Tag Archive: South Africa


  • Destroyer and supply ship left Iran last month and are crossing the Atlantic Ocean 
  • Deployment is a response to U.S. naval deployments near Iran’s coastlines
  • Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet said: ‘This move has a message’
  • Ships expected to sail for at least three months

By Associated Press Reporter and Daily Mail Reporter

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Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time in a bid to send ‘a message’ to the White House.

A destroyer and helicopter-carrying supply shipbegan their voyage last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas and are on a three-month mission.

The voyage is intended to counter the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as the Islamic Republic continues to assert its power across the Middle East and beyond.

‘Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message,’  Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet said, according to
The Jerusalem Post.

'This move has a message': Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean last month will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time in response to U.S. fleets near Iran

‘This move has a message': Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean last month will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time in response to U.S. fleets near Iran

Haddad said the vessels have already entered the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa, carrying about 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews.

Iran had first warned America of its plans to deploy its naval forces along U.S. marine borders ‘in the next few years’ in September 2012.

Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari at the time said that the move would be a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines. 

The U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the Persian Gulf.

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Iranian warships ‘to sail close to US maritime border’

 

Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passes through the Suez Canal at Ismailia, Egypt (Feb 2011) Iran is reported to be eager to project its naval power beyond the Middle East

 

 

Iranian warships in the Atlantic Ocean are to sail close to US maritime borders for the first time, a senior naval commander has said.

 

Iranian media quoted Adm Afshin Rezayee Haddad as saying the deployment was a response to US vessels in the Gulf.

 

The fleet consists of a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship.

 

It began its voyage last month and entered the Atlantic though South African waters, the IRNA news agency quoted the admiral as saying.

 

The Iranian ships are reported to be carrying about 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews. They are on a three-month mission.

 

Correspondents say that the voyage comes amid continuing efforts by Iran to to project its power across the Middle East and beyond.

 

The semi-official Fars news agency said the move was a response to an increased US naval presence in the Gulf.

 

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Nelson Mandela dead at 95

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View images of civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who went from anti-apartheid activist to prisoner to South Africa’s first black president.

Nelson Mandela, the revered South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to democracy and became its first black president, died Thursday at home. He was 95.

“He is now resting,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. “He is now at peace.”

“Our nation has lost his greatest son,” he continued. “Our people have lost their father.”

A state funeral will be held, and Zuma called for mourners to conduct themselves with “the dignity and respect” that Mandela personified.

“Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society… in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another,” he said as tributes began pouring in from across the world.

Though he was in power for only five years, Mandela was a figure of enormous moral influence the world over – a symbol of revolution, resistance and triumph over racial segregation.

He inspired a generation of activists, left celebrities and world leaders star-struck, won the Nobel Peace Prize and raised millions for humanitarian causes.

South Africa is still bedeviled by challenges, from class inequality to political corruption to AIDS. And with Mandela’s death, it has lost a beacon of optimism.

Feb. 1990: NBC’s Robin Lloyd reports on Nelson Mandela on the eve of his release from prison in 1990. Mandela’s name has become a rallying cry for the overthrow of apartheid, but no one but prison guards and visitors have actually seen him since he was jailed 27 years ago.

In his jailhouse memoirs, Mandela wrote that even after spending so many years in a Spartan cell on Robben Island – with one visitor a year and one letter every six months – he still had faith in human nature.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” he wrote in “Long Walk to Freedom.”

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Mandela retired from public life in 2004 with the half-joking directive, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and had largely stepped out of the spotlight, spending much of his time with family in his childhood village.

His health had been fragile in recent years. He had spent almost three months in a hospital in Pretoria after being admitted in June for a recurring lung infection. He was released on Sept. 1.

In his later years, Mandela was known to his countrymen simply as Madiba, the name of his tribe and a mark of great honor. But when he was born on July 18, 1918, he was named Rolihlahla, which translated roughly – and prophetically – to “troublemaker.”

Mandela was nine when his father died, and he was sent from his rural village to the provincial capital to be raised by a fellow chief. The first member of his family to get a formal education, he went to boarding school and then enrolled in South Africa’s elite Fort Hare University, where his activism unfurled with a student boycott.

