Weekly anb12137.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 13-12-2001      PART #7/7

* Afrique du Sud. Le rand en chute libre - Le rand sud-africain, en chute libre depuis le 11 septembre, ne cesse de battre des records à la baisse face aux devises des pays industrialisés, en dépit de fondamentaux économiques jugés sains par les spécialistes. En un an, la monnaie sud-africaine a perdu plus de 30% de sa valeur face au dollar. Le 6 décembre, il a touché un nouveau plancher à 11,28 rands pour un dollar, contre 7,64 début 2001. (Le Figaro, France, 7 décembre 2001)

* Afrique du Sud. Arrestation de l'assassin de Marike De Klerk - Un agent d'une compagnie de sécurité a avoué le meurtre, sans en préciser le mobile, de Marike De Klerk, 64 ans, l'ex-épouse du dernier président blanc de l'apartheid Frederik De Klerk. Celui-ci a appelé à une campagne contre la criminalité galopante en Afrique du Sud. Il était rentré précipitamment au Cap, le 6 décembre, de Norvège, où il participait au centième anniversaire du prix Nobel. (Le Figaro, France, 8 décembre 2001)

* South Africa. Events following the murder of Marike de Klerk - 6 December: The police in South Africa say they have arrested a security guard in connection with the murder of the ex-wife of former South African President FW de Klerk. Marike de Klerk, 64, was stabbed and strangled in her luxury Cape Town flat. A spokesman for her ex-husband said that the suspect, who is being detained for questioning, was not known to the late Mrs De Klerk. Mr De Klerk, who divorced his wife after 39 years of marriage in 1998, returned home early from Stockholm, where he was to have attended a Nobel Peace Prize function. He shared the 1993 prize with Nelson Mandela. He told reporters on his return that he could not immediately comment on the arrest until he was "fully briefed". 7 December: The 21-year old security guard has confessed to Mrs de Klerk's murder. He worked at the beach complex where Mrs de Klerk has lived since her divorce in 1998 from former president F.W. de Klerk. The guard has insisted he did not act alone. 10 December: Luyanda Mboniswa, a security guard, appears in court in Cape Town, to be charged with Mrs de Klerk's murder. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 10 December 2001)

* South Africa. Mbeki in China for trade talks - 9 December: President Thabo Mbeki has begun a three-day visit to China aimed at boosting economic ties. He arrived in Beijing along with a delegation of government ministers and top businessmen. Mr Mbeki, who welcomed Chinese President Jiang Zemin last year on his historic first visit to South Africa, comes to China as it enters the World Trade Organisation. The two countries are already strong trading partners but South Africa is looking to expand. "We are looking at China as both a market and as an investor," South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said. The South African president has brought with him his ministers for trade and industry, agriculture, tourism, foreign affairs, defence and technology, as well as business leaders. China was South Africa's 10th most important export market last year and South Africa aims to become the chief entry point for Chinese goods entering the continent. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 10 December 2001)

* Afrique du Sud. Thabo Mbeki en Chine - Le 9 décembre, le président Thabo Mbeki, accompagné du ministre des Affaires étrangères et d'une importante délégation gouvernementale, s'est envolé vers la Chine pour une visite officielle de quatre jours, suite à celle effectuée par le président chinois, Jiang Zemin, à Pretoria en avril 2000. M. Mbeki compte renforcer les relations sino-africaines et discuter avec son hôte de l'importance du Nouveau partenariat pour le développement en Afrique. La coopération entre la Chine et l'Afrique a connu un net renforcement. Depuis le début des années 1990, les échanges commerciaux se sont multiplés par dix, avec notamment l'Afrique du Sud qui compte pour 28% dans le volume de ces transactions. (PANA, Sénégal, 10 décembre 2001)

