From The Boston Globe (US), 20 January
Congo rebels accuse slain president's son of staging bombing attacks
Kinshasa - Rebels in the DRC yesterday rejected Joseph Kabila as the head of state after the killing of his father, President Laurent Kabila, and accused him of new acts of war. The rebel reaction heightened gloom over the future of Africa's third biggest country, racked by a war involving several foreign armies struggling over its mineral wealth. The rebels alleged that government forces had bombed their positions in defiance of a much-broken cease-fire agreement. Kin-Kiey Mulumba, spokesman for the main Rwandan-backed rebel movement, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, said government planes dropped six bombs near the northern town of Basankusu on Thursday. ''We see nothing has changed in Kinshasa. He is just like his father,'' Mulumba said.
There was no independent confirmation of the bombing raid on Basankusu, but one regional security source said: ''This is business as usual. The war is just going to carry on as before.'' The capital was calm after the belated confirmation by the government Thursday night that Laurent Kabila had indeed died after being shot by one of his soldiers Tuesday. The late president's body is in Zimbabwe, whose president, Robert Mugabe, was his main ally in the war against the rebels. Kabila was flown there for medical treatment after the shooting. The body was displayed in an army chapel and is due to be flown back to Congo today for burial in Kinshasa on Tuesday, Zimbabwe state news agency ZIANA said. ''Zimbabwe salutes the Congolese people for the highly mature and extraordinarily serene, disciplined, and dignified way in which they have related to this, yet another saddening chapter in their collective life as a nation,'' Mugabe said.
In Kinshasa, authorities have pieced together a preliminary account of Kabila's final moments. After a meeting with ministers and military officials, Kabila was chatting with advisers in a courtyard when a young bodyguard approached him from behind, palace workers and neighbors said. Shots rang out and Kabila fell to the ground mortally wounded. The assassin was shot to death by other guards. Kabila's son, a major general, was appointed interim head of government and will be sworn in as the permanent head of state, officials said yesterday.
From Pan Africa News Agency, 20 January
Young Kabila Urges Army to Recapture Rebel-Held Territory
Kinshasa - The new president of the DR Congo, Maj.-Gen. Joseph Kabila, has urged the Congolese Armed Forces to recapture all areas occupied by enemy forces as ordered by his late father in a bid to guarantee the country's territorial integrity, Kinshasa radio and television reported Saturday. Kabila told the Congolese military high command that they would only achieve the mission "through discipline, cohesion and unity". He warned them "to transcend regional, tribal and ethnic divides."
The new president reminded military officers that "the DRC armed forces should remain indivisible, belong to the Congolese people whom they should protect, and ensure the security and stability of republican institutions". Kabila reassured them of his government's willingness to "continue providing the armed forces with all the necessary means to protect the country". Meanwhile, DR Congo finance minister Jean Amisi called on banks and other financial organisations to operate Saturday and Sunday morning in order to pay the wages of the military and civil servants in compliance with an order from the new president.
On Thursday, the ambassadors of "some friendly western countries" presented their condolences to young Kabila and promised their countries' support in resolving the country's problems. He met with the leaders of religious groups, who extended condolences for the death of his father, Laurent Kabila. African ambassadors and diplomats accredited in Congo also consoled with him on Friday.
From The Sunday Telegraph (UK), 21 January
Kabila killed as friends lost patience
Kinshasa/Harare - Draped in the Congolese flag, an ornate gold and white coffin carrying the body of Laurent Kabila was flown from its temporary resting place in a Zimbabwean army barracks to his home province in southern Congo yesterday. The return of his corpse marked the start of an elaborate round of funerals, burial and ceremonies in honour of the assassinated leader. This state-sponsored outburst of national mourning has, however, been organised by the same people who are now emerging as the most likely to have plotted his death in a palace coup - his senior ministers, army officers, and even his own son and successor.
