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Is Threatening The Nigerian Political Class The Solution To Nigeria's Problems? / Achievements Of Nigeria Political Class- The House Of Rep / Are Nigerians Resident In Uk Jealous Of Their Visiting Counterparts ? (1) (2) (3) (4)
|The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:20am On Apr 05, 2011|
In the run up to the Nigerian general elections, one has been priviledged to read and hear all manners of stories about the candidates standing for the elections and their political parties.
Incumbents and their parties have been accused of massive corruption, incompetence and being clueless.
Those on the side of the incumbents have also thrown all manner of accusations against contenders for the elective posts.
The PDP government at the centre has been accused of "blowing" tax payers' money on a plan to provide steady and reliable power in the last 12 years with nothing to show for it. The party has been accused of massive corruption and insensitivity to the plight of the common man.
All the parties in control at one level or the other have been accused of election malpractices with the last general elections held in 2007 being described by international election observers as the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world. Even the President who emerged from the process declared that the process had been "flawed."
Now, the questions is this “How do these allegations against the Nigerian political class stack up against their counterparts in some other parts of the world?”
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:24am On Apr 05, 2011|
George W. Bush (2001-2009) came to office through a Supreme Court decision following a contested plurality of 537 votes in Florida, and his defeat by over half a million votes in the popular election. Most Americans know how narrow the vote was in Florida, but not why.
Five months before the election, George Bush’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, had 57,700 people purged from the voter rolls—ostensibly for being convicted felons, who were not allowed by Florida law to vote. As it turns out, over 90% of the voters on the hit list were not felons at all. Some of their supposed felonies were actually dated in the future. It was an overwhelmingly Democratic list of voters—over half blacks and Hispanics. Had these citizens not been prevented from voting, Al Gore would have been elected President of the United States.³
With six years in public office as Governor of Texas, Bush was new to foreign affairs, as evidenced by an interview during the campaign in which he could not identify a number of leaders of major countries. But savvy political handler Karl Rove knew that Bush's surplus of style could make up for his deficit of substance with many American voters. Rove groomed Bush’s image as a Washington outsider (though a Yale-educated President's son), born again Christian and down home cowboy.
The cowboy image being used in the run for the White House required a "ranch," a la Reagan. In 1999, Bush purchased a property in Crawford, Texas. Although no actual ranching ever went on there, the President busied himself clearing brush and riding his mountain bike around the property. He liked his "ranch" so much that he spent a greater percentage of his time on vacation than any President in American history.4
But then, George W. Bush had many cares of the office to escape. While at the ranch on a six week vacation in August, 2001, he received a memo from Condoleeza Rice entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
That's what happened a few weeks later on September 11 —apparently after no special effort by the White House to step up protection against the hijackings that were being predicted by intelligence reports. The White House vigorously fought creation of the 9-11 commission, with Bush and Cheney finally testifying together (try that at your local police station) and redacting multiple pages on Saudi involvement in the attack.
Four years later, also while on an extended vacation at the "ranch," Bush was briefed on the destruction about to be unleashed on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, including the likelihood that levies in New Orleans would be breached. The meeting was videotaped. Bush asked no questions. He then flew to California to raise money for Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, Bush's politically appointed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, was unprepared to handle the disaster when the levies broke and New Orleans flooded—having managed only horse shows before getting the FEMA job. But he got on the job training, and the rest is history. Hurricane Katrina showed America the White House's incompetence in a new light, apart from its military adventures.
In between 9-11 and Katrina, Bush's "War on Terror" lost track of Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and turned its attention to invading Iraq. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was imperative, Bush said, because (a) he had weapons of mass destruction, (b) was linked to Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and (c) needed to be removed to make that country safe for democracy. All of the reasons given for the war were soon discredited by real events, but Bush dug America in for the long haul, saying that “future Presidents” would decide when we’d leave Iraq.
After all, there was much to be gained by staying. Halliburton, the firm formerly headed by Vice President D. Cheney, was one of the biggest beneficiaries, gaining multi-billion dollar contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as America's ravaged gulf coast, by sealed, noncompetitive bids. In gratitude, in 2007 the company moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai, thereby avoiding U.S. taxes.
[/b]The Bush family was not left off the War on Terror's money train. Uncle "Bucky" earned millions in a war firm sale in 2006. [/b]
Other Bush scandals include: the secret meetings of Cheney’s “Energy Council,” followed by systematic weakening of America's environmental laws and staffing of the EPA and other agencies with industry insiders, the attempt to dismantle Social Security, the dumbing down of American education through No Child Left Behind, an inherited budget surplus turned into record deficit by waging two wars while cutting taxes--with the vast majority of benefits going to the super-rich, the torture of prisoners and loss of American goodwill overseas, the bullying of administration whistle blowers such as Joseph Wilson (whose wife was outted as a CIA agent), another tainted election in 2004, the arrest of White House appointees for assorted crimes, the mistreatment of returning war veterans at Walter Reed and other hospitals, and for a grand finale, a leading role in the collapse of the economy, brought to you by years of "regulation-lite."
With so much bad news for Americans to handle over eight years of corruption and incompetence, Karl Rove and other White House insiders liked to refer to favorable news events that helped people forget bad news as "page turners. " Now President Obama also wants America to turn the page and "look forward" rather than go after wrongdoers from the Bush administration, as if good government no longer required accountability. But those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
Historians will likely judge the Bush scandals as far more extensive than any that disgraced Grant, Harding, Nixon, or any other American president, due to their sheer scale. He ranks 39th out of 43 presidents in the Siena Institute's survey of 238 presidential scholars released in July, 2010.
--Robert C. Keating, Editor
© 2010 Most Corrupt.com
First picture courtesy of Musiwa a.k.a. Becomerich
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:34am On Apr 05, 2011|
Is President Obama the worst President in History?
By Ben Shapiro:
There are only two other true contenders for the title of “worst president in U.S. history”: Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan. Warren G. Harding’s tenure was corrupt but not disastrous, and Andrew Johnson’s presidency failed because of his Southern roots and wrongful adherence to extreme states rights concepts in the aftermath of the Civil War, not because his administration effectuated any grave damage to the nation. Only Buchanan matches the record of incompetence, failure and wrongheadedness pursued by Obama.
Take Jimmy Carter, for example. He was responsible for the fall of the Shah in Iran and the subsequent rise of the Ayatollahs. He emboldened the Soviets to invade Afghanistan. He oversaw the Three Mile Island incident and presided over a high unemployment rate of 7.1 percent and staggering inflation and interest rates, both of which topped 18 percent by early 1980. His presidency saw gas rationing and shortages, the surrender of the Panama Canal and the boycott of the 1980 Olympics. Pretty bad by any measure.
During his entire first term, Carter’s record doesn’t touch the Obama administration’s record in its first year and a half. [/b]Obama already has tacitly OK’d the Iranian nuclear program and derided Israel’s nuclear program. He has allowed Iranian protestors to be slaughtered in the streets without so much as a peep for days on end. Obama has allowed the Russians to sponsor an uprising in Kyrgyzstan that resulted in the removal of a U.S. airbase. He has lent legitimacy to an Islamist Turkish government and sold American debt to a communist Chinese government that supports North Korea. He has presided over the largest oil spill in world history in the Gulf of Mexico and spent his efforts blaming everyone but himself.
Obama is poised to raise our taxes at the end of the year. [b]He’s pushing for comprehensive “immigration reform” that will really act as an amnesty for illegal immigrants. He has denigrated Arizona before Mexico, bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia and the Chinese president and the Japanese emperor, hugged a Venezuelan quasi-dictator, and undermined a constitutional uprising in Honduras. He has pushed carbon taxes and gas taxes and estate taxes. He has propped up unfit mortgage borrowers and penalized those who pay their mortgage on time. He has bailed out his buddies in the banking industry and nationalized the auto and health industries for the benefit of his union friends.
Obama has insulted the Cambridge police and defended Muslim terrorists like Maj. Nidal Hassan. He has utilized advisers who are Marxists (former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones), anti-Semites (foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, special adviser Samantha Power, National Security Adviser Adm. James Jones), racists (Attorney General Eric Holder), sycophantic pro-Islamists (Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan), kooks (Director of White House Office of Science and Technology John Holdren), perverts (Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings), and paid thugs (Rahm Emanuel).
[/b]When Obama took office, the national debt was just under $10 trillion. Now it is $12 trillion, and by 2015, it will be at least $19.6 trillion. Unemployment under Obama increased to 9.7 percent, up from 7.6 percent when Bush left office. The inflation rate has yet to explode, but most economists believe it will have to unless Obama drastically raises taxes, destroying the economy even further. [/b]
Carter can’t touch this guy.
As for Buchanan, the man was a symptom of his times—an active supporter of admitting Kansas to the Union as a slave state and of Chief Justice Roger Taney’s execrable opinion in Dred Scott. He was also responsible for a near-war in Utah against the Mormons, inflation of the currency, and the abominable state of the Union’s military position at the beginning of the Civil War.
It would be difficult for Obama to top this record of pure disgrace—after all, he doesn’t have to face down the internal specter of a looming war over a major moral issue like slavery, so his tenure can’t be as cataclysmically destructive. But like Buchanan, he’ll try to subvert American principles all the same.
In short, Obama may not be the worst president in American history. But he’s easily the worst American president in modern history—and we’ll have to reassess the case in two and a half years, because there’s no sign Obama will change his ways.
There is good news, though. All of America’s worst presidents served one term, and America recovered. That’s because if any of them had served a second, America could have been utterly decimated. Americans had better wake up and place Obama in his proper context by 2012, or it may be too late for recovery.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:45am On Apr 05, 2011|
Guatemalan First Lady To Divorce Husband To Enable Her Succeed Him
25 March 2011 Last updated at 01:39 GMT
Guatemala first lady Sandra Torres confirms divorce Ms Torres wants to be Guatemala's first woman president
Guatemala's First Lady, Sandra Torres de Colom, has confirmed that she is divorcing president Alvaro Colom so she can stand for election to succeed him.
Ms Torres fought back tears as she told Guatemalans she was leaving a loving marriage for the sake of the nation.
"I am divorcing my husband but I am getting married to the people," she said at a news conference.
Guatemala's constitution bans close relatives of the president from standing to succeed him.
The main opposition candidate for September's presidential election - former Gen Otto Perez Molina - has called the first couple's divorce electoral fraud.
Ms Torres, 51, announced her candidacy for president for the governing party earlier this month.
The news that she was seeking a divorce to overcome the constitutional block on her running for office emerged on Monday, but this is the first time she has publicly confirmed it.
She said the decision, which will force the first couple to live apart, was "very difficult".
"I am not going to be the first or the last woman who decides to get a divorce, but I am the only woman to get a divorce for her country," she said.
Ms Torres is Mr Colom's third wife and is already a divorcee. They have been married for eight years.
She has played a prominent role in Alvaro Colom's presidency, supervising the government's poverty relief programmes.
Critics have alleged that she wields even more power over her husband behind the scenes.
It is not clear if the constitutional ban on relatives of the president standing to succeed him includes ex-spouses.
The final say on whether Ms Torres can stand will rest with Guatemala's Constitutional Court.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 10:23am On Apr 05, 2011|
22 March 2011 Last updated at 15:23 GMT
Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav jailed for violation
Moshe Katsav still maintains his innocence
Israel's former President Moshe Katsav has been jailed for seven years for violation and other sex offences.
He was convicted at an earlier hearing of despoiling an employee in the 1990s when he was tourism minister, and of later intimate offences while he was president.
The violation victim, known as Woman A, told the court he had first attacked her at the tourism ministry office, and later at a hotel in Jerusalem.
Katsav, 65, resigned from the largely ceremonial post of president in 2007.
He had initially agreed with prosecutors to plead guilty to intimate misconduct, avoiding more serious charges.
But he later withdrew the agreement and denied the violation allegations.
Sentencing Katsav - the first former Israeli head of state to be jailed - the judges told him no-one was above the law.
The Associated Press reported that Katsav broke down in tears when he heard the sentence, shouting at the judges: "You made a mistake. It is a lie. The girls know it is a lie."
'Riddled with lies'
Mr Katsav will not go to jail immediately, with his sentence due to begin on 8 May. However, he has 45 days to appeal against the sentence.
After his conviction in December last year, Israeli media dubbed the case a political earthquake, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as "a sad day for Israel and its residents".
According to court documents, he committed the violation in April 1998, and sexually harassed two women in 2003 and 2005 during his presidency.
Judge George Karra told him: "We believe the plaintiff [Woman A] because her testimony is supported by elements of evidence and she told the truth."
The judges said Katsav's evidence had been "riddled with lies".
Women's groups in Israel welcomed the conviction, arguing that allegations of intimate harassment were too often ignored.
Both Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the sentencing marked a sad day for Israel, Israel's Haaertz newspaper reports.
"This is an extraordinary day in the state of Israel," Mr Netanyahu said.
"This is a day of sadness and shame, but it is also a day of deep appreciation and pride for the Israeli justice system."
