Policy issues from South Africa and its neighbours. Reports every two weeks.
v20/05 11 March 05
Congo conflict speeds up preparations for SADC brigade P.1
First SA troops fly to Sudan P.2
UN shows fresh will to quell Ituri conflict P.2
Minerals price boom fuels conflict P.3
Controversy over ammunition factory for Tanzania P.3
SA companies sell arms in Great Lakes, says Amnesty P.4
Senate blocks federal state option favoured by ex-rebels P.4
Mbeki seeks to bring embarrassing king to heel P.5
Foreign aid sustains royals, official admits P.5
More signs that Mbeki is backing Mugabe to win election P.6
Whites remain pessimistic about future P.7
Blair report seen as 'paradigm shift' in relations P.7
Congo conflict speeds up preparations for SADC brigade
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] Preparations are being made for the formation of a Southern African Development Community 'standby brigade', likely to be sent first to the DR Congo. The announcement follows the ratcheting up of conflict in the eastern Congo and news of the involvement of South African troops in a battle in Ituri province last week in which 50 militia fighters were killed. It followed the killing of nine UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh.
SA military planners have been prioritising the formation of a SADC force as well as a regional early warning system and were hoping that by end 2005 they would be ready for simple missions. The intention is for SADC to have a standby arrangement system at the UN and to be able to put a force together with a headquarters element and a planning element. Troops will come from all the countries of the region and the headquarters of the force will be in Gaborone. ..
Overstretched resources... ...
Lesotho ready ... >>>Full report
First SA troops fly to Sudan
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] The first deployment of 300 South African troops to Darfur in Sudan began last week. Earlier Col. Johan van der Walt told parliament's defence committee the departure of the first batch from the Infantry Protector Company was delayed by the Sudanese government setting no-fly zones and demanding visas and passports for the troops.
South Africa is due to to send about 300 troops to the region. The African Union has a mandate to send 3,320 troops from various African countries to "investigate, report and monitor" on events. ...
UN shows fresh will to quell Ituri conflict
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] The UN and the transitional government in Kinshasa are intensifying their efforts to stabilise the country after pitched battles between militia and UN forces in the east of the country. The key issue remains the integration of former rebel forces into a national army, but analysts say there is still a long way to go.
At the end of February, the government was debating how to include former Zairian Armed Forces, Civil Guard and ex-Katangese 'Tigers' in the demobilization, disarmament and reinsertion process. The move follows a merger agreement signed on January 1 between the commander of the Katangese 'National Liberation Front of Congo', Nickel Rumbu Kad Mwimbu, and the chairman of the ex-Zairean Armed Forces association (ACMIL), Alphonse Dondo Goma, requesting integration in the DDR process and in the creation of the new army. ...
Pacifying Ituri ...
New UN determination ...
Militia promotions ...
Minerals price boom fuels conflict
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] A boom in minerals prices may be boosting the wars in the eastern DR Congo. Prices for tin ore, mined along the Congo-Rwanda border, are now at a ten-year high.
New environmental regulations in Japan and Western Europe, forcing manufacturers to use tin instead of lead in printed circuit boards, are the major factor driving up demand and prices.__________... >>>Full report
Controversy over ammunition factory for Tanzania
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] A furore has greeted a Belgian company's decision to set up an ammunition factory in Tanzania. Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said Tanzania was a "very corrupt" country and the hub of smuggling in the region and that "in a foreseeable future, men will be killed with those bullets in Eastern Congo".
The Walloon region of Belgium decided last month to approve a licence for the export by the New Lachaussee company of an ammunitions factory to Tanzania. ...
SA companies sell arms in Great Lakes, says Amnesty
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] South African companies are involved in selling hundred of tons of illegal weapons in the Great Lakes region, an Amnesty International researcher said on Tuesday.
Brian Wood said criminals were attracted to South Africa's "sophisticated transport and banking services".__________...
Senate blocks federal state option favoured by ex-rebels
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] Senators in charge of drafting the new DR Congo constitution, which should be submitted to a national referendum before elections due between end 2005 and end June 2006, last week rejected the federal option and instead voiced their preference for a "decentralized unitary state" (SouthScan v20/04).
The most powerful ex-rebel group in the transitional parliament favours federalism, but says it is prepared to accept the senate decision. However, many analysts believe the battle has just begun and will sharpen when the time comes for discussing the share-out of revenues from the provinces.
In an interview with SouthScan, the chair of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (CRD) group in the National Assembly, Moise Nyarugabo, recalled that the federal system had been chosen as far back as 1964...
Mbeki seeks to bring embarrassing king to heel
[(c) SouthScan 11 Mar 05] In the week that saw the publication of the Africa Commission report, which promises improvement in African governance in return for massively boosted aid, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is seeking to rein in the lavish lifestyle of his neighbour, the Swazi King Mswati.
An invitation to meet was this week issued to Mswati but no date has been announced. Instead Mswati's finance minister has announced that the king would be spending the equivalent of US$1.7 million on a birthday party next month.__________,,,
Foreign aid sustains royals, official admits
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] In a country living on aid, foreign donors are in a quandary about whether to stop the funding that sustains the extravagant regime of King Mswati, or to cut him off. Some European donors has already done so, unpublicized, but others remain because of the effects of withdrawal on a poverty-ridden population.
The extent of the king and his entourage's dependency has been kept quiet, but the fragility of the regime was recently admitted by a top official. Deputy Prime Minister Albert Shabangu, on a tour of drought and AIDS ravished southern and eastern regions of the country, commented, "If you took away the intervention of the World Food Programme, the National Emergency Response Committee on HIV/AIDS, and the other NGOs, there would be no government. If they were removed, I'd be face to face with the people, and I'd be kicked out."__________...
More signs that Mbeki is backing Mugabe to win election
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] SA President Thabo Mbeki gave the clearest indication yet that the upcoming Zimbabwe election will get his seal of approval when he told an African television audience last week that he could see nothing that offended against the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election guidelines.
His officials in the SA department of foreign affairs have been generally supportive of the Zimbabwe government's visa exclusion decisions as it weeds out regional critics wishing to monitor the election. Latest to be denied entry is the SADC Parliamentary Forum, an unofficial body that declared the earlier 2002 elections invalid. Representatives of SADC parliaments will be allowed in, but SA foreign affairs officials backed the Forum's exclusion. ...
Using the military ...
Whites remain pessimistic about future
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 Mar 05] Despite a surging economy more than half of SA's white population are sceptical about the country's future.
A new Idasa 'Afrobarometer' survey, conducted in South Africa in October and November last year, showed 54 percent of whites had a negative view of the future....__________
Blair report seen as 'paradigm shift' in relations
[(c) SouthScan v20/05 11 March 05] UK Premier Tony Blair's 'Commission for Africa' report was launched on Friday (March 11) in London and Addis Ababa. In the Ethiopian capital two of the commissioners, Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, and KY Amoako, the UN Economic Commission for Africa's chief, welcomed the report; Zenawi called it a paradigm shift in development thinking.
But they faced a certain level of scepticism from the mainly African media, and a number of comments that their analysis was not new, or that it sought to undermine Africa's own solutions, such as the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad). ...
African ownership? ...