As a young law scholar, he joined the resurgent African National Congress just a few years before the National Party – controlled by the Afrikaners, the descendants of Dutch and French settlers – came to power on a platform of apartheid, in which the government enforced racial segregation and stripped non-whites of economic and political power.

As an ANC leader, Mandela advocated peaceful resistance against government discrimination and oppression – until 1961, when he launched a military wing called Spear of the Nation and a campaign of sabotage.

April, 1994: Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela is on the verge of being elected South Africa’s first black president.

The next year, he was arrested and soon hit with treason charges. At the opening of his trial in 1964, he said his adoption of armed struggle was a last resort born of bloody crackdowns by the government.

“Fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation and fewer and few rights,” he said from the dock.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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Nelson Mandela Dead at 95

The New York Times The New York Times

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/U8Ys7n
Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, died at 95.

Read the story: http://nyti.ms/1jrjEyE

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An ambulance transporting former South African president Nelson Mandela arrives at the home of the former statesman in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 1, 2013.An ambulance transporting former South African president Nelson Mandela arrives at the home of the former statesman in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 1, 2013.
Thuso Khumalo

A spokesman for South African President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that Mandela left the hospital Sunday morning.  Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj says the anti-apartheid icon is now recovering at his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. Mandela had been hospitalized since June 8.

Maharaj referred to Mandela using his clan name, Madiba.

We would like to wish him all the best as he continues his recovery at his Johannesburg home. Madiba’s condition remains critical and is at times unstable,” said Maharaj. “Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria.

Maharaj went further to dispel fears that South Africa’s first black president will not receive adequate medical care at his home.

His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there,” said Maharaj. “The health care personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done.

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Image: Princess. Tilly, Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife Extra

Czech rhino horn smuggling gang arrested

24 rhino horns seized

July 2013. 16 people were arrested and charged with smuggling, and 24 rhino horns were seized.

It appears that the gang members posed as hunters in South Africa, where they shot the rhinos on game farms; the horns were then imported to Europe, sometimes using fake documents. The gang planned to export the rhinos to Asia but it appears that they have been seized before they could complete the shipment.

This is not the first time rhinos have been shot, supposedly by ‘big game hunters’ who turned out to be working for smuggling syndicates. South Africa changed their rules after discovering that rhino hunting licences had been awarded to Thai prostitutes posing as hunters. Possibly as many as dozens of rhino were shot, not by the Thai girls who thought they were on safari, but by ‘professional hunters. The horns were then given export licences before being shipped to the gang leaders in Asia.

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Egyptian Politician: ‘The Brotherhood Knows the End Is Coming’

 Egyptian fighter jets leave a heart-shaped smoke trail in the sky during a ceremony at a military base east of Cairo  on Monday.  Zoom

AP

Egyptian fighter jets leave a heart-shaped smoke trail in the sky during a ceremony at a military base east of Cairo on Monday.

Egypt has been shaken by daily clashes since the recent coup. In an interview, leftist Egyptian politician Mamduoh Habashi explains why the military intervention was good for the country and his belief that the Muslim Brotherhood is on its way out.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Habashi, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the toppling of Mohammed Morsi a “serious setback for democracy.” How would you describe it?

Mamduoh Habashi: Mr. Westerwelle has a different understanding of democracy than I do. For me, democracy is the will of the people, and this blatantly manifested itself in a tremendous mass movement, the largest Egypt has ever seen. For Westerwelle, on the other hand, democracy appears to be something purely formal. For him, this has solely to do with the 2012 vote, despite the fact that the presidential election at the time was anything but clean.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Were the elections manipulated?

Habashi: Definitely. First, there was no real election oversight. Every institution was controlled by the military, and the army very much wanted to prevent a representative of the revolution from being elected. With candidates like (Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister) Ahmed Shafiq and Morsi, they thought the things would tilt in their favor. Additionally, the Islamists invested a lot of money in the campaign and bought votes. No other political group could keep up.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But internationally the elections were seen as exemplary.

