Africa's largest petroleum summit opened in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Monday, with an aim to revive the oil industry in Africa.

Nigeria's oil minister Ibe Kachikwu declared the summit open on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying Nigeria is willing to provide leadership for Africa in oil and gas.

Kachikwu said the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit was organized with the mission to make it Africa's most important platform and linkage to the world.

The summit features an exhibition of latest petroleum technologies, equipment and investment opportunities by global oil and gas firms.

"It is aimed at engendering potential-economic benefits, generate employment and expand businesses in Nigeria and Africa," Kachikwu said.

Nigeria's petroleum industry is the largest in Africa with proven oil and gas reserves of 37 billion barrels and 192 trillion cubic feet respectively.

Hundreds of delegates from oil and gas multinationals are attending the five-day summit in Abuja.
China's Inroads Into Africa Trigger Envy and Allegations
By Mark Kapchanga
Globaltimes.cn
2018/2/20 10:31:56

Allegations of spying and surveillance pop up every day on the global political stage. They are, however, not always true but driven by malice.

A database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that as of August 2015, there were 1,419 active satellites in orbit around the earth mainly used for the collection of intelligence.

From time immemorial, revelations of spying always provoke outrage. In his famous treatise The Art of War, Chinese general Sun Tzu says: "Enlightened rulers and good generals who can obtain intelligent agents as spies are sure to make great achievements."

As recent as 2016, new documents made public by Wikileaks revealed that the US spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's private conversations with world leaders. The secret files showed that the National Security Agency listened in as Merkel had private conversations with other European heads of government and with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

But even before the dust settled on this accusation, in late 2017 Berlin claimed Beijing was using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany. The assertion followed claims from a German intelligence service that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies, an allegation that China refuted.

In most cases, allegations of spying and surveillance cause strains between countries, and at times, even sever diplomatic ties.

Informed that such claims can create a rift between regions, a French paper Le Monde carried a story on allegations that China has been spying on African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa for six years.

In what appears to have been a manufactured story, Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who said the alleged transfer of data was taking place at night. The story went further to say the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building was opened.

Trade between China and Africa has been rising thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative plan laid down by Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015. At the summit, President Xi Jinping announced plans to invest $60 billion into African development projects, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and write off some debt.

As an example of strong relations between Africa and China, trade between them rose by 16.8 percent to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017. On the other hand, China's non-financial direct investment in Africa expanded by 64 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 percent rise in the quarter.

The negative reportage about Sino-African relations by Western media has also been fueled by envy due to strengthening ties.

The ambitious global trading strategy, known as the Belt and Road initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defense projects are being built, is also likely to buoy China's growing investments in Africa.

The spying allegations are not the first media story being published by Western media with the aim of creating a gulf between Africa and China.

While free media is desired in any economy, there needs to be a sense of responsibility and professionalism in the practice. China's presence in Africa has had its challenges no doubt. But Western media cannot spend acres of editorial space criticizing China for "increased corruption in Africa, for exploiting Africa's natural resources, for environmental degradation, poor wages for employees, among others."

In particular, the media has become obsessed with the claim that Chinese firms are winning mega tenders in African countries by paying bribes. This is absolutely not true. Chinese firms have not only shown that they qualify to execute these major infrastructural projects but they have also shown their unrivaled muscles in completing them in record time at a relatively low cost.

Perhaps it is now time that the Western countries upped their games in investing and trading with Africa if they are to compete favorably with China in Africa. Claims that Chinese firms bribe locals to win tenders are utterly false. Crucially, media should engage in constructive reporting for posterity.

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter:@kapchanga. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Monday, February 19, 2018

US’ Anti-DPRK Smear Campaign Censured

“The US should be prudent and practice self-control, keeping in mind that if it persists in the anti-DPRK smear campaign while unreasonably picking a quarrel with the DPRK over the human rights issue, it will pay dearly for all the consequences,” said the chief of the information department of the Institute of American Studies of the DPRK Foreign Ministry in a statement on February 15.

The statement came as the US is intensifying an anti-DPRK smear campaign while linking the death of American student Otto Frederick Warmbier to the DPRK again.

According to the statement, Warmbier is a criminal who was sentenced to a penal servitude pursuant to the DPRK law on March 16 2016 on apparent charges of having committed hostility toward the DPRK on a mission assigned by an American organization against the DPRK.

It is the current US administration that should answer why he died suddenly in less than a week after returning to the US with all his vital signs being normal, it said.

Though he was a criminal, the DPRK granted the request of the current US administration and returned him home from a humanitarian point of view according to the judgment of the Central Court on June 13 2017 in consideration of his poor health, it noted.

However, the Trump clan is intentionally stoking up the anti-DPRK smear campaign over his death, it said, adding it is an expression of their crafty trick to justify the attempt to stifle the DPRK by force by tarnishing its international image and finding an excuse for intensifying the international pressure campaign, awestruck by the might of the DPRK which has risen to the status of a strategic nation.
                                                                                                                                                          KCNA
US Condemned for Obstructing Korea’s Peace and Reunification
The National Reunification Institute issued an indictment on February 14 to lay bare how the US has obstructed the improvement of inter-Korean relations and peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula in every way.

The following are the excerpts from it:

The US has trampled down the Koreans’ aspirations for reconciliation, unity and reunification through impudent interference and undisguised pressure since the very day it occupied south Korea.

After dividing the nation by rigging up the puppet Syngman Rhee regime, the US denied the contents of the July 4 1972 Joint Statement, the 1991, Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Cooperation and Exchange between the North and the South the June 15 2000 Joint Declaration and the October 4 2007 Declaration, and egged such groups of traitors as the Lee Myung Bak conservative regime on to totally reject the implementation of the joint declarations. Such moves have reached the extreme since Trump came to power.

The US has aggravated tension in the Korean peninsula while being hell-bent on military buildup and DPRK-targeted war racket, so as to build a barrier in the way of improved north-south relationship and national reunification. The US perpetuated its military presence in south Korea and ceaselessly staged joint war games with south Korea under different codenames, especially Focus Lens, Foal Eagle, Team Spirit and Ulji Freedom Lens to extremely aggravate the peninsula situation.

Trump unhesitatingly said on the UN arena that they would exterminate tens of millions of Koreans and announced that the US would immediately resume Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises after the Winter Olympic Games, even though they said they would postpone the exercises until the Olympics in south Korea is over. This clearly shows who is the principal deteriorating the Korean peninsula situation and standing in the way of inter-Korean rapprochement.

The US has persistently resorted to despicable moves of disturbing reconciliation, cooperation and exchange between the north and south of Korea through a vicious smear campaign, sanctions and pressure.

Historically, it has cooked up the "Foreign Assistance Act", "Export-Import Bank Act" and other bills to impose unprecedented economic sanctions on the DPRK while preventing its vassal forces from engaging in economic cooperation with the country.

