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One World with Zain Asher
People Mourn Loss Of Loved Ones In Johannesburg Building Fire; Hurricane Idalia Hovers Right Off Coast Of Virginia And North Carolina; Hong Kong Braces For Super Typhoon Saola; Trump Pleads Not Guilty In The Georgia Election Interference Case; European Union's Top Diplomat Says the E.U. Rejects Anyone Who Seizes Power By Force; Rubiales' Mother Discharged From Hospital After Locking Herself Into A Church To Protest Her Son's Treatment. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired August 31, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight tragedy as fire engulfs a five-story building in South Africa. Here is what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBOGANG MAILE, GAUTENG PROVINCE HUMAN SETTLEMENTS AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: Heads will definitely roll.
ASHER: Calls for accountability -- nearly 100 dead in a blaze that some say was completely preventable. Also ahead, recovery mode. What hurricane
Idalia left behind and where the storm is going next. Plus --
CHRISTOPHER ANTHONY LUNSFORD, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: I'm going to write, produce and distribute authentic music that represents people.
ASHER: He's got the number one single in the United States, but frankly, he'd rather be left alone. The rising star who is everywhere, but nowhere
at the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Hello everyone, I'm Zain Asher in New York and this is ONE WORLD. All right, as the sun sets in Johannesburg right now, there are many people
tonight who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. This after a fire broke out in a building early Thursday morning claiming at least 73 lives.
Firefighters spent the day combing through the charred ruins of the five- story building. It is described by locals as what they call a hijacked building, AKA an abandoned building, with units that were leased to people
who simply cannot afford to live anywhere else. One eyewitness tells CNN he was unable to get through a closed gate as smoke filled the building.
Now, fire investigators are trying to figure out where exactly the fire started, how it started. The mayor promises this type of tragedy will not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KABELO GWAMANDA, JOHANNESBURG MAYOR: The city of Johannesburg has indeed experienced a series of disasters, of tragedies. But as the executive --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: David McKenzie is in Johannesburg for us and joins us live. David, we're tragically hearing that about seven children are among the dead. Just
walk us through what we know so far in terms of what happened and what sort of building this actually was and what were the sort of safety concerns
that people were aware of when it came to these sorts of abandoned buildings.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that terrible death toll of children has now risen to at least 12, which shows
you just how tragic this situation is in Johannesburg. We've been there all day at the scene looking at firefighters doing the clean-up job, trying to
recover bodies, and many of them charred beyond recognition. This was an awful day for the city.
MCKENZIE: The woman's whale pierces the streets of Johannesburg. More than 70 people are now dead and dozens injured after a brutal fire tore through
a five-story building in the center of the South African city.
UNKNOWN: Listen, people are easy. They make noise. Yeah, it's fire, fire, fire.
MCKENZIE: Survivors like Wiseman and Pepper say he was woken up by screams in the early hours of the morning and raced to get out of the building. But
the gates were locked. So, I come back in the gate. The fire is full, full. After that, I don't have any plan. I just sit.
MCKENZIE: The smoke quickly smothering him.
UNKNOWN: The smoke is coming to me. Yeah, after that, I just fall down. Then from there, I don't know anything.
MCCKENZIE: Authorities quickly on the scene, moving through the building floor by floor and pulling out charred bodies. Many, though, still remain
UNKNOWN: I have a brother, sister. She's husband, sister husband.
MCKENZIE: You don't know where they are?
UNKNOWN: I don't know.
MCKENZIE: Another survivor who lost three sisters describes how her niece was thrown out the window and caught by people who already made it outside.
UNKNOWN: My in-law, she just hit the window and threw the daughter outside. The people, they just took my daughter while it was hot in the
MCKENZIE: You look at this building behind me, you can imagine the chaos and the terror that ensued. People desperately trying to get out of those
packed apartments, floors of it totally gutted as people were burnt to death.
This is what's known as a hijacked building in South Africa, taken over by gangs and mostly leased to poor migrants.
UNKNOWN: This is not an accident. This for me, it's called a homicide because it was bound to happen. We are actually -- what you see in this
building, I can tell you, I can take you to buildings that are west of Langs, where people live where western peaks.
MCKENZIE: This tragedy tangled into the deeply ingrained inequality across the country. Many of the people lived here were migrants, just hoping to
start a new life. Instead, emergency services now sorting through the ashes of the little that is left.