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 10:48am On Apr 05, 2011|
From a 2009 blog:
Three of the World’s Most Interesting People
This man (pictured above) is the current Prime Minister of Italy – and my personal guess is that he inspired the entire Dos Equis ad campaign. Currently doing his third stint at the country’s helm, he also owns about half of Italy’s popular media outlets. Berlusconi also owns the AC Milan soccer club, AND is a successful songwriter.
On top of that, he boasts a pitch-perfect, very-suave, very-creepy smile. But what Berlusconi is maybe even more well known for is his crassness, and for his many mistresses. He did make former showgirl and unclothed model Mara Carfagna one of his ministers. Smooth movies, Silvio. The perma-tan is maybe not the only thing you have in common with Hugh Hefner…
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:18am On Apr 05, 2011|
15 February 2011 Last updated at 11:07 GMT
Profile: Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister
Silvio Berlusconi has had three periods in office as prime minister
After three terms in office, Silvio Berlusconi is Italy's longest serving post-war prime minister as well as one of its richest men.
The 74-year-old and his family have built a fortune estimated at $9bn (£5.6bn) by US business magazine Forbes.
And his business acumen - with an empire spanning media, advertising, insurance, food and construction - has been sufficient evidence for many Italians of his ability to run their country too.
He owns one of Italy's most successful football clubs, AC Milan, and his investment company controls the country's three biggest private TV stations. As prime minister, his appointees control the three RAI public channels too.
Mr Berlusconi has dodged a series of political, sex and corruption scandals but the constant drip of accusations against him has seen many of his friends and allies drift away.
His second wife Veronica Lario began divorce proceedings in May 2009 and told one newspaper she could not stay with a man who "consorted with minors".
And in November 2010, his former political ally, Gianfranco Fini, called on him to resign, as revelations emerged about a teenaged Moroccan nightclub dancer named Ruby.
Ever the survivor, Mr Berlusconi then scraped through a vote of no confidence in parliament.
The best political leader in Europe and the world”
Silvio Berlusconi, on himself
But on 15 February, examining judge Cristina Di Censo ordered Mr Berlusconi to stand trial on 6 April on charges of paying for sex with Ruby, named Karima El Mahroug, when she was 17.
He has also been charged with abuse of power in another case related to Ruby.
Mr Berlusconi, a native of Milan, has frequently complained that he is being victimised by the city's legal authorities.
He has been accused of embezzlement, tax fraud and false accounting, and attempting to bribe a judge. But he has always denied wrongdoing and has never been definitively convicted.
Silvio Berlusconi's three suspended trials
• Accused of bribing British lawyer David Mills to give false testimony in 1997
• He and other executives accused of inflating the price paid for TV rights
• He and others accused of fraud and embezzlement over TV rights acquisition
A number of cases have come to trial. In some cases he has been acquitted. In others, he has been convicted, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. In others still,
the statute of limitations has expired before the case could reach its conclusion.
In 2009, Mr Berlusconi estimated that over twenty years he had made 2,500 court appearances in 106 trials, at a legal cost of 200m euros.
His government passed reforms shortening the statute of limitations for fraud, but part of a 2010 law granting him and other senior ministers temporary immunity has been struck down by the Constitutional Court, which left the decision up to individual trial judges.
Born on 29 September 1936, Silvio Berlusconi began his career by selling vacuum cleaners and built a reputation as a crooner in nightclubs and on cruise ships.
He graduated in law in 1961 and then set up Edilnord, a construction company, establishing himself as a residential housing developer around his native Milan. Milano 2, comprising nearly 4,000 tasteful flats in a garden setting, was built on the city's eastern outskirts in the late 1960s.
Ten years later he launched a local cable-television outfit - Telemilano - which would grow into Italy's biggest media empire, Mediaset.
His huge Fininvest holding company now has Mediaset, Italy's largest publishing house Mondadori, the daily newspaper Il Giornale, AC Milan and dozens of other companies under its umbrella.
In 1993, Mr Berlusconi founded his own political party, Forza Italia - Go Italy - named after a chant used by AC Milan fans.
The following year he became prime minister, forming a coalition with the right-wing National Alliance and Northern League.
But rivalries between the three leaders, coupled with Mr Berlusconi's indictment for alleged tax fraud by a Milan court, led to the collapse of the government just seven months later.
He lost the 1996 election to the left-wing Romano Prodi but by 2001 he was back in power, in coalition once more with his former partners.
He lost the 2006 general election, again to Romano Prodi, having headed the longest-serving Italian government since World War II.
No slowing down
The Italian leader appears younger than his 74 years, partly because of a hair transplant and plastic surgery around his eyes.
But in November 2006, after his election defeat, Mr Berlusconi collapsed at a party rally. He was later fitted with a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and said he
needed to slow down.
But he was back in office for a third term in April 2008, having defeated centre-left leader Walter Veltroni with a new centre-right People of Freedom party (PDL), incorporating his own Forza Italia and the National Alliance.
The perma-tanned, wrinkle-free politician appeared politically stronger than ever in the early part of his third term.
His swift reaction to a deadly earthquake that struck the central region of Abruzzo in April 2009 is thought to have boosted his popularity.
And just moments after being assaulted in the street in Milan in December 2009, Mr Berlusconi got out of the car into which he had been bundled by security guards, to show the crowd he was not badly injured.
But although his opponents on the left appeared fragmented, his political allies began to fall away. In April 2010, he and his coalition partner Gianfranco Fini had a bitter argument at a live televised party congress.
Mr Berlusconi survived several confidence votes in parliament during the summer because Mr Fini and his supporters had refrained from voting against him, but by December Mr Fini's loyalists had left the government and the margin of victory was just three votes.
And his political struggles have been accompanied by a string of lascivious reports in the Italian press about his private life.
In May 2009, his second wife said she was divorcing him after he was photographed at the 18th birthday party of an aspiring model, Noemi Letizia. She also accused him of selecting a "shamelessly trashy" list of candidates for the European parliament.
He faced further scandal when photos were published of Coverless women and a unclothed man at his villa on Sardinia, and also of a celebrity using the prime minister's official jet to fly to the island.
In July 2009, audio recordings appeared in the Italian media which were said to be between the prime minister and an escort, Patrizia D'Addario, who said she and other women were paid to attend parties at his residence in Rome.
Further reports about young women were to come. It emerged in October 2010 that Mr Berlusconi had called a police station asking for the release of the 17-year-old Ruby, who was being held for theft and who was also said to have attended Mr Berlusconi's parties.
She denies they Were Intimate.
Mr Berlusconi has had to bat away other allegations about parties involving young love-peddlers at his own residences.
Mr Berlusconi has always maintained he is "no saint". Faced with potentially the most damaging allegations so far, he has now firmly denied ever paying for sex with a woman.
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11982228 for more on his women
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:54am On Apr 05, 2011|
Completed trials of Berlusconi
False testimony on Propaganda 2 : guilty, but subject to amnesty
In 1990 Berlusconi was declared guilty of false testimony by the appeal court of Venice on his affiliation to the freemason lodge "Propaganda 2", commonly known as "P2"; however the court did not proceed to sentence because the wrongdoing had been extinguished by an amnesty passed in 1989.
Bribing a member of the Financial Police : not proven and statute of limitations
First Court: sentenced to jail (2 years and 9 months) for four bribes.
Appeal court: the statute of limitations expired for three of the charges, an acquittal was given on the fourth because the court gave him the benefit of the doubt (not proven).
Illegal financing of a political party on All Iberian 1 : statute of limitations
Court of First Instance: sentenced to jail (2 years and 4 months) for paying 21 billion lire (about 10 million euro) to Bettino Craxi via an offshore bank account codenamed "All Iberian".
Court of Appeal: the statute of limitations expired before the appeal was completed so Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted.
False accounting on Medusa Cinema : not proven
First Court: sentenced to jail (16 months) for false accounting of 10 billion lire (about 5 million euro) in some of Silvio Berlusconi's bank accounts.
Appeal Court: acquitted on the charge. The court gave him the benefit of the doubt (not proven).
Bribing a judge on Lodo Mondadori : statute of limitations
First court: A Prima facie case was issued, but the magistrate decided to drop the charges. The state attorney refused to file the case and appealed against the ruling.
Appeal Court: statute of limitations expired before the appeal was completed so Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted.
False accounting on All Iberian 2 : not guilty (law changed)
First Court: on September 26, 2005 Berlusconi was acquitted because the new law on false accounting makes false accounting illegal only if there is a specific damaged party reporting the fact to the authorities. This new law was passed by Berlusconi's parliamentary majority after the beginning of the trial, and was claimed by the opposition to be an ad personam law, i.e. aimed at acquitting Berlusconi.
False accounting on Fininvest Media Group Consolidated : statute of limitations
Allegation: 750 million euro of illegal (black) funds stored by Fininvest in 64 offshore companies. The statute of limitations expired due to the new laws on false accounting approved by Berlusconi's government, therefore an acquittal was given because no specific damaged party reported it to the government.
Embezzlement, tax fraud and false accounting on Macherio estates : statute of limitations
First Court: acquitted for embezzlement and tax fraud, the statute of limitations expired before a verdict was reached on the two cases of false accounting.
Appeal Court: acquitted for embezzlement, tax fraud and the first case of false accounting; statute of limitations expired for the second, therefore the case was closed.
False accounting on Lentini affair : not guilty (law changed)
Allegation: 5 million euros paid secretly to Torino football club for buying the player Gianluigi Lentini bringing him to AC Milan.
First court: The statute of limitations expired due to the new laws on false accounting approved by Berlusconi's government, therefore the case was closed with an acquittal on July 4, 2002.
False accounting, embezzlement and tax fraud on Mediaset television and cinema rights : not proven
Silvio Berlusconi was on trial in relation to transactions carried out by the Berlusconi family's media company Mediaset in the 1990s. Prosecutors suspected two offshore firms controlled by a Berlusconi family holding, Fininvest, bought television and cinema rights from a US firm. The companies, it was alleged, then sold the rights on at inflated prices to Mediaset, also controlled by Fininvest, to avoid Italian taxes and create a slush fund. The trial started on November 21, 2006[b]. The court acquitted Berlusconi, giving him the benefit of the doubt [/b] (not proven).
Corrupting a judge and false accounting on SME-Ariosto : not guilty
At its outset, the trial SME-Ariosto involved both Cesare Previti and Silvio Berlusconi. Subsequently a bill was approved by the Italian parliament, the so called "Lodo Maccanico" act (also known as "Lodo Schifani", after the name of Renato Schifani, the lawyer of Berlusconi and now speaker of the Italian Senate who was also a member of parliament working on the law). This law guaranteed immunity to the five highest officers of the state (premier, president of the Republic, Senate's speaker, Deputy Chamber's speaker, Constitutional Court's president) during their period in office. To avoid complete suspension of the trial, the Court of Milan split it into two parts, one regarding Cesare Previti, the other Silvio Berlusconi. The Cesare Previti part of the trial resulted in a guilty verdict. In the other part (regarding Silvio Berlusconi) the Italian Prime Minister's innocence had still not been proven but the case had to be stopped because of the "Lodo Maccanico"' immunity act. On 16 April 2004 the Constitutional Court declared that the "Lodo Maccanico" violated articles n. 3 and 34 of the Italian Constitution,  therefore this immunity act was declared unconstitutional and the trial resumed. After 12 years of trial, Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted on April 27, 2007, because of art.530 comma 2 ("He didn't' commit the fact", i.e. full acquittal).
Tax fraud on Telecinco : not guilty
Silvio Berlusconi has been indicted in Spain for charges of tax fraud and violation of anti-trust laws regarding the private TV network Telecinco. All the accused have been acquitted by the Spanish "Corte de Casacion" in July 2008.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 1:07pm On Apr 05, 2011|
Berlusconi is an artful dodger.
Check this rap sheet out:
You can see why the guy has to be prime minister, even at his old age (undergoing all kinds of surgery to look young).
He needs the power to protect his business and pleasure interests!
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 4:23pm On Apr 05, 2011|
The ANC - an incompetent government
By Deon de Lange, Anel Powell and Sapa
"Go to sleep earlier so that you can grow and be cleverer. Boil less water, use the microwave rather than stove, take a shower and not a shallow bath," was Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica's advice to the country at a special joint parliamentary sitting to discuss the power crisis.
I'm surprised the Minister didn't suggest the use of primus stoves!
Many of these Ministers in the ANC are way over their heads when it comes to managing their areas of responsibilities. South Africa is a train wreck waiting to happen. The sooner the government seeks the expertize of others overseas in managing key infrastructure projects, such as improving the electricity grid, the better it will be for all of Southern Africa.
Many of us outside SA are observing with interest how the ANC deal with the issues of the day. Many of us have our doubts that your problems of crime, corruption and poverty will show any improvement.
The ANC is a dangerous government built on the foundations of a former terrorist organization. Now I never took a course on South African history/politics so you could say my knowledge is not exactly rich on the matter, but of all the South Africans I know that are still living in the country(both white and black), none of them like the ANC. In fact they hate the government to the point that they are considering to leave the country. I really don't think there is any hope for South Africa. It is the land of crime.
