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

v20/23 18 November 05

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[Page numbers as in PDF file]


Shackland revolt will boost Left and Zuma camp P.1


Unions attempt confrontation as opposition splits  P.2


'Commandist' bid to revive agriculture   P.3


Power crunch looms for resolving foreign investment issue     P.3


State finally gets control of Cahora Bassa company P.4


HIV test becomes necessary hurdle for presidential hopefuls     P.4


Tentative hopes for parties ahead of new constitution    P.4


Millions register for referendum amid suspicions of rigging     P.5


Belgian minister proposes an EU African military base    P.7


Kabila appoints a new finance minister   P.7


Portugal proposes its own donors' conference  P.7


Dos Santos promises free and fair elections   P.8


Two SA security workers killed in Iraq   P.8


EU approval of chemicals legislation seen as setback     P.8

SA politics:

Shackland revolt will boost Left and Zuma camp

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] A demonstration near Durban in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province was put down by the police this week with dozens of arrests, but has focused government attention again on the groundswell of dissent against its record at grassroots level. It is estimated that there have been over 850 illegal actions this year against African National Congress local officials and their failures to deliver services or housing.

This rumbling shackland revolt has risen in parallel with a swing to the Left in the selection of candidates for the February 2006 local elections and will boost the chances of ousted deputy president Jacob Zuma at ANC national elections later, if he can overcome his corruption charges in court. ...

Left nominations...

Shackland organisationIn the turgid waters of the ANC at present there is no way to judge whether the charge is part of a disinformation campaign or genuine. If the latter it will be a nail in Zuma's political coffin in a country increasingly sensitised to this crime - SA has arguably the highest rape rate in the world.... >>> Full report



Unions attempt confrontation as opposition splits

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] With the Movement for Democratic Change deeply split the main opposition to the government's policies is coming from the trade unions and civic associations. But an attempt by the unions and other groups to demonstrate against poverty in Harare and other towns last week met a heavy response from police under the stringent Public Order Security Act (POSA).

Over a hundred activists were briefly arrested, including the leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions - ZCTU. The divided MDC, though it has frequently in the past called for public protests, was tied up with its own internecine struggles.The arrests brought a sharp protest from the South African union federation Cosatu but not from the government. Cosatu commented, "It is highly regrettable is that the African Union and our government have so far been silent on this outrage"....

Tsvangirai adamant ...

SA spells out support ... >>> Full report



'Commandist' bid to revive agriculture

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] The government has turned to the army in a bid to revive farming in what it has termed "command agriculture" targeted at underutilised land. A number of the recently expropriated commercial farms have been handed to ministers and other officials but are not being farmed while the country is facing a food crisis.

However, a parliamentary committee says the plan may be still-born because of lack of cash and planning, while some analysts believe the government's reliance on the army to save it from the consequences of its agricultural policies is misplaced. ... >>> Full report



Power crunch looms for resolving foreign investment issue

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] Zimbabwe's government it will need to solve its energy needs before 2007 when a general power shortage hits the region. Already the country has hit a ceiling in domestic power production. Now the deadline will set an economic term to political deal-making - Zimbabwe needs to resolve its internal crisis and regain international acceptability if it is to win foreign investment for its new methane gas fields.

To activate the Lupane Gas Project Zimbabwe needs foreign direct investment and this is hard to find in its current state of economic collapse, despite current overtures to Iran, other Middle Eastern countries and China. ...

Misappropriated grants ... >>> Full report



State finally gets control of Cahora Bassa company

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] A deal has been struck between Mozambique and Portugal whereby the Maputo government finally gains control of the Cahora Bassa holding company.

Under the deal the Mozambican state is to take an 85 per cent holding in the hydro-electric dam. The agreement reverses the shareholding structure under which Portugal held 82 per cent of the shares, and Mozambique the remaining 18 per cent.The power issue is moving up the political agenda of all countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, with experts announcing that the crunch will come in 2007 with increasingly frequent blackouts unless alternative sources of supply are brought into operation together with increase supplies from existing power stations. SA's growing industrial economy is sucking in available resources. ...>>> Full report



HIV test becomes necessary hurdle for presidential hopefuls

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] Presidential aspirants for next year's elections face a challenging task of openly disclosing their HIV/AIDS status amid public pressure. Fears of stigma and discrimination against candidates with HIV/AIDS are high.

