The Independent (Kampala)

Africa: News Round Up

In South Africa, Mamphela Ramphele, an anti-apartheid activist and co-founder of South Africa's Black Conscious Movement, has announced the formation of a new political party to take on the 101-year-old African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela, Aljazeera reports.

The 65-year-old medical doctor and social anthropologist told a news conference on Monday that her party will serve millions of South Africans who want a new beginning.

"Join me in building the South Africa of our dreams," she said.

She accused the governing party of corruption, of undermining democracy, and of abusing power.

"The dream has faded for the many living in poverty and destitution in our increasingly unequal society," Ramphele, a former World Bank managing director, said.

Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said Ramphele also talked about the high unemployment among the young people in South Africa.

"About 50 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds in this country are unemployed," Page said. "She wanted that to be addressed through economic restructuring, and she wants education to be improved."

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, who has extensively covered South African politics, said Ramphele poses a threat to the ruling ANC, due to her personality and her platform.

"Mamphela Ramphele in an immensely respected activist," Hanna said. "She's never been a member of any political party. She may bring into the political arena, that is tainted with alliances, a degree of freshness."

More importantly, Ramphele has called for a change in the voting system from proportional voting, where people vote for a party, to constituency-based system, where people vote for individuals," Hanna said.

"This is something that is going to strike a chord and will introduce something new into the South African system," he said.

Her party joins several in the opposition at a time when South Africa is burdened by a growing chasm between rich and poor, as well as massive unemployment.

Elsewhere in South Africa, nine mine employees were hurt Monday when Anglo American Platinum security guards shot rubber bullets to break up a confrontation between rival union groups at a mine in northwest South Africa, CNN reports.

The incident occurred at the company's Siphumelele mine in the Rustenburg area and involved members of the Workers Committee and shop stewards for the National Union of Mineworkers.

"As they were attempting to evacuate the NUM shop stewards who were trapped in their offices, three security personnel sustained minor injuries during this incident," the statement said.

All 12 injured employees received medical attention; none of the injuries was life-threatening, it added.

Police spokesman Brig. Thulani Ngubane said those hurt were taken to Bleskop Hospital. The shootings did not involve police, he said.

Anglo American Platinum Limited, a member of the Anglo American plc Group, describes itself as the world's leading primary producer of platinum group metals, accounting for 40% of the world's newly mined platinum. Its mining, smelting and refining operations are based in South Africa.

Last fall, several major South African mining companies, including Anglo American, were involved in labor disputes with their miners that erupted in violence.

In Tunisia, Aljazeera reports Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's plan for a new government of technocrats has failed, but he has not said that he will stand down as yet.

Jebali made the announcement on Monday night after holding talks with political parties on the formation of a new government of technocrats, amid a standoff between the premier and his own ruling Islamist party Ennahda.

"I say in all clarity that the initiative I presented, that is to say, a government composed of members not belonging to any political parties, failed to reach a consensus."

He did not however rule out further talks of an alternative political solution.

"Another form of government" is still a possibility, he said.

The announcement on Monday was not met with much surprise as Ennahda, the biggest party in Tunisia has rejected the move.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra said that Ennahda may in next few days, convince some opposition parties to form a new coalition.

Jebali has threatened to resign if he fails to secure the support he needs to form his new government.

The country has been gripped by a political crisis since the February 6 assassination of opposition leader and vocal anti-Islamist Chokri Belaid.

Belaid's murder came after months of failure by the ruling coalition to overhaul the government, and sparked bloody clashes between opposition supporters and police, as well as attacks on Ennahda offices.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party dismissed as "outrageous and preposterous" the decision by EU foreign ministers on Monday to only lift some sanctions against the country, News24 reports.

"Zanu-PF will never accept any conditional removal of the illegal sanction or any self-serving initiatives meant to advance the economic interests of western nations," party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said in a statement.

"Lifting of the illegal sanctions must be unconditional and total. We believe that the current move to partially lift the illegal sanctions is intended to serve the interests of nations that want rough diamonds from our mines."

The statement came after officials said EU foreign ministers had lifted an asset freeze and travel ban against 21 Zimbabweans out of 112 currently on an EU blacklist and also struck one of 11 firms off the list.

The agreement comes 48 hours before the expiry of sanctions against the regime.

It followed moves towards the adoption of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Gumbo said the partial lifting of sanctions was a western ploy to divide his party, adding that the sanctions were illegal as they were not approved by the UN.

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