v19/09 30 April 04
Rwandan cross-border sorties threaten peace process
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The continuing presence of Interahamwe militias and ex-Rwandan Armed Forces on both sides of the DRC-Rwanda border risks blocking the entire peace process in the sub-region, the EU Special Envoy, Aldo Ajello, warned after a meeting with President Joseph Kabila last Sunday (April 25). He was speaking after a three-pronged attack from the Congolese army, Rwanda and Burundi on former Hutu fighters in DRC territory.
Ajello condemned the recent incursion of the Rwandan Defence Force into the Congo to deal with the threat - UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) observers confirmed earlier the "illegal" presence on April 21 of Rwandan troops inside the DRC and complained about the restriction of their movements in the area. The European Union will not allow the peace process to derail, Ajello warned as he urged both Rwandan and Congolese authorities to respect their commitments....
attack... >>>Full report
Burundi clashes after ceasefire
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The African Union on Monday issued a statement condemning renewed fighting between rebel forces and government troops in Burundi following reports of clashes around the capital, Bujumbura. Chairperson of the AU Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, urged the rebels to "clearly commit themselves to the ceasefire and scrupulously implement it."
The hold-out Hutu-led National Liberation Front (NFL), estimated to have some 3,000 troops, last Thursday declared a ceasefire following a meeting of its top leadership in the Tanzanian town of Kigoma. This had been greeted with "a lot of hope" by the African Union.... Full report
350,000 diamond diggers to be expelled
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The DR Congo's interior minister has told Angola that it cannot handle the mass expulsions of tens of thousands of Congolese and appealed for co-operation. Around 60,000 have been pushed out already but Angolan officials said at least 350,000 would be expelled (SouthScan v19/08). The UN has warned of an impending humanitarian disaster.
"The mass return of our compatriots caught us off guard," said DRC's Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba last week following talks with Angolan Foreign Minister Joao Miranda."Congo does not have the necessary logistics to accomodate these people repatriated from Angola," said Mbemba.... Full report
Breakthrough on way to international lending and aid
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The long impasse in talks with the International Monetary Fund over oil revenues appears to have been broken after the return of an IMF team from Luanda this week. The mission said it "appreciates the authorities' readiness to share with staff some critical financial information on the current and prospective management of oil revenues".
The warm-up in relations was prefigured early last month during a visit to Washington by Deputy Prime Minister Aguinaldo Jaime. Now a monitored IMF programme might start in July, possibly leading to a formal agreement from the beginning of next year....
off debt... Full
Gadaffi offers help in rebuilding Congo
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] During his much-publicised first visit to Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday (April 27 and 28) Libya's leader, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, showed on that he had the Congo very much in mind in his African plans, even on that "very historical occasion".
Photo-reporters were startled to see that most of the crowd of some 200 supporters gathered together by Libyan embassies in the European Union were enthusiastic Congolese drummers, chanting and dancing for the African Union's "architect".... Full report
Cheers for Mugabe herald end of talks strategy
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The thousands who cheered President Robert Mugabe at last week's South African presidential inauguration ceremony in Pretoria finally laid to rest the current strategy aimed at getting rid of him and his regime.
The vociferous welcome laid bare the domestic pressures on SA President Thabo Mbeki to back Mugabe and demonstrated that Britain, the European Union and US had failed to read the situation right, local analysts said. Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon, also a guest at the SA inauguration, admitted that attempts by Nigeria and SA to get Mugabe to shift had failed....
Official concern at 'hate campaign'
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] Botswana has expressed concern at what it terms a media campaign in Zimbabwe to foster hatred and xenophobia between Batswana and Zimbabweans.
A ministry of foreign affairs statement last week singled out reports, most recently in the Bulawayo Chronicle, alleging the whipping and killing of Zimbabweans, and saying, "It is time to act against Botswana."
The Botswana statement
went on, "Cordial relationships with the US and UK do not
imply hostility towards Zimbabwe."
Finance minister in court for illegal forex deals
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] Zimbabwe's finance minister Christopher Kuruneri appeared in a Harare court on Monday to face charges of illegally funneling close to US$1.5 million of foreign currency out of the country, following his arrest last weekend.
The arrest came after splash publicity in South Africa last month about a massive R30 million seaside mansion he was having built in Cape Town (SouthScan v19/07). Then it was widely surmised he was fronting for President Robert Mugabe.
However, the arrest seems more the product of a power reshuffle in Mugabe's cabinet to favour of the new and dynamic head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono.... Full report
Media in frontline of battle for a fair election
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] As the internationally beleaguered Zanu-PF government of President Robert Mugabe begins its campaign for total victory in the March 2005 elections it is increasing pressure on the private media.
While controlling the national broadcaster and most of the daily newspapers the state is still having to grapple with the small band of journalists working for independent local weekly newspapers or foreign-based media. They continue to reveal many of the excesses of government, political violence and the general mismanagement of resources which has seen inflation soar to over 600% and unemployment reach 80%....
Import duties threaten agricultural good news
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] In a bid to find fresh revenues the cash-strapped Zambian government is introducing import duties on agricultural machinery. But critics say this may hamper the commercial farmers who have contributed to the bumper maize harvest in the past two seasons.
In particular Zimbabwean white commercial farmers who were transporting their equipment into Zambia are now saying machinery is stuck at the border because they are unable to pay the duty.... Full report
King capitulates on labour law
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] The dormant labour movement in Swaziland may be reactivated after the government this week capitulated and introduced new labour legislation allowing greater freedom to organise.
The Swazi senate passed an amended Industrial Relations Act ahead of the deadline for the extension of key African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provisions in Washington and under US pressure. If Swaziland were dropped from the list of countries enjoying Agoa privileges this would decimate its largest industry, textiles....
Layoffs from factories...
Mbeki's new cabinet promises steady course
[© SouthScan v19/09 30 Apr 04] President Thabo Mbeki's new cabinet signals the demise of the Inkatha Freedom Party from national politics and the cementing instead of its alliance with the Democratic Alliance. Beyond that it indicates no shift from current economic or political policies and has been broadly welcomed inside SA and abroad.
However, the political landscape will look very different without the presence of the IFP. Its leader, Mangosutho Buthelezi, was not selected for any cabinet post and the two IFP choices for junior cabinet jobs refused them this week....
No economic shift...
Provincial leaders... Full report