From what initially appeared to be a mere off the cuff suggestion the issue of testing for HIV has become a political qualification for those seeking the highest office. ...>>> Full report



Tentative hopes for parties ahead of new constitution

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] The Swazi government issued guidelines this week on the creation, registration and running of non-governmental organizations in a move that some believe makes a small opening for legal political activity when the new constitution, largely maintaining the royalist status quo, comes into effect in January.

At the least it will ensure better communications with NGOs that carry an increasingly large share of social services in the country worst hit by AIDS...>>> Full report



Millions register for referendum amid suspicions of rigging

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] A month ahead of the scheduled referendum to approve the draft constitution, scheduled for December 18, over 20 million voters have been registered, a remarkable achievement given the logistical and security problems in the country.

But a closer look at the figures reveals considerable fraud and has given rise to suspicions that the figures are being manipulated to boost the final number of members of parliament for the different parties. In particular, the Kinshasa exercise has revealed over 10,000 cases of voters attempting to duplicate registrations while in other provinces there appear to be attempts to prevent voters registering.

Additional EU funds... 

Kongo separatism ...

Disarmament still slow ...>>> Full report



Belgian minister proposes an EU African military base

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] The Belgian Minister of Cooperation, Armand De Decker, has suggested building a joint EU-African military base in Central Africa to deal with the difficulties met by the UN Mission in the Congo, MONUC in stabilising the DR Congo.

Such permanent infrastructure would allow the European Union and the African Union to improve training for African armies, De Decker told a Western Europe Assembly meeting in Brussels. This structure would also enable European armed forces to continue to train regularly in Africa and thus to retain their expertise on that field. ...>>> Full report



Kabila appoints a new finance minister

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] President Joseph Kabila has announced a major government reshuffle with nine ministerial portfolios changing hands. The main event is the replacement of Finance Minister André-Philippe Futa, who belongs to Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD), by Marco Banguli, a former minister of economy and industry in the Mobutu regime, who is also member in the PPRD.

A former member of the former prime minister Kengo wa Dondo's Union of Independent Democrats, Banguli, who belongs to the Teke tribe of Bandundu, is well known in South African business circles since he spent several years in exile there at the beginning of the Kabila's regime. Banguli's appointment is seen as reflecting the president's need to give a prominent job to someone from the Bandundu region. ...>>> Full report



Portugal proposes its own donors' conference

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio last week offered Angola an alternative to the long delayed international donors' conference on the reconstruction of the country. On a visit to Luanda he proposed to host in Lisbon a conference on multilateral investment in Angola. The international donors' conference, anticipated since the end of the civil war in 2002, does not seem likely to take place since the Angolan government is not keen to accept one of the preconditions set by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for more transparency in the management of oil resources.

Angola is ranked 133 out of 145 countries on Transparency International's corruption index. The IMF found that, between 1997 and 2001, $8.45 billion of public money was unaccounted for (an average of 23% of GDP), and the Angolan government still has no transparent system for managing its oil money. ...>>> Full report



Dos Santos promises free and fair elections

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05]  Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos last week (November 11) promised that the 2006 elections would be "free and fair" and that the government was creating the conditions for it. He was speaking during ceremonies in Luanda marking the 30th anniversary of the country's independence in front of a crowd of 40,000 in the largest stadium of the capital.

However, the president failed to give details about the much awaited time schedule of the presidential and legislative elections. Nor were there any assurances about the neutrality of the elections referee - the opposition is worried that a majority of the members of the Independent National Electoral Commission are too close to the president, heralding a similar scenario to that just played out with disastrous consequences in Ethiopia. ...

Landholding case ...>>> Full report



Two SA security workers killed in Iraq

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] Another two South African private security contractors were killed in Iraq on Monday. The South African foreign ministry says this brings to 17 the number of South Africans killed there but according to unofficial figures the toll is 27 out of 282 private contractors killed over the past three and a half years.

The two South African were killed in a suicide bombing in Baghdad. They were working for the giant US private security company DynCorp International. ...>>> Full report



EU approval of chemicals legislation seen as setback

[(c) SouthScan 18 Nov 05] The European Parliament's approval on Thursday (November 17) of the REACH legislation that aims at controlling the use of chemical substances within the EU, has provoked concern in the South Africa (SouthScan v20/22).

The SA ambassador in Brussels, Jerry Matjila, noted that "minerals, ores and concentrates have still not been exempted from authorisation" and said that the approval of the legislation will increase the cost of doing business for African mining and metals producing companies.All South African and other African diplomatic efforts will now focus on the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) which takes place in Edinburgh from November 21 to the 24....>>> Full report