Habashi: Most Egyptians felt they had been cheated out of their revolution, but they still accepted Morsi’s victory. It wasn’t a clear victory, though. Morsi had only a razor thin majority. His presidency was characterized by unbelievable arrogance and audacity. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood paid even less attention to the people’s hardships than Mubarak.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: And that’s why the military had to intervene on July 3?

Habashi: The Egyptian military did what it had to do. There was no other option, because millions of people wanted the Brotherhood to be stripped of power. What was the alternative — to look on as democracy was undermined and destroyed? Do you know what people here say? They compare it to the purchase of preserved food that is supposed to last for four years. Imagine opening up the can to find that after just half a year, it has gone bad. What would you do? Eat it anyway or throw out the can?

SPIEGEL ONLINE: At the same time, since Morsi was ousted there have been fresh protests and attacks. Egypt has become more dangerous.

Habashi: Of course, many Islamists are radicalizing and turning to violence. That doesn’t mean, however, that the country is sinking into chaos. The Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity is sinking rapidly. Morsi supporters have never gotten more than 100,000 people onto the streets, whereas his opponents have drawn several million.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Does the Muslim Brotherhood still believe it can turn the tide in its favor?

Habashi: No, the leaders of the Brotherhood know the end is coming. At a certain point, they will negotiate with the interim government and the military, but first they want to get as much out of it as they can.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Europeans and the Americans have called on both sides to reconcile. Do you see any chance of this happening?

Habashi: What kind of reconciliation are we talking about? The Islamists are hardly interested in any kind of sustainable reconciliation. They are digging in their heels, unwilling to let go of their totalitarian ideology. A non-secular state according to Islamist ideology, which would inevitably discriminate against those with other religious beliefs, can never be a democratic one. The mainstream media often refer to the post-apartheid struggle in South Africa in this context. But the example is totally wrong. In South Africa, the white minority very clearly renounced its apartheid policies. That was the absolute prerequisite for reconciliation. The Muslim Brotherhood lacks that kind of insight.

 

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Number of military coup victims in Egypt amounts to 189 people

 

Number of military coup victims in Egypt amounts to 189 people
24 July 2013, 10:57 (GMT+05:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 24 /Trend A.Tagiyeva /

Some 189 people were killed in clashes as a result of unrests in Egypt, which were caused by the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, Anadolu agency repoted on Wednesday.

In addition, thousands people were reported to be wounded. The largest number of victims – 79 people – was recorded in Cairo and Giza cities.

Clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi have been continuing in Egypt after the Egyptian military suspended the constitution and ousted Morsi on July 3.

 

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Nelson Mandela, Dead or Alive, Could be Discharged from the Hospital

South Africa Mandela

South Africa – The African National Congress Party (ANC) is clutching at straws with their latest prediction about the health issues of Nelson Mandela. Former president Thabo Mbeki said that he expects Nelson Mandela to be discharged from hospital to recuperate at home.

Thabo Mbeki, ousted from the presidency during his second term, was speaking at a memorable service yesterday, when he made this predication. This is a prediction only and also points to how the current government will use any means possible to avoid the truth.

Mbeki announced his resignation from government after being recalled by the ANC’s National Executive Committee, following a conclusion of improper interference of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of the current president Jacob Zuma for corruption. The judgment was overturned, but his resignation stood.

Nelson Mandela was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection amidst high security and ambulance trauma. Daily updates from the government including members of the Mandela family continually report that the health aspect of Nelson Mandela remains critical but stable, nothing more nothing less.

Heated controversy has surrounded the Mandela health issue, with reports of his family creating unpleasant disputes over funeral and burial arrangements. From the time Nelson Mandela was admitted to the hospital with this serious health issue, reports from both the family and the government remained a worrying element and suggested that the truth is being withheld.

 

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TheRealNews TheRealNews

Published on Jul 6, 2013

Mark Weisbrot: Forced landing of Bolivia president’s plane and other tactics show that Snowden needs to speak directly to the public to get political asylum

See more videos at: http://therealnews.com

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The Truthseeker: Obama’s arrest, Bush’s trial (E18)

RussiaToday RussiaToday·

Published on Jun 28, 2013

“We’ll get Bush in the US” the world’s top war crimes prosecutor tells The Truthseeker after Dubya’s deputies warn him against travel, lawyers file for Obama’s arrest tomorrow when he hits South Africa, huge secret wars in America’s name being masked from the folks funding them.