Claiming from the outset of the year that “they should not relax ‘maximum pressure’ on north Korea until it abandons its nuclear and missile programme”, it is behaving mischievously while linking the technical matters the south Korean authorities have promoted for the DPRK’s participation in the Winter Olympics to the provisions of the UN “sanctions resolution” and “independent sanctions”.

The crimes it has committed historically prove that the US is the sworn enemy of the Korean nation and the biggest hurdle in the way of peace and reunification.
DPRK Mission Calls Again on UN Secretariat to Hold Intel Legal Forum
The Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the United Nations issued a press release on February 12 as regards the fact that one year has passed since the DPRK requested the UN Secretariat to organize an international forum of legal experts for reviewing the legality of the "sanctions resolutions" the UN Security Council has imposed on the DPRK.

In January last year the DPRK proposed the UN Secretariat to hold an international forum of legal experts to examine the legality of the "sanctions resolutions", the press release said.

Over the past year, it noted, the UN-based DPRK mission has repeatedly requested to the UN Secretariat to hold an earliest organization of an international forum of legal experts, on the occasions of the meetings with the secretary-general, the under-secretary-general for Political Affairs and the under-secretary-general for Legal Affairs, and through the letters the DPRK ambassador addressed to the secretary-general for five times, the Permanent Mission's press releases for 4 times, as well as at press conferences and interviews for 5 times.

However, it added, the UN Secretariat still turns away the DPRK’s just proposal for organizing an international forum, persisting in its outdated sophistry, saying that pursuant to Article 39 of the UN Charter, it is for the Security Council to determine whether or not a particular action or set of actions or a particular situation or dispute constitutes a threat to peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression and thus it is for the Security Council to decide what recommendations are to be made or what measures are to be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.

It urged the UN Secretariat to lend an ear to the voices from numerous legal experts and lawyers around the world, who support the DPRK’s proposal saying that the Security Council has no legal ground or moral justification to condemn nuclear test or launch of ICBM and satellite as violation of international law.

And it called again on the UN Secretariat to immediately respond in a positive way to its proposal for organizing an international forum, in conformity with the mission stipulated in the UN Charter.
                                                                                                                                                          KCNA
Vicious Farce of Trump Group
The Trump group has become extremely embarrassed by the atmosphere for inter-Korean reconciliation daily mounting as occasioned by the 23rd Winter Olympics.

A typical example is the "possibility of defection" of the DPRK’s personnel dispatched to the south which is given much publicity through US media.

CNN and CBS of the US reported that more than 500 north Koreans are staying in south Korea, "better-off and free", and the north side authorities are closely monitoring them because of the possibility of their "defection" during the Olympics.

They even said that north Korean athletes had attempted "defection" in the middle of international games in the past, adding that, if a similar thing happens, the north cannot but be embarrassed and the south side authorities may be put in an awkward situation.

By putting into use the defectors of sportsperson and artiste origin, they went vicious to shake the pure minds of the DPRK people through such rhetoric as "round-the-clock surveillance" and "the first look at the rich and democratic neighbour".

The rubbish made by CNN and CBS is a hideous anti-DPRK farce being orchestrated at the instruction and under the manipulation by the Trump group, including the Central Intelligence Agency, upset by the present north-south relations wrapped by enthusiasm for reconciliation and unity.

In his recent "state of the union address", Trump viciously slandered the DPRK while raising "human rights issue". Not content with it, he met "defectors from the north", and the vice-president visiting south Korea took human scum to the "warship Cheonan memorial", where he made vituperation against the DPRK, shocking the world.

The wild act of the Trump group keen on turning the Olympics, symbol of peace, into a theatre for confrontation with the DPRK would only reveal its dirty nature as the kingpin of plot-breeding.

The Trump group bluffed about "the calm before the storm" and "fire and fury". Now it is using such human scum for a petty scheme.

Tragic is that the Trump group is going reckless, not realizing the transparent faith of the Korean people in socialism which can never be imitated, their mental power based on single-minded unity and the Koreans' strong desire for improved north-south ties and reunification.

The Trump group had better not exhaust themselves, giving up the pipe dream of "collapse of the system in the north" which can never come true.

It has to bear in mind that the south Koreans and all other Koreans see through the dirty nature of the US as a cancer-like entity standing in the way of peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula in its perverse and obstructive acts of chilling the efforts for the improvement of the north-south ties.

The US must no longer go arrogant to interfere in the internal affairs of the Korean nation.

KCNA
New Agricultural Guidance System
In early 1962 Kim Il Sung had a cooperative farm management committee set up in every county, and then a rural economy committee in every province, thereby establishing a well-knit national system of agricultural guidance from the centre to the lowest levels.

The new agricultural guidance system centred on the county cooperative farm management committee, makes it possible to ensure industrial guidance over the socialist rural economy.

The county cooperative farm management committee exercises unified control over agro-technicians, farming machine stations, farming implements factories, irrigation management stations and other state-owned enterprises in the service of the rural economy, and gives on-site direction and guidance over the business operation of cooperative farms. It also performs the function of both directing cooperative farms and bringing the state’s material and technological assistance to the rural economy.
DPRK Celebrates Day of Shining Star
The service personnel and people of the DPRK celebrated the Day of the Shining Star, the birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il.

On this occasion, many people visited the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the sacred temple of Juche where President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il lie in state, and paid tribute to the portraits of smiling leaders.

The statues of the great leaders and their smiling portraits on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang and in all other parts of the country were visited by service personnel, civilians and youth and schoolchildren expressing profound reverence for them.

A constant stream of visitors flew to the venue of the 22nd Kimjongilia Festival in Pyongyang and venues of Kimjongilia exhibitions in provinces and photo exhibition venues.

Celebration performances were given at theatres in Pyongyang and local areas.

Schoolchildren throughout the country joined the Korean Children's Union, vowing to prepare themselves to be the future masters and reliable pillars of socialist Korea under the care of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

Industrial establishments and farms across the country organized art performances representing the Korean people's high national pride and self-confidence blessed with illustrious leaders and brilliant commanders down through the generations, as well as sports and amusement games.

There were also national schoolchildren's folklore games such as kite-flying, shuttlecock game and rope-skipping at Kim Il Sung Square and other parts of Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang citizens spent a good time at leisure complexes such as the Mangyongdae Amusement Park, Rungna Amusement Park and Munsu Water Park.

KCNA
Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Un from Central Standing Committee of Chongryon
Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un received a congratulatory letter from the Central Standing Committee of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) on February 16, the birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il.

The letter said that the revolutionary career of Kim Jong Il was the noblest life of a peerless patriot who performed feats to shine forever in the history of the country by devoting his all to the prosperity of the country and happiness of posterity to come.

Kim Jong Il was the outstanding leader who brought up Chongryon to be the pioneer of the patriotic movement, an example of patriotism and loyalty and a model of overseas compatriots' movement true to the high intention of President Kim Il Sung, and the guardian of the destiny of Chongryon and Koreans in Japan, the letter noted.

It said that the history of loving care recorded with legendaries of the leadership, noble patriotism and compatriotism of Kim Jong Il is given a steady continuity thanks to the fatherly loving care and solicitude shown by Marshal Kim Jong Un who is bestowing everything on strengthening Chongryon and ensuring a happy life of the Koreans in Japan.