Despite their public lamentations at the demise of the "father of the nation", members of his close entourage apparently finally lost patience with Kabila. He achieved the remarkable feat of becoming as hated as his kleptocratic predecessor, Mobutu Sese Seko, while turning his enormous country (the size of western Europe) into a battle ground for up to eight African states during his disastrous three-year reign. Scrambling for Congo's raw resources and pursuing regional vendettas, its neighbours are waging what has become known as "Africa's First World War". Western mining companies interested in the rich reserves of copper, cobalt, emeralds and diamonds are closely following the fall-out from the latest crisis, hoping to regain access to nationalised mines. Kabila's refusal to countenance deals with the rebels to end the debilitating conflict made him as much of a liability to his foreign patrons as he was a hate figure to his enemies.
Joseph Kabila, 31, the eldest of more than 10 children by several women, was granted the rank of general and role of army chief by his father. He is due to be sworn in as the country's new president in the coming days. The Telegraph has learnt, however, that the two men fell out dramatically during the last months of Kabila's capricious rule. Joseph was even briefly detained on his father's orders following an attempted army mutiny at a barracks near the presidential palace in September. Although the inexperienced younger man is thought to be a figurehead front man for more powerful operators within the regime, diplomats in Kinshasa believe that he must have been aware of the plot to kill his father. The coup seems to have been conducted by a more pragmatic faction at the expense of Kabila's hardline anti-Western ideologues. Hotel suites have been prepared where the old guard can be kept under surveillance, say diplomats; while some junior ministers who joined the Kabila revolution at its outset have already been arrested.
No clear picture has emerged of Kabila's final moments inside the Marble Palace, his lavishly-decorated Mobutu-era residence in Binza, a hilly Kinshasa suburb of wide boulevards and walled compounds overlooking the River Congo. The pattern of the week's events, however, indicates that the assassination was a well-planned inside job rather than the act of a rogue bodyguard called Rachid, as the government has claimed, or a disgruntled army officer, as the former colonial power Belgium initially said. Even the time of the shooting is in doubt. Kabila was reported to have been seriously wounded on Tuesday night at a time when heavy gunfire was heard in the palace. The area had already been sealed off at that stage, however, and there was unusual helicopter activity around the palace earlier in the day, fuelling accounts given to some diplomats by unnamed government officials that he was shot in his bed the previous night. Nor was Joseph among others injured, despite earlier reports.
The uncharacteristically smooth manner in which the assassination and handover to Kabila junior was effected - with no unrest on the streets and no drunken soldiers on looting and shooting sprees - amazed Kinshasa residents who have lived through several previous rampages. The sprawling ramshackle city, dotted with grandiose unfinished building projects abandoned when the income from copper ran out in the 1970s, remained calm yesterday. Shops and businesses were open as usual and the streets were packed with the normal Saturday throngs.
Diplomats said: "It appears there are a lot of people in the palace who were not surprised by the developments. They seemed very well prepared. This place is normally chaotic enough at the best of times, so it is remarkable how smoothly this went off." The government's claim that Kabila only died in Harare on Thursday morning after he was flown to Zimbabwe for emergency surgery has also been widely discredited. Even The Herald, the Zimbabwean government mouthpiece, said the dead president was flown to Harare "to allow the government [in Congo] to maintain calm and order and ensure a smooth transition of power".
Joseph did not much resemble a man in mourning last week as he greeted foreign ambassadors in Kinshasa. Dressed in an olive safari suit rather than his usual army fatigues, the 31-year-old "general" introduced himself to the envoys as Congo's "interim president". Nor, however, say most analysts, does he look much like a man who will be in power for long. Brought up in exile in Tanzania, where his father ran a brothel, he speaks English and Swahili rather than the French and local dialects of Kinshasa. His mother is also said to be a Tutsi, an ethnic group reviled in the capital. The real power is thought to lie with a small group of disillusioned ex-Kabila loyalists centred on Col Edy Kapend, his cousin and chief of staff. They in turn are discussing their next step with Angola and Zimbabwe, the regime's main foreign backers.
