From The Financial Times (UK), 22 January
Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia to discuss Congo
The presidents of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, all allies of assassinated Congolese president Laurent Kabila, were on Sunday preparing to meet to assess the situation. All three countries deployed troops to the DRC to support Mr Kabila's presidency after rebels tried to oust him in 1998. News of the meeting came as Mr Kabila's body lay in state in Lubumbashi, the capital in his home province. The body was due to be flown to Kinshasa for Tuesday's funeral. The body was returned to Lubumbashi from Harare where officials said the wounded president was taken for treatment shortly after being shot three times by one of his own long-serving bodyguards.
Details surrounding the assassination remained unclear but government officials said Mr Kabila was shot while he sat in his office on Tuesday while speaking with his private secretary. The assassin was shot dead by other soldiers after the president's secretary raised the alarm. Joseph Kabila, the dead president's son, was appointed president shortly after his father's death but opposition groups have said they do not acknowledge him as the nation's leader.
The Congolese government has indicated that it will return to the negotiating table soon after the funeral in a bid to end a two-year old civil war. On Thursday, the justice minister said the government would continue to seek the withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan forces which had supported rebels since 1998.
From The Star (SA), 21 January
We killed Kabila, says group of Congo rebels
Paris - A group of DRC soldiers close to one of Laurent Kabila's former allies, who disappeared in 1997, has claimed responsibility for the late president's slaying. The claim, received in Paris on Sunday, was signed by "the young militants of the National Council for Resistance and Democracy (NCRD)". It was dated January 18 - the day the government said Kabila died from wounds suffered in a shooting two days earlier - and was said to have been written in the capital, Kinshasa. Kabila was shot in the presidential palace in Kinshasa on Tuesday by a member of his presidential guard, then flown to Harare where the government said he died on Thursday, but Kinshasa officials have not identified his killer.
The statement said the NCRD had been formed under the orders of General Ngandu Kisase, who fought alongside Kabila in the war that ousted the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from the then Zaire in 1997. Kisase disappeared later that year in circumstances that were never clarified. "We proclaim total backing for the heroic gesture of our brother in arms, Rachidi, who sacrificed himself to end the days of the bloody monster Kabila," it said. The NCRD statement did not identify "Rachidi".
From The Independent (UK), 22 January
How a hated dictator was betrayed by one of his most trusted guards
Kinshasa - The assassin who shot President Laurent-Desire Kabila at point blank range in his armchair last week raised no suspicions when he entered the White House sitting room of the Marble Palace in Kinshasa. He walked through the private entrance across the deep-pile red carpet towards the president, who was sitting in a white armchair by the long coffee table. "The man was a bodyguard. He knew the ways of the house. He would usually whisper the name of the next visitor in the president's ear," said Emile Mota in the first eyewitness account of the Congolese leader's murder last Tuesday.
The president, who had ruled the country for less than four years after overthrowing the despotic Mobutu Sese Seko, was fatally wounded by three bullets before loyal soldiers shot the bodyguard dead. In an interview with The Independent, Mr Mota, 44, the presidential economics adviser, who claims he was alone with Kabila, 62, when the shooting happened, describes in vivid detail how the leader of one of the world's largest and potentially wealthiest countries was shot at point blank range.
As the corpulent Kabila's white and gold coffin - too heavy for the guard of honour to carry - arrived in Kinshasa from Lubumbashi in the south and was put on display yesterday, Mr Mota said he hoped that speaking out would help dispel harmful rumours. Officials in the government now run by Joseph Kabila, 31, are desperately trying to maintain stability in the DRC) - a country of 50 million people, 10 times the area of the UK and already at the centre of the world's biggest war. Diplomatic sources did not dispute Mr Mota's account of the assassination and said the scenario of a gunman acting alone was gaining credence. But they questioned details of Mr Mota's rendition of events and stressed that other versions are circulating.
"It was 1.45pm and we were completing our morning's work," said the professor of mining economics from Lubumbashi, Kabila's home city, who has been a deputy director in the president's office since last August. "There were four of us appointed to the president's office and we worked on different days. My days were Tuesdays and Saturdays. My job was to take notes and instructions and to be with him in every meeting. That morning, at 9am, he received the Health Minister, Mashako Mamba, who came with a health project. At 10am, the North Korean charge d'affaires came to inform us that a ship was on its way with food to Kinshasa - a gift from his government. The Korean delegation left at around 12.30pm.
