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Apr. 14 (GIN) – As the May 7 election day in South Africa nears, former friends and allies of the ruling African National Congress are betting that voters will follow them out of the party or at least send a strong message that the country’s current direction is not good enough.


A number of veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle and former government leaders have even launched a “Vote NO!” campaign that could dash ANC hopes for a quick and easy win.


Among the veterans is former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and other ANC stalwarts.


"Sidikiwe! Vukani! - "We are fed up! Wake up!"  That’s the message coming from some longtime ANC loyalists who now say: "The ANC needs to know that it can no longer take for granted its traditional support and we would be failing South Africa and our democracy by not voting."


Other groups expecting to pick up votes from disillusioned voters are the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema, the Democratic Alliance led by Helen Zille and the United Democratic Movement led by Bantu Holomisa.


ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe rebuked the now-opposition leaders saying they hadn't done a good job when they were in Cabinet. Also with the opposition is Pallo Jordan, current member of the party’s national executive committee who has written columns critical of the $23 million upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s country estate.


Income inequality is one issue that particularly incenses South Africans who are aghast at the sky high salaries for corporate CEOs.


There are “super salaries at the top, and very meager livelihoods at the bottom,” said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. "The highest-paid chief executive has earned 51,000 times what someone earns at the lowest rung. That's the level of inequality that we have in South Africa."


Opposition politician Mamphela Ramphele said the Nkandla affair has exposed a serious flaw in the ruling party. “The ANC is in the death grip of corrupt, greedy and arrogant people who don’t actually see that they are destroying this beautiful country and its resources.”


Meanwhile, a popular parody song has become the refrain of the President’s re-election campaign. It goes: "If you're number one, you get to drive the gravy train."




Apr. 14 (GIN) – Thirteen candidates are in the running for the presidency in this West African country which has yet to have an elected leader serve a full term since independence from Portugal in 1974.


Reporters saw long lines at the polls on Monday with no reported problems or incidents.


Politicians with the largest war chests include former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, and Abel Incada, a member of the Party for Social Renewal of former President Kumba Yala, who died last week.


But a surprise upstart in the elections is 50 year old Paulo Gomes, an independent candidate and economist. At minimum, he is comfortable with social media, having a website, a YouTube video, and a page on LinkedIn.


According to paulogomes.com, he was born in a family “with a long history of struggle and leadership for human rights and dignity.” His grandfather “was persecuted and arrested by the Portuguese during colonial times and his parents took part in the liberation movement leading to independence in 1973.”


“At eleven, he was sent to various military boarding schools in Bor, Bafata and Bolama where he developed  the camaraderie, rigor and discipline that would come to define his life and career.”


After studies in Paris, according to his website, he returned home to join the President’s Office for Economic and International Affairs and later served as the National Strategic Planning Director. In 1995, he left Bissau for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Two years later he was back home again working as the principal advisor to the Minister of Finance.


From the Finance Ministry, Paulo was sent to the World Bank, first as Alternate Executive Director and then as Executive Director. He currently holds several Board positions at area banks.


Guinea-Bissau, home to 1.6 million people, has few resources other than cashew nuts and fish. In recent years, South American drug cartels have turned the country into a cocaine trafficking hub, making use of the country’s dozens of remote islands and a jagged coastline of mangrove creeks.


Election results will be announced later this week.




Apr. 14 (GIN) – One of the few women presidents in Africa stands to lose her post in next month’s polls since foreign donors have cut off support from the once popular leader over funds stolen or misappropriated by members of her administration.


A news headline in the region summed it up: “Donors Desert Joyce Banda in Hour of Need”


During her two year administration, the 64 year old President spent her initial year in office pushing for rapprochement with the international donor community while grappling with spiraling inflation and an angry populace at home.


Among other efforts to address food shortages in the country, she sold off a jet which the former president bought for $22 million. Former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died last year from a heart attack, had defended the purchase, saying the jet was cheap to run and a status symbol for the poor southern African nation.


Troubles came to a head in October when some 92 million kwacha ($230,000) were reported missing or stolen, allegedly by junior members of the Banda cabinet and staff. The incident was dubbed “Cashgate” by the local media.


The European Union then threatened not to release some 29 million euros ($40 million) to the aid-dependent country until the government cleaned up the treasury fraud. This, compounded by an IMF-backed devaluation of the kwacha currency, stoked inflation, raised the price of food for rural poor and cut into Banda's domestic support.


Currently the southern African country is bankrolled up to 40 percent by foreign donors.


More pressure is being exerted by the International Monetary Fund whose prescriptions – including the sell-off of national companies - would further squeeze the struggling population.


This week at an outdoor rally attended by some 10,000 supporters, President Banda warned that elements behind the stolen funds still face prosecution. “Ndipitiliza Kukumangani” (I will continue to arrest you), she warned.


A devout Christian, Mrs. Banda told the gathering that just like the biblical Nehemiah who embarked on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, she has been rebuilding the walls since taking over government from the former ruling party.


Elections are schedule for May 20.




Apr. 14 (GIN) – Longtime editorial writer, poet and political organizer Carl Bloice was remembered by friends and comrades at a gathering in San Francisco this week. The West Coast writer succumbed suddenly to a years-long battle with cancer.


Bloice was known for his many columns on U.S. and international issues that appeared widely. He was on the Editorial Board of the Black Commentator.


In a Facebook post, friends wrote that “to his last days, Carl kept up his enormous capacity and energy for reading and writing. His columns for the Black Commentator were circulated in Portside and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).


In 1973, as editor of the Peoples World newspaper, he was named as sponsor of the National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity with African Liberation, held in Chicago. In 1991 along with other dissident members of the Communist Party, he was part of the CCDS, a breakway group that held its first national conference in Berkeley California.


The Facebook post continued: “Carl never let up insisting that we focus politically on the economic crisis, the fight to preserve and expand social programs, the outrage of joblessness particularly as it impacted young people, African Americans and Latinos.”


Among his most recent pieces were: ”In a Changing Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia Cling Together” in Foreign Policy in Focus. “Austerity Measures Meet Resistance and the Democratic Will” in the LA Progressive, and “Mobilizing for War, Not for Jobs,” in Truthout.


He will be missed.





Lisa Vives

Managing Editor

Global Information Network

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