Hain turns up international heat on
Investigations currently underway to identify the routes used in the UNITA diamonds for arms trade are now focussing on Europe and the SADC region. It is expected that when the UN Sanctions Committee delivers its report to the UN Security Council in March, it will show that whilst the majority of arms bought by UNITA have come from the Ukraine, the shipments have often been made by companies based in Europe and Southern Africa.
Britain's Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Peter Hain, has named eight people whom he claims have been involved in supplying arms and fuel to UNITA and selling illegally mined diamonds.
On 18 January the Minister used "parliamentary privilege", under which he is protected from any libel action, to name the first three alleged sanctions busters. Peter Hain said that "it is widely known in the region that Jacques "Kiki" Lemaire flies in diesel fuel, landing on UNITA airstrips, in a Boeing 707 or Caravelle aircraft. Tony Teixeira has been supplying diesel fuel to UNITA, again flying it in by plane. Victor Bout, who runs an air transport company, has flown in arms to UNITA. It is also believed that Bout owns or charters an Ilyushin 76 aircraft, which was impounded in Zambia en route to Angola last year".
On 17 February Hain named a further five people and accused people in high positions in several countries of aiding UNITA, during a debate in Westminster.
The Minister stated that "in some countries, including Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda, people in high positions are busting sanctions. It is imperative that those countries' governments crack down on them immediately. I have named in the House several people included in breaking UN sanctions by supplying UNITA and I shall now name more. David Zollman is involved in exporting diamonds to Antwerp for UNITA. Based in Rundu, Namibia, Zollman paid a monthly fee to Namibian officials to enable him to operate without interference. We estimate that in 1999, Zollman was moving $4 million worth of diamonds per month. His brother, Maurice Zollman, is carrying out similar activity for UNITA in South Africa. Hennie Steyn, a South African pilot, flies diamonds for Maurice Zollman from Angola, via Congo Brazzaville. He also acts as a middleman for UNITA in selling diamonds to European dealers and part owns a UNITA diamond concession. Jan Joubert organises the supply of fuel to UNITA. Until recently, aircraft carrying the fuel flew from Gaberone to Andulo while pretending to fly to Francistown in eastern Botswana. Dennis Coghlan, an Irishman resident in Botswana, owns a warehouse in Gaberone that is used to store fuel and other supplies for UNITA until they can be flown into UNITA-held territory".
He continued that "those individuals are making money out of misery. It is vital that all the governments, agencies and companies where they operate take urgent action to stop their illegal activities. Britain will continue to play an active role as a friend of Africa in the Security Council of the United Nations, and where the UN can stop war or build peace we will back it to the hilt. We have passed the names to the UN and, in particular, to ambassador Robert Fowler, for his work on the sanctions committee responsible for tackling UNITA and Angola generally".
Tony Teixeira was subsequently stated to be Antonio Teixeira, chairman of the Central African Mining Company. There is heated speculation about the veracity of the allegations against Teixeira, who has vehemently denied them and complained that his business interests have suffered as a result of the allegations.
On the same day that Peter Hain named Teixeira, the Canadian-based mining company, DiamondWorks, announced that it was to receive financial support from Lyndhurst Limited, a Guernsey-based company controlled by a consortium led by Teixeira. As part of the deal, Teixeira was to be placed on the board of DiamondWorks.
South Africa under spotlight
A report in the South African-based Mail & Guardian on 18 February stated that Peter Hain handed further names to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad in January.
According to this report, Hain named Ivan Pienaar as a pilot dealing with UNITA, including the recruitment of Ukrainian aircrew in Zambia. He had also flown via Rundu and Katima Mulilo in Namibia. A Parys-based businessman, Jannie Smith, admitted to the Mail & Guardian that he had hired aircraft to Pienaar, but denied knowledge of where the aircraft went.
South Africa's Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated at the end of January that South Africa had been tightening its border controls "but we are also asking our own diamond traders not to buy illicit diamonds from Angola".
However, Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma has also been slammed by Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos over comments she made on South African television at the beginning of February. Ms Dlamini-Zuma, stated that "this many not be the popular opinion, but we have to face the unpleasant reality that there will be no military solution," and continued that "no matter who may win the war there will be no lasting peace, so we have to get the parties to talk."
This was emphasised by South Africa's Deputy Defence Minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, during a trip to Namibia. Minister Madlala-Routledge reiterated that "the South African government remains convinced that negotiations between the governing MPLA and the rebel group UNITA offers the only hope for lasting peace in Angola."
This view was strongly rejected by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. On 14 February he stated that "it seems to me that it would be wise if the South African leaders got worried about their internal problems and left Angola alone".
The South African apparent insistence that the Angolan government must negotiate with Jonas Savimbi's UNITA faction is at odds with growing international consensus that Savimbi, himself, must be removed from the political arena - even while accommodation with UNITA's various Luanda-based political groupings is developed further. Indeed, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has branded Jonas Savimbi a war criminal. Even in Angola, UNITA is turning its attention to a post-Savimbi political life. A leading UNITA parliamentarian, unassociated with UNITA-Renovada, has gone as far as suggesting to the Angola Peace Monitor that Savimbi should be forced into a form of "internal exile".
