COUNTRIES

Johannesburg (AFP) A South African appeals court increased paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius’ sentence for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to 13 years and five months on Friday. The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein more than doubled his original sentence of six years after the state argued that it was unduly lenient. Pistorius, 31, was not in court for the hearing. Prosecutors argued earlier this month that Oscar Pistorius failed to show genuine remorse after killing his girlfriend. “One of the essential ingredients of a balanced sentence is that itRead More
Harare (AFP) Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed sweeping change as he was sworn as Zimbabwe’s president Friday, seeking to reassure foreign investors and pledging to fight poverty and corruption after Robert Mugabe’s shock resignation. In his inaugural address, the new president set out a programme of dramatic change that promised a stark reversal of many of Mugabe’s signature policies. He pledged that his government would compensate white farmers whose land was seized by Mugabe, would protect international investments in the country and re-engage with foreign powers. Elections scheduled for 2018 would continueRead More
Harare (AFP) Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was inaugurated on Friday as Zimbabwe’s new president, is a political veteran and party hardliner who for decades worked closely with Robert Mugabe. Here are key dates in his career: – September 15, 1942: Born in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia but moves as a teenager with his family to Zambia, known at the time as Northern Rhodesia – 1960s: Joins the struggle for independence after military training in China and Egypt but is arrested and spends 10 years in prison – 1980: AfterRead More
Kutama (Zimbabwe) (AFP) Local residents in the rural Zimbabwean village where Robert Mugabe was born, got married, and has a house say he was a great leader — but express sorrowful acceptance rather than anger at his ousting. Kutama, 55 miles (90 kilometres) outside the capital Harare, has been a heartland of deeply personal support for Mugabe for decades, benefiting from his patronage and much-criticised land reforms. “When I heard the news (of his exit) and seeing what was now happening in the country, and things not going right, IRead More
Harare (AFP) On August 17, the Zimbabwean government issued an official denial that Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was vice president at the time, had eaten ice cream at a political rally. “For the record, the Vice President did not eat ice cream,” Information Minister Chris Mushohwe said. “Yes, there was ice cream. I ate it, many people ate the ice cream, but he did not eat the ice cream himself.” The denial was an attempt to quash reports that Mnangagwa had been poisoned by ice cream made at the large GushungoRead More
Harare (AFP) Former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken over as Zimbabwe’s new leader, ending strongman Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign and the country’s worst political crisis since independence. Here is a snapshot of two weeks of turmoil, from a military takeover to mass street protests and an impeachment bid: – Vice president sacked – November 6: Mugabe fires Mnangagwa in an apparent bid to clear the way for his wife Grace, 52, to take over as president. But the move angers the military, which has close ties to Mnangagwa. –Read More
Bamako (AFP) At least three peacekeepers and a Malian soldier were killed in an attack in northeast Mali, the UN’s MINUSMA mission to the country said on Friday. Besides an initial toll of four dead it said saying another Malian soldier and several other peacekeepers were wounded, some critically, a MINUSMA statement said. “This morning, a detachment of the MINUSMA force repelled an attack during a coordinated operation with FAMAS (Malian armed forces) in the Menaka region,” the statement said. It did not give the nationalities of the UN troopsRead More
Cairo (AFP) Egypt’s Prime Minister Sharif Ismail left the country Thursday for a three-week course of medical treatment and surgery in Germany amid speculation he would be permanently replaced in a cabinet shuffle. The cabinet said on Wednesday evening that Ismail would head to Germany for “three weeks” for the treatment. He departed on Thursday, an AFP correspondent at Cairo airport said. Ismail, who has reportedly been ill, will likely be replaced by a caretaker prime minister during his absence. Local media reported his resignation last month, which the cabinetRead More
Harare (AFP) As Robert Mugabe’s regime tottered and fell, one immediate benefit that Zimbabweans celebrated with glee was the sudden absence of bribe-extracting police who were a symbol of life under his rule. Endless police roadblocks were a notorious feature of every journey in Zimbabwe, with drivers reluctantly paying frequent bribes to evade long questioning over minor alleged offences. But across Harare and along major national routes, barely a single police officer has been spotted since the military took over on November 14 and forced Mugabe to step down afterRead More
Harare (AFP) Every time Chareka Mutungwazi, 76, tries to collect his pension money, he spends the night, like scores of others, sleeping outside a bank in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. He is lucky if he is allowed to take out just $20 of his monthly $63 (53 euros) pension as banks limit withdrawals due to the cash shortage — a symptom of the country’s economic collapse. For most Zimbabweans, incoming president Emmerson Mnangagwa has only one priority: rebuilding an economy shattered by policies that threw out investors, destroyed the keyRead More