Who Is Kgalema Motlanthe? Somali Piracy; Charles Taylor’s Son on Trial
A Segment from CNN’s Inside Africa
Aired October 3, 2008 12:30 EST
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to INSIDE AFRICA, your weekly window to the continent. I’m Isha Sesay.
On the show this week, South Africa’s interim president takes the helm at a turbulent time. Who is Kgalema Motlanthe and how will he govern?
Also ahead, Somali pirates take hijacking to new heights. We’ll look at the booming scourge and what’s being done about it.
And the son of Charles Taylor stands trial in the U.S. state of Florida for brutal crimes allegedly committed in Liberia.
We begin in South Africa, where Kgalema Motlanthe had been installed as interim president. He steps in at a troubled time, replacing Thabo Mbeki, who was ousted by his own party late last month. Nkepile Mabuse looks at Motlanthe’s political background and his first few days in office.
KGALEMA MOTLANTHE, SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT: So help me God.
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After a turbulent time for South Africa, the new interim president tries to set a tone of calm.
MOTLANTHE: We have moved quickly to bring stability to the country’s national executive, confirming the positions of ministers and deputy ministers, and filling any vacancies that have arisen.
MABUSE: One of Kgalema Motlanthe’s first moves was to bring back celebrated finance minister Trevor Manuel, one of several cabinet ministers who resigned after Thabo Mbeki’s ouster. Manuel is held in high regard around the world, credited for promoting economic growth and implementing investor-friendly policies.
But Motlanthe did make one later cabinet change. He replaced Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as health minister. She had been criticized for promoting her remedies as treatments for AIDS. Tshabalala-Msimang now occupies the post of minister in the presidency (ph). Many AIDS activists were pleased with the move.
MARK HEYWOD, AIDS ACTIVIST: We’ve called for the dismissal of the health minister for a number of years. Instead of a health minister who’s created unity of purpose in dealing with this epidemic, she has fueled conflict.
MABUSE: Motlanthe has a labor union background and is described as a left- leaning intellectual.
AZAR JAMMINE, ECONOMIST: The new administration, especially in the finance ministry, would be inclined towards a far more interventionist and populist style of economic policy than we have had in the past.
MABUSE: Just months ago, Motlanthe was sworn in as an MP and cabinet minister. When ANC head Jacob Zuma facing corruption charges that have since been thrown out on a technicality, the party made Motlanthe second in command last year, putting him in line to take over should Zuma be convicted. But publicly, Motlanthe insisted he had no presidential ambitions.
MOTLANTHE: If I had my own choice, we’ll try and identify the best of the available talent and put them in charge.
MABUSE: Despite being the ruling party head, Zuma himself was not eligible to take over from Mbeki, because he is not a member of parliament. As secretary general of the ANC from 1997 to 2007, critics say South Africa’s new president was unable to heal the bitter divisions that reached a climax last year when Zuma defeated Mbeki for the party leadership. But those who have worked with Motlanthe say he is an independent thinker, who is up to the task of steering Africa’s economic powerhouse.
SMUTS NGONYAMA, FORMER ANC SPOKESMAN: You will see a leader that is more or less similar to President Mbeki in terms of his impulse, and his style, of address in all these (inaudible) forums, whether it’s in the U.N. or it’s — maybe G-8 or whatever.
MABUSE: Motlanthe is seen as a survivor. Under apartheid, he spent 10 years at the infamous Robben Island prison, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Now, it is up to him to inspire confidence both inside and outside South Africa in his country’s political and economic stability, at least until next year’s presidential election, which Zuma is expected to win.
Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Johannesburg.
SESAY: Political analyst Khehla Shubane knows as much about Motlanthe as anyone. He was imprisoned at Robben Island while Motlanthe was there. Shubane sat down with CNN’s Robyn Curnow to discuss Motlanthe, the man and the nature of his administration.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Well, we’re having a cup of tea with Khehla Shubane. He is a political analyst, but more importantly, he’s also going to give us some insight into the president, Kgalema Motlanthe, because you were imprisoned on Robben Island with him, weren’t you?
KHEHLA SHUBANE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I was.
CURNOW: You started off on the first day together.
SHUBANE: Yeah, I know, I met him a day after I was sentenced, which was the 9th of July — of June in 1977, at Yukko (ph) Prison, and we were transferred together to Robben Island. And we got there on the same day, on Robben Island, manacled and shackled together.