MCKENZIE: Survivors have been taken to at least three hospitals in the area, Zain. Many of them very, very badly injured and burnt. The
investigation is on-going. No authority that we've spoken to or have spoken on the record have given any clear indication of how this fire started, but
even if it was accidental, just the way that people have to live, cheek by jowl, almost like an informal settlement squeezed inside a building that is
often, in this case, run by gangs.
And recent revelation is that this was, in fact, a building owned by the city of Johannesburg. So, extraordinary that they allowed this to happen.
There are multiple buildings like this in the city that you see behind me and there are calls for change but calls for change didn't come soon enough
for those who died today. Zain.
ASHER: Yeah and it really puts a spotlight on the city's housing crisis. Dave McKenzie, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much. We appreciate
it. All right, tropical storm Idalia is now pounding parts of the southeastern United States, but the consensus seems to be the devastation
is not as immense as it could have been. The storm is losing strength as it moves along the coast of North Carolina, but it's still bringing heavy rain
and flash flood warnings.
Idalia slammed into Florida's Big Bend region as a Category-3 Hurricane Wednesday, shredding homes, downing trees, flooding roads, and pushing
seawater on shore. Tens of thousands of people remain without power in Florida and in Georgia, as well. It is the most powerful storm to hit that
Florida region in more than a century. CNN's Carlos Suarez has more.
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane Idalia barreled through Florida Wednesday, making landfall near Keaton Beach.
UNKNOWN: My house is down in Keaton. I don't know if it's there or not, but this right here, I don't know. I don't know if I'm gonna have a house
to go home to.
SUAREZ: The eye of the storm ripped through Florida's Big Bend region with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, resulting in a once in a
century weather event.
UNKNOWN: It was bad. It was heavy, heavy winds. Worst I've ever been in.
SUAREZ: The Category-3 storm left homes demolished and streets flooded.
RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We clearly have significant damage throughout the Big Bend region.
SUAREZ: This family in Perry, Florida watched as trees fell directly on their home.
UNKNOWN: Oh my gosh. No! It's okay, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.
SUAREZ: Up and down Florida's west coast, record-breaking storm surge occurred in Citrus County, Crystal River left devastated by flood waters.
DOUG BABER, CITY MANAGER, CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA: People are actually really going strong and we are an entire city of Crystal Rivers in a flood
zone so we have no choice but to move to higher ground.
SUAREZ: Further south along the coast in Hudson Beach, crews rescued residents by boat as the flood waters came rushing into their homes.
UNKNOWN: I can't believe this. I've never seen unlike it.
SUAREZ: This family rescued but heartbroken to leave everything behind.
UNKNOWN: And it just came in before we can get out, man, like so quick. We're trying to get in the truck and it's up to the -- barely able to get
the doors open.
SUAREZ: In Pasco County, around 150 residents were rescued from flooded neighborhoods. This home caught fire in the midst of the floodwaters.
Michael Bobbitt from Cedar Key, Florida says he stayed behind to weather the storm.
MICHAEL BOBBITT, RESIDENT, CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA: These are all little old school Florida villas and they were just picked up and carried into the
gulf. So, that was heartbreaking to see.
SUAREZ: One resident on Anna Maria Island posted this video of her swimming through floodwaters at four in the morning.
ALEXIS DELEON, RESIDENT, ANNA MARIA ISLAND, FLORIDA: Golf carts, cars were flooded, the trailer homes. I mean, it was up to our knees, our waist.
We're riding bikes through it, so it got pretty high.
SUAREZ: Idalia then traveled north through Georgia into South Carolina, where the storm surge reached nine feet in Charleston, according to the
National Weather Service, leaving roadways throughout the state treacherous. This car in Goose Creek, South Carolina, flipped over in the
middle of the road.
ASHER: CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us live now. So, Allison, you've been tracking this storm. We saw the devastation and the havoc that
it wreaked in Florida. We just saw that car there flipped over, trees down, homes and buildings, essentially demolished roofs, ripped off that sort of
thing. Just talk to us about the path of the storm now. Where is it?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, it's still just kind of basically hovering right off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.
Winds about 95 kilometers per hour. It's moving to the due east at 32 kilometers per hour. We do still have a few areas still lingering with some
of those showers and thunderstorms mainly focused across Virginia and North Carolina. Still even have a few flood warnings and flash flood warnings at
the moment, and a lot of that really has to do with how much rain has fallen in the last 24 hours.
