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

v21/13 30 June 06

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CONTENTS

Congo:

Electoral campaign begins amidst last-ditch talks on new arrangements   

Intimidation increases against journalists   

Region:

Peace deals still out of reach of SA mediation efforts

Former officials ‘embezzled SA loan’

AU seeks to take over state functions in integration plan   

Bid for rationalization sows confusion in East and Central African trade blocs 

International:

EU may make strategic pact with South Africa 

Loans will focus on SADC infrastructure projects 

Zambia:

New presidential contender takes place of Mazoka  

Zimbabwe:

SA bank helps secure food supplies 

‘Mercenaries’ cargo plane unclaimed   

Angola:

China extends its $2bn reconstruction credit    

SA economy:

China agrees nuclear, textiles deal  

Namibia:

Civil society and government link up   

Lesotho:

Kebble’s controversial diamond mine sold   

SA politics:

Rand’s slide could restrict Mbeki’s room for manoeuvre  

SA economy:

Strikes threatened over unemployment rate  

BEE criteria come under attack  

SA politics:

Critics tuned out at SABC   

SA development:

Extra protection for diplomats facing violent crime  


Congo:

Electoral campaign begins amidst last-ditch talks on new arrangements

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The campaign for the July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections started on June 29 in confusion and with no guarantee that the elections would actually take place on schedule.

The main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP) threatened on Thursday (June 29) that it would disrupt the campaign if “concertations” between the political forces were not held before July 30. ...

Tactical alliance ...

Poll gives Kabila the lead ... >>> Full report


Congo:

Intimidation increases against journalists

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] Intimidation is continuing of critics and journalists and is causing concern for the rest of DR Congo’s electoral campaign.

In one case the editor of the ‘Eclaireur africain’ newspaper, Placide Bukasa, was arrested in Kinshasa by a Presidential Guard officer and reportedly tortured and robbed. The arrest may have been connected to Placide Bukasa’s possession of a photograph showing President Joseph Kabila standing beside the Rwandan President Paul Kagame during a military review. ...

Sect members shotBefore these incidents, Bundu dia Kongo distributed leaflets in the town of Boma ordering ‘misingila’ (aliens) to leave the province before Friday. The leader of the group, Ne Muanda Nsemi, says he wants to restore the historic kingdom of Kongo, whose territory covers the Bas-Congo province, the Cabinda enclave and parts of Northern Angola and Congo-Brazzaville....

>>> Full report


 

 

Congo:

SA’s troops took part in massacre by national army says UK report

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] South African troops participated in a massacre of civilians in a village in Ituri, according to a report last week by the British Channel Four television.

Video evidence filmed showed the total destruction of a hamlet called Kazana in Ituri. The assault was part of ‘Operation Explorer’ to dislodge Walendu ethnic militias from the Front de Resistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) before the Congo’s elections on July 30. ...

>>> Full report


Region:

Peace deals still out of reach of SA mediation efforts

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] South African peace diplomacy hit a rough patch with failure this week to secure agreement in two key countries where it is mediating – Burundi and Cote d’Ivoire.

The Burundi peace deal is particularly rankling since it has been paraded in SA as a vindication of President Thabo Mbeki’s diplomacy on the continent. He has laid particular stress on peace in the Great Lakes region.The Burundi government and the FNL signed a deal on June 18 to stop fighting, with a two-week deadline to finalise a comprehensive ceasefire....

Cote d’Ivoire ...

Postwar reconstruction ...

>>> Full report


 

Region:

Former officials ‘embezzled SA loan’

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] Authorities in Burundi have arrested two former top officials for alleged corruption. Attorney General Jean Ndikumana confirmed the arrest of Severin Ndikumugongo, a former transport, post and telecommunication minister and Severin Ntahomvukiye, an ex-diplomat, who are accused of embezzling state funds. ...

>>> Full report


 

Region:

AU seeks to take over state functions in integration plan

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The African Union summit in Banjul this week aims to set up a body that will take over key elements of policy for member states, including those affecting conflict and foreign policy. The overall intention will be to swing power to the AU centre in Addis Ababa from the regions and regional hegemons, say analysts who see the AU as institutionally too weak and under-funded to be effective at present.

