Monday, April 22, 2019

Attack on Mali Army Base Kills 11 Soldiers
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a Malian army base in a dawn raid on Sunday, killing 11 soldiers and burning the camp in west-central Mali, the army and a local lawmaker said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Central Mali has in the past few years been overrun by jihadists with links to al Qaeda.

The unidentified armed assailants attacked the base in Guire district at 0500 local time (0500 GMT) after approaching in a convoy of 11 vehicles, local lawmaker Niame Keita said.

“They burnt the camp and took equipment,” he said.

In a statement, the defence ministry confirmed the attack and said 11 soldiers were killed and more were wounded. Keita had earlier said 12 were reported killed.

In March, an al Qaeda affiliate said it was behind a similar overnight attack on an army base in the central region of Mopti in which 16 soldiers were killed.

Escalating violence led to the resignation last week of the entire Malian government. The authorities have come under fire for failing to beat back militants and disarm militias, after a massacre of 157 villagers by an ethnic vigilante group shocked the nation in March.

Both Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso have been hit by the spike in hostilities fuelled by Islamist militants seeking to extend their influence over the Sahel, an arid region between Africa’s northern Sahara desert and its southern savannas.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Souleymane Ag AnaraWriting by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Louise Heavens, William Maclean

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Unite, Diplomats Urge Nation. . . as Zimbabwe Marks 39th Uhuru Anniversary
22 APR, 2019 - 00:04
Innocent Ruwende
Senior Reporter
The Herald

Diplomats accredited to the country have urged Zimbabweans to unite and work together to realise President Mnangagwa’s vision of making Zimbabwe an upper middle-income economy by 2030. The diplomats, who thronged the National Sports Stadium for the country’s 39th Independence celebrations on Thursday, reiterated their respective countries’ commitment to supporting Zimbabwe in its rebuilding efforts.

Botswana Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lt-Gen (Rtd) Louis Matshwenyego Fisher said the rains, which fell throughout the proceedings were a good omen.

“We wish Zimbabwe a bright future. We want it to develop. All people must come together and push forward the goal of development. What we need in this world is development for the people. The Maslow hierarchy of needs talks about basic needs — shelter food and others,” he said.

“We wish Zimbabwe well as you see these rains signify greater things to come.”

The Dean of African Diplomats in Harare and Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mwawapanga Mwanananga said the rains which pounded the National Sports Stadium were blessings from God.

“People stayed here despite the rains.They should do the same and remain united as one people to build it into a jewel that it is. My message to the opposition parties of this country is they should have people at heart. In the US democrats control California but after elections they go and run New York, Los Angeles, they go and deliver service to the people,” he said.

“The opposition should start doing the same and wait until the next elections. They should deliver services to the people of Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls the service that they deserve. They have to stop this nonsense of quarrelling all the time and pointing fingers.

“To build a country you need everybody, whether you are in the opposition or not. Build Zimbabwe for the people of Zimbabwe.”

UN Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bishow Parajuli said the UN was committed to assisting Zimbabwe in various areas.

“Congratulations to Zimbabwe for celebrating 39 years of independence. We wish prosperity to all Zimbabweans,” he said.

“We realise the efforts being taken by Government in terms of engagement, job creation and also inviting investors to the country embracing all the aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals. Going forward, the UN system is committed to assisting Zimbabwe in various areas of cooperation where we are heavily engaged.”

On Cyclone Idai, he said the UN was working with the international community in supporting the rebuilding, recovery and rescue efforts.

He said Zimbabwe was also facing an imminent drought and over five million people were likely to be affected.

“We need friends of Zimbabwe to join in and help Zimbabwe. We wish prosperity and success for Zimbabwe going forward and its aspiration to become a middle class economy by 2030.”

Namibian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Balbina Daes Piennar said the future of Zimbabwe was bright if there was unity.

“Happy 39th independence Zimbabwe. This is truly a very progressive and resilient nation. The future can only be brighter especially under the leadership of a very progressive President and his entire administration,” she said.

“Zimbabwe is a blessed nation. You have all the resources and human capital. What we have experienced recently is that even the Cyclone Idai cannot hold back the nation. All that is required is for the nation to continue standing together and rendering support to the First Family and leadership.”

Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Taghrid Senouar said: “We wish Zimbabwe progress as it turns 39. The country has great potential. All that is needed is unity of purpose for it to prosper again.”

Indonesian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Juniarta Sastrawan said they were keen to bolster bilateral relations with Zimbabwe.

“I wish to congratulate Zimbabwe on its Independence Day. We would like to cooperate with Zimbabwe in its endeavour to achieve a middle class economy by 2030.”

Mozambique Ambassador to Zimbabwe Cde Francisco Cigarro said:

“We wish Zimbabwe well and ensuring that it realises its vision to achieve a middle class economy status by 2030. We want to reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe especially on Cyclone Idai which affected us all. You have heard President Mnangagwa saying some of the Zimbabwean victims were found and buried in Mozambique.”
Editorial Comment: President Needs Our Support in War on Graft
22 APR, 2019 - 00:04
The Herald

Corruption in its widest sense is a cancer eating into Zimbabwe and President Mnangagwa’s frustration over the difficulty of cutting it away from the public and private sectors and then keeping it away was evident last week.

We have resources: the police have a duty to investigate crime and gather evidence; the National Prosecuting Authority has a duty to bring to court those under suspicion once enough evidence is gathered; the Judiciary has the duty to rule whether a law has in fact been broken and if so whether there is adequate evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the suspect is guilty.

Backing up the law enforcement there is the Anti-Corruption Commission, now in the process of being reformed. Following the inauguration of President Mnangagwa the battle against corruption was upgraded from something that people talked about to something that there were supposed to take action to eliminate.

There were prominent arrests, bail was granted but then nothing more than regular further remands and a couple of successful defence applications to have charges withdrawn.

The President has pushed hard. Unlike past practice he has not been prepared to have those under investigation or suspicion sitting in the same Cabinet room as himself and has taken action to reform processes and procedures, but as he notes there is a lot more to do and the whole process is going far more slowly than it should.

Corruption is not just payment of bribes. In fact most of the cases that have come before the courts do not involve that particular criminal behaviour, which is incredibly difficult to prove because people do not hand over bundles of cash in front of witnesses and in broad daylight.

Rather we see those with the power to make decisions, or can influence others to make decisions, use that power to bend or break rules and award contracts and the like to either themselves, through their indirect ownership of some company, or to their friends and relations.

Then there is the crony capitalism problem, identified as a serious problem in India and one reason why India’s economic growth is slower than China’s, despite more apparent advantages. This is where people convert friendship into wealth, doing little favours for each other, favours that might just be passing on information.

It is not just in the public sector that this happens. The private sector has its fair share of corruption elements, but the private sector has also developed a number of defences. Small companies are often family affairs because people feel they can trust their own kin. Large companies put in a plethora of systems.

There are strong rules, with some decisions requiring committee decisions so minimising the power of a single person to award a contract. There are two sets of auditors, the internal auditors on the payroll and the external auditors. Boards of directors usually have both insiders, the executive directors and sometimes major shareholders who are not in executive positions, and independent non-executive directors with one of these normally chairing an audit committee, looking at reports from both sets of auditors.

And things come to light. As the President has found it is often difficult to prove anything, but at least action can be taken. Everyone has noted sudden resignations, sudden early retirements. Sometimes there is even a civil suit, but not as often as there should be, but at least the problem person is sent away. But it does not always work. Sometimes the corrupt activity encompasses so many that no one squeals and everyone covers up.

