Policy issues from South Africa and its neighbours. Reports every two weeks.
v20/08 22 April 05
Arms producer role P.2
Fresh UN sorties in Ituri P.2
Concern in EU and ACP P.3
New timetable for Burundi poll P.3
Moves to neutralise backlash P.3
Chinese arms purchase P.4
Presidential reputation sinks P.5
AIDS effect in civil service P.6
New 'architecture' starts to fray P.6
Anti-terrorism law P.7
US dollar holdings P.8
Mini nuclear power P.8
SA sends in police armour as Museveni faces civil unrest
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] South Africa has supplied 30 Buffel armoured vehicles to boost the Ugandan police as the government braces itself for increased civil disturbances. The ruling National Resistance Movement is facing a legitimacy crisis.
The armoured personnel carriers arrived in the country at the beginning of April and will supplement the existing five. They will then be fitted with water canons. South Africa is also one of the major suppliers of tear gas to the Ugandan police. ...
Commonwealth pressureMeanwhile it has apparently taken the decision to back Museveni's form of stability through support for his security forces.... >>>Full Report
Arms producer to focus on peace force role
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] SA has given the strongest boost yet to its flagging arms production company Denel, saying it will specifically produce hardware for the new regional peace-keeping functions of the SA National Defence Force.
The public enterprise minister, Alec Erwin, told parliament last week that Denel had been under-capitalised, and its exports over the past year had been hit by the strength of the Rand. In 2004 some 58 percent of turnover was exports. ... >>>Full Report
New military chief announced
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] Lieut-Gen. Godfrey Ngwenya is to be promoted as the third chief of the SA National Defence Force from June 1. He succeeds Gen. Siphiwe Nyanda, who is taking early retirement. ...>>>Full Report
Fresh UN sorties in Ituri
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] UN forces in the DR Congo this week launched a new operation in the country's northeast Ituri region against rebel militia. The UN has been trying to regain the initiative after international criticism that it was being passive in the face of increasing conflict.
About 250 Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Moroccan peacekeepers in armoured vehicles and combat helicopters were mobilised for the operation, about 25 km from Bunia. Some 15 to 20 militia were either killed or wounded, the UN said on Tuesday. ...
Ugandan rebels ...
Voter registration date ...>>>Full Report
Growing concern about transition in EU and ACP
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] The members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) were showing growing concern about the situation in the DR Congo at their last session in Bamako from April 18 to the 21.
Similar feelings were voiced in even stronger terms by the European Union's development commissioner, Louis Michel, who attended part of the session on Monday, April 19.The resolution also called for financial and logistical support to the African Union to enable its troops to disarm the rebels, the ex-Rwandan Armed Forces and the Interahamwe, in collaboration with UN force Monuc....
Although the resolution took note of the announcement by the FDLR Rwandan Hutu rebel leadership at the end of last month that it would participate in the peace process, and encouraged this move, ACP and EU MPs have doubts that this commitment can be easily implemented (SouthScan v20/07).
There are several reasons for this.* Finally, RFI reported complaints by Southern Kivu people about the growing involvement of Hutu rebels in the traffic in gold, coltan and cassiterite, and about the extortion of "taxes" from the Congolese who mine and trade these minerals. There were also allegations of torture and rape. Rwandan Hutu rebels administer entire areas of the Southern Kivu province and many in the DRC and Rwanda believe that they are not likely to abandon these privileges unless forced to do so, no matter what their political leadership may have said in Rome during a meeting held under the auspices of the Sant' Egidio community....>>>Full Report
New timetable for Burundi poll
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] African regional leaders have extended the mandate of Burundi's transitional president, set to expire on April 22, by four months, saying elections must be held by August 19.
Many analysts believe the current Burundi politicians are delaying their removal from power and lucrative positions, and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and SA's deputy president Jacob Zuma were believed opposed to prolonging the process. ...>>>Full Report
Mugabe moves to neutralise Karanga backlash
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] President Robert Mugabe has moved quickly to neutralise a potential threat in his ruling Zanu-PF after the parliamentary election.
He has created a new ministry of rural housing, to be run by former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, in what is seen as a bid to neutralize a Karanga backlash after the marginalization of their leaders (SouthScan v20/07). ...
SA finds election 'credible' ...>>>Full Report
Mugabe turns to the East for economic help
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] President Robert Mugabe has described his new team as a "development cabinet" with the project of rebuilding the economy. As the West cold shoulders him, he is turning to the East, he said, underscoring the turn during a fly-past of six newly acquired Chinese jet fighters at independence celebrations this week.
Zimbabwe has been advertising itself as site for trade and investment in the Indonesian press ahead of the Asia-Africa summit in Bandung, Indonesia, this week. The meeting marked the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, which founded the Non-Aligned Movement. ...>>>Full Report
Major Chinese arms purchase is riposte to EU arms embargo
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe last week thanked China for helping Zimbabwe during its "time of need" as he took delivery of six new military trainer jets, purchased after the European Union began an arms embargo in 2002.
