South Africa’s Zuma denies he has $30m of Qaddafi’s cash

Under Zuma, South Africa had vociferously opposed the NATO-led military intervention to oust the Libyan dictator. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2019
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South Africa’s Zuma denies he has $30m of Qaddafi’s cash

  • The Sunday Times reported that before he was captured and killed in 2011, Qaddafi had given the funds for safe keeping to Zuma, when he was president of South Africa
  • The paper said Zuma had stashed the money at his home in the southeastern village of Nkandla before moving it to neighboring eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma has denied allegations by a local newspaper that he is in possession of $30 million (€26.7 million) belonging to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The Sunday Times at the weekend reported that before he was captured and killed in 2011, Qaddafi had given the funds for “safe keeping” to Zuma, when he was president of South Africa.
The paper said Zuma had stashed the money at his home in the southeastern village of Nkandla before moving it to neighboring eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland.
“Former president Zuma is not aware of any money directed to his Nkandla home from former president Qaddafi, nor has he ever received funds from Qaddafi,” the ex-president’s foundation said in a statement cited Wednesday by South Africa’s The Star newspaper.
Zuma himself tweeted sardonically on Tuesday that he was surprised to hear that he was keeping $30 million when he was in need of cash to pay for legal bills to fight graft charges.
“Sigh! I owe millions in legal fees.... I now hear that I have been keeping money belonging to my late brother Qaddafi. Where’s this money because His Majesty knows nothing about it?” he tweeted, referring to the king of eSwatini.
Zuma, who was ousted last year over multiple graft scandals, could be liable for the equivalent of $2 million in legal bills.
The eSwatini government spokesman Percy Simelane also refuted the existence of Zuma’s money in his country.
“We are not aware of any money secretly stashed anywhere in eSwatini from former South African President Jacob Zuma belonging to former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi,” Simelane told AFP in Mbabane.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Sunday said “there is no money that we are aware of.
“I have not found any money that belongs to Libyans. If the Libyans make a request for us to investigate this matter, we will.”
Under Zuma, South Africa had vociferously opposed the NATO-led military intervention to oust the Libyan dictator.
It also said Qaddafi should have been handed to the international war crimes court after his capture.


UN gives Myanmar aid cut warning over Rohingya camp closures

Updated 18 June 2019
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UN gives Myanmar aid cut warning over Rohingya camp closures

  • Myanmar has closed several camps holding around 9,000 Rohingya
  • They have not been allowed to return to their former homes and remain dependent on handouts

YANGON: The UN has warned it will pare back aid to thousands of Rohingya Muslims left destitute as Myanmar’s government closes camps in Rakhine state, over fears its continued support “risks entrenching segregation.”
Aid agencies are facing an increasingly sharp dilemma in the region as they balance relief for desperate communities with leverage over the government.
The majority of Myanmar’s Rohingya were driven into Bangladesh by a 2017 army crackdown, but around 400,000 remain inside conflict-battered Rakhine.
Those include nearly 130,000 held since 2012 in squalid camps, currently supported by UN agencies and humanitarian groups.
As part of its strategy to address the crisis, Myanmar has closed several camps holding around 9,000 Rohingya.
But they have not been allowed to return to their former homes and remain dependent on handouts. Instead, they are being settled in new accommodation close to the former camps.
That has sparked fears aid agencies are effectively being used to prop-up a policy that fails to address the fundamental needs of the Rohingya, including housing, work, food and security.
The camp closure plan “risks entrenching segregation,” UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Knut Ostby wrote to the government in a leaked letter, dated 6 June and seen by AFP.
The letter, also written on behalf of aid groups, warned support “beyond life-saving assistance” at the closed sites would in future be linked to “tangible” progress made on “the fundamental issue of freedom of movement.”
“Life-saving” support includes food, health and water, but site planning, shelter construction and education facilities could be phased out, aid agency sources told AFP.
The UN has faced criticism for a slow response to violence against the Rohingya, which escalated after 2012 riots between Muslim Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
A UN report released Monday admitted “systemic failures” in its handling of the build-up to the Rohingya crisis.
Limited access to Rakhine’s camps makes independent reporting on conditions difficult.
But AFP has reviewed recent interviews conducted in five camps by an NGO requesting anonymity to protect its work.
“If I build a house, it can be seized arbitrarily,” one Rohingya man said.
“I have no right to the land and I can also be arrested at any time.”
An aid worker called the remaining 23 sites in Rakhine little more than “concentration camps.”
On condition of anonymity, she spoke of the “complicity” humanitarian staff feel for perpetuating the segregation.
Amnesty International has described Rakhine as an “apartheid state.”
All aid must be “heavily conditioned,” researcher Laura Haigh said, warning donors that building infrastructure could make them complicit in crimes against humanity.
The government defended the camp closures, telling AFP it would continue working with the UN and NGOs on the issue.
Any former camp resident holding a National Verification Card (NVC) will be able to “move freely within their township” and access “education, health facilities and livelihood activities,” the social welfare ministry said.
Most Rohingya refuse to apply for the card believing they should already be treated as full citizens.
Those interviewed said the few to have caved had no more rights than anyone else.
They were also forced to designate themselves as “Bengali,” a term implying they are from Bangladesh.
“They are just trying to dominate us and make us illegal through different ways,” one Rohingya man said.