Items filtered by date: Monday, 16 October 2017

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed President Jacob Zuma’s and the National Prosecuting Authority’s appeal against an earlier decision by the North Gauteng High Court that a decision to dismiss 783 charges against Zuma in 2009 was irrational. Then, Zuma had claimed that the charges against him were part of a political conspiracy to prevent him from becoming president. But the North Gauteng High Court, in a case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance, ruled last April that the charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering against Zuma should be reinstated. The Conversation Africa’s Politics and Society Editor Thabo Leshilo spoke to constitutional expert law Pierre de Vos about the latest decision.

What are the implications of the judgment?

The judgment means that the original decision by the North Gauteng High Court to charge President Zuma stands and – in the absence of another legal move – the National Prosecuting Authority is legally obliged to implement it.

This means Zuma will be prosecuted unless Shaun Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions, decides again to drop the charges (but on different legal grounds). The judgment also contains scathing criticism of the National Prosecuting Authority and its senior leadership.

It raises questions about the integrity of senior National Prosecuting Authority leaders and of the independence and impartiality of the prosecutions body. The judgment also notes that it was illegal for Zuma’s legal team to obtain and share the intercepted communications – the so called spy tapes – which raises questions about why no one (including Zuma’s lawyer, Roger Hulley) was ever charged for breach of the law.

What happens now?

Zuma’s lawyers will probably make another submission to Abrahams to argue that the charges must be dropped. This may include arguments that too much time has passed since the alleged crimes were committed or that new evidence has come to light that raises questions on whether the NPA has a winnable case against the President.

The Appeals Court left open whether Abrahams has the legal power to review a decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions or not. If Abrahams does have this power, and if he again drops the charges, it will probably be the end of the matter.

If the charges are not dropped, the NPA will proceed with the prosecution, at which point Zuma’s lawyers will almost certainly approach the court to ask for a permanent stay of prosecution. It is not practically possible for Zuma to appeal to the Constitutional Court as his lawyers already conceded before the Supreme Court of Appeal that the decision to drop the charges was invalid.

What are Zuma’s options?

As the Supreme Court of Appeal points out in its judgment, Zuma and his lawyers have done everything in their power to prevent a situation where the president would have his day in court and would have to answer to the charges levelled against him.

This is why the president and his lawyers will continue to try to stop the prosecution by submitting new arguments to the National Prosecuting Authority on why the charges should be dropped. And, if that does not work, to try and convince the court that his prosecution must be stopped permanently because for some or other reason he could not receive a fair trial.

Can a sitting president be put on trial? Does South Africa have a precedent for it?

South Africa’s sitting president can be charged. There is no provision in the country’s constitution – or in ordinary legislation – that stands in the way of this happening.

The South African parliament could pass a law that changes this and protects a sitting president from criminal liability. But this wouldn’t get very far as such a law would be unconstitutional. It would be breach of the Rule of Law as developed by the South African Constitutional Court and it would also be in breach of section 9(1) of the Constitution which states that:

Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

No sitting president has ever been charged with a criminal offence in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela was required to testify in a civil (as opposed to a criminal) case, after which the Constitutional Court imposed limits on when a sitting president would be required to testify in a civil case.

It would be unprecedented for a sitting president to face criminal charges and be prosecuted.

 

Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

The completion of Dangote Refinery in 2019 will mark another milestone in the Nigerian oil and gas industry as the $11 billion refinery hold the prospect of stopping of refined petroleum products by Nigeria.

The Dangote Refinery will produce 650,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products to meet all the country’s refined petroleum products needs as well as export to other countries. Nigeria spent N2.59 trillion to import refined petroleum products in 2016, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics. founder of Dangote Group of Companies and the richest man in Africa.

Dangote, the promoter, said that the refinery projects were primarily meant to diversify the resource base of Nigeria.

“This is the biggest industrial site anywhere in the world from the fertiliser, petrochemical and refinery plants. The Dangote Refinery will produce 650,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products to meet all the country’s refined petroleum products needs as well as export to other countries.

Nigeria spent N2.59 trillion to import refined petroleum products in 2016, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics. The refinery is being built by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, founder of Dangote Group of Companies and the richest man in Africa. Dangote, the promoter, said that the refinery projects were primarily meant to diversify the resource base of Nigeria.