The letter stressed that the officials of Chongryon and the Koreans in Japan would fulfil their patriotic mission and honorable duty before the country and the nation in the movement to make a breakthrough in the independent reunification in hearty response to the task for national reunification set forth by Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address.

KCNA
Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Un
Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un received a congratulatory letter from the Central Committee of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front (AINDF) on February 16, the birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il (the Day of the Shining Star).

The letter said that Kim Jong Il's career is glorious as the sacred history in which he performed exploits for the country and nation and before the era and humankind.

It noted that he is being highly lauded as the father of the nation and the eternal sun of mankind as he ushered in the June 15 era of reunification and provided the firm foundation for independent reunification and peace and prosperity by devoting his efforts and energy, and led the global cause of independence to victory.

It noted that today Kim Jong Il's revolutionary career and exploits are being successfully carried forward by Marshal Kim Jong Un, another heaven-sent great man, and the cause of the sun pioneered in Mt Paektu is being dynamically advanced.

The present climate of national reconciliation, unity and reunification exciting the public at home and abroad is the grandiose picture brought about by the transparent idea of Kim Jong Un on independent reunification and outstanding leadership provided by him to put an end to the tragedy of national division and reunify the country by the concerted efforts of the Korean nation, it pointed out.

The letter stressed that the vanguard fighters of the AINDF and patriotic people of various strata would hold Kim Jong Il in high esteem as the eternal sun of the nation for all ages and dedicate their all to the struggle for national reunification led by Kim Jong Un, true to the behests of Kim Jong Il.

KCNA
Joint National Meeting of KCU Organizations Held
A joint national meeting of the Korean Children's Union organizations took place in Pyongyang on February 16 in celebration of the 76th birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il.

Attending it were delegates of the KCU from provinces and schoolchildren in Pyongyang and pupils joining the KCU.

Present there on invitation were vice-Chairman Choe Hwi of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, vice-Premier Jon Kwang Ho, chairman Kim Sung Du of the Education Commission, officials of relevant fields and the youth league, war veterans and persons of merit.

Pak Chol Min, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League, made a report.

The reporter recalled that Kim Jong Il had visited many schools and schoolchildren's palaces, though he was very busy providing the revolutionary leadership and showed loving care so that the KCU members would grow up stoutly to be knowledgeable, moral and healthy.

He said that the history of loving care shown by the leader is being given a steady continuity on this land by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

He called on the KCU members to grow up to be dependable pillars of socialist Korea true to the pledge they made before the flag of the KCU, with the pride of having become a member of the glorious Kim Il Sung's and Kim Jong Il's Children's Union.

A ceremony for admission to the KCU was held at the meeting.

The pupils joining the KCU made an oath, led by Choe Hwi.

Officials, war veterans and persons of merit tied red neckties around their necks and attached KCU badges on their chests.

The pupils made the first greetings of the KCU member, responding to the slogan "Let us be always ready for socialist country", to be followed by congratulatory speeches.

KCNA
Stamps Issued to Highlight 76th Birth Anniversary of Kim Jong Il
The State Stamp Bureau of the DPRK produced new stamps (one sheet and one individual) in celebration of the 76th birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il.

Seen on the upper part of the stamps were letters reading "Celebration of 76th Birth Anniversary of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il" and "Juche 31 (1942)-Juche 107 (2018)".

A sheet depicting the statue of Kim Jong Il in Samjiyon County helps recall the brilliant revolutionary career and feats of the peerless patriot who provided the eternal foundation for the prosperity of the country and happiness of posterity to realize his noblest patriotic desire for building a powerful country throughout his life.

A stamp portrays Jong Il Peak towering high reflective of the spirit of February and Kim Jong Il's birthplace in the Paektusan Secret Camp, mental mainstay of the Korean army and people.

KCNA
North Korea Warns US Against Ruining Rapprochement With South
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:30AM
presstv.ir

This handout picture, taken and released by the South Korean Defense Ministry in Seoul on December 6, 2017, shows a US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (L), two US F-35As, and two US F-35B stealth jets (far) flying over South Korea. (Via AFP)

North Korea says the United States will be responsible for the potential ruining of a recent rapprochement between Pyongyang and Seoul if America resumes its military drills with South Korea.

Washington and Seoul have agreed to put off joint military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops from the US and South Korea until after the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympic Games — being hosted by Seoul.

The games have provided an opportunity for the two Koreas to put aside long-running hostilities; and there is hope that the thaw would continue after the Games.

North Korean newspaper The Rodong Sinmun, however, wrote on Monday that Washington “has a purpose to end a thaw in inter-Korean ties immediately after the Olympic flame goes out. The US is making noise to resume its military exercises with Seoul right after the Games’ closing.”

In its commentary, the daily also warned that “risks of tensions are growing on the Korean Peninsula,” adding, “Washington’s strategic assets and massive troops are coming to the peninsula and its adjacent areas.”

The US military presence on the Korean Peninsula has long been a major irritant to the North, and the postponement of the regular drills until after the Olympics were only meant to accommodate Pyongyang’s participation.

There never was an indication that the drills would be put off indefinitely.

South and North Koreas have been divided since the three-year Korean War came to an end in 1953. The conflict ended with an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty and left many families separated at the two sides.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry Baik Tae-hyun said in a statement that Soul was “making multifaceted efforts to restore inter-Korean relations, resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.”

Any such efforts would be at risk with the potential resumption of the South Korean-US war games, which North Korea has long considered rehearsals for an invasion.
South Korea to Take ‘Stern’ Measures Against US Tariffs
Mon Feb 19, 2018 09:23AM
presstv.ir

This file photo shows South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (foreground) and US President Donald Trump (background-1st-R) during a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 30, 2017. (By AFP)

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in says he expects “confident and stern” counter-measures to be taken against the United States over Washington’s “unreasonable” tariffs slapped on South Korean goods.

Last month, US President Donald Trump imposed tariff duties ranging from 20 to 50 percent on certain imported products that included large washing machines from South Korea and solar panels from China.

“I am concerned that widening restrictions by the US on our exports, including steel, electronics, solar panels, and washing machines, may take a toll on the exports despite their global competitiveness,” President Moon said on Monday, adding, “I’d like to respond to unreasonable protectionist measures in a confident and stern manner.”

Furthermore, Trump last week threatened to scrap a 2012 free trade deal between Seoul and Washington, which he described as a “disaster” and a deal that needed to be revised.

Seoul responded by saying that it would take the issue to the World Trade Organization.

Beijing, too, has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the US tariffs imposed with a declared objective of protecting local manufacturers.

The trade frictions between Seoul and Washington come at a time when South Korea has been engaged in a rapprochement with North Korea, a process that has sidelined the US. The new tensions may further push Seoul and Washington apart, potentially on the North Korean issue as well.

