|Africa News Digest
One Element of Good News on African Infrastructure
March 31 (EIRNS)Construction of the multi-billion-dollar electric Trans-Kalahari railroad construction is not only on schedule, but is expected be completed as early as the end of 2009. The electrified railroad will be 1,600 km long, and will be the very first electrified, heavy-haul railway line in Namibia, and when completed will be the longest in the whole of Africa. Having been left by colonial rulers with little or no physical infrastructure, Africa has been visited with "natural" disasters time and again. One of the greatest drawbacks of African development had long been its inadequate railroad system.
The project is a joint effort of the South African Development Community (SADC), of which two countries, Botswana and Namibia, have joined to build the project, which involves building the railroad and a harbor at Shearwater Bay, on the Namibian coast. However, the project will benefit a number of countries in the SADC, shortening distances for cargo shipments destined to the Americas and Europe, while providing access to importers, exporters, and mining houses, and guaranteeing access to mining companies of resource cargo such as copper, zinc, coal, iron ore, manganese, and crude and refined oil products. The 1,600-km line over the Kalahari desert will relieve import and export constraints of products and minerals for Namibia's hinterland countries, namely Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The railway line will also provide rail transportation to some South African provinces.
Zimbabwe President Prepares for Runoff; Brits Predict Violence
April 6 (EIRNS)A top leadership meeting of the Zanu-PF party on April 4, endorsed President Robert Mugabe for a runoff election for the Presidency, according to the Zimbabwe Herald yesterday, putting to rest widespread media claims that Zanu-PF had been thrown into disarray after losing the parliamentary majority to the opposition.
Zanu-PF has requested, according to the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail today, that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recount and audit all of its electoral material relating to last week's election, because of vote discrepancies. The party requested that the ZEC defer the announcement of the Presidential election results until the recount is finished.
In response, opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, the day after the Zanu-PF announcement, charged that Mugabe is preparing loyal forces for a "war on the people" to reverse the results of the election, according to Rupert Murdoch's Sky News, today. Tsvangirai is now saying that a rerun will deepen the polarization in the country. He is calling on South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom to step up pressure on Mugabe to stand aside. Not mentioned is the fact that independent monitors' projections show that Tsvnagirai leads Mugabe in the election, but does not have enough votes to avoid a runoff.
Tsvangirai's comments come just days after he had publicly embraced the idea of a runoff vote, when there was speculation that Mugabe would not participate in it. But the day after Mugabe's party announced Mugabe would participate in the runoff, Tsvangirai changed his tune.
After a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on April 6, South African President Thabo Mbeki said he preferred to wait until after the runoff election to draw any conclusions.