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Congo :

New government faces crisis in Bas-Congo amid accusations of vote-rigging

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The new government formed on Monday (February 5) by 81-year-old Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga faces a major challenge after the 137 violent deaths in Bas-Congo province demonstrations by the political-religious 'Bundu dia Kongo' (BDK) group on January 31 and on the February 2.

The violence followed demonstrations by supporters of the messianic leader of BDK, Ne Mwanda Nsemi who say the senatorial and gubernatorial elections were rigged by President Joseph Kabila's 'Presidential Majority Alliance' (AMP)....

  • Ne Mwanda Nsemi is using secessionist rhetoric to recreate the old kingdom of Central Kongo.
  • Other ethnic, regional and xenophobic issues can further erode the stability of the new government.
  • The cabinet includes very few Lubas from Kasai'.
  • The new oil minister is questioning the 'indigenous' credentials of contenders ... the opposition is wary of using the same tactic ...
  • The AMP-controlled administration has refused MLC demands for a commission of enquiry, both into the politicians' citizenship and into the killings in Bas-Congo.
  • MPs walked out of parliament on Wednesday. Should the boycott persist the credibility of the new democratic institutions could be seriously harmed.
  • Gizenga has been only half successful in his objective of excluding corrupt politicians. ...
  • The new government is already under pressure from the international community on the violence in Bas-Congo and on international financial support.

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Meeting will discuss governance in mining sector

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] With wartime mining contracts threatening to become an issue for the new government, the main Belgian mining group is sponsoring a conference on the sector.

The meeting in Lubumbashi will be set up by the Belgian ministry of foreign affairs and the new Kinshasa government and will be themed 'Governance in the mining sector' and sponsored by the Forrest Group. Forrest owns over a third of mining assets in Katanga province.


Arrest threat to Katanga governor

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The DR Congo government is facing an immediate diplomatic challenge from one of its neighbours. Zambia has said it will arrest the newly elected Katanga Province governor, Moses Katumbi, who intends to lead a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) delegation visit to Lusaka. Zambia wants to charge him with corruption for his role in an abortive arms deal with former president Frederick Chiluba.


Uganda signals cross-border battles with rebels

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The Ugandan government is preparing for a resumption of conflict with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army that could expand to include the Central African Republic and the DR Congo and Sudan. This could add another dimension to MONUC's battle to contain the militias in the eastern Congo.

But even before Uganda sought help from the CAR, there were military reports that the LRA was dispersing its troops

There have been increased Ugandan military movements northwards....


Shake-up removes Burundi party chief

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] Burundi appears to have overcome a dangerous internal crisis with the ousting of Hussein Radjabu, who was chairman of the governing Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) party, and of his ally in government, Second Vice-President Marina Barampama.

But police have uncovered caches of explosives in at different locations.

Meanwhile deadlock on the peace deal with the FNL rebels may be breaking ...


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Hu's visit to Zambia and SA shows different engagement options

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] Angry Zambians prepared to waylay Chinese President Hu Jintao and succeeded in disrupting his visit to the Copperbelt last week where he was to unveil the Chambishi economic zone and lay a foundation stone for an ultramodern stadium. 

But on his next stop, South Africa, the two sides agreed to "actively promote a positive image of the warm relations that exist between China and Africa".

The reactions seemed to represent the gap between the relationship that a relatively developed African industrial economy with concomitant institutional depth could have with China, and that of a weak African government whose only asset is its natural resources....

China has clearly been stung by charges that it is initiating a 'neo-colonial' takeover of Africa, SA's President Thabo Mbeki's phrase from December...

  • China's economic relationship has overwhelmed other considerations in the SA talks ...
  • But the two sides also agreed on a far-reaching strategic relationship which would stress cooperation on 'South' issues and will be cemented by cooperation in the UN Security Council this year and next ...
  • The will mean a re-think and realignment in SA's foreign diplomacy...

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Oil interest left unsaid by Chinese side

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] Hu Jintao was the first Chinese president to visit Mozambique, despite its long alliance with the ruling party Frelimo. Hu announced a debt waiver, cash grants, and increased market access, but did not mention possible oil and gas exploration...

China's interest in East African waters could increase ... China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), announced that it would invest 10 billion Yuan over the next three years to boost offshore exploration.....

Hu's final visit on his African tour was to the Seychelles...



Zambians not mollified by large investment

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] Anger in Zambia against China is still resonating from an accident two years back at a Chinese-owned explosives factory on the Copperbelt in which 46 Zambian workers were killed. The Chinese government has failed to compensate the families of those who lost their lives, and residue from the event has marred Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit.