Moon urged officials to “actively argue [about] the unfairness” of the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

The US trade deficit — which Trump has repeatedly vowed to fix — widened even further during his first year in office, up by 12 percent to $566 billion.

The Trump administration last July initiated talks to renegotiate the free trade pact with Seoul, arguing it was lopsided because America’s bilateral trade deficit had allegedly ballooned as a result of it.

Two previous rounds of renegotiations have made little progress, and Seoul’s chief trade negotiator, Kim Hyun-chong, said at the time there was “a long way to go” to remove differences.

The next round of the negotiations is scheduled in Washington next month.
Sudan Releases All Individuals Nabbed During Recent Unrest
Mon Feb 19, 2018 05:08AM
presstv.ir

Family members greet released detainees outside a prison in north Khartoum, Sudan, February 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan has released all opposition activists, including some top figures, who had been detained in a crackdown on protests against a surge in food prices last month.

The individuals had been arrested in January for participating in a series of small but rare protests in the capital, Khartoum, against rising prices and government austerity measures, according to the country’s opposition coalition.

“According to President Omar al-Bashir’s order, all detainees are being released,” Bashir’s senior aide, Abdelrehman al-Sadiq, was quoted by AFP as saying.

The opposition figures, who were released from the Kobar prison in northern Khartoum, shouted “Freedom! Justice! Revolution!” as they were greeted by family members outside the prison.

“But we are still not fully free because several of our colleagues are still detained,” said al-Sidiq al-Sadiq, son of former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.“The conditions that took us to jail have still not changed. There are still some laws that restrict freedoms.”

The rights group African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), which monitored the arrest of citizens and opposition activist during the peaceful protests last month, had denounced “the continued incommunicado detention and transfer of detainees to remote prisons, regardless of their age and health conditions.”

The arrests were also criticized by the US Embassy on Thursday. It said in a statement that “hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens” were being detained by Sudanese authorities. It also described the conditions in which the prisoners were being held as “inhumane and degrading.”

By releasing all the detainees now, the government may have managed to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013, when, according to rights groups, dozens of people were killed.
Israel Escalates Gaza Attacks With New Airstrike
Mon Feb 19, 2018 08:55AM
presstv.ir

Palestinians check the site of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on February 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli warplanes have bombed areas in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip amid escalating tensions in region.

The Israeli military said the regime’s fighter jets hit alleged targets belonging to the Hamas resistance movement in Gaza early Monday morning, without elaborating further.

Palestinian security sources said several missiles hit a farmland east of Rafah in the south of the coastal sliver.

The Israeli army said the attack came after a rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel on Sunday night.

Israeli "fighter jets targeted underground infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, in response to the projectile that was launched at Israel earlier," the statement said.

The incidents reportedly caused no casualties.

Two Palestinian teenage boys were killed in Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Palestinian eye witnesses said the two had been killed east of the city of Rafah after Israel launched a series of airstrikes and mortar attacks on alleged targets belonging to Hamas.

The Saturday assaults came after an explosive device wounded four Israeli soldiers on patrol near the border between the occupied territories and the Palestinian coastal enclave.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.

Tel Aviv has waged three wars on the coastal enclave since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

Israel claims Hamas uses Gaza underground tunnels to stockpile weapons and infiltrate into the occupied lands.

The resistance group, however, says the tunnels are needed to defend Gaza against Israeli attacks and transfer essential supplies, including food and fuel, into the blockaded Palestinian territory.
US Aviation Sanctions Taking Toll on Iranian Civilians
Sun Feb 18, 2018 04:34PM
presstv.ir

The wreckage of the Iranian Boeing 727 airplane is pictured after it crashed near cit of Urmia in the northwestern Iranian province of West Azarbaijan on January 9, 2011. (Photo by Reuters)

The Sunday crash of an Iranian ATR 72 passenger plane in central Iran during a flight from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasuj, which claimed the lives of 66 people, has once again brought into the limelight the issue of unilateral US sanctions and their deleterious effect on Iran's transportation sector, especially the country’s civil aviation fleet.

Experts believe that US administration’s staunch opposition to the sale of new planes to Iran is the main factor to blame for dilapidation of Iranian air fleet, which has so far led to bloody incidents, taking a high toll on Iranian civilians.

The US opposition comes in stark contradiction to the text of the landmark nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016. Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran, including its civil aviation industry.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly described the JCPOA, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign, and threatened to tear it up.

The American head of state has repeatedly claimed that Iran’s missile program is in violation of Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA. Trump has also complained that the JCPOA-related restrictions have an expiration date and that underscores the need to toughen the "embarrassing" deal.

In September 2016, the United States Treasury Department removed a final hurdle for Western aircraft manufacturers to sell planes to Iran as it granted the aviation giants Airbus and Boeing licenses to deliver planes to Tehran.

In January 2017, Iran received the first plane purchased from the European giant aircraft maker, Airbus, following the implementation of the JCPOA.

The 189-seat A321 plane, painted in Iran Air's livery, was the first of 100 planes purchased under a December deal worth $18 billion.

Iran received its second passenger plane from Airbus in March 2017 under the deal agreed with the French aircraft manufacturer.

In June 2016, Boeing signed a memorandum of agreement with Iran Air to sell a total of 80 aircraft and lease a further 29 to the company in a potential deal worth about $25 billion.

Iranian Naft Airlines, a homebound charter airline providing passenger and cargo services to Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum, received the first Boeing jet in September 2016.

However, The Wall Street Journal in December 2017 cited US officials as saying that Trump's administration was considering blocking planned sales of hundreds of passenger planes by Boeing and Airbus to Iranian airlines.

It reported that Trump’s team was expected to present him with options that included banning sales, imposing stringent conditions that could halt any aircraft deliveries, or slow-walking approvals.

The US House of Representatives in September 2017 voted in favor of new measures that block sales of commercial aircraft to Iran, ignoring some lawmakers’ warnings that the hostile move would undermine the JCPOA.

The new measures would specifically prevent the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from clearing licenses to allow aircraft sales while also prohibit the use of funds to authorize the required financial transactions.

Senior Iranian lawmakers called for action after the US House approved new measures that block the sales of commercial aircraft to the Islamic Republic.

Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi called the move a “clear violation of the JCPOA.”

Republican US senators in February 2017 introduced legislation to impose fresh sanctions on Iran’s aviation sector, accusing Tehran of using civilian aircraft to support terrorism.

Republican US senators introduce a bill to impose fresh sanctions on Iran’s commercial airlines.
Senators Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Ben Sasse and David Perdue introduced the “Iran Terror-Free Skies Act,” legislation that would “counter Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of international terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism, or for other illicit military purposes,” according to a press release published on Rubio’s website.

An author and peace activist told Press TV in an interview that accusations without evidence were all the United States needs to act, adding that these sanctions have everything to do with the Israel lobby rather than reality.

“The US is notorious for this. Accusations never need any evidence. All they need is to accuse and they act on the accusations. There is absolutely no reason to impose any kind of sanctions on commercial airliners from Iran and there is no evidence that such aircraft are being used for terrorism,” Ryan Dawson told Press TV.

