Afrique : histoire, economie, politique

1998-2001
Ce qui s'est passé en 98-99
CE QUI S'EST PASSE EN 98

Février 98 :

President Nelson Mandela will
open parliament on Friday with what an aide says will be a
candid review of progress and weaknesses during South Africa's
first four years of democracy.
     ``The president's speech will be a review of progress made,
but also identifying areas in which there are weaknesses -
perhaps, this year, more candid,'' presidential adviser Joel
Netshitenzhe told Reuters.
     The opposition National Party (NP) has already come out
fighting, saying Mandela's opening speech will be the most
important since the country's first all-race elections in 1994.
     ``The presidential address will have to provide proof the
present government has solutions, plans and the will to execute
these plans in the areas of the economy, education and crime,''
NP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk told a news conference.
     Mandela will challenge the popular perception his government
is failing to deliver on many of its 1994 election promises. His
ministers are certainly busy, preparing more than 180 bills for
debate before parliament adjourns on September 23.
     Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, expected to take over from
Mandela at general elections due some time between March and May
next year, is in effect already running the country.
     Political analysts say the ANC is unlikely to fall below 50
percent of the vote next year, and they expect Mbeki to try to
boost the party's 62 percent vote in 1994 and win the two-thirds
majority necessary to amend the constitution.
     ``It's a pity that not enough time will be spent on these
important and controversial bills,'' Michael Schoenteich,
parliamentary affairs manager of the Institute of Race
Relations, told Reuters.
     Schoenteich said there was a danger more controversial
legislation would be pushed through at the end of the session
when attention was turning to the election.
     ``Towards the latter half of the year..the MPs will find the
temptation too great to use parliament as a platform for
electioneering,'' he said.
     The first month of the new session will be taken up with
unfinished legislation from last year. Attention will then shift
to the budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister
Trevor Manuel on March 11 and debated two weeks later.
     The finance committee will debate and possibly amend the
crucial Money Bills Amendment Bill, which could allow parliament
more say in the budget making process.
     Commentators said one of the most important and probably
most controversial pieces of legislation would be the Employment
Equity Bill designed to remove workplace discrimination
entrenched by the previous apartheid regime.
     ``It would be very foolish if legislation like this with
such negative consequences for job creation was just
steam-rollered through,'' said independent political analyst
David Welsh.
     Schoenteich agreed: ``Our concern is that the state will
dictate to private employers what to do and will discourage
employers from hiring more people. It distracts from the
colour-blind ideal of a non-racial society,'' he said.
     Welsh said unemployment, which some estimates put at a third
of the working population, would top the agenda this year, with
a delayed Presidential jobs summit now due in the coming months.
     Job creation would be one of the major election issues,
Welsh said, along with soaring crime levels and the delivery of
government services.
     Other contentious legislation due for debate includes the
Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Bill, controlling
South African mercenaries abroad and the Prevention of Unlawful
Occupation of Land Bill, regulating squatting.
     The Open Democracy Bill should make government more
transparent and the Correctional Services Bill aims to change
parole policies and set a minimum time in jail for offenders.

Février 98

President Nelson Mandela
Friday set tough economic and social targets for South Africa
ahead of elections next year that will close the first phase of
transition from apartheid to democracy.
     He said the government would remain committed to the tough
fiscal targets of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's growth and
reconstruction program and urged the public to adopt a new
morality against crime and self-enrichment.
     ``This is our call to all South Africans -- to firm up the
moral fibre of the nation,'' he said.
     Mandela also announced plans to trim the public service
which, in spite of early promises to cut the state wage bill,
has increased by about 10 percent under democracy to 1.2 million
in the national and provincial administrations.
     Manuel said later an announcement of targets for job cuts
would undermine negotiations with the public sector unions.
     ``What is clear is the fact that the president this morning
said there is no room for equivocation,'' the finance minister
said. ``We've got our battle orders to get this thing in line.''
     Bond and foreign exchange markets largely ignored Mandela's
remarks, with analysts saying they were ``nothing new,'' while
opposition critics said the speech was just rhetoric.
     Tony Leon, leader of the business-oriented Democratic Party,
labeled the speech unsatisfactory and unconvincing.
     ``The president announced no new measures to speed up
privatization, reduce taxation or get rid of restrictive labor
legislation. These are all essential ingredients of our future
economic growth,'' Leon said.
     ``The speech was disappointing -- propagandistic rhetoric
with an eye to the election,'' said rightist Freedom Front
leader Constand Viljoen.
     Mandela, who turns 80 in July, plans to retire when black
and white South Africans vote together for only the second time
between March and May next year.
     Officials said his deputy and heir apparent, Thabo Mbeki,
was deeply involved in writing Friday's speech, which showed no
relaxation of the commitment to fiscal discipline that has been
a trademark of Mandela's administration.
     Mandela reiterated his government's commitment to reducing
the budget deficit from five percent of gross domestic product
in fiscal 1996/97 to three percent by the turn of the century.
     ``We cannot pretend that the deficit targets we have set
ourselves do not test our capacity and will. But we cannot
divert from the course we have chosen. There is no other route
to sustainable development,'' he said.
     He said South Africa would continue to privatize some state
assets and to eliminate remaining foreign exchange controls,
which currently affect residents but not foreign investors.
     But he said privatization would never become an ideology.
     ``We shall privatize where necessary, but we shall also set
up new state enterprises where market imperfections and failures
play themselves out to undermine social programs.''
     Underlining the need to cut the state's labor force, he
warned, ``We cannot use the proceeds of privatization to fund
salaries and other consumption expenditure. Put in simple terms,
we need to cut spending on personnel.''
     Congress of South African Trade Unions leader Sam Shilowa
told Reuters afterward his federation, the most powerful labor
body in the country, would not automatically fight Mandela's
plans.
     ``We don't believe this is a declaration of war on us... He
has raised issues that need to be looked at,'' Shilowa said.
     Mandela said the government would encourage investment and
promote private sector job creation to reverse the rising tide
of unemployment, estimated by many analysts at more than 30
percent.
     ``Jobs, jobs and jobs is the clarion call that should guide
us...We must launch joint efforts toward an economy that creates
jobs; toward a society that cares by helping the unfortunate in
its ranks to help themselves,'' he said.
     Mandela claimed a series of successes for his four-year-old
government, which took power after a landslide win for his
African National Congress in the first democratic elections in
1994.
     ``Those who bore the brunt of apartheid oppression say that
things are a lot better. But they also say -- and are justified
to say so -- that what has been done is not enough.''
     He said electricity, telephones and clean water, as well as
improved education and better health care, had been delivered to
millions of blacks held back under centuries of white rule.
     But he said the ANC's election promise to build one million
new houses during the first five years of democracy was
unattainable.
     ``On the issue of housing in particular, it is necessary to
go back to basics,'' he said.
     Officials said Mandela would open parliament for the last
time next year, when legislators gather briefly to enact a
pre-election budget.

