Saturday, April 29, 2017

G.D.P. Report Shows U.S. Economy Off to Slow Start in 2017
New York Times
APRIL 28, 2017

Americans say they feel more optimistic about the economy since President Trump was elected. But they certainly are not acting that way, and that is shaping up to be a challenge for his administration.

Consumers pulled back sharply on spending in early 2017, the Commerce Department said on Friday, reducing the economy’s quarterly growth to its lowest level in three years. In fact, the 0.7 percent annual growth rate for the period is far below the 2.5 percent pace in President Barack Obama’s final three months in office, let alone Mr. Trump’s 4 percent target.

The caution among consumers was particularly notable on big purchases like automobiles. Other indicators were stronger — businesses invested at a healthy pace — but that was not enough to offset the headwinds from feeble retail sales and falling inventories.

The rate of change in the gross domestic product, based on quarterly figures adjusted for inflation and seasonal fluctuations.

Through eight years of a fundamentally tepid recovery, the promise of stronger economic growth that is always just around the corner has had a waiting-for-Godot quality. Investors and Wall Street seem confident that this time, the predictions will finally come true — hence the 11 percent surge in stocks since the election — but some independent economists are wary.

The softness last quarter also provides crucial ammunition for the Trump administration’s arguments that big tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks are necessary for the economy to grow the way it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Tax cuts, regulatory relief, trade renegotiations and an unfettered energy sector are needed “to overcome the dismal economy inherited by the Trump administration,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Business and consumer sentiment is strong, but both must be released from the regulatory and tax shackles constraining economic growth.”

The first-quarter fade is also sure to be noticed by the Federal Reserve as it contemplates whether to proceed with two more interest-rate increases planned for this year.

Federal Reserve policy makers are set to meet next week, and while there is little expectation that an interest-rate increase will be announced when the meeting ends on Wednesday, the latest economic reading could sway the Fed’s outlook. The monthly report on job creation is due next Friday, and a strong showing could ease some of the concern over the lack of vigor in the first quarter.

The job market has proved remarkably resilient even as quarterly growth has wobbled, and the unemployment rate sank to 4.5 percent in March, the lowest in nearly a decade.

Those seeking encouraging news about the first quarter could find it in separate reports on Friday. The Labor Department said an index reflecting labor costs had its best showing in almost a decade, indicating that falling unemployment and faster hiring is translating into better wages — something notably absent in the recovery until recently.

Reaffirming its recent findings, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index finished April with a decidedly bullish reading of 97, up from 87.2 just before the election.

The White House provided a statement saying the report on gross domestic product might have been influenced by seasonal factors, but “shows that we still have work to do to get the economic growth President Trump wants and expects.”

And in an interview with Fox News on Friday, Mr. Trump said that, with better trade deals, the United States should be able to lift the rate of economic growth to 5 percent or more in a few years.

With personal consumption accounting for nearly 70 percent of all economic activity, however, the administration will be hard pressed to lift growth substantially if consumers remain cautious about opening their wallets.

Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Mr. Obama, said he found the disconnect between findings of optimism and actual behavior puzzling, though he added, “It’s possible it was a blip.”

On the other hand, something more significant may be happening. The rising cost of necessities like health care, housing and education is crowding out discretionary spending for middle-class Americans, said Stephanie Pomboy, founder of MacroMavens, an independent economics consulting firm in New York.

And the tax cuts the administration is proposing are unlikely to reverse that trend, she added.

“Consumers aren’t spending out of desire but out of obligation,” she said. “And I believe that since the recession and the bursting of the housing bubble, the middle class wants to save. They don’t want to get back into the position they were in after 2008.”

She noted that although the Obama administration got temporary tax breaks through Congress as part of its stimulus package in 2009, tax credits and other incentives did not substantially increase consumer spending.

Ms. Pomboy was among the earliest voices warning that a burst of first-quarter momentum was unlikely, and she is similarly cautious about the rest of 2017. “There are a lot of moving parts to this report for the first quarter, but none suggest we should look for an acceleration in growth going forward,” she said.

The initial weakness this year does follow a pattern of sluggish annual starts since the recovery began, when momentum has picked up in subsequent quarters.

When growth is measured year over year, rather than quarter over quarter, the latest data reveal a 1.9 percent annual growth rate, which is almost identical to the broader trend of the postrecession period.

Most economists on Wall Street are looking for a rebound over the rest of 2017, with growth rising to about 3 percent in the current quarter.

“We see ebbs and flows in consumer spending, and it’s still on an upward trend,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. Noting that consumption rose sharply in mid- to late 2016, Mr. Anderson suggested some payback was probably inevitable.

While he is more sanguine about the economy’s prospects than Ms. Pomboy is, Mr. Anderson shares her skepticism about the impact White House policy will have.

“The reality, as we have seen in the first 100 days, is that it’s a lot harder for the administration to achieve their policy goals and deal with Congress than they probably thought during the campaign,” he said.

“Even if you are president of the United States, you have to deal with 535 individuals with different constituencies and agendas on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Anderson said. “It’s not like running a commercial real estate company where everyone has to march to the same drummer.”

“I’ve never been a believer in the ‘Trump bump’ for this year,” he added. “We’re in the same economy we’ve been in all along.”
US Growth Hits 3-year Low in Trump's First Quarter
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:1PM

A video board displays the day's numbers at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on April 27, 2017 in New York. (Photo by AFP)

US economic growth has sunk to its lowest level in three years, a disappointing start to Donald Trump's presidency on the eve of his first 100 days in office.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased only 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year as consumer spending and government expenditures tumbled to their lowest levels in years, the US Commerce Department reported on Friday in its preliminary data.

Though only slightly below the 0.8 percent increase in the same quarter of last year, the result was down sharply from the 2.1 percent expansion seen in the fourth quarter of 2016.

It was well below analyst expectations for 1.1 percent GDP growth. The last time growth in the first quarter was more disappointing was the 1.2 percent drop in the 2014.

Trump, who hits his first 100 days in office on April 29, rose to power on a message of nationalist economic revival. He has also taken credit for increased consumer and business confidence, growing employment and record gains for stocks in recent months.

Record lows                      

The White House has been promising a return to three percent economic growth, which it says will generate the revenues needed to pay for the multi-trillion-dollar tax cuts unveiled this week.

Consumer spending fell to its lowest level in nearly eight years, adding only 0.3 percent, with spending on services at their lowest in four years, and durable goods orders their lowest since 2011, as auto sales fell 0.45 percent.

Defense spending contracted by four percent, its lowest pace in nearly three years, helping drive down overall government expenditures by 1.7 percent, the lowest quarterly result in almost four years.

Spending on non-durable goods also contracted 2.5 percent, the lowest reading since 2011.

Economists note that first quarters in recent years have trended below average.

Growth has averaged one percent in first quarters over the last seven years, well below average growth in other quarters, according to Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. In addition, preliminary estimates of GDP are subject to revisions of an average of 0.6 points.

Analysts also cautioned that the most recent numbers may have suffered some distortion, with a rebound likely in the next quarter.

Unseasonably warm weather in the first two months of the year drove down spending on utilities, and delayed tax refunds also put less cash in consumers' pockets, all of which weighed on consumption.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said if these distortions were excluded, growth would probably have been closer to two percent. He said he expects three percent growth in the second quarter "as the statistical and weather issues unwind."

Business investments were a bright spot, increasing 4.3 percent for the quarter. But that was a significant slowdown from the brisk 9.4 percent in the prior quarter.

A recovery in oil prices helped sustain growth in this category, with mining, exploration, shafts and wells skyrocketing by 449 percent, an all-time record, up from 23.7 percent in the prior quarter.

"The health of business investment bolsters our confidence that the first quarter is a temporary slowing," Barclays economists said in a research note. "The rise in equipment investment indicates that firms are expanding capacity in anticipation of rising demand."

Employment costs mount

With the Federal Reserve holding its two-day monetary policy meeting next week, the weak growth figures were sure to figure into expectations for the pace of interest rate moves this year but a Labor Department report also released Friday pointed in a different direction from GDP.