Another analyst believed that the United States’ sanctions against Iran have been aimed at creating chaos, adding that the administration of President Trump was using the economy as a “weapon” to destabilize the country.

“The sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for the past God knows how long have been so draconian and the aim of all sanctions is to create some kind of a chaos within the country from certain sectors and then they are going to manipulate that into some kind of a political issue and that is essentially the goal of all coercive unilateral sanctions,” Alexander Azadgan told PressTV in an interview.

American media reported in May 2017 that a new legislation was circulating through US Senate that would require the government to crack down on an Iranian airline company.

Mahan Air is the target of the measure which would require the Trump administration to provide Congress with a list of all airports where the commercial carrier has landed.

Mahan Air was the target of the measure which would require the Trump administration to provide Congress with a list of all airports where the commercial carrier has landed, the reports said.

- 2018

An Iranian passenger plane on a domestic flight crashed on Sunday, February 18, into the country's Zagros mountains, killing all 66 people on board.

- 2014

On August 10, an Antonov An-140 run by Sepahan Airlines carrying 40 passengers and eight crew crashed moments after it took off from Tehran. Thirty-nine people were killed and nine others severely injured. The pilot narrowly missed buildings and a busy market before crashing into a concrete wall. Iranian authorities said the cause of the accident was engine failure and faulty alarm signal.

- 2011

On January 9, an Iran Air Boeing 727 shattered on impact while attempting an emergency landing in a snowstorm in the country's northwest, killing 77 people and injuring 27. The aircraft had taken off from Tehran with more than an hour's delay due to bad weather and two previous flights had already been cancelled.

- 2009

On July 15, a Tupolev 154 jetliner operated by Caspian Airlines en route from Tehran to Yerevan in Armenia caught fire shortly after takeoff and crashed into a field in the northern region of Qazvin, killing all 168 passengers on board including 15 crew. Authorities said a technical problem was the cause of the crash.

- 2006

On November 26, an Iranian military plane crashed in Tehran, killing 39 people of which 30 were members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). The plane had been destined for Shiraz in the south but crashed on takeoff at Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

In January the same year eight senior officers of the ground forces of the IRGC and three crew members were killed when a military plane crashed in the northwest of the country.

On September 1, 29 people were killed when a Tupolev 154 crashed and burst into flames in Mashhad in the northeast after a tire blew up. The aircraft run by Iran Airtours skidded off the runway and crashed into fencing.

- 2005

On December 6, a military transport craft Lockheed C130 crashed at the foot of a 10-story apartment building in a residential area of southern Tehran, killing 108 people including 68 journalists and photographers, and injuring more than 90. Among the victims, 14 people were killed on the ground. The plane had experienced engine trouble just after takeoff from Mehrabad.

- 2003

On February 19, an Ilyushin Il-76 belonging to the air force of the IRGC crashed near Kerman in the southeast, killing all 275 people on board. The craft had disappeared from radar monitors an hour after takeoff from Zahedan Airport and following contact from the pilot to airport control in Kerman to warn them he wanted to land due to bad weather.
Afrin: Kurdish Fighters 'Strike Deal' With Syrian Army
BBC World Service

Turkey is trying to oust Syrian Kurdish forces from Afrin

Kurdish fighters in north-western Syria say they have struck a deal with the Syrian government under which it will send troops to help repel a Turkish offensive.

The Syrian government in Damascus has offered no confirmation.

Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters, just across its border in Afrin, as terrorists. It launched a major offensive against them last month.

There is currently no Syrian military presence in the area.

A senior Kurdish official, Badran Jia Kurd, told Reuters that government soldiers could enter the Afrin region within days and that they would deploy to some border positions.

The alleged agreement was also reported by Iraqi Kurdish media group Rudaw, which quoted a Kurdish politician from Syria, and a news agency which backs Syrian Kurdish forces.

If the deal has really been struck, Turkish troops could find themselves confronting not only Kurdish fighters in Afrin, but the Syrian army too, says BBC World Service Middle East editor Alan Johnston.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's soldiers withdrew from northern Kurdish areas in 2012.

The Kurds of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - the dominant Kurdish party - then quickly took charge, backed by its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The YPG cleared Islamic State (IS) group fighters from wide swathes of Syria.

Turkey is trying to oust the YPG from Afrin because it sees the group as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

The YPG denies any direct military or political links with the PKK.

The Syrian military and the YPG have largely avoided direct conflict in the Syrian war thus far but have had sporadic clashes.

"We can co-operate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the international silence," Mr Jia Kurd said.

However, he added that the alleged agreement - which he said did not include any political arrangements - could fall through.

"We don't know to what extent these understandings will last because there are sides that are not satisfied and want to make [it] fail," he said.

Northern and north-western Syria hosts an extremely complex mix of alliances between different international and regional players.

According to Reuters, a Kurdish political official said Russia could object to any agreement between the YPG and the Syrian government as it complicates its own diplomatic efforts with Turkey.

The situation is further complicated by the YPG militia receiving funding from the United States, as allies in the fight against IS.

Separately, Turkey has denied using chemical weapons in Afrin after being accused of doing so by a monitoring group and the YPG.

Six people were reported to have suffered symptoms of a gas attack during the bombardment of a village on Friday - but Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was a "fabricated story".

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tears, Exuberance as 'Black Panther' Opens Across Africa
By CARA ANNA
ASSOCIATED PRESS
JOHANNESBURG
Feb 17, 2018, 4:30 PM ET

 The cast of “Black Panther” arrive at the South Africa premiere on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Cara Anna)The Associated Press

"Black Panther" has burst onto the screen in Africa, handing a powerful response to the unfortunate remarks about the continent by President Donald Trump.

As the red carpet in South Africa swirled with stunning outfits and exclamations in the local isiXhosa language used in the film's Wakanda kingdom, cast member John Kani laughed at the U.S. president's views, which several African nations have openly scorned. (Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o said simply: "No comment.")

The South African actor Kani, like many at Friday night's Johannesburg premiere, expressed pride at seeing an Afrofuturistic society that celebrates traditional cultures and dreams of what the world's second most populous continent can be.

"This time the sun now is shining on Africa," he said. "This movie came at the right time. We're struggling to find leaders that are exemplary and role models ... so when you see the Black Panther as a young boy and he takes off that mask you think, 'Oh my God, he looks like me. He is African and I am African. Now we can look up to some person who is African.'"

Added actress Danai Gurira, who grew up mostly in Zimbabwe: "To bring this film home is everything."

The film has opened in other top economic powers across Africa, where a growing middle class flocked to IMAX showings and shared vibrant opening-night images on social media.

"The African culture highlighted in the movie is so rich that it makes me feel proud of being black. I totally love it," said Liz Muthoni after a screening in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. "I can watch it again and again."

"Black Panther" screened a few days ago in Kenya's western city of Kisumu, where Nyong'o's father, Anyang, is the local governor.