True fact: Every 17 seconds a woman or child is violated in South Africa.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:47pm On Apr 05, 2011|
Mar 24th 2011 | JOHANNESBURG | from the print edition
South Africa's foreign policy
All over the place
South Africa is joining the BRICs without much straw
“WE SAY no to the killing of civilians!” Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, thundered on March 21st. “No to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state!” The crowd, mainly supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), roared back its approval. Theirs, after all, was the country of human rights, a beacon to the world, as their first black president, Nelson Mandela, had proclaimed. Just four days earlier, however, South Africa had voted for the UN Security Council resolution calling for “all necessary measures” to be taken to protect Libyan civilians under threat, including the imposition of a no-fly zone. Did Mr Zuma believe this could be done without recourse to force? He is not that naive.
These days South Africa’s foreign policy swings back and forth. Under Thabo Mbeki, Mr Zuma’s globe-trotting predecessor, it seemed to have an overarching aim, at least on paper: the promotion of an “African renaissance”, even if that meant ignoring the human-rights violations of some of South Africa’s allies. But now, as Mr Zuma flits ever more energetically around the world, charming everyone as he always does, it is hard to find a pattern to his policies. “None of it makes any real sense,” says Tom Wheeler, a former South African ambassador and now a research fellow with the South African Institute of International Affairs: “There’s no substance, no coherence.”
In fact, South Africa often appears to be pursuing two contradictory sets of values. At one moment, Mr Zuma is upholding the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference dear to despots around the world. At the next, he insists that his “primary objective” is to contribute to the ideals of democracy, human rights and justice. The result is a mishmash of unpredictable responses to apparently similar situations in different countries.
In the face of the recent uprising in Egypt, for example, Mr Zuma joined the international chorus demanding the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the president. But in the face of dreadful factional violence and impending civil war in Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa sat on the fence for months, refusing to accept Alassane Ouattara’s internationally recognised victory in November’s presidential elections until earlier this month, when it endorsed the call of the peace and security committee of the African Union (AU) for the defeated incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, to step down. In Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, right on South Africa’s doorstep, Mr Zuma remains obdurately silent over the violation of civil rights and the suppression of pro-democracy protests, yet recently recalled his ambassador to Israel after Israeli commandos stopped a flotilla of pro-Palestinian campaigners from reaching Gaza, killing nine Turks on board.
The same contradiction is seen in South Africa’s handling of Myanmar and Zimbabwe. In Myanmar Mr Zuma did not hesitate to condemn November’s rigged elections and call for the release of the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Yet he refrains from peeping a word of public criticism of Zimbabwe’s ageing dictator, Robert Mugabe, despite a string of rigged and robbed elections, killings, torture and other state-sponsored violence. Last October South Africa appeared to change its studied neutrality on Iran’s nuclear plans, voting for UN sanctions on Iran, only to claim that it had actually intended to vote against the measure. And when the jailed Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel peace prize in December, South Africa was one of the few countries to refuse to congratulate him.
Next month South Africa is due to be formally inducted into membership of the BRICs, a club of regional power brokers embracing Brazil, Russia, India and China, which have recently shown a desire to use their combined size and economic might—together they account for 40% of the world’s population—to counter the West’s global dominion. They also want to reform such institutions as the UN Security Council and the World Bank.
Will South Africa—its GDP, population and land mass all dwarfed by the BRIC giants—find itself obliged to align its foreign policy more with its new peers, notably Russia and China? Perhaps not, judging by its recent vote in favour of the Libyan no-fly zone. The other BRICS (with a capital S), as the enlarged group will be known, all abstained. Perhaps, after Mr Zuma’s latest exclamation, South Africa will again claim it had really meant to vote against the resolution.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:06pm On Apr 05, 2011|
The Many Wives of Jacob Zuma
Why the South African president's polygamy is about more than womanizing.
BY MIRIAM KOKTVEDGAARD ZEITZEN | MARCH 12, 2010
When news recently came out that Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, had fathered a child out of wedlock, observers abroad were amused or nonplussed. This is, of course, a man who has had five wives over his lifetime, currently has three with one fiancée in the wings, and has fathered 12 children officially, with seven more previously rumored or confirmed in various sorts of relationships; a man who, on trial in 2006 for despoiling the HIV-positive daughter of one of his ANC comrades, claimed that it was OK he didn't use a condom because he took a shower afterward. So what was the big deal now?
More, In fact, however, many South Africans are appalled. And they're not just upset about the adultery itself, which is not more socially acceptable in polygamous societies than in monogamous ones, or the fact that he hasn't married the mother of his child. Instead, South Africans are asking themselves: How can a modern president practice polygamy in the first place? Isn't polygamy an archaic, patriarchic institution? Shouldn't economic progress, women's emancipation, and modernity have eradicated it?
The answer is more complicated: Actually, modernity has entrenched polygamy. Zuma may seem like a throwback, but in a sense he's really a model of a modern, married politician.
More than being about companionship or sex, polygamy is about money and status. Across the world, the practice has traditionally been the privilege of those who could afford to marry and maintain many wives and children. Practicing polygamy is a public sign that you have more resources -- economic, political, and personal -- than the average man. Marriage has always been used to build alliances between families and groups; this is even truer for polygamy, with its broad possibilities for connection. Like a fancy job or a big house, polygamy both creates status and derives from it. And gaining various kinds of statuses is still what drives men (and women) to polygamy in Africa today. Even in many of Africa's affluent urban centers, polygamy is on the rise as more men can afford more wives, and they benefit from the prestige and power that this status confers (though, as I discuss in my recent book on polygamy, numbers are hard to come by).
In modern times, polygamy offers some more subtle markers of power and status, given its connection to traditional culture. It's no accident that Zuma defends polygamy as "my culture"; for Zuma, practicing polygamy marks him clearly as a Zulu and connects him to pre-colonial African traditions, giving him an identity that could otherwise be lost in a globalized, Westernized blur.
Part of this, of course, is sincere, and part of this is what politicians everywhere do: deploying culture as an appeal to potential supporters. Zuma's polygamy plays well in rural areas, where supporters essentially lead traditional lives.
For Zuma, it has certainly paid off: Among Zulus, there has rarely been a leader more beloved. Particularly in a post-apartheid, multiethnic setting like South Africa, where cultural identities are constantly being tested and negotiated, polygamy is a key part of Zuma's political persona -- and hence, his power.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by PhysicsMHD(m): 11:34pm On Apr 05, 2011|
GREAT thread. Some really funny pics and cartoons there.
Zuma looks a bit silly dancing. That Zulu outfit is kind of. . .
lol @ Berlusconi's crotch grabbing. There's even a stereotype that Italians do that (see Eddie Murphy's Raw).
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:18am On Apr 06, 2011|
Incompetent ANC trumps oppression
Sep 1, 2009 4:57 PM
THE recent ANC Youth League conference brought back memories of the ANC conference in Polokwane.
The behaviour of the ANC members is very barbaric and not acceptable as these people are our leaders in South Africa.
What are they showing to the world and potential and current foreign investors?
How investors feel comfortable investing in a country lead by such leaders?
It seems that every obstacle that the ANC and its sister parties encounter must be solved through some fighting (not physical).
Marches and strikes are a world phenomenon but, in this country for anything to be sorted there must be a strike or march - regardless of the consequences. Their actions could have affected the economy and ultimately the people of South Africa.
The problem with us black people is that we got so used fighting to get our own way in the apartheid times, that we have forgotten that there is no longer a need for this.
There are better mechanisms for resolving matters than aggression.
The people within the ANC still think aggression is a solution - you have seen what has happens in their conferences. The people who have voted for the ANC are not happy with the party.
If the voters had their own way they wouldn't vote for ANC into power in the next presidential elections. They would vote another party into power.
However, the problem facing black voters is that they will never vote for a white party and the DA is the only party that can defeat the ANC in the next presidential elections.
The only reason that most black people vote for the ANC is that it is a black party - the ability of its leaders holds no attraction.
This is because of the past (apartheid) and recent events.
The black government is in power, but in the workplace whites are still oppressing blacks. Blacks are still being killed because they are black.
What does that say about white people when they get into power?
It is better to have an incompetent government than one that will oppress you. - O Matjila, by e-mail
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:31am On Apr 06, 2011|
Monday 22 February 2010
Gigaba: Stop blaming apartheid
Johannesburg - Lax and corrupt public officials should stop blaming apartheid for their misdeeds, a senior government official reportedly has said in Umrabulo, the ANC's journal.
The report, by the Sunday Independent, quoted deputy home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba as saying: "Apartheid cannot be blamed every time some among them fail to discharge their responsibilities or get involved in corruption".
Gigaba, who is also a member of the ANC's national executive committee, said laxity in executing public service duty constituted corruption, but this could not be blamed on apartheid.
"Most of the public servants employed in government today are not from the apartheid era, but were engaged during the democratic dispensation," he said.
Apartheid was inherently corrupt because it "was founded upon a corrupt value system that supported, spawned and was itself, in turn, sustained by corruption".
"Sure, the legacy of apartheid could be blamed, but for how long!" he said.
Gigaba also rejected the argument that poverty caused corruption. "Even where they participate in corrupt activities, the poor are often the victims rather than the propellers of corruption."
"Corruption is after all a conscious abuse of power for personal enrichment by those who have such power," he said.
"The largest incidents of corruption in the public service occur among the senior management services among those that earn satisfactory salaries; where large accounts and budgets are controlled, and decisions taken," Gigaba said.
"It is at this level that huge tenders and contracts are issued and where kickbacks are often demanded for contracts and offered."
Gigaba called for a new type of public servant who could manage the conflict between private and public interest. Public servants' private business projects should not interfere with their duties as public officials.
"We need to prevent and punish what is morally wrong and to encourage and reward all that is morally right," he said.
"There is a need for the establishment of a professional meritocratic public service that is able to uphold the values and principles of democracy, good governance, and Ubuntu; whilst sharing the ideology of development."
Gigaba's words come amidst a series of service delivery protests, the latest in Siyathemba township in Balfour in Mpumalanga since the beginning of February.
Ginwala: Zuma failing to lead by example 2009-12-06 14:32
Johannesburg - Failure to reign in ANCYL leader Julius Malema and accepting salary hikes are signs of the poor quality of leadership shown by President Jacob Zuma and his government, Frene Ginwala has told the Sunday Times.
Given the recession and high levels of unemployment, Zuma should not have granted salary increases to his officials, the former National Assembly speaker told the newspaper in an interview.
"Look at the level of political leadership in this country. It's not very good. How many of our leaders lead by example?"
In 1995 former president Nelson Mandela announced salary cuts in his administration, and, more recently Thabo Mbeki refused for years to take salary increases when he was head of state.
This lack of leadership manifested itself in allowing ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to insult "older people", such as Mbeki, ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former education minister Naledi Pandor.
"When he (Malema) was speaking the way he was, a number of people stopped me in the street and said: 'How do you allow that boy to speak to elders in this way?'
"If he was engaging in political debate in the national executive committee, no one expects him not to speak his mind. But publicly, you could still put the ideas across with some respect for your elders. Now that is where we are running ourselves down," the paper quoted her as saying.
Following the storm around the appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions, she said she "fully" stood by her report which was critical of Simelane's handling of Vusi Pikoli's suspension.
-----------Monday 19 October 2009
Parties fume over 5-star stay
Johannesburg - Opposition political parties on Sunday reacted with anger at the news that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has racked up another five-star hotel bill, this time of R570 000 in Durban.
The Sunday Independent reported that between December 19 and April 25, Mthethwa was intermittently booked into the luxurious Hilton Hotel along with members of his VIP Protection Unit at a cost of R578 499.
The Hilton bill was double what taxpayers coughed up for Mthethwa's 17-day stay in Cape Town's five-star Table Bay Hotel earlier this year. Mthethwa stayed at the hotel at a cost of R235 000 while his home was being renovated after flood damage.
The DA said the police department's long list of luxury indulgences did not only contradict President Jacob Zuma's calls for austerity and prudence, but flew in the face of common sense and commitment to put the public before personal gratification.
"If one adds up the hotel extravagance to the cars bought by Mthethwa and his deputy, Fikile Mbalula, it goes up to over R3.7m of public money being spent on person opulence," shadow minister of police Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement.
She asked how Mthethwa would justify his behaviour while police officers who often put their lives at risk earned next to nothing each month.
The Independent Democrats expressed its "disgust".
"In light of the fact that this is the second such revelation about Mthethwa in less than two weeks, words cannot describe how disgusted the ID is," the party's spokesperson for police Haniff Hoosen said in a statement.
The problem was that ministers were determining their own benefits, he said.
"The Cabinet's powers to approve the handbook must be taken away. Perks, privileges and allowances for ministers should be determined by a similar process to the Moseneke Commission, which was tasked with examining remuneration for public office bearers."
ANC leaders had lost touch with the people who voted them into their positions.