The employment cost index rose 0.8 percent for the quarter-- which Shepherdson noted was the biggest gain in nearly a decade -- two tenths above an analyst consensus forecast.

"Fed hawks will seize on this report," Shepherdson said. "All the action in the headline ECI is due to a 0.9 percent jump in wages and salaries in the private sector."

This confirms anecdotal reports in the Fed's economic survey from companies that have been obliged to raise wages and benefits in an effort to attract qualified candidates to job openings.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Industrialization is the Way, Says Namibian President: ‘Change Mentality, Work Together’
THE Namibian President  Cde Hage Geingob (centre) admires the furniture gift they are sitting on, of a table and six chairs, he was given by  the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) company after he officially opened this year’s Trade Fair yesterday. Looking on after handing over the furniture is the Minister of Industry and Commerce Cde Mike Bimha (right) and the ZITF board Chairperson Ms Ruth Ncube. — (Picture by Dennis Mudzamiri)

Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
Zimbabwe Chronicle

VISITING Namibian President Cde Hage Geingob yesterday implored African governments and the private sector to aggressively champion industrialisation and avoid overreliance on exporting raw materials.

Officially opening the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, President Geingob said the challenges facing the continent and the rising youth unemployment could only be addressed through harnessing regional linkages and pursuing a robust regional industrialisation agenda that is anchored on value addition and beneficiation.

He bemoaned low intra-regional trade and reliance on imports from developed economies, which he blamed for the continued use of economic models that serve colonial interests.

“Trade between African governments has generally been low. This is so because our trading patterns have been aligned to service the requirements of former colonial powers and partly because many African countries essentially produce similar goods, mainly agricultural and mineral commodities.

“Little or no beneficiation takes place in many of our countries and the bulk of finished goods are imported from Europe and Asia. This must change,” said President Geingob, who was the guest of honour.

“There is not a single advanced economy in the world today that did not go through the industrialisation process. African economies will be no different. To address burning challenges in particular rising youth unemployment, we will have to expand our industrial base and manufacturing capabilities.”

President Geingob said Zimbabwe’s economy was poised to register robust growth following good rains which resulted in a bumper harvest, which he said laid a solid foundation for growth in other processing sectors.

He said agricultural exhibitions at the ZITF demonstrated that the country was indeed the bread basket of the region.

“Zimbabwe, as the bread basket of Sadc, is expecting a bumper harvest this year. From what I have seen before we came here and touring the stands particularly the agricultural sector, I must state that Zimbabwe is indeed the bread basket of Sadc and this positive outlook should bolster our hopes and encourage our business people to get ready to capitalise on the opportunity presented by this development,” he said.

Similarly, Cde Geingob said the Namibian economy was recovering and said this presented opportunities for trade and investment in the two countries.

He said Namibia recorded trade in goods worth about $13 billion in 2016 but so far trade in goods worth $24 million have been recorded.

“This low level of trade presents a huge opportunity for the two countries,” he said.

President Geingob, however, commended President Mugabe for taking the lead in advocating for an industrialised Africa. He said it was under President Mugabe’s able leadership as chairman of SADC that the regional industrialisation policy and implementation framework was adopted in 2015. Zimbabwe has already domesticated the value addition policy under Zim-Asset.

“We must work hard to ensure that this important roadmap does not collect dust on the shelf but is implemented with a sense of urgency,” said Cde Geingob.

He stressed the need for regional economies to work together to derive economies of scale and high levels of competitiveness, which could not be attained at individual country level.

As such Cde Geingob called on all Africa states to embrace regional economic integration, break all regional barriers to trade and specialise on unique competitive advantage to create regional value chains that will be able to compete globally.

He said removing barriers should cover eradicating restrictions to labour mobility and general movement of people.

“It is only through the unhindered movement in Africa that one day we will harness the full industrial capacity and capabilities of our economies,” said President Geingob.

He said Namibia has already started working on enhancing ease of movement by abolishing visa requirements for all Africans holding diplomatic official passports and that ordinary travellers who seek visas were able to get them upon arrival. To address economic inequality in the country he said his government has adopted a programme code named “Harambee Prosperity Plan”, which aims to fast track implementation of empowerment programmes.

President Geingob challenged the private sector to lead economic development processes saying the role of governments was to only provide a conducive macro-economic environment.

“It is up to the private sector to identify opportunities and turn those into viable businesses. You, the private sector are the ultimate creators of wealth,” he said.

President Geingob, however, warned businesses against seeking super or excessive profits saying such an approach was not sustainable in the long run.

He commended Zimbabwe’s efforts to reform the doing business framework to attract investment and urged the private sector to take advantage of the process as well as utilise platforms like ZITF to improve their businesses.

“Together Namibia, Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa can harness increased opportunities for industrial development. If we pull together with the private sector as Africa we can make it,” said President Geingob.
Zimbabwe-China Mega Deal Creates 1500 Jobs in Matabeland South
April 28, 2017
Nqobile Tshili
Chronicle Correspondent

TELONE has employed about 1 500 people from Matabeleland South to lay optic fibre cables in the 330KM Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone Fibre project.

The project is a fruit of the mega deals signed by Zimbabwe and China in December 2015 in Harare.  The parastatal has received $33 million out of a $98 million loan from the Asian economic giant.

TelOne will offer the fastest internet service connections at lowest rates in the country, once the project is completed.

Launching the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone Fibre project which is part of NBP in Matabeleland South’s Umzingwane District, the Minister of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Cde Supa Mandiwanzira who was represented by his deputy Dr Win Mlambo, yesterday said the NBP should be completed for the transformation of the country’s economy.

He said from the $98 million which was unveiled $33 million has already been put to use.

Minister Mandiwanzira said the project would not have started without the mega deals.

“Such significance of the NBP has seen it being granted the national project status which assures you of the Government’s seriousness in connecting everyone everywhere through players like TelOne. As most of you here may already know, this project is a product of the Chinese mega deals signed in December 2015 by His Excellency President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping after a long process of negotiations. This culminated in TelOne benefiting from the China Exim Bank $98 million facility for the project being implemented by Huawei that is why they are here with us,” said Cde Mandiwanzira.

He said the Bulawayo-Beitbridge project utilised $7.7 million, creating jobs for local people who were contracted to provide menial labour.

Cde Mandiwanzira said other local people benefited through being sub-contracted to do other jobs.

“In the process of the rollout, at least 1 500 casual jobs for the local communities have been created. This is direct empowerment that we require and encourage all our contractors each time we have projects of this nature being implemented. We are keen on these projects as we are on the drive to ensure that Zimbabweans are empowered through employment creation and also virtual connections through the best internet at the lowest possible cost.”

He said the NBP is being implemented in accordance with Government’s E-governance drive.

“Furthermore, the fibre backbone supports communications initiatives by providing a solid base for launching e-services in health, education, justice, immigration, parliament, home affairs and other sectors. This means we will soon be able to enjoy all these benefits because we will be having reliable internet services right in our backyard,” he said.

Cde Mandiwanzira said the project will see internet services becoming cheaper and more accessible.

NetOne’s board chairman Engineer Charles Shamu said the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone project started in October last year and is expected to be completed in June.

He said TelOne has also completed the upgrading of Bulawayo-Victoria Falls microwave radio link and Mutare-Harare-Bulawayo-Plumtree optic fibre backbone link.
‘Talk Openly About HIV/Aids’
April 28, 2017
Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Namibian First Lady Monica Geingos has called for open and frank dialogue between young people and adults on issues affecting youths, including adolescence and HIV and Aids.

She made the call yesterday at the Women’s University in Africa campus in Manresa while addressing youths, including university and college students, child parliamentarians and adults from different sectors.

The function was also attended by WUA founder and Vice Chancellor Professor Hope Sadza, chairperson and founding member Dr Fay Chung and senior staff from the university.

Mrs Geingos said there was need for adults to discuss issues affecting them with youths.

She said the discussions between young people and adults should be user friendly to the intended beneficiaries.