"Sometimes we think that we have two choices to make in Africa," he wrote this month in The Star newspaper. "Choice one: We maintain our traditions and cultures and stay backward forever. Choice two: We modernize by becoming westernized and forgetting our cultural traditions which, by their very nature so we think, are stuck in the past. The experience of the Wakanda people teaches us otherwise."

In Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, "Black Panther" has been selling out its five-times-a-day screenings at the only theater showing the film.

"Moviegoers are enjoying the African heritage part of the film. This is also unique for us because Ethiopia is often mentioned alongside the black power and black movements as the only nation not colonized by Western powers," said Elias Abraha, the cinema's operations chief. "There are people who changed their flight plans just to watch the movie."

Some Ethiopian fans quickly changed their Facebook profile pictures and expressed their adoration.

"Tears stream down my face as I write this," said one Facebook user who goes by LadyRock Maranatha. "Black Panther was basically an enormous . roller coaster of emotions, adventure and most of all the affirmation of what I had felt since I left my country for Cambridge and came back. I cried for my people and felt immense pride in being Ethiopian and most importantly AFRICAN. We are truly resilient and beautiful."

As the audience poured out of the Johannesburg screening, spirits were high.

"Totally blown away. I got emotional," said reality TV star Blue Mbombo, who admitted that going into the film she thought the expectations had been "hype." But she praised its use of cultural touches like Basotho blankets and called the use of the isiXhosa language "very humbling."

Others considered the American side of the story. "An African-American coming back to Africa, it's a nice reminder of their heritage as well," said Ayanda Sidzatane. She called the film awesome. "We knew it would be cool but not like this."

Some anticipated a flood of interest from African-Americans, even cheekily. "Now I know Black Panther makes Africa look cool ... But please don't come to Lagos ... It's overcrowded," Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley tweeted of the continent's most populous city.

As Ghanaian celebrity blogger Ameyaw Debrah put it on social media: "What will #BlackPanther make the world think of Africa now?"
———

Associated Press writers Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya and videographer Graham Walsh in Johannesburg contributed.
‘Black Panther’ Premières in South Africa
17 FEB, 2018 - 00:02
 
Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba)..Photo: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018

Robert Mukondiwa in SANDTON, South Africa

Starring Zimbabwean movie and silver screen sensation Danai Gurira, who made the trip from California for the event alongside Lupita Nyong’o, the event was the key kick-off screening on African soil meant to bring home the Xhosa speaking heroes of the flick.

The Saturday Herald joined an elite select team of international artistes, media executives, Hollywood royalty and continental bloggers in the launch of the epic superhero movie “Black Panther” in the African movie Premiere in South Africa.

The movie is the first of its kind with a black leading superhero.

Gurira expressed keen excitement that she was travelling to the mother continent to bring what Hollywood has always been starving film-goers of; a movie sensation and hero of black origin.

Next Saturday we bring you in-depth coverage of the epic event. In the meantime here are fascinating facts about what promises to be the biggest cinematic experience of the year and perhaps even beyond.

However, there are tonnes of fun facts around this movie, drawn out of a Marvel Comic run that has finally had the movie-making gods of Hollywood breathe life into its lungs and bring it to life.
Here are some of them! Many of them will appeal to the cinematic moviehead!

Fun Facts

Marvel’s Black Panther character made his debut in the comic book world in “Fantastic Four Volume 1” Issue 52, published in 1966.

An important part of the Black Panther lore incorporated into the film is the Dora Milaje, the cadre of strong fierce women who serve as the personal security force to the king and royal family. These tall, statuesque, bald-headed warrior women, who move as one, command attention wherever they go.

Led by Danai Gurira’s character, Okoye, the Dora Milaje security force features an international contingent of women from all over the world, including Florence Kasumba who returns to play Ayo, a character that first appeared in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War”. The Dora Milaje were cast from a pool of actresses, stunt women and Broadway dancers so that each individual Dora could have specialised skills that they brought to the table.

It was decided early on that Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, would be the language of Wakanda. A precedent had been set in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War,” when celebrated South African actor John Kani, who portrayed King T’Chaka, used his native accent. Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa/Black Panther, picked it up from him as well.

The cast and stunt team practiced with African drums played by musician Jabari Exum so that their movements would have a musical quality found in many African-based martial arts.

Actor Daniel Kaluuya learned how to ride a horse as practice to simulate riding W’Kabi’s armoured rhino in the film.

Young Zuri is played by Denzel Whitaker. While he shares the same last name with Forest Whitaker, who plays the older Zuri, they are not related. However, they did play father and son in Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters”.

South African actor Atandwa Kani plays the character of Young T’Chaka to his father and celebrated South African actor John Kani’s King T’Chaka.

The cast did the bulk of the fight work that will be seen on film. Chadwick Boseman, whose skill set includes a comprehensive martial arts background, knew what he was in for when he and all the other actors had to attend a “boot camp” to prepare them for the physical aspects of their roles.

Michael B Jordan, who plays Erik Killmonger, spent about two and a half hours in the special effects makeup chair every day, while makeup designer Joel Harlow and three other makeup artists applied close to 90 individually sculpted silicone moulds to his upper body. This “scarification” application process entails transferring each mould and then blending and painting them to match Jordan’s skin tone. Each of Killmonger’s scars represents a “notch” of his kills over the years.

The majority of the Wakanda sets were constructed on sound stages at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, including the Tribal Council; the Wakandan Design Group, Shuri’s hive of research and development of the vibranium rich country; the ancient subterranean Hall of Kings; and most notably Warrior Falls, the ceremonial heart of Wakanda’s revered traditions.

The Warrior Falls set was 120’ x 75’ in size. The set was 36’ tall, with the pool being six feet above ground level. That made the cliff faces 30’ tall. Construction took about four months from start to finish.

The entire cliff wall of the Warrior Falls, including the CG and practically built set, is 100 feet high.

Over 25 000 cubic feet of foam was used in the Warrior Falls set, which was sculpted to match the rocks in Oribi Gorge in South Africa.

The bottom of the Warrior Falls’ Challenge Pool was padded for the stunt team, but still looked like rock. The production crew also had to formulate a surface that was rough enough to not be too slippery in bare feet, but not so rough that it hurt to land on it.

On the Warrior Falls set, the stunt team had to rig all of the cliff faces with mountain climbing gear to safely secure all of the extras on the cliff faces.

The production team engineered a fully functional flowing waterfall and pool at the ledge of the cliff with six large submersible pumps feeding over 125 000 gallons of temperature-controlled water piping up through the set at a rate of 30 000 gallons per minute before recirculating through the system.

The high-speed car action for the Casino sequence was filmed on location in the bustling coastal city of Busan, South Korea. For almost two weeks, “Black Panther’s” action unit descended upon the coastal city nestled against the foothills of Geumjeong Mountain to film the thrilling, mind-blowing chase sequence through such iconic sites as Gwangalli Beach and the Haeundae District.

Director Ryan Coogler wanted the South Korea action sequence to be seamless, so he had an editor on set cutting footage in real time. This is not often done during production, but Coogler felt it was the best way to capture all the action, stunts and special effects in frame on time.

