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

v21/09 5 May 06

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CONTENTS


SA economy:
Manuel parades economic boom in ‘first’ economy as means to fund redistribution

SA economy:
Business confidence buoyed by gold price

SA development:
Boom-dazed economists fail to note AIDS’ widening impact

SA development:
Security strike reveals extent of privatisation of state function

Region:
Coup rule set aside in interests of deal with CAR

Region:
SA’s contribution to AU budget nearly doubles

Region:
Port security moves up on SADC priority list

Region:
Uganda seeks Iranian aid on nuclear energy use

Malawi:
More arrests follow treason charge against vice president

Congo:
Catholic Church enters the lists against elections deal

Zambia:
DRC blamed for missing out on trade deal

Zimbabwe:
More signs Mugabe will seek to remain after 2008

Zimbabwe:
Top MDC leader Bennett seeks asylum in SA


SA economy:

Manuel parades economic boom in 'first' economy as means to fund redistribution

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Flushed with the success of his growth plan and on the eve of May Day rallies in South Africa, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has been claiming the ruling African National Congress' macroeconomic policy was coherent all along, and not the break from a redistributive model to a neo-liberal one that most analysts describe.

In his address at Princeton University in the US last week, made as SA business confidence reached new highs, Manuel said that the three economic policies developed by the ANC government since it came to power did not contradict one another. "GEAR (the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy) was never meant to supplant the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme), but was meant to deal with the means," he said. The ANC did not "look at the numbers" when developing the RDP during the run up to the first democratic elections in 1994, he said. "The problem of financing was not dealt with." ...

Ghosts at the feast ...

Violent demonstrations ... >>> Full text file


 

SA economy:

Business confidence buoyed by gold price

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Business confidence rose last month to equal January's record high, the South African Chamber of Business (Sacob) said this week. Its business confidence index rose to 103.1 from the previous month's 100.9.

A key factor in boosting confidence has been the continuing rise in gold prices (though analysts believe these will peak soon). Higher gold prices, offsetting the oil price rise, could reverse declining gold production in SA, which last year dipped by 13 percent to reach its lowest levels since 1923 of 296.3 tonnes. The country's gold mines went through a period of restructuring last year as mining houses cut jobs and streamlined operations, in response to a stronger local currency, foreign exchange controls and declining resources. ...

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SA development:

Boom-dazed economists fail to note AIDS' widening impact

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] AIDS will affect South Africa's economy in unexpected ways that are not being captured in current impact projections, according to a new book on the subject in South Africa.

Estimates of the epidemic's impact on national economic impact tend to differ widely. A study by the Joint Economic AIDS and Poverty Programme (Jeapp) last month, for example, claimed the effect would be negligible (SouthScan v21/08). On the other hand, financial analysts at ABSA Bank forecast that South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) would be almost 10 percent smaller in 2015, than it would have been if the AIDS epidemic had not occurred. ...

Direct and indirect costs ...

Retirement funds ...

'Boost to productivity' ...

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SA development:

Security strike reveals extent of privatisation of state function

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] The continuing strike by security industry workers has brought into sharp focus the state's dependence on this sector for the maintenance of order in the country. There are almost three private security guards for every police officer in South Africa and the ratio is widening, according to a new study by the SA Institute of Race Relations. Analysts say the policing function in the country has effectively been privatized.

The long-running wage strike is therefore likely to be a boon to criminals and to boost crime figures, a key indicator for investors. Some of the 14 union groups involved made a deal with employers but the strike been extended and complicated by an intra union dispute, and Labour Minister Membathisi Mdlalana this week called on employers and strikers to go back to the negotiating table. ...

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Region:

Coup rule set aside in interests of deal with CAR

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] SA President Thabo Mbeki and his defence minister Mosioua Lekota will soon visit the Central African Republic after a co-operation deal was agreed last Saturday during CAR President Francois Bozize's three-day visit to South Africa.

The deal is another indication that the African Union's rule against coups is only a guideline and does not interfere with what the SA government reckons is in its best interests. Bozize overthrew former President Ange-Felix Patasse in March 2003 but instead of the new CAR government being anathematized the UN launched appeals for aid for the country and the SA government sent official missions there and welcomed its representatives (SouthScan v19/05). ...

Wide-ranging agreement ...

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Region:

SA's contribution to AU budget nearly doubles

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] South Africa is to contribute 15 percent of the African Union's budget for this year, the government announced on Wednesday.

The move, representing a near doubling from last year's 8.25 percent, follows an AU decision that countries' contributions should be proportional to the strength of their economies. ...