Février 98 :

White-minority rule is gone for good across southern Africa, but whites still own and
farm huge swathes of the best land while poor blacks scramble to
make ends meet on dry, infertile patches.
     Promises to redistribute land win votes across the region.
But simply grabbing land from whites and handing it over to
black peasants without giving them proper financial and
technical support is a recipe for disaster, experts say.
     Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe recently stunned
international aid donors with plans to hand 1,500 mainly
white-owned farms over to blacks, paying only for buildings and
improvements to the land.
     Namibian President Sam Nujoma has also bowed to pressure
from his ruling Swapo party and trade unions to speed up land
reforms, promising that land needed for redistribution will be
acquired by 2000. Union leaders want him to allow for the
expropriation of land without compensation.
     South Africa has taken a more gradual, legalistic approach,
which some commentators say is moving too slowly. A recent spate
of apparently politically motivated murders of white farmers
hint at the dangers of delay.

     SENSIBLE LAND REFORM CAN BENEFIT EVERYBODY
     Although white farmers and business might squirm at the
prospect of handing over land, economists and land tenure
specialists say redistribution can help boost yields and growth
as well as achieving equity goals.
     Pedro Olinto, a World Bank land tenure expert, told a Cape
Town conference on land reform the bank believed ``secure
property rights are a condition for a thriving economy. ...
Countries with more equal land distribution grow faster.''
     Bill Kinsey, an economist at Amsterdam's Free University,
said his studies showed Zimbabwe's initial land reform, launched
after independence in 1980 with a specific poverty focus, had
been highly successful.
     ``Small farmers pick every insect off the plant by hand.
They know every square of land. As individual attention declines
the yield per unit declines, all other things being equal,''
Kinsey said.
     But he said Zimbabwe abandoned its progressive approach
because benefits were not immediately visible and switched to a
program of redistribution to the political elite. ``Now the
focus is just the racial transfer of property. ... The
government is in trouble and they're just trying to bolster
support,'' he said.

     RADICAL LAND REFORMS COULD HURT THE POOR
     International donors have said Mugabe's latest plan could
cripple Zimbabwe's agriculture-dependent economy and harm the
black peasants it is supposed to help. They say successful
resettlement needs lots of capital to help new owners buy
equipment, seeds and fertilizer -- funds Mugabe's cash-strapped
government is in no position to offer.
     But Mugabe may be forced to adopt a more gentle approach as
foreign funders such as the International Monetary Fund and the
European Union apply pressure before releasing loans.
     Namibia, where a tiny white minority owns 45 percent of the
land, also has ambitious plans to redress the imbalances of the
past. But the government has bought only 30 of 6,000 commercial
farms since independence in 1989.
     ``Namibia said its priority was to get land to the poor. But
in practice what has happened has been very small-scale and
top-down,'' said Rob Blackie, an environmental economist working
for the Namibian government.
     Blackie says Namibia's fragile semi-arid land is very
vulnerable to erosion and most of the areas owned by white
farmers are probably the driest in the country, while the ruling
elite owns the most fertile land already.

Land ownership is still a highly emotional issue in South
Africa, where whites make up about 13 percent of the population
and hold more than 70 percent of the land. The former apartheid
regime kicked thousands of blacks out of areas declared
white-only and barred black citizens from buying land.
     But the reform program directed by Land Affairs Minister
Derek Hanekom has so far succeeded in stopping blacks from
marching onto white farms to claim the land for themselves.
     The scheme is based on the three pillars of land tenure
reform, redistribution and restitution of land grabbed from
blacks after the Land Act of 1913, which made it illegal for
blacks to buy or rent land outside reserves.
     Hanekom says around 23,100 claims for restitution have
already been lodged and these would be judged by a land claims
court. His department aims to settle claims by obtaining land at
market prices from willing sellers.
     South Africa had negotiated the handover of more than 1.25
million acres of mostly private land to blacks by last December.
But the process is painfully slow.
     ``There is a lot of muttering that it is going too slowly,''
Catherine Cross, rural sociologist at the University of Natal,
told Reuters. ``Delivery needs to speed up quite a bit in order
to relieve serious overcrowding.''
     Cross said South Africa had focused more on the legal
protection of rights and less on supporting new owners and using
land reform as a tool to combat poverty. ``The process has been
driven by lawyers, not economists,'' she said.

Février 98 :

A witness at the trial of hard-line former South African president P.W. Botha Thursday
presented a government enemies list of anti-apartheid activists
targeted by Botha's powerful State Security Council.
     The witness, reading from state documents, said the Council
called for the ``identification and elimination of revolutionary
leaders and particularly those with charisma'' and said another
document ordered the ``physical destruction'' of
revolutionaries, including people inside and outside South
Africa.
     Botha, 82, faces contempt charges for ignoring a subpoena to
appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to
answer regarding the Council -- an inner cabinet that directed
security force operations in the 1980s.
     Botha, the once-feared ``Great Crocodile'' who ruled the
country until 1989, has denounced the truth commission as a
``circus.''
     Following the testimony of Paul van Zyl, the commission's
executive secretary, the trial was postponed until June 1
against the wishes of Botha, whose lawyer told the court that
the delay was ``totally unacceptable because it will result in
untested allegations being sent out into the world.''
     Botha was overheard telling his legal team that he thought
the case should proceed. ``This case was set down for four days.
Come, let's go on,'' Botha said.
     The enemies list of people seen as a risk to Botha's
minority government included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the
ex-wife of President Nelson Mandela, and Nobel peace laureate
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, now chairman of the truth commission.
     As he explained why the TRC wanted to question Botha, van
Zyl produced the list, drawn up in 1986 by Botha's State
Security Council at the height of black resistance. He said it
used disinformation campaigns, surveillance and detention of
leading activists.
     The list singled out for ``intensive investigation'' people
like Arthur Chaskalson, now the chief judge of the
Constitutional Court, top advocate Sydney Kentridge and Nelson
Mandela's lawyer George Bizos.
     Justice Minister Dullah Omar, then a human rights lawyer,
was targeted for ``investigation with a view to be detained.''
     Botha, who looked frail and walked with a limp on the second
day of the trial, was ousted by reformist president F.W. de
Klerk, who initiated reforms that led to black voting in 1994.
     At the height of Botha's rule up to 30,000 black opponents
were jailed without charge and, according to human rights
groups, more than 20,000 people were killed in political
violence.
     If convicted, Botha faces a fine of $4,000 or a two-year
prison term. Tutu has said he would not press for a jail term
given Botha's age, poor health and his status as a former
president.

Février 98 :