* South Africa. Asbestos miners in battle for compensation - The dust cover of the billiard table at Koegas mine club still lies draped over the green felt, 22 years after the asbestos mine was closed. Across the swollen Orange River, piles of geologists' notebooks in the deserted mine manager's office mark out the deposits of the purest "blue" asbestos in the surrounding hills. Koegas was the largest asbestos mine in South Africa's Northern Cape. Its owner, UK-based Cape Plc, provided employment for thousands of local people, who unknowingly stamped and crushed the poisonous fibres used as insulating and building material. At the weekend, covers of a different kind were laid over the body of a Cornelius Taaibosch in nearby Prieska, the town where asbestos was milled. He worked at Koegas mine for 10 years as an underground crusher. His family says he never recovered his health and died suffering from the chronic respiratory difficulties that characterise asbestosis. Mr Taaibosch, 55, was one of about 7,300 people claiming compensation from Cape. He was also the 40th person to die of asbestosis in Prieska this year. Three hundred people have died of asbestos-linked illnesses since 1997 and the numbers are increasing at a rate of about one death a week. Mr Taaibosch was buried the day after a South African government delegation returned from talks with Cape in London in an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement. (Financial Times, UK, 11 December 2001)

* South Africa. Baby rape shocks the country - 11 December: Two men are due to appear at a court in Johannesburg, today, accused of raping a five-month-old girl who was discovered covered in blood and in tears. It is the latest in a series of rapes of baby girls -- some of them involving children less than one year-old, which has left South Africans reeling with horror. Every day the newspapers bring awful revelations: a nine-month-old girl gang-raped by six men; an eight-month-old raped and left by the roadside. Outside the central Johannesburg magistrates' court, 200 demonstrators gathered carrying banners with slogans like "child rapists are not human". Yet many protesters seem unable to understand why the rapes are happening. Rape statistics from South Africa are so shocking as to be almost unbelievable -- women's rights activists say one South African is raped every 26 seconds. It is the young who are particularly vulnerable, with the police saying that more teenagers are raped than any other age group. But even in a country numbed to horrific events, these cases are bewildering to South Africans, and making them question where their society is heading. "Actually it's not a new phenomenon, it's been something that you hide, you regard it as an embarrassment within the family. But now people have started to talk, they've decided that they've had enough," said a woman protester. (BBC News, UK, 11 December 2001)

* Soudan. Le gouvernement réarmerait le LRA - Les forces armées soudanaises forment et fournissent des armes aux nouvelles recrues des rebelles de l'Armée de résistance du Seigneur (LRA), la formation guérilla qui a semé la mort et la terreur pendant des années dans le nord de l'Ouganda, affirme le porte-parole du SPLA. Le camp d'entraînement se trouverait à Heilu, dans la zone de Torit, à une soixantaine de km de la frontière ougandaise. Khartoum et Kampala s'accusent réciproquement depuis des années de soutenir et de financer les formations rebelles actives sur leurs territoires. Il y a quelques mois, ils ont rétabli leurs rapports diplomatiques après six ans de rupture. (Misna, Italie, 7 décembre 2001)

* Swaziland. Concern for jailed Swazi leader - Relatives of the jailed Swaziland opposition leader, Mario Masuku, say they are worried about his deteriorating health. Mr Masuku is losing weight at an alarming rate and has been diagnosed as suffering from hypertension and diabetes, they say. The president of the Peoples United Democratic Movement, Pudemo, was arrested in early October for defying his bail conditions following a charge of sedition a year ago. No date has been set for his trial and there is little prospect of one before about February, according to officials. Pudemo said Mr Masuku had spent more than a month sleeping on the floor of a crowded jail cell with two old blankets, although he had been given a bed and more blankets. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 12 December 2001)

* Tunisie. Opposants empêchés de communiquer - Dans une lettre adressée au président Ben Ali, Reporters sans frontières a protesté contre le blocage, depuis la Tunisie, de nombreux numéros de téléphone à l'étranger et contre les coupures des lignes de téléphone de nombreux opposants. Par ailleurs, l'accès à Internet est devenu extrêmement difficile et de nombreux sites d'information (comme celui de Libération et d'organisations des droits de l'homme) sont totalement bloqués. De plus, le courrier traditionnel n'échappe pas au contrôle, il n'arrive pas toujours à destination ou sinon ouvert. (RSF, France, 10 décembre 2001)

* Uganda. Fuel fire kills 50 - Up to 50 people have been burnt to death when they tried to collect fuel spilled from a broken-down fuel tanker in the eastern Ugandan district of Iganga, according to police.The incident occurred in Busesa, a densely populated village, 100 kilometres east of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. The police say they are investigating reports that the fire was deliberately started by the driver of the tanker after the villagers defied his order not to get close to his vehicle. It is not yet known whether the driver and crew on the fuel tanker are among the victims. Among those killed are passengers of a minibus whose driver reportedly attempted to drive through the flames. The Police Commander in Iganga District, Elisam Mugisha, who was at the scene of the accident, said he feared as many as 50 people may have died on the spot. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 6 December 2001)