“As parents, it is difficult to speak to our children about (issues) relating to HIV and Aids,” said Mrs Geingos. “Young people are faced with many challenges and not only HIV and Aids, so we should change the campaign to enable the young people to free themselves, not only from HIV and Aids, but from many things that affect them, including drugs, peer pressure and bad behaviour.

Mrs Geingos said the discussions should not only be biased towards girls, as boys also had issues affecting them.

“Boys have challenges like the inability to deal with anger and peer pressure,” she said. “Sometimes we should take the dialogue to where the children go, for instance nightclubs, and have them discuss their challenges and let other people talk about them, it helps to have the young people know how other people see them.”

Mrs Geingos expressed concern over the rate of new HIV and Aids infections on young children between 14 and 25 years.

“We should not leave everything to Government alone, but the communities should work together to assist young people as they mostly suffer from social dysfunction,” she said.

Mrs Geingos was appointed the UNAIDS special advocate for young Women and Adolescent Girls.

Her role is to specifically champion the start Free Stay Free AIDS Free campaign, the super track framework for ending Aids among children, adolescents and young women by 2020.

She is spearheading youth focused #Be Free Conversations, which focus on all issues affecting adolescents.
Namibia to Emulate Zimbabwe on Land
Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe Chronicle

Visiting Namibian President Hage Geingob has said he will use the opportunity to learn how to embark on an agrarian revolution, following Zimbabwe’s successful land reform programme.

He said Namibia would convene a second land conference in September to discuss with whites who own vast tracts of land how they could share it with the black majority, most of whom were still poor 27 years after his country got independence.

President Geingob said this on Wednesday evening during a State banquet held for him by President Mugabe at State House ahead of the official opening of the 2017 edition of Zimbabwe International Trade Fair today in Bulawayo.

The Namibian President will officially open the trade fair.

Namibia held its first land conference after independence in 1991 to deal with the challenges of accessibility to commercial land and protect farm workers from exploitation.

President Geingob said Namibian founding President Sam Nujoma brought independence, peace and reconciliation, while his predecessor Hifikepunye Pohamba continued the legacy.

He said the two’s actions stabilised the country, now expectations were for him to address the land issue.

“So, I am now saying I am in a difficult situation,” said President Geingob. “And now Hage (Geingob, Namibians say), now you must deliver, very tall order, it is unfair actually.

“I have to deliver the land, prosperity, it is a tall order. So, I came here to get advice because indeed I said this (President Mugabe) is my mentor.

“We cannot hide from this issue. We can’t hide away from it. We can’t hide away from the fact that some people are still left out after 27 years of independence.”

President Geingob likened Zimbabwe’s land reform to a caesarean section which was painful, but bore fruits.

“In my thesis a long time ago, I said in Zimbabwe my brothers there had a caesarean section to deliver a baby,” he said. “Cesarean section could be very painful, but they used that and I was saying when the pain stops you will deliver a healthy baby.  We are already seeing the signs of that. I am told you are going to have a bumper harvest this year. The signs are already beginning to show.”

President Geingob hailed President Mugabe for pardoning Ian Smith after independence, despite being imprisoned for 10 years.

“He reconciled with General (Peter) Walls,” he said. “Ian Smith’s farm was not taken. He went on his own. So, when I talk of reconciliation I put it into context, that the first reconciliatory coming from an ugly war was Cde Mugabe.

“He tolerated for 10 years, the Lancaster House Agreement. He was kind to wait because he knew that there were two countries under colonialism, Namibia and South Africa.”

President Geingob said there was a lot to learn from President Mugabe.

“It is very difficult for us, young ones, to stand and share the platform with icons of our revolution,” he said. “I never thought that the day will come when I will become President and stand at the same floor with people who were our mentors, people whom we were admiring, who were leading us, but here I am, to be here and to be welcomed by you Your Excellency.”

In his speech earlier on, President Mugabe urged Namibia and Zimbabwe to ensure the implementation of the cooperating agreements in the areas of energy, transport, human resources development.

He described the power purchase agreement between Zesa Holdings and Namibia’s power utility, Nampower, as a torch bearer. “I urge our ministers and officials to ensure that the signed agreements are implemented fully, so that they do not gather dust on our shelves,” said President Mugabe
On Wednesday, the two countries signed three memoranda of understanding in the areas of women, gender and community development, health and sport and recreation.

President Mugabe hailed the good bilateral relations that exist between the two countries.

“Like our Namibian brothers and sisters, we share the conviction that, given that dear price that was paid to make us free and independent, the values for which we fought, must never be compromised,” he said.

“The enemy we defeated mutates in various forms and we should never lose our guard.”

President Mugabe commended Namibia for the donation of canned fish and medication following the devastating floods caused by cyclone Deneo.

“Zimbabwe will, Your Excellency, be eternally grateful for that gesture, especially considering that your country was facing similar challenges caused by floods,” he said. “Namibia has proved to be our very good friend indeed.”

The banquet was attended by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, several Government Ministers, Zanu-PF Politburo members, service chiefs and diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Strengthening of Zimbabwe, Namibia Ties Must Be Hailed
April 28, 2017
Zimbabwe Chronicle

Bilateral relations between the people of Zimbabwe and Namibia that date back to the liberation struggles of both countries, are excellent.

Both have a history of courageously fighting against colonial domination. Zimbabwe fought against British occupation during the First Chimurenga/Umvukela 1896-1897. The resistance was mercilessly crushed, the locals’ spears, bows and arrows and cave hideouts proving no match to the invaders’ guns, bombs and dynamite. They rose again in 1966 in the Second Chimurenga/Umvukela. Better equipped and more organised, the people of Zimbabwe won and Independence came in 1980.

Similarly, the Namibian people rose against German settlers during the Nama-Herero Uprisings from 1904 to 1907. The Germans committed what is now widely regarded as an act of genocide when they massacred up to 140 000 Nama and Herero fighters. In 1915 apartheid South Africa took over the running of Namibia. Namibians mobilised themselves for another armed struggle beginning in 1966. They attained their independence in 1990.

Having achieved her Independence 10 years earlier, Zimbabwe supported Namibia’s liberation struggle.

On attaining independence, both countries inherited skewed land ownership structures that favoured whites. Whereas Zimbabwe has largely addressed the imbalances, Namibia hasn’t.

President Mugabe and his Namibian counterpart at that time, Cde Sam Nujoma, were instrumental in developing close political relations between their countries. The ties have evolved over the years to the economic and social.

Events of this week have served to highlight that close relationship. Ministers from both governments held the Eighth Session of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission in Harare from Monday to Wednesday to discuss a range of subjects of mutual interest. Today, Namibia President Hage Geingob is in Bulawayo to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, the second Namibian president to do so after Cde Nujoma performed the honours on May 1, 1991.

We welcome President Geingob to his home away from home. We extend the same welcome to the big entourage of Namibian exhibitors who arrived in Bulawayo for the ZITF ahead of their president.

We laud the efforts to further strengthen Zimbabwe-Namibia relations in the context of the joint permanent commission and hope that agreed programmes of co-operation are speedily implemented for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries. Broad areas identified for co-operation include trade, agriculture, rural development, mining, energy, and transport and information technology and so on.

“We have had significant performance in some areas, moderate in others and no performance at all in others,” commented co-chairperson of the joint permanent commission, Ambassador Joey Bimha while officially opening the eighth session on Monday.

“Progress has been registered in the sectors of trade, energy, broadcasting and human capital development. In the energy sector, we commend our two countries’ power utilities for the effective and efficient implementation of power purchase agreements they signed in April 2015. Co-operation in the broadcasting sector is progressing well.”

At the end of the session on Wednesday the two countries signed three memoranda of understanding in areas of women, gender and community development, health and sport development.

It is our sincere hope that the agreements in the three fields will be executed as soon as possible.