President Nelson Mandela said Tuesday
that cracks were appearing in South Africa's post-apartheid
sense of identity, but these must not undermine the achievements
of the past four years.
            In a speech to parliament, Mandela referred to a discredited
military report of a left-wing coup plot against him, a row over
the government's failed efforts to appoint a judicial commission
to investigate the white-dominated sport of rugby, and growing
racial tension in schools and on farms.
            ``I dwell on these matters not only for their own
importance. They are also related to what is widely acknowledged
to be a certain weakening in the sense of a common national
identity that we have been building since we began our
negotiated transition,'' he said.
            ``It is only too easy to stir up the baser feelings that
exist in any society, feelings that are enhanced in a society
with a history such as ours,'' he told the parliament.
            ``Worse still, it is only too easy to do this in a way that
undermines our achievements in building national unity and
enhancing the legitimacy of our democratic institutions,'' he
said.
            The 79-year-old president, in his last year in office,
referred to the ridiculed intelligence report that gave warning
of a planned coup in the run-up to next year's elections and led
the chief of the national defense force to resign.
            ``The report was without substance and inherently
fantastic,'' he said. ``No serious attempt was made to keep the
alleged plotters under surveillance and no attempts were made to
properly authenticate the report.''
            Mandela was handed the report February 5 directly by South
African National Defense Force chief General Georg Meiring, who
went over the heads of his political masters and bypassed usual
channels in doing so.
            Parts of the report were leaked to the press in March,
forcing the matter to the top of the government's agenda and
spawning a rash of conspiracy theories involving left- and
right-wing extremists.
            He also cited the high-profile dispute between the
government and the governing body of rugby, which is followed
like a national religion among whites.
            The row over the way the South African Rugby Football Union
(SARFU) conducts affairs, a dispute essentially over the
continued white dominance in the sport, has dragged Mandela into
court and provoked calls for the SARFU executive to quit.
            ``What does give cause for deep concern...is how a sport
which only three years ago became a worldwide symbol for our
small miracle has once again become an icon of conflict,
division and resistance to change,'' said Mandela, who in 1995
donned a Springbok jersey to demonstrate national unity as South
Africa won the Rugby World Cup.
            The president also spoke of the possibility of the ``old
fault-lines of our society'' cracking open again.
            The racial divide has been shown by the outpouring of grief
over the killing a six-month-old black baby by a white farmer
last week.
            The shooting, on a smallholding outside Johannesburg,
prompted condemnation by Mandela and led to the white farmer's
opting to stay in jail rather than risk his life by applying for
bail.
            While white leaders have also condemned the shooting, many
have questioned why Mandela chose to comfort the family of the
dead black infant while ignoring the families of white farmers
killed by black intruders.
            On the same weekend the child was killed, black robbers beat
up and stuffed a cloth soaked in fertilizer into the mouth of an
81-year-old white farmer, resulting in his choking to death.

Février 98 :

South African President
Nelson Mandela said Wednesday much had been achieved since the
end of apartheid, but not enough to end crippling poverty and
joblessness among the majority black population.
     ``We have only started along that road. We are proud of the
achievements we have made. But the poverty that continues to
stalk millions; the problems of education, housing, health,
landlessness and lack of jobs continue to afflict the majority
of our citizens,'' Mandela told parliament at the end of the
president's budget debate.
     Mandela thanked legislators for the praise they gave him in
the debate, but stressed the achievements since the country's
first all-race elections in 1994 were due to efforts by
everyone.
     ``All these are reminders that the mission of meaningful
freedom, democracy and human rights is yet to be fulfilled,'' he
said in what is likely to be his last budget vote before he
hands the presidency to his deputy Thabo Mbeki next year.
     ``The journey to that goal is one that involves all of us.
No one can stand aloof. In simple terms, none of us can ever be
secure if the bulk of society is indigent and insecure. The
challenge we face is whether we ride the tide of history
or...seek to stem it,'' Mandela added.
     In particular, he noted that most of the privileged rich
were still white, while the vast majority of the deprived were
black.
     He called on all parliamentarians, whatever their political
affiliation, to work for the good of the country rather than
scaremongering or scoring points in the period before next
year's national elections.
     Mandela stressed his ruling African National Congress (ANC)
was firmly committed to the constitution despite suggestions by
some opposition members that it might try to change it, if the
ANC won more than two-thirds of the seats in the elections.

Février 98 :

South African President Nelson
Mandela, ending a visit to Angola Thursday, outlined his vision
of a southern Africa reunited by trade routes that Cold War
conflicts and apartheid tore apart.
     He thanked Angola's government for its support during South
Africa's long anti-apartheid struggle and told a news conference
before flying home from Luanda that ties were better than ever.
     ``Our relations, which have always been good, have improved
100 times and that is absolutely necessary because Angola
occupies a unique position in this region,'' he said.
     Mandela earlier laid a wreath at an unmarked grave of fallen
guerrillas from his African National Congress, who were given
training and shelter by Angola's formerly Marxist government.
     Angolan officials have said privately that they were
disappointed Mandela, visiting for the first time in his four
years as president, had not come earlier to pay tribute to the
backing he got from President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
     Mandela aides said he had waited until the political climate
in Angola, finding its way out of two decades of civil war,
seemed right.
     Dos Santos' ruling MPLA signed a peace accord in 1994 with
its rival, the Western-backed UNITA under Jonas Savimbi.
     UNITA delegates now serve in a unity government but Savimbi
still refuses to come to the capital from his rural stronghold,
saying he fears for his life.
     Mandela gave a clear message that his patience with Savimbi
was waning. ``I am convinced that the government has taken very
positive steps to show their commitment to peace and I do hope
that UNITA would appreciate the gestures they have made,'' he
said.
     Official sources in Angola told Reuters Mandela had not been
in contact with Savimbi since U.N. sanctions were imposed on
UNITA in October but said his deputy Thabo Mbeki had urged
Savimbi to participate in the peacetime government.
     Mandela said he was satisfied the MPLA had done enough to
accommodate Savimbi's demands for him to travel to Luanda,
including a personal security force of 400 men.
     ``My impression is that the MPLA as well as the government
has made very serious efforts to show their commitment to peace.
Unless we get him (Savimbi) to participate fully in this process
there will always be problems,'' he said.
     Urging cooperation to ensure lasting peace, he added: ``The
masses of people want to get on with their lives.''
     Mandela said South Africa was interested in investing more
to rebuild the economy of Angola, which is rich in oil and
diamonds, after 20 years of civil war.
     He said he and dos Santos discussed South Africa's hopes of
helping to develop three main economic corridors involving the
port of Lobito, the southern province of Namib and Malange in
central Angola.
     ``One of the aspects in which we as South Africans are
interested in, apart from the oil industry, is to participate in
the development around Lobito, Namib and Malange,'' he said.
     ``Although a country in Europe won a tender for the Lobito
corridor we in South Africa are just next door and to deal with
us means that the operation could be cost effective.''
     Mandela said he was happy with dos Santos' response but gave
no further details.

Février 98 :

President Nelson Mandela  Friday
said job creation was the new struggle for South Africans,
urging workers to help cement the country's hard-won political
freedom with economic growth.
     Mandela, fresh from a state visit to neighboring Angola
where he outlined his vision of a southern Africa reunited by
trade after being torn apart by Cold War conflicts and white
rule, addressed a May Day rally in the mining town of Kimberley.
     Donning a miner's hat in a crowd-pleasing gesture, he said
job creation was one of the most urgent and critical challenges
facing post-apartheid South Africa.
     ``We have turned our country from years of stagnation to
sustained growth. But not enough new jobs are being created,''
Mandela said.
     ``Workers and trade unions are at the economic heart of our
country... Without your participation, our efforts to become
more productive and competitive will not succeed.''
     Since taking power in 1994 Mandela's once socialist African
National Congress (ANC) has adopted tight fiscal policies and a
market-friendly approach that it said would create 400,000 jobs
by the turn of the century.
     In fact, jobs are still being lost rather than created and
trade unions have warned that employment is at its lowest level
in 16 years.
     South Africa estimates that only a third of the labor force
has formal work.
     To address the crisis, Mandela's government has agreed to
hold a job summit later this year with both business and labor.
     Business has criticized the swathe of new labor-friendly
laws introduced by the government as detrimental to economic
growth, but Friday Mandela again refused to back down.
     He pledged the ANC's loyalty to the Congress of South
African Trade Unions, its alliance partner and the country's
largest labor federation.
     He also praised a contentious law planned by his government
-- the Employment Equity Bill, which advocates a form of quotas
to promote blacks within the workplace.

