|Africa News Digest
Japan Looks to Role in Sudan Peacekeeping
May 25 (EIRNS)Based on an advance copy of Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's speech to the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun noted that the conference comes at a time when Japan is planning to send a commission of inquiry to Sudan, to study the possibility of its Ground Self-Defense Force participation in a UN mission to monitor the ceasefire there.
The daily cited Gabon's ambassador to Japan, Jean Christian Obame, who said that the conference would showcase opportunities in African countries that are hoping to build strategic partnerships with Japan.
From London's standpoint, Japan is encroaching on Anglo-Dutch imperial territory.
Mbeki Denounces Attacks on Immigrants in South Africa
May 25 (EIRNS)South Africa President Thabo Mbeki today denounced violence against immigrants in South Africa as a "disgrace," and said his government will act firmly to curb the attacks. "We must acknowledge the events of the past two weeks as an absolute disgrace," Mbeki said in a televised address, "Everything possible will be done to bring the perpetrators to justice." Mbeki called out the army May 21 in an effort to clamp down on the anti-immigrant violence. The Sunday Times, the largest-circulation paper in Africa, has called for Mbeki's removal. The British are still enraged that Mbeki has stymied their attempts to overthrow the Zimbabwe government of Robert Mugabe.
The attacks began suddenly May 11, first in Gauteng province. Speaking at a public event this week in Washington, the South African ambassador also made a strong statement against the violence, saying that South Africans, after going through a long fight against apartheid, are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior. Many immigrants have fled their homes.
The international press claims that the reason for the violence is that South Africans are upset that foreigners are taking their jobs. One high-level South African source reported, however, that the immigrants are doing jobs that South Africans don't want to do anyway. He pointed out that the attacks are being carried out in a coordinated manner by gangs who are moved around from place to place, showing that this is a sophisticated operation. The source said that South African authorities are conducting investigations to find out who is deploying these groups.
South Africa Says Outside Forces Are Causing the Violence
May 28 (EIRNS)On May 22, South Africa National Intelligence Agency director Gen. Manala Manzini said the spate of violent attacks, primarily on immigrants from neighboring countries, had been deliberately unleashed ahead of next year's general election. Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said that the gangs carrying out the violence were motivated by other sources. He charged that there are "forces in this country and outside" who are responsible, and that as South Africa attempts to move forward, it is to be expected that there are those in its midst, "influenced and supported by external forces," who would want to "push us to the back." He pointed out that the attackers were well-organized.
Mugabe Threatens To Expel U.S. Ambassador
May 25 (EIRNS)Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe today accused U.S. Ambassador James McGee of political interference in his country, speaking at a rally in Harare, as he launched his campaign for the June 27 run-off Presidential election. McGee has taken a partisan position in support of the British-backed opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which Mugabe has referred to as a retread of the Rhodesian Front party of the racist minority government of Ian Smith. "I'm just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong," said Mugabe. "He will get out."
Dropping all pretense of diplomacy, McGee has charged that violence is spiralling "out of control" in Zimbabwe. He and British Ambassador Andrew Pocock were making of a show of investigating supposed Zanu-PF (Mugabe's party) violence against the MDC opposition May 13, when they were briefly stopped by Zimbabwean authorities. Justice Minister Chinamaso has proposed, as a solution, that a team, with one member from the MDC, and one from the ZANU-PF, investigate all cases of alleged election violence.
Morgan Tsvangirai, candidate of the MDC, returned to Zimbabwe yesterday, after a more than seven-week absence, during which he said he feared for his life. During his absence, he was busy organizing support from outside the country.
At the rally, Mugabe also attacked the U.S. State Department's top diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, for suggesting that the MDC and Tsvangirai had won the March 29 elections: "You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act," Mugabe said.
Mugabe was referring to Frazer's trip to southern Africa after the March 29 election, during which she sought to organize opposition to Mugabe. Frazer gave a press conference in South Africa, with McGee at her side; the latter said that if Zimbabwe would just adopt a free-trade policy, the U.S.A. would support the government.
South Sudan Pulls Out of Talks on U.S.-Sudan Relations
May 28 (EIRNS)With the Anglo-Dutch financial cartel's scheme to cause the disintegration of Sudan gaining momentum, government ministers from South Sudan yesterday said they will not participate in talks between Sudan and U.S. special envoy Richard Williamson. Williamson arrived in Khartoum today for what had been scheduled to be a continuation of talks that were held in April, focussing on normalizing U.S.-Sudan. The United States has imposed sanctions on Sudan for 11 years.
A serious conflict between forces of the North and South broke out last week in the contentious border area of Abyei, which forced the town's population, from the South, to flee, amidst recriminations between the two sides.
While military leaders and officials from both sides agreed yesterday that "there would be no return to war," there is a potential for this crisis to go out of control. The conflict could threaten the 2005 agreement between the North and South, and lead to renewed civil war. The British press is citing analysts who warn that a new civil war would destroy chances of settling the Darfur crisis, and suck in many of Sudan's nine neighboring countries. Today, President Omar al-Bashir demanded international action against neighboring Chad, charging that Chad supported the May 10 attempt by the rebel group based in Darfur, the JEM, to attack the capital, Khartoum.
Africa Is Cooling to Biofuel Producers
May 29 (EIRNS)Given the severity of the food crisis, Tanzanian officials are having second thoughts about turning over vast chunks of their country to foreign biofuel companies, the London Financial Times reports today.
A land specialist with the relief agency Oxfam in Tanzania was quoted saying that Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete first appeared enthusiastic about biofuels; but three weeks ago he made a speech warning about their effect on food security.
One report estimates that in Mozambique alone, over the past year, foreign investors put in bids for 110,000 square kilometers of land, more than one eighth of the country's entire land area! Sun Biofuels of the U.K. owns plantations in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. In Tanzania, they hoped to plant no less than 40,000 hectares with jatropha, a poisonous plant used for biofuels. Sun Biofuels executive Peter Auge boasts that his company pays their workers $3 a day, calling it "relatively good pay for the area"! Farmers have been forced off the land, receiving compensation of no more than $1,000 apiece.
However, a high-level Mozambique source told EIRNS that the government has still not made a decision on what land, if any, to lease. "Nothing is definite," he said.
The Financial Times notes that if, in the future, governments should want to use the land for food production, this would be very difficult to do. Sun Biofuels is getting the land for free on a 99-year lease! A Swedish company is bidding for 50,000 acres of prime agricultural land to grow sugar cane for biofuels. All of this is done hand-in-glove with the EU, which has signed free-trade agreements with some of these countries.
Brazil has signed agreements with several African governments for biofuels development, arguing that this is the solution to African unemployment and poverty. But when President Lula da Silva traveled to Africa recently for a UNCTAD conference, he discovered that officials of several nations with which Brazil has agreements, are not enthusiastic about biofuels. One trade union leader from Mozambique told Lula that feeding people and guaranteeing food security are the top priority now, not biofuels development.