You're looking at widespread totals of 50 to 100 millimeters, but in these areas here where you see the red and even purple, you're talking in excess
of 200 millimeters total and not just in one spot. South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. All of these areas picking up at least 200 millimeters of
rain. North Carolina slightly less than that, but remember it's still raining in some portions of North Carolina, so those numbers are expected
to tick up a little bit more.
For the rest of the day, today, that storm is going to continue its progression off into the Atlantic Ocean, taking with it the bulk of the
rain. We'll still have some rip currents and some areas of high surf, likely off the coast for a few more hours, then the storm begins to make
its way over towards Bermuda.
Now, the interest there are going to have to pay close attention to this storm, because it could still end up bringing tropical storm force winds,
likely bringing down some power, some trees and some power lines and also the very heavy rain. And speaking of power, you still have roughly 200,000
people without power across states like Georgia and Florida. That number jumps to nearly 300,000 when you factor in North and South Carolina into
the mix, too.
So, a lot of areas in the worst part, you don't have power, which means you don't have air conditioning, you don't have access to electricity and fans.
And these temperatures here are looking at in the low 30. So, again, it's hot, it's humid, and these for, unfortunately, these folks are looking at
areas without air conditioning or power.
ASHER: All right. Allison Chinchar, live for us there. Thank you so much. And Hong Kong is bracing for super typhoon Saola. China issued its highest
typhoon warning Thursday as the storm packing winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour moved closer to Hong Kong and the mainland's southern
coast, threatening China's manufacturing hubs. China Railway has suspended major train lines and several flights have been grounded. Supermarkets saw
long queues with people stocking up, as well. The typhoon is expected to make landfall on Friday night.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in the election interference case in Georgia. He was scheduled to make the plea in person
on Wednesday, but instead entered his plea through court filings. He and 18 co-defendants face a slew of charges in connection with trying to append
the 2020 election. No court date has been officially set in that case.
The European Union's top diplomat is speaking out about the coup in Gabon, saying the E.U. rejects anyone who seizes power by force. But Joseph
Burrell says it cannot be overlooked that the coup happened only moments after President Ali Bongo was declared the winner of what many say was a
rigged election. And Burrell called for Gabon to resolve its issues via democracy and not the gun.
General Brice Olugui Nguema has been named the country's transitional leader. He said Ali Bongo should never have run for a third term as
president. CNN's Larry Madowo is tracking all the developments for us live. So, Larry, what do we make of the timing of this coup? The fact that it
happened during presidential elections essentially has given the coup leaders probably the perfect pretext in terms of offering the public
rationale as to why they carried out this coup.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The coup happened just moments after President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared elected for a third term.
According to the official results, he won with 64 percent of the vote. And then moments later, this coup leaders calling themselves a Committee for
the Transition and Restoration of Institutions said they had taken over, voided that election, closed the borders and dissolved all institutions.
So, the root of the coup appears to be that disputed election. In fact, we've heard a short while ago from the opposition in Gabon that say they --
people of Gabon should be grateful that the junta took over power because that election was illegitimate.
But this alliance of opposition parties in Gabon say that the coup leaders should be open talks to find the best solution forward out of the crisis.
They're saying the opposition that they should continue the vote process and continue the vote count because they believe that Ali Bongo is declared
winner before the vote count was complete.
And I think the subtext here is that the opposition believes they won this election. And they did something important here. They -- the opposition
parties all allied in on one candidate, hoping that, you know, that* would give them the numbers necessary to defeat Ali Bongo who has been president
since 2009 and before that, his dad, Omar Bongo who had been president of Gabon since back in 1967. So, it's been an almost 56-year dynasty of the
Bongo family in Gabon.
ASHER: All right, Larry Madowo live for us there. We will continue watching the situation in Gabon very closely. We'll have more on the coup
in Gabon, latest coup in Africa a little bit later on this hour. UEFA has broken 11 days of silence, finally weighing in after Spanish Football
Federation President Luis Rubiales kissed a player following the team's World Cup victory. UEFA's President Aleksander Ceferin calls the kiss an
inappropriate action that overshadowed the team's win.
Meantime, according to Spanish media, Rubiales' mother has been discharged from a hospital after locking herself into a church to protest her son's
treatment. World Sports Coy Wire joins us live now from Atlanta. So, let's talk about UEFA, Coy. Why did they wait so long? I mean, it's been 11 days.
