30 June 2000
Angola peace prospects
Nineteen months since full-scale fighting resumed in Angola, the prospect of peace remains distant.A successful government offensive
last year,which led to the historic fall of UNITA's central highland headquaters, has reaped limited results in terms of ending the
"The dream of a knock-out blow after Andulo and Bailundo is evaporating," comments Alex Vines, a senior researcher for Human Rights
Watch and longstanding observer of Angola.
Fears about military instability have soared in recent weeks due to warnings that UNITA has threatened to kidnap foreign aid workers.
Diplomatic sources in Angola say the warning came from senior officials in Anglan Armed Forces(FAA).Intelligence sources in the FAA
learned that a senior UNITA general told rebel troops that the time is ripe to kidnap all expatriate humanitarian workers.
Hopes had earlier been raised when the state-owned daily newspaper, Jornal De Angola, reported that President Jose
Eduardo Dos Santos "admits possibility of pardoning Savimbi".During a recent speech in Bengo province, Dos Santos Said:"We advocate
a policy of forgiveness for all who seek the path of reason for all who repent.May be even Savimbi himself."
Savimbi has however reneged on several promises, including the Lusaka Peace accord which he signed.Heonce turned down an offer for
the post of vice-president of Angola,insisting that he wanted the presidency.(IRIN-SARDC)
Water scarcity in Malawi
At least 44 percent of Malawi's 11 million people have no access to clean water."The majority of those without access to clean
water are poor communities,"Yusuf Mwawa, Malawi's Water Development Minister has said.
Addressing the country's parliament, Mwawa described the lack of water as a "serious issue" throughout the country.
He said a 1998 survey indicated that Mlawi reqiured 23,000 boreholes in order to cover
100 percent of the population.
"The original plan was ti drill the boreholes between December 1998 and March 1999 but this was hampered by various
constraints," the minister said.(IRIN-SARDC)
More controversy on Lesotho water project
The former Chief Executive Officer of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project(LHWP),Masupa Sole and senior officials of several international
construction companies-are facing charges of bribery and corruption in the country's High Court.
Sole has already been found guilty of fraud and various financial misdemeanors by a Lesotho government inquiry into financial irregularities
committed while he was heading the LHWP.
The inquiry was followed by a civil suit in the Lesotho High Court, which ruled he would have to repay R7.7milliion(approx. US$1.2 million)
of project money that he had spent.Sole has appealed against the ruling.Investigations have uncovered his Swiss bank account and payments allegdly made
to him by LHWP contractors and consultants.
But, the LHWP is itself charged by communities, that moved from their ancestral lands to make way for the dams, of breaking its promises of compensation.
Testfying at the Southern Africa Hearings for Communities Affected by Large dams,Malisemelo Didian Tau-whose village moved to make way for the LHWP's Mahale
Dam-said :"We shall be pleased if we can get our compensation."
Although the hearings were held at the end of last year, the problems remain.The LHWP is a massive construction scheme designed to capture the relatively
plentiful waters of the Lesotho mountains for transport and sale of South Africa.
In terms of treaty signed between the countries, most of the water will go to the province of Gauteng-Sout Africa's industrial heartland-where
factories and a growing population face an ever increasing demand for water.
South Africa will foot the bill for the bulk of the building and running of the project and pay Lesotho for the water it receives.Lesotho will build
and run a hydro-electric plant on the scheme-at its own expense.
Of greater interest than the outcome of the trial to environment and human rights groups, is what steps the World Bank-that has under-written some of
the financing of the project-will take against the companies if they are found guilty.
The French, Italian, British and German firms that make up the consortiums constructing the dams and tunnels have vigorously denied the charges.
In a report release in February this year, Transparency International-an organisation committed to fighting corruption-concluded:"The construction
and arms industries are seen as the bussiness sectors with the greatest propensity to pay bribes to government officials in emerging markets.
Bribery by international corporations is weakening national economies, creating great-waste of public funds and encouraging large-scale abuse of
public office by high level civil servants and politicians."(IPS)
Men help fight gender inequality
Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob has urged men to involve themselves and take joint responsibility with women in the promotion of gender
"I strongly believe that all men should speak out, organise against sexual abuse, harassment, degradation, and economic exploitation
in order to shame the minority of males responsible for the culture against women,"said Geingob, addresssing delegates during the
special session of the UN General Assembly on Gender Equality,Development and Peace in New York.
Geingob said that violence against women violates human rights and fundamental freedom of women.
Inorder to protect women from various forms of violence, including sexual assault and harassment, Namibia has initiated policy reforms
and appropreate legislation.
A law to fight the crime of rape has been passed by parliament.The prime minister said it will give women greater control over their lives,
and greater control over their lives, and greater control over their lives, and greater protection against rape and other acts of violence aimed
Formation of the National Steering Committee of Men Against Violence Against Women, he said,"demonstrates the zero tolerance level reached by
our men to this heinous crime against women."(IPS)