The new regime is expected to be more open to peace talks. Indeed, Joseph is understood to have spent time late last year in Angola as Luanda tried to broker talks with his father's foes in Uganda. Officials in Angola had made no secret of their desire to see the back of him and by the time of his death it was only Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe who was still firmly behind his old Marxist friend.
Mr Mugabe stood stiffly to attention at Harare airport yesterday as the coffin of his close ally was placed on a gun carriage accompanied by a guard of honour and a brass band playing the Last Post. Watched by a crowd of 200 mourners clustered on the tarmac, most of them women wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Kabila's corpulent face, the coffin was hoisted into the cargo hold of a Congolese jet for the flight to Lubumbashi, the capital of Kabila's home state Katanga, where it will lie in state. It will then be flown to Kinshasa for the first of two official funerals on Tuesday. A second funeral and permanent burial will follow in Lubumbashi.From The Sunday Herald (UK), 21 January
Window of opportunity opens in the Congo despite present chaos
An effort to break what London, Washington and Johannesburg see as an unholy military alliance between Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe in the Congo will be high on the agenda in Brussels tomorrow. EU foreign ministers meet for an emergency debate on what can be done at the European level to help the mineral rich Congo return to some semblance of law and order following last Tuesday’s murder of Laurent Kabila. Africanists in the EU and USA believe that the departure of President Kabila from the African scene might present the West and the African continent’s most important economic and military power -South Africa - with a rare window of opportunity to revive the aborted 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Accord.
Ignored by the late Laurent Kabila, who feared that its implementation would remove outside help which alone kept him in power, the Lusaka Accord calls for deployment of a 5,000 strong UN force, the withdrawal of all foreign armies and a democratic transition in that war-torn country of 55 million impoverished and soon to be desperate people.
The EU conference will follow a surprise meeting in the Angolan capital Luanda on Friday evening between the Angolan President, Eduardo dos Santos and the President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma. While promising that their troops would remain in the Congo for the time being both men urged ‘’all warring factions’’ to minimise military movements and adhere to the Lusaka Accord. ‘’Angolan troops will continue to remain in the Congo until an understanding can be discussed with the new Congolese authorities,’’ said the Angolan President who is known in central Africa as the regional ‘’kingmaker’’ whose support for Laurent Kabila in 1998 when he was about to be toppled by hostile Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers was crucial.
The big surprise was that dos Santos and Nujoma met so soon after Kabila’s death without President Robert Mugabe. Sources in Luanda said that officers in both the Angolan and Namibian armies are not prepared to take the new leader of the Congo, 31-year old Joseph Kabila seriously either as a politician or military strategist. Sources said the feeling was widespread. Zimbabwe has about 11,000 troops stationed in the Congo. Angola has 5,000 and Namibia 2,000.’’We are arranging to hold a meeting as soon as possible among Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe,’’ explained dos Santos. Highly informed sources in Johannesburg believe that Angola and Namibia are about to put ‘’significant pressure’’ on the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader to withdraw from the Congo. President Mugabe has spent over US$3 billion supporting Kabila against Congo rebels, Uganda and Rwanda and in return has launched a new ‘’Scramble for Africa’’ in a part of the continent which is vast, disorganised and massively rich.
Sources within the main Zimbabwean opposition group, the MDC in Harare said: ’’ We have run out of money and steam. There’s no more foreign exchange left to service or re-equip the air force. The war in the Congo threatens to destabilise Zambia where 60,000 refugees have gone to seek shelter. In the Congo there are 2.2 million displaced people and President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia has been talking to his army commanders about the worsening situation.’’ The same source said that if America, the EU and UN can bring sufficient pressure to disengage on Angola and Namibia - possibly by stepping up aid programmes or refusing to give them further assistance if they decide to stay on in The Congo - progress can be made.