According to the Sunday Independent's copy of the Hilton bill, Mthethwa spent Christmas and New Year at the hotel. During an uninterrupted 17-day stay from December 19, he was not accompanied by any guards and the bill came to just over R86 000.
On the night before Valentine's Day, Mthethwa was booked into the same hotel, this time with four guards, at a cost of R38 516. From April 19 to 25, he stayed at the hotel with two guards. The bill amounted to R89 000.
His spokesperson, Zweli Mnisi, did not comment on the figure, saying only that Mthethwa was in KwaZulu-Natal around December on "official duties", partaking in roadshows aimed at reducing festive season crime. His April stay was due to the national elections.
"The province was identified as a potential hot spot. All these were official programmes aimed at engaging local stakeholders in the fight against crime, including consultation with local authorities as part of preparation for the elections," he said in a statement.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:45am On Apr 06, 2011|
DA urges ANC support in corruption fight
Calls for corruption watchdog hailed
DA submits bill on Gauteng corruption
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has urged the ANC to show it is serious about fighting corruption by supporting a DA private member's bill in parliament.
DA Chief Whip Ian Davidson on Wednesday briefed parliament's private members' legislative proposals and special petitions committee on the DA's bill to regulate the business interests of state employees.
Davidson said the proposed bill was designed to address the continued scourge of corruption in the public service, which had reached alarming levels in recent years.
Among other things, the measure would prohibit government employees and their families from directly or indirectly holding more than 5% of shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that did business with government, unless approval was given by the relevant minister in accordance with certain criteria set out in the bill.
It would further ensure, according to the DA, that before government entered into any contract with an entity for the sale, lease or supply of goods and services, the entity should provide an affidavit disclosing whether or not it was owned or part-owned by government employees.
All government employees would be required to disclose their business interests at prescribed intervals, in the same way that members of the cabinet already did.
Davidson said corruption continued to undermine the effectiveness of the public sector, and remained a serious impediment to service delivery.
Ball is in their court
According to the 2010 Public Service Report, more than 1 204 financial misconduct cases were reported to the Public Service Commission (PSC) during 2008/2009, while 1 430 complaints of corruption were reported through the PSC's National Anti-Corruption Hotline.
"At the heart of the problem is the continued absence of restrictions on state employees doing business with the state.
"State employees, who have financial interests in companies and then tender for goods and services, have a clear conflict of interest," he said.
This invited corruption and abuse of state resources, which in turn undermined the fight against poverty.
"If the ANC is serious about joining the DA in its fight against corruption it must take immediate steps to address the alarming levels of corruption which continue to beset our public service.
"This is the opportunity to do so. If they however, opt to use their majority to prevent this bill from proceeding any further than the committee (what they do to each and every other private member's bill) then the message to South Africans will be clear: the ANC has no real intention to fight corruption in the public service.
"The ball is in their court now and South Africans are watching," Davidson said.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 8:54am On Apr 06, 2011|
ANC needs corruption to survive - Zille
April 16 2010 at 01:24pm
President Jacob Zuma continues to "benefit from corrupt relationships" to this day, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Friday.
Zille wrote in her weekly newsletter that Zuma was "paralysed as a President" and that the ANC, which "needs corruption to survive", was turning South Africa into "a criminal state".
"If we dig deep enough, I believe we would discover that Jacob Zuma continues to benefit from corrupt relationships to this day," Zille said.
"The lifestyle of his family is too lavish to be affordable on his presidential income.
"We wonder how he can spend R65 million, which he has insisted is his own money - renovating his residence at Nkandla. And we marvel at how he can support his wives, his fiancee and 20 children on a single salary."
Zuma's family members, including his wives, are involved in over 100 companies "some of which benefit from state contracts", Zille said.
"It was therefore not surprising that Zuma missed the deadline to declare his financial interests by 10 months, and only disclosed his assets when public pressure forced him to," she said.
"The irresistible inference is that his advisors were sanitising his business interests for public consumption."
Zille said it was impossible for Zuma to get tough on corruption, "even if he wanted to" as ANC leaders in the party, the state, and in business had become an interlocked network of patronage and corruption.
"Everyone knows that everyone else is corrupt, so they cover up for each other, and abuse power to tighten their grip, undermining independent institutions and eliminating opposition both inside and outside the party.
"In the process, the ANC is turning South Africa into a criminal state."
The ANC, she said, had become a "tenderpreneur-in-chief".
"It is time for everyone to realise that corruption is not just an aberration in the ANC that must be rooted out from time to time.
"The ANC needs corruption to survive, it is its lifeblood. It needs it to fund its election campaigns. It needs it to pay the loyalty networks necessary for ANC leaders to entrench their power. And it needs corruption to pay for its leaderships lifestyles."
Zille said the ANC had set up front companies to "institutionalise corruption".
The most "notorious" of these was Chancellor House Holdings, whose purpose was to "channel tenders and contracts from the ANC in government to the ANC in business in order to enrich the ANC and its leaders".
Chancellor House facilitated a deal between Eskom and Hitachi Power Africa, to manufacture boilers for the new Medupi Power Station, from which the ANC stands to make an estimated R1 billion tax free profit, Zille said.
"Eskom will have to pay with taxpayers' money. And, as a result, the ANC will become one of the wealthiest political parties in the world," Zille said.
"Let South Africans remember this when they pay their inflated electricity bills." - Sapa
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:31am On Apr 06, 2011|
Corruption and Dependence: South Africa’s road to ruin or salvation?
31 March 2011
The presence of corruption from the top to the bottom rungs of the ANC government has detrimental consequences for the South African public sector and economy. These consequences may have important electoral implications for the ANC. Will corruption lead the country to ruin or will it lead to the ANC's own ruin?
Lessons from Tunisia
Anyone who visited Tunis during the last few years could not have failed to be impressed by the thriving capital city. I visited Tunis in 2006 to attend a conference of the African Development Bank. I would never have guessed that five years later the country would be gripped by an angry insurrection that would force the powerful President Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. Everything about Tunis looked pristine especially its gleaming white buildings.
The African Development Bank which had emigrated from the turbulent climes of the Ivory Coast where it was headquartered had also assumed that there was no better place to relocate to than along the genteel shores of the Mediterranean. Well, we now know better - appearances can be deceptive.
South Africa and Tunisia are at the opposite ends of the vast African continent but share some commonalities. One of the sparks that ignited what turned out to have been a tinderbox despite its many positive economic indicators was the issue of corruption. The population had had enough of corruption by the powers that be but especially by the President’s family which commanded vast amounts of wealth through business deals. Sounds familiar? During his 23 years as President, Ben Ali’s family came to have fingers in many pies – banking, tourism, telecommunications, distribution, air transport, car dealerships, publishing and influence peddling in general.
South Africa’s First Family has been in power for less than two years and already sports iron ore prospecting rights in an existing iron ore mine, oil wells in the Congo, shipping businesses, gold mines and is soon to acquire billions worth of shares in South Africa’s largest steel maker ArcelorMittal to name but a few businesses Zuma’s family is engaged in since he became President in 2009.
The wheelings and dealings by the country’s First Family has sent alarm bells ringing even amongst President Zuma’s political admirers, especially the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu, for understandable reasons. South Africa’s mining industry sits at the core of the country’s economy in many ways. It is an important employer of unskilled black workers, many of them members of Cosatu affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers. The mining industry is the single largest exporter accounting for more than half of the country’s export earnings. Mines also produce raw materials such as iron ore, coal etc that go into downstream industries such as power generation, steel manufacturing and other engineering industries that employ many members of Cosatu affiliates.
Cosatu has woken up to the fact that corruption, even by its friends threatens its members’ livelihoods. In economic terms corruption is an extra tax that must be added to the normal cost of production. This makes the products which carry that extra tax more expensive relative to similar products produced elsewhere, where there is no such an extra cost.
Leaving aside the very important moral and political issues not to mention the killings that are happening in the First Families’ gold mines, corruption therefore makes South Africa’s products uncompetitive globally, a road to ruin for South Africa as a country and to investors and workers in the affected industries.
Eventually waking up to this reality, Cosatu convened a conference of civil society organisations to map out a strategy for combatting corruption. This infuriated the ANC leadership which denounced the conference as an initiative for promoting regime change.
The conference agreed that Cosatu spearhead an initiative to register an anti-corruption civil society organisation to be called Corruption Watch. This process is underway. South Africa is signatory to the African Union’s anti-corruption convention which stipulates that government work with civil society in the fight against corruption. So far this has not happened but must be expected to happen as Cosatu and friends roll out their initiatives. This will surely be yet another point of friction between the ANC and its ally.
Corruption is of course not confined to the top of the government. It runs from the top to the bottom. It has become visible that the ANC government is looking for ways to silence reporting on the growing scourge. Last year the government published the Protection of Information Bill which is designed, if passed, to impose hefty prison sentences on whistle blowers and journalists who reveal what the government wants hidden.
It was reported at the beginning of last year by Willie Hofmeyr, head of the government’s anti-corruption body, the Special Investigating Unit, SIU that 400 000 civil servants were getting welfare payments to which they were not entitled. A further 6000 senior government officials had failed to declare their business interests. The Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale revealed that 923 corrupt officials in his department had been brought to book over various scams, including the construction of thousands of substandard low-cost home for the poor many of which were unfit for human inhabitation.
Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan at the end of last year said the government was investigating possible tender and procurement fraud involving up to R25-billion. Other sources estimate that R30-billion of South Africa’s R150-billion public procurement budget is lost to corruption.
Extensive corruption in all levels of government is leading to internal conflicts and even assassinations amongst officials especially at the local government level. In Mpumalanga it is estimated that a dozen elected officials have been assassinated in connection with illegal procurement related activities during the last two years.
Service delivery shortcomings
The consequences of public sector corruption are multi-faceted. Service delivery protests by poor South Africans who are locked in townships and informal settlements are one of the results of corruption by public sector officials. These protests have been studied extensively by the Municipal IQ a research organisation that specialises in collecting data on local government performance.
The graph below gives a clear picture of service delivery trends in the country.
Figure 1: Major service delivery protests, by year (2004 – November 2010)
[Source: Municipal IQ Municipal Hotspots Monitor]
As Figure 2 below shows the largest number of service delivery protests occurred in Gauteng followed by the Western Cape. The least number being in Limpopo. According to Municipal IQ researchers the main reason why Gauteng and the Western Cape are the leading provinces for service delivery protests is because they have cities such Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Cape Town that attract migrants. “These cities experience the highest population growth rates of all our localities; and in fact there is a strong statistical link between high levels of migration and servicer delivery protests,” says Municipal IQ.
Figure 2: Service delivery protests by province (January to November 2010)
[Source: Municipal IQ Municipal Hotspots Monitor]
Dependence and unemployment
Dissatisfaction with services delivery from the government by the poor has important electoral implications for the ANC.
Many observers including leaders of organised labour believe that it is the black working class that votes the ANC into power, the reality is very different. No doubt some workers do vote for the ANC but the core constituencies that keep the ANC in power are the poor and unemployed Africans. In return for their vote the poor receive all sorts of hand outs from the ANC government that go under the generic name of social grants. These social grants have been growing steadily since 1997-98. Today they encompass over 14 million people and are scheduled to grow to 18 million in 2013 and they constitute about 15% of government revenues.
Conclusion: Ruin or Salvation?
Twenty years ago the famous South African scenario analyst Clem Sunter said South Africa was approaching a cross roads: one road was the high road and the other was the low road. The high road which obviously he recommended, he said would lead to democracy, political stability and prosperity. Today South Africa is approaching another critical point in its history. In 1994 the leaders of South Africa choose the high road and adopted an inclusive political and economic model. Today the ANC government seems determined, despite its rhetoric, to follow the low road.
The high levels of corruption and incompetence in the public sector on one hand are making South Africa an undesirable destination for domestic and foreign investors. According to a recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and development foreign direct investment to South Africa dropped by 78% in 2009.
The recent Survey of Mining Companies 2009/2010 by Canada’s Fraser Institute, shows that South Africa is slipping constantly over the last few years in the league tables of mining countries. The Fraser Institute attributes this to ill-conceived and ambiguous legislation over mineral rights allocation and Black Economic Empowerment. One of the most glaring “follow the low road policies” of the government is the Kumba Iron Ore saga where the Department of Mineral Resources has allocated prospecting rights to a shelf company owned by the President and Deputy President’s families and their friends to an existing iron ore mine owned by an Anglo American plc subsidiary Kumba Iron Ore Limited.
The important question is whether by following the low road the ANC will lead the country to ruin or it will lead to the ANC’s own ruin. An equally important question is will [/b]the ANC’s ruin be the salvation of the country as happened with the demise of the National Party, the pioneers of the Apartheid system? [/b]
About the author
Moeletsi Mbeki is a political economist and commentator, serving as the deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs, an independent think tank based at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author of the recent book Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 10:31am On Apr 06, 2011|
From The Times
June 5, 2010
‘Tenderitis’ at root of ANC’s corruption problem in South Africa
Jonathan Clayton, Johannesburg
It is called “tenderitis” . It has swept through the ruling African National Congress and — if critics are to be believed — is threatening the body politic of South Africa.
