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South African president Jacob Zuma survives impeachment vote

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The South African president, Jacob Zuma, has survived an attempt to impeach him after the African National Congress party gave him its backing. But his long-term future is still in doubt after a string of influential figures called on him to step down.

The motion to unseat the president was launched by opposition MPs after the constitutional court ruled that he had ignored an order to repay state funds spent on a lavish upgrade of his private home.

The ANC, which controls almost two-thirds of parliament, ensured the president won, with 233 MPs voting against the impeachment motion and 143 in favour.

But, beyond parliament, there are growing calls for Zuma to leave, arguing his reputation has been irretrievably tarnished by the ruling on his home renovations and a second controversy involving the Guptas, a family of wealthy industrialists with close ties to Zuma.

The Guptas have been accused of exploiting their relationship with the president to choose pliable candidates for top cabinet and business jobs in a scandal that came to light after the country’s respected finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, was abruptly sacked in December.

Zuma has fended off accusations of corruption, influence-peddling and rape since before he took office in 2009, but the current swirl of scandals over both his home renovations and ties to the Guptas is arguably the biggest challenge he has faced.

At the weekend one of the country’s most respected anti-apartheid fighters, an activist tried and jailed alongside Nelson Mandela, called for him to step down. Ahmed Kathrada made the call in a letter to Zuma after the court ruling.

On Tuesday the respected former finance minister Trevor Manuel also joined those calling for Zuma to go, saying he had violated his oath of office.

Zuma did not attend the proceedings in parliament. On Friday, the 73-year-old president gave a televised address to the nation in which he apologised and said he had never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the constitution.

Several major firms have cut ties with the Guptas, saying the association is too risky.

The South African branch of global accounting firm KPMG, Barclays Africa and investment bank Sasfin have all announced they will no longer do business with one of the Gupta family companies, Reuters reported.

In an email to KPMG staff, local chief executive Trevor Hoole said he had decided to stop auditing the Gupta mining firm Oakbay Resources and Energy after consulting regulators, clients and KPMG’s internal risk departments.

“I can assure you this decision was not taken lightly but in our view the association risk is too great for us to continue,” Hoole said in the email, seen by Reuters. “There will clearly be financial and potentially other consequences to this, but we view them as justifiable.” Oakbay confirmed the end of the 15-year relationship.

Barclays Africa, which runs South Africa’s biggest retail bank, Absa, also confirmed it no longer had a relationship with Oakbay, which is valued at 16bn rand (£752m) on the Johannesburg stock market. In an annual report from last August Oakbay listed Absa as its bank, Reuters reported.

A spokeswoman for Sasfin told Reuters on Monday the bank’s relationship with Oakbay would formally end on 1 June.

The Gupta family deny exploiting their relationship with Zuma and say they have been made scapegoats for the country’s economic woes and used as pawns in internal party politics.

The Gupta family emigrated from India in 1993, seeking business opportunities in post-apartheid South Africa, and now preside over a wide range of corporate interests from mining to IT and media.

Their close ties to Zuma, whose son sits on the board of at least six Gupta-owned companies, and extravagant lifestyle have drawn criticism before, perhaps most memorably when they used an air force base to fly in guests for a private wedding.

MSN

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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