Angola + 5 more

IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 3 covering the period 15-21 Jan 2000

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ANGOLA: The focus of the UN Security Council

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened a discussion on Angola at the Security Council this week with a warning that the humanitarian situation remains "extremely alarming" with the added risk that the country's 26-year civil war could spill over into neighbouring countries.

Annan said that although the government's military campaign against UNITA rebels has succeeded in re-establishing state control in a swathe of territory in the central highlands and eastern region, the hostilities have continued to cause "immense suffering" for the Angolan people with widespread insecurity and destruction of the country's infrastructure. "The recent escalation of fighting into Namibia is also a major source of concern," Annan said.

He said the war-affected civilian population is estimated at 3.7 million people, of whom nearly two million are internally displaced persons. Meanwhile, 42 percent of children under 5 years of age are at least moderately underweight, while agricultural production for 2000 will again fall short of national demand.

ANGOLA: The Inter-Agency Appeal

Annan also called on international donors to respond generously to this year's US $258 million consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola. He also expressed his hope that a draft status-of-mission agreement could be concluded with the Angolan government so that the United Nations Office in Angola could start work.

Annan, while noting that UNITA "bears the primary responsibility" for the current state of affairs, said "only a political solution can help to restore durable peace and security." He added that the "evolving situation in Angola may offer new opportunities to initiate an inclusive dialogue", and urged UNITA to demonstrate that it is prepared to seek genuine reconciliation under the terms of the 1994 UN-brokered Lusaka Protocol peace accord.

ANGOLA: Savimbi blamed for shooting down UN aircraft

In a special presentation to the Security Council, Jonas Savimbi, the UNITA leader was personally accused of ordering the shooting down of two UN aircraft in central Angola just over a year ago.

According to videotaped evidence presented by Canadian Ambassador Robert Fowler, who chairs the UN Sanctions Committee on Angola, a UNITA defector said Savimbi had ordered that the planes be shot down, and then buried.

Another defector said rebels had standing orders to shoot down any aircraft flying over their territory, and to destroy all traces of human remains. The aircraft were hit with surface-to-air missiles on 26 December 1998 and 2 January 1999. No survivors were found. Fowler said the interviews had been conducted privately without the presence of Angolan government officials.

ANGOLA: Sanctions-busters to be named

He also said he would disclose the names of sanction busters and their companies once his office had verified a list it had received.

In London, Peter Hain, the British foreign office minister responsible for African affairs, told parliament this week he would refer the names of three people believed to have violated sanctions to Fowler's committee. The three had been flying fuel, weapons and munitions to UNITA airfields in Angola. He said these activities were "widely known in the region".

"The sanctions, with fuel being flown in and arms being flown in, are being breached almost daily," he said. "If UN sanctions are to mean anything, they must bite and Britain is determined that they do so."

ANGOLA-ZAMBIA: Concern at border raids

The Zambian government said this week suspected UNITA insurgents had raided eight villages in the Chavuma district near the country's western border with Angola.

Police said a school teacher was beaten up and another person seriously wounded on Wednesday last week, when suspected UNITA rebels armed with AK-47 assault rifles ransacked the villages and the residence of a local chief. He said the raiders had planted landmines to stop being pursued and that many of the local residents had fled into the surrounding bush.

President Frederick Chiluba told a news conference Zambia would hit back at rebels if they continued such attacks. However, he stressed Zambia would remain neutral in the conflict. Zambian diplomats said the country would not give the Angolan government the right to use Zambian territory as a springboard against UNITA, as neighbouring Namibia had done.

ANGOLA-ZAMBIA: Refugees stream in

The incident occurred along a stretch of border west of the Zambezi River where an estimated 21,000 Angolans have sought refuge since October following an Angolan government offensive to drive UNITA from its strongholds in southern and southwestern Angola. They have swelled the ranks of Angolans seeking refuge in Zambia to some 160,000.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) this week appealed to donors for US $100,000 to charter aircraft to carry vital supplies to the refugees. "As the rainy season is now underway, many of these refugees are almost inaccessible because roads in the area are becoming flooded," WFP spokeswoman, Christiane Berthiaume, told IRIN. "In some areas now it takes a lorry 24 hours or longer to cover just 75 km, and as more people keep coming in from Angola we are growing increasingly concerned."

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, will visit the area next week to meet some of the new refugees and discuss ways of getting urgent relief to them.

ANGOLA-ZAMBIA: Rebels among the refugees

Diplomatic sources have told IRIN they were concerned that some UNITA rebels had slipped into the country with the refugees.

The sources said that this could apply to a group of more than 7,000 refugees who have entered southwest Zambia, mainly from the longtime UNITA stronghold of Jamba in southern Angola. The Angolan government claimed it had captured Jamba about two weeks ago.

The UNITA rebels said to have been identified among the refugees include a leading figure in the movement's "Black Cockerel" radio station which had broadcast UNITA propaganda in the region for several years. The sources declined to give further details.

This week, IRIN published a special report on the wider ramifications of the Angolan crisis. It can be viewed on

ZIMBABWE: Constitutional referendum next month

A referendum on Zimbabwe's controversial draft constitution is to be held next month, President Robert Mugabe has announced. He said that Zimbabweans will have the opportunity to either endorse or dismiss the draft constitution on 12 and 13 February.

In his reaction to the announcement Welshman Ncube, spokesman for the opposition National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), told IRIN this week: "We have always thought that the time given for the whole process was not enough, and we feel that the time been given to prepare for such a referendum is totally inadequate." The NCA groups a number of opposition parties, trade unions, civil society organisations and human rights groups, campaigning for a "no" vote.