Robert I. Rotberg recently wrote in the prestigious ‘’Christian Science Monitor’’ that America’s main interest in Africa was in South Africa and that de-stabilisation in The Congo could easily damage Thabo Mbeki’s government. The well respected director of the Kennedy School’s programme on Interstate Conflict and President of the World Peace Foundation wrote:’’ Sooner than it wishes, the Bush team may be called upon to help the UN, South Africa, or Britain to prevent widespread bloodshed in The Congo.’’ Commented British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook:’’ I very much hope that we will be able to make sure the Lusaka Agreement is honoured and taken forward and that the conditions are created in which it would be possible for the UN to provide a stronger presence and ensure the Lusaka agreement is built upon.’’
Britain and the USA along with the rest of the EU and Commonwealth are known to be deeply embarrassed that the politics of greed have motivated so many prominent and once well respected African leaders who are spending millions every year on supporting a military adventure far from home. Just about the only people not making money out of the war are the Congo’s long suffering citizens. The Congo is about the same size as Western Europe but with a relatively small population, 55 million. It’s potential is vast. But a series of robber barons and maverick leaders have stolen its wealth and left the people of the Congo some of the poorest in the world.
Political observers in Harare said after the Luanda meeting between dos Santos and Nujoma that Robert Mugabe is presently confused. Towards the end of Kabila’s life there were serious disagreements between the Zimbabwean and Congolese presidents - mostly about money and how much of the Congo’s wealth should be handed over to Zimbabweans. Political analysts say Namibia was persuaded to make a military commitment to the Congo civil war because of Nujoma’s long political friendship with Mugabe. But most African leaders privately disapprove of the Zimbabwean leader.
As EU foreign ministers prepare for their talks about the Congo in Brussels, a small item in a Zimbabwean newspaper captured the minds and hearts of millions of people in Zimbabwe on Friday morning. The once food rich nation of less than 13 million people has less that two months supplies and no foreign exchange to buy on the world market. In its first crop and livestock report of this year, the CFU said there are only 200,000 tonnes of maize (corn) left to feed the people. Monthly consumption is 150,000 tonnes and the expected national crop this year will fall far short of national requirements. Said the Harare analyst: ’’Out of the jaws of Kabila’s death something might be snatched. Maybe am African realisation that billions of dollars are being wasted at a time when African is being fast overtaken by the consequences of the actions of madmen who think only of themselves, never of their suffering people.’’
From The Independent on Sunday (UK), 21 January
Kabila Junior faces plots from all sides
Kinshasa - Joseph Kabila, the son of the late leader of the DRC, is a puppet successor who has been temporarily put in charge of Africa's richest country while rival civilian and military factions jostle for position, observers believe. As the body of Laurent-Desire Kabila arrives today in the capital, Kinshasa, to lie in state until his funeral on Tuesday, the people of the DRC still have not heard from his 32-year-old successor. He is expected to address the nation only after his inauguration later this week.
Few people in Kinshasa expect the Chinese-trained major-general to be better for the mineral-rich country than his father, whose body was displayed in Lubumbashi, capital of his southern Katanga heartland, yesterday. But, as they struggle from day to day, eating what they can grow on road verges, the five million people here know that whatever comes next cannot be worse. It's as if, certain that once Kabila is in his mausoleum there will be further unravelling - a coup, another assassination, a rebel offensive - the people of the capital are holding their breath.
Dominique Sakombi, the country's influential communications minister, has promised more of the same. "Those of us with experience will be around Joseph, to guide him," he said. Kabila's son is little known in the DRC, having spent much of his life abroad, in Tanzania and China. He speaks only Swahili, not Lingala, the language of Kinshasa, and has a Rwandan mother. But foreign diplomats believe a violent shake-up is under way behind the scenes and that last Tuesday's assassination was an attempted coup. Most agree that Kabila, who had been in power for three and a half years, died almost immediately and that he was flown to Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, only so that the Kinshasa government could buy time.
