31 January 2000
SADC Appoints Interim Secretary
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has appointed Prega Ramsamy of Mauritius as its interim executive secretary, replacing Namibia's Kaire Mbuende who left in December last year.
Formerly an economist, Ramsamy was appointed Mbuende's deputy at the SADC Summit held in Mauritius in September 1998. He joined SADC in 1997 as chief economist after working for 14 years with the 22-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
SADC announced that it would appoint a permanent executive secretary at its next summit, scheduled for September in Windhoek, Namibia. (IRIN)
Lesotho Parties Discuss Elections
Officials from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations recently met with representatives of Lesotho's Interim Political Authority (IPA) to discuss an election timetable for multi-party elections this year.
Edward Omotoso, the UN Resident Representative to Lesotho, said the meeting was held to discuss the progress of an agreement about the timetable signed in December last year between the IPA and the Lesotho government. They also discussed the formation of a panel of experts, to be in place by mid-February, to look at all issues related to the elections and to recommend a possible election date.
Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe are acting as guarantors for the implementation of the process.
Former SA Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo Dies
South Africa's first post-apartheid foreign minister, Alfred Nzo, died in a Johannesburg clinic on 13 January 2000 after suffering a stroke in December last year. He was 74.
Nzo served as secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile from 1969-1991. He was born in Benoni near Johannesburg and attended mission school before proceeding to the University of Fort Hare in 1945 where he joined the ANC.
During the 1950s, he played a key role in the defiance campaign against apartheid. In 1962 he was placed under house arrest and later detained for seven months before joining the ANC in exile. After the country's first democratic multi-party elections in 1994, he was appointed foreign minister. (IRIN)
Fuel Refinery Plans for Mozambique
A petroleum refinery is being planned in Mozambique to be jointly managed by Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The refinery, to be financed by the Iranian government, will have a capacity of 10,000 barrels of petroleum products per day. Initial work on the project will include the construction of an oil pipeline from the refinery centre to storage facilities in Malawi.(Pana)
British Airways Acquires Shares in Comair
British Airways recently completed the purchase of an 18.3 percent shareholding in Comair, its franchise partner in southern Africa. The £17-million investment marks further consolidation of the relationship between the two airlines, which began in October 1996 when Comair became British Airways' first franchise-holder outside Europe.
The shareholding is expected to facilitate closer coordination of British Airways' and Comair's operations in the region Roger Maynard, British Airways' Director of Investments and Joint Ventures, said Comair is an extremely well-managed airline with an excellent financial and service delivery record. "In addition, the investment demonstrates our confidence in, and commitment to South Africa," he said.
Dave Novick, Chairman of Comair, said British Airways' branding of Comair has been successfully integrated and established in the Southern Africa market. British Airways acquired the 18.3 percent in Comair from previous investors Gensec and CNI.
Comair currently operates a fleet of 14 jet aircraft comprising eight Boeing 737-200s and six Boeing 727-230s. It employs 1,020 people and operates between Johannesburg and Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and between Cape Town and Durban in South Africa. The airline also operates regional services to Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia (Pana)
Trans-Kalahari Highway could become a white elephant
A technical investigation team has established that the much-touted Trans-Kalahari highway is under-utilised and might become irrelevant if measures are not taken to rectify the situation. The 13-member probe team, which was commissioned by the governments of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, found that the highway barely attracts half the volume of traffic it was expected to serve.
The multi-million-dollar highway, which runs from the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia through Botswana to South Africa and connects the Maputo corridor, was meant to be used by at least 320 vehicles per day.
The highway was meant to create jobs, increase revenues and cut transport costs and travelling distances within the region. It was also supposed to give a boost to the region's desire to form a free trade area.
Further, the Walvis Bay connection was seen to be crucial in that it would speed up transportation of goods by easing the pressure on South African ports, which are, considered slow and congested.
But within two years of operation, experts say the highway is becoming a white elephant due to a number of problems some of which have been self-inflicted by the relevant countries.
Travellers on the Botswana section of the road have complained of costly delays at customs points, late opening and a limitation of driving hours in parts of the highway. Some differences have arisen over such issues as: accepted mass and dimensional limits, lack of facilities on some sections of the road, high toll fees and hostile officials at roadblocks.
These problems have forced a majority of the road users to go back to the old Amriamsvlei route in southern Namibia despite the fact that it is 500 km longer.
The probe team has thus called for urgent measures to solve the problems that have scared motorists from the highway, which was once hailed as one of the cornerstones of the regions economic development. (Pana)