CURNOW: Shackled together. Did you think that when you walked onto Robben Island that you’re shackled next to the future president?
SHUBANE: No, I didn’t think so. I didn’t think so. At the time, apartheid was so strong, I thought we would finish our sentences and we would all go into exile, and we were trying to fight as hard as possible for freedom, but we would never see it.
CURNOW: In your lifetime maybe. So, we’re sitting in that wonderful position where freedom is here, and someone like Kgalema Motlanthe is the president. You were imprisoned with him all those years. What kind of a man is he?
SHUBANE: Kgalema was one of those rare individuals in prison who — who were trusted by all the inmates, across organizations and across factions within the ANC. People confided in him, because he had a soft touch about him.
I think a fair amount of that soft touch came from the fact that he had a church upbringing. He was a (inaudible) in the Anglican church, and he had a socialization which made it possible for him to play a role of a reconciler among prisoners, as I’m saying, both across organizations and across factions within the ANC.
CURNOW: So, he was a peacemaker, and he has been described as sort of quite a cool head. Was that obviously evident in those days?
SHUBANE: Oh, it was, it was, at the time. As I’m saying, the ANC was ranked (ph) with factions as it is now. And (inaudible) we had multiplicity of organizations within the prison. And tensions tended to rise at certain periods in time. And Kgalema was a wonderful individual to have, to cool things down, to always introduce another perspective which would tend to bring emotions down, and ask people, as it were, to look at issues slightly differently.
CURNOW: So, he is generally a nice guy. You’re not the only person who’s told me that. But is he strong enough to be president? Can he lead a country like this country?
SHUBANE: Look, I didn’t see that characteristic popping in prison.
CURNOW: You didn’t?
SHUBANE: I did not. Mr. Mandela, for an example, was an obvious leader. He was a very strong individual, and he could say “No” to most of things, and he did say “No.” He was not a reconciler. He was a leader of the organization, but on any one matter you knew exactly where he stood.
CURNOW: Whereas Kgalema is a little bit more woolly (ph) when it comes to his decision-making. Is that what you’re saying?
SHUBANE: What I’m suggesting is that because he was a reconciler, Kgalema had to at times hold his own personal view points back. And at times, you didn’t know where he stood relative to any one matter. Now, that’s not a characteristic you expect of a president. The president always has to be clear on where he stands, even when he differs with people. People have to be clear about what it is (inaudible).
CURNOW: Because he is in this quite odd space where he is a caretaker president. Essentially he is waiting for Jacob Zuma perhaps to take over the presidency. It’s how does someone like him deal with it, and is he going to be able to think independently, or is the Zuma ANC going to be manipulating his presidency?
SHUBANE: It’s going to be very typical for him to think independently, and the reason — key reason for that is that the ANC is in an alliance with COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, as well as the South African Communist Party. Both of them fairly strong at this time after their victory against Mbeki. And Kgalema is meant to be representing the ANC within that alliance. Even though the ANC is a leader of the alliance, I think it is in a weaker position relative to those two organizations. So he’s going to have to play a very significant role in, one, asserting the position of the ANC, but do so relative to two very strong institutions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions on the one hand, as well the South African Communist Party on the other.
CURNOW: So, your final word on Mr. Motlanthe. How do you see his presidency playing out?
SHUBANE: I think Mr. Motlanthe has to present himself as a caretaker president who can hold things together, and holding things together means a whole number of issues, holding things internally in South Africa, and more importantly, it’s taking the stance of South Africa in foreign policy issues. Now, Thabo Mbeki was a very strong foreign policy president. Thabo Mbeki — Kgalema Motlanthe is going to have to think very hard and clearly about how he is going to maintain both of those stances.
CURNOW: So, a lot of challenged ahead for South Africa’s new president.
Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.
SESAY: Former archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Motlanthe as conciliatory, and says he appears to act with integrity. Lately, Tutu has been highly critical of the ANC and has called Mbeki’s ouster “deeply disturbing.”
Turning now to the troubled waters off Somalia. We’ll have an exclusive look at the booming problem of piracy.
And still ahead, the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor goes on trial in the U.S. You’re watching INSIDE AFRICA.
