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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Herald

Zesa seeks US$1,8 billion to upgrade infrastructure

Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings requires more than US$1,8
billion to upgrade its infrastructure and purchase new equipment in an
effort to increase electricity generation capacity, a senior official has

Addressing participants at a seminar organised by the Zimbabwe Institute of
Engineers in Bulawayo last week, the Zesa Holdings executive chairman, Dr
Sydney Gata, said Asian-based investors had pledged to assist the power
utility with loan facilities that will go a long way in boosting the country
's power supply.

"Four memoranda of understanding have been signed with investors from China
and India where the two countries have expressed their willingness to
finance the programme," said Dr Gata.

In his presentation, Dr Gata described how the funds would be channelled to
the company's six subsidiaries, which include the Rural Electrification
Agency (REA), Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Zimbabwe Electricity
Transmission Company (Zetco).

He said the company (Zesa) recently signed a US$30 million export credit
facility with a Chinese financial institution and was negotiating with the
Indian government in trying to secure a further US$300 million that will
assist in the upgrading of electrical cables

The infrastructural development is expected to start in September this year.
The expansion programme would be spearheaded by ZPC as the bulk of the funds
would be channelled towards the company. It requires the bulk of the funds.

Dr Gata also said Zesa has taken the initiative to spearhead development of
the Coal Bed Methane Gas Project in Lupane as ZPC is already scouting for
potential investors.
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More Water Cuts Today

The Herald (Harare)

June 22, 2004
Posted to the web June 21, 2004


More Harare suburbs face cuts today as the city's water woes worsened
yesterday when raw water supplies from Manyame Dam were lost in a power cut.

Supplies of treated water were already reduced as a result of chemical
problems, resulting in cuts to the eastern and north-eastern suburbs for a
fortnight, some southern suburbs last week and to Chitungwiza over the

Now the north-western suburbs will be cut from 9am this morning for up to 24
hours to spread the burden and ensure that all reservoirs receive something.

Mr Psychology Chiwanga, the city's director of works, yesterday said the
latest blow would see supplies cut to Ashdown Park, Mabelreign, Emerald
Hill, Avondale and parts of Mount Pleasant.

"The exercise is meant to continue until the water supply situation in the
areas supplied by Highlands, Philadelphia, Hogerty Hill and Greendale
reservoirs normalises," said Mr Chiwanga.

The power failure at Darwendale raw water pump station resulted in reduced
raw water inflow into the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works.

Whenever Harare's water demand exceeds supply, the areas to the east and
north-east lose supplies first. These are the highest areas of Harare and
are furthest from the treatment works, so need to be supplied in several

However, if the areas receiving water directly from the terminus of the
pipeline from the treatment works at Warren Control continue to be fed, then
there is no surplus to be pumped east to Letombo for onward pumping to the
higher suburbs.

Some of these eastern and north-eastern reservoirs can also be fed from the
reservoir complex on Hartmann Hill in the Botanic Gardens, the second
largest complex after Letombo, but only if water meant for other suburbs to
the north is diverted.

Harare's latest water woes, the first serious problems faced in mid-winter
for many years, started early this month when the latest batch of aluminium
sulphate, the chemical used to clarify raw water by coagulating small
particles and precipitating them out, produced unpredictable results.

Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries (Zimphos) has confirmed receiving complaints
from council that its aluminium sulphate was of a low quality.

The company confirmed receiving complaints over the quality of their
chemical, which council claims is causing frequent desludging, sand filter
carryover and pump breakdowns.

"Recently City of Harare informed Zimphos for the first time in 50 years
that it preferred the South African aluminium sulphate because it is of a
better quality," said Zimphos supply chain director Mr Misheck Kachere.

He said Zimphos responded by setting up an investigation team that is
working with the council's experts to look into the issues raised.

Mr Kachere said preliminary results of a comparison of the South African
product and that from Zimphos show that the two products are similar in
quality and they both meet international specifications for potable water

Council said it preferred a similar chemical from South Africa which, it
said, was of better quality and used less electricity.

Mr Kachere said the company's operations were being hampered by a huge debt
of $15 billion owed to it by Harare City Council.

"However, since last year the Harare City Council has been defaulting on its
payments to Zimphos, resulting in suspension of deliveries. To date, it owes
the company $15 billion and this debt has affected cash flow at Zimphos," he

Mr Kachere said when Zimphos cut supplies, council resorted to buying from
South Africa through third parties at almost twice the price.