The ambitious programme aims to clear the current blockages in the regional integration of the continent and particularly to end overlapping memberships in different regional organizations, reducing them from eight to five. In the Southern African region a number of states are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (Comesa). The uncertainty flowing from overlapping memberships has not only blocked regional integration but movement in partnership negotiations with the European Union (SouthScan v21/12). ...

Regional disparity ...

>>> Full report


 

Region:

Bid for rationalization sows confusion in East and Central African trade blocs

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] Trouble is brewing in East Africa on how to proceed as a single entity on trade matters. In principle Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have agreed to act as a bloc in bargaining for better trade terms with the rest of the world.

Kenya and Uganda are to resign from the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Tanzania from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and then re-enter the Comesa free trade area (FTA) facility as one. ...

>>> Full report


 

International:

EU may make strategic pact with South Africa

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The European Commission is to propose making South Africa a “strategic partner” by forging a pact similar to ones already struck with the US and China.

The EC has set out its ideas for the partnership - its sixth such pact - in a document to be considered by the European Union’s 25 member governments and EU lawmakers. The plan comes after the stalemate in partnership talks between SA and its Southern African regional blocs and the EU, and after the failure of talks with the US on a free trade agreement (SouthScan 21/12). ...

>>> Full report


 

International:

Loans will focus on SADC infrastructure projects

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] An ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting has decided that European Investment Bank loans to Southern Africa should increase sizeably during the 2008-2013 period when the second financial protocol of the Cotonou Agreement is implemented. Infrastructure projects will be targeted.

An agreement to this effect was signed in 2000 between the European Union and its partners from the African, Caribbean and Pacific states. Earlier this month the ACP-EU Council of Ministers approved the Euros 21.96 billion financial package at at the 10th European Development Fund meeting in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea). This represents a 35 percent increase on the 9th EDF and includes a Euros 1.5bn allocation of EU funds for the Cotonou Investment Facility, managed by the EIB. In addition, the Bank's board has also approved Euros 2bn in lending from own resources. ...

South African increaseThe European Commission wants to increase this from the current Euros 825m ceiling earmarked for the 2000-2006 period to Euros 1.5bn for the 2007-2013 period. The final decision has yet to be made by the European Council of Ministers, say EIB sources who are confident that the outcome will be positive. Priority will be given to support for the private sector and the development of local and community infrastructure to improve rural and township access to water and electricity....

>>> Full report


 

 

Zambia:

New presidential contender takes place of Mazoka

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] A new presidential contender has come on the scene just a few weeks after the death of Anderson Mazoka, who had been favoured to win this year’s elections. Government ministers have acknowledged that Hakainde Hichilema is likely to be a significant challenger for the incumbent President Levy Mwanawasa

Hichilema was until last week the chief executive of Grant Thornton, an international company providing corporate financing and auditing services. He will succeed Mazoka as the president of the United Party for National Development (UPND), the largest political party in Zambia.  ...

Mwila to contend ...

>>> Full report


 

Zimbabwe:

SA bank helps secure food supplies

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] South Africa’s Nedbank has been instrumental in securing a loan that has enabled Zimbabwe to finance maize, wheat and fertilizer imports.

Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono announced the deal worth US$45 million this week. It was signed between the central bank and the Harare-based Merchant Bank of Africa (MBCA), backed by Nedbank, which raised the revolving facility to finance the programme. ...

Courts acknowledge repressionThe Forum also reported widespread army involvement in pro-government “political issues” targeting civilians. “The army’s methods of dealing with the public are often very brutal,” the report said. “They are sued more for torture and grievous bodily harm than any other group.”...

>>> Full report


 

 

Zimbabwe:

‘Mercenaries’ cargo plane unclaimed

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] A cargo plane used two years ago to carry suspected mercenaries via Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea has not been claimed, Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper reported last week.

The lawyer of the group, Alwyn Griebenow, has not made representations to Zimbabwe to contest the forfeiture of aircraft to the state.The aircraft is registered in the US. It was operated by the US Air Force as an element of the National Guard from 1985 to 2002. The National Airline purchased it from Boeing in 1964 and then sold it to Intercredit Corp PanAm in 1985. Intercredit Corp then sold it to Boeing Military Airplane Company. In October 1985, Boeing sold the plane to US General Services Administration who in turn, in 2002, sold it to Dodson International Parts, which later sold it to Dodson Aviation....