A whole generation of politicians has grown fat from the disease, which involves awarding lucrative contracts to friends, colleagues, fellow party members and family — regardless of their ability to do the job.
When money is set aside for a specific task, companies are set up at short notice in that field. They then tender for the work and, despite their lack of any experience in the subject, win the contract. [/b]At municipal level, where it is rampant, it has led to construction of low-cost houses with leaking roofs and toilets that do not work.
Last year, Tokyo Sexwale, the Housing Minister, said that about 40,000 [b]shoddy houses nationwide would have to be demolished at a cost of £90 million to the Government — about 10 per cent of the housing budget.
He called the issue a “national disgrace”. Other cases involved road and school building, and the provision of goods and services for local government. At national level, such “insider dealing” may involve huge consultancy fees to friends, or the misuse of public funds for private purposes — from transport to entertaining.
In one recent case, the head of South African Airways had to resign after awarding the lucrative catering contract to a company recently set up by his wife and some friends.
Since virtually every top job is a political appointment — the result of positive discrimination to reverse the effects of decades of apartheid — the ANC is involved in every shady deal. In another case, a Ministry of Transport offshoot signed a multimillion-pound, ten-year lease on nine office buildings when only two were in use.
Like most African states, /b]South Africa is finding the second decade of independence much harder to handle than the first. At the centre of the problem lies corruption. [/b]
The ANC, which enjoys a near-monopoly on power, has attracted a new set of young, self-seeking members who have little in common with those who fought the long, principled struggle against apartheid.
At the same time a liberation movement — which at its peak brought together liberals, Stalinists, romantics, thugs and idealists, and where loyalty was paramount — has found it difficult to take action against its own and adapt to governing a modern democratic society.
“There is a feeling in the ANC that those who sacrificed their entire professional lives for the movement deserve to be looked after,” Allister Sparks, a veteran journalist and political commentator, told The Times “Some went inside, or into exile, in their 20s and came back in their late 50s . . . The problem is it is easy to subvert that attitude into something else,” .
Corrupt and incompetent ministers rarely resign. The movement, which is racked by internal rivalries and tensions, simply moves them sideways.
“All we ever see in this country is musical chairs . . . but it is our money they are wasting. We have every right to ask them what is going on and — because we are black — they can’t play the race card against us,” said Kgomotso Matsunyane, who hosts an early morning radio show popular with black listeners.
Since President Zuma, himself a populist tainted by corruption charges, took office last year, the teeming black townships have erupted in what are called “service delivery” protests.
Angry residents have stoned local ANC offices, torched the homes of mayors, erected barricades and fought running battles with the security services in scenes reminiscent of the dark days towards the end of apartheid.
“People see the lavish lifestyles these politicians have, and are angry. The country is very definitely at a crossroads,” said Ms Matsunyane, 38, and one of a new breed of people who don’t hesitate to criticise the Government. In the past, black people were reluctant to do that for fear of being labelled pro-white Uncle Toms.
The ANC, which last year suffered the biggest breakaway in its history, is being torn apart about how to deal with the crisis. The unions and their communist allies want what they call “lifestyle audits” of top people, including ministers — an issue which threatens to spark an internal war.
Local elections take place next year, and many analysts predict that the ANC is in for a bruising.
“The best thing that could happen would be for the ANC to break up — its internal contradictions mean it is unsuitable to govern a modern democratic state, but who knows? The decent element still inside seems incapable of recapturing the movement,” said one political analyst. “We need an opposition — badly, and quickly.”
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 11:00am On Apr 06, 2011|
"The ANC is a dangerous government built on the foundations of a former terrorist organization. Now I never took a course on South African history/politics so you could say my knowledge is not exactly rich on the matter, "
Originally Posted by Leifur
But then again in real terms the Nationals weren´t practically right winged at least not economically. So can anyone explain to me what happened, and why they were in such a rush to bargain with the ANC, so soon after they had lost their principal backers, the Soviet union and the Nationals victory seemed at hand against that old foe? Why didn´t they just wait a few more years and try to create a more favoreable situation in post-apartheid South Africa? And what if any preparation did they do while they still had power for their eventual powerlessness?
And what should they have done?
What do you mean a rush? The ANC was formed in 1912, just two years after the Union of South Africa created our country, and they were appealing for human rights, universal suffrage, etc. which the British skipped out the country without guaranteeing. The United Party buffed them off and then in 1948 when the Nats won unexpectedly the ANC's appeals got even louder and were rebuffed ever more violently. By 1961, after nearly 50 patient years of non-violent protest, Sharpeville saw the ANC and it's radical young leadership say "enough is enough" and began the work of forming a resistance army. By the mid-70s, apartheid was in arguably its most brutal stage with wanton killing of resistors habitual, death squads even formed to blackmail and coerce captured MK members into doing the dirty work. Come 1987 when PW Botha very reluctantly met with Mandela it was 75 years into the ANC's struggle for human rights, so again I ask, what do you mean in a rush?
After nearly 50 years of brutal oppression of all resistance movements, the ANC was really the only organization that was in any position to represent the people of South Africa at the negotiating table. People like Sisulu and Mandela had achieve iconic status and were highly revered even by those who were not yet born when they were shipped off to Robben Island. Robert Sobukwe and Steve Biko might have managed to form alternatives to the ANC, but the one was passively killed by the apartheid government, the other more actively being brutally beaten by the security police, left Unclad with severe brain damage for over 24 hours, and then driven, again Unclad, in winter, in the open back of a truck 1000 miles to Johannesburg before his body finally succumbed.
Personally I do not think that the ANC has failed - they have more than doubled the economy, for instance. The ANC certainly is not perfect, even before they somehow elected Zuma and his goons to all the leadership positions, and there are definitely many problems still facing South Africans on both ends of the economic spectrum and in the middle too, of course.
Really, the biggest mistake that was made was to let the trade unions, led by the astute negotiating mind of Cyril Ramaphosa, write the constitution. It is next-to impossible to fire someone so companies are very reluctant to hire leading to the huge unemployment, at least in the formal sector. People are hired on as day laborers or "temporary" workers, but not formally and lack job security and any kind of sickness or healthcare benefits. This has cascading effects throughout the economy.
I personally had hoped that reason would prevail and that Ramaphosa could be lured from the private sector back into government and take the position that Mandela had wanted him to hold - as leader of the party and future president - but it was not to be. Perhaps Ramaphosa knew that Zuma's mysterious and incomprehensible to rational minds surge to the top was unstoppable? If anything Zuma says can be believed, I hope that it is that the ANC is bigger than any one person and who is in charge doesn't matter. I hope that whomever was pulling his strings on his world tour prior to the party conference is able to keep his moral and economic corruption in check and our country on track.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 1:24pm On Apr 06, 2011|
Jacob Zuma: a year of drift
Roger Southall, 4 May 2010
The South African president’s achievement on his anniversary in power is to leave his country rudderless and his party at war, says Roger Southall.
South Africans are assessing Jacob Zuma’s first year as their president since his election by the country's parliament on 6 May 2009. The vast majority of the judgments on his performance are resoundingly negative.
At present, the country is in a bad temper all round. The impact of the economic crisis has seen swinging job losses, especially amongst the poorer black majority, leaving millions scrimping for survival. South Africa has one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor, and it shows no sign of narrowing. Manufacturing industries have taken a massive hit; the worst appears to be over, yet they are now struggling to get back on to their feet in the context of the rise of the Rand against other major currencies (which makes their exports more expensive and imports of competing products cheaper).
Meanwhile, it seems increasingly likely that the short-term economic stimulus which has long been promised by the start of the soccer world cup in June 2010 is going to fizzle out; estimates about the number of football-related visitors to the country is day-by-day being revised downwards (from the initially predicted 400,000 to not much above half that). The tourist and hotel sector has been thrown into a state of gloom; airlines have released tickets previously reserved for fans; and (horror of horrors) the governing body Fifa has had to ensure full stadiums by abandoning its fiercely complicated ticket-application process in favour of selling them over the counter to South Africans (and it couldn’t even do that right, leading to fighting in the queues). Further, there is a growing conviction that once the cup is over, Fifa will be running off to deposit fat gains in the bank while leaving South Africans to rue the cost.
A moment of malaise
Indeed, the looming economic disappointment of the world cup points to the broader context of South Africa’s malaise. For while the reduction in the expected number of visitors can in part be ascribed to the global economic downturn, there is little doubt that it also due to the pummelling the country’s image has received by two recent events: the populist mouthings of Julius Malema (leader of the African National Congress Youth League [ANCYL]), and the killing on 3 April 2010 of Eugene Terreblanche (leader of the ultra-rightwing AWB militia) by two black employees.
The predictions (and hopes?) of at least one tabloid newspaper in Britain that South Africa is relapsing into a racial war are way off target, but there is no doubt that the twinning of Malema and Terreblanche in the public imagination has severely dented the idea of South Africa as the “rainbow nation” - and confirmed the view of many whites that their future lies elsewhere.
However, even beyond the misery of a depressed economy, the probable disappointment of the world cup, and growing racial tensions, what most characterises public debate is widespread anger and disgust with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Jacob Zuma’s dismal failure to confront its decline into a morass of corruption, conflict and internal disarray.
A president’s promise
Jacob Zuma rode to the ANC leadership on the back of a coalition driven by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). It included a host of those alienated from or excluded by his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. Among them were the left, which had been angered by Mbeki’s pro-market economic policies, which they claimed were anti-worker and anti-jobs; people offended by Mbeki’s perceived authoritarianism, and by his irrational and internationally embarrassing position on HIV/Aids; and not least, individuals who felt that they had been excluded from access to opportunity and the prospect of wealth under his rule.
In short, those who congregated behind Zuma formed a motley alliance; but it was one that, above all, was prepared to bury its doubts about his morality (intimate as well as financial) in its determination to get him into power.
Zuma, initially, did not disappoint them, for he proved a wily and able campaigner in the run-up to the general election held on 22 April 2009. The lifting of criminal proceedings against him in March (in a controversial decision by a new chief prosecutor) was a precious boost; the corruption charges were dismissed on the grounds that new evidence had appeared – itself obtained in shadowy fashion - which purported to show that there had been a criminal conspiracy against him (see “South Africa’s election: a tainted victory”, 7 April 2009).
In the campaign, Zuma strove to appeal to as wide an array of the electorate as possible: not only hardened ANC supporters, but poor whites, white farmers, Afrikaners and businessmen. Indeed, it could be said that he charmed and danced his way to the presidency. The result was decisive: the ANC obtained an overall 65.9% popular majority – down from 69.7% in 2004, but nonetheless a remarkable triumph in the context of a party which for several years had been torn apart by a leadership struggle (see “Thabo Mbeki’s fall: the ANC and South Africa’s democracy”, 14 October 2008).
Jacob Zuma arrived in the presidency with a large body of South African opinion being prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. True, there was widespread concern over a range of issues: the dropping of the corruption case against him; his moral laxity (his multiple intimate liaisons over the years had received wide publicity after he was - unsuccessfully - brought to court on a charge of molestation in 2007); his backing by Cosatu and the SACP (which created fear in some financial circles of a communist takeover by stealth); and the large number of political opportunists that had jumped on his coattails.
But there were also counter-trends: broad relief at the departure of Thabo Mbeki, considerable (if sometimes reluctant) admiration for how Zuma had triumphed over all adversity, and widespread recognition that - for all his faults - the man was a genuinely nice guy. In short, although there were many anxieties, there was also a feeling that Zuma represented a new beginning, even a return to the inclusive politics of Nelson Mandela.
A party riven
But in only a year, Zuma’s reputation is in tatters, his leadership openly questioned across wide swathes of the ANC and the tripartite alliance (the framework which formally links the party together with Cosatu and the SACP). His personal blemishes have continued to damage him, not least the enforced admission of having fathered a further child out of wedlock, with the daughter of a close friend, Irvin Khoza (who was mightily unimpressed). In political terms, he has proved remarkably indecisive and manifestly unable to hold the ANC together; the spectacle the party presents to the country is one of open conflict between different factions, where debate about policies is subordinated to the exchange of personal insults and accusations between individuals and groupings scrambling to grab the fruits of state power.
At present, there are three broad tendencies within the ANC. The first is represented by elements within the finance ministry and national treasury, who prioritise the need for macroeconomic stability (controlling inflation and maintaining investor confidence). This group, under finance minister Pravin Gordhan, can be said to favour broad continuity with the economic policies favoured under Thabo Mbeki, albeit with perhaps rather more readiness to embrace a degree of state planning.
The second tendency is the broad left, centred in the tripartite alliance, and now represented in the cabinet through a series of appointments: notably, of the SACP’s Rob Davies to the department of trade and industry; of Ebrahim Patel, formerly secretary-general of Cosatu’s textile industry, to head a new ministry of economic development; and of the SACP’s general-secretary Blade Nzimande to the ministry of higher education. Together, the left favours adoption of more expansionary financial policies, more determined moves towards social redistribution, and pursuit of the policies of a “developmental state”.