Mai 98 :

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) announced Wednesday the first
decision on reparations to some of the thousands of victims of
gross human rights violations under apartheid.
     After more than two years of painstaking research, public
hearings with more than 2,500 people and statements from over
20,000, the TRC said it had written to a first batch of 700
people telling them they could claim for damages.
     ``We have told the people they can claim. For now it will
only be interim reparations up to a maximum of about 2,000 rand
($400),'' John Allen, spokesman for Commission chairman
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, told Reuters.
     ``The final level of reparations will have to wait until we
have made our final report, the government has read it and
parliament has decided,'' he added.
     Commission officials have to field almost every day
inquiries from frustrated people asking for their money.
     Allen said recently officials understood the frustration,
but the Commission had to make all possible verification checks
of each claim.
     Set up to lay bare some of the violent acts committed during
more than 40 years of apartheid rule as part of the process of
national reconciliation, the Commission said it had made
findings on over half the statements it had received.
     More than 90 percent of these had been found to have
suffered gross violations of their human rights.
     The Commission is in the throes of writing its final report
which is due to be handed to President Nelson Mandela by the end
of July.
     Allen said it was impossible to tell if the decision on the
criteria for judging the final level of reparations would be
made before parliament was dissolved for elections next year.
     In the meantime, the Commission said it aimed to send out
its findings to more than 2,000 victims a week, accompanied by
reparation application forms.

Mai 98 :

Economic growth in Africa should average 5.0 percent in 1998, up from 3.7 percent in 1997 when
low commodity prices, El Nino and civil strife combined to
disappoint forecasts, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said.
     The impact of Asia's economic crisis could depress the
prices of certain African commodities further in 1998 and reduce
demand from Europe and North America, the bank added in its
annual development report published on Thursday.
     However, the commitment of African governments to economic
reform and efforts to reduce conflict should sustain growth,
said the AfDB noting the positive trend since the mid-1990s.
     ``Over the last three years, four-fifths of African
countries have achieved positive economic growth, in stark
contrast to the situation at the beginning of the decade when a
third of them experienced economic decline,'' it said.
     The average gross domestic product growth rate in 1997 was
brought down by low or negative rates in some big African
states. The AfDB had forecast 4.4 percent in its 1997 report.
     Morocco's economy, for example, shrank by 1.1 percent after
growth of 11.8 percent in 1996, adverse weather conditions
ruling out a repeat of the impressive performance in agriculture
in 1996, when cereal production grew fivefold, it said.
     Civil war in the former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, meant its gross domestic product contracted by an
estimated 5.0 percent after years of stagnation.
     There was also negative growth of 16.7 percent in
neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville, with the effects of its own
civil war compounded by a fall in oil prices, which also
depressed growth in Nigeria and Libya.
     Growing investment in Angola following the restoration of
growth, particularly in oil, helped its economy grow by 8.0
percent in 1997, the AfDB said.
     Tiny Equatorial Guinea has also struck oil, with the result
that its economy grew by a phenomenal 98.7 percent in 1997.
     Inflation is coming down across the continent, averaging
17.6 percent in 1997 versus 24.4 percent in 1996.
     The figure was exaggerated by hyper-inflation in countries
like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, where
prices rose 445 and 1,500 percent respectively. For that reason,
the AfDB highlighted the median inflation rate of 7.0 percent.
     Restrictive fiscal policies played a part in the inflation
success, at the same time reducing budget deficits to what the
AfDB called a historic low of 1.9 percent of GDP in 1997.
     The flip-side is that public sector investment has fallen
and foreign investment, though rising, is inadequate to generate
growth rates of 10 percent or more needed to make a dent in
poverty in Africa.
     Foreign direct investment in Africa totalled $5.5 billion in
1996, just 1.5 percent of total world flows.
     Nigeria alone took in a third of that. Egypt, Morocco,
Tunisia, South Africa, Angola, Ghana and Ivory Coast accounted
for another third.
     The AfDB is working with other creditors like the World Bank
to bring Third World debt down to sustainable levels, freeing up
resources to invest at home to reduce poverty.
     In the long term, a skilled workforce is just as important,
the AfDB said.
     ``The recent improvements in economic growth will only be
sustainable if there are, among other factors, competent people
with knowledge and skills to capitalise on new employment
opportunities,'' it said, making human capital development --
broadly, education and health -- the focus of the 1998 report.

Juin 98 :

Black South Africans must not abuse
the power they won in their triumph over apartheid, President
Nelson Mandela's heir-apparent, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki,
said Wednesday.
     ``As much as we were our own liberators, so are we all the
architects of our destiny,'' Mbeki told parliament.
     ``The time has come to call and impose a halt to the abuse
of freedom in the name of an entitlement said to arise from our
having been the victims of apartheid, especially by those
elements among the black elite which have a voice,'' he said.
     The deputy president cited the example of black students who
burnt down university offices because the administration would
not give them $100,000 for a student party.
     Mbeki, who is set to succeed Mandela in elections next year,
said some members of the new black elite wanted to satisfy
seemingly insatiable greed.
     The deputy president dedicated most of his speaking time in
a debate on the budget of his office to discussing reactions to
a keynote speech he delivered last Friday in a special
parliament session on reconciliation and national unity.
     ``Let none of us pretend that the debate about change will
be capable of being handled in the manner of a cozy chat around
a bountiful dinner table,'' he said. ``It will be rough and
painful and drive many of us to shout at one another, to curse
and use misunderstood and hurtful words.''
     Mbeki said last week that South Africa was still divided
into two nations of rich whites and poor blacks and warned of
mounting black anger if expectations were not met.

Juin 98 :

- Former South African President P.W. Botha, on trial for ignoring a Truth and Reconciliation Commission subpoena to testity on the activities of his apartheid gavernment, has expressed surprise that the chairman of the Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has asked him to publicly apologise for his government's policies.

Tutu made a personal plea to Botha to apologise for the ''deep pain and suffering'' his government's policies had caused, after Tutu had testified in the trial.

However, Botha's lawyer, Ernst Penzhorn, said the former president is resentful that Tutu has not taken the time to read Botha's 1,800-page submission to the commission.

''He will not reply at this stage and he regards it as a bit premature,'' Penzhorn said.

Martin Coetzee, executive secretary of the commission's amnesty committee, testified that of the 7,060 amnesty applications received by the commission, just 346 claimed to be members or former members of the security forces, compared to 702 people from African Natioal Congress structures who had applied for amnesty.

The state's case against Botha drew to a close Monday afternoon with Bruce Morrison, Western Cape deputy attorney-general, claiming Botha had no legal excuse for ignoring a subpoena or refusing to attend a hearing on the State Security Council, which he once chaired.

He said Botha's claim that he refused to appear before the commission because it was biased had backfired because he had agreed to appear before the commission for an investigation, rather than a full hearing.

''That alone explodes the endeavour to cloak his defence both with substance and principle,'' Morrison said.

Botha chose not to take the stand, but his advocate, Lappe Laubscher, claimed the subpoena issued against Botha was flawed and that the commission had acted in bad faith.

The case has been postponed to 17 August, when judgement will be given.