SESAY: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA. Piracy off the coast of Somalia has more than doubled this year, according to a new report by London think tank Chatham House. The pirates make a fortune from commandeering vessels and demanding ransom money.
Now it seems their audacity has reached new height. The Ukrainian vessel, the MV Faina, was recently hijacked on route to Mombasa, Kenya, carrying 33 Soviet-era tanks and other military supplies. It’s clear that no one seems to know how to protect one of the world’s most important shipping lanes from these bandits of the sea. More now from CNN’s David McKenzie.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Piracy is out of control, that’s the assessments of experts here in East Africa, and also across the world. The coalition forces that are patrolling in that area have an impressive arsenal, but they haven’t managed to stop pirates. In fact, piracy has increased dramatically in the past few months off the coast of Somalia.
We now take a special and in-depth look at how the pirates operate and what can be done to stop them.
A Korean deep sea trawler the Dong Won 628 stranded off the coast of Somalia. This video was shot by Somali pirates themselves and obtained by CNN from a third party. Here, they board the captured trawler from their (inaudible).
The pirates parade their heavy weapons — RPGs, assault rifles and heavy- caliber machine guns as they capture and intimidate the hapless crew.
This crew was kidnapped in 2006. They were held for more than 100 days, moored close to the Somali coast. On the video, pirate leader says this was a vigilante expedition.
“The Korean ship was 30 miles in our waters,” he says. “It is fishing illegally, so we demand that they should pay a fine.”
The Korean captain pleads that they paid the Somali government for a license and were fishing in international waters. But in these waters, piracy isn’t about fishing rights. It’s about cash.
This map explains why the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia is so dangerous. It’s on the route used by ships sailing from the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. The journey passes within easy range of the Somali coast, where the pirates are based. So far this year alone, at least 47 ships have been attacked, 25 successfully hijacked.
The International Chamber of Commerce posted these picture of what they say are pirate motherships, suspected of supplying attack boats.
The attacks continue despite patrols by multi-national force of warships. Kenya’s port of Mombasa is full of ships that have been hijacked and then ransomed. Pirates nabbed the Embi Mutsao (ph) when it was delivering food aid. Three sister ships from the same company have also been hijacked.
Andrew Mwangura, who helps companies to negotiate the release of hijacked vessels, has never seen it this bad.
ANDREW MWANGURA, SEAFARERS ASSOCIATION: At this time now, I think we can say Somali gunmen have broken the world record. It’s a big business. They make a lot of money.
MCKENZIE: The owner of the Mutsao spent weeks negotiating release.
And how did you sort it out in the end?
KARIM KUDRATI, MOTAKU SHIPPING AGENCIES: In the end, it was always a ransom. They always used to ask ransom.
MCKENZIE: How much did you have to pay to get your vessels released?
KUDRATI: Unfortunately, I would not like to disclose that.
MCKENZIE: The Seafarers Association says ransoms are running into the millions of dollars. All of the seamen we talked to on the Mutsao had been hijacked at least once. Thumani Said spent months under guard.
THUMANI SAID, SEAMAN: I was afraid. At gunpoint, not a good position. With an AK-47 rifle.
MCKENZIE: But he still plies his trade from Mombasa to Mogadishu.
SAID: They are not good people. Not good people at all. How to know they are still there and we are going (inaudible). Every time (inaudible) one of the ships is captured by pirates.
MCKENZIE: For now, ships traveling through the Gulf of Aden are unnoticed, maintain a 24-hour piracy watch. They are especially weary of rapidly approaching small craft.
Despite those warnings to vessels, pirates continue to take merchant ships in the area, and people believe that the only thing that can stop them is a concerted international effort.
David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi.
SESAY: Thanks, David.
Chatham House reports ransom money from piracy is being used to finance a war in Somalia and is also providing a source of income for terrorist groups. The report says the pirates have collected between $18 and $30 million in ransom so far this year.
Well, Charles Taylor’s son goes on trial in the United States for crimes allegedly committed during Liberia’s civil war. Up next, why a Florida jury will decide Chucky Taylor’s fate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making business news in Africa — lower food and fuel prices helped ease Uganda’s annual inflation rate last month. The country’s bureau of statistics says overall inflation declined to 15.2 percent. That’s down from a 14-year high of 15.8 percent in August.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest mobile phone operator continues to expand. MTN announced its purchase of two Ivory Coast communications firms, Arobase Telecom and Afnet for an undisclosed price. Arobase operates landline service in Ivory Coast, while Afnet is a leading Internet service provider, specializing in wireless broadband.