The third tendency is far more diffuse, has strong links to business, and is heavily dependent upon “black economic empowerment”, procurement of state tenders and political patronage. By its nature, this third grouping tends to be opportunistic, and the forays of its diverse membership into ideological battle highly instrumental.
The tensions between these three groups have become wide open under Zuma, who is involved in different ways in all three: his presidential head tells him to follow the first tendency, he is politically obligated to the second, and his material interests appear very much to lie with the third. His initial inclusion of leftist heavyweights in important portfolios in the cabinet was greeted as a case of the president both paying off debts and heralding a major shift towards state planning and the “developmental state’ (not least because Gordhan himself combined longstanding and close connections to Zuma with service on the SACP’s central-committee-in-exile). Yet in reality, the left is heavily outnumbered and its influence diluted in a now expanded cabinet. Thus for all the alarm in conservative fiscal circles about a strong communist presence in government, the reality under Gordhan has been that economic policies have exuded far more continuity with the Mbeki era than change.
A strategy clouded
An example is the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), announced with considerable fanfare in February 2010. In drawing inspiration from the strategies of “developmental states”, this promises to create 2.4 million jobs over ten years as a result of a core programme of manufacturing expansion. Yet it is far from being an undiluted triumph for the left. The plan is backed by promises of government funding over its first three years to the value of R8.2 billion ($1bn), yet the bulk of this still has to be extracted from the treasury, which if not actively disapproving is most certainly dubious.
More problematic is that the IPAP places major emphasis upon an expansion of infrastructure through the provision of procurement funding by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). In theory, this seeks to replicate the experiences of successful developmental states; in practice, it is likely to be hugely complicated both by demonstrable weaknesses in state capacity and by the problems of corruption and patronage.
The implication is that the left is facing a considerable risk: that while it is engaged in bitter battles with the finance ministry and the treasury over fiscal policy, it may set the scene for a massive long-term allocation of state resources to those within the ANC who view the party primarily as an instrument to acquire state funds in order to smooth their entry into lucrative business areas.
A challenge failed
Jacob Zuma seems incapable of reconciling the differences between the three tendencies within the ANC. He has enraged the left by giving various assurances to South Africa’s financial community, western governments and overseas investors that his government is committed to business as usual. He has also been completely inept in efforts to contain the populist campaign launched by Julius Malema to nationalise the mining industry – even though Malema’s motivations in this regard are almost certainly devious (and indeed a reading of the small print of the ANCYL’s proposals reveals a plan to establish a state mining company which would milk contracts from the state).
Indeed, the controversy over Malema’s ambitions illustrates Zuma’s flawed and inconsistent political judgment. Malema’s nationalisation campaign, widely publicised abroad, unsettled international capital markets fearful that Malema was right in predicting the ANC’s eventual adoption of his plans; yet it also upset the domestic left, nervous at the prospect of being outpaced by his phoney radicalism.
Zuma was at first content merely to pronounce the proposals “a matter for debate”. Indeed, it was only after the demagogic Malema made an official visit on behalf of the ANCYL to Zimbabwe - where he further embarrassed the ANC by praising Robert Mugabe, his land seizures and his ill-considered plans for the “indigenisation” of capital - that Zuma sought to avert fears that South Africa was heading in Zimbabwe’s direction by publicly reprimanding Malema and indicating that he would be subject to the ANC’s internal discipline. The outcome of that process is awaited, amid indications are that Malema’s various supporters in the party are rallying behind him.
A crony system
The growing tensions between the ANC and the alliance, the left’s complaints about the fundamental continuity in economic policy, and Julius Malema’s populist antics have dominated South Africa’s headlines. Yet the most alarming trend is the steady drip of scandals around the allocation of state contracts.
The most inventive concept of the Zuma era so far is that of the “tenderpreneurs” – ANC-connected businesspeople who thrive on the receipt of tenders from all levels of government; tenders that appear in many cases to be corruptly allocated. Cosatu has tabled a document in a meeting with the ANC which urges the party to take a much stronger position on the intersection of public service and private business, demanding for example that cabinet ministers and senior government officials who hold business interests resign.
Indeed, the Mail & Guardian newspaper reveals that some twenty-seven ministers and deputies in Zuma’s government are registered as active directors or members of companies and close corporations, many of the latter doing business with departments of government; and the auditor-general’s report in 2009 found that more than 2,000 government officials had directly or indirectly benefited from government tenders worth more than R600 million ($80m). Unless the ANC changes its position on this, Cosatu warns, “we will be en route to Zimbabwe and other failed revolutions in the world”.
These are strong words, but have little prospect it would seem of implementation. Siphiwe Nyanda, the former head of the defence force and now minister of communications, is revealed to have established a company (General Nyanda Security Services) that received multi-million contracts from the Gauteng provincial government, and (corruptly) from a government “parastatal” (Transnet Freight Services) - yet there has been no official pressure on him to resign.
Julius Malema too has been identified as the director of companies that have received huge contracts from the government in his home province of Limpopo, yet Zuma has denied any need for an inquiry. It is significant here that Zuma’s own family (and prominent individuals connected to it) have made rapid inroads into business since the Polokwane congress of December 2007 that ensured his accession to the ANC leadership. The ANC too is engaged in a major controversy about whether it should divest itself of a 25% shareholding in Hitachi Africa, a company which has been awarded a massive tender related to the building of Eskom’s proposed new coal-fired Medupi power-station.
There is plenty of regulation available to deal with all of this. South Africa’s anti-corruption laws are impeccable, the problem is that there is no concerted effort to enforce them. Meanwhile, it is not just Cosatu, the media and opposition parties which are protesting at the increasingly rampant corruption; around the country, disgruntled supporters of the ANC in impoverished communities are in open protest against “failures of service delivery” - a phrase which covers a multitude of sins, but which reflects the widespread belief that ANC control of provincial and local government centres around allocation of rewards to cronies.
A lost unity
The coalition of the left and the politically aggrieved that brought Jacob Zuma to power is now openly fragmenting, and Zuma seems at a total loss at how to deal with the process. As a result, there is a widespread sense of a vacuum at the centre of his government, with important policy matters drifting and the different tendencies fighting.
The present struggle is a vitally important one. The left is divided from fiscal conservatives on matters of economic policy, yet they share a common interest in confronting the dangers of growing patronage and corruption. Whether they can bury their differences sufficiently to confront a common enemy is a question without an answer. An alarming prospect is that they will knock each other out in battle, leaving the third tendency to march South Africa along the road to Zimbabwe.
About the author
Roger Southall is honorary research professor in the sociology of work unit, University of the Witwatersrand.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 1:53pm On Apr 06, 2011|
DA accuses ANC of assault
April 5 2011 at 12:43pm
By PATRICK HLAHLA
Charges have been laid by two DA election candidates after they were allegedly assaulted while campaigning in Soshanguve at the weekend.
DA mayoral candidate Brandon Topham said the party’s candidates Michael Mkhari (ward 26) and Phidas Bokaba (ward 39) were assaulted in Soshanguve and Doris Mnguni (ward 35) was victimised while campaigning in her area.
They have laid charges at the Loate police station.
Topham also alleged that and ANC team removed DA posters in Lynnwood Road and replaced them with ANC posters.
“The DA was alerted to this by eyewitnesses who have given descriptions of the people and the vehicle involved,” said Topham.
He said another DA councillor Cecilia Knox and five DA activists were assaulted in Ekangala, near Bronkhorstspruit, by ANC councillors and activists, “who then lay charges against the DA for allegedly towing an ANC T-shirt behind a bakkie”.
“It is clear the ANC feels threatened by the DA and is therefore reverting to dirty tricks.
“The ANC has clearly not yet matured with South Africa’s democracy and should rein in its activists and educate them about what democracy entails,” he said.
Topham said the DA will, in addition to the criminals charges they have laid, lodge complaints with the Independent Electoral Commission this week.
ANC (Tshwane) spokesman Burton Joseph said on Monday the party had consulted its branches:
“We cannot confirm that any DA candidate was assaulted by ANC supporters.
“We call on the DA to stop cheap politicking.
“We also call on DA supporters to call on the party and its leaders to a run a clean and credible election campaign,” said Joseph.
ANC supporters have maintained a high morale and high discipline during the election campaign, he said.
The party had not yet put up its election posters. “We were busy today (yesterday), checking all the posters before they went up.”
Joseph said the claim by the DA “is totally ridiculous”.
“They are getting more desperate.
“The ANC has its main priorities and the DA is, and will never be, our main priority.
“We are taking our election campaign to the townships and suburbs where we are seeking a fresh mandate from voters,” said Joseph. - Pretoria News
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 2:15pm On Apr 06, 2011|
Belgium political crisis sets new world record
Published: 30 March 2011 | Updated: 01 April 2011
289 days after general elections held in June last year, Belgium is still without a government and yesterday (29 March) replaced Iraq as the country to have experienced the longest period with no official government. The milestone was noted less in the country than abroad.
The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a nationalist party, secured a sweeping victory in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium in national elections held on 13 June 2010, paving the way for more powers to be delegated to the regions in the country that hosts the EU institutions.
Flemish nationalist gains were matched by a large victory for the socialists in French-speaking Wallonia, with both parties expected to spearhead government coalition talks.
The early elections were triggered after Flemish liberal party Open-VLD decided to leave the government over a dispute between French- and Dutch-speaking parties regarding electoral boundaries surrounding the capital, Brussels.
Belgian King Albert II told Prime Minister Yves Leterme to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government was formed.
In spite of this major political crisis, Belgium rather successfully completed its term as rotating EU presidency for the second half of 2010.
Belgium won amid an atmosphere of indifference the record of the longest political crisis, held so far by post-war Iraq.
But unlike Iraq, where in 2010 citizens threw shoes against cardboard figures of politicians to mark their disenchantment, no spectacular event took place in Belgium.
And the Belgian press appears to have devoted less attention to the country's record-breaking achievement than the international media.
Most articles in the Belgian media mention 'chips revolutions' staged by students in several cities to mark the record, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 'jasmine revolutions' unfolding across the Arab world.
In Brussels, Antwerp, Namur and Ghent, the city squares were renamed 'Chips Square' to mark the occasion. Some 5,000 people in streets across the country were treated to free chips, according to reports.
"Separatism: not in my name" was the slogan chanted by the students.
A Belgian national delight on both sides of the linguistic barrier, chips are seen as a symbol of hope for the future togetherness of the country.
Still, the events were low-scale compared to the nationwide 'Shame' protest of 23 January, which saw 15,000 people march through the streets of Brussels on the initiative of five students, largely thanks to social media.
In fact, Belgium's caretaker government led by Yves Leterme, a Flemish Christian Democrat, appears to enjoy broad approval for its work. The government managed to adopt a budget for 2011 and in spite of its limited mandate, sent Belgian fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone in Libya.
Worst-case scenarios, which predicted an economic meltdown due to a drop in foreign investors' confidence in Belgium, did not materialise. The country weathered the economic crisis better than most of its European neighbours and expects growth of 2% in 2011.
Belgium's political crisis may indeed be protracted, but it is by no means unconstitutional or unusual. In 1978-79 putting in place a new government took 106 days, in 1987 it took 148 days and in 2007 seven months were required.
Change on the negotiating side could take place if Yves Leterme's CD&V party were to keep more of a distance from N-VA, the Flemish separatist party led by Bart De Wever, who is also the Flemish politician with the highest ratings.
De Wever, who has enjoyed the full support of CD&V so far, was last week criticised by Leterme for his inflexibility.
According to polls, however, the Flemish Christian Democrats would be taking a huge gamble in the event of early elections should they decide to exclude N-VA from the negotiations. According to the latest poll, support for N-VA in Flanders is on the rise.
The Belgian press claims that Belgium has not in fact beaten the world record for the most protracted government crisis, which reportedly is held by Cambodia.
According to L'Echo, Cambodia went 353 days without a government in the years 2003-2004.
Another weird feature is that the government which was finally put in place in Cambodia included 207 ministers.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 3:08pm On Apr 06, 2011|
I think this statement made in 2008 by a poster who must have been living in the U.K at the time aptly describes politicians,their political parties and governments:
It is no surprise - very few governments are actually competent.
We have Labour here and the Republicans over there. We have none in Belgium and soon there will be none in Italy! None in Somalia and ignoramuses in Sudan. Picksters in Nigeria. I could go on and on!
13th February 2008, 17:24
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:01pm On Apr 06, 2011|
Disgruntled voter puts Belgium on eBay
Last updated at 17:51 18 September 2007
Hidden among the porcelain fox hounds and Burberry tablecloths on sale at eBay.be this week was an unusual item: "For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts, free premium: the king and his court (costs not included)".
The odd ad was posted by one disgruntled Belgian in protest at his country's political crisis, which reached a 100-day landmark today with no end in sight to the squabbling between Flemish and Walloon politicians.
