Policy issues from South Africa and its neighbours. Reports every two weeks.

v20/09 6 May 05

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CONTENTS

ZIMBABWE:    

Devaluation ahead for rapidly collapsing economy    

REGION:    

SA pension funds may go to African infrastructure

REGION:    

SA agrees to send more troops     

SA DEVELOPMENT:  

Row breaks over costs of Airbus project    

SA DEVELOPMENT:  

US gives R300 million more for military AIDS research    

REGION:    

Mali becomes SA's new strategic partner in West Africa    

REGION:    

Rapid demobilisation gives SA hope for Burundi success     

CONGO:    

Constitution draft gives more power to Kabila     

CONGO:    

Hutu rebels still not disarming    

REGION:    

Civil society in revolt against EU-ACP trade agreements    

 


Zimbabwe:

Devaluation ahead for rapidly collapsing economy

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] The Zimbabwean economy is rapidly collapsing, just weeks after the election. Officials say the shortage of goods and fuel together with power cuts are temporary and will end in a few weeks, but economists see a deeper crisis and anticipate a currency devaluation.

Political analysts in South Africa speculate that the ruling Zanu-PF elite is preparing to allow Joyce Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe's selected successor, to take over sooner rather than later. ...

Writing on the wall? ...

Exchange rate ...

False assumptionsThe revival policy launched last year by RBZ governor Gilbert Gono is now stuck in the sand, says Hawkins. Inflation has been the sole target met and that is only temporary. The resurrection of price controls is an admission of failure and the RBZ going back to the drawing board to try again.[www.southscan.net]... >>>Full report

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Region:

SA pension funds may go to African infrastructure

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] South Africa may invest a chunk of its massive state pension fund in infrastructure projects in the rest of Africa. SA President Thabo Mbeki signaled his intention to do this at a New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) meeting in Algiers last November and this month his finance minister is lobbying for wider African support.

The Nepad secretariat, based in SA, has been discussing the proposal with SA's Public Investment Corporation that manages the R230 billion Government Employees' Pension Fund. Nepad reckoned that 14 African countries had a massive US$127 billion in their pensions funds but has finally come up with ten who might get involved - they included the obvious candidates Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, and Botswana, as well as SA.In this climate SA President Thabo Mbeki may have to be specific about where his state employees' pensions will go before he can convince them that their money is safe in his hands.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Region:

SA agrees to send more troops

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] The SA cabinet last week agreed to "respond positively" to a request from the African Union for additional troops for the AU's mission in the Sudan. It also approved the extension of SA National Defence Force deployment in Burundi until at least March 2006. There are hints that troops may also be sent to Cote d'Ivoire and Somalia, but analysts say that this is overstretching SA's capacity.

South Africa cannot put together a brigade from a single source at present, they say - instead officers coordinating logistics are picking groups from different parts of the country. This means that after their short training period they are put in the field with unfamiliar officers and no esprit d'corps.Last week a delegation of leaders of various military groups in Cote d'Ivoire was in SA to discuss the integration of military forces. With the French politically undesirable SA, as the chief mediator, is again under pressure to get involved. [www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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SA development:

Row breaks over costs of Airbus project

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] A political row is belatedly developing in South Africa after the announcement last week that the government has signed a contract to help produce the new A400M military transport, and to buy eight of the planes.

In December last year government committed South Africa to buying up to 14 of the four-engined aircraft at about R778 million each, in exchange for investment, technological knowledge and jobs (SouthScan v19/25). ...

Military budgetWith the exceptions of South Africa and recently Sierra Leone, the countries in the study lacked "strategic defence plans developed from well-articulated risk assessments and detailed analyses of the security and economic environments in which they operate". They included states with relatively high levels of military spending, such as Ethiopia and Nigeria in this criticism....>>>Full report

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SA development:

US gives R300 million more for military AIDS research

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] A R300 million agreement on HIV/AIDS research in the military was signed in Pretoria last week by SA Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and US ambassador to South Africa Jendayi Frazer.

The agreement will boost the medical research capacity of the SA Military Health Service and advance Project Phidisa, a collaboration between the two countries on biomedical research (SouthScan v19/24).Lekota has said that between 17 and 23 percent of the SANDF is infected with HIV (SouthScan v19/17), but unofficial sources say the figure for troops is closer to 25 percent.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Region:

Mali becomes SA's new strategic partner in West Africa

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] Mali is becoming South Africa's strategic partner in West Africa in many regards after a military deal this week cemented deepening economic relations.

South Africa and Mali agreed to co-operate on defence and technical matters at a meeting between Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his counterpart Mamadou Clazie Cissouma in the Malian capital on Tuesday. ...

US military deals ...

Gold minersIn addition Energem, a Canadian-South African company, has asked for an oil exploration permit in the northern part of the country.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Region:

Rapid demobilisation gives SA hope for Burundi success

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] Demobilisation in Burundi has run far ahead of schedule, giving confidence to South African negotiators that the peace process there is now well on course despite confusion and delays round its election and institution building programmes.

But the SA government decided last week to guarantee that its troops would remain in Burundi until March 2006 "at least". ...

Pretoria meeting ...

Pledge from rebel groupFormer Burundian government troops were sent from their barracks to demobilisation sites.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Congo:

Constitution draft gives more power to Kabila

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] The European Union is worried about changes to the draft constitution giving further powers to President Joseph Kabila, and also about delays in the transition process.

An EU delegation including foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the EU development commissioner Louis Michel, expressed these concerns on a visit to Kinshasa last week after a preliminary stop in South Africa. ...

Kabila visits SACongolese journalists suspect the MPs are delaying the entire process on purpose until they can get their four-wheel drive vehicles as a golden handshake at the end of their term. It is a view that can only fuel popular anger. The deliberate delaying of the process by some political actors is an open secret and on April 28, the first vice-president of the senate, Emile...

Tshisekedi threatThe political uncertainty and the rapid fall in value of the Congolese Franc, which lost about 40 percent in one year and contributed to the rise of essential commodities, can only add to the risk of an explosion among Congolese citizens who are losing patience and feel betrayed by the politicians.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Congo:

Hutu rebels still not disarming

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] Concern is mounting in the European Union about continued instability in the east of the country and in particular around the failure thus far of the Hutu rebel Interahamwe forces to lay down their arms (SouthScan v20/07).

The refusal by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (DFLR) Hutu rebels to surrender, disarm and return to Rwanda, despite the promises of their leaders at the end of March in Rome, was raised by European Union officials visiting Kinshasa last week. ...

Katangese gendarmesThe mandate should begin in May and last for a year. The US has also announced plans to allocate $4m to train Congolese military officers.[www.southscan.net]...>>>Full report

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Region:

Civil society in revolt against EU-ACP trade agreements

[(c) SouthScan v20/09 6 May 05] African civil society organizations supported by a number of major European NGOs have moved into clear confrontation with the European Commission on the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). They say these deals with wreck domestic African agriculture and industry and are warning African politicians not to go along with them.

The EPAs should be signed before early 2008 between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) states, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East and Southern African grouping Comesa. The EU deadline marks the expiry of the waiver authorizing the EU to offer preferential access to ACP products. ...

Mandelson reassures ...

Quotas imposedYet Kinnock does not think it is appropriate or realistic at this time to "stop EPAs". Instead she says she is heartened by commissioner Mandelson's note that he is emphasizing the importance of the development aspect of the negotiations. What we need to see now is exactly what this monitoring mechanism is about, she says....>>>Full report