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DURBAN, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Libya forced a 0-0 draw with South Africa in Durban Saturday to remain surprise Group E leaders in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition.

When the mini-leagues draw was made, former African champions Nigeria and South Africa were installed as favourites to fill the two places available for the finals in Cameroon.

But with two of the six qualifying rounds completed, Libya lead with four points, South Africa and Nigeria have three each and the Seychelles are pointless.

Algeria-born coach Adel Amrouche said he hoped the goalless stalemate at Moses Mabhida Stadium in the Indian Ocean port city would bring joy to the Libyan people.

"Only football can bring the people together," said the 50-year-old former coach of Equatorial Guinea, Burundi and Kenya.

He was talking after deadly clashes in Tripoli last week between rival militias battling for control of the Libyan capital.

Libyan national and club teams have had to host home matches outside the north African country because of safety issues since the 2011 death of dictator Muamar Kadhafi.

"I am not coaching Libya for money -- I want to help bring happiness to the people by taking the national team to the 2019 Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon," said Amrouche.

The match staged in wet conditions before a small crowd followed a predictable pattern with Libya putting virtually their entire team behind the ball whenever threatened.

It led to an international that delivered little excitement and the match appeared destined to finish goalless long before the final whistle.

"We battled to gain possession against physically strong opponents and then surrendered the ball too easily at times," admitted England-born South Africa coach Stuart Baxter.

Libya face Nigeria twice between October 8 and 16 while South Africa host and visit the Seychelles at the same time.

 

OSTRAVA, Sept 7, 2018 (News Wires) - A large group of South African athletes are looking at making a significant contribution to the African team at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 20 South Africans have been included in the African squad, which will face teams from the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

The SA contingent is led by sprinter Akani Simbine and middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who will look to close their international campaigns in style after winning Commonwealth Games and African titles this season.

The African team also features Cornel Fredericks, who will hope to continue his impressive comeback at international level when he lines up in defence of the 400m Hurdles title he won at the previous edition of the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech four years ago.

Former Olympic Long Jump medallist Khotso Mokoena also returns to the showpiece after reaching the podium in 2014. Having set a national record of 17.35m to earn silver in the triple jump event in Marrakech, Mokoena again lines up in the hop, skip and jump.

Two athletes will represent each of the four continental teams in each discipline in Ostrava, with straight finals being contested.

 

WASHINGTON/JOHANNESBURG, August 23, 2018 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study South African “land and farm seizures” and the “killing of farmers”, prompting Pretoria to accuse Trump of stoking racial divisions.

Trump’s comments inflamed an already high-octane debate over land in South Africa, a country that remains deeply racially divided and unequal nearly a quarter of a century after Nelson Mandela swept to power at the end of apartheid.

The rand currency ZAR=D3 dropped more than 1.5 percent against the U.S. dollar in early trade on Thursday after Trump's tweet had circulated in South Africa, before trimming its losses.

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and large scale killing of farmers,” Trump said on Twitter.

The tweet appeared to be a response to a Fox News report on Wednesday that focused on South Africa’s land issue and murders of white farmers.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman said Trump was “misinformed” and the foreign ministry would seek clarification from the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria.

“South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past,” a tweet from South Africa’s official government account said.

Ramaphosa announced on Aug. 1 that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) plans to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation, as whites still own most of South Africa’s territory.

Ramaphosa has said any measures would not hit economic growth or food security. No land has been “seized” since the reform plans were announced, the ANC says.

“It is regrettable that the tweet is based on false information,” South Africa’s foreign affairs minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, said.

Far-left opposition firebrand, Julius Malema, who has led calls for the seizure of white-owned land, told Trump to keep out of the debate. “We want to send a strong message to the U.S. to stay out of South Africa. You have caused enough problems in Africa,” he told journalists.

The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

Afriforum, which mostly champions white people’s rights in South Africa, welcomed Trump’s announcement.

“Everyone in South Africa should therefore hope that the pressure from the USA will lead to the ANC reconsidering the disastrous route that they want to take SA on,” AfriForum’s CEO, Kallie Kriel, said.

