v20/04 25 Feb 05
Funding boosted as AIDS devastation becomes clearer
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The SA government is to add a billion Rand to current spending on HIV/AIDS of R4.3bn, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced in his budget speech this week.
The announcement follows the release of official figures showing a 57 percent rise in deaths over a five-year period, much of it ascribed to AIDS, and criticism that President Thabo Mbeki is still playing down the epidemic, paying little attention to it in his state of the nation speech earlier this month (SouthScan v20/03). ...
Mortality reportHowever, most analysts agree that the bulk of the new deaths can be ascribed to the disease. Researchers from Medical Research Council and University of Cape Town say in report in the January 28 issue of 'AIDS' that the actual number of AIDS-related death is dramatically higher than official figures suggest. Figures set out earlier by Rob Dorrington and other AIDS analysts put AIDS deaths as a percentage of total mortality at around 53 percent in 2004, rising to around 66 percent in 2010 (without the intervention of treatment drugs)....
Annual reports now ... >>> Full report
New blood test for donors
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] SA's department of health has introduced a new test to check that donated blood is safe and HIV-free. This follows the furore in December when it was revealed that African blood was classed as high risk and not used - an action seen as racial discrimination, especially after news that the donation of blood by President Thabo Mbeki was also thrown out. He did not fill in the requisite forms giving his medical background.... >>> Full report
Church battle looms over condoms
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] A battle in SA's Christian churches is looming over the issue of condoms. The Catholic Church has begun an active campaign against their use, while the Protestant churches in the SA Council of Churches are weighing in to promote condoms.... >>> Full report
Cemetery spaces filled
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The main Durban cemeteries in KwaZulu-Natal are running out of burial space, especially in central Durban where only two out of 20 cemeteries still have space.
"In 1998 we were burying 500 people per annum. In 2004 it was 500 per week," said Monwabisi Grootboom, municipal spokesman.... >>> Full report
Increased demand but small rise in military budget
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] Despite a rising demand fo SA peace forces in the region, South Africa's military budget as announced this week is set to remain fairly constant over the next three years. It will total R22.4 billion in 2005/6, R22.5 in 2006/07 and R22.1 billion in 2007/8.
Military strategists were not anticipating a significant increase, and instead are planning for a rationalization of the SA National Defence Force in their updated defence review paper (SouthScan v19/25). ... >>> Full report
Pentagon wants increased cooperation with SA
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The US plans to step up military co-operation, currently running at US$5 million a year, with South Africa.
Writing in the Johannesburg-based Africa Armed Forces Journal, US military attache Col. Michael Muolo said the US military, through its European Command, was planning over 30 military-to-military engagements for the year. These would range from joint exercises, exchanges, and familiarisation visits to educational programmes, Muolo said. Emphasis would be placed on operating the C130 Hercules transport aircraft, military police and Special Forces skills and peacekeeping operations. ...
US buys SA armoured cars.... >>> Full report
Foreign affairs spending grows
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] SA's foreign affairs department's expenditure is expected to rise steadily over the next three years, mainly because of spending in the rest of Africa. The budget will increase from about R2.5 billion this year (2004/05) to R3.2 bn in 2007/08..... >>> Full report
SA police head for Darfur
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] South Africa has sent two police teams to Darfur province in Sudan on a "monitoring and advisory" mission. The group of 12 will form part of an African Union operation and will fall under AU authority.
The AU has 3,000 troops deployed in the Darfur region to monitor a ceasefire agreement. The deployment will be for six months..... >>> Full report
Land claims further delayed
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] Citing "complexities" in settling land claims, South Africa's agriculture minister said last week that restitution will take an additional two years.
South Africa had set 2005 as the deadline for settling all claims on property, including in rural areas, for blacks dispossessed under white rule..... >>> Full report
Nigeria and SA in opposing corners for UNSC seat
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] Foreign ministers from 15 African countries have agreed to press demands for Africa to be granted two veto-wielding permanent seats at the UN Security Council, the decision-making body of the United Nations, ambassadors said Tuesday.
But the decision is seen as a means to postpone the real competition between Nigeria and SA at the African Union on March 7 and 8..... >>> Full report
Voters agree that parties do not reflect their concerns
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The shape and outcome of Zimbabwe's election, set for late next month, is already becoming clear. In the view of a number of local analysts canvassed by SouthScan there will be large-scale voter abstention and apathy, already prefigured in the ruling party's primary elections (SouthScan v20/02). In this view an election with regional and international implications is seen by Zimbabwean voters as having little significance for their lives. As in Mozambique's recent election with its low turnout, the polls may start to appear irrelevant to the lives of the voters.
In addition, the absence of international monitors, together with an uncritical approach by regional observers may ensure a stamp of approval on the conduct of the poll. The ruling party will then be given the accolade of legitimacy it has lacked since the 2002 elections. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has in the view of a number of local analysts been trapped into engaging in the election, and will suffer a demise. ...
No change ahead... ...
'Spy' freed.... >>> Full report
10,000 new state jobs promised this year
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] Prefiguring the first budget under the new presidency of Armando Guebuza, the finance minister has promised 10,000 new public service jobs this year. ...
We jumped the gun in our last issue (SouthScan v20/03) when we said that Guebuza had chosen Peter Nhatitima as the new justice minister. .... >>> Full report
Mwanawasa baulks at further electoral reform
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The government has followed the supreme court decision validating President Levy Mwanawasa's election victory in 2001 by refusing to accept an anti-corruption recommendation from the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC). It would have given power to the electoral commission to disqualify candidates whose agents or supporters were found guilty of contravening the electoral regulations.
The government appointed the ERTC last year to address the flawed electoral process that has seen numerous disputes come up each time there are elections..... >>> Full report
Malnutrition in refugee camps
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The Zambian Government has warned that if the UNHCR and World Food Programme do not move in immediately, the country will in the future not accept any more refugees. It blames an acute shortage of food in the camps over the past three months..... >>> Full report
Kabila 'home truths' cause anger in Kinshasa
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] In the wake of the publication in Brussels of revelations concerning President Joseph Kabila and his vice president Azaria Ruberwa relations between Belgium and the DR Congo have again turned icy.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht made his second visit to the country last week (February 16 to 20) with the intention of mending the damage caused by his statements last October when he told the press after his first Congolese tour that he had met with "few leaders with a sense of responsibility" (SouthScan v19/22). ...
Belgium 'losing interest'.... >>> Full report
Disagreement on basic structure of state
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The transitional government's senate committee recommended this week that the DRC should be a unitary but decentralized state.
The constitutional draft should be approved by March 30 by both the senate and the national assembly, and then submitted to a national referendum, hopefully by end 2005, to be followed by the presidential, legislative and local elections..... >>> Full report
IMF warns on economy
[(c) SouthScan v20/04 25 Feb 05] The stabilization of the DR Congo and the preparation for elections is taking place in a difficult economic context. A ten-day mission from the International Monetary Fund has now expressed concern about inflation and the depreciation of the Congolese franc and warned that the objectives of 7% GDP growth for 2005 and the reduction of inflation were in danger. Several Kinshasa papers said inflation could reach 49 percent by end 2005.... >>> Full report