Weekly anb01316.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 31-01-2002      PART #6/7

* South Africa. Mbeki to sell Africa Plan in New York - 28 January: Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, is heading for New York to convince the World Economic Forum that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) deserves funding. Mr Mbeki wrapped up a four-day meeting of African leaders near Johannesburg on 27 January, thrashing out a united front to take to the Forum. In all, 53 African nations have taken part in planning NEPAD, and at a conference in Tokyo late last year they called for $46bn of investment in Africa each year. "The question of buy-in from African countries is really important," said presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo of the plan, fronted by Mr Mbeki and the presidents of Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt. The programme sets a series of targets for democracy and good governance along with sustainable economic development and a 7% growth rate for the continent as a whole by 2015. However, nagging questions of good governance in Africa dog the project, dubbed by some a "Marshall Plan for Africa" after the post-war investment programme for Europe funded by the US. (BBC News, UK, 28 January 2002)

* South Africa. Agreement with EU on wine deal - On 28 January, South Africa and the European Union signed a long-delayed agreement on wine and spirits that allows South African wines freer access to their largest export market. South African wine producers will now be able to export 42m litres of wine a year duty-free to the EU, which accounts for 78 per cent of its total wine exports. In exchange, they have agreed to stop using names such as sherry, port or grappa. South Africa's total exports to the EU rose by 21 per cent in the first 10 months of 2001. (Financial Times, UK, 29 January 2002)

* South Africa. Unions defy AIDS policy - On 29 January, the South African government's controversial Aids policy was once again defied, this time by a member of the ruling alliance. The Congress of South African trade unions (Cosatu) said it was helping to import generic anti-retroviral drugs from Brazil to treat Aids patients. Cosatu has teamed up with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the activist group, and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), the Nobel prize-winning humanitarian organisation, to violate the Patents Act in order to highlight the need for affordable treatment for the country's Aids sufferers. The initial batch of generic anti-retroviral medicines, brought back from Brazil by Joyce Pekane, Cosatu deputy president, and Zackie Achmat, TAC chairman, will be used to treat 85 patients in MSF's treatment programme in Khayelitsha township, in the Western Cape. The Medicines Control Council has given MSF permission to import and use the drugs. The government does not allow the use of anti-retrovirals in the public health sector, arguing that they are too expensive, toxic and difficult to administer. So strong is the government's opposition to their use that doctors who have prescribed them to rape victims, including children, have been suspended and officially censored. Anti-retrovirals are available to private patients who can afford them. "We disagree with the government on anti-retrovirals and we hope the strength of the argument will persuade them to change their policy," Patrick Craven, Cosatu spokesman, said on 29 January. "Government's position is getting weaker by the day and they have already lost the debate as far as public opinion is concerned. We see ourselves as government's conscience on this issue." (Financial Times, UK, 30 January 2002)

* Sudan. Nuba cease-fire - On 24 January, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) issued a statement confirming that all SPLA units in the Nuba Mountains region of Southern Kordofan had been ordered to "observe and extend the current military stand-down in the area", effective from 12 noon (local time) on 22 January. This was bringing into force the Nuba cease-fire agreement signed in Burgenstock, Switzerland, on 19 January. Sudanese army spokesman General Muhammad Bashir Sulayman had previously said the army would observe the cease-fire from the same time, and would be "instrumental in achieving the objectives of the agreement" in the 80,000 square-kilometre south-central Nuba region. In accordance with the terms of the Burgenstock agreement, the Nuba Mountains region covered by the cease-fire was "the whole of Southern Kordofan and the province of Legawa in Western Kordofan", and no others, Kwaje said. The cease-fire was only for a period of six months and its renewal would depend on the experience of the initial cease-fire period, he stated. "Its further renewal will also depend on continued needs for further humanitarian intervention in the Nuba area after a thorough evaluation process". (IRIN, 24 January 2002)

* Sudan. Fighting abductions - 27 January: A presidential decree in Sudan has reformed a commission set up to eradicate the practice of abducting women and children. Under the reforms, President Omar el-Bashir takes responsibility for the commission which will have extended powers. The decree said the commission would tap federal resources to help abducted women and children to return home, where they would receive psychological counselling. The announcement said similar commissions would be set up at the state level. The government attributed the abductions to the country's long-running civil war and said it wanted to raise public awareness of the issue. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 28 January 2002)

* Swaziland. Masuku's trial postponed - 24 January: The sedition trial of jailed Swaziland opposition leader, Mario Masuku, has been postponed until 25 January after he complained of hearing problems. His lawyer Advocate Piet Ebersohn, told the court that Mr Masuku would be seeing a specialist doctor later, today. The diabetes sufferer is accused of sedition, following a speech he made in September 2000, when he allegedly called for revolution in the kingdom. Security was extremely tight outside the courtroom and the Swazi authorities wanted to stop journalists from covering the trial. If Mr Masuku¿s hearing problems continue tomorrow, the lawyers agreed that the matter would have to be postponed to 4 February. 25 January: The trial is postponed until 4 February. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 25 January 2002)