Juin 98 :

Lawyers defending
former South African president P.W. Botha against charges of
showing contempt towards the nation's truth commission abruptly
closed their case on Monday, meaning Botha will not have to
testify.
     Prosecutors earlier finished presenting evidence and
witnesses they hoped would show the commission had plenty of
reason to want to question Botha on how much his government knew
about apartheid-era murders and abuses.
     Botha, 82, has refused to appear in person before the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission, which has statutory powers.
     An irascible political leader once feared as the ``Great
Crocodile,'' he is on trial for flouting three subpoenas from
the truth commission to answer accusations that his government
sanctioned murders and other human rights abuses.
     If Botha is convicted of contempt, he faces a fine of up to
20,000 rand ($4,000).
     Botha has denied all involvement and has resolutely refused
to apologise for his government's actions, saying he never
sanctioned murder.
     He sat in a comfortable padded chair next to the wooden dock
in the heavily-guarded court, remaining impassive throughout the
hearing.
     ``We are also closing our case,'' his lawyer Lappe Laubscher
said. The defence has cross-examined and argued, but led no
evidence and called no witnesses. Closing arguments began.
     The trial, adjourned for a week, resumed on Monday with
evidence that 346 policemen and soldiers sought amnesty for
gross human rights abuses committed in defence of white rule.
     Martin Coetzee, of the amnesty panel of the truth commission
which is delving into crimes on both sides of the apartheid
divide, said the security force men had detailed 2,500 incidents
for which they needed indemnity but would not elaborate.
     The evidence was meant to counter Botha's argument that a
small clandestine group of security force members had murdered
and tortured on their own account to maintain white rule.
     Laubscher disputed previous evidence that human rights
abuses were widespread within the apartheid security forces.
     Even if the 346 policemen and troops seeking amnesty were
guilty, that would back up Botha's defence, he said, adding:
``It would be a minutely small percentage.''
     Botha ruled South Africa from 1978 to 1989 with an array of
harsh security laws aimed at suppressing black resistance.
     At the height of his rule, up to 30,000 mostly black
opponents were jailed without charge under emergency laws.
     Coetzee told the court in the small coastal town of George
-- cordoned off with razor wire and heavily policed for Botha's
trial -- that the commission had received 7,060 amnesty
applications in all, a tenth of them from African National
Congress members.
     Under cross-questioning from Botha's lawyers, he said he was
unable to cite any cases in which the last surviving apartheid
hardliner was directly implicated.
     However, Coetzee said a former commissioner of police
requesting amnesty for the death of a black activist had blamed
his actions on the general political climate engendered by
Botha's determination to crush all dissent.
     Numerous security forces members have blamed Botha's State
Security Council for their actions, saying they were acting on
orders to ``neutralise'' and ``eliminate'' enemies of white
rule.

Juin 98 :

South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been criticised for ruling
against an inquiry into alleged African National Congress
atrocities at its detention camps during the struggle against
apartheid.
    The camps were spread across Africa, including Angola,
Zambia, Botswana, Uganda and Tanzania. The ANC has admitted
executing at least 34 people in Angola alone during the 1980s.
It said some were mutineers, and others accused of being spies.
     TRC spokesman Mdu Lembede said on Monday the commission was
stymied by legal limitations, which precluded it from
guaranteeing indemnity from prosecution abroad for actions
committed outside of South Africa's borders.
     This is seen as meaning that the world will only hear a
restricted version of what went on in the camps during the
now-ruling ANC's long fight against apartheid rule.
     Relatives of victims interned in the camps -- who have
eagerly anticipated revelations before the truth commission on
the ANC's human rights record -- see this as justice denied.
     ``We are being treated like pieces of dirt,'' says Joe
Seremane, whose brother, Timothy, was executed by the ANC in a
camp for being an alleged apartheid spy.
     ``I am very angry at the way things are taking shape. No one
wants to say anything except behind closed doors,'' he said.
``Why can't these people just be decent?''
     Seremane, who was tortured and imprisoned by the apartheid
regime, has asked the commission for more information and urged
the ANC to tell all it knows of his brother's death.
     But the ANC says it has been transparent and has gone
further than any other political party before the TRC.
     ``Our submission to the TRC deals with the Seremane case.
The ANC made the most honest and open submission of all the
political parties,'' party spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa told
Reuters.
     ``We haven't said we don't want a public hearing. If the TRC
decided to hold one, we would want to cooperate fully.''
     ``There are incidents the TRC knows about but we cannot
force people to come forward for amnesty,'' commission spokesman
Mdu Lembede said.
     The TRC defends itself by saying it has heard from families
of the victims and has held a public hearing with the ANC at
which its leaders were questioned about the camps.
     At least one amnesty case involving human rights abuses at
an ANC camp will also be heard in public later this year.

Juillet 98 :

The political temperature in South Africa continued to rise on Friday as police reported
another death in the troubled KwaZulu-Natal province, where at
least 32 people have been killed in the past two weeks.
     Police spokesman Vish Naidoo said Bulelani Xolo, a prominent
member of the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), was gunned
down on Thursday in the Nkotaneni area of KwaZulu-Natal.
     Police, political parties and independent violence monitors
believe the killings could signal the start of a new round of
political violence in the province ahead of a general election
planned for May 1999.
     KwaZulu-Natal has a history of bloody turf battles, with
more than 14,000 people being killed in the 10 years preceding
the first all-race vote in April 1994.
     The latest violence comes hard on the heels of the deaths of
two senior officials of the ruling African National Congress
Party (ANC) the previous day, also in KwaZulu-Natal.
     In addition, 25 people have been gunned down in Richmond, a
picturesque town in KwaZulu-Natal.
     The Richmond violence has been blamed on tension between the
ANC and the United Democratic Movement (UDM), a new party led by
Bantu Holomisa, a former leading light in the ANC.
     The UDM denies causing the violence, saying the ANC is at
fault.
     ``It's sad that in the runup to elections one is observing a
situation where members from various parties, including the ANC,
are being killed,'' IFP spokesman Blessed Gwala told Reuters in
a telephone interview.
     He said the violence would top discussions at the party's
annual conference on Saturday in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa's
most violent province where more than 14,000 people were killed
in the decade before the historic 1994 elections in bloody
conflict between the IFP and its arch-rival the ANC.
     President Nelson Mandela's heir apparent, Thabo Mbeki, has
been invited and will attend the conference, a move which some
analysts said was significant and aimed at boosting peace moves
in the province.
     Gwala, however warned that the country's political leaders
should act instead of just talking to effectively tackle and
contain the fresh outbreak of violent confrontations, not only
in Richmond but also in other areas around the province.
     His views echoed those of political analysts and violence
monitors who said the Richmond killings could have sparked off
the slayings in other parts of the province.
     ``I think that's correct. There is a concerted strategy to
the Richmond killings. They are quite well-planned,'' said Jenni
Irish, co-ordinator for the Network of Independent Violence
Monitors.
     ``In part, the violence in Richmond is setting an example
for people in other areas to resort to violence and I think we
are going to see an increase in violence ahead of the
elections,'' she told Reuters.
     In Richmond on Friday, police reported a lull overnight in
the town, 500 kms (310 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, saying
they had made one of their first arrests in connection with an
attack on Wednesday night which left a 16-year-old youth dead.
     ``There were no incidents reported last night. Everything
seems quiet in the town. We have increased patrols in the town
and the reinforcements are helping,'' Captain Joshua Gwala said.
     The South African government began on Wednesday beefing up
security in the town by doubling the number of soliders to 240
and moving in an extra 240 policemen to bolster a force depleted
by the removal of some officers suspected of collusion in the
violence.
     Another four people were killed in a separate incident on
Friday morning, Naidoo added, but said police believed this was
related to inter-clan rivalry in the coastal province.
     ``These people were shot at point blank range. A three-month
old baby was also wounded,'' Naidoo.

