Analysis and reporting on key policy issues from Southern and Central Africa

v21/04 24 February 06

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CONTENTS


Zimbabwe:
Government seeks to shift blame for inflation onto IMF
Zimbabwe:
Poor harvest forecast again
Zimbabwe:
As MDC splits tribal opposition party is formed
Zimbabwe:
Mugabe's support falls together with trust in key state institutions

Congo:
Fears grow of a political vacuum as election is postponed

Congo:
Flurries in mining industry after 'plunder' report

Region:
SA relations with oil island strained

Botswana:
BDF may send troops to Darfur

SA economy:
Bid to boost investment in Africa

SA development:
Arms package bogs down defence spending

SA economy:
Booming economy opens way for black middle class


Zimbabwe:

Government seeks to shift blame for inflation onto IMF

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] The Harare government is seeking to blame its massive and rising rate of inflation - worst in the world - on its payoff to the International Monetary Fund.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said last week his government printed ZD21 trillion to buy foreign currency to pay off IMF arrears, and that the resulting broad money supply growth was the major driver of inflation in 2005 and has spilled over into the current year.IMF foreign media director Thomas Dawson added that the alleged government budget deficit of 3 percent of GDP should actually be nearly 60 percent of GDP in 2005, up from 27 percent of GDP in 2004, a figure reached by consolidating the deficit of the Reserve Bank and central government....

Repayment sources ... >>> Full report


Zimbabwe:

Poor harvest forecast again

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] Another poor harvest forecast has been forecast in Zimbabwe. Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni blamed fertilizer shortages and technical ignorance among the new farmers resettled on formerly white-owned land.

He said many new farmers who received land lacked the expertise to produce crops on what he called a "commercial and even subsistence level". Even farmers with adequate resources still failed to produce "meaningful" crops. Despite good seasonal rains, he predicted the harvest beginning around April would produce half of what had been expected. ...

Nigerian agriculture lureThe team is being led by governor Bukola Sakari and included several envoys from central Nigeria....

>>> Full report


Zimbabwe:

As MDC splits tribal opposition party is formed

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] A new party has been formed in Matabeleland, leading to fears that after the split in the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change politics may develop, leading to an opposition more fragmented on a tribal basis.

The Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (Puma) is expected to formally announce its agenda early in March, when the two wings of the MDC will also be holding their meetings. It appears to have drawn in Ndebele-speakers in Zanu-PF, the ruling party. Former Zimbabwe Teachers Association Leader (Zimta) leader, Leonard Nkala, is reported to have set up a 45-member executive committee. Former Zanu-PF Bulawayo spokesperson, Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni, is the party's interim secretary general. ...

Water pipeline ...

>>> Full report


Zimbabwe:

Mugabe's support falls together with trust in key state institutions

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] While the political opposition's challenge to the ruling Zanu-PF government has wilted, there has been a concomitant fall in popular support for President Robert Mugabe. A new survey shows Mugabe enjoys the trust of only 19 percent of urban dwellers and 37 percent in rural areas - or 31 percent overall.

An Afrobarometer survey by Idasa - the Institute for Democracy in South Africa - found that the least trusted public institutions were government newspapers and the electoral commission, together with the president and Zanu-PF. Trust in public institutions was topped by the courts of law with 53 percent. This was followed by the military with 50 percent, but the police received 39 percent. ...

>>> Full report


Congo:

Fears grow of a political vacuum as election is postponed

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] Elections in the DR Congo are to be postponed (as anticipated - SouthScan v21/03) despite a call last Sunday, February 19 by the International Committee of Support to the Transition and a warning against any attempt to delay the transition process.

A June 30 deadline had been set by the Global and Inclusive Agreement of December 17, 2002. The postponement is exacerbating fears of instability during a power vacuum. ...

Constitutional provisions ...

IEC announces delayIn any case, even if the fastest scenario applies the second round of the election cannot be organized before June 30, and this risks creating an institutional vacuum, which the ICST has sought to avert....

First round win? ...

Katanga tensions ...

Doubts on FARDC capacity ...

Litany of problems ...

Media coverage ...

>>> Full report


Region:

SA relations with oil island strained

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] Relations between SA and Equatorial Guinea are growing strained after a series of diplomatic incidents and the revelation this week that South African 'mercenaries' are being starved in the island's jails.

Amnesty International warned last year that the South Africans, as well as 65 other detainees in this prison, were probably dying of prolonged famine. Staff at the South African embassy in EG capital city Malabo last managed to visit the men more than five months ago. ...

Angola visit ...

>>> Full report


Botswana:

BDF may send troops to Darfur

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] The Botswana Defence Force may be preparing to send a 2,000-strong troop contingent to the Darfur region in Sudan as part of an international force. Troops would depart to Darfur around August and September this year under a ten-month renewable contract, according to reports in the Mmegi newspaper.

But government official have denied the report and say the country has limited resources and is not committed to any peace-keeping mission anywhere. Currently two senior Botswana police officers are on a one-year peace-keeping stint in Darfur. The officers went to Sudan in February last year. ...

>>> Full report


SA economy:

Bid to boost investment in Africa

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] SA has introduced fresh incentives to boost investment in the rest of Africa. The present foreign direct investment threshold of 50 percent would be lowered to 25 percent for investment in Africa by South African corporates and mandated parastatals, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said in his budget speech last week.

The intention is to encourage participation in projects supportive of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) development goals, he said. ...

AIDS expenditureIn the 2005 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the comprehensive HIV and AIDS grant for provinces grew nominally from R1.1 billion in 2005/6 to R1.6 billion in 2006/7, representing a real growth of 32 per cent....

>>> Full report


SA development:

Arms package bogs down defence spending

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] The SA defence budget announced last week has been widely welcomed for the additional boost it gives to current expenditure levels for the army at a time of increased demands for peacekeeping. However, local analysts believe spending related to the massive conventional arms package agreed in 1999 is hamstringing the development of a new force to meet current demands.

According to documentation released by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel as part of his annual budget, the special defence account, used to buy weapons and equipment for the SA National Defence Force, will continue to consume over a third of the country's defence budget, although it is set to decline over the next three years. ...

Modernising equipment ...

>>> Full report


SA economy:

Booming economy opens way for black middle class

[© SouthScan v21/04 24 Feb 06] Government ministers have been crowing over the successes in their 2006-7 budget announced last week. The booming economy shows the correctness of the Gear neo-liberal macro-economic plan introduced ten years ago, SA President Thabo Mbeki said.

The fruits of the past ten years are being demonstrated by the rapid growth of the black middle class. State social provisions for the poor have also been expanded, and with it an increase in spending power, and signs are that the poorest groups are moving upward. But the display of consumerism by the newly forming middle class is, if anything, exacerbating the widespread sense of social inequality in one of the world's most unequal societies and foretells more infighting for the ruling African National Congress. ...

30 percent growth ...

No borrowingOnly 4 percent said employment had shown any improvement over the past two years and only 6 percent saw any improvement in access to land. Around 20 percent saw any improvement in general health care, treatment for people living with AIDS or police services....

>>> Full report