The public sector has basically the same checks. The Auditor-General has extensive legal powers. Instead of an audit committee of the board of directors there is the powerful Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, always chaired by a backbencher not in Government and sometimes, as at present, by an opposition MP.

Procurement, one of the trickier areas to police, is done by strict rules operated by a committee, preferably of people of different backgrounds to make it harder to get trust for illegalities. But party politics sometimes intrude, with people wanting to score points rather than hunt down the guilty or even cover up for their friends, who might be on the other side of the Parliamentary aisle.

We need to remember that people do not deal with others in just a working, official or business environment. They meet at church, play golf together, they sit next to each other at school sports days, they meet at parties and socials. This can make the world go around, oiling the works for good, and for evil. We cannot stop socialising, but we can ensure that we have enforced rules that make converting that friendship into immoral wealth is prevented.

We need a major change in attitude. Too often people say to themselves that “everyone is doing it”, so they wonder why they should not. The answer, as always, is because we are all responsible for our actions and we should have enough self-worth and self-respect not to break laws. In the end such people are admired.

And somehow such people need to be brought into the battle against those who are lesser, if richer, humans. Countries that have won major battles against corruption have found men and women ready to take on the corrupt. Sometimes they are called fanatics; sometimes, as happened in Italy when major inroads were made against Mafia-corruption, they are murdered. But without teams of competent investigators led by people with very clean hands prepared to excuse nothing, we cannot win.

The President cannot fight corruption alone. He needs the support of all decent people who want it to end, regardless of who is involved and what friendships might end as a result. More and more people need to want to live a clean life themselves, and more and more need to be ready to speak out when they see wrong.

This sort of thing should be outside the political arena; it is simply setting the basic conditions for a successful Zimbabwe. The politicians can then argue on how to move forward on other policies. But surely committing and hiding crime is not on anyone’s agenda.
Matabeleland Project Back
22 APR, 2019 - 00:04 
Herald Reporters

Government has handed back ownership of the Zambezi Water Project to the Matabeleland Collective and its technical partner Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT).

The implementation of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, which has been hampered by various challenges, seeks to end perennial water shortages in Bulawayo by drawing water from Zambezi River to the city.

Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza confirmed the development yesterday, saying she read out the implementation matrix to the Trust. She was representing the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“Yes, I can confirm the development but my task was simply to read out the implementation matrix of the project.”

In a statement, Matabeleland Collective said Eng Chitsiko handed the project back last Wednesday.

“The permanent secretary met with the Matabeleland Collective leadership on Wednesday as a follow up to President Mnangagwa’s instruction to Cabinet for implementation on the promises made to members after the March 21, engagement at State House in Bulawayo.

“Matabeleland Collective requested the return of the project as part of its Compensatory Development Devolution (CDD) Model, which is a unique and new approach that will be an important vehicle to bring the project alive in all its phases.”

Matabeleland Collective said phase one of the project, the building of the Gwayi- Shangani Dam, had slowed down and the completion date of December 2019 seemed unreachable due to lack of direct interest, local ownership and passion for the development.

“In returning ownership of the project, Matabeleland Collective expects increased zeal and energy on the development in the region as power over this project has now devolved.

“Mr Chitsiko pledged that Government will continue to support all the efforts of Matabeleland Collective and its technical partners including continuing to source funding partners but that true ownership of the project is the communities resident in Matabeleland as was originally conceptualised by MZWT and residents of the provinces,” read the statement.

Matabeleland Collective also called for support for the project, saying it would now formalise the implementation in consultation with Zinwa and a also find funders.

“Matabeleland Collective is calling for the people of Matabeleland to participate in the envisioning process once again and call on interested stakeholders for support be it technically or with goods to speed up the project implementation towards the full realisation of the dream of a green Matabeleland.”
War Vets Slam Bread Price Hike
22 APR, 2019 - 00:04
Victor Maphosa
Herald Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has condemned the unjustified increase in the prices of basic commodities and called on responsible authorities to take urgent measures to protect citizens.

In a statement, ZNLWVA national spokesperson Cde Douglas Mahiya said the increase in bread price was a calculated move meant to dampen the independence celebrations and incite the public to revolt against the Government.

“The ZNLWVA notes with utter disgust the malevolent bread price increase by bakeries,” he said. “This cruel assault on the welfare of the poor and less privileged is an attempt to copy-cat the template of national disturbances that were witnessed in the Arab world.

“The unjustified bread price increase is clearly a political weapon by the baking cartel. This is clearly a calculated move meant to anger the public and make them revolt against the constitutionally elected Government.

“The move is also meant to sabotage President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 and as war veterans we will stand to defend the economic programmes by our President.

“We strongly condemn this profiteering habit by bakers and we urge them to desist from the habit of making unjustified profits at the expense of the poor.”

Cde Mahiya said ZNLWVA will stand with the people and make sure the unjustified profiteering will not succeed.

“We will make sure this cartel bites the dust,” he said. “This is to ensure that the Zimbabwe revolution we fought heroically as young people thrives and succeeds. The Vision 2030 and goal of a middle income economy will be pursued with unremitting vigour.”

Cde Mahiya called on Government to take measures which ensured that citizens were protected.

“We call upon the Ministers of Industry, Finance and Justice to take drastic and decisive measures to deal with these cartels. All initiatives must be put in place to ensure that all basics are affordable to everyone,” he said.

Cde Mahiya said the spirit of independence celebrations should not be dampened by bad apples in the economic body system.

Begining last week, a loaf of bread is being sold for $3,50. up from $2.
NEHAWU Statement of the 4th Plenary Session of its 11th National Executive Committee
11 April 2019

The NEC meeting began by pledging solidarity with the families and people of Malawi, Zimbabwe and especially Mozambique who have lost loved ones in the wake of cyclone Idai which has claimed more than 847 lives with the number set to rise as cases of cholera are on an upsurge. The national union holds a strong view that capitalism should be blamed for the catastrophe because it perpetually destroys the environment by destabilising the planetary ecological system which ultimately leads to unpredictable weather patterns.

The meeting took place during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani. At the time of his assassination Cde Hani was the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party [SACP] and a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress [ANC]. He was a true embodiment of the alliance and a gallant fighter for the freedom we enjoy today.

Lastly, the meeting took place as we are approaching the 6th National General Elections set to take place on the 8th May 2019. The national union has been hard at work in implementing the resolution of its 11th National Congress and COSATU 13th National Congress to support the ANC in the upcoming elections. All levels of the union from national, all nine provinces, 43 regions and branches have been on the ground campaigning for an overwhelming victory of the ANC. As NEHAWU, we are aware of the dwindling electoral support as demonstrated by both the 2014 national general elections and the 2016 local government elections. In this regard, we will redouble our efforts in convincing workers on why they should vote for the ANC.

On the international front

The NEC took place just as we successfully concluded the 15th edition of the Israeli Apartheid Week [IAW] which took place across the globe from the 1st April 2019 to the 7th April 2019. NEHAWU joins millions of South Africans in welcoming the announcement by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that our Embassy in Tel Aviv has been downgraded to a liaison office. For the past year the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, SA Zionist Federation and the Israeli Embassy have been blackmailing South Africa not to implement the resolution of the 54th ANC Conference to downgrade relations with Israel.