Why did they wait so long before speaking out?
COY WIRE, CNN WORLD SPORT: Many are questioning and, you know, many believe that they're probably following the lead of FIFA, who have said
they're not going to comment on the situation, Zain, until the process plays out by the Spanish Football Federation their investigation into the
manner they said this could take up to 90 days.
But here we were ahead of Thursday's Champions League group stage draw in Monaco though and UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin had this to say, quote,
of course what he did was inappropriate. We all know that. I hope he knows it was out of order. That's enough for the time being because he did -- the
disciplinary committee will decide. He went on to say, I'm sad that such an event should overshadow the victory of the Spanish national team. We should
And those last two lines, Zain, are powerful. This should be about Spain's historic win. It was an incredible tournament with thrilling matches, but
here we are. And support for Hermoso continues to pour in. Check this out, Zain. Hermoso was not in action for her Liga mechs side, Pachuca, on
Wednesday, but her teammates, as they took the pitch for their game against Atletico San Luis, carrying a banner reading, "We Are With You, Jenny", and
their opponents also wearing the same message on their blue and white striped T-shirts. Now, let's hope that that, in the end, Zain, through this
incident, somehow, someway, women's soccer is in a much better place than it was here just 11 days ago.
ASHER: Yeah, incredible seeing the solidarity. Let's just talk about a women's volleyball game taking place in Nebraska that apparently broke
world records in terms of the number of people attending a sporting event. It does seem as though this, combined with what we saw with the Women's
World Cup, we are turning a corner here in terms of the rise in the popularity of women's sports.
WIRE: Yeah, huge moment to celebrate women in sports, Zain. Just look at these scenes of the biggest ever crowd at a women's sporting event in the
world. Memorial Stadium at University of Nebraska here in the U. S. On Wednesday, ninety-two thousand three people in attendance to watch
Nebraska's women's volleyball team hosting Omaha. The school dubbed it volleyball day, a celebration of the sport.
This was next level, breaking the previous U.S. record attendance for a women's sporting event at the 1999 Women's World Cup Football Final. It
also broke the previous world record set April last year with Barcelona Women's Champions League game against Wolfsburg watched by 91,648. Zain,
the team has sold out an NCAA collegiate record of 306 consecutive regular season matches and it's clear they can sell out the entire stadiums to
ASHER: They should feel very proud. Ninety-two thousand and three people. Let's not forget that three. Coy Wire, live for us there. Thank you so
much. Appreciate it. All right, still to come, it is South Africa's worst fire in recent memory. Should more have been done to prevent it? We'll talk
to an official on the ground, next. Also, there are new health concerns about the most powerful Republican in the U.S. Senate after he appears to
freeze at the podium once again. We'll have a live report from Washington, coming up later.
ASHER: I want to take a closer look at our top story, the deadly fire at a Johannesburg building. It's after 6 P.M. there and these are live pictures
where officials are still sorting through -- this is actually a picture of the tarmac, here we go, these are live pictures where officials are still
sorting through the debris and people are still waiting for news of their relatives and their friends.
A lot of people may have lost loved ones in this blaze, at least 74 people, that death toll by the way continuing to rise. Seventy-four people lost
their lives when this five-story building went up in flames. It is the worst fire in recent memory. It happened in an abandoned building, a
building that was abandoned by the owner, then later unlawfully occupied or hijacked, which is a term that locals use.
With widespread poverty, these settlements are hardly rare. Many of the residents simply cannot afford to live anywhere else. Some of them are also
migrants looking for a better life in South Africa. The tragedy has brought angry condemnation of the government for not doing more to tackle the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAILE: We are not going to defend anyone. If there is an official of the city who will be found to have contravened or to have neglected their
responsibilities, heads will definitely roll.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: And we're joined live now by the man you just heard there, Lebogang Maile. He is a member of the Executive Council for Human Settlements and
Infrastructure Development in Gauteng Province. Lebogang, thank you so much for being with us. And my heart goes out to Johannesburg, just the entire
city, what they're dealing with. This fire that tore through this building, leaving at least 74 people dead.
Of course, our hearts go out to the loved ones, as well. A lot of people mourning family members. So, we know that there are other buildings, of
course, throughout Johannesburg that are illegally occupied, that are derelict, that are abandoned in this manner. I just want to get a sense
from you, in terms of what is being done to ensure that nothing like this happens again.
