Analysis and reporting on key policy issues from Southern and Central Africa
v21/05 10 March 06
Technocrat voted in a leader of pro-senate MDC faction
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] The Movement for Democratic Change's pro-senate wing is presenting its new leader, Arthur Mutambara, as the kind of modern technocrat who is just the opposite of President Robert Mugabe, and perhaps also of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposing group in the MDC.
Mutambara appeared on South African television this week and the response of local analysts was generally favourable. Some said he might have appeal to the international community as an intellectual equal to both SA's President Thabo Mbeki and Mugabe. Critics said his elevation was part of an international plan to form a unity government with Zanu-PF elements. ...
Overcoming the splitMeanwhile the impact of the split was shown when the opposition lost three local seats in its strongholds last weekend, yielding urban district council seats in the second city of Bulawayo it has held since 2000 and the post of mayor in Chegutu, 110 km south-west of Harare, to Zanu-PF. Low turnout was seen as a sign of apathy among opposition supporters following the party's split....
Divisions multiplyThe election of Mutambara has caused divisions inside the senate faction itself. MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube and deputy president Gibson Sibanda backed him in part because he belongs to the majority Shona tribe; Ncube and Sibanda belong to the minority Ndebele tribe. MDC deputy secretary Gift Chimanikire accused them of wanting to behave like "Shona king-makers". Chimanikire comes from a trade union background, like Tsvangirai, and has been the party's deputy secretary-general since its inception in 1999.... >>>Full report
Mines takeover law set to scare off investment
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] The capricious Zimbabwe government probably hammered the final nail into the economy by telling foreign mining companies unhappy with its proposed empowerment laws to cut their ownership by half and cede the stake to locals that they should leave the country.
"The door is open for those mining firms that are concerned about reforms in the industry. I am surprised that the empowerment policy is now raising an outcry from some sectors of the mining sector, but we were engaged in talks with all the major mines around the country", said Mines Minister Amos Midzi while touring Hwange Coal Mine on Friday. ...
Chinese stake? ...
Mining companies to meet ...
Power outagesEskom has meanwhile denied media reports that it would invest US$37 million in the expansion and upgrading of a Zimbabwe power station. Reports in both South African and Zimbabwean media quoted the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) as saying that the two utilities would sign a deal in the coming week. Eskom has offered to support the Zimbabwean power utility to improve the available load factor at its Hangwe Power Station but had not made any financial commitments, he said.... >>>Full report
Tsvangirai faction of MDC under attack for 'arms cache'
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] Top Movement for Democratic Change officials - including Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa and former Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett - were arrested this week after an arms cache was found in Mutare. But some local observers are dismissing the find, citing its fortuitous timing as the wings of the MDC are holding their congresses, the fact that arms caches are known to remain from the liberation war, and the use by Zanu-PF of the same ploy in the 1980s to disarm its then political enemy Zapu.UK gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has distanced himself from the ZFM, a group he initially represented as spokesperson in 2003 but that many observers felt was part of a publicity charade....
TRC sought for Matabeleland ...>>>Full report
Threat of price-fixing case hangs over US tobacco buyers
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] The director of Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau, Gustave Kaliwo has submitted a file to the director of public prosecutions for possible legal action against the two US tobacco companies active in Malawi, Universal and Alliance One, for alleged price fixing.
He told SouthScan that the ACB will work hand in hand with the DPP on the conspiracy charge, but local analysts say the government may either wait to see what happens on the tobacco floors this year or warn they may prosecute to try to ensure the companies buy tobacco at a fair price. This leaves open the possibility that the companies could be prosecuted after the tobacco season. ...>>>Full report
Confusion over how to handle Islamic protest
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) is apparently seeking to recover itself after failing to condemn the invasion of one of the country's independent newspapers by a Muslim crowd. They were demanding the sacking of the editor and publisher for publishing the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
But a statutory media body has not remained silent and has instead called for the condemnation of the newspaper, indicating a new sensitivity to the possibility of social unrest coming from the Muslim minority. ...>>>Full report
Oil and gas exploration in North
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] Four oil and gas companies, from Canada, the US, Malaysia, and Italy, have won tenders to prospect for oil and gas in the Rovuma basin in northern Mozambique, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, announced in Maputo on Wednesday.