Currently UNITA has four cabinet ministers and seven vice-ministers in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation, and has 70 members sitting in the National Assembly, in line with the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol.
Regional concerns as UNITA regroups
UNITA has continued to carry out a guerilla campaign in Angola, and this has again spilt over into Namibia and Zambia.
In mid January 150 civilians were murdered by UNITA in the village of Chicandula. The news arrived with villagers who fled to Bie's provincial capital, Kuito. Other villagers from Camacupa also arrived in the city, a testimony to the continued actions of UNITA.
UNITA was also responsible for murdering 26 people in the small town of Santa Clara in Cunene Province on 6 February. An eye witness, Maria Clara, quoted by the Pan African News Agency, said that the killings were perpetrated by some 150 UNITA rebels, who used mostly machetes to kill elders and children who were unable to run away. Their bodies were later burnt. The incident took place near to the border with Namibia, which UNITA rebels still occasionally cross.
Tension has continued on the Angolan border with Zambia, largely as a result of the huge number of refugees that have fled to Zambia, with 22,000 arriving in the last four months. On 19 January UNITA raided a village in the Chavuma district of Zambia, during which one person was shot and wounded. On retreating, the rebels laid landmines.
Talks continue between the Angolan and Zambian authorities - amidst signals that the Zambian authorities may have to concede to growing international pressure to prevent continued UNITA supplies coming through its territory. A Zambian military delegation arrived in Luanda on 4 February for talks with their Angolan counterparts. The meeting of the 16th Angola/Zambia joint defense and security committee started on 7 February in Luanda, following which the two sides reiterated the strong friendship between the two countries.
UNITA gets air-drops
Military sources indicate that UNITA continues to receive supplies by air, despite the recent fighting which has expelled it from the major towns in Angola. It is reported that UNITA does not have control of any large airstrips, such as the huge airstrip in its former stronghold in Andulo. There have, however, been indications that UNITA has received several supply runs by airdrop. Furthermore, other sources indicate that at the end of January UNITA received by road a fuel delivery to its base at Alto Chicapa in Lunda Sul, from Zambia.
Angolan military sources continue to believe that Jonas Savimbi and twenty of his top leaders are trapped in a small area of Angola, constantly pursued by the Angolan army. However, the London-based journal Africa Analysis claimed on 11 February that UNITA rebels had the upper hand in fighting around Camacupa, Nharea and Catupola, and were trying to establish a base area in the Luando national park. It also stated that UNITA had carried out a successful attack near Viana in Luanda province.
The claims highlight the continued danger posed by Jonas Savimbi's capacity to pursue his military campaign and the continued relevance of the blunt message of Ambassador Robert Fowler, Chairman of the UN Committee on Angola Sanctions that "if the outside world ceases assisting Savimbi, he will not be able to maintain this war".
In response to this continued threat, Action for Southern Africa on 14 February launched a campaign to step up the enforcement of UN sanctions against UNITA, with a call for the public to press Stephan Fischler, President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association in Antwerp, to monitor and ensure that IDAMA's members no longer trade in UNITA diamonds and root out any sanction-busters.
Growing concern over UN air crashes
The Troika of Observer States to the Angolan Peace Process - Portugal, the Russian Federation and the United States on 18 January released a statement which, inter alia, called on the Angolan government to facilitate UN access to the crash sites of the two UN aircraft brought down near Huambo city in December 1998 and January 1999.
UN investigation teams have previously visited both crash sites, but due to fighting in the area their investigations were cut short. However, they did find that the flight recorders were removed from the aircraft, and that attempts had been made to camouflage the aircraft shells.
It is widely accepted that UNITA shot down the two aircraft. Ambassador Robert Fowler, the Chair of the UN Sanctions Committee, interviewed several UNITA defectors during his visit to Angola in January, and heard accounts of how Jonas Savimbi had personally ordered the shooting down of the two aircraft.
The Troika statement also bemoans that "over 18 months have passed since the tragic loss of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General, Alioune Blondin Beye, and that the UN and the families of the deceased have yet to receive a final report on the tragic events of 26 June, 1998, and thus call upon the Government of Cote d'Ivoire to produce a report of its findings as soon as possible".
Maitre Beye's chartered twin-turboprop Beechcraft 200 aircraft crashed 50 km east of the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, on a flight from Togo. Blondin Beye met Jonas Savimbi the day before he left Angola for Togo, and was said to be "visibly upset" following the meeting. On 25 June the UN Security Council imposed a new set of sanctions on UNITA, and UNITA's Standing Committee of the Political Commission responded on the same day warning: "let the proponent of these dates, the mediator, be responsible and held accountable".
It is understood that crash investigators were dispatched from the United Nations, the United States (country of origin), South Africa (country of registration) and Ivory Coast (country of accident).
The United Nations promised in June 1998 to set up a Board of Inquiry to thoroughly examine all aspects of the incident, and that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) would be requested to assist the Board.