He added that Trump’s comment came just three months after the organization sent a delegation to the United States to brief Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson, and the Cato Institute think tank, on the situation in South Africa.

Violent crime is a serious problem across South Africa and 47 farmers were killed in 2017-18, according to statistics from AgriSA, an association of agricultural associations. However the same figures show that farm murders are at a 20-year low.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model under which the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.

Progress has been slow and most South Africans believe something has to be done to accelerate change, providing it does not hurt the economy or stoke unrest.

“Reforming the land distribution and ownership will be good for South Africa,” said political analyst Nic Borain.

“That there will be instability and worries about property rights is inevitable, but we don’t expect that the government will act in a way that radically destabilizes investor security.”

Trump’s tweet came days after it was announced that his wife, Melania, would travel to Africa in October for her first major solo international trip as first lady.

In January, South Africa protested to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria about reported remarks by Trump that some immigrants from Africa and Haiti came from “shithole” countries.

OHANNESBURG, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) - South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled on Monday the appointment of the chief prosecutor, who was given his job after former president Jacob Zuma removed his predecessor, is invalid and ordered that his replacement be made within 90 days.

Shaun Abrahams was appealing against an earlier High Court judgment that ruled that the removal of predecessor Mxolisi Nxasana was unlawful and that his own appointment be revoked.

Zuma faced a string of corruption allegations during his time in office, and Abrahams was accused by the opposition and rights groups of shielding the president from prosecution.

Zuma has denied wrongdoing and Abrahams denies protecting him from prosecution.

"Zuma's removal of Nxasana was an abuse of power. Abrahams was a beneficiary of an abuse of power," Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga, who criticised Zuma for buying Nxasana out of office with a $1 million payout.

"The inference is inescapable that he was buying Mr Nxasana out of office."

Zuma, whose nine years in power were marked by economic stagnation and credit rating downgrades, resigned as President in February, reluctantly heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress.

The judge ordered that South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a National Director of Public Prosecutions within 90 days.

Several civil rights groups asked the Constitutional Court, the country's highest, to confirm the previous ruling, and remove Abrahams from office.

Abrahams, who had kept his post pending the appeal, was not at the court. He did not immediately comment.

JOHANNESBURG, July 27, 2018 (News Wires) - South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma appeared at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal in the late 1990s, but a judge adjourned the case to Nov. 30.

Zuma, who appeared in court in a dark suit and red tie, faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a deal to buy European military hardware to upgrade South Africa’s armed forces after the end of apartheid in 1994.

The case is a rare example of an African leader being held to account for his actions. Zuma, who was ousted by the ruling party in February, denies any wrongdoing.

His lawyer Mike Hellens asked the judge to allow the former president’s legal team to file a permanent stay of prosecution against the charges.

Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo said the defence should have adequate time to prepare that application.

 

JOHANNESBURG, July 26, 2018 (News Wires) - South Africa cannot afford large-scale expansion of its nuclear power fleet but would still be open to future nuclear deals with Russia, the ruling party's Treasurer General said on Thursday shortly before President Vladimir Putin arrived for the BRICS summit.

The nuclear project was prioritized by former President Jacob Zuma but new President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has promised to revive the economy and crack down on corruption since becoming president in February, canned the plan saying the country could not afford a large-scale nuclear expansion.

The African National Congress's Treasurer General Paul Mashatile, one of the top six most powerful members in the ruling party which oversees the government's economic policies, said Pretoria would not take the "Big Bang approach" to nuclear expansion.

He was speaking at a business breakfast on the sidelines of the three-day BRICS summit that kicked off on Wednesday in Johannesburg, attended by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

"Once we are clear that this is affordable for us to do, we are open for business including with Russia," said Mashatile, said referring to a potential nuclear deal.

"I think the approach we will take is to avoid the Big Bang approach. The initial intervention was that we would do close to 10,000 megawatts... It's unaffordable," he said.

Mashatile also said the ANC wanted greater private investment in struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, which swung to a loss for the year to end-March.

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