MAILE: Thank you very much for having us and we want to start by conveying our heartfelt condolences as the government of Gauteng to all the bereaved
families and we would like to wish all those who are in hospital a speedy recovery. This indeed is a tragedy and as we speak now, the president has
en route to the site to be able to get a briefing and also announce the steps that the national government will be taking, working with the other
two spheres of government.
As you have correctly said, it's unfortunate that we've got syndicates and cartels that prey on poor, vulnerable, and desperate citizens who need
And in fact, in certain instances like in this instance, people were paying rent to some illegal landlord and to some criminals who are hijacking these
buildings. And what this says is that a lot of people can afford to pay for rentals. All they need is affordable rental stock. We have been --
ASHER: And we're actually seeing your president, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa who's actually at the site. I'm going to have my producers
let me know if President Ramaphosa actually does start to speak and if we can hear him. Guys, do we have audio of the president speaking there? Okay,
he's going to speak. I'm being told he's not speaking yet so we can continue our conversation.
One of the things that I think a lot of people find troubling is the fact that there was -- Mr. Ramaphosa is speaking. Let's listen in.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: --at police function and early in the morning, I heard about this tragic event. We are very saddened as
government about the passing of so many people here in Johannesburg. This is unprecedented. Johannesburg has never had an incident like this where so
many people die as a result of fire in the center of the city.
So, this is tragic. This is very sad and I want to pass my condolences and that of the government to the families of those who have passed on and
those who are still in the hospital. I'm told that as soon as the fire was reported at 1:19 in the morning, in 10 minutes the firefighters were here.
That is a real good and quick response which we must recognize on the part of the province, the city, that they have been able to be ready for
calamities and events like this.
A response of 10 minutes when there's such a devastating fire is something that needs to be recognized. The sad part is that, much as they fought the
fire, they were not able to save everyone. And some people were saved up to 49, but it said that we have lost up to 74 people. And some of them
children, who must have died very, very tragically. And this is the type of death that we never wish on anyone.
And the aftermath of all this in terms of the actions that have been taken, I have found to be in line with what we expect. The people were taken to
hospitals, those who were still in a state of shock and injury to the surrounding hospitals, and those who have lost their homes or accommodation
are going to be catered for. The ministers and the emissaries and the province and the city are working now full out to make sure that those who
need assistance from accommodation to trauma counseling, to hospitalization are being looked after.
Now, obviously this needs to be investigated. I was talking to the Premier earlier and we are going through and they are going through the process of
setting up an investigation process which the Premier and the city will announce in due course. We've got to go to the to the bottom of what caused
this fire and also address from now on.
It's a wake-up call for us to begin to address the situation of housing in the inner city, that a building like this, which I'm told used to be a home
for abused women and children, once the lease had expired it was then hijacked, and we need to get on top of this and find effective ways of
dealing with problems of accommodation, of housing, and services in the inner city. So, the people who are -- the mayor is here, the municipal
manager and members of the mayoral committee like Councilor Dada, Murero and others are here.
And they will be applying their minds and I want them to find solutions and better ways of dealing with the challenge of housing that we have in the
inner city. So, once again, condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. And I know that people will be upset and fearful. And
those are issues that we've got to deal with, and we will deal with them. Thank you very much. Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Mr. President, I think this highlights the issue, as you mentioned, of the hijacked buildings and the lawlessness that comes with
it, which is seemingly being allowed to happen. These people pay rent to landlords. Surely the police can crack the whip or authorities can crack
the whip on these buildings. And this is just one of hundreds of buildings around the COG. Why is this being seemingly allowed to happen, Mr.
RAMAPHOSA: Well, not that it's being allowed to happen. It's an overwhelming problem, which the city Ido has sought and has been working on
addressing. This building, having been -- it's owned by the city and they sought to try and get order into this building. And they were barricaded
and there were attempts that were made. And, but the lesson for us is that we've got to address this problem and root and everything else, root out
those criminal elements because it is these types of buildings that are taken over by criminals who then levy rents on -- on vulnerable people and
families who need and want accommodation in the inner city.
And it speaks to the type of cities that we should have in South Africa as we move forward. Poor people, yes, need to live in the city, but there
needs to be order. There needs to be law and order in the inner city. And the initiatives that we are embarking on through our security forces,
through Project Chaniela, is one of those that, working with the city and with the province, we are going to ensure that we root out all criminal
elements and restore the livelihoods of people who live in the city.
