Category Archives: International

Cyclone Dumazile Hits Madagascar

By Chuma Kisu

Cyclone Dumazile over Madagascar

Cyclone Dumazile over Madagascar

According to international sources, massive flooding is gripping Madagascar as a tropical cyclone swirls close to the island.

The storm, named Dumazile, formed Saturday, March 3, 2018 and since then has been throwing torrential rain across Madagascar.

The cyclone is moving painfully slowly, at only 11 miles per hour, ensuring the heavy rain continues to fall for a prolonged period.

In the north of the island nation, Antsiranana has reported nearly eight inches of rain in the last 48 hours. In the east, Toamasina has been hit by 210 mm.

According to international sources, Antsiranana is likely to have seen the worst of the weather and conditions in the city should now improve, but Toamasina is likely to see more heavy rain over the next couple of days.

As the storm moves southward, its winds are strengthening. In approximately 24 hours, Dumazile is expected to reach its maximum intensity, with sustained winds of 122 miles per hour with gusts of up to 150 miles per hour.

With winds this strong, it would be classed as a powerful Category 3 hurricane on the 5-point Saffir-Simpson scale if it were situated in the waters around the Americas.

The eye of the storm, where the strongest of the winds are located, is forecast to remain over the sea. Rain is expected to be the greatest hazard for the region, with further flooding likely.

Madagascar is no stranger to tropical cyclones. In January, powerful cyclone Ava killed dozens of people when it slammed into the island. Again it was the east of the country which was worst hit, with Toamasina seeing some of the worst of the damage.

South Sudan Close to Drought

Drought in South Sudan.

Drought in South Sudan.

By Chuma Kisu

South Sudan is close to another famine, aid officials said on Monday, February 26, 2018. This is after more than four years of civil war and a number of failed ceasefires in the country.

Almost two-thirds of the population will need food aid this year to stave off starvation and malnutrition as aid groups prepare for the “toughest year on record,” members of a working group including South Sudanese and United Nations (UN) officials said.

“The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine,” Serge Tissot of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan said.

“The projections are stark,” he added.  “If we ignore them, we’ll be faced with a growing tragedy.”

A total of 5.3 million people – 48 percent of the population – are already in a “crisis” or “emergency” situation, according to a survey published by the working group.

According to reports, the oil-rich east African nation, which gained independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011, has been torn apart by war since late 2013, when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and then-Vice President Riek Machar clashed.

Since then, more than four million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Machar and Kiir signed a peace deal in August 2015 and formed a unity government that following April. It broke down three months later, and fighting has continued.

According to the UN, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and left more than half of the country’s 12 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

The UN declared a famine in two districts in February of last year, but said that crisis the had started to ease in June 2017.

Cyril Ramaphosa Elected South Africa’s New President

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

By Chuuma Kisu

According to international reports, Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as the new president of South Africa by ruling party politicians after the resignation of Jacob Zuma.

The country’s 400-member parliament, dominated by the ruling African National Congress Party (ANC), elected Ramaphosa on Thursday to finish his predecessor’s term, which ends with elections in 2019.

The ANC has finished first in every national vote since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

The Economic Freedom Fighters Party (EFF), the country’s leading opposition party, walked out of the parliament session before the vote, calling the election by the ANC “illegitimate.”

In December, 65-year-old Ramaphosa narrowly defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race to replace South African President Jacob Zuma as the head of the party.

Ramaphosa was born in 1952 in Soweto, a township southwest of the Johannesburg city center, and went on to study law at the University of the North at Turfloop. He subsequently joined student politics and served as the branch leader of the South African Students’ Association.

Ramaphosa was detained on a series of occasions due to his activism and finally finished his law degree through correspondence via the University of South Africa. In the 1980s, he became an active member of the National Union of Mineworkers, serving as its general secretary for nine years.

Ramaphosa was elected general secretary of the ANC in 1991, and in the years that followed was a key negotiator on behalf of the party during South Africa’s transition to democracy. After the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, he became a member of parliament and helped write and review the post-apartheid constitution.

According to reports, he was also considered as a potential deputy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first Black president, but lost that position to Thabo Mbeki, who became president of the country in 1999. Ramaphosa became involved with Black Economic Empowerment ventures in business, especially mining and farming, and is today one of South Africa’s wealthiest people.

However, his reputation has been dented in recent years, mainly over his connection to the Marikana massacre in 2012, when 34 striking miners were shot dead by police. At the time, Ramaphosa – who was a shareholder and director at Lonmin, the company that owned the platinum mine – had called for stronger police action against the miners.

A commission of inquiry cleared him, but the accusations continue to haunt him, with activists and the Economic Freedom Fighters opposition party routinely blaming him over Marikana.

Earlier this year, Ramaphosa apologized for his use of language at the time, but maintained he had to intervene to help reduce the loss of lives. He became South Africa’s deputy president in 2014.

UK Mining Company Taken to Court for Labor Abuse

By Chuma Kisutmp637282525353345024

According to international reports a British court heard testimony of the alleged complicity of a British mining company in police brutality including rape on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 in an unusual hearing held in Sierra Leone.

According to these reports the hearings in the civil case, brought by 142 claimants seeking damages from Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, began this week in Freetown, in what is believed to be the first time the British High Court will be heard overseas.

Judge Mark Turner said in a previous hearing in London that he wanted to meet the claimants in person.

British courts agreed to hear the lawsuit because the iron ore producer was previously a subsidiary of African Minerals Ltd (AML), which was headquartered in London before it went into administration in 2015.

The court heard testimony from a woman who said she was picked up by police and company workers at her village near the mine while selling oranges in Bumbuna, northern Sierra Leone, in 2010.

“I was molested, beaten and dragged to a waiting vehicle, they tore my clothes and raped me,” the woman told the court, adding she was two months pregnant at the time and miscarried shortly afterwards.

The claimants argue that the company effectively oversaw policing of its mine and surrounding areas where protests turned deadly in two incidents in 2010 and 2012.

Villagers allegedly set up a roadblock to stop the company from incurring on their land in 2012, only to be faced with police who opened fire.

Witness Yusif Koroma said he saw “an AML worker with the police while they were firing bullets, and chasing villagers to arrest them”.

The court is later due to hear of a fatal shooting by police of a 24-year-old female during a protest over working conditions and pay during the 2012 incident.

Astrid Perry, a lawyer in the international claims team at Leigh Day, who is representing the villagers, said Sierra Leone’s Attorney General Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara backed the hearing being held in Sierra Leone.

Legal teams from both sides will cross-examine the witnesses during two weeks of hearings.

Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, which is now a subsidiary of China-based Shandong Iron and Steel Group Co., Ltd, denies liability for the incidents.

The company claims that it has no responsibility for the actions of the police, according to Leigh Day.