"From then on, we were on our own, myself and the head of state. We discussed the Franco-African summit in Yaounde [Cameroon] and we drew up a list of 27 people who were to travel there the next day, Wednesday." Mr Mota, sitting on a sofa in the hotel suite where he lives, then flung open his desk diary to reveal the list of names, written in red ink in the column for Tuesday 16 January. It included two generals, Mr Mota and one other close presidential aide, two ministers, plus Kabila's doctor, two servants, a cook, a protocol officer, six bodyguards and the 10 crew members of the private jet.
"The president was very relaxed. He told me that [Libyan President] Muammar Gaddafi had phoned him for guidance on whether to go to Yaounde. He had advised him to do so because it would be an opportunity to meet his African brother-presidents, as well as [French President] Jacques Chirac and [UN secretary general] Kofi Annan. President Chirac wanted to thank Kabila for his steps to broker peace in Burundi, including organising a meeting between Pierre Buyoya [its President] and Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye [a leading Burundi rebel leader]. France was in the DRC's debt and I was going to discuss a project with the French to build a TGV [high-speed train] from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi by 2003," Mr Mota said.
"The president was dressed in a short-sleeved green safari suit, as usual. He was sitting in an armchair near the door and I was on the sofa in front of a very large low table. The bodyguard came in. I recognised him. Rather than whisper in Kabila's ear, he very quickly pulled his revolver out of his hip holster and shot him in the left side of the neck at very close range. The president slumped back. As the killer backed away towards the door, he fired two more shots, into Kabila's stomach. One of them went through him into the right-hand arm of the chair and the other, after passing through Kabila, went into the sofa where I was sitting. It could have hit me.
"The bodyguard started running and I followed him, shouting for help. He was soon shot in the leg or foot but gave off two more shots before he was shot down. I did not see that happening, I just heard the shots. By then, I had gone back into the sitting room to see the president, who was unconscious, and to call a doctor. I tried to help move him, to get him on to the helicopter that was taking him to Ngaliena Clinic. My hands were covered in blood," Mr Mota said.
He denied reports that the shooting was prompted by a row between generals, possibly over the poor performance of the DRC and its allies - Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola - in their 30-month war against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda in the east of the country. "There were no generals on Tuesday." He also denied reports - supported by local residents - that gunfire was heard from the palace compound for half an hour at about 4pm that day. Mr Mota could not confirm the name of the assassin, but the Congolese press and the Communication Ministry have named him as Rashidi Kasereka and have made much of his birth in an eastern - now rebel-held - part of former Zaire.
"I understand that the man, who was in his twenties - probably 25 or 26 - had been with Kabila from the beginning," Mr Mota said. "He was recruited by Kabila in the bush in Bukavu, in 1996, and was part of the forces that marched into Kinshasa in May 1997. "I believe it was a premeditated attack that had been planned for a long time," he said, though he has no idea of the motive. All of Kabila's 20 bodyguards have been arrested as part of the murder inquiry.
Diplomats who have heard Mr Mota's story said they believed only about a dozen people knew the facts and that the economics adviser was probably one of them. But they stressed that other theories were circulating and that a wide range of motives exists. Foremost among them is, according to diplomats and a number of analysts, that the DRC's ally, Angola, had grown frustrated with Kabila's intransigence and unwillingness to negotiate peace. If Angola arranged the assassination, it might well have been supported by Zimbabwe, whose president, Robert Mugabe, wants to get out of the war. But Joseph Kabila, installed by the government and expected to be sworn in after his father's funeral in Kinshasa tomorrow, is not known to be a negotiator nor to be particularly close to the Angolan leader, Eduardo Dos Santos. The Angolan President, at a meeting yesterday in Luanda with Mr Mugabe and the Namibian leader, Sam Nujoma, expressed support for Mr Kabila.
Mr Mota does not buy this scenario. Kabila was "on a peace mission" to Yaounde where a deal was to have been signed with Burundi. Mr Mota said that, through recent contacts with France and Gabon, Kabila had provided considerable evidence that he wanted peace. A military source said that disgruntlement within the army - including the bodyguards - was at an all-time high due to unpaid salaries, poor living conditions and the recent execution by Kabila of a respected general from the Kadogo tribe that had helped him to take Kinshasa in 1997. Kabila is also believed to have briefly stripped all his bodyguards of their weapons recently. The military source said that on the eve of the assassination, or in the early hours of Tuesday, the Kokolo army camp in Kinshasa had been surrounded by military police who said they were looking for deserters.
