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South Africa’s Ousted President Zuma Tries to Evade Standing Trial on Corruption Charges – Report

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According to the report, late last month all of the South African ex-president’s attorneys quit his defense team, just weeks before the trial, without providing any public explanation.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign three years ago due to a litany of corruption scandals, is due back in court on Monday in a corruption trial that dates back more than two decades, Agency France Presse reported on Friday.

The court in Pietermaritzburg is reportedly looking into 16 charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering related to a 1999 procurement of fighter jets, patrol vessels, and military equipment for 30 billion rands – equal to roughly $5.0 billion at the time – from five European arms firms.

Given the fact that all of his defense team reportedly left him, it remains to be seen if the 79-year-old ex-president, who governed the country from 2009 to 2018, will appear before the court on the expected date. Observers believe the unexpected flight of his defense team is a ruse to obtain yet another postponement, presumably to enable a new legal team to prepare his defense and prolong the trial.

“It is almost certain that he – or his new team of lawyers if he has one – will ask for a postponement and that this postponement will be granted,” South African lawyer James Grant is quoted in the report as saying.

Previously, Zuma has filed a number of unsuccessful appeals to get the charges dismissed.

Although Zuma, who is currently living in seclusion in his home, allegedly furnished at the expense of taxpayers, is trying by all means to get the charges dropped or to prolong the trial for as long as possible, last week he fierily danced in a TikTok video posted by one of his granddaughters.

​Zuma has repeatedly refused to appear before the court, which has resulted in a recent legal stalemate. However, more than 30 witnesses have reportedly identified him directly or indirectly in front of the panel, and their statements may be included in an inquiry or trial.

On April 30, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa gave testimony regarding his time as deputy under his predecessor, Zuma. Ramaphosa appeared as a witness in the “state capture” case concerning businessmen brothers Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta, who are believed to have had extensive influence over the country’s institutions, policies and cabinet appointments.

In early March, the country’s ruling African National Congress party failed to persuade Zuma to appear before the court and answer questions, as the former national executive stated that he was subject to unfair prosecution.

After Zuma refused to appear for questioning in late February, South African Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo filed an urgent application with the Constitutional Court to find him guilty of contempt.

The investigation has been ongoing since Zuma stepped down in 2018 amid a corruption crisis involving the Gupta family. Since the scandal broke, the family has been living in exile in the US and the United Arab Emirates.



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Aid cuts make a mockery of UK pledges on girls’ education | Zoe Williams

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With all the fanfare Covid would allow, the global education summit opened in London this week. Ahead of the meeting, the minister for European neighbourhood and the Americas was on rousing form. “Educating girls is a gamechanger,” Wendy Morton said, going on to describe what a plan would look like to do just that.

The UK, co-hosting the summit with Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, plans to raise funds for the Global Partnership for Education, from governments and donors. The UK government has promised £430m over the next five years.

There followed a number of reasons why the issue is so important, all of them absolutely sound: on any given indicator, from GDP to infant health and beyond, a nation stands or falls by how well, for how long, and how inclusively it educates its girls.

The issue has never been more important than during this pandemic, which in many countries is hitting a peak having already affected girls disproportionately.

These are all the right words, even in the right order, yet they land completely at odds with the government’s behaviour.

Lis Wallace, head of advocacy at the One campaign, is most immediately concerned with these pledges being fully funded. There are two core targets: one is to increase girls’ access to education, the other is to boost the key milestone for all children – that they’re able to read and understand a simple story by the age of 10.

The past 18 months have been devastating for education, particularly in countries where it’s harder to access to online learning. About 1.6 billion children are out of school across the world. There’s a target to raise $5bn (£3.6bn), “which is a drop in the ocean of what is required to meet the global learning crisis”, Wallace says. It looks as though this summit will raise no more than $4bn, which is nothing less than a “failure of statecraft”, as Wallace explains: “It’s challenging when the host government is stepping back and making aid cuts for it then to ask other countries to step up.”

This is a depressing echo of the G7’s failure earlier this year; commitments to share vaccine doses with low-income countries came too little, too late, with devastating results, and it’s hard to avoid the question of whether that outcome would have been different if the host nation had role modelled some generosity.

Furthermore, there’s some confused causality in the minister’s assertion that staying in school protects girls from “forced child marriage, gender-based violence and early pregnancy”. The exact inverse is true: it is largely teenage pregnancy that forces girls out of school in the first place, and to try to use education in lieu of sexual health and reproductive provision is illogical.

Esi Asare Prah, who is a youth and advocacy officer in Ghana for MSI Reproductive Choices, describes a situation in which 5,000 to 7,000 girls drop out of school each year after becoming pregnant – last year, 2,000 of them were between 10 and 14. Across sub-Saharan Africa, MSI estimates that up to 4 million girls drop out or are excluded from school every year due to pregnancy.

“These girls are most likely to be on the street, doing menial jobs; their children will not make it into higher education. It creates a cycle of poverty and a cycle of slums. For me, the foundation of it is that you can’t seek to invest in education for girls in sub-Saharan Africa and cut down funding for sexual and reproductive health. If you treat development issues as isolated, you will have the same issues of 50 years ago chasing you into the future.”

Here, the recent cuts to the aid budget make a mockery of these pledges on education: UK funding to the UN Population Fund recently went down by 85%.

There is inspiration to take from this summit, nevertheless; President Kenyatta has been leading the charge not only on education but also on the climate crisis, and there is a solidarity and sense of purpose between poorer nations that may yet inspire greater generosity from donors. Whatever it achieves, though, it will be despite its UK host not because of them.

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[Ticker] US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation

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US secretary of state Antony Blinken affirmed his country’s support to conduct additional investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 after meeting with the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday, Reuters reported. “He stressed the need for the next phase to be timely, evidence-based, transparent, expert-led, and free from interference,” a US state department spokesperson said in a statement.

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‘Freudian Slip’: Biden Confuses Trump With Obama in New Gaffe

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The 78-year-old American president is known to be prone to verbal gaffes and slips of the tongue, for which he is usually criticized or mocked by some people on social media.

US President Joe Biden appeared to confuse former US President Barack Obama for another former US president, Donald Trump, in a Wednesday speech, but swiftly corrected himself and suggested that the mistake was a “Freudian slip”.

“Back in 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the president asked me to be in charge of managing that piece, then-President Trump,” Biden said while addressing the public in Pennsylvania. “Excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused the…anyway, President Obama, when I was vice-president.”

Apparently, Biden briefly messed up the timeline, confusing his predecessor, Trump, with the 44th US president, Obama. Even his quick apology did not prevent social media users from picking up on his gaffe.

​Some suggested that since a Freudian slip occurs as an action inspired by an internal train of thought or unconscious wish, it was Biden “dreaming” about working with Trump rather than Obama.

​Others argued that the 46th president does not know what a Freudian slip really is.

​Biden was in Pennsylvania on Wednesday speaking at a Mack Truck assembly plant in Lehigh Valley, promoting his administration’s new measures to encourage US citizens and companies to “buy American”. Particularly, he announced plans to modify the 1933 Buy American Act that requires federal firms and agencies to purchase goods that have at least 55% US-made components. 

Under the Biden plan, the threshold will be increased to 65% by 2024 and to 75% by 2029.



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