(LIVE COVERAGE ENDS)
ASHER: That was Cyril Ramaphosa South African President speaking there on the tragic fire that engulfed a building in Johannesburg, leaving at least
74 people dead. It's just gone 6 o'clock in the evening there in Johannesburg. And he was talking about the fact that this fire is
unprecedented. There's never been anything like this in Johannesburg, just in terms of the number of people, the sheer number of people who had lost
their lives in this way.
I want to bring in my guest again, Lebogang Maile. You know, one of the things that this South African President was saying there -- he repeated
over and over again, we have to get to the bottom of this. You know, this is a wake up call for everybody. We have to ensure that people are kept
safe. You know, people in some of these sort of dilapidated buildings that are, you know, that exists obviously throughout Johannesburg, they need to
be kept safe. This sort of tragedy has to be prevented.
One of the tricky aspects of that is the fact that even if city inspectors are aware that these buildings exist, that there's overcrowding, that
criminal gangs have overtaken these buildings and are charging migrants or poorer people rent to live in these buildings, the fact is in South Africa
there is a rule that if you're going to evacuate or take people out of these buildings, you have to have somewhere else for them to go. And of
course, as you know, Johannesburg is in the middle of a really serious housing crisis. There just is not enough space. There's not enough housing
for people in Johannesburg. So, how do you square that circle? What can actually be done here?
MAILE: Yeah, you're correct. There isn't enough housing, not just in Johannesburg, just in our province of how --where Johannesburg is located.
We need at least 1.2 million houses. So, what we have decided to do is to adopt a multi-pronged approach. There are people who want to rent, we've
got a stock for those because some of them don't want to be in Johannesburg or in Haukding permanently because they live in other rural provinces. They
just want to rent then you've got people who are working but can't afford to get bonds and we call them the missing meeting and those we have a
subsidy for them so that they can be able to be funded by the banks then we've got those who and those we have a subsidy for them so that they can
be able to be funded by the banks.
Then we've got those who can afford mortgage because they are working, they can buy for themselves. Then we've got people who don't want any houses
from government, but they want to build for themselves. We've got a program called a Rapid Land Release Program. In that program, we give them a land
and that land has water, has electricity, it's got sewerage, it's got roads, and they can be able to use that as a collateral as well to get
money from the banks.
So, we are doing something, but the resources at our disposal are limited. And hence, we have also partnered with the private sector in some of the
problems. We've got what we call mega human settlements where we build 10,000 and more houses. And that's where we have what we call mixed
typologies as part of a special transformation, as well, and ensuring that we integrate our communities.
One of those programs we were launching last week, we just already yielded more than 10,000 houses and you've got rental stock there, you've got bond,
you've got all different typologies. So, as government, we are doing something about the housing crisis in our country.
ASHER: And I think what's really tricky though is that all of the initiatives that you've touched on, of course, are gonna really take time.
But there needs to be something done as soon as possible, just in terms of the number of buildings across Johannesburg that are in this kind of state.
We're talking about buildings that lack fire extinguishers, buildings that lack fire escapes, buildings that lack sprinklers.
And obviously, the President touched on this idea that, you know, there's going to be accountability and of course there's going to be an
investigation. That, again, also takes time. What do you think can be done in the coming days, in the coming weeks for the other people in
Johannesburg that are trapped, that are being forced, I guess, to live in these sorts of buildings, now that we've seen what can go wrong?
MAILE: Well, some of the things I'm talking about are things that are already happening. Just last big Friday, we were allocating people houses.
That's the first, but it doesn't mean it is solving the problem because you have at least 230,000 people coming into our province every year. So,
there's a huge problem of immigration and urbanization. And with problems happening in other African countries, you've got a lot of people coming
into our country because there are problems in their countries and we have to accommodate them.
So, it's a moving target because you build houses and then there's more people who need houses and all that. What will happen now is that those who
are displaced from this tragic event, irrespective of their nationality, we are going to allocate them accommodation. We've identified three buildings
that are owned by the city which are in a conducive condition and they will be able to be allocated there.
The next step is to identify all government- owned buildings that have been illegally occupied and we will be applying for an agent caught in tactic or
eviction to evict all those people and we will deal with the cases on merit on an individual basis and those who will not be able to find accommodation
will have to do something about it. Because this is in the best interest and for the safety of these citizens who are in our buildings. But you also
have private-owned buildings that have been hijacked. We then have to go to the courts to ask that the courts must give us a right as government to
take over these buildings so that we can be able to convert them into suitable housing.