The threats and attacks by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and Israeli embassy are despicable to say the least. We call on government to continue implementing its resolutions in furthering our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to end the Israeli occupation and towards the goal of an independent sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

NEHAWU joins the public condemnation of xenophobic attacks in Durban earlier this month. The national union is perturbed by the criminal element accompanying these attacks. In this regard, we will join our federation, COSATU, in driving a campaign to educate and build consciousness in our communities in an effort to eradicate all forms of violence directed at foreign nationals in our country. Our freedom as South Africa was in many respects made possible with the international support of progressive people in all African countries and throughout the world. We therefore urge unity and tolerance towards foreign nationals by South Africans.

NEHAWU reaffirms its international solidarity with the people of Venezuela in defence of the Bolivarian revolution, against US aggression and imperialism. The national union calls on the intensification of international support from workers to stop the American belligerence against the people of Venezuela.

NEHAWU commends the South African Development Committee [SADC] for hosting the first SADC solidarity conference with Western Sahara which took place last month in Tshwane. The aim of the conference was to reaffirm the right of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to self-determination. We reiterate our support with the Saharawi people and condemn Morocco for maintaining a colonial policy over Western Sahara and the occupied territories and call for the implementation of the decision on the referendum for self-determination. We also call for the protection of Saharawi human rights in the occupied territories and upon the African Union [AU] not to allow the matter of independence of Western Sahara to be swept under the carpet and to place it on top of the agenda of the AU.

National political situation and socioeconomic situation

The NEC of NEHAWU maintains that the political and socioeconomic resolutions of the 54th National Congress of the ANC serve as the main framework and theme for our midterm political programme and posture. The NEC reaffirms the ANC as the leader of our revolution around which the progressive forces of our country should coalesce in order to deepen the on-going struggle for total liberation of the oppressed. To this end, the NEC proclaims our collective optimistic assessment of the current trajectory of the transformation programme, with specific reference to the anticorruption programme aimed at defending the integrity of the state as an instrument for transformation.

As NEHAWU, we believe that an overwhelming victory of the ANC in the upcoming national general elections is necessary to continue with the national transformation project whose successful execution guarantees the welfare of the working class and national development. The NEC reaffirms the NASREC resolutions on the full implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI], land redistribution programme, building of a developmental state and nationalisation of the reserve bank; these are critical to making progress on the radical change we seek. To this end, the union will exercise maximum effort to ensure an overwhelming victory of the ANC, this include all resources that are necessary to secure the workers vote and achieve the electoral victory of the ANC.

In order to bring back confidence to our people, the government must be engaged on a ceaseless and systematic effort to root out corrupt practices in its ranks and be seen to be acting against those that are from within government ranks who are associated with corruption.

NEHAWU is more than determined to wage a relentless war against anyone who blocks the full implementation of the NHI including those who peddle lies that the NHI will lead to job losses. In this regard, we call on all South Africans to join hands in defending the NHI and safeguard it against dark forces.

The NEC meeting welcomed the decision by the Minister of Higher Education and Training to allocate R967 million to settle the historic debt owned by students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS]. However, we continue to hold a strong view that we need a comprehensive dialogue on the NSFAS model and its role in rolling out free education. As NEHAWU, we will intensify our call for the ANC to implement its resolutions on higher education as a matter of urgency.

The issue of understaffing in the public service remains a huge problem for the national union and the country at large. As NEHAWU, we have consistently highlighted the fact that most of the problems that engulf the public service especially in health and education are as a result of staff shortages. We remain vehemently opposed to the misguided trite by the Minister of Finance that the public service is bloated. Our members are at the coalface of service delivery and on a daily basis they have stories to tell on how they are overstretched to perform tasks that are not part of their job description without being remunerated for it.

NEHAWU rejects the proposed restructuring of ESKOM into three sub-entities, which given the present crisis of sustainability facing ESKOM and the talk of privatisation, its generation entity would not be able to compete with the IPPs and some of the power stations that are still new such as Medupi and Kusile are eventually likely to be put on a fire-sale privatisation. The national union will proactively mobilise to oppose this restructuring which is nothing but an asset-striping exercise.

The national union has been following the commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety with hawk eyes and will await the outcomes when it concludes its work. NEHAWU will play a proactive role in ensuring that the PIC ceases bad investment decisions and averts corruption. We condemn the attempt to temper with the ongoing commission including intimidation of witnesses. We also call on law enforcement agencies to protect those whose lives are threatened for testifying at the commission.

NEHAWU applauds the National Council of Provinces for passing the PIC Amendment Bill and we call on the President to expedite the process of signing it. As NEHAWU, we believe that the bill will play an imperative role in ensuring that there is less acts of impropriety at the PIC. The bill will be instrumental in promoting transparency and provision for labour unions to have a say in the investment of workers' money through representatives at minimum of three in the board of the PIC.

We welcome the decision by SANRAL not to pursue legal action against e-toll defaulters. While we welcome this progressive decision, our view is that the public should not be made to pay for using public roads. NEHAWU condemns the undermining of the decision by SANRAL by the Minister of Finance. In this regard, we call on the ANC to reign in the Minister who acts like he is a super Minister who can do as he pleases without repercussions.

The national union is alarmed by the announcement of the outsourcing of the construction of dams by the Minister of Water and Sanitation. We have been at the forefront of fighting the scourge of outsourcing and agentisation of the state. We have also made the department aware of the pitfalls of outsourcing and the financial implications attached to that. In this regard, NEHAWU is more than determined and ready to mobilise its members to fight any forms of outsourcing of the key functions of the department.

Lastly, as NEHAWU we are extremely worried by the growing levels of violence in our public schools. Recently we have seen an upsurge in the violence directed to both teachers and pupils with a few teachers losing their lives in the North West and Limpopo province. We call on the law enforcement agencies to look into this issue as a matter of urgency. We will support our sister union SADTU to ensure that they work in safe environment while our children are also protected in the school premises.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya@nehawu.org.za Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za
Remembering Cde Chris Hani 26 Years After His Assassination
9 April 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is joining the millions of South Africans to remember who was mowed down by an assassin's gun 26 years ago. Tomorrow, it will be 26 years since this country was robbed of one of its beloved sons by the gutless apartheid assassins. We take our hats off in remembrance of this revolutionary hero, who never wavered in the face of evil and who paid the ultimate price fighting for the emancipation of the oppressed majority.

As workers, we will use this moment and occasion to reflect on the legacy that Cde Chris Hani left behind. He was a working-class hero who earned his grass root popularity through his principled leadership. We remember and honour a passionate defender of the working class.

Cde Hani was unrelenting in his rejection of corruption, elitism, factionalism and discrimination. He never used his power and positions to advance his own personal or factional interests and was always disciplined enough to subject himself to organisational discipline.

Despite his enormous popularity, Cde Chris Hani was never a populist and knew that the revolution was bigger than himself. He was never power hungry and was prepared to be led and allow the organisation to have the final say on issues.

COSATU is challenging all those who are entrusted with leadership positions to not only quote Cde Chris Hani but to emulate him by subjecting themselves to organisational discipline and putting the people first.

In honour of Cde Chris Hani, COSATU calls on all workers to mobilise, campaign and vote for the ANC in the upcoming National General Elections on the 08th of May 2019.

Workers need to reject red meat populism of pseudo-leftist political parties and the rightwing agenda of the parties like the DA. Without fear of contradiction, we can safely say that Cde Chris Hani would never have voted for the DA. The DA remains the party of hard-line white supremacists, who are about defending the ill-gotten privileges of the white minority. The DA is hell-bent on reversing qualitative democratic advances made by the ANC government.

To honour Cde Chris Hani, we need to refuse to be puppets and useful idiots of big business and imperialists. We cannot afford to walk in fear of one another and tear ourselves apart to satisfy people, who do not care about us. Let us find solutions to our problems without allowing the enemy to weaken and ultimately bury the African National Congress.