He said despite the use of the South African product for the past four
months the city continued to face water shortages.

Zimphos had resumed supplies to council following an agreement over the
payment of the debt after Government intervention to help the two parties
reach a payment structure.

Mr Kachere said the Zimphos product passed the United Nations quality test
when it won a tender, which was floated by the UN to supply the chemical to
the city.

"In addition, all other municipalities are satisfied with the performance of
the Zimphos product," he said.

Last week, Harare's chief chemist Mr Lisben Chipfunde said Zimphos was not
supplying the same quality product it showed as a sample during the tender

He showed The Herald the sample that was exhibited during the tender process
and the one that the company was supplying. The two samples differed in that
the one that was shown as the tender sample was clear, while the one that
was being supplied had solids.

"But what has been happening is that Zimphos has been supplying us with a
chemical that has solids and not helping at all," he said.

Mr Chipfunde said because of the solids in the Zimphos product, engineers at
Morton Jaffray have to stop pumping at least four times a day to clean the
clarifiers and sedimentation tanks.

Cleaning takes up to 30 minutes and treated water is used. During the
cleaning process, pumping to Warren Control and other reservoirs is
temporarily stopped.

He said because of the heavy presence of solids in the aluminium sulphate
from Zimphos, council lost a lot of the chemical as it solidified in the
storage tanks.

Yesterday Mr Chiwanga said water supplies in the southern suburbs, Epworth
and Ruwa were cut off in the morning in line with the recently implemented
water demand management exercise.

Only three reservoirs were below 30 percent full, five were above 50 and
seven were between 30 and 50 percent full.

This marked a major difference from that of last Friday in which six were
below 30 percent full, four above 50 and six between 30 and 50 percent full.

The Herald continued to receive reports of unrepaired burst pipes through
which potable water is lost.

Government gave the city until May to have set up a leakage detection team,
but to this day the team is not in place.
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Zimbabwe's tobacco auction likely to close early this year: official 2004-06-22 05:15:55

HARARE, June 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean Industry Tobacco
AuctionCenter General Manager Kennedy Chiramba said here on Monday that
tobacco auction was likely to close early this year as a result ofreduced
tobacco output.

The marketing season was likely to end by mid August since halfof
the projected crop had already gone under the hammer.

"This season is likely to be shorter than normal. We should be
done by mid August," said Chiramba.

A total of 60 million km of tobacco is projected to pass through
auction floors this year, down from 80 million kg last year.

The selling season normally opens around April and ends in October
of every year. But a decline in tobacco production is likely to result in an
early end to the marketing season, as 31 million km of tobacco have so far
been sold.

Earnings in US dollar terms have also remained lower compared with
those of last year.

However, tobacco auctioneers have expressed satisfaction with the
quality of this year's crop.

"The quality is very good and even the buyers are not
complaining," said Chiramba.

Tobacco is the country's main export, but is slowly being
overtaken by cotton and platinum. Enditem

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East African Standard

Now Mugabe cracks the whip on trade unions
By Martin Mutua
Zimbabwe state forces have shifted their focus from white farmers and
opposition supporters to cracking down on trade unionists, recently released
report say.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU report contains
gory details of how Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government has clamped down on
trade unionists whom they allege support opposition party Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

The ICFTU, in the report compiled by Kenyan Peter Mathuki, has appealed for
urgent intervention from international organisations and sympathetic donor
countries to urgently intervene on behalf of Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) members.

Mathuki who was in Zimbabwe last month told the East African Standard that
he had to use "unorthodox means" to be able to enter Zimbabwe because the
country had blacklisted international trade union representatives.

"None of the officials of the labour or trade union movement can be able to
get into Zimbabwe as the government feels majority of the workers whose
rights are being violated everyday support the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change," added Mathuki.

The ICFTU report says the government had sponsored its own trade union
movement Known as Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union (ZFTU) and was using
state machineries to force ZCTU members to join the 'union.'

The report details coercion, harassment and intimidation as a common
occurence for ZFTU activists who have state backing in raiding factories and
companies to register workers from ZCTU to their "union.'

The report further says the Zimbabwe government has been using the Law and
Order Maintenance Act which later was amended to Public Order and Security
Act and nicknamed POSA to intimidate and arrest people considered to be
opposed to the government.