ASHER: Right. Lebogang Maile, thank you so much for being with us again. Our hearts go out to everything that Johannesburg is dealing with today.
All right, we'll be right back with more.
MAILE: Thank you.
ASHER: All right, hello and welcome back to ONE WORLD. It has become a dangerously familiar scene in a region described as having the longest
corridor of military rule on earth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Another African government apparently overthrown, this one in the central African nation of Gabon. It is the latest in a series of military
takeovers on a continent that has experienced more coups or attempted coups than anywhere else on the planet. And it comes just one month after
soldiers took control of Niger.
In the past three years alone, democratically elected leaders in seven African states have been ousted, threatening regional peace and security
and stability and creating a geopolitical battle for influence between outside powers. But unlike its counterparts in the Sahel region, which are
struggling with an on-going Islamist insurgency, the coup in Gabon is generating popular public support.
You can actually see here crowds singing, people dancing in the street, waving flags. This is in the streets of Gabon on Wednesday. Gabon, by the
way, is an oil-rich country, one of France's most important allies in Africa, a former French colony, as well. And it's generally considered more
stable than other African countries that are currently experiencing political unrest.
Time now for The Exchange and my conversation with Rama Yard. She's the Senior Director at the Atlantic Council's Africa Center. She's also the
former French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights. Rama, thank you so much for being with us.
RAMA YADE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, AFRICA CENTER, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thank you for having me.
ASHER: Of course. I think what's interesting here is the fact that not all coups are created alike. I mean, you know, people are sort of lumping this
particular coup together with what we saw in Mali, what we saw in Burkina Faso, what we saw in Niger. But those coups are extremely different. I
mean, obviously, in Niger, when President Bazoum was sort of ousted, that was a democratically elected leader.
It wasn't sort of this family dynasty. Also, those countries have been dealing with Islamic insurgencies for quite some time. Gabon is relatively
stable, it's relatively peaceful. Just walk us through what's different about what's happened in Gabon.
YADE: Yeah, you're absolutely right. These days, the African military seem to share the recipe for the perfect coup with each other. Seven coups in
three years, sometimes several coups in the same country, in Mali and Burkina Faso, for example. For Gabon, it's the same trend, but not the same
kind of coup. Gabon is a very special case. It is an old power based on a family transition since 1968, you know, 75 years at the head of the state
with the father and then Omar Bongo and then the son Ali Bongo. It's not -- they have never been democratically elected presidents. So, no democratic
president to save here. These codes will be very difficult to advocate for.
The recent election a few days ago presidential election allegedly won by Ali Bongo has not been condemned by anyone and it is also a rich petrol
state of 2.5 million people with the fourth highest GDP per head in sub- Saharan Africa, but unemployment and poverty are everywhere. So, you know, the people of Gabon have lost trust in this kind of country and there have
been growing frustrations about the French paternalistic style of influence, like they say, it has never stopped. So, it is not very
ASHER: Yeah, and I think that is, I mean, the fact that the French sort of loom large in all of these coups, just in terms of the fact that a lot of
these countries where these coups are happening in rapid succession are former French colonies. And there does seem to be this feeling on the
ground that people have had enough of French implements, whether you're talking about Niger, whether you're talking about Gabon, Mali, the list
One of the things -- I've just actually been told by my producer that the A.U. has now suspended Gabon, so we are seeing some sort of reaction. We
know that the A.U. has been meeting, also the Central African Political Block has also been meeting about what's happening in Gabon. One of the
things I find interesting is the reaction from other sort of autocratic African leaders, as well. You have the Cameroonian President Paul Biya,
who's been in power for 40 years, essentially firing his military leadership after hearing about what happened in Gabon, and then you also
have the Rwandan president doing the same thing, as well.
The Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been in office for two decades. And so, I think this idea that, my gosh, if it could happen in Gabon, in a
country tha,t you know, has a family that has been at the helm of that country for more than half a century, then of course a coup could happen
anywhere. I mean, how do you interpret how should other sort of autocratic, I guess, African leaders be interpreting what's happening in Gabon?
YADE: Yeah, you're right. With all these coups, it's a major shift that marks the end of an area and particularly in the Francophone area in the
situation of Bolivia and Cameroon in office since 1982 of Assange. So, in the Republic of Congo in office from 1972 to 1992 and then again since
1997. In Chad too, the president is not so old, but he took the power after, very recently after his father died.
ASHER: His dad died a couple years ago.