In May last year Mugabe created the Constitutional Review Commission to respond to demands to reform the present constitution. During the process an estimated 100,000 people were surveyed on what they thought the new constitution should contain and among the proposals put forward was that the powers of the president be limited. Those views, opponents say, have not been properly reflected in the draft document.

ZIMBABWE: Row with britain over military spare parts

A row has erupted over a report that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had overruled Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and approved the sale of spare parts for Zimbabwe's Hawk warplanes operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The London-based 'Guardian' newspaper said the sale of spare parts for Zimbabwe's 10 Hawk aircraft contradicted Cook's ethical foreign policy, which is supposed to deny arms to countries engaged in external aggression or internal repression.

Zimbabwe government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said British policy has been to "squeeze" Zimbabwe out of the DRC, where it has intervened in support of the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. They said London had made it clear they backed the anti-Kinshasa rebels and "invasion" of the DRC by Rwanda and Uganda. One official said he hoped Blair had "seen through that folly".

A defence specialist in Harare told IRIN spare parts for the Hawks had been used up, and that two of the original aircraft bought from Britain in the 1980s had been cannibalised to enable the rest of the fleet to continue flying.

Since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has had close military ties with Britain. British training teams have helped with the integration of the armed forces, the establishment of Zimbabwe's Command and Staff College, and logistical and administrative systems for the air force.

ZIMBABWE: Fuel crisis deepens

A month-long diesel shortage in Zimbabwe was set to worsen this week as queues at fuel stations grew longer in Harare.

A spokeswoman for Mobil Oil Zimbabwe told IRIN that the situation was "very serious" and that a resolution to the current crisis was "unlikely in the foreseeable future." "The industry is likely to face frequent shortages and in fact stock levels are currently so low that it will take some time to re-build the country's reserves." The spokeswoman said that Mobil service stations were among those outlets experiencing shortages, but that the oil industry was working to ensure that "essential services were not disrupted."

Analysts told IRIN the current shortage was partly because of the "general economic situation" in Zimbabwe, but it was also because of mismanagement at the state-owned fuel company, NOCZIM. "The company has a massive debt and simply does not have enough money at this point to import enough fuel for the country."

Media reports in Zimbabwe this week quoted the Commercial Farmers Union as saying that the shortage had disrupted tobacco harvesting, which accounts for an estimated 30 percent of the country's export earnings.

MOZAMBIQUE: Chissano names three women ministers

Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano this week named an enlarged cabinet with 22 ministers. They include three women and 10 new ministers.

The three women ministers are Luisa Diogo, Virginia Matabele and Lidia Brito. Brito, the former deputy vice-chancellor of Eduardo Mondlane University, has been appointed minister for the newly created Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Diogo, a former deputy minister, was appointed to Finance and Planning, while Matabele is the minister for Women and Social Action.

ZAMBIA: Opposition leader arrested

Anderson Mazoka, the leader of Zambia's opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) and 20 of his followers were arrested at the weekend and charged with holding an illegal gathering.

They also included Morgan Shamena, the Mayor of Solwezi, the administrative centre of the North West Province. Mazoka is a former Zambian representative of Anglo American and also served as one of five directors on the board of Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). He entered politics in 1998 after retiring from Anglo American.

BOTSWANA-SOUTH AFRICA: Motor industry job losses

Botswana and South Africa stand to jointly suffer the loss of at least 2,000 jobs following the liquidation in Southern Africa of Hyundai Motor Distributors, industry sources told IRIN this week.

In South Africa, Wheels of Africa, the holding company of Hyundai Motors also successfully applied for the liquidation of 52 new car dealerships, 14 used car dealers and 34 service stations. Billy Rautenbach, the head of the holding company, said in court papers that the HMD financial backers had withdrawn their support after the company's liabilities were shown to exceed its assets.

A Botswana-based economist told IRIN: "Hyundai's collapse can be linked to the criminal investigations into Rautenbach's business dealings. This situation has made some people and institutions in Botswana uncomfortable to be associated with him."

SOUTH AFRICA: Focus on refugee xenophobia

Refugees in South Africa were given a voice this week with the launch of an innovative new programme involving one of the country's national radio stations. 'SA -FM' will broadcast in prime time a number of pre-packaged programmes in which refugees are given the opportunity to tell of their experiences as refugees in South Africa.

"It's not enough to tell South African how may refugees are in the country. We have to communicate to and educate South Africans about refugees. We have to show them that refugees are just like you and I, and through that deal with xenophobia in the country," Jody Kollapen from the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) told IRIN.

SOUTH AFRICA: Mine deaths unacceptably high

The number of deaths in South Africa's mining industry remain unacceptably high despite a decline over the last five years, analysts told IRIN this week.

According to statistics provided to IRIN by the office of the Government Mining Engineer (GME), between 1984 up to 1993 a total of 6,966 mineworkers were killed in underground mining accidents, nearly half of whom (3,275) perished in gold mines.

Between 1994 and 1998, a total of 2,264 mineworkers were killed, and the gold mines accounted for 1,634 of these fatalities, added the GME's figures. The numbers of injuries resulting from these accidents is much higher. Between 1984 and 1998, a total of about 139,000 mineworkers were seriously injured, with the gold mines being responsible for the bulk of the injuries (126,130).

SOUTH AFRICA: IRIN Focus on education crisis

If the depth of South Africa's education crisis was ever in doubt, the national results of this year's school-leaving exam have proved sobering: Over half of all students failed. See the IRIN Focus report on

AFRICA-AIDS: How reliable are the figures?

In the welter of grim estimates outlining the depth of Africa's AIDS crisis, one nagging question remains: How reliable are the figures? IRIN examined the issue in a report which can viewed on

Johannesburg, 21 January 2000, 11:00 gmt


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