Mathuki says in the report that on June 4, 2004 during the opposition MDC
organised mass action police cracked down on ZCTU district secretary a Mr
Misheck Gapare, arrested and detained him after heavily assaulting him.

The operation that was carried out by police and members of Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) saw Mr Gapare forced to eat his stool which
he had excreted after the heavy beating. The report further says Gapare was
quizzed on his participation in the MDC activity and also his role in ZCTU
issues. He was hospitalised from severe internal injuries and is now
recuperating at his home. However police did not keep any records of his

Another incident that is said to have taken place on June 22, 2004 involved
a ZCTU officials a Mr Elliot Kudenyengera and other activists who are said
to have been heavily assaulted by members of the ruling ZANU PF party for
allegedly taking part in ZCTU activities and also wearing the union

According to the report in the ensuing melee Mr Kudenyengera was arrested by
police and made to pay Zim$10,000 for bail. He had to seek the assistance of
ZCTU for both legal and medical expense. However the other activities did
not report their cases for fear of reprisals from the ZANU PF gang and the

The report further says on June 4, 2004 in Bulawayo the ZCTU district vice
secretary Mrs Getrude Mthombeni was also arrested and detained in police
custody for five days for taking part in the MDC organised mass action. She
was however later given bail and her case is pending in court.
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Grain Marketing Board Cheques Dishonoured

The Herald (Harare)

June 22, 2004
Posted to the web June 21, 2004


Grain Marketing Board cheques issued to farmers in some parts of the country
as payment for produce have been dishonoured by banks in a move that has put
farmers' cropping programmes into disarray.

The bouncing of the cheques has caused despondency among farmers, with some
beginning to lose confidence in the GMB's ability to pay them, despite the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's injection of $100 billion into the board.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Joseph Made, expressed
concern with the development and urged the GMB management to investigate the
matter with the urgency it deserves to ensure farmers deliver maize to the

However, the GMB has said there were some fake cheques in circulation
purporting to be from the parastatal.

It said traders were advised to verify with the GMB the authenticity of

Most of the affected farmers delivered their crop at GMB depot in Karoi.

"I delivered my maize crop and the cheque issued to me as payment has been
dishonoured by the bank. I have tried to get an explanation from the GMB,
but they said they were making follow-ups to the problem," said Mr Crispen
Katiyo from Karoi.

He said the GMB was paying cash to farmers who delivered small quantities of
maize while it issued cheques to farmers who delivered large amounts.

Another farmer from the same area said several of his colleagues were now in
difficulties because shop-owners who traditionally cashed the cheques were
refusing to accept the GMB cheques this time around.

"We used to get cash from shop-owners and wholesalers after buying goods
without any problem, but they are now reluctant to accept the GMB cheques,"
said the farmer, who said he recently delivered two tonnes of maize to the

He said officials at the GMB's Karoi depot have advised them to wait for
weeks while they checked why the cheques were dishonoured.

GMB acting chief executive Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti said it had come to
the board's attention that some people were buying crops from farmers and
giving them fake GMB cheques.

"These fake cheques are originating from conmen and we urge farmers to
deliver their crops to GMB depots and not sell to individuals," said Rtd Col

The GMB, he said, would pay cash to farmers who deliver less than three
tonnes of maize to the board's depots and not for 30 tonnes as earlier

"If we pay cash for more than three tonnes, surely there would be an upsurge
of armed robberies in the country," he said.

GMB has increased the maize producer price from $300 000 to $750 000 a

He said the GMB has secured $100 billion from the Government through the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to pay farmers and it does not have financial

GMB acting finance director Mr Joseph Dzimba said the parastatal had enough
funds to pay farmers.

He said if there were any genuine GMB cheques that were dishonoured by the
banks that could be a question of errors on the amounts or defacement of the

"It could be a question of errors. Amounts being written on the cheques in
words and figures might differ or such cheques might have been defaced,"
said Mr Dzimba.

Between 750 000 and 1,2 million tonnes of maize were expected to be
delivered to the GMB this year out of the total 2,4 million tonnes of maize
expected to be produced as the country anticipates a better harvest compared
to previous years, when it was hit by droughts.
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New Zimbabwe

Parliament seeks clarity on Zim's US$200m jet order

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 06/22/2004 11:20:12
ZIMBABWE'S Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs
will soon be recalling Ministry of Defence officials to clarify on
Zimbabwe's US$200m purchase of military hardware and jets from China.