Juillet 98 :

Archbishop Desmond
Tutu's investigation into the dark truths of South African
apartheid winds up this week with victims relieved that their
stories have at last been heard and many whites angered by the
guilt they are being asked to shoulder.
     The agonies of those who have heard for the first time the
cruel details of how their loved ones died have been matched by
the anguish of former rulers who feel they and their race have
been defamed by a biased panel created to crucify them.
     Opinion is deeply divided over whether the statutory Truth
and Reconciliation Commission has reconciled or further divided
a nation torn by decades of white domination.
     ``The Truth Commission has ended up with a more polarized
country. I and my people feel totally alienated from the new
South Africa,'' former apartheid defense chief Constand Viljoen,
leader of the Afrikaner Freedom Front, told Reuters.
     ``Reconciliation. That is where the Truth Commission has
failed,'' said Marthinus van Schalkwijk, leader of the National
Party, which imposed apartheid for 45 years. ``The people of
South Africa are now further apart than when the Truth
Commission started.''
     Tutu, the 1994 Nobel Peace prize winner who has been the
commission's chairman and moral conscience, firmly disagrees.
     ``I am thrilled in many ways at what has taken place. We
were asked to try and find the truth -- and we have discovered a
fair degree of that -- and to promote reconciliation,'' he said.
``The commission can make a contribution, and perhaps a
significant contribution, to reconciliation. But it is going to
be the work of every single South African.''

     EVIDENCE POINTS TO WHITE ATROCITIES
     Most of the evidence from the 2,500 people chosen from among
21,000 victims of gross human rights violations pointed to
atrocities committed by or on behalf of whites.
     The commission is empowered only to investigate and not to
prosecute. It can grant immunity from prosecution for
politically motivated offenses and can offer limited
compensation to victims.
     Veteran African National Congress activist and present
Transport Minister Mac Maharaj, once known as the most tortured
political prisoner, believes the process will lead to healing.
     ``I am of the strong view that reconciliation needs to be
understood as a process that will take a fair amount of time,
particularly in a society such as South Africa,'' he said.
``What is crucial to that process is that victim and perpetrator
need to reach out to each other in the context of
reconciliation.''
     Tony Leon, head of the Democratic Party, which is rapidly
developing into the main opposition party to the ANC, takes a
cautiously middle view.
     ``Everyone's prejudices have been exposed. The majority of
blacks are appalled and the majority of whites just want to
close the book as quickly as possible,'' he said. ``But it's
been eye-opening for those people in whose names these things
were done and who generally didn't know what was happening.''
     Public hearings into the activities of President Nelson
Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, admissions by a
former government minister that the security services bombed
church buildings and cinemas, and revelations of a dirty tricks
poisons program have by turns shocked and revolted people.

     COMMISSION CRITICIZED
     The main criticism of the commission is that it has been
heavily slanted against the former apartheid regime and its
supporters while turning a blind eye to murder and torture of
ANC dissidents in the liberation movement's guerrilla bases.
     ``In the initial stages there was a good relationship, but
the whole process as it developed was so biased against my
people that I was unable to go ahead,'' Viljoen said. ``It has
shown bias toward the former liberation forces and has been
detrimental to former state officials. Of the 17 commissioners,
15 are pro ANC,'' he added.
     Leon said final judgments should be based on the final
report, which will be handed to Mandela in October, adding:
``One of the most significant elements is how the actions of the
current government are going to be dealt with in the report,
because those are the people who are currently governing.''
     Once more Tutu leaps to the defense of his commission:
     ``Even before we started people said it was going to be a
witch hunt against the former government, Afrikaners, and biased
in favor of the ANC. All the evidence is in the opposite
direction. For nobody have we had a nine-day public hearing
other than for Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. If we had done
that for one Afrikaner there would have been hell to pay.''
     Tutu told Reuters in an interview that he had threatened to
resign when the ANC said initially it was not going to apply for
amnesty, a decision later reversed. He also said the
TruthCommission had tried its best to be as diplomatic as
possible in its dealings with former President P. W. Botha, who
is currently on trial for refusing to give evidence on the
activities of his government.
     ``Everybody will say we bent over backward to try to
accommodate P. W. Botha. Many will say we were soft in our
handling of him,'' he said with a resigned shrug.
     The Truth Commission, to be suspended on July 31, will
reconvene briefly in September to adopt a final report. A small
team will then spend two months editing the draft final report.
Once approved, it will be printed and handed formally to Mandela
at the end of October.
     An autonomous Amnesty Committee set up under the same act of
parliament will continue to sift through the 7,060 applications
for clemency it has received in a process that is likely to last
until next June.
     For Tutu, a tireless campaigner against apartheid, the
process has been exhausting and emotional.
     ``A low point has been the fact that we have not been able
to deliver anything to victims. Another low point has been the
attitude largely of the white community and of some members of
the former government. They have been mean-spirited in the face
of extraordinary magnanimity on the other side,'' he said
     But the process has had its highs as well, one of which was
the handshake between former air force officer Neville Clarence,
blinded in 1983 by a bomb placed in a Pretoria street, and the
former ANC guerrilla who planted the device.
     ``That seemed to be a kind of defining moment about
reconciliation,'' Tutu said.

Juillet 98 :

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is due to question the former head of chemical and biological warfare, Dr Wouter Basson, on Thursday.
He has been called to give evidence about his role in the development of chemical and biological weapons during the 1980s.

Dr Basson is accused of masterminding a programme to develop chemical and biological weapons to be used against black people and anti-apartheid protesters.
He denies the allegation.

In a written statement, he said that South Africa's chemical and biological weapons programme was developed in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Cuban troops supporting the Angolan government against South African soldiers.

Bacteria against blacks

But Dr Basson's colleagues testifying to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have said he was leading research into a vaccine to sterilise blacks and a bacterium that would kill only black people.

The former head of a military research laboratory, Daan Goosen, testified on Tuesday that Dr Basson had also discussed the possibility of killing the then imprisoned Nelson Mandela, by using carcinogens and arranging the supply of snake venom "to eliminate an enemy of the state".

Dr Basson's colleagues said he also oversaw the development at Roodeplaat laboratory, near Pretoria, of biological and chemical agents for use against anti-apartheid activists.
According to testimonies to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Dr Basson alone controlled the network of front companies that were involved in the project.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission established a list of 102 companies that are believed to have been linked to Dr Basson's 7th Medical Battalion.

The web of front companies used to cover up apartheid's biological and chemical weapons development is still under investigation.
Dr Basson had attempted to escape testifying to the Commission on the grounds that the hearing could prejudice a forthcoming criminal trial in connection with his work.

But the South African High Court judged in favour of the Truth Commission.

BBC's Greg Barrow:"a source of great concern to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission"
His appearance before the commission was delayed on Wednesday because he said his legal team had not been properly briefed.

A BBC correspondent in Johannesburg says that because the commission loses its power to subpoena people at the end of this week, Dr Basson may never have to testify if he can delay his hearing beyond Friday.