"I wanted to attract attention," said Gerrit Six, the teacher and former journalist who posted the ad. "You almost have to throw a rock through a window to get attention for Belgium."
The phenomenal medieval town of Bruges is a steal at £7million, but unfortunately for the bidder the ad was removed
For sale: The Grand Place in Brussels was just part and parcel of the deal
Six placed the advertisement on Saturday, offering free delivery, but pointing out that the country was coming secondhand and that potential buyers would have to take on over US$300 billion (£150 billion) in national debt.
Like many of Belgium's 10 million citizens, Six is exasperated that the power struggle between the country's French-speaking and Dutch-speaking political parties has left Belgium in political limbo since June 10 elections.
Demands for more autonomy from the Dutch-speaking Flemish are resisted by the French-speaking Walloons, making it impossible to form a government coalition and triggering concern the kingdom is on the verge of a breakup.
Six decided to vent his frustration through the Internet ad.
"My proposal was to make it clear that Belgium was valuable, it's a masterpiece and we have to keep it," he told Associated Press Television News. "It's my country and I'm taking care of it, and with me are millions of Belgians."
Six's idea got a mixed reaction on the streets of Brussels.
"Very funny, typical Belgian humor," said Anne Graux.
Location, location, location: Belgium, to the highest bidder
"It's ridiculous," snapped Nathalie Ginot, a Brussels resident who had her own pragmatic solution to Belgium's woes. "We think it would be good to split Belgium into the three and make Brussels a tax-haven, a capital exempt from all taxes," she said hopefully.
Six vaunted Belgium's attractions to potential buyers from art nouveau architecture to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union and some great beers. But he also warned of the pitfalls of taking on the cacophonous mix of Flemish nationalists, Walloon Socialists and the mayors of all 19 Brussels' boroughs.
EBay was happy to take Six' advertisement.
"It was a really fun listing made by a Belgian," Peter Burin, PR manager of eBay Belgium. "This person, in a very funny way, reminded the Belgians what a great country Belgium actually is and it would be a shame to sell it."
However, the company decided to pull the ad today after receiving a bid of £7 million.
"We decided to take it down, just to avoid confusion," he told APTN.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-482485/Disgruntled-voter-puts-Belgium-eBay.html#ixzz1Il9rzAlY
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:46pm On Apr 06, 2011|
Q+A-What is India's telecoms scandal all about?
By C.J. Kuncheria and Devidutta Tripathy
NEW DELHI, April 2 | Sat Apr 2, 2011 6:09am EDT
NEW DELHI, April 2 (Reuters) - Indian police on Saturday charged a former minister, the Reliance ADA Group and the Indian arm of Etisalat, in a multi-billion dollar telecoms licencing corruption scandal that has rocked the government and business establishments.
Here are some questions and answers on the case:
WHAT IS THE ISSUE ALL ABOUT?
Police say that in 2007-08, when India issued 122 new telecoms licences, several rules were violated and bribes were paid to favour certain firms.
Several licences were issued to firms with no prior experience in the telecoms sector or were ineligible or had suppressed relevant facts, an auditor said in its report.
The violations cost the exchequer $39 billion in lost revenue, the auditor said, equivalent to India's defence budget.
The telecoms ministry's process of issuing licences "lacked transparency and was undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner," the auditor said.
Police have accused Andimuthu Raja, the then-telecoms minister, of having taken bribes from two firms which are now the local joint venture partners of Telenor and Etisalat .
WHAT WAS THE FALLOUT?
The report sparked political outrage and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party all-but-shut an entire session of parliament demanding a special parliamentary probe.
Raja was forced to resign and was arrested over the report. The telecoms ministry is considering whether to cancel some 85 licences which the audit report says were issued to firms which were ineligible for them.
Many of India's biggest business names have been questioned, including billionaires Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance ADA group, and Prashant Ruia, chief executive of Essar Group.
A parliamentary panel probing the scandal will next week question tycoon Ratan Tata as well as Anil Ambani.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 4:34pm On Apr 07, 2011|
Corruption scandals in the Paris region
In the 1980s and 1990s there were, in the Paris region (Île-de-France), multiple instances of alleged and proved political corruption cases, as well as cases of abuse of public money and resources. Almost all involved were members of the conservative Rally for the Republic (RPR) ruling party, which became the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) in 2002.
Central role of Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995 and has been named in several cases of alleged corruption and abuse, some of which have already led to felony convictions.
Chirac, as president of France (until 16 May 2007), enjoyed virtual immunity from prosecution for acts preceding his tenure as president, following from decision 98-408 DC of the Constitutional Council on 22 January 1999. This decision itself was highly controversial: the council was consulted on the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, not about the status of the president with respect to the national criminal justice system. At the time, the president of the council was Roland Dumas, who later had to retire from his functions because of his implication in the Elf Aquitaine scandal.
Chirac refused to testify before investigating magistrate Éric Halphen, arguing that this would be incompatible with his presidential functions.
On 10 October 2001, the Court of Cassation ruled that, while the president cannot be prosecuted by normal judicial means during his mandate, such an impossibility suspends the delays of prescription (statute of limitation). If Chirac does not run for office again in 2007 or is not re-elected, he may then be prosecuted on the several affairs he is involved in. This might explain why in 2003 some in the presidential entourage floated around the idea of Chirac running for a third term.
Chirac's foremost critic was deputy Arnaud Montebourg of the Socialist Party, who filed a motion to bring him in front of the High Court of Justice (a procedure similar to impeachment, which has never been applied).
Vote rigging in Paris
In several districts of Paris, people were allegedly illegally registered on the electoral rolls in an attempt to modify the outcome of elections. In some egregious cases, people were registered at the address of a hotel or of a shop.
• In the 3rd arrondissement, 859 (being 5% of the registered voters) were, according to enquiries, fraudulently registered on the electoral rolls between 1988 and 1995.
• In the 5th arrondissement, mayor Jean Tiberi, his wife Xavière Tiberi and alleged accomplices were put under formal investigation. According to the instruction, 7,228 people were fraudulently registered in the 5th arrondissement in 1997 and 3,315 of them voted when Jean Tiberi was elected deputy with 2,725 votes more than his opponent. On 21 March 2005, Jean Tiberi was put under criminal investigation for his alleged role in the altered electoral rolls. He denied having had anything to do with the action and pointed that he was re-elected by wide majorities, thus not needing fake voters.
Manipulated biddings for public procurement
Paris public housing projects
There was a shock when a videocassette of businessman Jean-Claude Méry was disclosed after his death in 1999, with Le Monde publishing its full contents in September 2000. In the tape, Méry gave details of kickback schemes in the Paris region; in particular, he said that he delivered FRF 5 million in cash to Michel Roussin, chief of staff of then prime minister Jacques Chirac, "in Chirac's presence". "We only work on Mr. Chirac's orders," Méry said in the video. It was on these grounds that investigating magistrate Éric Halphen summoned president Jacques Chirac in March 2001 as witness, declaring that there were sufficients "clues" to warrant a full investigation. In September 2001, the Paris Appeal Court cancelled part of the proceedings on procedural vices, and removing the affair from judge Halphen's hands.
In February 2005, investigating magistrate Armand Riberolles, who succeeded Halphen, abandoned charges against Jean Tiberi (who succeeded Chirac as mayor of Paris), who as former president of the OPAC (Office Public d'Aménagement et de Construction) of Paris, was prosecuted for "complicity in corruption" (complicité de traffic d'influence).
As of January 2006, several CEOs had been prosecuted in the trial, but not one politician. 49 businessmen, among them Francis Poullain, CEO of SAR company and close to Chirac, were prosecuted. According to Le Monde, this trial was met with "relative indifference". The previous investigations had led to the resignation of magistrate Éric Halphen after several cases of intimidation and a tight struggle against the executive power. Personalities such as Michel Roussin, Robert Pandraud or Jean Tiberi, former mayor of Paris, had all been previously acquitted. Investigating magistrate Armand Riberolles, who succeeded Eric Halphen, wrote that the "instruction hadn't been able to formally establish the personal involvement of responsible members of the higher echelons of the RPR", while noting that "a large number of testimonies, cross-checked by various factual elements, show that Jean-Claude Méry had been commissioned to ensure the financing of the RPR's political activities by collecting funds, in particular through the firms working with the OPAC." All proceedings leading to president Chirac had been thrown out in September 2001 by the Paris Court of Appeal, leading to the resignation of judge Halphen.
High-schools and other public works in the Île-de-France region
About 40 are under investigation for the alleged corruption at the Ile-de-France regional council. Inquiries showed that 2% of the payments from the Ile-de-France council to companies involved in building or repairs on the region's high schools were to be channeled as kickbacks to political parties, either through legal contributions (permitted under the 15 January 1990 law then in force), or through cash deliveries of fictitious employment (i.e. staff of political parties or politicians being paid by the involved companies). According to the enquiry, 1.2% went to the RPR, 0.8% to the French Socialist Party. Michel Giraud, then president of the Ile-de-France region, was one of the prime suspects. The following companies admitted to such practices: Sicra, Baudin Châteauneuf, GTM, Bouygues, Nord-France, Dumez, Chagnaud, Fougerolles.
In March 2005, the case went to trial before the Paris correctional court On October 2005, former president of the Ile-de-France region Michel Giraud was condemned to four years of prison on probation and to pay an 80 000 euros fine; Michel Roussin, former chief of staff of Jacques Chirac, was also condemned to four years of prison on probation and to a 50 000 euros fine. These sentences were accompanied by a 5 years suspension of civil and familial rights. Louise-Yvonne Cassetta and Guy Drut were also condemned on probation. Among the 47 persons prosecuted, only Gérard Longuet, former president of the republican party, was acquitted. Libération could state that: "Only one - big - absence in this trial and judgment: Jacques Chirac, whose shadow has constantly towered this four months debate".
Fictional jobs in government offices
City of Paris
During the tenure of Jacques Chirac as mayor of Paris, some people paid by the city government actually worked (full time) for the RPR party.
Alain Juppé, former secretary-general of the RPR (1988–1995) and former deputy mayor in charge of finances of the City of Paris (1983–1995) was convicted along with accomplices Louise-Yvonne Casetta and Patrick Stefanini of abuse of public funds when he employed people on the city's payroll to perform tasks wholly for the benefit of his party. On 31 January 2004, Alain Juppé was sentenced by the correctional court of Nanterre to 18 month suspended sentence, as well as the deprivation of the right to vote for five years and the right to run for national office for 10 years (reduced on appeal to one year). On 1 December 2004, the Versailles court of appeals reduced the sentence to a 14 month suspended sentence and a deprivation of the right to hold political office for one year. Juppé did not go to the Court of Cassation over this sentence, and had to resign from his position as mayor of Bordeaux.
Another scandal erupted after the ruling when the judges of the Nanterre court alleged that their offices and computers had been searched. President Chirac ordered an administration inquiry commission, composed of high-level magistrates (the vice-president of the Council of State, and the first presidents of the Court of Cassation and the Court of Auditors), to investigate the matter. This decision was criticized because there was no legal nor constitutional basis for it: normally, questions of judicial honesty are handled by the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (CSM), which (politely) protested Chirac's action. The Nanterre judges refused to be heard by the commission, arguing they should see the CSM. The commission concluded that there had been security lapses at the Nanterre court, but did not conclude that there was any wrongdoing. A criminal investigation has also been opened.
On 3 December 2004, the Court of Cassation ruled that a court of appeals had incorrectly ruled that some cases of employment by or payments received from the City of Paris (under the Chirac and Tiberi administrations) for fictitious work fell under prescription (statute of limitations). The court announced that the cases were now referred to the Versailles Court of Appeals. The current administration of the City of Paris, led by Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, had appealed the prescription ruling before the Court of Cassation. Among the suspects are the deputy of Paris Jean de Gaulle, former minister Robert Pandraud etc
Xavière Tiberi, the spouse of mayor of Paris Jean Tiberi, received FRF 200,000 (approx. €30,000) for a report on francophonie for the general council of the Essonne département. This 36-page report, possibly written after the payment as a justification, was extremely poorly written and contained numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Illegal use of government services
Usage of City of Paris gardening services for private purposes
In 2004, mayor Bertrand Delanoë filed a complaint for the past abuse of City of Paris gardening services for private purposes, estimating the public losses to at least €700,000. Individuals close to the RPR allegedly enjoyed free gardening services from City of Paris employees in their houses of the upscale areas of Paris and suburbs. City supplies were allegedly also taken for private usage
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 5:56pm On Apr 07, 2011|
Nicolas Sarkozy scandal goes back to Hungarian roots
The case of L'Oréal heiress, Liliane Bettencourt, has enraptured France and forced Nicolas Sarkozy into the spotlight.
One secret cash payment to Mr Sarkozy's presidential election campaign was said to be worth as much as ?150,000, or £125,000
by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in Paris 8:00AM BST 11 Jul 2010
Before becoming a scandal about money, politics, art, history, café society and power, the Affaire Bettencourt, now threatening the Sarkozy presidency, is the story of two ferociously ambitious young Hungarian outsiders and their success at storming the citadels of the French establishment.