“This is the biggest industrial site anywhere in the world from the fertiliser, petrochemical and refinery plants. “Our refinery will be 1.5 times the capacity of all the existing four refineries in the country even if they are working at 100 per cent capacity. “This is the single largest refinery in the world. The petrochemical that we have is 13 times bigger than the Eleme Petrochemical built by government,” Dangote said.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described the project as an incredible industrial undertaking, the largest and most ambitious on the continent. The Dangote Refinery is an integrated petro chemical complx. Apart from refining crude oil to petroleum products, it will also have petrochemical and fertiliser plants. Mansur Ahmed, an Executive Director in Dangote Group, said that the petrochemical plant would process 1.3 million metric tonnes per annum of petrochemical products.

The fertiliser plant will produce 2.8 million metric tonnes of assorted fertiliser, while the gas plant will produce three million cubic metres of gas per annum. The refinery will also have the largest sub-sea pipeline infrastructure in the world with capacity to handle three billion cubic metres of oil annually.

The project is located in Lekki Free Trade Zone on a vast land mass of 2,200 hectares, an area eight times bigger than the entire Victoria Island in Lagos. According to Mansur, the first phase of the plant will be ready by the end of 2017, the second phase by the end of 2018, while the third and the commencement of the refinery will be in 2019. It is regrettable that Nigeria with large crude oil reserves and being the largest crude oil producer and exporter in Africa and eighth in the world, still imports more than 80 per cent of its petroleum products needs.

The country often experienced fuel shortages due to the poor state of its refineries. All the three refineries, operated by NNPC, are producing far below their installed capacity. The Port Harcourt Refinery has capacity to produce 10.500 million mt/y (metric tonnes per year) of refined products, but it is producing at less than 20 per cent of this capacity. The Kaduna Refinery, built in 1980, has capacity to produce 5.5 million mt/y (110,000 b/d), while Warri Refinery, built in 1978, has capacity to produce 6.2 million mt/y (125,000b/d) of refined products.

It is, therefore, good news that Nigeria will now host one of the largest refineries in the world after the Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat, India which is the, largest refinery in the world and produces 1,240,000 barrels per day.

The Dangote Refinery will be the biggest in Africa taking over from the South Africa’s Sapref Refinery producing 180,000 barrels per day and Cairo’s Mostorod Refinery with a capacity of 142,000 barrels per day.

Dangote has already provided $7 billion in equity out the $14 billion estimated total cost of the project. Some Nigerian banks provided a syndicated loan of $3.3 billion for the project. The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has also promised to assist the Dangote Group to access foreign exchange and funding for the project.

Dr Okey Oramah, its President, gave the assurance during a tour of the project with the bank’s board members in 2016. Oramah said that the board members decided to visit Dangote group to assess the project for possible financial assistance. He said that Dangote Group was making tremendous impact across the continent which included Tanzania, The Gambia, Zambia, Niger and other parts of Africa.

“We are supporting them in what they are doing in those countries, so we are equally supporting them in this ongoing project, so it is important for the Board of Directors of Afreximbank to pay a courtesy visit to the site. “It is important to come and see firsthand the project that is ongoing because we are also planning to support them to ensure the project is delivered on scheduled. “We are looking at providing all necessary support both financial and otherwise to ensure that the project is completed within the time frame. “We are also looking at providing support widow for Dangote group that will be used to fund its projects to completion.
“The impacts of the projects are not going to be felt in Nigeria alone but across Africa, especially West African. So for us it’s a strategic partnership we are building. “If we help them to impact lives across the continent, they will equally help in delivering on our mandate to meet the objective of Afreximbank,” Oramah said.

Some other private investors are still visiting the project site to evaluate the facilities with the prospect of investing in the project. The likely benefits of the Dangote Refinery to Nigeria are diverse. Dangote said that the project would save the country about $7.5 billion annually in foreign exchange being used to import petroleum products and also generate $5 billion foreign exchange earnings annually.

The plant, according to him, will generate over 100,000 employment opportunities and revive over 11,000 filling stations that had been shut due to shortage of products. Dangote said that the refinery would crash the price of petrol products in Nigeria as the products would be refined locally and save some costs incurred in importation.

He urged the Federal Government to sincerely pursue the diversification programme, stressing that projects like the refinery were needed to wean Nigeria from heavy reliance on crude oil export. According to him, the best way to diversify the economy is through agriculture and “our fertiliser plant is in line with that goal”.