On 23 December 1999 the President of Ivory Coast, Henri Konan Bedie, a key international Savimbi supporter, was replaced in a military take-over. The new President, General Robert Guei, is thought to be keen on improving relations with Angola.
Expert panels in Southern Africa
The UN Sanctions Committee's expert panels, investigating violations of UN sanctions against UNITA, has visited Uganda, as it rushes to complete its report, which is due to be officially presented to the UN Security Council in mid-March.
On 17 February the expert panels held a press conference in Kampala, where its chairman, Ambassador Anders Mollander from Sweden, said "we have come here because of reports, by NGOs, the media and individuals indicating that Savimbi has been able to use Uganda and Rwanda in an effort to promote war in Angola".
Ambassador Mollander was accompanied by Colonel Otisitswe Broza Tiroyamodino, Gilbert Barthe and Oleg Ivanov.
Diamond industry shake-up
The Angolan diamond industry has undergone a quiet revolution, which aims to regularise diamond production, increase the area under exploitation, prevent leakage of UNITA stones into official channels, and increase tax revenue.
The first step has been to set up a state-owned diamond buying and selling company, Sodiam, to buy all diamonds produced in Angola. All other diamond purchasing companies, such as Dian, Codiam, LKI, RDR, Matos and Jean, and Triotex, have been prohibited from operating independently. Tax revenues have not been effectively collected from private diamond-buying companies. Sodiam has entered into a joint venture with two foreign companies to create the Angola Selling Corporation, ASCORP, to sell on the diamonds. Sodiam has a 51% share of ASCORP.
In an amazing development, the Israeli businessman, Lev Leviev, has signed a deal with the Angolan government under which he will buy the entire diamond production of Angola, which may be up to $1 billion per year.
It is not clear yet what will happen to the diamonds produced by Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (SDM) in its Cuango Valley concession. At full production SDM is expected to produce up to $100 million of alluvial diamonds, and SDM is contracted to supply these diamonds to the diamond giant De Beers.
In what may be a related statement, Mining and Geology Vice Minister Carlos Sumbula stated on 10 January that the Angolan government would never cede to pressures from multinationals discontented with measures being adopted to control the mining and trading of diamonds. He stated that "we will never feel intimidated in the application of our strategy, and all trading of diamonds from Angola must use the same channel which is Sodiam".
The other buyers of Angolan diamonds have been remarkably quiet on the issue of their formal closure, leading to speculation that they may be subcontracted by Sodiam to buy diamonds at their established offices throughout the country.
Clearly, some of the diamond buyers still have a good relationship with the Angolan government. During his visit to the United States at the end of January, President dos Santos met with Maurice Tempelsman who is Chairman of Lazare Kaplan International (LKI).
The second large change for the industry is the imposition of new regulations which put a limit on the maximum size of diamond concession at 3,000 square kilometres. Any existing concessions above this size will be divided and given to other prospectors. Even concessions below 3,000 square kilometres may be taken away if it is found that a concession holder is not prospecting the whole area. However, this policy is likely to run into very strong opposition from existing concession holders.
On paper, the idea is to regularise those small diamond producers who are currently digging in concessions which are currently unused by the concession holders.
The third change to the industry is the introduction of numbered and signed Certificates of Origin printed by De La Rue in Britain on forgery-proof paper. The first new Certificate of Origin was given to ASCORP at the end of January to cover diamonds produced at the Catoca kimberlite mine.
It will take several months before it is seen whether the implementation of the above will dramatically increase tax revenue from the diamond sector. However, in principle it should cut down on opportunities for UNITA to sell diamonds, either through existing national markets or internationally. The question of who will take up the new diamond concessions on offer also remains to be answered.
Fuel prices soar by 1,500 per cent
Angola has increased fuel prices by more than 1,500 per cent, withdrawing the huge subsidy that had made petrol and diesel prices among the lowest in the world. The changes are being interpreted as preparatory steps by the Government towards reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and restructuring the country's external debt.
The fuel price increases on 3 February doubled the price of informal taxis, and put an additional burden on families already suffering from high prices and inflation alongside very low wages. On 17 February a small demonstration in Luanda organised by a minor opposition party, the Progressive Democratic Party, was broken up by the police.
But fuel prices had been incredibly low, at 4 US cents per litre of petrol, which now stands at 66 cents a litre. Diesel fuel and paraffin have risen to 33 cents a litre from 2 cents a litre, and Butane gas from 6 cents a litre to 66 cents a litre.
On 10 February the Economic Commission of the National Assembly recommended that the government rethink the price rise. "We have advised the government that, in view of the general concerns we have managed to gather from our electors, the government should carry out a study and a reflection", the Chairperson of the Commission, Joana Lina, told journalists. However, she continued that "we understand that the prices that were in force were too low and facilitated a series of illegal sales and re-sales at our borders and our sea coast".
President announces 2001 elections
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced on 31 January that it is intended that presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in 2001.
The last elections were held in 1992, but due to the war with UNITA conditions for further elections have not existed.
The President made the announcement following the appointment of two cabinet ministers: Minister of Geology and Mining, Manuel African, and Health, Albertina Hamukuaia.