Comrade Chris Hani laid down his life for this country and let us, therefore, vote for his beloved ANC and also continue with the project of cleansing it of opportunists, criminals and charlatans.

Let us vote for the ANC in defence of our revolutionary gains!

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street
Braamfontein
2017

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794
RAMAPHOSA GETS A ROYAL ENDORSEMENT IN MALEMA'S BACKYARD
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is has come out strong in EFF leader Julius Malema’s hometown of Seshego, and even received a royal thumbs-up from the Moletjie Traditional Council.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa pictured during a door-to-door campaign for the ruling party, the ANC, in Polokwane, Limpopo, on 16 April 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.
Carien du Plessis |

POLOKWANE – ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is on a charm offensive in rural Limpopo, earning him an endorsement from the Moletjie Traditional Council.

Ramaphosa on Tuesday promised to review the status of the local chief Kgabo Moloto III, who is viewed by his subjects as a king.

He addressed an unscheduled meeting at his first stop on the campaign trail in Limpopo, at the Moletjie traditional authority.

The Moletjie Traditional Council is 25km outside Polokwane, where Chief Kgabo Moloto III endorsed Ramaphosa on Tuesday morning, setting the tone for how subjects might vote come the 8 May national election.

Ramaphosa spent Tuesday morning in a meeting with the traditional leaders. He later addressed the meeting and received a warm welcome from the locals, and promised the official status of Chief Moloto III would be reviewed. His comments come after an April Supreme Court of Appeal ruling against former president Jacob Zuma's installation of VBS-linked Vhavenda leader Toni Ramabulana as a king.

Ramaphosa also campaigned in EFF leader Julius Malema’s stronghold of Seshego, outside Polokwane. He was accompanied by Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha, former provincial roads MEC Pinky Kekana and ANC national executive committee member Thoko Didiza.

The ANC president told residents that talks around constructing an oil refinery with the Chinese outside Polokwane have started. In May, The Limpopo Economic Development Agency signed memorandums of understanding and agreement with nine Chinese companies, who will invest more than $10 billion in the Musina-Makhado special economic zone.

Ramaphosa addressed concerns by Seshego residents and said he was aware they had problems with access to water and electricity, and promised the local council would look into their issues. On 2 April this year, Malema tweeted about electricity and water issues in Seshego.
RAMAPHOSA VISITS EFF'S SESHEGO STRONGHOLD, SAYS CORRUPT PEOPLE WILL BE JAILED
President Cyril Ramaphosa was on a one-day campaign stopover in Limpopo on Tuesday, where he tried to win votes for the African National Congress (ANC) in Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's stronghold.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking to the community of Seshego in Polokwane, Limpopo. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

Carien du Plessis
EWN

SESHEGO - President Cyril Ramaphosa has told the residents of Seshego in Polokwane that he is on the case of corrupt people who are stealing money.

Ramaphosa was on a one-day campaign stopover in Limpopo on Tuesday, where he tried to win votes for the African National Congress (ANC) in Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's stronghold.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised hundreds of people wearing ANC T-shirts at a rally here that the ANC will "fix" the country at national, provincial and local level and that people have renewed hope.

"Our people are very hopeful, they are looking forward to a brighter people, and that brighter future is a future where we are going to create more jobs, it's a brighter future where we are going to ensure that our children are well-educated. We are going to improve the education of our children, we are going to improve the economy."

There was loud applause when Ramaphosa said those who are corrupt will soon be wearing orange overalls in jail.

Ramaphosa appeared buoyed after an exceptionally warm endorsement from the traditional leaders in the area earlier.
Voters Offered Rides, Food in Egypt Referendum on el-Sissi
By SAMY MAGDY

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian pro-government media, business people and activists urged a “yes” vote Sunday on constitutional changes that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030. Some voters were offered free rides or food parcels to increase turnout in the national referendum.

Critics have blasted the constitutional changes as a major step in the return to authoritarian rule, eight years after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising.

El-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013 and has since presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. Authorities have arrested thousands of people, including many prominent pro-democracy activists, and rolled back freedoms won in 2011.

Sunday marked the second of three days of voting. The referendum is virtually certain to result in a “yes” vote, but the government hopes for strong turnout to lend it legitimacy. Election officials have said results are expected within a week.

Yasser Rizq, chairman of the state-owned al-Akhbar daily and an el-Sissi confidant, portrayed the referendum as a show of support for the general-turned-president.

“People are taking part to say ‘Yes’ for el-Sissi to extend his current term until 2024 and allow him to run for another six-year term,” Rizq wrote in his Sunday column.

Abdel Mohsen Salama, the chairman of the state-owned al-Ahram media organization, urged people to vote as an “urgent necessity.”

Pro-government business people and lawmakers meanwhile offered incentives to voters.

In Cairo’s neighborhood of Kit Kat, buses hired by lawmakers transported people free of charge to a polling center.

In two polling centers in Cairo, some voters were being handed bags of food staples — like oil, rice and sugar — after they cast their ballots. The practice is common in Egypt’s elections and referendums, both before and since 2011.

The National Council for Human Rights, a state-appointed body, also reported people giving food to voters, and said cars with signs advertising political parties could be seen transporting people to voting centers. Trucks with loudspeakers drove around central Cairo Sunday morning, playing patriotic songs and urging people to vote.

Opposition voices have largely been shut out amid the rush to hold the referendum. Parliament, packed with el-Sissi supporters, overwhelmingly approved the amendments on Tuesday. The local media is dominated by government supporters.

El-Sissi was elected president in 2014 and re-elected last year after all potentially serious challengers were either jailed or pressured to exit the race.

“The situation is backsliding,” said Ahmed Abd Rabou, a visiting assistant professor at the University of Denver. He said Egypt is replicating a “totalitarian” system “where the president can run forever and can stay in power forever.”
Armed Europeans Try to Cross from Libya to Tunisia
Tunisia's defence minister says two separate incidents involved armed Europeans travelling from neighbouring Libya.

17 Apr 2019

A group of French nationals 'under diplomatic cover' was stopped at the Libya-Tunisia border 'with arms and ammunition'  [File: STR/EPA]

Tunisian authorities have stopped more than 20 armed Europeans attempting to cross into the country from neighbouring Libya, officials said on Tuesday.

"An armed group consisting of 13 French nationals attempted to cross the border in 4x4 vehicles with diplomatic license plates at the Ras Jedir crossing on Sunday," said Defence Minister Abdelkareem Zubaidi.

The group tried to enter Tunisia on Sunday "under diplomatic cover, with arms and ammunition" he said.

According to the local Mosaique FM radio station, the group was denied entry into Tunisia after failing to disclose the entirety of its arms inventory.

The French embassy in Tunis said the individuals were members of a security detail attached to the French diplomatic mission in Libya.

"[They were] members of the French protection team that provides security protection to the French ambassador for Libya."

"Given the current situation in Libya, one of the trips which the French embassy undertakes regularly between Tunis and Tripoli, was made by road," the embassy said, without mentioning any arms seized.

It said the stop at the border was routine, and after an inventory of equipment, the detachment continued on its route.

In a separate incident, Zubaidi said 11 people of different European nationalities had recently tried to enter Tunisian waters from Libya in two rubber life boats.

"The Tunisian navy confiscated their weapons and handed them over to the National Guard," Zubaidi said, without saying when exactly the incident had occurred.

Foreign meddling

Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of Gaddafi in 2011, has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.

The renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces loyal to Libya's eastern-based government, launched an ambitious campaign in early April to capture Tripoli, where Libya's UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is based.

Analysts say Haftar's push on the capital threatens to further destabilise the oil-rich country and reignite a full-blown civil war.

While France officially supports the Tripoli-based government, it has also provided Haftar with financial, military and intelligence support in recent years.

Mustafa Fetouri, an independent Libyan academic based in Paris, cast doubt on the official French explanation for the border incident.

"This particular incident is very unclear. The French claim that it is the guard of the embassy in Tripoli, but the building itself is closed, there are no operations there. The French government only recently allowed its employees, including the aid services, to go back to Libya," he told Al Jazeera.

"It doesn't make sense to say they are the guards of the embassy. It also doesn't make sense to say they are actively involved with these operations helping Mr Haftar on the other side, because it would have been much safer for him just to take them to eastern Libya and they could fly out of the country from there."

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Algeria Protests Continue Into Their Ninth Week
Mustapha Bouchachi, a human rights activist, said: "The movement should remain united to achieve the dream of a democratic Algeria with equal rights for all."

20/04/2019
News24

Demonstrators hold flags and banners as they return to the streets in Algiers Demonstrators hold flags and banners as they return to the streets in Algiers

TUNIS - Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched April 19 in cities across Algeria for a ninth consecutive Friday, protesting the country’s ruling elites two weeks after Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted from power.

Crowds rallied in some 150 towns throughout Africa’s largest country, testing army Chief-of-Staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah’s pledge to protect demonstrators from police violence.

“Samidoun, samidoun, linnidaam rafidoun” (“Steadfast, steadfast, we reject the regime.”), chanted protesters.

“Arhalou, arhalou, ma b'ghinaa minkoum waalou” (“Go away, go away. We want nothing from you.”), they repeated, urging remaining figures of the political establishment to step down.

“Silmiya, Silmiya, dawlaa madania, machi askaria” (“Peaceful, peaceful civilian state, not military rule.”) they shouted, rejecting prospects of an army takeover if the political climate worsens

“Laa Bedoui, laa Binsalah, lawahad fihom salah” (“No to Bedoui. No to Bensalah. None of them are valid.”), the protesters said, pushing for the ouster of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who is tasked with organising presidential elections by early July.

Police were deployed but did not employ violent methods, such as tear gas, like they did April 12, giving Gaid Salah more credibility with protesters.

Protesters gathered at Algiers’ main post office, which has become a central point of protests. By the end of the day, the boulevard connecting the post office to Audin square and adjacent streets were crowded with protesters draped in Algerian flags.

Protesters centred their demands on the departure of the “Three Bs” -- Bensalah, Bedoui and Tayeb Belaiz, the head of the Constitutional Council who must validate election results. Belaiz resigned April 16.

Gaid Salah seemed open to new concessions to satisfy protesters’ demands, saying: "All options are open in the pursuit of overcoming the different difficulties and finding a solution to the crisis as soon as possible."

That led to speculation that other top officials are on their way out.

Belaiz was replaced by Kamel Feniche, a Bouteflika loyalist who is widely unpopular with leading protest figures. Bensalah and Bedoui continued developing a transition plan, including preparing for elections scheduled for July 4.

Gaid Salah has sought to carefully address protesters’ grievances, addressing the nation publicly each Tuesday in response to Friday protests but protesters say they will not let down until there is a complete political overhaul.

Mustapha Bouchachi, a human rights activist who carries significant influence in the protest movement, said that "peaceful mobilisation should continue until the departure of all the system's faces. The movement should remain united to achieve the dream of a democratic Algeria with equal rights for all."

Bensalah angered protesters by inviting opposition leaders to a meeting April 22 to seek their endorsement for his plan to oversee elections.

“For a surprise, it is indeed a surprise,” said political writer Makhlouf Mehenni. “At a moment when Algerians had begun to glimpse the beginning of a solution to the standoff between the street and the authorities with the departure of Belaiz and the announcement by General Gaid Salah, the regime has suddenly brought us back to square one."

Lamine Ghanmi is a veteran Reuters journalist. He has covered North Africa for decades and is based in Tunis.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.
Algerian Court Summons Former Prime Minister Over Financial Probe
Eric Oteng with REUTERS

An Algerian court has summoned former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and current Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal, two close associates of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a probe into the wasting of public money, state TV said on Saturday.

They are being investigated over “dissipation of public money” and “illegal privilege,” state TV said.

No other details were immediately available.

The move comes after army chief, Lieutenant General Gaid Salah, said last week he expected members of the ruling elite in the major oil and natural gas-producing country to be prosecuted for corruption.

Bouteflika stepped down two weeks ago after 20 years in power, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change in the country.

But the protests, which began on Feb. 22 and have been largely peaceful, have continued as many want the removal of an elite that has governed Algeria since independence from France in 1962 and the prosecution of people they see as corrupt.

Ouyahia served several times as prime minister under Bouteflika and also heads the RND party, the coalition partner of Bouteflika’s ruling FLN party.

Loukal was central bank governor under the former president.

Bouteflika has been replaced by Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, as interim president for 90 days until a presidential election on July 4.

Hundreds of thousands protested on Friday to demand the resignation of Bensalah and other top officials.

Bensalah appointed Ammar Haiwani as acting central bank governor, state TV earlier said. The position had been vacant since Loukal was made finance minister by Bouteflika before he had resigned.

The army has so far patiently monitored the mostly peaceful protests that at times have swelled to hundreds of thousands of people. It remains the most powerful institution in Algeria, having swayed politics from the shadows for decades.

On Tuesday Salah said the military was considering all options to resolve the national political crisis and warned that “time is running out.”

It was a hint that the military was losing patience with the popular upheaval shaking Algeria, a major oil and natural-gas exporter and an important security partner for the West against Islamist militants in north and west Africa.

Salah did not specify measures the army could take but added, “We have no ambition but to protect our nation.”
LANDSLIDE IN NORTHERN MALAWI KILLS 3, INJURES MANY
Among the dead are two boys aged 12 and 15 and a 35-year-old woman, according to police.

AFP

LILONGWE - Three people died after a landslide hit a village in the Rumphi district in northern Malawi, with at least five still missing Sunday and many others injured and hospitalised.

Rumphi police spokesperson Tupeliwe Kabwilo told AFP that incessant rains in the area led to the landslide early Saturday which washed away an entire village nestled between Mphompha Hills and Lake Malawi.

Among the dead are two boys aged 12 and 15 and a 35-year-old woman, according to police.

The missing persons, who are feared dead, include a one-year-old boy, two other boys aged six and 10 as well as two women aged 35 and 46.

A Rumphi district council official who was at the scene of the disaster told AFP that the affected area was inaccessible by road and it would be impossible to mount a rescue operation.

"Huge boulders rolled from the mountain and these are the ones that cause the biggest damage and if the missing victims are buried under these rocks, then we will need an excavator to move them." said council official Wakisa Mtete.

"But there is no access by road to the area so this is an impossible task. The boulders are so big that moving them by hand is not possible," Mtete said.

He added that it was also possible for some of the missing bodies to have been washed into the lake, in which case the bodies would resurface within the next two days.

Disaster management officer Alufeyo Mhango told AFP that government ministries were preparing to step in to transport heavy-duty excavation equipment over the lake as soon as the weather cleared.

"We have been informed by government ministries that we should get ready to transport the equipment. But this will depend on whether we get a large boat for that and on whether the hailstorm stops because there could be a recurrence of the landslide," he said.