This follows spirited denials from the People's Republic of China that it
was about to sell arms to Zimbabwe.

China's Ambassador to South Africa said there was no substance to reports
based on the evidence of Zimbabwe's Defence Ministry officials presented
before the Parliamentary Committee that Zimbabwe had ordered military
hardware from China.

During a briefing session about China's economic relations with South
Africa, journalists could not resist the question: If the reports were true,
why would China want to sell arms to Zimbabwe?

Lui Guijin dismissed the reports, saying China has adopted a responsible
policy and attitude towards selling arms to African countries. He said this
was based on contributing to peace and stability within the African

Guijin added: "The report has no backbone...and (is) baseless."

The Zimbabwean jet order, if true, goes against a 1998 appeal by UN, that
defence expenditure in developing countries countries be frozen for the next
ten years.

We broke the news about the purchase of 12 jets and at least 100 military
vehicles at an estimated cost of over US$200m. Our report was based on the
evidence presented by the Ministry of Defence's Permanent Secretary Trust

He told the Parliamentary committee that due to sanctions imposed on
President Robert Mugabe's regime, Zimbabwe's current fleet of European-made
fighter jets was crippled by a critical shortage of spares which had forced
the government to look to China.

Although he refused to disclose the type of aircraft being bought in the
secret deal covered by the 1989 legal provision which excludes the
acquisition of key military equipment from going through a tender board or
to be advertised, sources told New the aircraft include the
FC-1 (Fighter China 1), developed recently to replace the Chengdu F-7. The
cost of each plane is US$20m.

The FC-1 was designed by China to replace the F-7 which has been widely
criticised by military experts. Pakistan, which like Zimbabwe was using the
F-7 is China's biggest customer for the FC-1.

Apart from the 12 jets, Zimbabwe had also put an order for 100 military
vehicles. At least six of the jets, Maphosa told the committee, should have
been delivered last week.

It is not clear where the funding for the new aircraft is coming from as in
the current budget, announced by government in November last year, the army
was allocated $815, 49 billion (about US$154 million) with 69 percent
expected to be chewed by salaries and the rest going to operations.

Mt Darwin MP Savior Kasukuwere queried the manner in which the purchase of
military equipment had by-passed the State Procurement Board, a move he said
might result in the army buying equipment which may be expensive, but having
a short life span.

Maphosa had told the parliamentary committee that the decision to buy the
military hardware from China was a political decision after the force
encountered problems in procuring spare parts for equipment bought in
Western Europe as a result of European Union sanctions imposed against
President Mugabe's regime.

Zimbabwe has one of the most formidable defence forces in Africa, whose
highlight after the country's independence include assisting the Mozambican
government subdue the former rebel Renamo in the 1980s and repelling
invasion forces who were threatening to overrun the DRC capital, Kinshasa in

The Air Force of Zimbabwe has two bases in Manyame (near Harare) and
Thornhill (Gweru) with personnel estimated at about 5 000 in 1999.
Currently, the Air Force has the Chengdu F-7 fighter jet, British-made
Hawker Hunters and recently demonstrated newly-acquired Russian-made MiG-23
jets and Mi-35 helicopter gunships, armed for attacking targets on the
ground, especially with automatic gunfire, but often also with rockets
and/or missiles.

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The Herald

Zanu-PF, Government to tour provinces to assess land reform

Herald Reporter
A RULING Zanu-PF party senior official and Government ministers will soon
visit the country's provinces to assess the progress made in the land reform

Zanu-PF secretary for land redistribution and rural settlement Cde Enos
Chikowore will go on the tour with Cabinet ministers responsible for

The visits were recommended at a one-day meeting on land redistribution and
rural resettlement which was organised by the ruling party yesterday.

According to Zanu-PF deputy secretary for land redistribution and rural
resettlement Cde Ignatius Chombo, the delegation's brief, apart from
assessing progress, would be to hear grievances from the district and
provincial taskforces and address them.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa said it was
important for the provincial governors to convene meetings in their
provinces to have a common position, which they would then present to the

Zanu-PF national chairman and Minister of Special Affairs Responsible for
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Cde John Nkomo, in his keynote address
to the meeting, said emphasis should now be on making use of the land as
resettlement was almost over.

He said all provincial governors should ensure that all the land allocated
is put to productive use and that where there was no production, they should
map out land use strategies which they would then recommend to persons who
wish to take up those respective pieces of land.

