The Citizen is a tabloid-style daily founded in 1976 and headquartered in Johannesburg. It was acquired by the CTP/Caxton printing and publishing company in 1998.

The Latest: U.S. Probes COVID Origin, Macron In Rwanda, Hello Friends

Welcome to Thursday, where Joe Biden calls for a deeper investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, France recognizes its responsibility in the Rwandan genocide and six famous friends are reunited after 17 years. Persian-language magazine Kayhan-London also reports on how the pandemic, combined with dire economic conditions and government repression, has had a profound impact on Iranian's mental health.

• Biden orders investigation into coronavirus origin: U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered intelligence officials to "redouble" efforts to determine the origins of COVID-19, including the theory that it came from a Chinese laboratory. China has already rejected this theory, accusing the U.S. government of politicizing the pandemic.

• Macron recognizes French "responsibility" in Rwanda genocide: On a symbolic visit to Rwanda on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron recognized France's "political" responsibility in the 1994 genocide, though adding that France was not complicit in the genocide.

• Azerbaijan captures six Armenian troops: Azeri troops have captured six Armenian soldiers near the border, the latest incident in continuing tensions since war reignited last year in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.

• Eight killed in San Jose mass shooting: At least eight people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a California rail yard before taking his own life, the latest mass shooting as Congress debates legislation to curb gun violence.

• Dozens missing after Nigeria boat sinks: Dozens of people are missing in northwest Nigeria after an overloaded boat carrying around 160 passengers sank in the Niger River.

• Manhunt in Belgium for suspect who threatened to kill COVID expert: A manhunt for career soldier Jürgen Conings, 46, has entered its second week in Belgium, after the suspect allegedly stole an arsenal of deadly weapons from a military barracks and threatened to kill one of the country's most famous virologists.

• Hello, old Friends: The long-awaited Friends reunion special will be aired today, 17 years after the final episode and featuring such acquaintances as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

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Stuart Richardson

O Mandela, Where Art Thou?


Exactly four years have passed since Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon, died at the age of 95. Over the course of his remarkable life, the South African became the embodiment of moral political leadership, forgiving his jailers and rising to the nation's presidency.

Sadly, Mandela's successors, most notably current South African President Jacob Zuma, have largely led without the same moral compass. Allegations of corruption have mired the African National Congress (ANC), the political party Mandela founded, even as it has remained in power ever since the end of apartheid.

A particularly distasteful new scandal has been added to the mix this week: A special investigation unit of South Africa's public corruption watchdog found that during Mandela's funeral ceremonies, in December 2013, nearly 300-million rand ($22 million) had been unlawfully or negligently spent. Local ANC leaders misappropriated money earmarked for "sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals," according to a 300-page report published by the Office of the Public Protector.

South African daily Mail & Guardian reported Monday that authorities instead used these funds to purchase t-shirts and catering services and transport mourners during the globally televised funeral.

"Those hyenas of the ANC in the Eastern Cape saw an opportunity to use taxpayers' monies to line their pockets," opposition leader Bantu Holomisa decried. "They saw a gap and used it, the shameless bunch of crooks."

South African daily The Citizen"s Dec. 5 frontpage

South Africa is hardly the only country facing a bankruptcy of moral-minded political leadership these days. From Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump formally threw his support Monday behind Alabama's Republican candidate for Senate Roy Moore, who stands accused of sexually assaulting numerous underaged girls. Trump, of course, also faces several accusations of sexual impropriety from the past, not to mention all sorts of suspicions of high crimes and misdemeanors related to Russian attempts to sway last year's election. (The latest bad news for Trump comes from Germany, where Bloomberg reports special prosecutor Robert Mueller has subpoenaed records on the president's financial dealings with Deutsche Bank.)

But more broadly, Trump threatens the very idea that politics should be driven by higher ideals than personal gain and ambition.

So if virtue can't be found in our political leaders, perhaps we must look elsewhere: There is always Bono, the frontman of the band U2 and notable globetrotting humanitarian. But what can we say about the Financial Times report on Monday that the singer offered to write a "protest song" in support of the consumer product conglomerate Unilever during a hostile takeover attempted by Kraft Heinz? No, we still haven't found what we're looking for …


South Africa Paper Reacts To Pistorius Verdict

The Citizen, Dec. 4, 2015

"Justice at last" writes Johannesburg-based daily The Citizen, one day after Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of murder as a South African appeals court overturned an earlier manslaughter verdict.

Pistorius could now face a 15-year prison term, after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned his earlier conviction of culpable homicide to murder for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

While he awaits a new sentencing, the six-time Paralympic gold medalist will remain under house arrest after serving just under a year of his original five-year sentence.