* Tanzania. Air traffic furore - The Tanzanian Government has defended its decision to buy a new air traffic control system from the United Kingdom. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete tells the BBC's File on Four editor David Ross why he is puzzled by the furore. The controversy over the contract hit the headlines towards the end of December. There were even reports of splits in the UK cabinet, with ministers such as International Development Minister Clare Short angry at the government's decision to grant BAE Systems an export licence for the $39.5m system. Critics claim it is too expensive for Tanzania's needs and is intended for military as much as civilian use. But, speaking on the BBC's File on 4 programme, Mr Kikwete maintains there was no need for the fuss. "Our engineers prescribed the system which we required", he says. "We put the contract out to tender, four companies competed and we got BAE Systems delivering to our specification. This is the system we wanted." Which is fine except for the background against which the contract became public. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and one of only four countries in the world to have had a portion of its international debt written off -- a total of $3bn which will be discounted over the next 20 years. The relief will make a healthy dent in Tanzania's total international borrowings of more than $7bn. (BBC News, UK, 29 January 2002)

* Tanzania. Tanzanians unhappy at electricity award - The Tanzanian government's latest move towards privatising the embattled Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) has come under widespread domestic criticism. The Parastatal Sector Reform Commission (PSRC) has awarded a provisional tender to a South African management group to restructure the utility, sparking an outcry. Tanesco workers have threatened to sabotage the plant if the government does not guarantee generous retrenchment packages. Tanesco's board of directors has expressed reservations about the levels of transparency exhibited by the PSRC during the tender negotiations. Even Energy and Minerals Minister Edgar Makola-Majogo has questioned the manner in which the South African firm --Netgroup Solutions -- was selected for the contract. The PSRC has responded to the criticism with long adverts in the local papers, detailing how and why it chose the South African firm. It has also said it does not understand the energy minister's reservations, given he was aware of each and every stage of the tender. The minister has the power of veto over which company gets the management contract, but it was as yet unclear if he would exercise it. (BBC News, UK, 30 January 2002)

* Tunisia. Trial resumes for accused terrorists - On 30 January, a prosecutor asked a Tunisian military tribunal to hand a maximum 10-year prison sentence to 34 defendants accused of terrorist activities and having links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The defendants are facing charges of "belonging to a terrorist organisation operating overseas in times of peace". The trial, which opened on 19 December, resumed on 30 January after more than a month's interruption. Journalists were barred from the proceeding, although relatives and attorneys for the defendants were allowed in. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 30 January 2002)

* Tunisie. Procès pour terrorisme - Le 30 janvier, un tribunal militaire à Tunis a condamné 34 personnes, accusées d'être membres d'un groupe terroriste ayant des liens avec Al Qaeda, à des peines de prison de 8 à 20 ans. Seuls trois d'entre eux sont arrêtés, les autres ont été condamnés par contumace. Parmi eux, Essid Sami Ben Khemais, arrêté en Italie, soupçonné d'avoir la direction du recrutement en Europe des membres d'Al-Qaeda. Dans un premier procès anti-terroriste, le mois passé, un autre Tunisien, Mohamed Saidani, a été condamné à 20 ans d'emprisonnement. (D'après De Standaard, Belgique, 31 janvier 2002)

* Tunisie. Libération de Mohamed Moaada - L'opposant tunisien Mohamed Moaada a été libéré jeudi, a-t-on appris de source officielle. Il avait été réincarcéré en juin "pour n'avoir pas observé les conditions de sa remise en liberté" et avait annoncé le 22 janvier qu'il cessait la grève de la faim qu'il observait depuis le 14 janvier. Comme précédemment, il s'agit d'une libération conditionnelle. Chef de l'aile dissidente du Mouvement des démocrates socialistes (MDS, principal parti de l'opposition légale en Tunisie), Mohamed Moaada avait été condamné à 11 ans de prison ferme en juillet 1995 pour "intelligence avec un pays étranger" (la Libye), avant de bénéficier "pour des considérations humanitaires" d'une mesure de liberté conditionnelle après six mois de détention. Il avait été de nouveau incarcéré en juin dernier après avoir critiqué durement le régime tunisien sur des chaînes de télévision arabes et après avoir conclu une alliance avec le chef du mouvement intégriste tunisien "Ennahdha" (interdit), Rached Ghannouchi, qui vit en exil en Grande-Bretagne. (AP, USA, 31 janvier 2002)

* Ouganda. Museveni veut plus de pouvoirs - Le président ougandais, Yoweri Museveni, a exprimé ce week-end à Kampala le désir de renforcer ses pouvoirs, afin de se donner les moyens de revoir les décisions des députés. S'adressant à la nation à l'occasion des festivités organisées pour célébrer ses seize années de pouvoir, M. Museveni a affirmé que la situation qui prévaut actuellement entre l'exécutif et le législatif pourrait créer des difficultés. "Il n'est pas normal que la majorité des populations me donne son mandat pour qu'ensuite le Parlement vienne s'opposer à mes programmes de développement. J'ai obtenu beaucoup plus de voix que tous les députés réunis. Je devrais donc avoir plus de pouvoir qu'eux", a déclaré le chef de l'Etat, dont les propos ont été qualifiés de "plaisanterie" par les experts. M. Museveni a fait savoir qu'il tentera d'introduire des amendements à la loi fondamentale par l'intermédiaire de la Commission de révision de la Constitution, qui procède actuellement à un sondage des populations sur la question. Le président et ses partisans accusent le Parlement de retarder la plupart des programmes du gouvernement, notamment ceux qui touchent la privatisation. (PANA, Sénégal, 28 janvier 2002)

Weekly anb0131.txt - Part 6/7