Mr Mota does not wish to speculate on such matters, and argues that he just wants to end the rumour-mongering and to offer his services to Joseph Kabila "so that we can, together, perpetuate Kabila's vision for this country. Kabila was misunderstood."
From IRIN (UN), 21 January
Luanda's Kinshasa Policy
(This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)
Angola, a key regional power, is likely to play an influential role with the new government in the neighbouring DRC following the death this week of president Laurent-Desire Kabila, analysts told IRIN. "The government in Congo is very weak without Kabila," analyst Claude Kabemba at South Africa's Institute of Policy Studies said. "There is no way that (Angolan President Jose Eduardo) dos Santos would allow somebody to take power in Kinshasa and he doesn't control that person." Kabila's son, Major-General Joseph Kabila has been appointed his successor, but it is not yet clear how much real power the 32-year-old wields.
Angola will be "part of the consideration and part of the discussions" over the complexion and direction of the new government in Kinshasa, Ben Jackson, director of the London-based Angola Peace Monitor told IRIN. "I don't think Angola would like to see a military government - propping up a military government would be difficult to sell internationally," he added.
Angola's demonstrated willingness to deploy its battle-hardened troops abroad has turned the oil-rich country into a regional power. Angola was part of the anti-Mobutu Sese Seko alliance which brought Kabila to power in 1997. Across the river in war-wracked Congo-Brazzaville, Luanda also assisted Denis Sassou-Nguesso regain the presidential palace. A year later it was well-equipped Angolan troops that halted the Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebel advance on Kinshasa, saving Kabila's government. "Angola's influence is based on its military capabilities," Kabemba said.
With moral among Zimbabwe troops reportedly low, and Namibian soldiers numbering no more than 2,000, Angola is the key player in the pro-Kinshasa alliance, analysts said. It has elite forces around Kinshasa, which sources told IRIN were beefed up this week. Angolan troops are also in Mbuji-Mayi, in Kasai Oriental, and the southern Katanga province. The clear aim of Luanda's intervention in the DRC was to close the long-standing supply routes used by the Angolan rebel movement UNITA. Frustration reportedly mounted over Kabila's failure to keep up his end of the bargain, as UNITA re-established its diamond trading operations. "Kabila was not interested in controlling UNITA's movement. He was close to forgetting why dos Santos was in the DRC," Kabemba noted. "Perhaps it was Kabila's arrogance that led to his death."
Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia were also reportedly increasingly concerned over Kabila's obstruction of the 1999 Lusaka peace agreement, condemning their forces to remain in the DRC. "It is reasonably widely-known that Angola started to get a bit frustrated with Kabila's lack of progress with Lusaka," Jackson said. "They would like to see a leadership more favourable to Lusaka that would allow them to extricate themselves from the DRC." The new Kinshasa government would also have to show far more commitment to clamping down on UNITA activity along the long border it shares with Angola. "It's quite a critical period at the moment. It's quite clear that UNITA is trying to re-establish supply routes after its military reversals inside Angola. And if it found a foothold in the chaos in the DRC, that would alarm Angola," Jackson said.
Opinion from The Wall Street Journal (US), 19 January
Avoid Clinton's African Pitfalls
US President-elect George Bush remarked during his electoral campaign that Africa was of little strategic importance to the U.S. Now, almost on cue, the assassination of Laurent Kabila, the strongman of Congo, presents Mr. Bush at his inaugural tomorrow with his first foreign crisis, threatening as it does to plunge all of central Africa into a vortex of chaos. In devising a US position on Congo, and a new Africa policy in general, Mr. Bush would benefit from studying the lessons offered by the outgoing administration's African blunders.
To be sure, the past year has seen successful democratic transitions in Senegal and Ghana. But over all, President Bill Clinton's Africa policy has been a disaster. The turmoil in Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe continue unabated. And in Kabila's Congo, six African countries are involved in what is called Africa's "First World War."
It all started so hopefully. President Clinton paid more attention to Africa than his predecessors, placing the continent on the front burner and adopting a pro-active engagement. But it was destined for disappointment because Mr. Clinton adopted this approach primarily as a sop to his African-American constituency. Many of the failures with which his policies met stemmed from this reality. In the past eight years, we've seen high-profile tours to Africa by US government officials; First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea visited February 1997; and in March 1998 President Clinton himself visited the continent.