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Region:

Port security moves up on SADC priority list

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] The European Commission has donated Euros 18 million (US$22.5m) to Southern African Development Community countries to modernise their customs systems and improve border posts.

At a two-day conference in Windhoek SADC countries discussed implementation of a regional strategic plan by 2020, focusing on key areas such as trade and economic liberalisation, infrastructure, sustainable food security, HIV/Aids and an action plan on defence and security. ...

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Region:

Uganda seeks Iranian aid on nuclear energy use

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Uganda has asked Iran for technical aid on nuclear energy use. This follows a visit by Iranian officials to Uganda and other East African countries last month, when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also confirmed the discovery of extensive uranium deposits in Uganda.

He said at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki that access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes was the legitimate right of all countries. He also welcomed the active participation of Iran's private sector in his country's economic activities. ...

Africa 'satisfied' on Iran ...

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Malawi:

More arrests follow treason charge against vice president

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] The arrest on treason charges of vice-president Cassim Chilumpha has been expanded into an operation to include top officials of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF). Late this week seven other senior UDF members had been arrested while former president Bakili Muluzi announced he would end his medical treatment in the UK and return home, though he may face arrest by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for involvement in a MKw1.4 billion case.

While there is widespread scepticism that Chilumpha's arrest represents much more than heightened political infighting, analysts say it could undermine political stability just as the country surfaces from drought and as President Bingu wa Mutharika gains the support of donor countries for his anti-corruption measures. ...

Former president to returnMinister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Henry Phoya said the South African professional assassin whom Chilumpha allegedly hired and his accomplices have given written and sworn statements to government....

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Congo:

Catholic Church enters the lists against elections deal

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Foreign and regional bodies are backing the election date handed down last Sunday by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), but local dissent is growing in the DR Congo. Now the widely influential Catholic Church has joined the critics.

The IEC said that the first round of the presidential election and the parliament elections would take place on July 30, one month after the official deadline set for the transition. The announcement has created unease and an increasing rift between the institution and the international community on the one hand and the Congolese opposition on the other. ...

'Unilateral decision' attacked ...

Anticipating fraud ...

Ugandan involvement ...

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Zambia:

DRC blamed for missing out on trade deal

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] The DR Congo is being blamed for postponement of a trade deal with Zambia. Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry permanent secretary Davison Chilipamushi blamed the DRC's "lack of cooperation".Trade disagreements have grown because of smuggling by the Congolese that has reportedly cost Zambia US$150 million in revenue. The DRC is accused of illegally importing the staple mealie meal, sugar and copper.

Chilipamushi told a parliamentary committee on April 25 that Zambia would continue to pursue the normalisation of border trade between the two countries. Last year Zambia submitted to the DRC government a draft investment promotion and protection agreement but the DRC has not formally replied.The DRC is Zambia's second largest trading partner in Africa after South Africa. Zambia's informal trade with the DRC is worth US$150 million while formal trade is worth $70 million.

Zambia-DRC borderThe physical demarcation of the unmarked international DRC-Zambia border between Lakes Mweru and Tanganyika will commence on June 1, 2007....

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Zimbabwe:

More signs Mugabe will seek to remain after 2008

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Indications that President Robert Mugabe could amend the constitution to allow him to stay in power until 2010 are likely to delay economic recovery still further.His term expires in 2008, and he has previously said he would retire at that time, reportedly to play with his children and write books. But moves are afoot among ministers to amend the constitution to allow Mugabe a further two years to head off a potentially divisive power struggle among his lieutenants, according to reports in state-owned and private media this week.

There have been frequent and sometimes successful attempts in the region to lengthen presidential terms but if Mugabe succeeds in Zimbabwe economists say that more companies could close up shop or divest into neighbouring countries, as many did between 2000 and 2003.  ...

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Zimbabwe:

Top MDC leader Bennett seeks asylum in SA

[(c) SouthScan v21/09 5 May 06] Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett is seeking political asylum in South Africa because he fears for his life.

He fled Zimbabwe last month after police sought to question him over the discovery of an arms cache in eastern Zimbabwe that security agents claimed was to be used to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government. The charge was rejected by a circuit judge (SouthScan v21/06) but MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said, "We cannot afford to have a dead hero".Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said there were no grounds for South Africa to grant Bennett political asylum. He submitted his request for asylum to the SA home affairs department last week and may get a response by mid-May. Whichever way it is decided the case will be an embarrassment for the SA government. The Lawyers for Human Rights group, which is helping Bennett make his case, said he had evidence to substantiate his claims that he was being targeted by the Mugabe government....

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