One, Nicolas Sarkozy, the son of a womanising émigré aristocrat and a doctor's daughter, used to be told by his (twice) remarried father on visiting Sundays that he would never amount to anything much in France, because of his foreign name, small stature and below-average school grades.
The other, François-Marie Banier, né Banyiaï, was regularly beaten by his Renault migrant worker turned ad-man father for being a dilettante, an aesthete, and a high-school drop-out. (By coincidence Pál Sarkozy, Nicolas's father, also dabbled in advertising for a while).
Mr Sarkozy has mentioned the slights he suffered as the least well-off boy of his chic school in Neuilly, Paris's richest suburb. Mr Banier neglected even to complete his baccalauréat, haunting luxury hotel lobbies from his teens on, becoming in rapid succession the favourite of such luminaries as the painter Salvador Dali, the Nobel-prize playwright Samuel Beckett, and the couturiers Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin. The Communist poet Louis Aragon enthused about the first novel Mr Banier published, aged 22.
Mr Sarkozy came to the attention of Charles Pasqua, the Gaullist party stalwart and key power-breaker who was to help shape most of his career, with his first public speech at a national rally: he was just 20 at the time.
Today Nicolas Sarkozy is president of the French Republic, while François-Marie Banier, a polymath photographer, painter and novelist, has recently been ranked 917th richest individual in the world, having accepted fabulous gifts from a string of wealthy old ladies, ranging from the viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles to the actress Silvana Mangano - and especially from his latest patron, Liliane Bettencourt, the 87-year-old L'Oréal heiress.
The two men, no longer so young (Mr Banier is 63, Mr Sarkozy 55) nor as pretty as they both once were, stand at each end of a glittering chain of achievements, events, relationships, networks and rivalries now threatening to engulf France in the kind of political meltdown not seen here since the 1930s.
Mr Sarkozy's poll ratings, already dire, have plunged to ominous lows, with fewer than 32 per cent saying they still trust him. The latest projections are that the 2012 presidential race wil be won by the lacklustre Socialist leader, Martine Aubry, who in a second-round run-off against Mr Sarkozy would win 52 per cent of the vote.
But that's only if the second round is a traditional contest between Right and Left. Other, more worrisome, figures show that French public opinion holds politicians of both main parties in equal contempt, with only the Front National's Marine Le Pen showing a strong improvement in her rating, albeit still behind the others.
If that trend isn't reversed, France could see a repeat of 2002, when the Front National won second place in the first round of presidential voting, allowing its leader - Ms Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie - to challenge Jacques Chirac in the second round.
All French scandals are complicated (they're never about something so depressingly simple as sex), partly because they hide within layer upon layer of secrets in a country which has never believed in transparency.
"Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés" (To be happy, live hidden), a maxim of the 18th-century poet Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian, remains a byword here.
The political revelations of L'Affaire Bettencourt came out almost by accident. Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt, Liliane's daughter, 57, brought to court a case against Mr Banier, whom she accuses of abusing her elderly mother's trust to gain favour - specifically, being showered with gifts of cash and artworks.
This was three years ago, soon after the death of her father, Mrs Bettencourt's husband, André. (She may have feared that her newly-widowed mother was dangerously unmoored; after Bettencourt's death there was talk of Mr Banier being adopted by Liliane.)
The case dragged on. The daughter tried to prove that her mother's mind was befuddled. The mother refused a psychiatric evaluation, countering that her daughter was jealous of Mr Banier, who was "more amusing, more interesting" while Françoise was "dull" and had "no conversation."
Mrs Bettencourt's worth is estimated between 17 and 20 billion euros. "If you can afford it, it's very nice to be able to be generous," she recently said in a television interview.
If it wasn't for the Monopoly money amounts (993 million euros given to Mr Banier over four years in the form of Matisses, Picassos, life insurance contracts and a Seychelles island), it would look like every mother-daughter bitter feud, writ large.
Still handsome and elegant today, Liliane Bettencourt was for decades one of France's great society beauties. (The stylised woman painted in the early 1960s by the celebrated illustrator René Gruau, to figure on the golden cans of L'Oréal's best-selling Elnett hairspray, was modelled after Liliane. The hairspray container is unchanged today, an example of timeless design.) Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt, not to put a fine point on things, is rather plain.
Liliane's adored father Eugène Schueller, the founder of the L'Oréal fortune, was a notorious Collaborationist, who financed a number of fascist parties in the Thirties, was a Vichy regime enthusiastic supporter, and paid for the exfiltration to South America of some French Nazis at the Liberation.
Françoise married the grandson of Neuilly's Résistant rabbi, who died in Auschwitz.
Liliane Bettencourt's help – her butler, her secretary, her accountant, her driver – started taking sides. Those who showed too much favour to Françoise (or didn't hide their distaste for Banier, an increasingly frequent, often rude visitor) were fired. With compensation, but fired.
As it turns out, this was a spectacularly bad decision. The family's butler had started taping the conversations taking place in the expansive neo-Art deco Neuilly house, where Mrs Bettencourt has lived since commissioning it in 1951. (This is very much a tale of Neuilly, a kind of French South Kensington where the residents voted against having a second Métro line extended from Central Paris, because it would bring petty crime to their doors. Not long after that vote, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected Mayor, aged 28.) This was, the butler said, because he felt his boss was being taken advantage of.
Upon getting the sack, the butler went to Françoise (a mere 50 yards away, in a house almost as grand) and gave her a computer memory card containing the recordings, made on a tiny machine hidden on the drinks trays. (The Liliane-Banier camp counter that Françoise paid him all along to make them).
Three weeks later, Françoise handed 28 CDs of the recordings to the police. For good measure, she also gave them to an investigative website and a news magazine, which published very long excerpts. One can't but assume she had listened to them. Did she realise the conflagration they would trigger?
The recordings were dynamite. Not so much because, at times, Mrs Bettencourt did sound forgetful and hazy about the whereabouts of her immense fortune (she had, for instance, completely forgotten about two Swiss bank accounts containing over 100 million euros) and how much of it she'd given Mr Banier - but more because of the personalities and doings of her chief financial adviser and her lawyers.
Patrice de Maistre, the head of her "family office," a Jockey Club member, is heard advising her on where to hide large amounts of money from the French taxman (Singapore is in, now that Switzerland has become leaky). He boasts of having hired the then-Budget Minister Eric Woerth's wife, herself a former Rothschild banker, "to oblige him" - although he also badmouths Mrs Woerth, "who really puts on airs, playing too much the minister's wife."
Mr de Maistre angles to be given (tax-free, in Switzerland) a 60-foot sailing boat. He drops a few unsavoury comments about John Elkann, Gianni Agnelli's grandson, who is Jewish ("isn't it typical how they always gravitate to money?" he laughs, which Liliane interrupts with "I'm absolutely not anti-Semitic".
And he explains how cheap it is to contribute officially to a French politician's campaign, since individual gifts are capped at 7,500 euros. ("They are so grateful, and it really isn't much at all."
In other recordings, lawyer and money manager discuss on their own how best to prevent Banier from getting even more. It makes for a riveting read – and a rare bird's eye view of the vernacular of France's super-rich, where tax evasion and influence-currying come naturally.
Having the wife of then minister in charge of tax employed, at the very least, in a place where fraud took place, was bad enough. How much did she know? asked the predictable headlines.
Worse was to follow. The usually tame French press took the bit between their collective teeth, and in the intervals between clamouring for Mr Woerth's resignation from his current job as labour and social affairs minister (a key post since he's in charge of pushing through Mr Sarkozy's great pension reform), went digging.
Soon, Mediapart, the investigative website, found another fired employee, an accountant, who blithely told how for years she collected large wads of cash from Mr and Mrs Bettencourt's bank to give to politicians in brown envelopes – most recently 150,000 euros to Mr Sarkozy's presidential campaign in early 2007.
The accountant was subsequently harshly grilled by the police and seemed to withdraw some of her accusations (she had been told by Mr de Maistre who the money was for, but had never actually seen it given out), then recanted her recant. Meanwhile the bank balances did show withdrawals for the various amounts she'd mentioned at the given dates.
"This proves nothing!" Mr Sarkozy's supporters and assorted lawyers roared. But by then it was of course too late – the general impression of cronyism and corruption was disastrous, compounded by the stonewalling, in time-honoured fashion, from the Elysée. (Earlier in the month, two cabinet ministers who'd abused their expenses in an unrelated polemic had to step down, which was seen as too little, much too late.)
Mr Sarkozy won't go and can't be investigated, because of the same presidential immunity that so often shielded Jacques Chirac. I wouldn't put good money on Mr Woerth staying, even though the current wisdom at the Elysée is that he is necessary to the pensions law, and that if he steps down Mr Sarkozy's most emblematic reform, on which he was hoping to be reelected, is toast.
But it's increasingly obvious that we have reached a paradigm shift, where the old Chirac saw, "Never admit to anything, never answer on anything", finally no longer applies in France.
The French, from a unique, centuries-old mix of Catholic and Marxist distrust hardwired in their collective psyche, have always despised money and mistrusted the rich.
At the very time when he is asking for belt-tightening and rallying together, Mr Sarkozy, the bling-bling president of the early days, the outraged victim of the Clearstream smear campaign, appears himself finally to have stepped over the line.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:29pm On Apr 07, 2011|
Let's begin to make some comparisons now:
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 6:32pm On Apr 07, 2011|
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 9:53am On Apr 11, 2011|
Audit of Pentagon Spending Finds $70 Billion in WasteBy
Published: March 29, 2011
Despite improvements, more than half of the Pentagon’s big weapons systems still cost more than they should, with management failures adding at least $70 billion to the projected costs over the last two years, government auditors said Tuesday.
The Government Accountability Office, a Congressional watchdog, said the biggest program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, accounted for $28 billion of that increase. Other systems also had significant cost overruns, the agency said, adding that the increases could force the Pentagon to cut the number of ships and planes it buys.
The auditors said many of the problems occurred because the Pentagon began building the systems before the designs were fully tested.
The findings were significant because Congress and the Obama administration have promised to change many of the practices that have long allowed weapons costs to spiral out of control.
President Obama signed a law in 2009 to improve contracting. The accountability office said that Pentagon officials had done a better job in starting new programs. But the agency also found that most of the new programs were not “fully adhering” to the best procedures, leaving them “at a higher risk for cost growth and schedule delays.”
Pentagon officials questioned some of the calculations. But Nancy L. Spruill, a Pentagon acquisition official, added in a letter to the auditors that the military was determined to “address cost growth where it is real and unacceptable.”
The defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, has acknowledged that the Pentagon lacked discipline as its budget more than doubled after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But with military budgets tightening, Mr. Gates has canceled several expensive systems and sought simpler alternatives.
All told, the accountability office said, the projected cost of the Pentagon’s largest programs has risen by $135 billion, or 9 percent, to $1.68 trillion since 2008.
It estimated that about $65 billion of that increase resulted from decisions to buy more of some systems, like mine-resistant vehicles and Navy destroyers, than had been planned.
But it said the other $70 billion of increases appeared “to be indicative of production problems and inefficiencies or flawed initial cost estimates.”
The auditors also found that a significant part of the total cost increase for nearly 100 programs came from just a few of the largest and oldest ones.
The F-35, which is supposed to become the main fighter for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marines, had by far the worst problems. The Pentagon has revamped the program, led by Lockheed Martin, twice over the last year. It has budgeted an additional $6 billion for development, as well as the projected $28 billion increase in production costs, for a program that is expected to cost well over $300 billion.
The report indicated that the Pentagon also had to spend $9 billion more on research and development to fix problems with satellites and other systems that had already entered production.
The auditors said the biggest problems occurred when the Pentagon changed the capabilities it sought or started production before critical technologies were ready.
|Re: The Nigerian Political Class And Their Foreign Counterparts by johnie: 12:48pm On Apr 11, 2011|
UK Prime Minster in f-word outburst at journalist over British empire ‘gaffe’
UK PRIME MINISTER David Cameron is reported to have sworn at journalists when he learned of the row caused by his comment that Britain was to blame for many of the world’s problems.
The Prime Minister apparently turned on reporters on a plane journey back from Pakistan saying: “You f*****!” to one journalist when he learned of the controversy surrounding the publication of his remark, reports the Mail on Sunday.
Last week, while on an official visit to Pakistan Cameron responded to a question about how to solve the conflict in Kashmir, which is the subject of a long dispute between Pakistan and India, by saying:
I don’t want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place.
The remark drew some controversy with the letters pages of The Daily Telegraph, a paper traditionally supportive of the Conservative party of which Cameron is leader, carrying plenty of criticism of the Prime Minister, as did the Daily Mail.
Cameron only learned of the controversy surrounding his comment when he was on the plane home from Pakistan and wasn’t best pleased.
He is reported to have sought out the journalist who had written the story and told him: “You f*****!”, maintaining the comment had been blown out of proportion.
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