Seek truth from facts with Yousha Tayob of the Muslim Lawyers Association, leading war crimes prosecutor Francis Boyle, Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher of New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights which stopped Bush’s first trip after his waterboarding admission, Marjorie Cohn, author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, and former NSA intelligence officer Scott Rickard.

RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air****************************************************************

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Eva and Stanley. © Charlotte Boitiaux/FRANCE 24
© Charlotte Boitiaux/FRANCE 24

Despite protests elsewhere, many locals in the township of Soweto have been looking forward to the arrival of Barack Obama, who was due to visit the nearby University of Johannesburg on Saturday to meet with South African students and entrepreneurs.

By Catherine VIETTE (video)
Charlotte BOITIAUX , reporting from South Africa (text)

The noise is deafening, the smell of burnt food overpowering. It is 10 am on Saturday, June 29, and already Bara, Soweto township’s largest market, is in full swing.

Just a few hundred metres away lies the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg, where US President Barack Obama is expected to make an appearance later in the day as part of his first ever visit to South Africa.

The voice of James Blunt rings out from an old CD player sitting on the pavement and resonates around the market stalls.

“An American singer for the arrival of an American,” says the CD player’s owner, Edward, though Blunt is actually British.

“I know that the US president comes to us today, I’m happy,” he says as he sits cross-legged in front of a pile of clothes which he sells for 20 rand (1.50 euros) apiece.

‘He is an African’

Edward is just one of many locals looking forward to Obama’s arrival and the economic rewards it could bring for the region.

“If you see him, tell him to come here with even more business,” says Stanley, a 78-year-old South African wearing a black cap to shield himself from the sun as the day begins to warm up.Standing next to him, his friend Eva is also looking forward to the President’s visit.”We need jobs, and that’s something he can provide,” she says with a laugh.

There is also a sense of pride among some South Africans at welcoming the first ever black US president to their country.

“He is an African” says Petruce enthusiastically, speaking in Zulu while handing out flyers for his stall where he sells DVDs at 10 rand (75 cents) each.

“I think he treats people well, he is a man of peace like Mandela. Economics is fine, but respect for human beings is better,” he adds.

Mandela has spent the past three weeks in a Pretoria hospital where his health is said to be in a critical condition. But for both Petruce and Eva, there is no sense that the timing of Obama’s visit is in any way disrespectful.

“Life must go on,” says Eva, “I do not think Mandela would have wanted us not to give him a warm welcome, he wouldn’t have liked that.”

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Barack Obama to face protests in South Africa after years of laissez-faire

Trade unions, students and Muslim groups are among those determined to give the US president a bumpy landing

Barack Obama meets Desmond Tutu during a visit to South Africa in 2006

Barack Obama, then a rising Democrat senator, meets Desmond Tutu during a visit to South Africa in 2006. Photograph: Obed Zilwa/AP

Symbolism will hang heavy this weekend when Barack Obama visits Soweto, the cradle of South Africa’s black liberation struggle, and Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela, who remained in critical condition in hospital last night, languished for years, plotting his nation’s rebirth.

Obama should not expect red-carpet treatment from all South Africans, despite the historic affinity between the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements. Workers, students and Muslim groups are among those determined to give Obama a bumpy landing when he descends on Africa‘s biggest economy.

“NObama” is the cry from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist party, which have called for “all workers” to join mass protests including a march on the US embassy in Pretoria on Friday.

Academics and students have vowed to boycott the University of Johannesburg’s award of an honorary law doctorate to Obama. The Muslim Lawyers’ Association has called for the president to be arrested as a war criminal.

While these may appear fringe group stunts that US presidents face all over the world, South Africa is an unusual case. Cosatu and the Communist party form a “tripartite alliance” with the governing African National Congress (ANC) and expect to be heard. Cosatu in particular, with 2.2 million members, is central to the ANC’s election machinery and well rehearsed in mobilising demonstrations that have been known to turn violent. The secretary general of the Communist party, Blade Nzimande, doubles as the country’s higher education minister and the ANC has plenty of self-professed communists and Marxists with a flair for anti-western rhetoric.