According to Mhango, Police officers, soldiers and emergency personnel are on site attending to the disaster.
Landslide in Northern Malawi Kills at Least 3, Injures Dozens
Eric Oteng with AFP

A landslide washed away an entire village in the Rumphi district of northern Malawi, killing at least three people, leaving five missing and dozens wounded in hospital, police said Sunday.

Rumphi police spokesman Tupeliwe Kabwilo told AFP that the incessant rains in the region had caused the disaster that devastated the village between the Mphompha hills and Lake Malawi in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The dead are two boys aged 12 and 15 and a 35-year-old woman, according to police. Among the missing are a one-year-old boy, two others aged six and ten, and two women aged 35 and 46.

Huge boulders rolled off the mountain and caused the greatest damage and if missing victims are buried under these rocks, then we will need an excavator to move them.

A Rumphi District Council official at the disaster site told AFP that the affected area was inaccessible by road and that it was impossible to organize a rescue operation.

“Huge boulders rolled off the mountain and caused the greatest damage and if missing victims are buried under these rocks, then we will need an excavator to move them,” said Wakisa Mtetetete, head of the city council.

“But there is no road access to the region, so it is an impossible task. The rocks are so large that they cannot be moved by hand,” says Mr. Mtetetete. He added that it was also possible that some of the missing persons were taken into the lake.

Alufeyo Mhango, a disaster management manager, told AFP that the authorities would have heavy excavation equipment transported through the lake as soon as the weather allowed.

“We have been informed by government departments that we should prepare to transport the equipment. But we will have to have a big boat and the hailstorm must stop or there could be more landslides,” he said.

According to Mr. Mhango, police, soldiers and emergency personnel are already on site.
WPK’s Political Line Remains Steadfast
The Workers’ Party of Korea reaffirmed that it is its political line to build a socialist power under the uplifted banner of self-reliance at the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Party Central Committee on April 10.

At the meeting WPK Chairman Kim Jong Un said that self-reliance and independent national economy are the basis of the existence of Korean-style socialism, the dynamic of its progress and development and the eternal lifeline deciding the future of the revolution.

The decades-long course of the Korean revolution can rightly be claimed to be the history of overcoming the multitudes of trials and ordeals by dint of self-reliance.

The spirit of self-reliance which was created in the period of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle has always served as the banner of struggle and driving force of great leaps forward during the whole periods of several stages of social revolution and socialist construction.

The Korean people did not rely on others but built a new society by their own efforts after Korea’s liberation from Japanese military rule under which the country was reduced to poverty and backwardness, and after the Korean war during which the country was reduced to ashes.

In the period of the Chollima leap forward the DPRK made lorries, tractors, bulldozers, excavators and electric locomotives by its own efforts and achieved socialist industrialization in a matter of 14 years.

It laid the solid foundations of an independent national economy by relying on its strength, technology and natural resources and built a socialist state which is independent in politics, self-sufficient in the economy and self-reliant in defence.

In the vortex of complicated world politics the DPRK held higher the banner of self-reliance and self-development to push ahead with the programme of making the national economy Juche-based, modern, informatized and scientific, establishing the Juche iron, fibre and fertilizer production systems one after another.

It also grasped space technology based on its own brains and made marked progress in the field of science and technology including core, basic technologies even under the decades-long blockade imposed by the hostile forces.

The Korean people have made phenomenal achievements by bringing about a great upsurge and leap forward in production under the banner of self-reliance and self-sufficiency in recent years after the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Their will to solve all problems by their own efforts gets firmer with the passage of time and as the situations and conditions change.

The DPRK has an independent national economy unaffected by the outside world, a powerful army of scientific and technical personnel and abundant natural resources.

They serve as a reliable guarantee for the country to solve all problems arising in building a powerful socialist country by its own efforts.

It is the unanimous desire of the Korean people to compete with the world by making continuous innovations in their own development mode with pride in their efforts and creations and high self-esteem.

They will create a new history of bringing prosperity by holding higher the banner of self-reliance.

By Ri Sang Il PT
Political Criticism of Japanese Government by the DPRK
Japan is going dull-witted, swimming against the trend of the times.

The political dwarf, which raved hoarse about the DPRK's "possible transshipment" in the seas last year, is floating again the "suspicion about sea dealings", inviting world criticism.

At the recent G7 foreign ministerial meeting held in France, the Japanese Foreign Minister pleaded several countries to closely cooperate for thoroughgoing implementation of "sanctions resolutions" on the DPRK and for curbing the DPRK’s oil purchase through vessel-to-vessel transfer.

And the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary is speaking about eliciting international support for the settlement of the issue of "Japanese abductees" by the DPRK at the UN session slated for in May.

Japan, which goes helter-skelter to prop up the international cooperation system for pressure on the DPRK, is arousing worldwide derision as it further pronounces its position sidelined from the current trend over the Korean peninsula issue.

As was observed by the world, the historic First Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK reconfirmed the fundamental principle of the State-building to build up its strength and build socialism by its own efforts from a firm independent stand to defend its sovereignty and dignity and achieve genuine prosperity, given the specific conditions faced by the Korean revolution and under the prevailing complicated international situation.

It is foolhardy to resort to such thoughtless act to browbeat the DPRK, a country pushing forward the drive of building a powerful socialist country, while meeting the hostile forces' sanctions with strong spirit of independence and self-reliance.

Today, the broad spectrum of the international community is extending firm support and solidarity to the DPRK which propels the situation on the peninsula and the region to détente, peace and development, while reliably guaranteeing the security of the country and the happiness of itspeople under the uplifted banner of independence, despite the sanctions and pressure imposed by the hostile forces.

But only the narrow-minded Japanese reactionaries, who fall short of discerning the trend of the times, are clinging to the hackneyed standoff in their desperate bid to turn the table around.

The Japanese government has made it its policy to "invariably go ahead with the past policy of pressure on the DPRK through international cooperation" and is increasingly tightening sanctions against the DPRK.

Question is what the purpose is behind such moves.

The hostile acts of the Abe group brought it isolation in the international political arena.

KCNA
US State Secretary Slammed
Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of American Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, gave the following answer to a question raised by the KCNA on April 18 as regards the fact that Pompeo, US secretary of the State, is letting loose reckless remarks and sophism of all kinds against the DPRK every day:

In his historic policy speech delivered at the First Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, clarified the principled stand on the DPRK-US relations and settlement of the nuclear issue and said he would wait in patience till the end of this year to see whether the United States makes a courageous decision or not.

Everyone has a clear interpretation of his speech which says that the US should change its way of calculation and come up with responsive measures before the end of this year. Just at this time, only Pompeo is talking nonsense that its meaning is to finish the working-level negotiation between the US and the DPRK by the end of the year, which subjects him to public ridicule.

We cannot understand Pompeo's ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks; whether he is really unable to understand the words properly or just pretending on purpose. However, it is very dangerous if he really failed to grasp the meaning.

If his behaviour is intended, I think it is none other than a silly calculation to be free from the constraint that the US should make a move until the end of the year, misrepresenting the meaning of our requirement as the finalization of the working-level negotiation by the end of the year by making use of his talented skill of fabricating stories like a fiction writer.

As our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission has clarified, the US cannot move us one iota by its current way of thinking.

In his previous visits to Pyongyang, Pompeo was granted an audience with our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission several times and pleaded for the denuclearization. But, after his return home, he spouted reckless remarks hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership at Congress hearings last week to unveil his mean character by himself, thus stunning the reasonable people.