During his trip, Mr. Clinton painted a rosy portrait of Africa, saying it was making "giant steps toward democracy and economic prosperity." He hailed Presidents Kabila, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaiah Afwerki of Eritrea as the "new leaders of Africa." The president also spoke fondly of the "new African renaissance sweeping the continent." He apparently liked it so much that he returned in August. A series of new initiatives were launched during the Clinton years, including the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), meant to expand U.S.-Africa trade and investment, increase technical assistance and other good things.
Unfortunately, these policies did not work, and the continent's woes worsened. Gross domestic product seesawed during the decade, for example growing at a respectable 5% rate in 1996, actually dropping 3.4% in 1997 and rising again 4.7% in 1998. But even the years of growth were not sufficient, given a population growth rate of 3%. Out of the list of African "economic success stories" touted by the Clinton administration in 1994 (Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) only two (Ghana and Burkina Faso) were growing economically by the end of the 1990s.
Politically, Africa can count only 14 countries that can be called democracies out of 54 countries. The Clinton years saw the implosion of Somalia in 1993 ,Rwanda in 1994, Burundi in 1996, Zaire in 1996, Congo-Brazzaville in 1997, and Sierra Leone in 1997. Worst off politically for Mr. Clinton, the policy failed to impress those it was meant to please, Black Americans. Randall Robinson, executive director of TransAfrica, one of the groups that spearheaded the campaign against apartheid, has dismissed Mr. Clinton's policies in Africa as a "disaster." Black American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Democrat from Georgia, has described Mr. Clinton's Africa policy as "an abysmal failure." She asked in an interview this month with the East African newspaper, "How can someone so friendly end up with such an outrageous, atrocious, horrible policy that assists perpetrators of crimes against humanity, inflicting damages on innocent African people?"
In order to craft a new approach to Africa that will have any chance of success, the Bush administration must thus avoid three fundamental errors committed by Mr. Clinton.
First, the Clinton administration relied almost exclusively on black Americans for counsel in the formulation of his Africa policy. While African-American legislators do mean well, and want to do the right thing by the land of their ancestors, they lack an operational understanding of Africa's current woes. President Clinton's appointment of Jesse Jackson as Special Envoy to Africa was, for example, a huge blunder. That Mr. Jackson's actions severely compromised the US in Africa can be seen from just a short list of events.
In June 1994, when Mr. Clinton sent the Rev. Jackson to help defuse Nigeria's political crisis, pro-democracy forces refused to meet with him due to of his support of the former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida. Some Nigerians even threatened to stone Mr. Jackson if stepped foot in Nigeria. Sierra Leonians, for their part, still have not forgiven Mr. Jackson for brokering the 1999 Lome accords that awarded a ministerial position to Foday Sankoh, the barbarous warlord whose band of savages, called the Revolutionary United Front, chop off the limbs of their victims, including women and children. Mr. Jackson then compounded his error by comparing the psychopathic Sankoh to Nelson Mandela. The US has no shortage of native-born African exiles whose understanding of the situation on the ground in Africa is deep, not gleaned through the prism of US identity politics. Mr. Bush would benefit from occasionally at least consulting these African expatriates.
Second, the Clinton administration's Africa policy was "leader-centered." It sought out "saviors" with whom to develop close relationships - always euphemistically called "partnerships" - and to help them "transform society." The administration assumed rather naively that helping these leaders and their governments would help the people. But most of these African saviors turned out to be acrobats with dubious democratic credentials. Mr. Bush would do better to develop contacts with African civil society.
Third, while the Clinton administration pursued the right outcomes, it ignored the processes or institutions required to achieve them. Thus while it said it wanted a democratic Africa based on the free-market system, it did very little to lay its foundations. A market economy cannot be established without secure property rights, the free flow of information, the rule of law and mechanisms for contract enforcement. These processes or foundations are missing in most African countries, which is why the free markets and democracy the Clinton administration hoped to establish proved elusive. By helping to develop these mechanisms, the new Bush administration can ensure that the desired results will come in the mid-term future.