Obama is a target for those who prefer to blame South Africa’s malaise of inequality and joblessness on global capitalism rather than the ruling ANC.

Bongani Masuku, Cosatu’s international relations secretary, said: “Obama is perpetuating American foreign policy. The US is an empire run on behalf of multinational companies and the ruling class of America. US foreign policy is militarising international relations to sponsor and make their own weapons.”

Many in Africa had impossibly high hopes for Obama, the son of a Kenyan. But Masuku added: “I’m not disappointed because I didn’t expect anything. It’s not about the individual; it’s not about the race he came from. It’s about the class he represents. It’s like he’s the gatekeeper for white monopoly capital. He promised things we knew he wouldn’t be able to do.”

Guantánamo

That view is not confined to militant union organisers but extends to some members of the revered struggle generation. Denis Goldberg, who stood trial with Mandela in 1963-64 and was sentenced to life in prison by the apartheid regime, said: “I don’t like the idea of Guantánamo Bay; I think this is reprehensible.

“The unending assumption of depending on Chinese credits to finance your wars elsewhere – I think it’s outrageous what’s going on. I don’t have final answers but we need to ask questions of the big powers – all of them.”

Such is Cosatu’s influence on the ANC that its attacks on the US – from Palestine and Guantánamo Bay to the “ruthless and savage looting of our natural resources” – have sparked warnings of a diplomatic rift.

Ian Davidson, shadow international relations minister for the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: “This is President Obama’s first state visit to South Africa and is a significant event for the country to further our relations with the United States. It should not be blighted by Cosatu’s cheap political-point scoring. This move by Cosatu is an embarrassment to South Africa.”

On the surface, US-South African relations are cordial and have improved since the presidencies of George Bush and Thabo Mbeki, though Washington’s intervention in Libya alienated many here. But while many young South Africans were caught up in “Obama-mania” five years ago, those with longer memories bitterly recall Ronald Reagan’s failure to oppose apartheid.

Tom Wheeler, a former South African diplomat who began work in Washington just before the Kennedy assassination 50 years ago, said: “There’s a gut anti-Americanism and anti-westernism that lurks in some of the communities. It may be a hangover from the days when a lot of ANC people travelled to the Soviet Union, and America was regarded as the great colonialist.”

A demonstration is planned for the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus on Saturday, where the president will meet young African leaders in a “town hall” event.

With first lady Michelle and their daughters, he will then travel to Cape Town to visit Robben Island and meet retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, never shy of speaking his mind on western warmongering.

Mandela

Perhaps the only living South African more famous than Tutu is Mandela. Obama has met him once, in a Washington hotel in 2005. The prospect of the first black US and South African presidents coming face to face is a spin doctor’s dream, but could backfire if the ailing Mandela is seen to be exploited.

Goldberg, 80, said: “I think it would be such an intrusion on an old man who’s ill. We exploit Nelson Mandela and I object to that. We need to respect this great man’s privacy because people go to see Nelson Mandela not to support Nelson but to gain support for themselves, and this is exploitation.”

Speaking from Washington, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said: “While we’re in South Africa, we are going to be very deferential to the Mandela family in terms of any interaction that the president may have with the Mandela family or with Nelson Mandela.

“Ultimately, we want whatever is in the best interest of his health and the peace of mind of the Mandela family. And so we’ll be driven by their own determinations in that regard.

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DETROIT FREE  PRESS

Anti-Obama protests dispersed by South Africa police

An Anti Obama March Is Held Ahead Of The President

Anti-American demonstrators march through the streets while protesting against the official visit of U.S. President Barack Obama June 28, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. Organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, about 800 people marched through Pretoria to voice their opposition to Obama and U.S. policy in South Africa and around the world. / Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Anti-American demonstrators march through the streets while protesting against the official visit of President Barack Obama June 28, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. / Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG — Police fired rubber bullets and a stun grenade into a crowd of hundreds of protesters waiting for President Obama to arrive at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday.

