EX-SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN JAIL - The Daily Guardian
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EX-SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IN JAIL

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South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The embattled leader was found guilty of contempt after he failed to appear before an inquiry probing wide-ranging allegations of corruption during his nearly nine-year tenure.

Zuma, 79, is accused of enabling the plunder of state coffers during 2009 to 2018, his stay in office.

He was not in court for the ruling and has been given five days to present himself at a police station. If he fails to do that the police minister must order his arrest, the court directed.

In a strongly worded majority judgment handed down by Justice Sisi Khampepe of the Constitutional Court, she described Zuma’s statements as “outlandish” and “intolerable”. “The Constitutional Court can do nothing but conclude that Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court,” judge Khampepe said.

Judge Khampepe said that Zuma attempted to corrode the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court by conducting a “politically motivated smear campaign” against it, the commission and the judiciary. “No person is above the law whatever his rank or condition,” she said, continuing: “An act of defiance in respect of a direct judicial order has the potential to precipitate a constitutional crisis. If with impunity litigants are allowed to decide which orders they wish to obey, and which they wish to ignore, then our Constitution is not worth the paper on which it is written.”

The court also said that the sentence could not be suspended. The Commission of Enquiry, which is investigating allegations of corruption and bribery at state and parastatal institutions, had asked that Zuma be sent to prison for two years. Zuma has repeatedly denied the allegations. Zuma has repeatedly said that he would rather go to jail than cooperate with the Commission.

“The Constitutional Court holds that it is disturbing that (Zuma), who twice swore allegiance to the Republic (of South Africa), its laws and the Constitution, has sought to ignore, undermine and in many ways destroy the rule of law altogether,” the judge said.

The Constitutional Court went to great lengths to safeguard Zuma’s rights. Consequently, there is no sound nor logical basis on which Zuma can claim to have been treated “unfairly or victimised”, the judge said.

“His attempts to evoke public sympathy through unfounded allegations fly in the face of reason and are an insult to the Constitutional dispensation for which so many women and men fought and lost their lives. The majority finds itself faced with little choice but to send a resounding message that this kind of recalcitrance and defiance is unlawful and will be punished,” Khampepe said.

The judge said it was important for the sentence to be effective to maintain the public’s confidence in the judiciary. A minority judgment by two judges on the seven-member panel agreed that Zuma was in contempt of court but said that a punitive sentence would be inappropriate, as the Commission should refer Zuma’s contempt to the Public Prosecutor’s office.

Zuma, who was ousted as President just a few months before his second term ended three years ago by his own African National Congress party, is also facing other criminal charges that have been going on for over a decade. He is required to hand himself over within five days to the police station at either his rural homestead in Nkandla or in central Johannesburg, where he also has a home.

Zuma has been named as a central figure in the allegations of corruption of over 50 billion rands involving the three Gupta brothers, allegedly because of their closeness to him.

Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta have been accused of siphoning billions of rands from the state-owned corporations through their alleged proximity to Zuma.

The Indian-origin businessmen, who arrived in South Africa from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s, also allegedly announced appointments to the Cabinet well before Zuma himself did so.

Zuma’s two children are also alleged to have benefited from the Guptas, who are in self-exile in Dubai. The South African government has initiated their extradition. In a separate legal matter, Zuma pleaded not guilty last month in his corruption trial involving a major arms deal from the 1990s.

-With agency inputs

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MACRON CALLS BENNETT ON ALLEGATIONS OF SNOOPING

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JERUSALEM: According to a media report, French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to Israeli PM Naftali Bennett regarding reports that Morocco’s security forces may have used the Pegasus spyware to snoop on his cellphones,.

A global media consortium last week reported that 50,000 cellphone numbers were being spied on using the Pegasus malware, which has been developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group. The mobile phones of French President Macron and 15 members of his government may have been among potential targets, according to a member of the media consortium.

Macron called Bennett on Thursday and asked him to ensure that “the issue was being taken seriously”, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Saturday evening. The Israeli PM said that the allegations are from a period when he had not assumed office but assured that the required conclusions on the matter will be reached upon. Macron had called an urgent national security meeting on Thursday to discuss the Pegasus spyware after reports about its misuse in France emerged.

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IN A FIRST, SAUDI WOMEN STAND GUARD IN MECCA

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MECCA: Dozens of female soldiers have become a part of the security services that monitor pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam. This is a significant stride towards women empowerment.

For the first time, Saudi female soldiers are standing guard in Mecca as thousands of Muslim pilgrims take part in this year’s Hajj, as per Deutsche Welle report.

Women dressed in military khaki uniforms were seen monitoring the security situation in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Along with khaki, they were sporting a hip-length jacket, loose trousers, and a black beret over a veil covering their hair. While adhering to Covid-19 protocols, thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims gathered at Mecca to perform Hajj.

According to Al Jazeera, 10,000 vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca last Sunday, but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the Coronavirus takes its toll on the Hajj for a second year running.