The basin has been divided into seven areas for purposes of oil and gas exploration. Two of these areas (blocks 2 and 5) have already been granted to the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro, under a contract signed in February. ...>>>Full report
Opposition parties ally to present a single opponent
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] Seven opposition political parties have formed alliances and agreed to float one presidential candidate in this year's tripartite election in a bid to thwart President Levy Mwanawasha's second term dream.
The United Party for National Development (UPND), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) and the former ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP) formed an alliance called the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) with the aim of ousting Mwanawasa. ...>>>Full report
Mbeki seeks peace between Museveni and his political rival
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] South Africa is engaged in a behind-the-scenes attempt to mediate between President Yoweri Museveni and his defeated election rival Kiiza Besigye. According to political sources President Thabo Mbeki wants Museveni to recognize Besigye as leader of the opposition and to drop all criminal charges against him (already a rape charge has been thrown out of court but he still faces treason and terrorism charges). SA is assessing the viability of the mediation package before sending a mediator, who is likely to be ex-Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.
Botswana's former president Ketumile Masire, who led the 300-strong Commonwealth elections monitoring team, is also pressing for reconciliation and wants Museveni to be the one to offer the olive branch. Masire, who addressed the opposition Forum For Democratic Change leadership on March 1, asked Museveni to refrain from treating his opposition as enemies. ...
Neighbourhood concern ...>>>Full report
'Coup plot' against new Burundi government
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] The new Burundian president, Pierre Nkurunziza, created a sensation on Monday when he announced that a "coup plot" against his government had been discovered by the state security services.
Nkurunziza accused, without naming them, three politicians who, "held clandestine meetings with three officers of the National Defence forces and with three officers of the National Police". The conversations between the politicians and the officers were recorded by the security services, he said, and added that he was trying to convince the participants in the 'plot' to abandon their project ...
Frodebu suspicions ...>>>Full report
Electoral campaign gets its timetable but is marred by violence and intrigue
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] President Joseph Kabila finally on Thursday (March 9) promulgated the country's electoral law, enabling the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to set out an agenda for the forthcoming elections.
* Candidates have two weeks to register between March 10 and 23.
* The list should be published between April 5 and 9.
* The electoral campaign should take place between May 18 and June 16.
* The first round of the presidential election and the parliamentary elections should take place on June 18 .
* The results should be announced officially on July 14.
No timetable was, however, announced for the provincial elections and the second round of the presidential election.
In the European Union there is now guarded optimism about the elections. The head of the EU Observation Mission to the DR Congo, Philippe Morillon, told SouthScan that everybody concerned in the parliamentary and presidential election is now interested "to get the train going and not to derail it." ...
Pressure on IEC ...
Banyamulenge at risk ...
EU still hesitating ...>>>Full report
Musicians recruited for the electoral campaign
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] Music alongside religion remains one of the few credible institutions in the collapsed DR Congo state. While the public is generally suspicious of politicians musicians continue to enjoy considerable popularity.
This is why the larger of the 270 registered political parties are deploying huge efforts to enroll the talents of the top singers. The Paris-based weekly Jeune-Afrique quotes a Congolese diplomat saying, "It is not possible to become president of the DRC without the support of a musician. Music is all that remains and unites the people". ...>>>Full report
Brazil scam may undermine conflict diamonds system
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] A massive mining scam in Brazil may undermine the Kimberley process to control the flow of diamonds from conflict zones in Africa.
More than half of Brazil's diamond exports over the past three years are suspect in terms of the process and in 2004 alone a quarter of Brazil's diamond exports were fraudulent, according to one of the partners in the intergovernmental Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds. ...>>>Full report
Diamond diggers killed by police
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] Eleven diamond diggers were killed by the Angolan police on the Kwanza river near the Congolese city of Tembo, in the south of the Bandundu Province this week. The UN-sponsored Radio Okapi quoted a local Congolese official saying that other diggers were arrested and released by the Angolan police at the request of the Kinshasa government.
Mbeki signals closer engagement in Iraq
[(c) SouthScan v21/05 10 Mar 06] South Africa is to open an embassy soon in Iraq, President Thabo Mbeki said after meeting a visiting delegation of Iraqi politicians this week. The move would help Iraqis to learn from South Africa's experience of national reconciliation, he said.
The move is also seen as part of a Middle East initiative that comes as a time when oil producers, though not Iraq, are again awash with money; two other government ministers are visiting the region to seek Arab investment. The US is - as in the 1970s - the main beneficiary of the petrodollars, but countries with a special relationship to the oil producers can also hope to gain inward investment. ...
Mid-East visit ...>>>Full report