YADE: Exactly, this situation should be closely monitored. But that said, it is about coup palaces, you know, for Gabon, for example. Because it is
not a democratic revolution what we have here. Brice Clotaire, Olinge Nguema, the commander-in-chief of the guard that seized the power in Gabon
is Ali Bongo's cousin, you know, it's the same family. He was not in the opposition.
In Niger, it was the same. You know, in Guinea, it was the same. These commanders come from the same structures, the same power. So -- and the
opposition, what about them? They have been skipped and even including Gabon, there's an opposition, Albert Ondo Ossa, who is Ali Bongo's main
opponent. He's actually, he's claiming the power right now, but everybody has skipped him.
So, that is the major question. It is not obviously for the international community or so-called international community. It's not a matter of
democracy, obviously. It's something else. So, and that is very important to monitor that, obviously for the international community or so-called
international community, it's not a matter of democracy, obviously, it's something else.
So -- and that is very important to monitor that because the population will ask questions about that. So, that's a military regimes are not a
guarantee for prosperity either. The people's joy in the streets is more about disrupting the old systems than supporting the coup.
ASHER: Right, because Gabon is an oil-rich country, but that wealth has been so concentrated in the hands of the few, you know, the Bongo family
had held a tight grip on that wealth, and it had not fizzled down or trickled down rather to ordinary members of society there. Rama Yade, thank
you so much for being with us. We'll have much more news after the break.
YADE: Thank you.
ASHER: Oliver Anthony's song, "Rich Men North of Richmond", is number one on the charts in the United States. And that was even before it played at
last week's Republican debates. But as CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports, the singer is trying to distance himself from politics.
("RICH MEN NORTH OF RICHMOND" BY OLIVER ANTHONY PLAYING)
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the woods of rural Virginia, Oliver Anthony sings about what he knows. And millions of
Americans now know him, too.
LUNSFORD: A lot's changed since the last time I sat here and spoke to you.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): He has the number one song in the country. It was also featured at the Republican debate. Candidates were asked why they
think it's resonating.
LUNSFORD: It was funny seeing it at the presidential debate, because it's like I wrote that song about those people.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): Politicians are trying to claim him as a Democrat or Republican.
LUNSFORD: I'm going to write, produce and distribute authentic music that represents people and not politics.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): The people from all walks of life are relating to what he has to say.
UNKNOWN: I like that. A lot of people gonna relate to that.
UNKNOWN: The lyrics are awesome. What's this guy's name? I got goosebumps too.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): His real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. His friends call him Chris. He lives here in the woods of Farmville, Virginia
with his family, just over an hour west of Richmond. He struggled with money, alcohol, depression, and sings about it all. He's everywhere, but
nowhere at the same time.
NASH OSBORN, NORTH STREET PRESS CLUB OWNER: I think that his lifestyle and what he wanted to do and like live off the grid and you know, live in the
country, I mean, that's what he wants to do.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): On a random Wednesday evening, he sang in town at North Street Press Club.
OSBORN: He wanted it to be -- so everybody here locally could come out and see him.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): Oliver Anthony says he's turned down $8 million deals since he shot to number one.
BRIAN VINCENT, MAYOR OF FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA: He seems like a pretty down to earth individual and this town is one town that's going to protect that
if they can.
YURKEVICH: What do you think about what he's saying and why people are resonating from all over?
VINCENT: I think there's still a huge swath of people in the middle who just feel a little disenfranchised with the wealth disparity. Having
somebody come out and sort of advocate or voice that frustration, it's not surprising to me that it resonates.
YURKEVICH: How do you know Christopher?
ANTHONY DIMARCO, NEIGHBOR OF LUNSFORD: Here's my neighbor.
YURKEVICH: Anthony DiMarco has lived next door to Oliver Anthony for five years.
DIMARCO: We still live on the third road.
YURKEVICH: He's now his merchandise guy.
DIMARCO: He's just a guy that smiles a lot. Just a fun guy to be around. He says what everybody is feeling. For the most part, we don't have a voice
to say it to the "Rich Men, North of Richmond". And now we do.
YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Farmville, Virginia.
ASHER: And thank you so much for watching ONE WORLD. I'm Zain Asher. "AMANPOUR" is up next.