On women and gender, we note that both countries are already doing a lot to open up opportunities for women in politics. Namibia, like Zimbabwe is promoting the 50/50 strategy for political representation where they are saying men and women must equally share positions. They also have a commitment for the so-called “zebra” where if, for example a minister is a man, his deputy must be a woman and vice versa. That country also has a female Prime Minister.

Zimbabwe is also working to enhance female presence in political office. We have the women’s quota in Parliament that was implemented in accordance with the 2013 constitution. As a result, women now hold about 30 percent of seats in parliament, up from around 12 percent that the old first-past-the-post electoral system tended to yield in previous parliaments.

We hope that our two governments will continue discussions around not only political representation but also advancing the status of women economically and socially.

There is a lot that they can share in terms of health from training, employment, provision of medical equipment, drugs, and facilities etcetera.  We note that there are many Zimbabwean nurses, doctors, pharmacists and so on already working in Namibia. This is an important area where Namibia can help since our country had by January this year, around 4 000 unemployed nurses. Some of them can be seconded to Namibian health facilities under the proposed policy of export of skilled labour. But such exports can only be done if there are vacant posts or critical skills gaps in Namibia like the situation in the engineering and legal fields where some Zimbabweans are already serving.

In turn, Namibians can benefit from Zimbabwe’s training programmes which are excellent and world-class. This would entail the enrolment of student nurses, doctors and other health professionals at local institutions. On graduating that can return home to serve their country.

In sport, there are many areas both countries can co-operate among them training of athletes, officials and administrators, exchange programmes of the same and so on.

But as we indicated earlier, Zimbabwe-Namibia relations are broad and more effort should be put in consolidating the good work done so far while progress is quickened in areas of co-operation that are lagging behind.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Zimbabwe, Namibia Sign Three MOUs
By Farirai Machivenyika
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe and Namibia yesterday signed three Memoranda of Understanding in the areas of women, gender and community development, health and sport and recreation. President Mugabe hosted a State banquet in honour of Dr Geingob at State House last night. The banquet was still on by the time of going to press late last night. The MoUs were signed in the presence of President Mugabe, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and visiting Namibian President Hage Geingob and his wife Monica Geingos who arrived in Harare in the morning.

The signing of the MoUs was a culmination of discussions held during the 8th Session of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Commission held in Harare in the past three days.

The first MoU to be signed was on cooperation in the area of women, gender equality and community development by Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya and Namibia's Minister of Gender Equality and Child Care, Doreen Siyoka.

The second MoU on health was signed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and Namibia's Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Mrs Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwa. The MoU seeks to promote a framework for development in the field of health through sharing of information and cooperation in the field of research.

The third MoU was signed by Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane and Mrs Nandi-Ndaitwa and seeks to promote cooperation and exchange programmes in the fields of sport and recreation.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said they had discussed various areas of cooperation during the session, including that of energy, human resources development and transport.

Hans Hesselink has invented a new way to organize air traffic so that most problems of landing and taking off can be avoided.

"Over the past three days, we have been holding discussion during the 8th Session of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Commission where we took stock of the work we have done over the past three years and the areas we would want to pursue," he said.

"The Joint Commission also noted the exchange of personnel we have had in various areas between our two countries, areas of training we have undertaken between our two countries and areas or solidarity. We recognised the speedy way Namibia has responded when we made our appeals (for relief following recent floods)."

Minister Mumbengegwi thanked the Namibians for the assistance rendered following the flooding caused by Cyclone Dineo.

He said the dry port facility which Namibia offered Zimbabwe was now between 80 and 90 percent complete.

The Namibian government granted Zimbabwe 19 000 square metres of land to construct its own dry port expected to boost the country's trade, but due to financial constrains the project had been delayed.

President Geingob arrived in Zimbabwe early yesterday and is expected to officially open the 2017 edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on Friday.

He was met at the Harare International Airport by President Mugabe, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, service chiefs, several ministers, diplomats and senior Government officials and scores of Zimbabweans.

President Geingob inspected a quarter guard mounted by the Presidential Guard, before attending the signing ceremony of the MoUs at State House.
Joint Statement by the ANC AND AIC Following Meeting Held on the 24th April 2017
24 April 2017

The African National Congress (ANC) and the African Independent Congress (AIC) met today, 24 April 2017, in pursuance of commitments made when the two parties entered into a coalition agreement following the 2016 Local Government Elections in August 2016. Both parties recognize that their coalition must be informed by the will of the people who gave them the popular democratic mandate in the elections to cooperate in the national interest.

The ANC and the AIC have adopted a memorandum of understanding that will regulate the coalition partnership between the two organizations. Both organisations are committed to the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa that delivers services to all. The two organizations have agreed on political cooperation in the national interest with specific reference to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Rustenburg Local Municipality, Umkhanyakude District Municipality and other municipalities where both parties have representation.

The parties have further committed themselves to a roadmap which outlines the proposed constitutional demarcation process to incorporate Matatiele Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape into KwaZulu-Natal province. This roadmap outlines a constitutionally and legally compliant process towards this objective.

In addition to the process towards the incorporation of Matatiele into KwaZulu-Natal, the parties have agreed to the roll-out of specific projects which constitute the understanding between the parties and include:

The opening of an Agricultural College in Matatiele Adjunct of Maluti
The tarring of all Provincial rural roads with specific reference to the roads connecting Lesotho and South Africa resulting in Matatiele being declared a nodal point
These deliverables will be executed in compliance with existing legislation as may be applicable.

Issued by
Gwede Mantashe
Secretary General
African National Congress
Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707

Issued by
Mahlubanzima Jafta
Secretary General
African Independent Congress
Aubrey Mhlongo 072 921 2006
ANC Statement on Reported Threats Against Activists and Media
23 April 2017

The African National Congress is concerned at what appears to be a climate of intimidation steadily encroaching into South Africa's body politic. In recent months, there have been increasing reports of political leaders, activists and journalists who have come forward with claims that they have been intimidated by certain elements owing to their positions of beliefs. Some claim to even have received threats on their lives.

The ANC considers these threats in a very serious light and calls on those who have been threatened to report such to law enforcement authorities who must verify these claims and investigate. Such behavior is an antitheses to the health and pluralistic society we seek to build where the contestation of ideas thrives.

Freedom of conscience and association are inalienable rights granted to all under the Constitution. South African history is littered with violence and media suppression. Political intolerance would take South Africa back to a painful past that should not be repeated.

Threats made against individuals because of their political or ideological beliefs is indicative of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Those who plot in dark corners and make anonymous threats as well and other forms of intimidation of others should pursue principled and legitimate forms of engagement instead of resorting to cowardly acts.

The ANC calls on all South Africans to unite behind our common vision of a pluralistic society and jealously guard our hard won freedoms-including freedom of speech and association.

We will not allow our country to become a breeding ground for political intolerance- which history has starkly shown can very quickly become a catalyst for anarchy and lawlessness.

Issued by the African National Congress

Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707
National Communications Manager
Statement of the ANC NEC Subcommittee on Organisational Development on the Policy Document on Organisational Renewal and Design
23 April 2017


This morning the ANC turn its attention to the topic that goes to the heart and soul of the African National Congress (ANC). It is the turn of the ANC Sub-Committee on Organising and Mobilisisation to present the much awaited Organisational Renewal and Design Document to you. We begin by providing a synoptic perspective of the discussion document, and move on to contentious political topics for discussions and end with an emphasis on process matters.

The chief aim of the discussion document is to provoke robust debates within the structures of the ANC (African National Congress) and Alliance partners on the perennial questions of organisational renewal and organisational design challenge. The debate is premised on the political context of the origins of the ANC, the evolution of the movement, the attendant organisational ebbs and flows hitherto. An attempt is made at diagnosing the imperative for organisational renewal and inevitability of organisational design of the overall ANC architecture and organisational processes with a view to mitigate ideological degeneration and organisational paralysis. The debate is necessitated by the reality that naturally fortunes of all major political parties tend to ebb and flow over time. We interrogate the social factors and impulses that trigger the national debate and discourse on organisational renewal and design.

