Weekly anb01317.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 31-01-2002      PART #7/7

* Zambia. Copper tarnishes Zambia's future - The withdrawal of mining group Anglo American from its copper investments in Zambia has dealt a devastating blow to confidence in the southern African country's struggling economy. Copper production accounts for 75 per cent of Zambia's export earnings in a largely agricultural economy. Anglo American's decision this week to pull out of Konkola Copper Mines, at a cost of $350m, has thrown the privatisation of the Copperbelt into reverse. In the absence of a buyer, the mines are likely to close down in 12 months, putting 9,500 miners and 1,600 workers at the Nkana smelter out of work. "There is deep discontent that [former] President [Frederick] Chiluba had spent years saying he was going to privatise the copper mines and not doing so," says Ross Herbert, senior Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. "If Zambia had privatised, Anglo American would have made its investment when the copper price was higher." Newly-elected President Levy Mwanawasa's task of rebuilding Zambia's economy would be made more difficult by rising unemployment on the Copperbelt and falling foreign currency earnings. Mr Mwanawasa has vowed to keep Konkola's mines open and told miners not to panic in the face of possible retrenchment. But in the absence of private shareholders, the government will struggle to maintain the loss-making operations and raise the estimated $1bn finance for the development of the copper-rich ore body. (Financial Times, UK, 25 January 2002)

* Zambia. Political deadlock - President Levy Mwanawasa's political woes appeared to deepen on 28 January as a disgruntled opposition boycotted bridge-building talks he called to resolve an impasse that crippled the National Assembly last week. Opposition parties, which won a majority in parliament in a controversial general election in December, refused to attend the talks, which were also aimed at reaching agreement on common strategies to counter a growing economic crisis. Key issues on the agenda for resolution were the political impasse resulting from the conduct of the election, which the opposition alleges was rigged, a crisis in the mining industry, and a severe grain shortage that has reportedly affected tens of thousands of people. "I have invited political leaders to come to State House tomorrow so that we can discuss our differences and, above all, discuss the problems afflicting this nation. My view is that when elections end, fighting should not continue, but that everybody has to contribute to the country's development," Mwanawasa said during an inter-denominational church service on 27 January. However, the seven parties -- the United Party for National Development (UPND), the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the Heritage Party, the National Citizens Coalition, the Zambia Republican Party and the Patriotic Front -- said in a joint statement that they would not talk with the government until consensus on the ground rules was reached. (IRIN, 28 January 2002)

* Zimbabwe. Bulawayo Catholics defend their Archbishop - The pastoral council of the archdiocese of Bulawayo, the second biggest city in Zimbabwe, has spoken out against the state owned newspaper, The Chronicle, for attacking its leader, Archbishop Pius Ncube. Responding to a scathing report published in The Chronicle last week, the Bulawayo Pastoral Council said the lay people of the Catholic Church were disgusted by the on-going campaign of lies, and the persecution of Archbishop Pius Ncube. Archbishop Pius Ncube has been a constant critic of Robert Mugabe's government, criticising the government of abusing its power in the management of the country. In an open letter to The Chronicle, the pastoral community said: "Please leave our Archbishop out of your election campaign. Pius Ncube detests all violence and intimidations. He preaches nothing but the Biblical truth of love peace and justice for the poor. We are proud of our faith, proud of our Church. Our faith teaches us to speak the truth and to defend the poor against powerful oppressors. Our archbishop preaches a prophetic message and we shall be happy to die for that message". The community solidly defended the archbishop. (MISNA, Italy, 24 January 2002)

* Zimbabwe. Journalistes et observateurs - Les autorités zimbabwéennes sont à la recherche de journalistes étrangers qui sont entrés dans le pays comme touristes, a dit un porte-parole du gouvernement le 24 janvier. Depuis quelque temps, les journalistes étrangers ne peuvent plus entrer dans le pays. Selon le journal gouvernemental Daily News, plusieurs reporters, surtout des Britanniques, sont entrés dans le pays en tant que touristes, mais y travaillent comme journalistes. - D'autre part, le 25 janvier, le président Mugabe a réitéré l'engagement de son gouvernement à aller de l'avant avec le programme controversé de réforme agraire. - Le 28 janvier, l'Union européenne a menacé le Zimbabwe de lui imposer des sanctions si le régime n'acceptait pas, d'ici le 3 février, le déploiement sur son territoire d'observateurs des Quinze dans la perspective des élections des 9 et 10 mars prochains. Les sanctions pourront aussi être appliquées si le Zimbabwe devait empêcher la mission de fonctionner efficacement, si le gouvernement devait empêcher les médias de couvrir librement les élections, ou si une détérioration grave de la situation sur le terrain devait être constatée. Le même jour, M. Mugabe a annoncé dans un communiqué que le Zimbabwe invitait des observateurs de différentes régions du monde à assister à l'élection présidentielle, à l'exception des Britanniques. Le Royaume-Uni, qui va demander cette semaine la suspension du Zimbabwe du Commonwealth et pousse pour des sanctions européennes contre le régime de Mugabe, est accusé par ce dernier de soutenir l'opposition avec pour objectif de rétablir "le colonialisme" dans le pays. Notons que, quelques jours auparavant, l'Observatoire national des élections avait annoncé le déploiement de quelque 22.000 observateurs locaux pour superviser l'élection. - 29 janvier. Le Forum parlementaire de la Communauté de développement de l'Afrique australe (SADC) a reçu le feu vert des autorités de Harare pour superviser l'élection présidentielle, a indiqué le président du forum, précisant qu'au moins 39 parlementaires superviseront ces élections dans les 10 provinces. - Le 30 janvier, le ministre britannique des Affaires étrangères, Jack Straw, n'a pas réussi à convaincre le Groupe d'action ministériel du Commonwealth (CMAG) de recommander la suspension du Zimbabwe de cette organisation. Le CMAG a préféré inviter le gouvernement de Mugabe à mettre un terme à l'intervention des forces de police et de l'armée sur le terrain de la politique et à permettre une campagne électorale libre. Il l'invite également à revenir sur les restrictions apportées aux activités de la presse. Le même jour, le Parlement reprenait la discussion d'un projet de loi sur l'information, visant à museler la presse indépendante. Trois journalistes, qui manifestaient devant le Parlement, ont été arrêtés. D'autre part, le Conseil angliacan du Zimbabwe s'est dit "alarmé par la violence insensée qui est en train de déchirer notre pays" et a appelé à la tolérance. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 31 janvier 2002)