Juillet 98 :

South Africans are hearing evidence that the apartheid government in the 1980s tried to kill its opponents with chemical, biological and other secret weapons.
Scientists and officials from the country's intelligence services are giving evidence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about deadly substances and weapons - including poisoned screwdrivers - developed in the mid-to-late 1980s.

But former government scientist Dr Wouter Basson, who was summoned to provide crucial testimony, failed to appear at Thursday morning's hearings. The reason given was that he is still a practising doctor, and was called to the operating theatre.
Chikane: 'I am ready to forgive but I need to know who I am forgiving'
Rev Frank Chikane, the former chairman of the South African Council of Churches, says he was a victim of the strategy. He fell into a coma and came close to death. He says his clothing was impregnated with a neurotoxic substance.

"I am ready to forgive but I need to know who I am forgiving," Rev Chikane said in anticipation of the commission's hearings.

Recently it has emerged that the government also experimented with samples of anthrax and cholera, and also discussed developing a substance that would cause infertility only in blacks.

More names could emerge
Sibiya: perpetrators 'should not be allowed to practise as scientists'
The names of more of those involved are expected to emerge at the hearings. Dr Gordon Sibiya of South Africa's Science and Engineering Academy said he believed that some of those involved in the chemical weapons programme might still be working as scientists.

"I'm not suggesting another Nuremburg trial here, but I'm just saying that those people should not be allowed to practise in this country as scientists," Dr Sibiya commented.

There are also concerns that South Africa could have sold the results of its research to other countries.

The present government has been quick to say that it is not carrying out chemical warfare, but retains a defensive capability in case the country is ever the victim of a chemical or biological attack by a foreign power.

Août 98 :

Crime, poverty and corruption emerged on Wednesday as the issues likely to dominate next
year's national election in South Africa, only the second all
race poll in the country's history.
     The subjects came to the fore during a series of briefings
to reporters by leaders of the main opposition parties in the
South African parliament which is dominated by the ruling
African National Congress.
     ``We believe unemployment, crime and corruption are the
three biggest challenges facing South Africa. If we can get
these right everything else will fall into place,'' Democratic
Party leader Tony Leon said.
     ``Crime coexists with unemployment as our key issue,'' he
added. ``People feel more insecure than at any time in the past
four years.''
     Leon, positioning the Democratic Party to become the main
opposition in parliament after elections that must be held
before the end of July next year, also called for a scorched
earth policy against rampant corruption.
     Judge Willem Heath, who heads an anti-corruption probe, said
earlier this year his unit had so far uncovered cases of
official corruption worth collectively 6.2 billion rand ($1.01
billion), and that was just the beginning.
     Leon's theme was mirrored by other opposition party leaders.
     ``It is quite clear that the crime situation is not under
control,'' National Party leader Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said.
     His statement came on the same day that leading Cape Town
crime fighter Superintendent Wickus Holtzhausen announced that
he was temporarily quitting the city after death threats from a
militant Moslem anti-gang group PAGAD.
     The South African prison service said recently its jails
which were built to house 99,000 prisoners now held 143,000
inmates.
     ``We also have evidence of a staggering increase in
government corruption,'' Van Schalkwyk added, noting for good
measure that the government's GEAR job creation scheme had
failed to achieve result.
     For Stanley Mogoba, leader of the Pan Africanist Congress,
the issues were poverty, and again corruption and crime.
     Mogoba, describing the eradication of poverty as the
yardstick of social progress, called on landowners --
particularly farmers -- to share their resources or risk the
consequences.
     ``We are offering farmers acceptance as Africans. But in
return for that they must give up some of their land,'' he said.
``If they don't do that the danger is the land will be taken
from them.''
     He called for the government's GEAR (Growth, Employment and
Redistribution) strategy to the dumped and for corruption and
crime to be wiped out.
     ``We believe our country deserves a better future,'' Mogba
said.
     Constand Viljoen, leader of the white Afrikaner people's
Freedom Front, saw the key issue as crime, particularly attacks
on farmers.
     Since January this year more than 100 farmers have been
killed in attacks on their farms, and the death toll since 1994
is more than 550.
     Viljoen repeated his call for an Afrikaner homeland in the
northwest, but noted that his party needed to broaden its
electoral base to include all Afrikaners -- not just the 37.5
percent who voted for it in 1994.

Août 98 :

South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki called on Tuesday on
black and white citizens of the
country to bury their differences and work towards ending
apartheid-era inequality.
     ``No race, no shade of colour, no culture, no language and
no religion in our society is a problem,'' Mbeki told parliament
in a special debate on the rights of cultural, religious and
linguistic minorities.
     ``If the real problem we face, of ending the legacy of the
past, persists...it will not be because we are cursed with the
gift of diversity,'' he said.
     ``The fault will express itself in conflict because we would
have failed to find the intelligent ways and means by which we
would organise ourselves to unite as a people around common
national aspirations and a common identity.''
     Mbeki said richer South Africans, mainly white, should
recognise it was in their own interest to join the struggle to
eliminate apartheid's legacy of inequality.
     He said the parliamentary debate, which would also take
place in provincial legislatures, was part of the process of
fulfilling the constitutional requirement of establishing a
commission for the promotion and protection of minority rights.
     The deputy president, set to take over from President Nelson
Mandela after the country's second all-race elections next year,
said a national conference would be held at the end of September
to work towards such a commission.
     ``We take this opportunity to invite the country as a whole
and all organised and interested groups take note of the
processes we have just announced and take the necessary steps to
participate in the vital national discussion,'' he said.
     Valli Moosa, Minister for Provincial Affairs and
Consitutional Development, told a news conference earlier the
proposed commission should set the stage for the development of
a non-racial South Africa.
     ``The commission holds a great deal of promise, but also a
great danger. We do not want to fan the flames of racial
prejudice,'' he said, explaining why it was being rushed through
well ahead of next year's elections.
     Andries Beyers, parliamentarian for the former whites-only
National Party, supported moves towards setting up such a body
but said South Africa was still riven by deep divides.
     ``The way in which the government in future deals with the
rights of minorities will determine whether this country is
going to be a happy place for everyone,'' Beyers said.
     ``Only when it is a happy place for minorities will it lead
to prosperity for the majority.''

Aout 98 :

