|Africa News Digest
Food, Energy Crises Set Up South Africa for Destabilization
July 23 (EIRNS)Traffic came to a standstill, and mining industries and essential services ground to a near-halt in four provinces in South Africa today, as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) organized protests against the shortages and high cost of food and electricity. The protests are part of a series of rolling demonstrations by COSATU unions.
"Together we have formed a broad coalition of organisations prepared to register their disgust at the spiralling cost of living affecting people," COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told about 25,000 workers at a Johannesburg march. COSATU is the largest umbrella organization of trade unions in South Africa. Vavi warned the government: "If you too don't listen to the voices of the majority, you will have to step aside." COSATU, which was the organizing force that prevented President Thabo Mbeki from being re-elected last December as president of the ruling African National Congress party, for a term that would have extended beyond the duration of his present term as President of the country, is using legitimate grievances of people, to build a large, anti-government force.
The rolling demonstrations, which began earlier this year, are expected to continue. COSATU president S'dumo Dlamini said that on Aug. 6, "there will be a total shutdown. The economy of South Africa will come to a standstill as long as the government does not come to us and negotiate decreases [in prices]. That is why COSATU also supports mineworkers against retrenchments." Dlamini said that those responsible for high prices were greedy, and should be criminally charged.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel came under attack for not ruling out further tax exemptions on basic food items. COSATU is calling for all food taxes to be eliminated.
In addition to the high cost of food, the protesters denounced plans to raise electricity rates by 27.5%.
This year, drastic food-price increases have sparked unrest and riots in at least five African countries: Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon, Senegal, and Burkina Faso.
Zimbabwe Government Blasts IMF for Economic Warfare
July 23 (EIRNS)The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail pointed out on July 19 that the suffering population, as well as businesses that can't get foreign exchange, blame Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or President Robert Mugabe for their problems. The paper adds that people and businesses don't dare to put the blame on the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States, even though this would be the truth. Businesses in particular, don't dare to tell the truth, because they will then be labelled supporters of Mugabe's party, the Zanu-PF, and the fear their shareholders may be put on the sanctions list.
The article points out that those who imposed the U.S. version of the sanctions in December 2001 under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), hide behind Section 6, which merely talks about travel bans of government officials. But the "real devil in ZDERA is from Section 3 to 5." In this section, the IMF and Multilateral Development Banks, meaning the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, the African Development Bank, the African Development Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency, all suspended their pre-existing activities involving Zimbabwe, and suspended new lending.
As a result, of the three legs that any Third World country stands ontrade, special drawing rights, and foreign direct investment, according to the articletwo were cut off, leaving only trade.
This economic warfare created enormous suffering for the Zimbabwe population, which was used to drive a wedge between the Zanu-PF and a significant part of the citizenry.
Mbeki, in France, Condemns ICC Sudan Destabilization
July 27 (EIRNS)South African President Thabo Mbeki moved to take on the London-orchestrated campaign to dismember Sudan, when he said yesterday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir must not be prosecuted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), because that would block the peace process in Darfur. He said the peace process could not be implemented without the active engagement of President Bashir. Mbeki also said that Bashir's continued presence as head of state was necessary for Sudan's general post-civil war security. He made these comments in a South Africa television interview conducted in Bordeau, France, after he had attended a EU-South Africa summit there.
"Both of them require the very active participation of President Bashir," Mbeki stated: "I don't know how they would do that if an International Criminal Court says here's a person who has been indicted, because they then must stop interacting with him because this is a wanted criminal, and I don't know how you then implement all of those things." Mbeki said he was ready to meet Bashir to discuss the ICC intervention into Sudan.
Today, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with visiting Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, on how to deal with the ICC attack, according to Xinhua. Taha reiterated that the human rights courts that Bashir plans to set up, will be carried out, as was agreed to by Sudan with Arab league secretary General Amr Moussa, on his visit to Khartoum. Sudan has agreed to try those responsible for crimes in Darfur, and the proceedings will be under Arab League and African Union observation. Taha said the Sudan government still supports dialogue for reaching a political settlement in Darfur. During Bashir's trip to Darfur, he pledged to Rodolphe Adada, the joint special representative of the Darfur peacekeeping mission on July 23, to boost Sudan's efforts to provide better security for the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission there, according to the UN, as cited by Xinhua July 23. "You are our guests and our partners," said al-Bashir, "and we are ready to provide any assistance that will help you do your work."
Arab and African nations have uniformly denounced the ICC's naked political attempt to destabilize Sudan. The AU's Peace and Security Council has called on African countries at a July 17 meeting to boycott the ICC's intervention on Darfur issue. On July 24, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), which represents 25 million organized African workers of all trade union tendencies, said it was shocked that the ICC arrest warrant sought al-Bashir. The OATUU charged that the arrest warrant is unhelpful to the ongoing process of negotiations and peace in Darfur and it will contribute to the intransigence of the divided foreign-assisted Darfur rebels. The statement noted that a previous attempt to resolve the Darfur conflict "brokered by the African Union, was never respected by the rebels, who instead split into splinter groups, armed and financed by foreign powers." The statement added that any self-respecting government, including the government of Sudan, cannot fold its arms while rebels armed and financed by foreign powers cheaply exploit the mineral resources of Darfur, at the expense of the suffering Darfur people. OATUU called on the AU and the UN to stop this abuse of the international judicial process.
The daily New Vision in Uganda also saw the ICC move against Sudan as politically motivated. It pointed out on July 24 that when Khartoum was attacked by rebels earlier this year, the attackers were not condemned by the international community.