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

v21/17 25 August 06

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CONTENTS

Congo:

Three-day war raises stakes for second round of voting

Congo:

Warning of 'massive' plague in Ituri 

Region:

Zambia beefs up security on Congo border

Region:

Congo minerals still beckon despite Uganda's peace talk        

Namibia:

'Death threat' by Nujoma draws UN attention          

Region:

SADC again displays its paralysis on Zimbabwe       

Zimbabwe:

Closer Equatorial Guinea business ties? 

Zimbabwe:

Large boost to security spending announced      

International:

Pentagon may set up separate African command        

International:

SA's Iran deals put it on a diplomatic tightrope         

SA development:

SA government challenged over AIDS policy 


Congo:

Three-day war raises stakes for second round of voting

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] Tension remained high in Kinshasa this week after a three-day 'war' between presidential contenders Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba. One of the capital's newspapers called it a "real fiasco" in the transition process. Others noted the political silence that followed the violence and the failure by all contenders, except for Azarias Ruberwa to condemn it.

It is uncertain now whether the run-off election will be held on the scheduled date of October 29, though officials want it to take place as soon as possible, and anxiety is increasing about what follows that.In Kinshasa there have been calls in the media for Bemba and Kabila's troops to be disarmed before the second round of voting, with the UN force MONUC and the European Union force EUFOR perhaps assigning units to that task. But in a tense situation this could be another potential spark to conflict....

Fear remains palpable ...

Provisional results ...

Battle for Kasai ...

Kingmaker Gizenga? ... >>> Full report


Congo:

Warning of 'massive' plague in Ituri

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06]  A "massive epidemic" of pneumonic plague could hit eastern Congo after an alarming rise in infections in recent weeks, an international medical charity said.

Health workers are concerned about a sudden increase in the extremely contagious disease which, unlike the bubonic plague, can pass between humans. The outbreak is near Lake Albert in the north-east Ituri region, where militias are still fighting. There have been 1,400 cases so far this year, 600 of them in June and July, said Alfred Kinzelbach, regional coordinator for aid agency Malteser International. That compares with 800 cases for the whole of 2005. Around 10 percent of people who catch the plague are dying - double the rate last year, he said. ...

>>> Full report


Region:

Zambia beefs up security on Congo border

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] Zambia's security personnel are on high alert after the shoot-out in Kinshasa between in Joseph Kabila's presidential guards and his challenger Jean-Pierre Bemba's militia. Zambia's Ministry of Defence and Security Permanent secretary Joel Chitafu assured Zambians living on the border with DR Congo last week that there was no need to panic as security measures have been tightened. Chitafu said a high level decision had been made to deploy military personnel along the Zambia-Congo border to beef up the police effort.

Three weeks ago Zambia's high ambassador in the Great Lakes region, Siteke Mwale said Zambia was following DR Congo's elections with great interest because the results would affect Zambia's security. The Zambian government has not said which candidate it is supporting although it is clear that Kabila is its preferred choice.

Angola reinforces ...

>>> Full report


Region:

Congo minerals still beckon despite Uganda's peace talk

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] The Ugandan government has agreed to a Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) ceasefire call on condition the rebels assemble their forces in designated locations in Southern Sudan. But the rebels' demands for power-sharing will be hard for the Ugandan government to swallow and in the mean time its warning stands that it may move into the DRC to attack the LRA and the Allied Democratic Front bases there if talks break down.

Uganda has deployed a brigade along its border with the DR Congo as well as an elite battalion of the Presidential Guard Brigade. ...

US strategic considerations ...

Japanese diamond trade ...

>>> Full report


Namibia:

'Death threat' by Nujoma draws UN attention

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] The UN has been drawn into a bizarre case in which the former president Sam Nujoma is alleged to have threatened to kill two political opponents.  The affair has also revived interest in the death of Lazarus Kandara, a key witness in the Avid Investments scandal last year, announced as a suicide when it happened on August 24 last year (SouthScan v20/17). Now it is being described by government critics as an "alleged" suicide.

Kandara was the chief executive of a company that had allegedly fraudulent relations with ruling party's youth section and with senior Swapo officials. He was alluded to by Nujoma at a rally when he also apparently threatened to eliminate two critics who had publicised ex-combatants' grievances. ...

>>> Full report


Region:

SADC again displays its paralysis on Zimbabwe

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] The most recent summit meeting of SADC, the Southern African Development Community, has once again proved incapable of getting to grips with the Zimbabwe crisis. The issue was not on the formal agenda and a behind closed doors meeting was held, with no report issued on the discussions about Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe left the Maseru meeting early without having signed a trade and investment statement, according to some reports angry that his country had been called a hindrance to investment in the region. SA's deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad said it was important that the SADC leaders had held the meeting on Zimbabwe at all. ...

Macroeconomic peer review ...

>>> Full report


Zimbabwe:

Closer Equatorial Guinea business ties?

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] Zimbabwe is milking to the utmost its role in foiling the purported coup in Equatorial Guinea two years ago to gain business advantages there. A video interview with some of those held is reportedly being shown at an exhibition in Malabo, the capital, and used to emphasise the solidarity between the two countries.

Zimbabwe arrested around 70 suspected mercenaries aboard a chartered plane en route to the country's capital Malabo in March 2004 (SouthScan v19/06;13 et seq). Just three months later Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea announced they would open embassies in each other's capitals, but in April this year President Robert Mugabe failed to conclude a reportedly massive oil deal he was seeking after a visit by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to Zimbabwe (SouthScan v21/07). ...

>>> Full report


Zimbabwe:

Large boost to security spending announced

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] In a move seen as reflecting the government's increased reliance on the military, it this week announced a large recruitment drive, increased salaries and new uniforms. The announcement came on top of news about new purchases of jet fighter planes from China and new vehicles for the officer corps and the police.

Military officials said the recruitment drive next year was intended to replace a cadre of top former Zanla (liberation army) officers who were now retiring.In a new report from the International Crisis Group Africa Programme Director Suliman Baldo notes that " The onus for action lies with the people of Zimbabwe, and only more concerted action on their part will ultimately trigger reform"....

>>> Full report


International:

Pentagon may set up separate African command

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] The long awaited decision to set up a separate US African command is near, according to reports in the US. The move has been widely anticipated since the Pentagon decided to shift Africa, and particularly West Africa and the Horn, higher up on its list of strategic priorities (SouthScan v18/13 et seq).

It will soon announce the formation of an entirely new military command for the entire continent of Africa, according to a report this week in the US-based Time magazine. This would reflect the need for more emphasis on pro-active, preventative measures, according to the report. ...

African oil ...

>>> Full report


International:

SA's Iran deals put it on a diplomatic tightrope

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06] South Africa and Iran are moving into a closer relationship after talks this week, propelled by SA's dependency on Iranian oil and heightened by SA mediation in the continuing dispute over nuclear enrichment by Tehran. As such SA is now walking a tightrope to maintain credibility as one of the countries involved in the mediation effort.

The UN Security Council has given Iran until August 31 to suspend enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions. ...

Saldanha Bay oil storage ...

Sasol conversion scheme....

>>> Full report


SA development:

SA government challenged over AIDS policy

[(c) SouthScan v21/17 25 Aug 06]  A war of words was raging this week between opposition politicians and the health ministry after they called for the resignation of the country's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

The attack followed outgoing UN AIDS African envoy Stephen Lewis' broadside against the South African government at the Toronto AIDS conference last week. Lewis called South Africa's AIDS policies "wrong, immoral (and) indefensible", saying they were "theories more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state". ...

>>> Full report