The discussion document approaches the debate from a historical and theoretical perspective and creates a platform for debates and ventures into specific recommendations in order to develop a Road Map to the National Policy Conference in June 2017 and ultimately the 54th National Conference in December 2017.


The Mafikeng ANC National Conference recognized that whereas the 1994 breakthrough ushered a completely new environment in the entire existence of the ANC, it has taken the organization some time to determine how to operate within this new context. Conference went further to articulate that "Though the democratic order has created opportunities for the organization that were barely considered possible five years ago, it has presented challenges for which many of the established practices and strategies seem inadequate".

In recent history, the clarion call for organisational renewal was made at ANC's National Conference in Polokwane after Conference observed the reality that we have been finding it difficult to comprehensively respond to the new conditions and challenges occasioned by the coming into power of the ANC as the leader of the democratic forces. It is back then in December 2007 Polokwane Conference that a ground-breaking resolution was adopted calling on the National Executive Committee to declare 'a period of renewal'.

The 2010 National General Council (NGC) focused extensively on the tasks of organisational renewal and further resolved that decisive steps must be taken to reverse negative tendencies that are eroding the political integrity and moral standing of the ANC among our people. The NGC concluded that for renewal to succeed three conditions need to be met and these are: a resilient, courageous, principled and decisive leadership; a committed and conscious cadreship; an active civil society and mobilised population.

The 53rd Conference of the ANC in Mangaung elaborated on the strengths and weakness of the movement, and arrived at the conclusion that there is a need for the movement to embark on organisational renewal. The Conference reaffirmed the emphasis of the 4th National Policy Conference on the urgent need for renewal, recognising that renewal is principally about building the ANC's resilience, enhancing its transformative and governance capacity and its ability to adapt to changing situations so that it can continue to serve and lead the people.

The continuous renewal of the ANC over the century of its existence has been guided by the nature and content of the struggle against apartheid colonialism and its legacy as elaborated in its Strategy and Tactics. The ANC has always understood that to lead the national democratic revolution successfully, it should continuously renew itself so that it remains relevant to the changing conditions of the struggle both locally and internationally.


The discussion document postulates a view that the conditions in which the ANC operates have changed thus necessitating a comprehensive review of the ANC structural design and organisational design. The review takes into account the current structural design, the Party constituent structures, ANC Parliamentary, Legislative, Council and caucuses' functionality, efficiencies and effectiveness. We pose the question of whether, in light of subjective and objective challenges confronting the ANC, there is a discernable risk of organisational paralysis manifesting itself through among others perceived or real; fragmentation of the constituent parts of the ANC,

Our entry points in this discussion are considerations of the salient political elements drawn from the Strategies and Tactics. We recognise that Organisational Renewal cannot be discussed outside our analysis of the current local and global balance of forces.

We argue that the ANC remains the leader in the processes for social change as demonstrated by our delivery since 1994. That said, the ANC must retain its dual character as a liberation movement and a political party. However, there are lessons to be learned from the Mass Democratic Movement's appeal to a broad spectrum of sectors and strata, elevating mass mobilisation, sustained campaigns on bread and butter issues and entrenchment of organs of people's power. We are of the view that the ANC can renew itself without losing its traditional outlook. Organisations exist within a political and ideological context; there is an urgent need to strengthen the organisational machinery to achieve the ANC's historic mission.

The organisation must re-orientate itself, readjust and completely reorganise itself and its organisational machinery to be inclusive and representative in all its decision-making structures, at all levels/spheres in order for the organisation to be more responsive to the new demands of the current conjecture characterised by modern young, savvy and media literate captive markets and voter pools.

Modern organizations pay significant attention and resources to the capacity and interphase between its back-end office and front end office in pursuit of its organizational goals. These are complex systems-driven and people-driven organizational processes with change-drivers orchestrating the day-to-day functions in line with the overarching strategy of the organization, in line with the "change drivers" in the movement can only be effected to achieve a desired outcome if they are "driven" by a selected entity for a specifically "desired outcome" that will result in the "targeted action".

The core processes of Organisational Renewal entail consolidating the organisational architecture of the ANC, policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation, relentless communication and the battle of ideas, political education and ideological training, constant engagement with the centres of power, flawless engagement with the motive forces, bolstering organising and campaigns, mass mobilisation as it relates to membership growth and election's development.

The support processes are essentially the inside-out activities and programmes that support and defend the core mandate such as Human Resource Management, Financial Management, Fundraising, Research & Development (R&D), and Information & Communication Technology (ICT).

Organisational Renewal and Design in the ANC's perspective is geared towards consolidating the ANC as a movement for social transformation and strategic centre of power. This debate will and must address the critical weaknesses of the ANC and the question of the optimal mobilisation of the motive forces for change. The paper is aimed at energising the structures of the ANC, of the Alliance partners, of the South African Civic Organisation (SANCO) and other youth, students and women progressive formations to engage the centres of power.

Of critical significance, the debate about the life and soul of the oldest liberation movement in the African Continent takes place as the African National Congress celebrates the centenary of the ANC's longest serving President, Oliver Reginald Tambo. The movement deservedly declared 2017 the year of Oliver Tambo! It is incumbent on the cadres of this glorious movement to Deepen Unity of purpose during this period and beyond. The current generation owe it to Tambo.

Though there may be ebbs and flows, the ANC proceeds from the optimistic and realistic assessment that Africa is set on a new course of rapid economic growth and development. It promotes African integration and the alignment of developmental programmes across the continent.
The ANC proceeds from the understanding that the balance of forces in the global arena is not immutable. It is a function of objective conditions; but critically, it also depends on conscious action by the broad front of global progressive forces.


There are three main organisational shortcomings and dangers that continue to bedevil the ANC post-1994 period:

Firstly, the challenges of governance and political management of state power have been impacting on the character and values of the ANC as the movement for transformation and servant of the people. Due to the preoccupation with managing internal conflicts, the movement has not been mitigating the dangers that any governing party has to contend with and manage: The danger of social distance and isolation of the party from the masses; The danger of state bureaucratic and demobilisation of the masses; The danger of corruption and sins of incumbency; The danger of institutionalized factionalism, ill-discipline and disunity fuelled and inspired by the battles over the control of state power and resources; The danger of using state institutions to settle inner-party differences.

The danger of neglecting cadre policy; The danger of lack of capacity and capability to implement policies; the danger of gate-keeping and, bulk buying of membership; The danger of divisive slate electoral politics, wedge-drivers, and The danger of character and political assassinations and so on.

Secondly, the political life of the organisation revolves around insidious internal strife and factional battles for power. This is a silent retreat from the mass line to palace politics of factionalism and perpetual in-fighting. The internal strife revolves around contestation for power and state resources, rather than differences on how to implement the policies of the movement. This situation has shifted the focus of the cadres and members of the movement away from societal concerns and people's aspirations. These circumstances have produced a new type of an ANC leader and member who sees ill-discipline, divisions, factionalism and in-fighting as normal practices and necessary forms of political survival. Drastic measures and consistent action against these negative tendencies are necessary to root out anarchy and decay.

Thirdly, the organisational capabilities - structure, systems and processes - do not match the tasks and demands of the current phase of the revolution. Although we have a presence of progressive policies and cadres in virtually all pillars of transformation, we are not deliberately building appropriate capabilities to mobilise, engage and lead the motive and progressive forces in these pillars, and therefore draw the linkages between pillar and sectoral processes and the overall national objective.

Unlike in the pre-1990 period, the ANC is not rapidly training and deliberately deploying competent cadres in accordance with the pillars of our current strategy and tactics.

Necessarily, the aim of organisational renewal is to comprehensively address all the challenges faced by our movement as it begins its second centenary.


The ANC must consider detailed cadre policy that is underscored by organisational ethical and moral values. The policy must after adoption be infused or attached to the Code of Conduct of the organisation.

The ANC need as a matter of urgency to review its electoral processes in order allow for open contest and transparency. Cadres who make themselves available for public office or are nominated must be prepared for their names and manifestos to be subjected to the scrutiny of the ANC structures and their constituencies.