The crowd quickly scattered as police officers walked up the street pushing protesters away with shot guns.

“I feel my rights are being infringed,” said 24-year-old Bilaal Qibr, who was at the protest. “We can’t protest anymore. Personally, I feel like this is an extension of the U.S.”

Protests have been planned at the university over Obama’s visit and the news that he is expected to receive an honorary doctorate when he speaks later Saturday.

“They don’t believe Obama deserves that award. The U.S. position and its relationship with Israel has created a problem,” said Levy Masete, president of the Student Representative Council. “The students say, ‘Stop the oppression in Palestine,’ and you want to honor this man who is making this oppression possible.”

“He’s here for our African resources,” said Nomagugu Hloma, 19, a student at what she called the “sell out” university. “Hands off our gold, oil, diamonds and land,” she said.

South Africa’s biggest trade union, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) also said they would be protesting, while the Muslim Lawyers Association called for the president’s arrest for war crimes.

“I’m disappointed with President Obama,” said Putase Tseki, the COSATU chairman of Gauteng province in Johannesburg. “He promised he would (change) his foreign policy, he was going to resolve Palestine and close Guantanamo. I would say I was positive four years ago, but now I don’t know.”

The “feeling of being let down” helped stem the protests, says William Beinart, an African studies professor at Britain’s University of Oxford.

Anti-American demonstrators dance and sing before marching through the streets to protest against the official visit of U.S. President Barack Obama June 28, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. Organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, about 800 people marched through Pretoria to voice their opposition to Obama and U.S. policy in South Africa and around the world. / Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Mandela ‘much better’, says President Zuma

ANC SUPPORTERS GATHER TO SING
Click to enlarge.
© FRANCE 24/ Charlotte Boitiaux

  Earlier, Mandela’s granddaughter told reporters that he was in a “very critical but stable” condition.

By Catherine NORRIS TRENT reporting from Pretoria (video)
FRANCE 24

Nelson Mandela’s health has improved overnight though the anti-apartheid hero remains in a critical condition, the office of South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.

“He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job,” Zuma said in a statement.

He added that although Mandela’s condition remains critical, it is now “stable”,

The President’s comments come after Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka Mandela told reporters earlier on Thursday that the former South African president is in a “very critical but stable” condition. “Anything is imminent,” she added. Mandela was put on life support on Wednesday.

Ndileka emerged from the hospital with other family members to accept bouquets of flowers from members of the public, FRANCE 24’s Charlotte Boitiaux reported. She returned to Mandela’s bedside in tears, she said.

Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe said Mandela was still responding to touch. “I won’t lie, it doesn’t look good. But as I say, if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He’s still there. He might be waning off, but he’s still there,” she told SABC radio after visiting him in hospital on Thursday.

Family elder Napilisi Mandela, who had been at Mandela’s bedside on Wednesday evening, told AFP that he was using machines to breathe. “It is bad, but what can we do,” he said.

Zuma cancels plans

President Zuma late Wednesday abruptly cancelled a trip to neighbouring Mozambique after he visited Mandela, who has been in critical condition for several days.

It is the first time Zuma has scrapped a public engagement since Mandela was hospitalised on June 8 with a recurring lung infection.

“President Zuma was briefed by the doctors who are still doing everything they can to ensure his well-being,” a statement from the presidency said.

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Prayer vigil for Nelson Mandela after condition improves

Karen Allen said people had been singing and lighting candles outside the hospital in Pretoria

South Africans have been holding an all-night prayer vigil for former President Nelson Mandela, outside his former home in Soweto.

The crowd have been singing and saying prayers for Mr Mandela’s health, on what is now his 20th night in hospital.

South Africa’s first black president – an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle – is suffering from a lung infection.

President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that the 94-year-old’s condition had improved, but still remained critical.

“He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night,” Mr Zuma said after speaking to Mr Mandela’s medical team.

Mr Zuma cancelled a visit to Mozambique to visit Mr Mandela in hospital.

Meanwhile Mr Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe said he was “still there” and responding to touch.