The new Bush administration, in sum, must fundamentally depoliticize and deracialize its approach to Africa. Policy for a whole continent cannot be based on the desire to placate an important American group. The problems Africa faces today have little to do with the slave trade, colonialism or racism, and a lot to do with bad leadership and governance. They in turn have at their origin the establishment of defective economic and political systems. The new approach must also place less emphasis on the rhetoric of African leaders and more emphasis on institution building. Leaders come and go, but institutions endure. Four institutions are critical: An independent central bank, an independent judiciary, an independent and free media, and neutral and professional armed forces.
These institutions are vital for the establishment of the environment Africans need to craft solutions to their own problems. And these institutions are established by civil society, not leaders. The Clinton administration was misguided in its belief that it could micromanage African affairs from Washington. The US can help, but it cannot supplant the initiative and efforts Africans themselves must make to solve their own problems.
By George B.N. Ayittey. Mr. Ayittey, a native of Ghana, is an associate professor of economics at American University and president of the Free Africa Foundation, both in Washington, D.C. His new book, "Why Africa Remains Poor," will be published by St. Martin's Press this summer.
|Chief justice publicly warns
Financial Gazette: Staff Reporter
1/17/01 8:03:14 PM (GMT +2)
CHIEF Justice Anthony Gubbay this week publicly reprimanded Judge President Godfrey Chidyausiku over his "political attack" on the head of Zimbabwe’s judiciary and said the judge’s comments overstepped his authority and undermined the rule of law.
|A deadly tourism plan
Tongai Kwirihiwiri, Harare.
1/17/01 7:38:14 PM (GMT +2)
EDITOR — Probably the strangest thing within ZANU PF today is the party’s apparent idea that all whites are brain-dead or somehow senseless.
I am saying this in reference to
the recently launched tourism recovery plan — launched by the same person who
destroyed tourism in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe.
|Tell me this isn’t true
1/17/01 7:39:16 PM (GMT +2)
EDITOR — This letter is addressed to Finance Minister Simba Makoni.
|Forget ZANU PF |
Stephen Mambowa, Gweru.
1/17/01 7:34:21 PM (GMT +2)
EDITOR — I am surprised and frustrated by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s repeated calls for a new constitution again from the present government.
Some people never learn. The ZANU
PF government has been very stubborn and arrogant on this issue until April 1999
when its leader Robert Mugabe hijacked the idea of constitutional reform from
the NCA and formed the so-called Constitutional Commission.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe independence war veterans, who have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms in the past year, will take over companies that shut down during any opposition-organized protest, their leader said on Saturday.
"That is our position and it's not just a threat," Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans, told Reuters when asked to confirm a newspaper report.
"We will do it. Just wait and see, and you will see this is not a joke," Hunzvi added.
Zimbabwe's private Daily News quoted Hunzvi as saying on Friday that veterans would break into and take charge of any company that closed during protests called by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The MDC has promised to organize mass action -- including strikes and street marches -- against President Robert Mugabe's government and violence by his ruling ZANU-PF party supporters.
"We are already setting up committees to move around the industrial areas. If we find any companies locked, we will break in and take them over," Hunzvi was quoted as saying.
"We will take them just as we have done with the commercial farms," he added.
ZANU-PF, which has dominated Zimbabwe's politics since independence from Britain in 1980, narrowly beat off a stiff challenge in June parliamentary elections from the MDC, which won an unprecedented 57 out of 120 elected seats.
The June poll followed five months of political violence in which at least 31 people -- mainly MDC supporters -- were killed. These included five farmers killed in violence linked to the invasion of white-owned farms since February by war veterans backing Mugabe's plans to seize the farms for blacks.
The MDC lost one of its seats this month in a violence- ridden by-election in Zimbabwe's southern Bikita district.
The ruling party has said in the past that white-owned businesses have helped protests and strikes organized by the MDC or its union allies by locking out workers.
OPPOSITION SAYS MASS ACTION TO GO AHEAD
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai denounced Hunzvi's threats as highly irresponsible, and another blow against the rule of law.
"Peaceful protests are protected by law and we are not going to abandon them because of these threats," he said, declining to say when the MDC will call its mass action.
An official with the country's main business body, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, called Hunzvi's comments disturbing.
"I don't think company owners or managers have ever closed their enterprises willingly, because they want to make money," he said.
"They have closed them when the circumstances are beyond their control. These threats are disturbing because they don't seem to recognize this basic fact," he added.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.