Mr Sakombi claims Kabila was killed by one of his bodyguards, a commander known as Rashidi, whose motives are not known but who is seen as suspect for being born in what is now rebel-held territory. He was shot dead while trying to escape from the Marble Palace. But diplomats believe the explanation is far more complicated, saying the government and military are riven by tribal and clan conflicts, ego clashes and policy differences. Only one claim of responsibility has been made. That was by a previously unknown group calling itself Le Mouvement Des Patriotes Combattants, which, in a phone call to Radio France International, described itself as "an underground military organisation which wants to end the dictatorship". Yesterday, it was reported that three men - Muanananga Mawampanga, Kisombe Kiaki Mwisi and Didier Mumengi - formerly close to Kabila but demoted to junior ministries, had been arrested while trying to flee the country. It is possible that they felt threatened by whichever faction killed Kabila.
To talk of unity of any kind in the huge territory that is the former Zaire is facile. Only expedient alliances exist in this country, which has 10 times the area of Britain and most of whose resources - including diamonds, cobalt, hardwoods and gold - are in the eastern half, the part occupied by rebels. As the days go by, it seems less and less likely that the rebels, or their sponsors, Uganda and Rwanda, carried out the assassination. There has been no offensive since the killing. Diplomats, therefore, are looking at "an inside job" or a move by one of Kabila's war allies - Zimbabwe, Namibia or Angola - to get rid of a man who was failing to deliver victory.
Both Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and Sam Nujoma of Namibia are viewed as having entered the war driven by an African "old boys' network" that is keen to safeguard the integrity of the DRC and remains distrustful of Rwanda, and especially Uganda, which is seen as a puppet of the United States. In return for backing Kabila, they got mining concessions, hydroelectricity and supply contracts. Angola's motivation for trying to repel rebels from the DRC is more strategic and is tied to the government's own war against Unita, as well as its president's pursuit of wealth. President Eduardo Dos Santos is regarded as southern Africa's chief puppeteer, capable of breaking half a dozen African governments if he so desires.
The UN portrayed the calm passage of power from father to son as a sign of hope. The secretary-general's representative, Kamel Morjane, said: "I have met Joseph Kabila and I was impressed by him. The situation was potentially explosive on Tuesday and it was handled very well." He hoped the deployment of 5,000 peacekeepers would proceed and said he had received "guarantees from several of the parties in the war" that they would not take advantage of the situation.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 21 January
Grace's husband appointed diplomat
First Lady Grace Mugabe's ex-husband, Stanley Goreraza, has been appointed a diplomat at Zimbabwe's embassy in China, The Standard has established. Reached for comment at the Zimbabwean embassy in China on Tuesday, Goreraza flatly refused to comment on his new appointment, saying only the ministry of foreign affairs could make an appropriate comment. "I am a government employee and I can't speak to you. Why don't you speak to the relevant ministry?" said Goreraza. Officers at the ministry of foreign affairs were also tight lipped, referring all questions to the minister, Stan Mudenge, who in turn could not be reached for comment. Foreign affairs secretary Willard Chiwewe was constantly said to be out of his office.
Prior to his appointment, Goreraza was a member of the Air Force of Zimbabwe studying in China and was due to have returned home at the end of last year. It was not immediately clear whether his new appointment had anything to do with his failure to make it home during the festive season when he was expected to return. Goreraza's posting comes at a time when government is under pressure to reduce its diplomatic missions abroad. The government has over the months been failing to pay its diplomats who are paid in foreign currency, which is scarce in Zimbabwe at present.
Goreraza shot into the limelight in 1995 when it became public knowledge that his former wife, Grace, had two children, Bona and Robert (Jnr) with President Mugabe. The first couple now have a third child, Chatunga, born after their official wedding in 1996. Goreraza and Grace have one child, Russell. At the time that Grace had an affair with President Mugabe, the president was still married to the late first lady, Sally. Grace was then working in the president's office as a secretary.