Nelson Mandela’s eldest daughter Makiziwe’s criticism has echoed the sentiments of many South Africans who have baulked at the “intrusive” nature of some of the media coverage around the former president’s state of health.

One such report suggested that Mr Mandela had suffered cardiac arrest on 8 June when he was rushed to hospital, and more recently some unconfirmed media reports said the national icon was now on life support. Some have described such details as “too much information”, others as “insensitive”.

Meanwhile the media continues to camp outside the heart hospital in Pretoria where he is being treated, as well as outside his home in Johannesburg, waiting for any news.

This is particularly uncomfortable for traditional South Africans, who see all the media attention as not only distasteful but also going against African culture.

There is a huge respect for death here and it is never mentioned before the event.

Even in this dark hour, very few speak frankly about the 94-year-old’s passing – instead many are still praying for his recovery.

But she accused some journalists of being like vultures, waiting for her father to die.

Emotional crowds gathered outside the hospital, adding messages of support for Mr Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba.

Children released 94 balloons – one for every year of the ex-president’s life – into the air in his honour.

Correspondents say South Africans now seem resigned to the prospect of his death.

“We don’t like seeing Mandela going through so much pain, he has had a tough time in his life and he’s gone through a lot of struggle. I think this struggle should get over sooner,” Khulile Mlondleni told Reuters news agency.

“We are all going to feel bad when he passes [away], but at the same time we will be celebrating his life. He has done so many great things for this country,” said 25-year-old John Ndlovu, quoted by the agency.

As crowds prayed in Soweto on Thursday evening, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it would hold vigils each day that the former leader remained in hospital.

 

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 Nelson Mandela: Earrings bearing the image of Nelson Mandela
AP Photo: Themba Hadebe. A woman wears earrings bearing the image of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa.
 

A tribal chief who talked with family members of Nelson Mandela hinted that the former leader is on life support.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africans were torn on Wednesday between the desire not to lose a critically ill Nelson Mandela, who defined the aspirations of so many of his compatriots, and resignation that the beloved former prisoner and president is approaching the end of his life.

The sense of anticipation and foreboding about Mandela’s fate has grown since late Sunday, when the South African government declared that the condition of the 94-year-old statesman, who was rushed to a hospital in Pretoria on June 8, had deteriorated.

A tide of emotional tributes has built on social media and in handwritten messages and flowers laid outside the hospital and Mandela’s home. On Wednesday, about 20 children from a day care center posted a handmade card outside the hospital and recited a poem.

Gallery: Nation waits for news on Mandela

“Hold on, old man,” was one of the lines in the Zulu poem, according to the South African Press Association.

In recent days, international leaders, celebrities, athletes and others have praised Mandela, not just as the man who steered South Africa through its tense transition from white racist rule to democracy two decades ago, but as a universal symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation.

In South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, where Mandela grew up, a traditional leader said the time was near for Mandela, who is also known by his clan name, Madiba.

“I am of the view that if Madiba is no longer enjoying life and is on life support systems, and is not appreciating what is happening around him, I think the good Lord should take the decision to put him out of his suffering,” said the tribal chief, Phathekile Holomisa.

“I did speak to two of his family members, and of course they are in a lot of pain and wish that a miracle might happen, that he recovers again and he becomes his old self again,” he said. “But at the same time, they are aware there is a limit what miracles you can have.”

Related: Children sing for Mandela in the hospital

For many South Africans, Mandela’s decline is a far more personal matter, echoing the protracted and emotionally draining process of losing one of their own elderly relatives.

One nugget of wisdom about the arc of life and death came from Matthew Rusznyah, a 9-year-old boy who stopped outside Mandela’s home in the Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton to show his appreciation.

“We came because we care about Mandela being sick and we wish we could put a stop to it, like snap our fingers,” he said. “But we can’t. It’s how life works.”

His mother, Lee Rusznyah, said Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison under apartheid before becoming South Africa’s first black president in all-race elections in 1994, had made the world a better place.

“All of us will end,” Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We just want him to be peacefully released, whatever he’s feeling at this moment, and to be reunited with his maker at the perfect time, when God so wills.”

 

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