* Zimbabwe. Political violence increases - 24 January: Two new reports from human rights groups say there has been a sharp increase in political violence in Zimbabwe. The reports, one by a coalition of non-governmental organisations called the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum and the other by a group of Danish doctors, say the government is overwhelmingly responsible. It comes as the government again fails to push through a controversial media bill, after ruling party MPs in parliament were critical of the bill's shortcomings. The bill, which critics say is part of President Mugabe's drive to silence opposition to his bid for re-election in March, is now tabled to be discussed in parliament on 29 January. Under the controversial proposals, foreign journalists would not be allowed to be based in Zimbabwe. All local media organisations would have to apply for annual government licences or face two years in prison. And reports deemed to cause alarm and despondency would be forbidden. 29 January: Human Rights Watch says that the presidential elections are highly unlikely to be free and fair and the Commonwealth should insist that president Mugabe take immediate steps to end political violence and restore the rule of law. 30 January: The UK's The Times, reports that Eddison Zvogbo, a senior ZANU-PFmember has denounced government attempts to gag the Press. He said: "I can say without equivocation that this Bill was the most calculated and determined assault on our liberties guaranteed by the Constitution in the twenty years I served as Cabinet minister". 31 January: SADC foreign ministers are gathering in Zimbabwe for a two-day meeting to discuss the often violent land grabs. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 31 January 2002)

* Zimbabwe. Sanctions -- off -- on --? - 27 January: Reports indicate that European Union foreign ministers are to pull back from agreeing to impose immediately any kind of sanctions on Zimbabwe, preferring to wait until after the presidential election on March 9-10. The decision reflects a growing consensus among member states, including the UK, that imposing sanctions over political violence and the government's crackdown on free speech at this stage could be counter-productive as Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean president, could exploit them. However, the UK will push for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth at the organisation's heads of government summit in March, if political violence continues. The EU foreign ministers have the support of neither the Southern African Development Community (SADC) nor the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, to impose sanctions. Instead, they will choose from four options. The first is essentially to do nothing but retain the option of imposing sanctions if Zimbabwe does not reinstate the rule of law, press freedom and an end to political violence. The second and preferred option is for the EU to threaten sanctions, backed by the threat of suspension from the Commonwealth. The third is to impose sanctions but not apply them at least until the election is over. The last option is to apply sanctions that could include a visa ban as well as a freeze on bank accounts and assets held by Mr Mugabe and other government members. 28 January: Zimbabwe is served notice that the European Union will impose targeted sanctions next week unless full access is granted for observers and the media for the March presidential election. Announcing the move in Brussels, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, says all 15 EU members have agreed to tell President Robert Mugabe that he would face punitive measures to stop him "stealing" the election. The EU, galvanised by Britain, sets a deadline of 3 February for its conditions to be met and a first advance team of observers to be deployed on the ground. The threat ends months of vacillation over the Zimbabwe crisis, in which Mr Mugabe has played for time and sought to split his European critics. "The decision that has been taken by the EU was a clear, unambiguous and unanimous one," Mr Straw says, after a day of talks and intensive weekend contacts with fellow ministers. "Mugabe must accept effective observers. Either he calls off the thugs, allows the media to operate freely and lets the people of Zimbabwe make a democratic choice, or he and his key ministers will pay the penalty." The sanctions will involve a travel ban on 20 top individuals, including Mr Mugabe and his family; an assets freeze; and a ban on the export from the EU of arms and dual-use equipment that could be used for internal repression. The subjects of targeted sanctions would include the hardline information minister Jonathan Moyo and the ministers of agriculture and local government -- both of whom are involved in the controversial land reform question -- as well as four military and police commanders. 30 January: Commonwealth foreign ministers rebuff Britain's call for Zimbabwe to be suspended immediately from their meetings. The ministers give President Mugabe a last chance to restore the ground for free and fair elections. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 31 January 2002)

Weekly anb0131.txt - Part 7/7 -  THE END