|Africa News Digest
South African Foreign Minister Defends Iran's Nuclear Rights
Following in line with South Korea's Foreign Minister, who, at the beginning of this week had come out supporting Iran's drive for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma defended Iran's inalienable right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. South Africa, a Non-Aligned Movement member, has always supported Iran's stance. The Foreign Minister said that Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at achieving the country's development. Countries like Iran and South Africa should have the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful means, the Minister said.
South African Police Raid Zuma's Home, Affair Splits ANC
South African police Aug. 18 raided the home of Jacob Zuma, who was Vice President until President Thabo Mbeki fired him in June. Simultaneous raids on Zuma's home and other addresses were reported to be part of the preparation for his trial on corruption charges in October.
The corruption charges against Zuma have been dividing the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party along putative "right"-"left" lines, as desired by the advocates of State Department "democracy." Zuma represented the "left," consisting of the networks of the former armed wing of the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and the South African Communist Party (SACP); the latter heavily overlaps the ANC.
Just days before the raids, on July 15, COSATU called on Mbeki to reinstate Zuma and have the charges against him withdrawn. COSATU spokesman Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters Aug. 16 that Zuma "is seen to be too close to workers and the poor." A Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust and a support Web site have been established. The pro-Zuma rhetoric is highly emotional and divisive.
Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found guilty in June of soliciting an annual bribe of $75,000 for Zuma from Thint, the South African branch of the French arms-maker Thomson CSF (now called Thales), in return for shielding Thint from an investigation into a large arms deal. Shaik was also convicted of bribing Zuma to use his position to promote Shaik's business interests.
Zuma maintains his innocence and remains Deputy President of the ANC.
The prosecutor is considering a prosecution of Thales.
There are no signs, however, that anyone has thought to inquire whether the corrupt dealing with Thint was actually initiated by Thint, to achieve a sting against Zuma, on behalf of the Anglo-American powers generally, to set up the split in the ANC. George Soros, speaking on behalf of those interests in Cape Town in December 2003, said that the ability of the ANC to obtain a massive majority in the 2004 election was a threat to the "open society."
The Democratic Alliance, the British party in South Africa, usually critical of the government, is backing it to the hilt in this affair.
Former Chief of Ivorian Armed Forces Proposes Coup
General Mathias Doué, sacked by Ivorian President Gbagbo as chief of armed forces in November 2004, has offered to remove Gbagbo by coup, in a letter printed in some Ivorian publications Aug. 19, and in an interview with Radio France Internationale Aug. 20.
Doué said that "Gbago's departure alone would bring peace to Cote d'Ivoire... And if the international community doesn't want to make him go peacefully, I'm going to do it by any means necessary.... [T]he personality of President Gbagbo and the entire system that surrounds him are not forces for peace and reconciliation" between the now divided North and South. He said he would put an end to the activities of the death squads run by the President and his wife. (Gbagbo has done nothing but play games with all parties seeking reconciliation for 2.5 years.)
The government pretends that Doué's threat is a non-event. It claims the forces behind him are the governments of France and Burkina Faso. They are indeed among the plausible candidates.
Guillaume Soro, nominal political leader in the North, said he was "happy" that Doué was "assuming his responsibilities." Doué's statement strengthens Soro's hand.
An unnamed military analyst told Inter Press Service Aug. 22 that Doué and others were "testing the waters with messages designed, initially, to create a campaign.... If the campaign manages to solidify part of the army around its cause, then the opponents will quickly move to the offensive phase."
Doué may seek to make himself President, hints an analysis in Le Messager (Douala, Cameroon) Aug. 23. He studied law before becoming a military man.
This development undercuts the efforts of South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate a settlement, but the prospects for his efforts were not good. Nor are the prospects good for credible elections on Oct. 30.
Gbagboand Presidential ConstitutionMay Fall
More signs have emerged that the Gbagbo government in Cote D'Ivoire is finished. His departure may mean the end of the country's Presidential Constitution, which he abused to the limit. The latest developments include these:
* The New Forces, insurrectionists controlling the northern half of the country, announced Aug. 25 they would no longer take part in the mediation conducted by South African President Thabo Mbeki. They had already announced that there will be no elections on Oct. 30.
* Two influential opposition figures, formerly sworn enemies, have reached a reconciliation. Henri Konan Bédié and Alassane Ouattara are both nasty characters. Ouattara had a long IMF career. Bédié was to return to Cote d'Ivoire Aug 25.
* In an Aug. 26 article entitled "Gbagbo Cleans Out His Desk," Le Patriote claims that, "According to information received from several banks, the transfer of funds has greatly increased in recent days.... [A]ccording to a diplomatic source ... numerous government dignitaries are attempting to get visas for their families to go to 'safe countries.'" The article, which may be as much or more psywar as it is factual, also suggests that President Laurent Gbagbo is making contingency plans.
* The French Communist daily, L'Humanité, stated, Aug. 24: "The revolt of officers who had been, until then, loyal to [Gbagbo], appears to have been triggered on the night of June 28-29, when the Presidential guard assaulted [Col.] Jules Yao Yao, Gen. (ret.) [Kouadio] M'Bahia, and Col. Bakassa Traoré (who died in hospital the following Sunday...), when the three emerged from a dinner at the French Embassy."
The report continues: "But the bitterness of the rebellious officers precedes this incident. 'We have done everything possible to enable the President to preserve both his government and Cote d'Ivoire. But all of our ideas have been thwarted by his small circle of kinsmen and friends...,' said Yao Yao." Col. Yao Yao was formerly official spokesman of the Ivorian armed forces.
The solution the French government is seeking, is the implementation of the Marcoussis Accords of 2003 which, while achieving some degree of reconciliation between North and South, at least temporarily, would also create a form of government much more manipulable by the Anglo-American powers.