The ANC must conduct a massive SKILLS AUDIT at all levels amongst its employees and cadres with the objective of assessing their suitability and/or competencies. Subsequent to this, a comprehensive training and development programme must be a design to build the intellectual capital of the ANC structures at all levels (branch, region, province and national).

The ANC should consider bolstering the capacity of the office of the Secretary General as the engine of the organization, focusing on managing the core function of the organization. For this office to perform this crucial task effectively, it will have to employ highly skilled persons with managerial skills, to coordinate the overall functioning of the office. This will also include coordinating the programmes performed by all the departments and units under the office of the Secretary General.

The document recommends that the Head Office of the ANC must radically grow a host of capacities that we do not have today at head office.

The head office must strengthen the Organizing and Mobilisation Department in order to establish sector mobilisation, paying particular attention to labour, NGO's, and business. The Organising and Mobilisation Department must conduct a review of youth and women organisational work together with the youth and women's leagues.

The document recommends that the NEC must be reduced to a sizeable NEC comprising of tried and tested cadres of the movement, balanced by youth and women activists. These are cadres who will be selected on the strength of their political and ideological development in order make a meaningful contribution to the implementation of ANC policies.

The NEC, PECs and RECs, of the organisation need to be driven by strong leadership as sign of the ideological and political maturity, and rigour of our incubation and training organisational institutions (i.e. The Political Education Schools and support to cadres for academic achievement and intellectual pursuit). The discussion on the size and composition of the NEC should include a discussion on ensuring that ANC leaders are found in all sectors of society; i.e. civil society, business sector, academia and others. This will assist the organisation in developing and maintaining its position as leader of society. In this connection we are recommending that the organisation should take a firm decision that NOT more the 65% of NEC Members should serve in the Cabinet and Provincial Legislatures.

The establishment of the Integrity Committee is welcome. However, there must be a distinction between the Integrity Committee and the Revolutionary Electoral Commission that is being recommended. The Revolutionary Electoral Commission that must be established post Conference as per previous resolution will ensure the screening of cadres and recommending to the Deployment Committee ideologically grounded and intellectually developed cadres for servicing the people of South Africa.

In the connection, a careful balance or combination of experience of tried and tested cadres, on the one hand and bright young minds, on the other, will bring dynamism and nurture the new cadre

The ANC should position the Veterans League as a Council of elders whose main political function would be to provide advice and counsel to the structures and leadership of the ANC. It therefore follows that due to the special place the veterans occupy in the ANC, the veterans should not contest leadership positions within the ANC.

The ANC must of necessity consider reviewing the current branch system and allow for the establishment of branches or constitutionally recognised units at institutions of higher learning and training, workplaces and gated communities. The current demarcation is stunting organisational growth and limiting contact and influence.

 It is recommended that the current territorially based branches (ward based) remain the main form of ANC branch organisation; however allowance must be made for another form of branches namely "sectoral or institutional branches". These must be established by the RECs where it is deemed viable. These could cover places of big population concentration where individuals (voters) share common interests or peculiar traits; exclusive communities such as university campuses and huge workplaces (corporate institutions, parastatals, etc).

ANC Regions/sub-regions should consider as their primary tasks the engagement of civil society in their domains. This will ensure that the organisation looks after all centres of power and is geared to engage all motive forces.

In view of the above, it is imperative to consider allocating original powers and administrative resources to this level, so it can act as an effective centre for branches; an administrative "warehouse" for all branches.

It strongly recommended that Provinces must focus on the centres of power and all the motive forces. The province must establish sector committees and support centres of power consciously. Provincial offices should mirror the structural reorganization that will be effected by head office.

 It is recommended that the NEC policy sub-committees must be linked to the policy institutes as a feeder. Furthermore, head office staff that is responsible for policy and other policy functions such as research, should be incorporated into the policy institute.

It is recommended that NEC sub committees and NEC policy sub-committees and other sub-committees must serve as interface nodes of the organisation with broader public in order to bring their political and technical competencies to bear in the sectors of their work.

In this context, executives of the ANC at all levels from branch to province, must be structured in accordance with their responsibility to intervene and provide leadership to all centres of power, viz. the state, civil society, the economy, the battle for ideas and the continental and global arena.

The Organising and Mobilisation Department responsibility must be broken down into targeted sections dealing with different sectors and segments of our motive forces e.g. labour, Youth, Business. In other words, the organizing department must as a matter of principle have sectoral work as one of its core-mandate. The implications of this are that units such as the religious desk must no longer operate as separate entities but should be incorporated to the Organizing and Mobilising Department.

The question National Policy Conference must answer is how ANC members can hold the cadres and leaders accountable for the implementation of Conference resolutions and Programme of Action (PoA). What mechanisms and systems should the Conference introduce in order to monitor implementation and outcomes? In our considered view, there must be consequences for dereliction of duty or failure to execute by cadres and members of the organisation. A related question is how do we build a culture of urgency wherein deployees take initiative and spearhead transformation without being reminded or monitored?

Regional and provincial structures of the ANC have a pivotal role to play in supporting progressive community initiatives and government programmes. Support by way of resources and monitoring branch and regional work and help develop Programmes of Action and strategies for pertinent sectoral and community work. Setting minimum standards of what a branch should achieve. Setting performance indicators manage and monitor, implement corrective measures when needed, also monitor and direct work in government.

All levels of the leadership organs of the ANC must accommodate core and support functions / processes in their structures

With respect to the ANC the ANC Caucuses, Parliamentary, Legislative and Council possibly the biggest challenge is to design an appropriate structure for the management of both government and legislature work, an area which did not exist before 1994 in our work but has today become our main pre-occupation, the premier pillar of our struggle.

The ANC exists and functions in an environment that demands instant decision-making, in this context integration, inculcating a culture of a learning organisation and information sharing is imperative. The practice of designating a function and issuing mandates without consideration to human resources and financial implication is contributing to organisational and administrative paralysis. The National Policy Conference must pronounce on possible revenue streams that are sustainable. It therefore follows that form must follow content in that size must be determined by objective conditions and the stage at which the structure and cadres are operating in relation to the ideological dexterity and political development.

Membership development and management is at the centre of the existence of any political organisation or party. This is more so in electoral politics. It is not an exaggeration to say some of the weaknesses which emanated from the inability to devise appropriate administrative procedures transcended into political difficulties for the organisation. The ANC must fast-track implementation of the electronic membership system.

A policy on how the ANC relates to social media and related aspects of is developed by our communication cadres for approval at the Conference.

It is re-iterated that the proposed Political Education Schools and support to cadres for intellectual development and ideological training be implemented.

It is incumbent upon the regional and provincial to ensure that political induction and ideological training is provided as part of the reception and on-going training of the ANC cadres. The NEC must ensure that the content, method and procedure for delivering political education is uniform in its application all the structures. The regions and provinces should monitor the implementation and delivery of political education.

Provision should be made for alternative delivery mechanisms such as study groups and distant learning with internet or DVDs and should be rolled out from 2017 to encourage study groups in branches and caucuses and provide universal access. Regions/sub-regions should have as one of their primary tasks the engagement of civil society, the state and business in their domains. Again this will ensure that the organisation looks after all centers of power and is geared to engage all motive forces. This is the ideal level/sphere for driving programmes of the tripartite alliance.

Efforts should be made to strengthen the Veterans League and ensure that they become the lifeblood of the African National Congress. Twenty years into the new democracy, the ANC have not adequately taken care of the plight of the veterans of uMkhonto We Sizwe. A majority of these former combatants have been relegated to margins of society, trapped in a vicious circle of unemployment and poverty.

Our revolutionary conscience dictate that the ANC redouble its efforts to restore the dignity of former combatants and ensure that they too are in the forefront of defending the gains of the democratic breakthrough and benefit from opportunities arising from positive change in our society. The strengthening of uMkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans League remains an important strategic task.