Friday, February 16, 2018

China President Xi Congratulates New South Africa President
17 FEB, 2018 - 00:02 

BEIJING. – Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday extended congratulations to Cyril Ramaphosa on the latter’s election as South African president. In his congratulatory message, Xi called Ramaphosa an old friend of the Chinese people who has made important contributions to the development of bilateral relations.

“I attach great importance to developing the China-South Africa relationship,” Xi said, adding that he stands ready to work with Ramaphosa to lift their countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership to higher levels.

The Chinese leader also suggested that the two sides support each other in hosting later this year the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Johannesburg Summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS, which also groups Brazil, Russia and India.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Africa diplomatic relations.
The two countries upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2010.
Ramaphosa took office as the fifth president of South Africa on Thursday, replacing Jacob Zuma, who announced his immediate resignation late Wednesday.

– Xinhua.
Zimbabwe President Congratulates Ramaphosa
17 FEB, 2018 - 00:02 

Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mnangagwa has congratulated newly-elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying Zimbabwe was looking forward to strengthening the existing good relations between the two neighbouring countries. In a message posted on micro-blogging site Twitter, President Mnangagwa wished Mr Ramaphosa well, saying his excellence and persistence earned him the leadership of his people.

“My very warmest congratulations to President Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said. “His excellence and persistence have now earned him the leadership of his people. Zimbabwe sends its very best wishes to him and his administration. We look forward to strengthening more our ties. Congratulations!”

Mr Ramaphosa (66) was elected after former President Jacob Zuma (76) officially resigned on Wednesday night during a special broadcast that was beamed live on television.

The embattled Mr Zuma bowed to pressure from his ANC party and opposition parties who wanted him to step down. Mr Zuma was due to complete his term of office next year. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki also congratulated Mr Ramaphosa, describing Mr Jacob Zuma’s resignation as a step in the right direction.

“I think (former) President (Jacob) Zuma did the right thing,” he was quoted as saying on SABC. “Once the leadership of the ANC took that position and in the context of what the majority of the population was saying, it was really time that he left office.

“Maybe he ought to have done it earlier so that the ANC was not forced to threaten a vote of no confidence and all that.”

Mr Mbeki, who was in 2008, recalled by the National Executive Committee of the ANC, said Mr Ramaphosa should work towards economic growth to deal decisively with poverty and the high unemployment rate. He said change was needed because corruption had become entrenched in all spheres of government under the leadership of Mr Zuma. The election of Mr Ramaphosa means that he becomes the sadc chairperson, a position that was held by former President Zuma, who had taken over the rotating chairmanship from King Mswati III of Swaziland.
South African Communist Party Congratulates President Ramaphosa
15 February 2018

The South African Communist Party congratulates ANC President Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa for being elected unopposed on Thursday, 15 February 2018 as the new State President of the Republic of South Africa.

The immediate task remains that of radically reducing class, race and gender inequalities and uneven development between urban and rural areas. In particular, this requires increased attention to rural development and resolute policy measures to improve the quality of life of the workers and poor by giving effect to the right to work as enshrined in the Freedom Charter and expanding decent work for all.

These measures will require dismantling the parasitic networks surrounding our state and decisively bringing an end to corporate capture of the state and all other forms of corruption and wrongdoing. This includes demolishing parallel state mechanisms and manoeuvres such as rogue intelligence units and associated operations.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS CONTACT:

Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo:
Head of Communications & National Spokesperson
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM

CIRCULATION & MEDIA LIAISON SERVICES

Hlengiwe Nkonyane:
Communications Officer - Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550

OFFICE, WEBSITE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, USTREAM TV CHANNEL

Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
Website: www.sacp.org.za
Facebook Page: South African Communist Party
SACP Ustream TV Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sacp-tv
COSATU State of the Nation Expectations
The federation expects today's SONA to flesh out in detail work plans, time frames and targets on the following matters of critical importance to workers and their families:

A Jobs Plan

We want an urgent convening of the long promised Presidential Jobs Summit with a path towards building a growing economy that creates a million decent jobs per anum.

An end to labour broking, outsourcing and privatisation, especially in the state as well as the retail sector.

Re-industrialisation of the manufacturing sector.

Boost our exports, especially to Africa.

Re-skilling of the workers.

Work with all social partners to stem the tide of retrenchments

National Minimum Wage

A clear assurance that it will be passed by Parliament and come into law on 1 May without delays.

Crime and Corruption

A clear commitment to end the culture of looting and state capture.

Heads must roll at NPA, Hawks and SAPS. The leadership that has allowed state capture to thrive needs to go.

Wasteful Expenditure

Government needs to curb wasteful expenditure and must hold people accountable.

The bloated cabinet must be reduced by half and the captured fired ministers fired immediately.

Bling lifestyles of the political elite at the expense of the tax payer must be stopped.

Water

We call for a national plan that will address as a matter of the highest urgency the water crises threatening the W. Cape, E. Cape, N. Cape and parts of the F. State and KZN and Gauteng. These must be based on sustainable paths that include recycling, desalination and conservation. This is an opportunity to protect health and the environment and also create jobs.

State Owned Enterprises

South needs a clear plan to clean up Eskom, SAA, SABC, Denel and SASSA. This must include comprehensive forensic audits and the arrest, prosecution and the seizure of assets of all those implicated in corruption.

An improvement of governance and management systems in the SOE's that will help put them on a sustainable financial footing. This must definitely not include privatisation.

National Health Insurance and Comprehensive Social Security

COSATU wants clear commitments and timeframes to fast track the roll out of both the NHI and Comprehensive Social Security. We need to ensure that they serve the working and middle classes and not simply dominant monopoly industries.

Education

We need clear sustainable funding models to ensure free and affordable tertiary education for the working and middle classes.

We also need clear plans to address the infrastructure, quality and overcrowding crisis at schools.
Energy

The government needs to clarify once and for all government's plans to expand nuclear energy.

We need a clear plan and commitment to ensure that no jobs will be lost, whilst the renewable energy sector expands. Government must have a plan with industry and labour that provides for the re-skilling and absorption of any worker, whose job will be threatened by the changes in the energy sector.

SASSA

COSATU wants the end of the capture of SASSA by CPS.

The Presidency and National Treasury needs to take over the process of transferring social grant payments to the Post Bank.

Land Reform and Agriculture

We expect a logical and clear plan to speed up land reform and restitution.

We also demand a clear plan to protect and grow the agricultural sector, the largest employer after the public sector.

The SONA should also present a plan to protect the rights of farm workers and ensure they have security of tenure.

Transport

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa needs to resolve the issue of E Tolls.

We also want a commitment to address the collapse of Metro Rail and a commitment and a plan to expand safe and accessible public transport.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794
SADTU Congratulates Cde Cyril Ramaphosa on His Election as President of South Africa
15 February 2018

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) joins millions of patriotic and peace loving South Africans in congratulating Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa on his election as president of the country.

