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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Violent student protest raises concern in South Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Student protests at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) continued on Wednesday, prompting a stern warning from the South African government.

“It is completely unacceptable that a few people should continue to hold our nation to ransom, including through violence and the destruction of education infrastructure that we badly need to empower students and the next generation,” said Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training.

Students at the CPUT have been protesting for days over the suspension of four students in connection with an earlier demonstration on campus.

The protest turned violent at some point when students blocked all roads to the university and tossed mattresses, bookshelves, bottles out of residence.

Some protesting students also got involved in violent skirmishes and destructive conduct before the police intervened to stop the chaos, according to Nzimande.

He urged authorities and law enforcement agencies to “deal decisively, and without mercy” with all these criminal acts.

“This is about a tiny band of people who harbour criminal intentions and who are hellbent on destroying the lives and future of thousands of students and their families,” the minister said.

He urged student leaders to engage in constructive discussions with authorities and other stakeholders to deal with the many legitimate challenges that confront the country’s higher education.

The ongoing protest is reminiscent of the widespread student protests over tuition increases that paralyzed all major universities across the country last year.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South African ruling party lambasts “witch-hunt” against public protector

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday voiced “grave concern” over a parliamentary inquiry into Public Protector Busisiwe ‘s fitness to hold office, calling the move an “opportunistic witch-hunt.”

“The ANC views this intended inquiry in a very dim light believing it to be an opportunist exercise requested by the opposition for political expediency,” the ANC said.

This came after Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services agreed to a request from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to institute an inquiry into the public protector’s fitness to hold office.

Also on Wednesday, the DA called on President Jacob Zuma to suspend Mkhwebane pending the parliamentary inquiry.

The DA cited Mkhwebane’s alleged misconducts, which include a failure to investigate allegations of state capture, in which Zuma and some senior government officials were accused of collaborating with the Indian Gupta family in looting the state coffers.

Mkhwebane was appointed to her current position almost a year ago following an exhaustive and thoroughgoing process by parliament, which declared her a “fit and proper person to hold such office.”

Her appointment caused a stir in South Africa, with the ANC fully supporting her amid strong opposition from the DA.

“During her tenure, she (Mkhwebane) has chosen to focus her attention on serving the masses of our people rather than solely conducting Hollywood style investigations,” ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kodwa lauded the courage of Mkhwebane for questioning the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), a private financial institution, and for calling upon ABSA bank, successor to apartheid-era bank Bankorp, to repay money lent to it by the SARB.

Mkhwebane “has clearly rattled cages and unsettled entrenched interests,” Kodwa said.

According to South Africa’s constitution, the public protector may only be removed from office on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence, said Kodwa.

Mkhwebane falls into none of these categories, instead she has been at the receiving end of a concerted campaign to discredit her since her appointment almost a year ago, Kodwa said.

“The proposed inquiry is merely a witch-hunt designed by the opposition to intimidate her into silence and bend her to their warped views on what constitutes the work of the public protector,” Kodwa said.

The Office of the Public Protector was established by the constitution to support constitutional democracy in the country.

As an external state institution independent of the government, the office is tasked with the investigation of misconduct in any state affairs and all spheres of government including that of public administration.

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Eight dead as storm damages buildings in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Strong winds and thunderstorm in the last two days hit South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal, leaving eight people dead and many others homeless or without electricity, officials said Wednesday.

EThekwini municipality’s head of communications unit Tozi Mthethwa said strong wind with a speed of 70 kms per hour wreaked havoc with some river banks busting. Some roads had to be closed and approximately 570 faults have been reported to electricity unit.

“Technicians have been working around the clock to restore power to affected residents. While power has been restored in most affected areas, the southern parts of Durban bore the brunt of the storm,” Mthethwa said.

Acting KwaZulu-Natal Member of the Executive Council for Cooperative Governance (COGTA), Weziwe Thusi, said they are assisting those affected by rains.

Thusi said eight hospitals had been damaged but patients are safe. In addition, a total of 42 schools in KwaZulu-Natal were gravely affected by the storm, including nine high schools where there are upcoming matric examinations. The government is working to ensure that learners there are able to write exams as per the set schedule.

The rains have also resulted in casualties and damaged infrastructure in other provinces like Mpumalanga and Gauteng, it was reported.

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South African stocks continue upward trend

JOHANNEBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Share prices on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) pushed to fresh highs as mid-cap continued the rally on Wednesday.

The share was up 0.24 percent to 57,770.33 points at close of session, marking a record high and bringing gains over the past nine sessions to 4 percent. The top 40 indexes was 0.15 percent up at 51,438.55 points and the Industrial index, which is also at record levels, was 0.79 percent higher.

Naspers, the biggest share on the JSE which represents 17 percent of the Industrial index, was a modest 0.91 percent firmer at R3200. Other big shares were modestly higher. British American Tobacco was 0.01 percent lower at R876.6 and Richemont traded 0.76 percent stronger at R125.09.

Sasol was lower 0.26 percent to R393.02. Standard Bank was up 2.03 percent to R166.26, Nedbank 2.1 percent to R212.9 and MMI Holdings 1.94 percent to R18.96.

Mondi was the biggest loser among the blue-chip companies, dropping 8.17 percent to R344.75, following a quarterly report saying “it recorded an 8-percent rise in its underlying operating profit for the third quarter.”

The local unit, which traded as low as R13.79 to the dollar on Monday, was 0.94 percent stronger at R13.57 making rand hedge shares, which earn most of their income in dollar, less attractive.

South Africa’s rand extended a rally away from six-month lows early on Wednesday, amid rife speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul plan would hurt the dollar.

             

 

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