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63 dead, 5 missing in China’s flood-hit Henan

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HENAN: The death toll from the heavy rains and floods that hit China’s central province of Henan has risen to 63, while five people remain missing as of Sunday.

More than 852,000 people were relocated. Some 876.6 thousand hectares of crops were affected and 24,474 houses collapsed, reported Global Times. Torrential rains have battered Henan province since last weekend. Several videos surfaced on social media showing the severity of the flooding.

Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of 12 million people, is one of the worst-hit areas.

Zhengzhou’s meteorological station has described the level of rainfall as “once in a thousand years.”

Henan’s water resources department, meanwhile, has called rain levels in parts of the province “once in 5,000 years.”

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XI JINPING MEETS TOP MILITARY OFFICIALS IN LHASA

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, 68, made his first official visit to Tibet from Wednesday to Friday. But his important visit was kept under wraps by China’s official media till the end of the tour on Friday due to the sensitivities of the trip.

Xi underlined the importance of long-term stability and prosperity in Tibet during a meeting with top military officials in Lhasa, the state media reported on Saturday, a day after he made aunannounced visit to the strategically important region, including to Nyingchi, a town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.

Xi, who is also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met top officials of the Tibet Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army, guarding China’s border with India in Arunachal Pradesh, and also called for “fully strengthening the work of training soldiers and war preparation,” as per the CPC-run tabloid Global Times report.

As part of his trip, he first went to Nyingchi, a strategically located town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh. On Thursday, Xi went to Nyingchi Railway Station. It was the first time in recent years, a top Chinese leader visited the Tibetan border town. From there he went to the provincial capital Lhasa by the recently launched high-speed train.

He wound up his visit to the politically sensitive Himalayan region on Friday by meeting “representatives of troops stationed in Tibet”.

“Xi met with representatives of troops stationed in Tibet, calling for efforts to strengthen military training and preparedness in all aspects and make contributions to the lasting stability, prosperity and development of Tibet,” as per the state-run Xinhua news agency report.

However, the Global Times said that Xi, in his meeting with the PLA representatives, stressed “the local troops should fully strengthen the work of training soldiers and war preparation and contribute positive strength to promote the long-term stability and prosperity of Tibet”.

Xi’s first visit to Tibet took place amidst the current India-China military tensions in eastern Ladakh.

According to Xinhua, Xi visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in connection with the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation the first time in the history of the Party and the country.”

He extended congratulations to the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, visited officials and ordinary people of various ethnic groups and conveyed the CPC Central Committee’s care to them, the report said.

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CHINA DISMANTLING PEACE IN AFGHAN BY COLLUDING WITH PAK, TALIBAN: COLUMNIST

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New Delhi: A columnist from Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Ganderbali, on Sunday, blamed China for dismantling peace in Afghanistan by collaborating with Pakistan and supporting the Taliban. Ganderbali tweeted,“China is trying to dismantle peace in the region by collaborating With Pakistan and supporting Taliban, all this at a time when peace and civilian rule of democracy was getting restored in the great nation of Afghanistan. The adventures of Pak-China will kill stability for Afghan.” He often writes in a Pakistani Newspaper Pakistan Christian Post highlighting the plights of the Christian minority in the country. Ganderbali is also the founder of Peace and Justice Forum.

With the US troops’ drawdown from Afghanistan on the verge of completion, a new terror axis is emerging in the Afghan-Pak geopolitical theatre with the convergence of interests between Pakistan and China. Amid the Taliban’s increasing grip over Afghanistan, Pakistan has dropped all pretensions of being an ally of the US led-western countries despite the much-needed American safety net on key issues that have a direct impact on its economy, wrote Fabien Baussart in The Times of Israel.

“We will no longer allow China’s Uyghur separatist fighters (from Xinjiang),” Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a widely circulated interview. Taliban spokesperson admitted that some Uyghur had previously sought refuge in Afghanistan. He, however, promised not to host them.

According to Baussart, the Taliban can be as duplicitous as their patrons. “Well, China may hope to leverage its money power against any likelihood of a breach in the promise by the Taliban; such a hope, even after its Pakistan experience, exposes its inability not to look beyond the nose.” From all accounts, he stated that China seeks to fill the unfolding void in Afghanistan. “It is ready with cash and weapons that the Taliban may need in case the nationalist forces try to checkmate its expansion within the country.”

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INDIA AND PAKISTAN NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE BILATERAL ISSUES: US

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WASHINGTON: The United States has said that India and Pakistan need to work with each other to resolve their bilateral issues, observing that it had always encouraged the two neighbours to build a more stable relationship going forward. “With regard to India-Pakistan, I would just note that we strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves,” .

During a conference call on Friday, Dean Thompson, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs told reporters, “We are pleased to see that the ceasefire that went into place earlier this year is — has remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward.” Thompson said this in response to a question. —Correspondent

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