SESAY: Welcome back. You’re watching INSIDE AFRICA.
Human rights activists are hailing the prosecution of Chucky Taylor, son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Chucky is the first person to be tried under a 1994 U.S. law that makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen to commit torture abroad. He’s on trial in Florida, where he spent much of his childhood.
Here’s a timeline of key events in the case. In 1997, Chucky Taylor’s father appointed him head of an elite military outfit known as the anti- terrorist unit. Chucky is specifically accused of involvement in a list of grisly crimes, allegedly committed at an ATU base between 1999 and 2003. He was arrested in March of 2006, while trying to re-enter the United States. A day earlier, his father was turned over to an international court to face war crimes charges.
Well, former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey has been closely following the Chucky Taylor trial. I asked him about the specific charges and why the United States is pursuing the case.
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: All the elements came together, beginning with the fact that he was a U.S. citizen, so there was jurisdiction. Going to the fact that he held a very significant position in Liberia as head of the anti-terrorism unit. Of course, the connection to his father, the head of the regime, and there is a chronicle of fiendish cruelty that includes approximately seven victims over a period of years, and it’s grisly stuff. It’s everything from scalding, from mutilation, to electro charge in very painful ways, and even beheading and killing.
If the jury believes even a part of that evidence, he’s going to be convicted and go to prison for the rest of his life.
SESAY: The bottom line is, it’s still got to be tried in front of a jury. What is your sense in terms of the strength of the evidence against him? You’ve mentioned obviously there are witnesses, but this obviously — they never are open and shut cases.
COFFEEY: Well, there are very few cases that are open and shut, but what I think strengthens this case in so many ways is you’re going to have victims who come in and testify in the jury and identify him as the perpetrator. Eyewitness accounts, and a number of these victims have gruesome physical evidence still on their bodies of the allegations that they allege. This isn’t a he said/she said. This isn’t a circumstantial case. It is in many ways the strongest kind of testimony that you have when you have eyewitness accounts. And the kind of sadistic savagery that’s alleged here is such that a jury is going to want to make sure that justice is done when this trial is over.
SESAY: Do we have a sense already what the line of argument is, line of defense is from Chucky Taylor’s team?
COFFEY: Well, I think they’re going to necessarily have to say this is the U.S. trying to punish the son for the crimes of father, and that this is a combination of desperation — desperation by the U.S. government that wanted to do something about its history of inaction with respect to torture laws, and the desperation of the alleged Liberian victims, who, basically, the defense will say, are willing to say anything, point the fingers at anybody so that they can get out of Liberia and the difficult living conditions there, and find their way, get into the United States to a better life.
SESAY: But is there a kernel of truth to that argument, the first one you mentioned, that it’s the U.S. trying to take a stand on something they have been inactive on?
COFFEY: Well, I think the U.S. does have a lot at stake here. It sees itself as a global leader enforcing the rule of law. A lot of people think that that guardianship has been missing in action amidst controversies about the U.S.’s own heavy-handed techniques with respect to detainees. So this case is an important opportunity for the U.S. to validate its commitment to international norms and ethics, and at the same time vindicate the effectiveness of its own judicial process in making sure that a trial is fair, but in making sure that at the end of the case, justice is done.
SESAY: The senior Taylor is now on trial in The Hague for war crimes allegedly committed from 1999 to 2003. During that brutal period, a three- way war raged between Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Guinea.
Well, turning now to a source of pride in Africa. Running star Haile Gebrselassie breaks another world record. Details ahead on INSIDE AFRICA.
SESAY: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA.
Ethiopian running star Haile Gebrselassie has reaffirmed his reign as the marathon king. He easily won the Berlin Marathon, with a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds, smashing his own world record by 27 seconds, despite a sore calf. The German city has been kind to him. He is the first man to win the Berlin Marathon three times. Gebrselassie, who has asthma, skipped the Olympic marathon in Beijing this summer, citing pollution concerns.
And there we must leave it. I’m Isha Sesay. We’ll have a brand new edition of INSIDE AFRICA next week. Be sure to check out our web page, cnn.com/inside Africa, for a full list of air times. Thank you for watching.