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Cosatu stands by decision to back Cyril



Cosatu has defended its decision to back ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as its candidate to replace President Jacob Zuma next year, describing him as a “liberator of mineworkers” during apartheid.

The federation dismissed criticism levelled at Ramaphosa over his role in the Marikana massacre, saying it was a ploy to discredit the ANC-led government but not necessarily the ANC deputy president as an individual leader.

Cosatu’s announcement yesterday followed its central executive committee (CEC) meeting this week.

“You keep raising Marikana. A commission was put in place and Cyril was not found guilty.

“Things will be raised – it doesn’t matter who leads the ANC, this war is not against individuals, but the ANC.

“They [opposition parties] want regime change,” said Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi.

Prior to the CEC meeting, Cosatu had said it would allow its affiliated unions to decide who should be endorsed as Zuma’s replacement.

But indications are that the labour federation buckled under pressure from its affiliates, such as the National Mineworkers Union (NUM), Nehawu, teachers’ union Sadtu and the Communication Workers Union.

The ANC is due to hold its elective conference next year in December and factions within the party and its aligned structures are intensifying lobbying for their preferred candidates.
Cosatu’s first deputy president Tyotyo James said it should be remembered that it was Ramaphosa who had “liberated” workers during apartheid.

“He founded the NUM and became its first general secretary. It was through his actions that mineworkers were liberated from prison-like conditions.”

Cosatu’s decision is seen as a slap in the face of its president Sdumo Dlamini, a staunch Zuma supporter who wanted to rally behind a candidate from an ANC camp aligned to him.
Dlamini, who attended yesterday’s press conference, did not speak on the issue as Cosatu leaders tried to explain that their decision to support Ramaphosa had been unanimous.
In another indication that Cosatu had lost patience with Zuma, it said it supported the institution of a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela. This comes after Zuma, responding to questions in parliament on Wednesday, complained that Madonsela had no right to instruct him to institute a commission of inquiry.

Cosatu also announced yesterday that it had submitted a vote of no confidence in the Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane. It accused Zwane of colluding with other unions against NUM.

“He is a weak and polarising figure who has failed to deal with the biggest issues like retrenchments, illegal mining and the ongoing violence,” said Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. “His collusion with other unions to isolate and attack the NUM was the last straw for the CEC. We are calling for him to step aside or to be dismissed.”

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Israel election: Netanyahu, Gantz battle too close



Israel’s election was too close to call on Wednesday, with a partial vote tally showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied with his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.

An official result was still hours, perhaps days off. But with more than 63 percent of votes counted, theis  Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc was, as expected, more or less even with Gantz’s center-left.

With no single-party majority in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, there will likely be weeks of coalition talks before a new government is formed.

The ballot’s wildcard, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, emerged as a likely kingmaker as head of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

Lieberman has been pushing for a unity government comprised of the biggest parties. He declined to back Netanyahu’s bid to form a narrow right-wing and religious coalition after an April election, bringing about Tuesday’s unprecedented repeat vote.

Addressing Likud party faithful, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, sipped water frequently and spoke hoarsely. He made no claim of victory or concession of defeat, saying he would await final results.

His dead-of-night appearance was a far cry from his triumphant – and in the end premature – declaration five months ago that he had won a close election.

Gantz was more upbeat, telling a rally of his Blue and White party that it appeared “we fulfilled our mission”, and he pledged to work toward forming of a unity government.


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Saudi Arabia to provide evidence on its oil facility attack



Saudi Arabia said it would show evidence on Wednesday linking regional rival Tehran to an unprecedented attack on its oil industry that Washington believes originated from Iran in a dangerous escalation of Middle East frictions.

Tehran has denied involvement in the Sept. 14 attacks on oil plants, including the world’s biggest crude processing facility, that initially knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s production.

“We don’t want conflict in the region … Who started the conflict?” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, blaming Washington and Tehran for a war in Yemen.

Yemen’s Houthi group, an ally of Iran, has claimed responsibility and said they used drones to assault state oil company Aramco’s sites.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials were headed to Saudi Arabia. United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen also left for the kingdom, Saudi’s U.N. envoy told Reuters.

Concrete evidence showing Iranian responsible, if made public, could pressure Riyadh and Washington into a response, though U.S. President Donald Trump said he does not want war.

The Saudi Defense Ministry said it will hold a news conference on Wednesday at 1430 GMT to present “material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime’s involvement in the terrorist attack”. Riyadh has already said preliminary results showed the attack did not come from Yemen.

A U.S. official told Reuters the strikes originated in southwestern Iran. Three officials said they involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what U.S. intelligence they were using for the evaluations.

Some U.S. allies, as well as those of Iran, have asked for proof behind accusations Tehran was responsible for the attack that cut 5% of global production. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, said on Tuesday the 5.7 million barrels per day of output would be fully restored by the end of the month.

Oil prices fell after the Saudi reassurances, having surged more than 20% at one point on Monday – the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf War.

Illustrating international caution on such an inflammatory issue, Japan’s new defense chief said Tokyo has not seen any intelligence that shows Iran was involved

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