>>> Full report


 

 

Angola:

China extends its $2bn reconstruction credit

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] China has extended its US$2 billion credit to Angola, announced in 2004. Now Angola will have an additional credit of $2bn, Finance Minister Jose de Morais said last week.

The agreement was signed during a two-day visit of Angola by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.One of the key Chinese-funded projects is the reconstruction of the 1,300-km Benguela railway....

>>> Full report


 

 

SA economy:

China agrees nuclear, textiles deal

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Premier has agreed to a textiles import limitation deal with South Africa. The countries also plan co-operation on nuclear power generating technology, it was announced during the South African leg of his African trip.

Cheap clothing imports have decimated much of SA’s indigenous textile industry, with massive job losses. Clothing companies and unions agree that about 25,000 jobs were lost over the last two years. ...

>>> Full report


 

Namibia:

Civil society and government link up

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The Namibian government has produced a policy document on working with willing non-governmental organizations. It recognises that civil society groups are often closer to the communities that government development programmes want to reach.

The initiative is based on a National Capacity Building Assessment study, undertaken to map the way forward to meet its Vision 2030 development plan. The report noted that government and civil society collaboration had, up until now, been “somewhat ineffective”. ...

>>> Full report


 

Lesotho:

Kebble’s controversial diamond mine sold

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The only diamond mine in Lesotho has been sold. The Letseng was owned by the South African mining company JCI, run by the murdered businessman Brett Kebble.

The new owners, Gem Diamonds said in a statement that JCI and its black empowerment partner Matodzi agreed to sell its 76 percent share in a deal worth R879 million (US$121m). ...

>>> Full report


Correction:

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] In the report on Equatorial Guinea in our last issue (SouthScan v21/12) we over-stated the amount the Pentagon was offering the regime. The $200m on offer may be divided among 10 recipient states.


 

 

SA politics:

Rand’s slide could restrict Mbeki’s room for manoeuvre

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The downward slide of the Rand has come at a politically charged time for the government and has brought unprecedented criticism down on the heads of key architects of SA’s President Thabo Mbeki’s macro-economic programme.

The fall in the value of the currency makes it likely that the central bank will again raise interest rates and that this may contribute to blocking SA’s current economic boom. If a downturn results the state will be less able to buy off a rising tide of political opposition with further redistribution into social expenditure or to create more jobs through an expanding economy, say analysts. ...

Market relianceWhile the Bank’s only defence now is to raise interest rates even this may not be sufficient to stabilise the currency. The economy runs the “very real risk of putting an end to the economic recovery with all of the social dislocation that a recession involves”, commented economist Desmond Lachman....

>>> Full report


 

 

SA economy:

Strikes threatened over unemployment rate

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The trade union federation Cosatu this week threatened to intensify its Jobs and Poverty Campaign with strikes two or three days a week over slow employment growth.

Despite the recent economic growth formal employment was growing only half as fast as it needed to meet the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa’s (Asgisa) target of halving unemployment by 2014, said Cosatu


 

 

SA economy:

BEE criteria come under attack

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The formerly white trade union Solidarity has asked the parastatal Eskom to join it in a request for legal clarification from the courts on whether the Black Economic Empowerment programme allows discrimination within the group of “historically disadvantaged” it is meant to promote.

The case follows the decision by Eskom to discriminate in favour of a black worker over a Coloured worker, where they were similarly qualified. ...

>>> Full report


 

SA politics:

Critics tuned out at SABC

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] The politically dangerous moment through which the African National Congress is passing appears to have led SA Broadcasting Corporation managers to censor some reports.

The Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties have now called for an independent investigation into allegations the SABC is barring analysts critical of President Thabo Mbeki. The report comes shortly after the SABC was criticised for canning an independently made documentary about Mbeki. ...

>>> Full report


 

SA development:

Extra protection for diplomats facing violent crime

[© SouthScan v21/13 30 June 06] SA is likely to lay on extra protection for the diplomatic corps after indications that embassies and diplomats are being targeted by criminals.

Several African diplomats have complained that crime against them is on the increase. After a recent bloody shoot-out between police and criminals in which eight gang members and four policemen died a ‘shoot to kill’ policy has been announced, with overwhelming public support. The World Cup football matches in Germany, widely viewed on TV, seemed to lend urgency to the issue. SA is next in line to host the show in four years’ time, and has assured football administrators that visitors will be safe. But in the past four years there has been little change in the crime picture....

>>> Full report