I would like to take this opportunity to make clear once again to Pompeo the meaning of the stand towards the US clarified by our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission in his policy speech.

The meaning is that the US should get rid of the root cause that pushed us into a nuclear state and the obstacles in the way to denuclearization by its own hands; otherwise no one can predict how the situation on the Korean peninsula will develop.

While Pompeo is fabricating stories of his own accord and trying to pull his publicity stunt at the sacrifice of the DPRK-US relations as a whole, it is fortunate that the personal relationship between our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and President Trump is on good terms as usual and our Chairman is pleased to get on well with President Trump.

The Hanoi summit gives us a lesson that whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong without any results even from the point close to success. I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled.

Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the US, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.
Commemorative Stamp Issued
The State Stamp Bureau of the DPRK issued a new stamp in commemoration of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's official goodwill visit to Vietnam.

Seen in the round stamp depicted with flags of the DPRK and Vietnam are letters reading "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's Official Goodwill Visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam", "March 1-2, Juche 108 (2019)" and "DPRK-Vietnam Friendship".

The stamp shows that Kim Jong Un's visit to Vietnam was an epochal event of great significance in invariably carrying forward the historic tradition of the bilateral friendship and developing their relations onto a higher stage as demanded by the new era.

KCNA
Reply Message to Xi Jinping From Xi Jinping
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, sent a reply message to Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and President of the People's Republic of China, on April 17.

The message said:

Respected General Secretary was the first to send sincere and warm congratulations to me on my re-election as the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK.

This is a manifestation of your deepest trust in and friendship with me and, at the same time, firm support and encouragement to the socialist cause of our Party, government and people.

I am sincerely grateful for this and express heartfelt thanks to you.

As you said, we jointly opened a new chapter of the DPRK-Sino relations through four rounds of meetings and talks in a little over a year and demonstrated at home and abroad the particularity and vitality of the bilateral relations helping each other like a family.

In this course, you and I shared confidence and established the most genuine comradely relations which served as the cornerstone for the bilateral relations in a new era and a powerful driving force propelling the growth and strengthening of the DPRK-China friendship.

This year is a significant year in which the two countries mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

It is an important mission for us to further value and steadily advance the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries at a time when the socialist cause of the DPRK and China and the situation prevailing in the Korean peninsula entered a very crucial period.

I will always remain loyal to comradely obligation with you and make all efforts to surely put the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties and two countries on a new high level.

I believe that fraternal Chinese people will achieve greater success in the grand march for bringing earlier a new era of prosperity of China and of rich country and wealthy people under the wise leadership of the Communist Party of China with you as the core.

I sincerely wish you good health and happiness.

I send warm and comradely regards to you.

KCNA
Reply Message to Vietnamese President From DPRK Supreme Leader
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, sent a reply message to Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, on April 17.

The message said:

I express deep thanks for your warm congratulations and best wishes to me on my re-election as the Chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission.

Your congratulations are powerful support and encouragement to the struggle of our Party, state and people for building a powerful socialist country.

The recent meaningful meeting with you became a solid foundation to put on a new high level the DPRK-Vietnam friendship which was forged and consolidated by the preceding leaders of the two countries.

I am grateful to you for having sent an art troupe of high repute to give a distinguished and excellent art performance and deeply impress our people true to your promise, and renew my mind to actively propel the friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and Vietnam desired by the peoples of the two countries.

Availing myself of this opportunity, I express my belief that traditional friendly and cooperative relations between our two parties, two countries and two peoples grow stronger in accomplishing the common cause for socialism in the future, too.

I sincerely wish you good health and bigger success in your responsible work for the development of the party and prosperity of the country.

KCNA
Xi Stresses Enhanced Studies of May Fourth Movement, Spirit
Xinhua
2019/4/20 14:40:05

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Friday stressed efforts to strengthen studies of the May Fourth Movement and spirit, and motivate young people to make unremitting contributions to national rejuvenation.

Xi made the remarks at a group study session of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau as the 100th anniversary of the movement draws near.
Warships Assemble in Qingdao, China
By Guo Yuandan in Qingdao and Liu Xuanzun in Beijing
Global Times
2019/4/21 17:53:39

Naval vessels from multiple countries arrived in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on Sunday to join the upcoming Chinese maritime parade in celebration of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 70th anniversary on Tuesday, where the host will debut its new warships.

More than 10 warships from countries including the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, India, South Korea and Russia arrived in Qingdao on Sunday for the PLA Navy celebrations.

Chinese naval vessels started to assemble even earlier, as local residents started to post photos of ships, including destroyers and frigates, on Chinese social media three weeks ago.

A meeting to celebrate the PLA Navy's 70th anniversary was held Sunday in Beijing, where participants recalled the navy's history, looked into the future and honored groups and individuals who made significant contributions to the PLA Navy in the past seven decades.

New warships to debut

A total of 32 Chinese vessels and 39 Chinese aircraft will be a part of the parade, said Qiu Yanpeng, deputy commander of the PLA Navy, at a press conference held on Saturday ahead of the anniversary.

China's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning, new nuclear-powered submarines, new destroyers and aircraft will participate in the fleet review. Some vessels will make their public debut, Qiu said.

The Type 055, China's first 10,000-ton class destroyer, will very likely be commissioned and make its first public appearance, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Saturday.

A new model of the Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine may also debut, and there is a small chance that the more advanced Type 095 nuclear-powered attack submarine could be on show, the expert said.

The warships will form six groups during the fleet review: a submarine group, a destroyer group, a frigate group, an amphibious landing ship group, an auxiliary ship group and an aircraft carrier group, Qiu revealed.

Ten aircraft formations will include an early warning aircraft formation, a reconnaissance aircraft formation, an anti-submarine aircraft formation, a bomber formation, a fighter formation, an aircraft carrier-based fighter formation and a vessel-based helicopter formation.

A dozen or so countries will send about 20 naval vessels including destroyers, frigates and amphibious landing vessels to join the parade, and more than 60 countries from five continents will send naval delegations, with more than 30 of them featuring major naval leaders, Qiu said.

While the fleet review will be held on Tuesday, the whole celebration will last from Monday to Thursday.

It includes high-level seminars, joint military musical performances, and cultural and sports exchanges.

Not a muscle show

As navies from all over the world gather in Qingdao to celebrate, some foreign reports have falsely claimed the parade aims to show China's naval prowess.

Reuters reported on Saturday that China "is flexing its increasingly well-equipped military muscle" through the naval celebration.

In response to the Reuters report, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Saturday that the planned demonstration of China's naval vessels is an indication that the PLA Navy is becoming more open and transparent.

Zhang stressed that the Chinese parade is not a show of military muscle. He said that as early as the 14th century, the UK started holding maritime parades, and other countries have begun to hold these ceremonial activities since then, so some other countries should not apply double standards here.

"Showing these weapons and equipment so close-up to foreign counterparts indicates that nothing is hidden. This act shows that we are not hostile and that the PLA Navy's wish to safeguard world peace and stability [is similar] to other navies around the world," Zhang said.

A force for peace

Qiu also said at the press conference that it is essential for China to build a strong navy because between 1840 and 1949, China was invaded more than 470 times from the sea, which resulted in deep suffering for the Chinese nation.

By comparison, the PLA Navy has never caused any war, turbulence or unsettlement anywhere in the world, Qiu said.

"China has stepped into a new era which provides both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. Security conditions, especially at sea, are becoming more and more severe," said PLA Navy Rear Admiral Yang Yi, noting the US has increased its military presence around China and has been challenging China's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the name of so-called freedom of navigation.