"We have turned east, where the sun rises, and given our back to the west, where the sun sets," Mugabe told a crowd of 8,000 at Zimbabwe's 25th independence ceremony at the Chinese-built national sports stadium on Monday. ...>>>Full Report
Price controls ordered as food costs rise
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] New price controls on basic food commodities have been ordered in Zimbabwe to combat hyper-inflation.
At the same time the Zanu-PF women's league last week threatened to seize food manufacturing companies after a sharp rise in food prices after the election. In 2002 in reaction to foreign pressure the government stopped militants from invading companies after the seizure of 5,000 white-owned farms. Some of the invaded premises belonged to South African subsidiaries, protected by international investment agreements. ...
Land hunger remains ...>>>Full Report
Presidential reputation sinks after bribes claims
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] After building his reputation in the fight against corruption, President Levy Mwanawasa's legacy hit a rock following reports that he has handed out money to his campaign team to bribe delegates to his party's crucial convention next month.
Mwanawasa is usually quick in responding to accusations and criticism, but on this occasion he has chosen to remain silent.The failure to secure convictions in the over 150 cases of corruption and theft of public funds in the last administration, coupled with his refusal to investigate allegations of corruption against his cabinet ministers and senior government officers, are convincing Zambians that Mwanawasa is only good at rhetoric....>>>Full Report
AIDS effect starts to cut into civil service
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] Things have gone from bad to worse in Swaziland, already the world leader in HIV infections, according to a survey to be released by Swaziland's Ministry of Health later this month. The effect of AIDS in the country is beginning to be widely felt in the civil service and all sectors of the economy, raising concerns about the viability of its institutions.
In the short term AIDS mortality may reduce the state's civil service bill. This week government lost a court case for back pay for soldiers, police and fire personnel, and private economists told SouthScan that a tax hike would be necessary to raise the required revenue. But a government economist noted that future civil servant pay packages are likely to go down in the aggregate because of AIDS, thus offsetting today's salary bill. ...
Antenatal clinic data ...>>>Full Report
Key mechanisms in new 'architecture' start to fray
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] Ahead of the G8 meeting in July in Scotland, African leaders were meeting this week in Egypt to prepare the ground. However, their report on the African Peer Review Mechanism was a disappointment, and there were behind-the-scenes ructions over the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), the key model for cooperation between the rich donor countries and Africa. This, together with the African Union, is a cornerstone of Africa's new institutional architecture.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, hosting the Nepad summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, urged donors to boost contributions. He stressed the continent would need another US$50 billion to $75bn in aid if it was to reach the UN millennium goal of reducing global poverty by half by the year 2015. ...
Peer review ...
Nepad ownership ...>>>Full Report
Anti-terrorism law for SA, but SADC region lags
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] SA has promulgated a new anti-terrorism law to come into effect on May 20, the safety and security ministry announced on Monday. The Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act brings South Africa fully in line with UN Counter Terrorism Conventions and Protocols, as well as the African Union Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
Last year SA President Thabo Mbeki told the UN general assembly that "the powerful will [determine] that terrorism and war constitute the central and principal threat and challenge that human civilisation faces" and that all member nations will have to accept "obligatory injunctions". ...>>>Full Report
Bid to make party donations transparent fails
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] A legal bid to force the African National Congress and other political parties to reveal their main sources of income has failed. The ANC and the Democratic Alliance on Wednesday both welcomed the high court decision dismissing an application made by Idasa, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (SouthScan v20/03).
But the ANC has committed itself to new legislation to regulate party donations. ...
Information access ...>>>Full Report
Concern grows about size of US dollar holdings
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] South Africa has been warned that it is vulnerable to a sharp downturn in the economic fortunes of the US, now registering the biggest deficits in its history.
South Africa's reserve bank holds 70 percent of its foreign exchange reserves in US dollars, bank officials said last week. In its Global Development Finance report last week, the World Bank highlighted rising global concern over the proportion of reserve assets which many countries hold, as the dollar's steady slide erodes its value. ...
Local level activism ...>>>Full Report
Erwin focuses on mini nuclear power
[(c) SouthScan v20/08 22 Apr 05] SA is now committed to solving part of its future energy shortages with nuclear power, according to the public enterprises minister Alec Erwin. While in the past government ministers have justified this move on the basis of depleting coal reserves, Erwin this time focused on climate change as the prime motive. It is estimated that SA will hit energy shortages in three years.
Speaking to parliament last week he said the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) now has a key place in electricity utility Eskom's long-term planning.The mini nuclear reactors would place the country at the forefront of energy technology, Erwin said. ...
Eskom link deniedAt the same time the US-based World Rivers Review has warned that climate change, Erwin's rationale for going nuclear, will make hydro dependent economies more vulnerable, undermining to an extent the rationale for the Inga project....>>>Full Report