Zimbabwe + 4 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 3 February

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ZIMBABWE-DRC: Concern over fighting
Zimbabwe is "concerned" over fighting in northwest Congo and the advance of rebel forces, defence spokesman Colonel Chancellor Diye told IRIN this week.

He said that although the situation was "quiet" on the frontline manned by Zimbabwean troops, rebels of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) advancing westwards along the Congo river "could end up bumping into our positions. Naturally from a military perspective one gets worried."

Diye, meanwhile, refused to comment on the controversy over the British government's supply of spare parts to Zimbabwean Hawk warplanes operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said these were "political issues". He however said that with the continued presence of a British army training team in Zimbabwe, "as far as we're concerned our relations continue."

ZIMBABWE: Fuel crisis controversy

Controversy over Zimbabwe's fuel crisis heightened this week when it was reported that the finance ministry is investigating allegations that the d National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) had illegally borrowed foreign currency at black market prices, the 'Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday.

It said a meeting of financial institutions, government departments and security agencies was told that a consortium of unnamed local financial institutions had lent foreign currency to NOCZIM above the controlled market exchange rate. Since September NOCZIM it said bought currency at $45 Zimbabwe dollars to the United States dollar rather than at the official rate of 38 Zimbabwe dollars.

"Finance Secretary Charles Kuwaza said he was not aware of the arrangement between NOCZIM and the banks but said his ministry was also investigating the circumstances surrounding the deal between the other unnamed parastatal and some local financial institutions," the paper said.

ZAMBIA-ANGOLA: Defence talks

Zambia and Angola will hold security talks at the weekend to discuss tensions along their border following recent fighting between Angolan government forces and UNITA rebels in eastern Angola, AFP reported on Thursday.

In a brief dispatch it quoted a western diplomat as saying that the Angolan government might want to ask Zambia to allow its forces to fight UNITA from its soil, as Namibia has done.

ANGOLA: Opposition not ready for election

Angola's opposition parties say the country needs more time to rebuild before holding elections next year, the independent Catholic radio station, 'Radio Ecclesia' said on Thursday. "The conditions are not there. The country is destroyed, the roads are mined, the bridges are destroyed," the radio station quoted Bengui Pedro Joao of the Social Democratic Party as saying.

This week, president Jose Eduardo dos Santos called for elections in November 2001, the first for nine years. According to Angola's constitution, elections should be held this year.

ANGOLA: Journalist detained

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) on Thursday said it was concerned about an Angolan journalist who has been held for more than two months in preventative detention in N'Dalantando, the regional capital of Cuanza Norte province.

The institute said it had been informed that the journalist, Andre Domingos Mussamo, although reportedly "in good spirits" had not been formerly charged. It pointed out that under Angolan law, a person can be held in preventative detention for no longer than 45 days. Mussamo, editor-in-chief of the Cuanza Norte provincial branch of the Angolan National Radio, was detained on 2 December 1999. He is also a correspondent for the independent national magazine, 'Folha 8'.

It said he is accused of stealing documents from the provincial government headquarters, and violating state secrets because of an unpublished article that made reference to a letter from the provincial governor to President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.

COMORO ISLANDS: Separatists defy OAU

The breakaway Comoro island of Anjouan "will not stand idly by" as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) meddles in its internal affairs, the island's separatist leader Said Abeid Abderemane told AFP on Thursday.

"The people of Anjouan will not stand idly by if the OAU interferes further in Anjouan's internal affairs," Abderemane was quoted as saying. He was reacting to an OAU announcement imposing travel and financial restrictions on the Anjouan separatists for failing to meet a 1 February deadline to sign the Antananarivo Agreement for unity in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

[ENDS]

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