Cde Nkomo said his ministry was working towards eradicating multiple
ownership of land through the introduction of a national identity number and
serial number-based database system, which would automatically pick out
multiple owners of land.

"All the information would be put into computers, which would automatically
pick out where you were allocated land; and if you have one or more farms,
then we will easily pick this out," he said.

Cde Nkomo said chiefs would also be required to keep registers of people in
their areas and the type of activities that they are undertaking.

He also called on district and provincial land identification teams to
co-operate as a way of reducing confusion in the land redistribution

Considerations to send out offers for land, Cde Nkomo said, should be
handled at provincial level, which in turn would recommend to the national
taskforce to send out the offer letters.

He reiterated that the all acquired land was State land and that all the
people given leases could only sell improvements that they would have made
on the farms they were allocated if they decide to give up their offers.

With regard to using the farms as collateral, he said this was only possible
if the farmers acquired permission from the lessor, the Government.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cde Joseph Made, who presented a
report on progress on land redistribution, said his ministry was making
concerted efforts to ensure the availability of equipment to farmers and
boost livestock production.

He said his ministry had come up with schemes that were aimed at providing
farmers with tractors through easy payment plans.

He said at least 35 000 tractors of different models were needed to
sufficiently cover the needs of both Model A1 and A2 farmers.

He said in preparation for the coming season, his ministry was sourcing
diesel for District Development Fund tractors as well as assisting the
department acquire more tractors which would provide tillage services to new

Dr Made said tractors being acquired by the Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority would be used to develop projects such as Nuanetsi,
Chisumbanje, Muzarabani and Jotsholo, which were being undertaken by Arda.

He said his ministry was aiming at developing and rehabilitating 100 000
hectares of irrigation this year and a further 155 000 hectares next year
and 822 000 more hectares within the next 10 years.

He said efforts were also being made to ensure that services being offered
by departments within the ministry, such as agricultural research, economic
and marketing, agricultural engineering, livestock production and
development, and veterinary services, are available at ward and district
levels in addition to those already being offered at provincial level.

Cde Chombo, who is the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, spoke on infrastructural development in resettlement areas
and said his ministry had commissioned a study into the needs of the
resettled people.

He said the recommendations of the study were being directed to the relevant
ministries for implementation. Council of Chiefs president Chief Jonathan
Mangwende, the chairperson of the Zanu-PF Women's League Cde Thenjiwe
Lesabe, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association chairman Cde
Jabulani Sibanda and Zanu-PF National Youth League chairman Cde Absolom
Sikhosana all hailed the progress made in the land resettlement programme.
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The Herald

UK not co-operating with Zimbabwe on fugitives - Mutasa

Herald Reporter
The British government is not co-operating with Zimbabwe over the
extradition of businesspeople and other individuals who have sought
sanctuary in that country after committing economic crimes in Zimbabwe, the
Minister of Special Affairs for the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies
Programme, Cde Didymus Mutasa, said yesterday.

Zimbabwean authorities have repeatedly asked the British government to
return the fugitives for trial, but there has been no response from the

"Although we are no longer members of the Commonwealth, we expected the
British authorities to co-operate and respond in time to our requests to
have the individuals sent home to face trial," said Cde Mutasa.

He said South Africa was co-operating with Zimbabwe in extraditing fugitives
who were in that country, on the run from justice at home.

Cde Mutasa said despite the setbacks, the Government hoped that one day the
fugitives would be extradited.

He said the anti-corruption drive was a national programme that should
involve every Zimbabwean and all sectors to put the economy back on a sound

"Every person is a policeman for the anti-corruption fight and we expect
maximum co-operation," he said.

Parliament last week passed the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill that will
establish a high-profile body to spearhead the battle and provide mechanisms
to investigate graft at all levels of society.

It will be tasked with promoting investigation of serious cases of
corruption and promoting awareness among the public of such acts and their
effects on society.

The Bill now awaits President Mugabe's assent before it becomes law.

The long arm of the law has stretched to net senior politicians and other
high-ranking Government officials over corruption allegations.