Journalists were not allowed to ask questions regarding China and its investment at any of the events during Hu's visit....

Local resentment of the Chinese seemed to outweigh the massive local job creation that has been promised on the Copperbelt. ...


Handout from the East fails to materialise

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] China's President Hu Jintao carefully sidestepped the Zimbabwe crisis on his tour of eight African states that ended this week. ... the vaunted helping hand from the East has not been visible.

China has denied claims by Zimbabwe's ambassador in Beijing, Chris Mutsvangwa, that it is on the verge of making available a US$2 billion credit line. ...

Zimbabwe appears to be on a terminal slide, measured by the rate of deportations of Zimbabweans seeking to flee to SA.

On Wednesday Mugabe sacked his finance minister....


SA politics:

Anti-poverty programme gives Mbeki lead over Zuma opposition

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] President Thabo Mbeki's wing of the African National Congress seems to be making some headway against the rival Jacob Zuma wing, with surveys indicating that Mbeki has a high standing in many of the poorer areas of the country.

This is being ascribed to the success of a number of anti-poverty initiatives, part of South Africa's ASGISA (Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa) programme. A new social security system with earnings related funding has also been announced this week. ...

  • The government feels it is in a race against time ..
  • All the evidence points to extended child support having a massively positive 'developmental' effect, possibly more so than any other single grant instrument besides the old age pension. ...
  • At the same time close to 600,000 jobs were created last year and unemployment is down to around 26 percent.....
  • Despite an overall fall-off in Mbeki's popularity, seven out of 10 South Africans are happy with his performance.... Mbeki was trusted by many poor, black people, the principal beneficiaries of his anti-poverty drive.
  • Land, crime and unemployment are still the major concerns; after a national furor about crime levels Mbeki devoted a substantial part of Friday's parliamentary address to this one issue.
  • On the other side of the fence there are indications of difficulties in Zuma's camp. The ANC Youth League, one of his bastions, is in disarray...

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Private sector and police to work together on crime

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The draft report on SA's peer review process includes descriptions of the spread of corruption, lingering racism, growing xenophobia, lack of official accountability and the country's high crime rate, according to news agencies.

Media claims that it was not discussed at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa because of its statements on crime were strongly denied by President Thabo Mbeki...

There have been a number of meetings over the past few months between top police and SA's deputy security minister Susan Shabangu on bringing the private sector into policing...

Analysts say that this could be a harbinger of a privatised or hybrid force....

SA politics:

Suspicions grow that SA allowed coup plot to go ahead

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The received version of the so-called Equatorial Guinea coup plot was again cast in doubt this week at the trial in Pretoria of a group of alleged mercenaries.

State witness Johannes Smit agreed the SA government might have given its permission for the attempt. Earlier in the week SmitHe said it was an enigma why the men proceeded with the plan when everyone knew about it....

  • Allowing it to go ahead had a number of positive outcomes for the government and its regional friends (SouthScan v19/06).
  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe - the men were arrested en route in Harare - had a much-needed surge of local support..
  • Later it led to tighter links with the Equatorial Guinea regime...
  • It also tightened up other regional links...
  • In domestic South African politics it cleared the way for the reactivation of the anti-mercenary law...
  • But most important it identified an easy target, and won all round political kudos for President Thabo Mbeki...

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Pentagon creates Africa military command

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] The US announced on Tuesday (February 6) that it will set up a new US regional command to oversee military activities in Africa in its 'war on terror'.

Washington would consult with African allies on where the new regional command should be based. It should be in place by October 2008. SA recently joined a Pentagon-run military training programme for around a dozen African states.

SA has been informed that more South Africans are to be placed on the UN Security Council list of terror suspects.



Kenya breaks from SA's Nepad cable deal

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] In a further blow to one of Nepad's biggest infrastructure plans, the Kenyan government last week signed US$2.7 million agreement with the US firm Tyco International to study the construction of an undersea cable to the United Arab Emirates.

Kenya has refused to sign up to a 23-nation Nepad plan to build the Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy), after disagreeing with SA about cost and management (SouthScan v21/18).



Media bodies to set up voluntary commission

[© SouthScan v22/03 9 Feb 07] Zimbabwean media groups have unveiled plans to launch an independent council to replace a handpicked commission. ...

The council is supported by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe. It would seek an overhaul of the country's tough media laws.