“By the time we finish out gas pipeline, it can generate about 12,000 mw and we can export gas to other African countries. “We would have the capacity to store four billion litres of products and can load 2,680 trucks per day”.

Dangote said the target was that in five years time, half of Nigeria’s crude oil production would be refined and exported rather than exporting crude that were creating jobs elsewhere. The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the project would create some 235,000 jobs both directly and indirectly.

He said the project would boost the economy of Lagos and entire Nigeria through its multiplier effects. Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, the National President of Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN), described Dangote Refinery as a welcome development. He said that the refinery would ease operations of marketers and help to reduce their costs, stressing that the association had long been calling for total deregulation of the sector.

Okoronkwo said that the new refinery would also boost Industrialisation in the country. Mr Abiodun Adesanya, the President of Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, said the refinery would eliminate problems associated with fuel importation, create competition and generate employment opportunities.

He said that the success of Dangote Refinery was an indication that the Nigerian private sector could make commercial success of refineries.

 

Source: Vanguard - NG

Published in Business

The head of Samsung Electronics Co.'s components business, in a surprise move, announced plans to resign, acknowledging that the firm faces an "unprecedented crisis" and is struggling to find new growth prospects. The development came after the South Korean tech giant said it expected another record-breaking quarter.

Samsung Electronics Chief Executive Kwon Oh-hyun, 64 years old, announced his plan to resign in a statement Friday. He will do so after his successor is named, according to people familiar with the matter, with a decision likely by the end of the year, the people said.

His decision to step away threatens to amplify concerns over a leadership vacuum atop Samsung, which is already challenged by the absence of its de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, who was convicted in August for bribing South Korea's former president. The appeal trial for Mr. Lee, who has denied wrongdoing, started this week.

Mr. Kwon, who joined Samsung in 1985 long before it became a chips heavyweight, will also relinquish his vice chairman post by March, the company said. He had informed confidantes he felt he had accomplished all he had hoped to achieve in his career, according to people familiar with the matter.

He had been a steadying force and served as Samsung's public face while Mr. Lee has been away. In a statement, Mr. Kwon said he believed the company "needs a new leader more than ever," including young leadership, and a fresh start "to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry."

A generation ago, Samsung was best known as a low-cost maker of home appliances. But in recent decades, the South Korean firm powered into new areas such as memory chips and smartphones.

The critical question -- especially with Mr. Lee behind bars and Mr. Kwon's planned departure -- is whether Samsung can identify what's next.

"We are hard pressed to find new growth areas right now from reading the future trends," Mr. Kwon said in his statement.

A key weakness, say industry analysts, is that the South Korean firm lags behind Silicon Valley in producing popular applications or software. Its new voice-activated digital assistant, called Bixby, was beset by numerous delays earlier this year. Tech rivals have also beat Samsung to market with home speakers and artificial-intelligence technology.

Even with its lucrative components business, sustaining success won't be easy. Samsung must fend off China's deep-pocketed push into memory chips, plus a potentially rejuvenated Toshiba Corp., which signed a contract last month to sell its memory-chip business to a group that includes Apple Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc.

Samsung's current advantage in flexible mobile displays, in which it holds a 97% market share, could be punctured once rivals gain the ability to mass produce the curved screens.

For now, Samsung, the world's largest maker of smartphones and memory chips, has delivered record earnings, allowing it to shake off Mr. Lee's legal battle and the fallout from last year's global recall of fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 devices.

On Friday, Samsung said it expected operating profit of 14.5 trillion South Korean won ($12.80 billion) for the three months ended Sept. 30, which would top the previous quarter's record of 14.1 trillion won. Samsung Electronics shares, which fell 1.5% Friday, are still up 50% this year.

The components unit, led by Mr. Kwon, is a big reason why. Samsung has pumped tens of billions of dollars into memory chips and displays, making the firm a go-to supplier -- even to its fiercest rivals.

In response to the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Mr. Kwon spearheaded a decision for Samsung to dramatically reduce the number of new endeavors it pursues a year, from typically about 100 projects to just half a dozen or so, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Kwon is one of three CEOs at Samsung Electronics, which divides itself into three major units focusing on mobile devices, electronic components and consumer electronics. The No. 2 person in the components division is Kim Ki-nam, 59, a veteran Samsung executive.