A one stop ANC portal infrastructure should be rolled out to reconnect ANC to the people and membership. It must contain all relevant policy and other documents/ it should have a page where members, cadres and supporters can advise or express their views on various matters. It must have a team of dedicated administrators who can provide a personalised service to those who want to keep in contact with the ANC. Such a portal should be designed in a manner that membership application can be processed and confirmed instantly, and have automated sms system that facilitates communication between ANC and its members and supporters.

The ANC should have a fully automated electronic recruitment and membership management system. This system should be centrally commanded from the National office but provide visibility and dashboard to the branches, regions and provincial structures of the African National Congress.

The use of technology in the elections process requires advancement of codification using tools like the ANC cloud for effective monitoring of the election processes.

Issued by
Fikile Mbalula
Chairperson: ANC NEC SubCommittee on Organisational Development

Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707
National Communications Manager
Iranian Defense Minister Condemns Israeli Aggression on Military Position Southwest of Damascus Airport
27 April، 2017

Moscow, SANA- Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan condemned the Israeli aggression that targeted one of the military positions southwest of Damascus International Airport.

Speaking to RT channel, Dehgan said that Iran considers Israel as a rogue occupying entity and that his country supports the right of Palestinians to resist.

Earlier, a military source said that a military position southwest of Damascus International Airport was exposed to an Israeli aggression with several missiles fired from the occupied territories at dawn on Thursday sparking explosions in the place and leaving some material losses.


Iran, Russia condemn Israeli attack on Syria airport

Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:14PM

Iran and Russia have condemned an attack by Israel on a major airport in Syria as an act of aggression and a blatant violation of the Arab country's sovereignty.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan condemned the attack earlier on Thursday on an area near the international airport in the Syrian capital Damascus, saying the aggression was in line with Israel's policy to to help the terrorist groups fighting the Syrian government.

“In my opinion, those operations help terrorists,” Dehqan said while on a visit to Moscow, adding that the strike was meant to undermine the gains made by the Syrian government against terrorist groups.

“When it becomes worse for the terrorists, the strikes follow, bringing them a message saying: 'We are defending and protecting you, so don’t worry and if it’s necessary we’ll intervene,” the Iranian defense minister stated.

Such strikes "are only aimed at ensuring the survival of terrorists," he added.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz condoned the Thursday morning attack, saying it was in line with an established policy to target weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, a main ally of the Syrian government in its fight against Takfiri militants.

“I can confirm that the incident in Syria completely conforms to Israel’s policy,” he said.

Russia, which has also been assisting Damascus in the anti-terror fight since September 2015, also denounced the attack near Damascus as an act of aggression.

"Moscow condemns acts of aggression against Syria and regards them as impermissible and running counter to international law," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday, adding, "We are urging all to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, a UN member-state."

Syrian authorities have yet to officially report on the extent of damage suffered in the attack and whether it inflicted casualties. However, the state-run SANA news agency has quoted officials as blaming Israel for the attack. Earlier reports had suggested that the area was hit by missiles fired from the occupied Palestinian territories. Later reports, including one by the al-Aalam news network, said Israeli fighter jets had carried out the attack.

There have been numerous reports indicating that militants fighting the Damascus government since 2011 enjoy arms support and medical care from Israel.

The Israeli military said on Thursday night that it had shot down what it identified only as "a target" over the occupied Golan Heights. Some media outlets claimed that the object was a drone, but a military spokeswoman refused to comment.
Israel Targets Military Position Southwest of Damascus International Airport
27 April، 2017

Damascus, SANA- A military position southwest of Damascus International Airport was exposed to an Israeli aggression with several missiles fired from inside the occupied territories at dawn on Thursday causing explosions in the place and leaving some material losses, a military source said.

The source added that the Israeli aggression comes as a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of terrorist groups due to the Syrian army’s blows and this aggression will not dissuade the army from continuing the war against terrorism and crushing it.

The Israeli warplanes on Friday fired two missiles from inside the occupied territory on a military position in the surroundings of Khan Arnabeh in Quneitra countryside after foiling an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate into military positions in Quneitra countryside.

Moscow: Israeli Aggression on Military Site Southwest of Damascus Airport Violates International Law
Moscow, SANA- Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova affirmed on Thursday that the Israeli aggression on a military site southwest of Damascus Airport violates international law and is in the interests of terrorists.

In a press conference in Moscow, Zakharova said that Moscow condemns acts of aggression against Syria and regards them as impermissible and running counter to international law which cannot be justified because this violation is destabilizing and is in the interest of the terrorists, like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and obstructing the reaching of a settlement of the crisis in Syria on the basis of international resolutions, particularly resolution no.2254.

“We are urging all to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, a UN member-state,” she said.

Zakharova expressed her country’s deep concern about the bombing of Turkey to border areas in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq, stressing that the US aggression on al-Shairat airfield in the countryside of Homs had encouraged Ankara to commit this aggression.

She hoped that Astana meeting next week will achieve positive results and prevent the deterioration of the situation in Syria, adding that Syrian parties should be supported in reaching compromises that put an end to the ongoing confrontation in Syria and that Russia will not allow the terrorists to impose their control over the country and the entire Middle East region.

In a related context, Zakharova said that there are many facts and information to prove that the so-called White Helmets are working for the terrorists and fabricating films and false scenarios about the tragedy of people to discredit the Syrian forces and the Russian military.

“The White Helmets not only feel at home on territories controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS but also openly express positive attitude towards them, provide information and even financial assistance to them,” she said.

“There is documentary evidence proving that White Helmets members participated in some operations carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as covered up the signs of civilian executions,” she added.

She noted that the Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights had accused the White Helmets of falsifying information about their humanitarian work in Syria by producing staged videos. “They analyzed a video and came to the conclusion that the people in the video were dealing with kids who were under the influence of drugs, rather than trying to provide them with medical assistance,” Zakharova stressed.

She added that Moscow is doing all it can to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrians without discrimination, including the besieged areas of Deir Ezzor, calling on the West to deal with the humanitarian issue in the same manner and stop the attempts to impose additional sanctions on Syrians.

Israel Patriot Missile Downs 'Target' Over Golan Heights in Syria
BBC World Service

Israel shot down "a target" over the Golan Heights, hours after it was accused of a missile strike at a military site near Damascus international airport.

Israel deployed its Patriot missile defence system and media reported the target was a drone.

The earlier strike had damaged what Syrian rebels said was an arms depot run by Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

Israel said the explosion was "consistent" with its policy.

But it stopped short of confirming it was responsible.

The Israeli military Twitter account then announced it had intercepted the later "target" over the Golan Heights on the border with Syria, without elaborating.

The military declined to confirm the target was a drone.

Israel regards Hezbollah, and its key backer Iran, as its biggest threat. It went to war with Hezbollah in 2006 and the group has grown considerably more powerful since then.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported that the powerful blast was heard across the capital at dawn on Thursday and that it was believed to have happened near the main road that leads to the airport.

Syrian state news agency Sana said several missiles had been fired at a military site south-west of the airport, causing explosions that resulted in some material losses.

Pro-government Al-Mayadeen TV cited sources as saying that missiles had been fired by Israeli jets flying inside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Two senior rebel sources based in Damascus told Reuters news agency that the missiles had hit an ammunition depot in a closed military area that was used by Iran-backed militias operating alongside the Syrian army, led by Hezbollah.

Appearing to confirm Israeli involvement, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio: "I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran. Naturally, I don't want to elaborate on this."

"The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicated an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act."

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reports, however Israel is thought to have bombed arms shipments intended for Hezbollah several times since the Syrian conflict began.

In a rare step last month, the Israeli military confirmed that its jets had struck several targets inside Syria in a raid that prompted the Syrian military to fire a number of ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted over Israeli territory.

On Wednesday, a high-ranking Israeli military officer briefed reporters that approximately 100 missiles intended for Hezbollah had been destroyed in the raid.

