Russia landed two nuclear-capable bombers in South Africa on a training mission on Wednesday, a flight apparently timed to coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s opening of a flagship Russia-Africa summit designed to increase Russian influence. The two Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers touched down at Waterkloof air force base in Tshwane on Wednesday, the South African National Defence Force said. Russia’s Ministry of Defence has said the mission is designed to nurture military ties with South Africa. Speaking before dozens of African heads of state at a two-day summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi, Putin called for trade with African countries to double over the next four to five years and said Moscow had written off African debts to the tune of over $20 billion. The first Russia-Africa summit is part of a Kremlin drive to win business and restore influence that faded after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which backed leftist governments and movements across the continent throughout the Cold War. “Many Russian companies have long and successfully worked with partners from the most different sectors of the African economy and plan to expand their influence in Africa. We of course will provide support at the state level,” said Putin. The prize is greater political clout on a continent with 54 United Nations member states, vast mineral wealth and potentially lucrative markets for Russian-manufactured weapons. But Russia is starting from a low base. Although it has enjoyed considerable success selling arms to African countries, Moscow lags
South Africa’s government acknowledged on Thursday that prejudice was partly to blame for deadly rioting that has targeted foreign businesses, as those attacks and reprisals overshadowed a continental economic conference for a second day. President Cyril Ramaphosa had hoped the World Economic Forum conference in Cape Town would serve as a shop window for his efforts to revive South Africa’s ailing economy and boost intra-African trade. But the backdrop of violence has dominated proceedings, above all exposing dormant tensions between the host country and Nigeria, the continent’s two biggest economies. At least five Africans have been killed this week in attacks on foreigners in South Africa. On Wednesday local companies MTN, and Shoprite closed stores in Nigeria after retaliatory attacks, and threats of reprisals forced Pretoria to shut its embassy in Abuja, its foreign minister said. Nigeria’s vice president boycotted the meeting on Wednesday over the rioting. On Thursday Jim Ovia, chairman of Nigeria’s Zenith Bank and a co-chair of the whole event, also withdrew, citing the “hypersensitivity of the issues surrounding the lives and well-being of Nigerian citizens living in South Africa.” In Abuja, Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said it was recalling its High Commissioner to South Africa. As his ministers sought to manage the fallout, Ramaphosa cancelled his appearance at the WEF plenary session to address a crowd of protesters demonstrating for a second day about violence against women. Speaking in his place, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said most South Africans disapproved of the attacks on foreigners
Lawyers for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have asked a court to seal financial records held by the country’s corruption watchdog because they were obtained unlawfully, online news site Times Live reported on Friday. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said in July that Ramaphosa had “deliberately misled” parliament about a 500,000 rand ($32,924.20) donation he received for his 2017 campaign to become leader of the governing African National Congress (ANC). Her report found he had violated an executive ethics code and said there was prima facie evidence of money laundering in his campaign’s handling of donations. Times Live reported that Ramaphosa’s lawyer, Peter Harris, said in a letter to deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba on Thursday that Mkhwebane’s report had been based on information obtained illegally and which should not be made public. “We submit that the bank statements of EFFG2, Linked Environmental Services, Ria Tenda Trust and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation accounts contain confidential information which must be protected in terms of the abovementioned provision,” Harris was quoted as saying. “We have reason to believe that certain of the abovementioned documents may have been unlawfully obtained by the public protector.” In her report, Mkhwebane said she used copies of subpoenas to FirstRand’s FNB bank, Absa bank and key individuals, as well as copies of affidavits and letters, among key sources of information. She will submit records of her investigation or all evidence she relied on for the report’s conclusions by Aug. 15, spokesman Oupa Segalwe said in a response via
“The ANC is not aware of any acts of illegality on the part of a campaign conducted by any leader of the ANC, including President Ramaphosa. The leaked emails are therefore nothing but a calculated manoeuvre to defocus and detract from the immediate task of socio-economic issues and dealing with the challenges of our economy.