After Mr. Lee's bribery conviction in August, Mr. Kwon penned an internal memo to employees, calling the current times an "unprecedented challenge" and encouraged employees to continue working hard as they wait for "the truth to come to light."

Samsung's leadership ranks are stocked with executives who have decades of experience, so the firm should be able to find his replacement internally, said Mark Newman, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein.

"They've got a deep bench," Mr. Newman said.

 

Published in Telecoms

ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and ICT have approved the free regional roaming regulation for ECOWAS Member countries.

The endorsement of the regional roaming regulation came during the 15th Meeting of the concerned Ministers which held on the 6th of October, in Praia Cabo Verde.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Telecoms and ICT, Dr Isaias Barreto da Rosa described the decision as historic and something expected to “touch the lives of ordinary ECOWAS citizens and bring tremendous contributions to our regional integration process as we strive to establish a single digital market in the sub-region and as we move from and ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people”.

The approved free regional roaming regulation includes a clear implementation roadmap which will start at the beginning of 2018.

Also during the ministerial meeting, a number of other important decisions were also made to foster the development of the ICT sector in West Africa. This includes a revised supplementary act on Universal Access and Service and its funding for digital access.

In addition to these is a list of laboratories selected for the accreditation of DTT decoders in the region to ensure compliance with the ECOWAS adopted standards; Regional Spectrum Coordination Committee, etc.

Another important subject discussed during this meeting was the promotion of cyber security in West Africa and the ECOWAS cyber security agenda. This initiative aims at assisting ECOWAS Member States to develop their national cyber security strategies, to establish national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) as well as to improve cyber legislation and train judges prosecutors, law enforcement agents, etc.

Experts from ECOWAS member states had met in Praia from 2nd to 5th October 2017 preparatory to the ministerial meeting.

Published in Telecoms

Qualcomm Inc. filed lawsuits in China seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker’s biggest shot at Apple Inc. so far in a sprawling and bitter legal fight.

The San Diego-based company aims to inflict pain on Apple in the world’s largest market for smartphones and cut off production in a country where most iPhones are made. The product provides almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. Qualcomm filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman.

“Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” Trimble said. Apple shares initially gave up some gains from earlier on Friday before recovering, while Qualcomm stock maintained small losses.

Qualcomm’s suits are based on three non-standard essential patents, it said. They cover power management and a touch-screen technology called Force Touch that Apple uses in current iPhones, Qualcomm said. The inventions "are a few examples of the many Qualcomm technologies that Apple uses to improve its devices and increase its profits,” Trimble said.

Apple said the claim has no merit. “In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed,” said Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock. “Like their other courtroom maneuvers, we believe this latest legal effort will fail.”

Qualcomm made the filings at the Beijing court on Sept. 29. The court has not yet made them public.

“This is another step to get Apple back to the negotiating table,” said Mike Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Inc. “It shows how far apart they are.”

There’s little or no precedent for a Chinese court taking such action at the request of a U.S. company, he said. Chinese regulators would also be concerned that a halt of iPhone production would cause layoffs at Apple’s suppliers such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which are major employers.

Conversely, supporting Qualcomm might help Chinese phone companies such as Guangdong Oppo Electronics Co. to gain share against Apple, Walkley said. Investors aren’t concerned about a disruption to iPhone supply because they believe Apple would immediately compromise if there was any threat to production.

“Apple’s not going to miss one day of production,” he said. ‘If for any reason they get a negative judgment, they’d go back to paying Qualcomm in the short term. They’re not going to risk their business model for this.”

The two companies are months into a legal dispute that centers on Qualcomm’s technology licensing business. While Qualcomm gets the majority of its sales from making phone chips, it pulls in most of its profit from charging fees for patents that cover the fundamentals of all modern phone systems.

The latest suits come at a crucial time for Apple. It just introduced iPhone 8 and X models aimed at reasserting leadership in a market that’s steeped in competition from fast-growing Chinese makers. Suppliers and assemblers in China are rushing to churn out as many new iPhones as possible ahead of the key holiday season, so any disruptions would likely be costly. The Greater China region accounted for 22.5 percent of Apple’s $215.6 billion sales in its most recent financial year.

Apple uses some of Qualcomm’s modems -- chips that connect phones to cellular networks -- in some versions of the iPhone. It’s cut that relationship back by using alternatives from Intel Corp. in some markets.