Cde Ramaphosa's appointment marks the dawn of a new era for South Africa; an era we hope will bring about unity, firm and decisive leadership in dealing with corruption, economic growth and lead the country towards a prosperous trajectory.

Cde Ramaphosa's election as president did not come on a silver platter. We can fully attest to the fact that he earned it. An activist in his student days, Ramaphosa progressed to become the leader of one of South Africa's most powerful union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He played a pivotal role in shaping and driving our country into our new democracy as the key negotiator during CODESA negotiations and in the drafting of our constitution that is touted as the best in the world.

His tenure will not be a walk in the park as he takes over the reins in a country facing high unemployment rate, joblessness, corruption and moral decay in the midst of a tough economic climate.

However, in the midst of such conditions, we have no doubt that Cde Ramaphosa will take this country to greater heights. As SADTU we give President Ramaphosa and the ANC our unconditional support in ensuring that they work towards making South Africa a better country for all.

The 54th Conference of the ANC heeded our call since 2015 COSATU Congress that unity and cohesion of the ANC can be achieved if Comrade Ramaphosa as the deputy then was elected as the ANC president based on its traditions and practices. We are convinced that President Ramaphosa will work hard to unite the Alliance and the people of our country. That he will not allow darkness to kill the democracy that we fought for. That under his leadership the ANC leagues and associations will focus their energy towards working for the people of South Africa.

Issued by: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke; 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi; 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi; 082 719 5157
COSATU Congratulates President Cyril Ramaphosa on His Election and We Remind Him That There is No Honeymoon Period for Him
15 February 2018

The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa on his well deserved and long overdue election as President of the Republic of South Africa. We are proud of this product of the National Union of Mineworkers and our federation COSATU. He has an outstanding resume as a student activists and a leader of the trade union movement. He led NUM to become the largest union in the country and led the largest strike at the height of apartheid. He was one of the lead negotiators representing the ANC during the CODESA and the constitutional processes in Parliament.

Whilst we are happy that he has now been elected President of the Republic of South Africa and that now we can move on from the political nightmares that have bedeviled us for a long time, we are not writing government a blank cheque. We will give him all the necessary support as our president, but there will be no honeymoon period.

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to be engaging but decisive. There is no time for handling crooks with kid gloves. There is no time for laziness when addressing the jobs blood bath and unemployment. We demand an activist, capacitated developmental state that we have long fought for.

We expect the new incoming president to restore confidence in the ANC and its government by giving its government a facelift. He needs to deal with mediocrity and bureaucratic arrogance that has paralysed government over the last few years. Some ministers and government leaders need to be removed and replaced in order for our economy to grow and the people centred development to thrive.

COSATU expects government to wake up to the economic crisis that is drowning workers and their families in poverty and the rising unemployment. We expect government to crack down on the rampant levels of corruption and wasteful expenditure threatening the very survival of the state and nation. Lastly we caution and advise him to ensure that government acts with humility, decency and integrity. We must leave behind the days of political and bureaucratic arrogance and put the people
first.

COSATU shall be convening its CEC meeting in two weeks time and we expect an Alliance meeting to be convened soon to discuss the matters that relate to the Alliance.

SONA expectations

The federation expect tomorrow's SONA to flesh out in detail work plans, timeframes and targets on the following matters of critical importance to workers and their families:

A Jobs Plan

We want an urgent convening of the long promised Presidential Jobs Summit with a path towards building a growing economy that creates a million decent jobs per annum.

An end to labour broking, outsourcing and privatisation, especially in the state as well as the retail sector.

Re-industrialisation of the manufacturing sector.

Boost our exports, especially to Africa.

Reskilling of the workers.

Work with all social partners to stem the tide of retrenchments

National Minimum Wage

A clear assurance that it will be passed by Parliament and come into law on 1 May without delays.

Crime and Corruption

A clear commitment to end the culture of looting and state capture.

Heads must roll at NPA, Hawks and SAPS. The leadership that has allowed state capture to thrive needs to go.

Wasteful Expenditure

Government needs to curb wasteful expenditure and must hold people accountable.

The bloated cabinet must be reduced by half and the captured fired ministers fired immediately.

Bling lifestyles of the political elite at the expense of the tax payer must be stopped.

Water

We call for a national plan that will address as a matter of the highest urgency the water crises threatening the W. Cape, E. Cape, N. Cape and parts of the F. State and KZN and Gauteng. These must be based on sustainable paths that include recycling, desalination and conservation. This is an opportunity to protect health and the environment and also create jobs.

State Owned Enterprises

South needs a clear plan to clean up Eskom, SAA, SABC, Denel and SASSA. This must include comprehensive forensic audits and the arrest, prosecution and the seizure of assets of all those implicated in corruption.

An improvement of governance and management systems in the SOE's that will help put them on a sustainable financial footing. This must definitely not include privatisation.

National Health Insurance and Comprehensive Social Security

COSATU wants clear commitments and timeframes to fast track the roll out of both the NHI and Comprehensive Social Security. We need to ensure that they serve the working and middle classes and not simply dominant monopoly industries.

Education

We need clear sustainable funding models to ensure free and affordable tertiary education for the working and middle classes.

We also need clear plans to address the infrastructure, quality and overcrowding crisis at schools.

Energy

The government needs to clarify once and for all government's plans to expand nuclear energy.

We need a clear plan and commitment to ensure that no jobs will be lost, whilst the renewable energy sector expands. Government must have a plan with industry and labour that provides for the re-skilling and absorption of any worker, whose job will be threatened by the changes in the energy sector.

SASSA

COSATU wants the end of the capture of SASSA by CPS.

The Presidency and National Treasury needs to take over the process of transferring social grant payments to the Post Bank.

Land Reform and Agriculture

We expect a logical and clear plan to speed up land reform and restitution.

We also demand a clear plan to protect and grow the agricultural sector, the largest employer after the public sector.

The SONA should also present a plan to protect the rights of farm workers and ensure they have security of tenure.

Transport

Cde Cyril Ramaphosa needs to resolve the issue of E Tolls.
We also want a commitment to address the collapse of Metro Rail and a commitment and a plan to expand safe and accessible public transport.
Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794
NUM Congratulates Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa for Being Elected President of South Africa
15 February 2018

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) congratulates its founding General Secretary comrade Cyril Ramaphosa for being elected unopposed as the new president of South Africa in the National Assembly today.

The working class could not go wrong when they resolved through Cosatu and the NUM that comrade Ramaphosa should succeed the former president Jacob Zuma. It is our belief that he carries appropriate skills to revive the economy, create jobs, stabilise the relations in the tripartite alliance. Most importantly fight corruption and ensure that the African National Congress (ANC) wins the elections overwhelmingly in 2019.

The ANC collective under his stewardship should bring hope to the people of South Africa black and white, to discharge political responsibility in terms of effective service delivery, radical economic transformation, and unity in the country.

For more detailed information, please contact:

David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293
Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257

Address:
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick,
Johannesburg 2001
Tel: 011 377 2111
Web: www.num.org.za
Twitter: @Num Media NUM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NUM/100860023402167