Yang called for the development of a blue water navy that can mobilize to the high seas anywhere in the world and control waters where it matters to China's core interests.

Qiu stressed that the PLA Navy is always a force for peace, and its growth has contributed more and more to the security of the world.

Since 2008, the navy has sent 32 escort fleets, 103 vessels, 69 helicopters and more than 27,000 officers and soldiers to escort over 6,600 vessels, more than a half of which were foreign merchant ships, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

Since 2010, the naval hospital ship Peace Ark has traveled to 43 countries and regions and provided free medical services to over 230,000 people, the Xinhua report said.

Yang said China will become a world-class naval power by the middle of the 21st century, but it will not walk the old path of hegemony and gunboat diplomacy.

China is willing to cooperate with any country's navy that is willing to cooperate with China in making continued efforts to protect world peace, the Chinese rear admiral said.
Has the Chinese Economy Hit Its Low Point at 6.4% Growth?
Global Times
2019/4/21 21:13:39

China's GDP rose 6.4 percent in the first quarter, matching the fourth quarter of last year. The market has reached the bottom earlier than expected in the beginning of 2019, and the economy also has hit its low point. However, in both the long and short run, the economic revival has been lackluster. 

In the long run, after a 40-year growth miracle, the Chinese economy remains far from finishing its task of shifting gears. Only eight out of 180 economies worldwide have achieved a 30-year-straight high growth miracle. Besides China, the other seven economies ended their high growth period within 40 years. Some have fallen into ultra-low growth or ended up in recessions.

Sharp economic slowdown happened in Japan, which failed to transform its economy. Since the bubbles in the stock market and real estate broke in the early 1990s, Japan's GDP growth has hardly passed 3 percent, and even dipped below zero in some periods. The country got caught in its "lost three decades," with GDP growth in 2018 under one percent.

South Korea is one typical example of a smooth slowdown. Its GDP growth has been below 5 percent since 2003 and stabilized at around 3 percent over the past seven years.

China will be no exception. Since its GDP sunk below 7 percent in 2015, it will be difficult to get back that speed. Even the stimulus package only let it bounce back to 6.9 percent. One key variable is that the population dividend has been phasing out.

Since the size of the Chinese labor force first showed a decline in 2012, the number of workers has decreased for seven consecutive years by an average of three to four million annually. The employed population in 2018 saw a decline and the trend is expected to continue. The Chinese population is also aging. Seniors above 60 years old number 250 million and that number will be 480 million in 2050.

An aging population will result in a systemic decline in the economy's potential growth capability. There are two direct implications for the economy.

First, population aging has pushed up labor costs and led manufacturing to shift out of the country. A Deloitte report showed that China's labor costs had soared fivefold over the 10 years since 2005 and 15-fold since 1995, indicative of a drastic surge in the cost of labor. Currently, Vietnamese workers' average pay has yet to reach half of what their Chinese counterparts make on average. Rising labor costs surely have seen many big global factories moving out of the country.

China has been going through a deep shift over recent years, with many factories shifting toward Southeast Asia. "Made in China" is stealthily becoming "Made in Myanmar" and "Made in Vietnam." For example, Swedish clothing retailer H&M has moved its garment manufacturing facilities from China to Myanmar, while Microsoft has relocated Nokia smartphone production from China to Vietnam, and Samsung has also moved its China factories to Vietnam.

Second, an aging population has weighed on the inelastic demand for housing, thereby eroding the potential of the housing sector as a growth driver. Apart from a decrease in the amount of labor, the numbers of high school graduates and newly registered marriages have also been on a downward spiral since 2013. A trend of falling inelastic demand for housing has followed as a result.

International experience has shown that peaks in the working population nearly coincide with peaks in home prices. For instance, the US labor force reached its peak in 2007 while home prices hit the ceiling in 2006. Japan's labor force peaked in 1992, while the nation's home prices were at their peak in 1990. The fading demographic dividend and weak growth momentum for homes suggest the fundamentals of the housing market have changed dramatically. The golden era of an overall expansion has come to an end, which has been replaced by the silver era of structural optimization. For example, there has been a trend of the economy shaking its dependence on the housing sector.

Over the short term, the economy is indeed seeing signs of stabilization, essentially driven by the steadying of social financing. This indicates an expansion of credit in the real economy, while a rebound in the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is merely an outcome. If the economy's short-term prospects are judged from a long-term point of view, the first quarter GDP growth - unchanged from the previous quarter's 6.4 percent - clearly indicates a brief respite amid a larger economic cycle of deceleration. History shows that over the course of a short-term policy-enabled economic uptick amid a larger cycle, the pace, continuation and extent of economic stabilization tend to be weak, especially as time elapses.

Compared with the last cycle in 2015, the current round of economic stabilization is expected to be weaker, more mercurial and short-lived. The larger population cycle will also turn out to be a bigger drag on growth.

The authors are Zhu Zhenxin, chief research fellow of the Reality Institute of Advanced Finance, Yang Qinqin and Song Yun, senior research fellow of the Reality Institute of Advanced Finance. The article was first published by the Reality Institute of Advanced Finance.

bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn
China’s Confidence in Poverty Alleviation Lies in Its System
By Xu Hailin
Global Times
2019/4/21 21:08:39

After making unprecedented and stunning achievements in poverty alleviation, China has entered a critical stage of its vow to lift all Chinese people out of poverty. From a historical perspective, China's great determination will promote the progress of human civilization. Hence, it has drawn positive attention around the world but also doubts from some Western media outlets questioning whether China can succeed.

In a recent report by CNN, a chief poverty alleviation official of a village in Southwest China's Guizhou Province was quoted as saying that he was "absolutely confident" in China's determination. The quote served as one of the best answers to the West's questions.

Many Western officials and media doubt China's achievements and moves because of their experience and logic that were generated by the West's traditional development model. Such a mind-set doesn't help them understand the strength of China's system, which is the real reason that keeps China progressing.

The Chinese government has emphasized not only a material end to poverty but a psychological end to it as well. Understanding this is not an easy task. The government vows to invest more in poverty alleviation, and to stimulate the economic transition and upgrade to activate productivity, which will then ensure poor people have the ability to constantly create and accumulate their own wealth. This is the effort by which China strives to make its poverty alleviation sustainable.

As China is at a critical stage, there will be difficulties and challenges on its path. Some critics said China has focused mainly on poverty in the countryside rather than in cities, according to CNN. In fact, the Chinese government has been modifying its policies in accordance to the actual situation.

It is attaching greater importance on creating more jobs and improving social security standards to benefit people in both rural and urban areas. China has greatly reduced government administrative expenses since the beginning of 2019, to ensure the increase in social security expenditures, particularly in poor and underdeveloped areas.

China has 1.4 billion people, any small individual shortage, multiplied by 1.4 billion, becomes a big, big problem.

Due to its strong system, China has been confident and able to face any big problem. The country has been through bumpy routes and maintained its dynamic development. This is where the confidence of poverty alleviation officials comes from.

On the basis of the logic generated by their traditional development model, the West only knows what China had achieved, but it doesn't understand how China got there. The answer still lies in China's powerful system, which guarantees efficient decision-making while stimulating the vitality of the Chinese society. It has united the Chinese people - arguably the most diligent in the world - to strive for common goals.

Grasping a better understanding of China's poverty alleviation will help Western officials and media better appreciate the Chinese government's leadership and China. But if they want to comprehensively understand the strength of China's system, they must break away from their cognitive logic.