The legal battle started earlier this year when Apple filed an antitrust suit against Qualcomm arguing that the chipmaker’s licensing practices are unfair, and that it abused its position as the biggest supplier of chips in phones. Qualcomm charges a percentage of the price of each handset regardless of whether it includes a chip from the company, and Apple is sick of paying those fees.

Qualcomm has countered with a patent suit and argued that Cupertino, California-based Apple encouraged regulators from South Korea to the U.S. to take action against it based on false testimony. Earlier this week, Qualcomm was fined a record NT$23.4 billion ($773 million) by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission, a ruling the company is appealing. Qualcomm is also asking U.S. authorities to ban the import of some versions of the iPhone, arguing they infringe on its patents.

Soon after its first legal salvo, Apple cut off licensing payments to Qualcomm. That’s about $2 billion a year in highly profitable revenue, according to analyst estimates, and the chipmaker was forced to lower earnings forecasts. Qualcomm stock is down 19 percent this year compared with a 35 percent gain by the benchmark Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index. Apple shares are up 36 percent this year.

 

Credit: Bloomberg

Published in World

For a possible third time since multi-party elections were restored, Liberians will be revisiting the polls to decide on who becomes the country's next president in a run-off presidential election between the two candidates who have obtained the most number of votes from the October 10 polls.

The two candidates with most of the votes so far have not been able to secure 50%+1. So far the top opposition contender, George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has secured 572,453 votes, which amounts to 39.0% of the 1,550,923 votes already tallied across the country. Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP), trails behind Weah with 427,550 votes, 29.1% of the national tally so far.

And with the The National Elections Commission (NEC) having tallied 95.6% of all votes cast on October 10, it is quite unavoidable that a run-off election will ensue.

Weah is contesting as a presidential candidate for the third time since the end of the 14-year Liberian civil war in 2003.

According to the Liberian Constitution, the President and Vice President must receive an absolute majority of the votes in order to win the election. An absolute majority means that the candidate must receive fifty percent plus one (50%+1) of all valid votes cast. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, then there will be a run-off election between the two candidates who received the most votes.

So as it is becoming evident and since neither of the leading presidential candidates (Weah & Boakai) has or could acquire 50%+1 votes, the NEC is mandated by Article 83 (b) of the Liberian Constitution to conduct a run-off to determine the next President of Liberia.

Meanwhile Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party (LP), Ex-Coca-Cola executive Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) are trailing in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, and will not be qualified to participate in the run-off as a candidate. Each of them, however, has significant number of devoted voters who they could encourage to vote in favor of either of the two top in the run-off.

Brumskine has so far received 144,359 votes (9.8%), while Cummings has received 104,127 votes (7.1%) and PYJ gets 102,564 votes (7.0%).

According to Article 83(b) of the Liberian Constitution, a runoff election is held within two weeks following the announcement of the results of the ballots cast in the first round of the presidential election. The NEC, by the same law, has until October 25 to announce the final results of the first round of voting and the possible run-off.

Role of other parties not contesting the run-off

All political parties, even if they are not participating in the run-off, have a stake in the electoral process. Their accredited representatives may monitor the election to ensure that it is free, fair and transparent. Also, political parties that are not contesting the run-off may encourage their members who are registered voters to participate in the election by voting for a preferred candidate between the two leading candidates.

Party representatives may witness every process at the polling place except the act of a voter recording his or her vote. Inside the place, representatives may not communicate with voters in any way. During polling, the party or candidate's representatives for the run-off election are allowed to stand to witness the polls from a visible position.

This step is to ensure the transparency of the process by allowing a party or a candidate representatives to observe the process of identification of the voter in the Final Registered Roll (FRR).

Run-off campaign period

The campaign period for the possible run-off election shall commence on the day following the announcement of the final results, but the NEC may announce the results earlier and the campaign shall end 24 hours before Election Day. Campaign guidelines issued by the NEC for the October 10 elections remain in effect; parties and their supporters must campaign in compliance with these guidelines and regulations.

What regulates campaign expenditures?

Campaign expenditure limits set forth in the 1986 New Elections Law as amended by the 2004 Electoral Reform Law shall include the additional campaign period for the run-off Election. As amended in Section 13 of the Campaign Finance Regulations, the post-election campaign finance report for candidates contesting the run-off Election shall be submitted fifteen (15) days after the official results of the run-off election are announced.

 

Source: Liberian Observer

Published in Economy

  1. Opinions and Analysis

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