Goreraza's relatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Standard that relations between Mugabe and his wife's former husband were good. They cited the president's visit, together with the first lady to Goreraza, when the latter was ill in hospital. Unconfirmed reports from the relatives suggest that since Goreraza's appointment about late last year, he has since bought a house in Harare's leafy suburb of Borrowdale. They said in addition to the house, the first lady's ex-husband had also bought a flat for his son, Russel.
THE BULAWAYO MUSIC FESTIVAL
News of the Festival at the end of last year was distinctly gloomy with the horrendous events with which we're all too familiar taking their toll. But Bulawayo doesn't take defeat easily and, largely because of a substantial anonymous donation and the great generosity of the musicians involved who are either travelling to Zimbabwe at their own expense or forgoing a fee, there are now plans are for a somewhat scaled-down but still very exciting Festival long weekend, in early April. The musicians will include Nokuthula Ngwenyama (viola), Leslie Howard (piano) and the Odeion String Quartet as well as the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra, and there will be four evening concerts from Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 April plus daytime events from Friday to Sunday.
The Festival Weekend will begin on Thursday 5 April with a recital by Nokuthula Ngwenyama and Leslie Howard; the Odeion Quartet will perform on Friday (and be joined by Nokuthula in a quintet); Leslie gives a solo recital on Saturday evening and the Festival finishes with an orchestral concert conducted by Derek Hudson in which Nokuthula will be joined by Abrie de Wet in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola and Leslie will play Beethoven's Emperor Concerto.
Other events will include a morning concert from Leslie and the Odeion featuring a piano quintet and string quartet; a Cathedral concert with the Bulawayo Philharmonic Chorus and the visitors; a "Meet the Performer" interview with Nokuthula; and various other events are still being discussed.
Leslie Howard and the Odeion, of course, need no introduction but perhaps most exciting is Nokuthula Ngwenyama's involvement. She is, after all, a "local", born right here in Zimbabwe and with family still living in Bulawayo. Colin Carr was enormously impressed when she played Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote in Richard Strauss's symphonic poem and suggested contact be made - with this result.
She left Bulawayo at quite an early age and her musical training was entirely in America so sadly we can't claim any credit! She graduated from Philadelphia's celebrated Curtis Institute in 1996 and then received a Fulbright Grant to study at the Paris Conservatoire with Bruno Pasquier, one of the world's great viola players. She has already performed with dozens of American orchestras and shared the platform at a commemorative concert at the White House with James Galway, Murray Perahia and Wynton Marsalis amongst others. Well, after the White House, where is there but Bulawayo and the Sibson Hall? Nokuthula will also perform in Harare both with the Harare City Orchestra and in recital with Leslie Howard although the Festival organisers very much hope that this won't prevent half of Harare heading south for a very exciting few days of music in Bulawayo!
An all-inclusive ticket, probably priced at Z$950.00, will be on sale by late February but mark it down in your diaries now: THURSDAY 5 TO SUNDAY 8 APRIL. Contact addresses for tickets will be published closer to the time.
P.S. Programmes to date include:
LESLIE HOWARD (PIANO)
Mozart: Eight Variations on "A Woman is the Most Marvellous Thing"
from Schack's "The Dumb Gardener", K613
Beethoven: Sonata No.25 in G major, Op. 79
Beethoven: Sonata No.30 in E major, Op. 109
Schumann: Etudes symphoniques, Op.13
Liszt: [Fantasy on themes from Mozart's "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni", S697 
[prepared for publication by
NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA (VIOLA) & LESLIE HOWARD (PIANO)
Mendelssohn: Viola Sonata in C minor 
Schumann: Märchenbilder, Op.113
Hindemith: Sonata for Viola, Op.25/1
Rubinstein: Viola Sonata in F minor, Op.49
Kreisler: Praeludium and Allegro