* Zambia. Election date challenged - On 6 December, human rights and church groups questioned the legitimacy of this month's presidential elections, saying the timing of the poll date will disenfranchise many voters. Zambia goes to the polls on 27 December, two days after Christmas Day, to elect a new president, parliament and civic leaders. But the umbrella Oasis Forum -- made up of lawyers, NGOs and Churches -- has sharply criticised the election date, which will come at the height of the festivity and of the rainy season. (Financial Times, UK, 7 December 2001)

* Zimbabwe. Neighbours refuse to turn on Zimbabwe - On 10 December, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) rejected the use of sanctions to bring Zimbabwe to heel. This was made clear by Lillian Patel, Malawi's foreign minister, who is chairing a meeting of ministers and officials from Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe ministers were angry and alarmed at the prospect the five SADC ministers representing South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Botswana who had met in Pretoria on 9 December would agree on a hostile common position before confronting President Robert Mugabe. Mr Mugabe himself did not attend the meeting. He was instead chairing a politburo meeting of his ruling Zanu-PF party ahead of its national congress on Thursday at which he will launch his campaign for re-election. Stan Mudenge, Zimbabwe's foreign minister, who led his country's SADC delegation, accused Britain of trying to "turn our friends against us". But Zimbabwe would not reverse its land resettlement programme designed to take back land "pillaged" by colonialists. Harare was aware there would be consequences as a result of its principled policies, he said, adding that Britain and the US believed that "might is right". (Financial Times, UK, 11 December 2001)

* Zimbabwe. Présidentielle en mars - Le 11 décembre, le président Mugabe a annoncé que la prochaine élection présidentielle aura lieu au mois de mars 2002, sans toutefois donner de date précise. En vertu de la Constitution, le mandat présidentiel de six ans de M. Mugabe expire le 1er avril et le scrutin doit avoir lieu en mars au plus tard. Cette annonce met fin aux spéculations selon lesquelles il aurait été tenté d'appeler à des élections anticipées afin d'éviter l'écueil des hausses de prix alimentaires en début d'année. Au pouvoir depuis l'indépendance en 1980, Robert Mugabe devrait être opposé à Morgan Tsvangirai, président du Mouvement pour le changement démocratique (MDC) qui a été à la pointe du combat politique. Par ailleurs, le gouvernement entend refuser la présence d'observateurs étrangers venant des Etats-Unis ou de l'UE lors du scrutin, préférant des scrutateurs originaires d'Afrique, d'Asie, des Caraïbes et du Commonwealth. (AP, 11 décembre 2001)

* Zimbabwe. Election month named - 12 December: President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has said presidential elections will be held in March next year, though he did not give a specific date. Mr Mugabe told a group of ministers from the Southern Africa Development Community meeting in Harare to discuss the land and current political crisis that a date would be announced "in due course". Zimbabwe is by law required to hold its election no later than April next year. The run up to the presidential poll, in which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change threatens the stiffest challenge yet to Mr Mugabe's 21-year rule, has been marked by violence and claims of government supported intimidation. 13 December: Thousands of delegates from Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party are gathering in the resort town of Victoria Falls for their annual conference, which starts today. President Robert Mugabe is expected to use the event to launch his campaign for the presidential election in March. With political tension mounting, Zimbabwe's neighbours are concerned that the situation there should not slip out of control. Zimbabwe's big neighbour, South Africa, has most to lose should the crisis deepen in the coming weeks. Already hundreds of jobless Zimbabweans are trying to cross into South Africa every day, and the dramatic fall in South Africa's currency is partially due to a loss of confidence because of the Zimbabwean upheavals. Other, smaller neighbours, have similar concerns. Both Malawi and Mozambique fear that thousands of migrant workers could return home from Zimbabwe if they lose their jobs. In public, African leaders are reluctant to criticise. The governments of Angola and Congo -- military allies in the Congolese war -- will not break ranks with President Mugabe. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 13 December 2001)

Weekly anb1213.txt - #7/7 - THE END

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