Prominent businessman and Zanu-PF Central Committee member James Makamba,
Indigenous Business Women's Organisation president Jane Mutasa and Finance
and Economic Development Minister Chris Kuruneri have been caught in the

Several bankers, who include Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Nicholas
Vingirayi and other top business executives have fled the country, mostly to
Britain, to escape arrest after their alleged corrupt practices were

Following a request by Zimbabwean police, businessman and empowerment
lobbyist Mutumwa Mawere was last month arrested in South Africa, where he is
based, for allegedly externalising hundreds of millions in foreign currency.
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From SW Radio Africa, 21 June

Buffalo kills five in Binga

Villagers in the Binga area of Matabeleland North are reported to be very
angry with Zanu PF over the deaths of five people who were attacked by a
buffalo but failed to receive any medical treatment because they support the
MDC. The incident allegedly took place at the end of May, and is only now
being investigated. Witnesses say the buffalo wounded itself while attacking
a woman near her house in Siyabuwa at 7:00 in the morning. Going mad from
the pain, it then attacked 4 others in separate incidents. They all lost a
lot of blood while waiting for an ambulance which finally arrived around
5:00 in the evening. Villagers say a Zanu PF councillor in Siyabuwa, where
the incident occurred, said the buffalo was more valuable than the traitors
who voted for the opposition. For this reason, it is widely believed that
the ambulance was delayed on purpose, and that vehicles from the National
Parks Services also failed to turn up because they were ordered not to
respond. Villagers also believe the roads have not been developed because
they voted for the MDC. Binga residents no longer want to see Zanu PF
campaign in their constituency.
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Mail and Guardian

War fears as DRC rushes in troops

22 June 2004 07:53

Fears of another war in central Africa grew on Monday as the Democratic
Republic of Congo sent thousands of troops to its eastern frontier in a move
branded hostile by Rwanda.

Up to 10 000 government soldiers have been flown east in a rapid build-up of
force which reflects renewed tension between two neighbours, who supposedly
buried the hatchet last year.

Officials in the DRC's capital, Kinshasa, said the deployment was an effort
to secure a volatile region, rather than a warning to its old foe. "Congo is
not going to attack Rwanda," the foreign minister, Antoine Ghonda, told the
Associated Press news agency.

But the thousands of refugees swarming across the border into Burundi
betrayed the widespread belief that the skirmishing between Congolese
factions was the prelude to a wider conflict.

Kigali said Kinshasa seemed to be planning an invasion. "From this side of
the border it is a hostile action," an army spokesperson said. "We look at
it in the historical context of the region." The foreign minister, Charles
Muligande, added: "Certainly we would not sit back and watch those

The DRC is the size of western Europe, but in fact it is tiny Rwanda which
has done the invading, in 1996 and 1998, to hunt Hutu extremists implicated
in the 1994 genocide.

The second invasion triggered a five-year war that sucked in six countries
and killed more than three-million people. It ended in a South
African-brokered peace deal which is now in danger of crumbling.

Offers of military aid to the DRC by Angola and Tanzania, and hints from
Uganda and Zimbabwe that they would intervene if war resumed, dismayed
western diplomats.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa on Monday warned about the prospect of
a "potentially catastrophic war".

The United States secretary of state, Colin Powell, has dispatched diplomats
to the region to follow up his pleas for restraint to the DRC's President
Joseph Kabila and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

Under the peace deal, Kabila has shared power with former rebels in an
unwieldy unity government tasked with rebuilding a shattered country and
incorporating former foes into a single army before elections next year. The
current crisis started this month when former rebel commanders who were
supposed to be part of the new army reverted to type by seizing an eastern
city, Bukavu, on the pretext of protecting Congolese Tutsis from "ethnic

Kinshasa's forces retook Bukavu a week later, but the attack infuriated
President Kabila. He said the renegades were backed by their former
paymaster, Rwanda, which was accused of slipping units back across the

The flare-up damaged the credibility of the 10 000-strong UN peacekeeping
force, exposing it as overstretched and unpopular with Kinshasa loyalists.
The renegades, numbering several thousand men, have not openly renounced the
peace deal but continue to destabilise the south and north Kivu provinces.

UN helicopter gunships attacked renegade troops north of Bukavu at the
weekend. "It was Mutebutsi's fighters who fired, and we responded with 14
rockets to discourage them," a UN spokesperson said. Colonel Jules Mutebutsi
was the renegade commander who seized Bukavu.

Another UN spokesperson, Sebastian Lapiere, said the Congolese government's
troop deployments were not exactly on the border and appeared to be an
attempt to restore order. "This is happening following an internal security
problem; this is not necessarily related to Rwanda," he said. - Guardian
Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
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