Recent suspected Israeli attacks in Syria

23 April 2017: Alleged Israeli attack on a training camp used by militia in Syria's Golan Heights region, kills three members of the Syrian pro-government National Defence Forces, according to the group.
17 March 2017: The Israeli military says its aircraft attacked several targets in Syria and shot down a Syrian missile.
22 February 2017: Israeli aircraft reportedly bomb several Syrian air bases near Damascus, including a Hezbollah convoy travelling with the Syrian army.
12 January 2017: The Syrian government accuses Israel of firing several rockets on the Mezzeh air base from the Sea of Galilee.
30 November 2016: Israeli aircraft fire missiles on the Syrian town of Saboura, west of Damascus, according to Syrian military sources.
18 January 2015: Six Hezbollah fighters and several Iranian soldiers, including a general, die in suspected Israeli air strikes in Syria's Golan Heights region.
19 December 2015: Suspected Israeli missiles hit Jaramana district of Damascus, killing nine Hezbollah fighters, including leading figure Samir Qantar.
‘Shattered’ Reveals Clinton and Sanders Staffs Struck Deal to Hide Protests
Democratic National Convention reality much different than media coverage

By Michael Sainato
04/27/17 6:30am

With Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters protesting outside, the 2016 Democratic National Convention illuminated the divide within the Democratic Party. The recently released book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes reveals that Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver struck a deal with the Clinton campaign to keep Sanders delegates away from television cameras in order to hide the divisions in the party from audiences across the country.

By not providing context for Sanders’ supporters’ anger, Allen and Parnes advance the denigrating portrayal of his base as unruly. In truth, his supporters had every right to be angry. Apart from the DNC and Democratic Party overtly favoring Hillary Clinton, top Democratic officials spread highly divisive narratives in order to suppress Sanders’ candidacy. Their tactics included calling Sanders supporters “Bernie Bros,” whitewashing his campaign, and using the Nevada Democratic Party Convention to reprimand Sanders supporters. Democrats in office who endorsed Clinton like Sen. Chris Murphy and Gov. Dannel Malloy attacked Sanders in tandem with the Clinton campaign and tried to tie him to the Sandy Hook shooting in a New York Daily News front page story leading up to the pivotal New York Democratic primary. The Democratic Party did everything in their power to destroy Sanders’ candidacy and ensure Clinton was their nominee. This continued up through the Democratic National Convention.

“When Bernie delivered a speech to his delegates in a ballroom at the nearby Philadelphia Convention Center, they booed lustily when he spoke of his rival. Mook lost his temper. He picked up his phone and dialed Weaver. ‘What the fuck are you doing?'” wrote Allen and Parnes in Shattered. Mook and Weaver were both afraid the convention would turn into a Clinton protest, so they had a contingency plan. “About a week before the convention, they had put together a joint command operation behind the arena’s main stage. The boiler room, a big open space filled with long tables, folding chairs, and telephones, functioned as a nerve center from which the two camps could exert control over their delegates during the four-day program.” The room, which was filled with Clinton and Sanders aides, had a text communication list to alert all staff of potential problems during the convention. A leaked email revealed that the Clinton campaign completed a “unity check” on Sanders delegates to research the likelihood of them supporting Clinton. “No more war” chants from Sanders delegates were met with an orchestrated response of “USA” chants from Clinton delegates. Sanders signs were taken from Sanders delegates and their lights were shut off if they spoke out. The Clinton campaign forbade Sanders surrogate Nina Turner from introducing Sanders at the convention.

“The flash-speed communications network would turn out to be a major factor in transforming what was a tumultuous convention inside the hall into a unified one on television. That is, it looked a lot different to folks watching at home than it did to participants inside an arena with plenty of anti-Clinton Bernie delegates,” wrote Allen and Parnes.

The authors then went on to blame Sanders and his supporters for dividing the party, lending no responsibility to the Democratic Party for creating the rifts by failing to run a fair primary race. Up until the point she resigned in disgrace, then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz engaged in passive aggressive rhetoric toward Sanders supporters. Allen formerly worked for a PAC run by Wasserman Schultz, and while the book doesn’t portray the Clinton campaign in a positive light, it maintains the notion that Clinton could have and should have the general election.
Air Strike Kills Five in Southern Libya’s Sabha – Medical Source
April 26, 201723 0

An air strike on a prison has killed five people in a Libyan desert town where armed factions have been fighting along a strategic route from the southern border region to the capital Tripoli, a medical source said on Tuesday.

No one claimed responsibility for the strike in Sabha, but forces aligned with a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli control a desert air base there that previously came under air attack from rivals allied with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.

Two guards and three prisoners were killed in the strike on the prison in Sabha and four other people were wounded early on Tuesday, the medical source said.

The North African OPEC state slipped into turmoil after the 2011 civil war that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. It has been plagued since by fighting between rival political leaders backed by their military factions, each claiming legitimacy.

The southern front line has focused on control around the Tamanhent air base 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Sabha. The fighting risks escalating into the first major confrontation between forces tied to the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Haftar is aligned with a former eastern parliament and government that have rejected the GNA since it arrived in the capital Tripoli, in the far west of the country, more than a year ago as part of U.N. efforts to stabilize Libya.

His forces have been extending their control along Libya‘s central Mediterranean coast and southwards into the desert regions of Jufra and Sabha. He says they also intend to take over Tripoli though some analysts doubt his military strength.

Tamanhent is controlled by a force from Misrata, a militarily powerful western city that has backed the GNA.

Since 2014, loose military alliances based in the east and west of Libya have been engaged in intermittent conflict and the Western-backed GNA has struggled to extend its control even in Tripoli, where rival militia factions operate.
Mumia Abu-Jamal Update: Medical Treatment and Court Hearing
Where is Mumia?  Concern was heightened last night when word came from the prison that Mumia had asked someone to call out and tell people he was being moved.  Given the animosity of the administration and guards, and the recent deaths in custody, Mumia was worried and his family was worried regarding this abrupt transfer.  It turns out that Mumia was moved to the infirmary and not told why.  Today, the prison said it was in preparation for an outside medical appointment this morning, and in fact Mumia went to the hospital at 6am and was returned to the prison at 11:45 am.

He was immediately brought to the visiting room to visit with his brother Keith Cook Mumia’s brother and Dr. Suzanne Ross.  They came out of the prison at 4pm.  For now, two weeks into his Hep C treatment, Mumia is on the road to recovering his health.  Keith told us that Mumia  wants to make sure you know that he  “Thanks you and he loves everyone, and he knows how powerful the movement is, that stands behind him. And that the prison knows that people have his back, and that is very important”.  

Dateline: Philadelphia  Monday 4-24-2017

For Mumia Abu-Jamal  to get out of prison his criminal conviction needs to be challenged and overturned.  The newest chapter in this struggle took place in the Common Pleas Courts of Philadelphia before Judge Leon Tucker.

On April 24th, 2017 in room 805 Christina Swarns of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter of Widner appeared before the court to argue that a new Supreme Court ruling required the reinstatement of Mumia’s appellate rights.   On the other side Ronald Eisenberg, Deputy DA argued for the Commonwealth.

This potential reopening of Mumia’s appeals began when the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the former Philadelphia DA and PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille’s practice of sitting in judgement on his own cases; the cases where he was a prosecutor and DA.  In Williams v. the Commonwealth the Supreme Court ordered a new trial because Castille was obligated in the interest of justice and fairness to recuse himself from these appeals.

Christina Swarns argued the case for 45mins, with the goal of getting Judge Tucker to order the District Attorney’s office to produce discovery i.e. the prosecutorial files in this case.   If turned over, these files will undoubtedly establish that Castille was intimately involved in Mumia’s case as supervisory ADA during his trial and DA during all of his appeals.

Swarns put on the record that the DA’s office had lied to the court regarding the “lack of involvement” of Castille in similar cases, and was rebuked by the U.S. Supreme court because of it.   Notably, the judge asked the DA Eisenberg, that if the time bar and the retroactivity claim were met, would Mumia Abu-Jamal be entitled to relief.  Eisenberg agree, saying yes, Mumia’s appellate rights would be reinstated.   There is no doubt that the district attorney’s office will appeal to PA Superior Court and the PA Supreme Court if discovery on this issue is granted.