Angola + 2 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 15 March

MOZAMBIQUE: Paris Club discusses debt relief
The Paris Club of industrial creditor nations met on Wednesday under pressure to cancel Mozambique's debt.

News reports said the two-day meeting was to discuss debt issues of several countries, but Mozambique is top of the agenda because of its current severe problems in the wake of devastating floods. France said Tuesday it would ask the meeting to postpone all debt payments immediately so that Mozambique could devote all its financial resources to financing urgent needs.

Under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, creditors agreed last June to cancel two-thirds of Mozambique's public debt of some US $5.6 billion. The Paris Club comprises Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

ZIMBABWE: Britain accused of "crusade" against Harare

Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge has accused British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain of engaging in a relentless verbal onslaught against the Zimbabwean government.

In a statement carried by 'The Herald' newspaper, he said Hain "has been on an unprecedented anti-Zimbabwe crusade". Britain recalled its ambassador from Harare last Thursday to protest the opening of British diplomatic bags by customs authorities. Hain said Zimbabwe violated diplomatic protocol and had behaved in an "uncivilized" way by forcing open the shipment.

Mudenge said Hain was a "loose cannon" who had repeatedly criticised Zimbabwe over its internal governance, in particular the confiscation of white-owned land. "Up until now I have chosen to ignore these unprovoked utterances as the excesses and overzealousness of a junior minister keen to make a name for himself," Mudenge said.

ZIMBABWE: Trial set for journalists

Two journalists of 'The Standard' newspaper are scheduled to appear before a full bench of appeal judges on 20 March arising out of an article they published last year alleging a miliary coup plot against President Robert Mugabe, the media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported on Wednesday.

In a constitutional test case, the lawyers for the two journalists, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, will challenge the validity of Section 50 (2) of the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), under which they were charged. Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa has argued that the pre-independence legislation should remain in the statute books.

In a widely reported case, both men sustained serious injuries as a result of torture while in military police detention in January last year.

ZIMBABWE: Editors warned

In a separate development, MISA reported that the two senior editors of the 'Zimbabwe Independent' had been cautioned over a Reuters picture in the paper on March 3 showing a group of naked Austrians in a stampede for special offers outside a Vienna department store.

Editor-in-Chief Trevor Ncube and Deputy Editor Iden Wetherell on Tuesday made "warned-and-cautioned" statements at Harare Central Police Station. MISA said police were making "inquiries" under the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act. The editors, in a statement, insisted the picture was not indecent. "At a time when Zimbabweans are facing unprecedented hardships as a result of gross economic mismanagement and corruption it is significant that the attorney-general, a member of the cabinet, has instructed the police to investigate a newspaper that has been outspoken in its criticism of government for not upholding the rule of law," said a statement signed by Ncube.

ANGOLA: SA pledges sanctions compliance

South African said on Wednesday it fully supported UN sanctions against Angola's UNITA rebel movement and would take firm action against South Africans contravening them.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma said Pretoria was aware some South Africans had violated the sanctions. She said South Africa would work closely with the UN for the success of the sanctions aimed at ending the country's 30-year civil war.

AFRICA: EU leaders to meet African counterparts

Africa's former colonial overlords return to the continent in a different guise next month when leaders of the European Union and African nations meet in Cairo to set an agenda for peace and prosperity.

Reuters quoted Manuel Pereira, Portugal's ambassador to South Africa, as telling a parliamentary committee the summit "will be an extremely important step in relations between the two continents. Pereira, whose country holds the 15-nation EU's rotating presidency, said the two day summit starting on April 3 would cover a vast agenda from economic to political cooperation with a solid focus on promoting peace and fighting HIV/AIDS.


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