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Tuesday published a
searing attack on South
Africa's former white leaders, saying most had lied to his
post-apartheid truth commission.
     ``True reconciliation cannot be based on lies,'' he said in
an article published in Johannesburg's The Star newspaper.
      Tutu, chairman of a statutory Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) that ended a two-year probe into apartheid's
human rights record on Friday, said whites had not matched the
willingness of their black victims to forgive.
     ``My dear white compatriots...you have been let down by most
of your leaders, who have made you out to be too mean-spirited
to respond to the incredible magnanimity and generosity of the
victims,'' he said.
     Tutu, former head of the Anglican Church in southern Africa
and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against white
rule, said the TRC had done well but could have done better to
heal the wounds of apartheid, which ended in 1994.
     He said evidence given by thousands of black and white
victims of the war over white rule had solved many of the
riddles about the death or disappearance of black leaders.
     Most apartheid-era ministers, however, refused to testify to
the truth commission or to seek amnesty for human rights
offences, saying they had fought a just war against Nelson
Mandela's African National Congress and its one-time communist
allies.
     Tutu said the few who had agreed to appear had hidden behind
lies or qualified admissions of limited guilt.
     ``Deception was an integral part of...apartheid. Its high
priests...have lied as a matter of course, or you have had very
clever hair-splitting sophistry,'' he said.
     In an clear reference to former President F.W. de Klerk, who
repudiated apartheid and led South Africa towards democracy,
Tutu said those who had known about illegal acts and done
nothing to expose them had condoned those actions.
     He cited the police bombing of the headquarters of the South
African Council of Churches, Khotso House. De Klerk first denied
knowledge of the bombing but later, after being named by another
TRC witness, said he had known about it but not sanctioned it.
     De Klerk told the commission he had never, during five years
as president, sanctioned an illegal action but later conceded
that he had become aware of some illegal activities after they
occurred.
     Tutu said this was not enough, urging South Africa's whites,
who are outnumbered five-to-one by blacks:
     ``Please grasp this opportunity -- or do you really agree
with those leaders and do you want us to degenerate into a
Bosnia, a Rwanda, a Northern Ireland?
     ``Is there no leader of some stature and some integrity in
the white community who won't try to be too smart, who is not
trying to see how much he can get away with, but who will say
quite simply: 'We had a bad policy that had evil consequences.
We are sorry. Please forgive us', and not then qualify it to
death.
     ``That would help to close the chapter on our horrendous
past and enable us to move forward into the future with
confidence, absolved, forgiving and forgiven,'' he said.
     More than 20,000 people died in political conflict in the
last decade of apartheid, hundreds of them assassinated or
killed in clashes with police.

Août 98 :

Former apartheid
strongman P.W. Botha was sentenced to a 10,000 rand ($1,600)
fine or 12 months in jail on Friday after being found guilty of
contempt for flouting South Africa's truth commission.
     Botha, 82, was released on 50 rand ($8) bail pending an
appeal against the sentence and conviction.
     The magistrate also imposed a 12-month sentence, suspended
for five years. He specified that if Botha snubs the Truth and
Reconciliation Commision (TRC) again, the suspended jail
sentence will be imposed.
     Botha showed no emotion when the black magistrate found him
guilty and he left the court building in the southern town of
George, 400 km (250 miles) east of Cape Town, looking relaxed.
     His lawyer said an appeal had been lodged in the Cape Town
High Court.
     Magistrate Victor Lugaju ignored prosecution pleas for a
60,000 rand ($9,450) fine, but was adamant Botha had broken the
law.
     ``It is the unanimous decision of the court that the failure
of the accused to appear...was unlawful, intentional and without
sufficient cause,'' Lugaju said in his judgment. ``The accused
is accordingly found guilty on the main charge.''
     Botha ignored three summonses to testify in person before
the commission, which was trying to uncover the chain of command
behind illegal murders and bombings and the torture of black
anti-apartheid activists.
     Botha, who ruled the country for a decade until he was
ousted by his reformist successor F.W. de Klerk in 1989, has
defiantly refused to work with the commission, which he calls a
witch-hunt against his Afrikaner people and a ``circus.''
     The scene outside the building, cordoned off with razor
wire, was enlivened by some 40 protesters from the ruling
African National Congress (ANC), who sang and chanted anti-Botha
slogans.
     The TRC welcomed the guilty verdict, saying the rule of law
had prevailed.
     ``The trial has reiterated that all South Africans, no
matter how influential or powerful, are treated equally before
the law,'' truth commission acting chairman Alex Boraine told a
news conference in Cape Town.
     ``Mr Botha has been held publicly accountable for his
actions in a court of law and he has been afforded every
opportunity to defend himself, something which was often denied
his political opponents during the years of his rule.''
     Boraine is standing in for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who left
this week to take up an honorary professorship in theology in
the United States and will only return to present President
Nelson Mandela with the commission's final report in October.
     Boraine said although the truth commission's mandate to
investigate human rights violations expired last month, the
body's independent amnesty committee could still subpoena the
former president to answer its questions.
     ``My only hope and plea is that if Mr Botha is subpoenaed by
the amnesty committee...that he will take advantage of that,''
he said. ``It is in his own self interest. If he feels he has
been falsely accused then he should appear to clear his name.''
     Former security force personnel testifying before the
commission directly implicated Botha in bombings and accused him
of authorising the murder and torture of activists.
     Botha has repeatedly denied any involvement in illegal
actions and has refused to apologise for his government.

Novembre 98 :

The South African public prosecutor says there is not enough evidence to charge the former president, P W Botha, with killings and human rights abuses committed during the apartheid era.

Mr Botha was accused by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - which ended its work last month - of being responsible for crimes committed during his period in office.
But the prosecutor, Dr Jan D'Oliviera, said there was no proof to implicate Mr Botha in the abuses directly.

The beaky, portly figure of South Africa's former president has projected an ominous shadow over the workings of the commission - and now it looks as if the entire process may be concluded to the sound of Mr Botha having the last laugh.
Dr Jan D'Oliviera: "No evidence suitable for a court of law "
Scornful of the efforts of the commission, which was set up to probe the horrors of the apartheid era, the ex-president refused to give evidence. He called the hearings a "circus" and was prosecuted for staying away, but that was only a slap on the wrist.

The commission's final report was much more than that. Printed in five volumes, it named Mr Botha as one of the chief miscreants of the long years of white minority government and said that he "contributed to and facilitated a climate in which . . . gross violations of human rights could and did occur, and as such is accountable for such violations."

Prosecutor D'Oliviera: no evidence for court
So everyone held their breath, waiting for justice to take its course. But now Dr Jan D'Oliviera, the public prosecutor who will decide who will be summonsed and who won't, has made it abundantly clear that there is very little reason for Mr Botha to worry.

"We have no evidence suitable for a court of law against PW Botha," he told me in a matter-of-fact lawyer's voice. "We have to prove matters beyond reasonable doubt."

It sounds as if the decision is made. The Truth Commission collected a mountain of evidence against Mr Botha, but pile it up under the lawyerly eye of a public prosecutor and suddenly it shrinks to nothing.
Yasmin Sooka was among the commission members who sifted the evidence, and I found her alarmed at what Dr D'Oliviera had told me.

If prosecutions did not follow, she commented, "I think we should be outraged, and I think there should be a will to take people up to the highest international court if necessary. This is, at the end of the day, about restoring the rule of law."

The reputation of the Truth Commission needs attention too: a person with myriad questions to answer has thumbed his nose at it, and now sleeps easy without having to worry about men in uniform knocking at his door.

The victims of the apartheid years had no such comfort.

Novembre 98 :

In August this year the former South African president Pieter Willem Botha was found guilty of contempt against the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
After a lengthy trial, the 82-year-old was fined 10,000 rand and given a 12-month suspended jail term.

Mr Botha was charged after he failed to attend a TRC hearing in Cape Town on December 19, 1997. The commission wanted to question him about allegations that he headed a state-sponsored strategy to silence anti-apartheid activists while in office.

PW Botha was Prime Minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984, and President from 1984 to 1989. In that time he always refused to make any concessions to the black population or to hostile international opinion.

From its inception, Mr Botha rallied against the TRC, rejecting it as a "circus" and a "witching" against anti-apartheid leaders and State Security Force (SSC) members.
Last year he declared: "I have nothing to apologise for. I will never ask for amnesty (from the TRC). Not now, not tomorrow, not after tomorrow."

That belligerence was a hallmark of his rule. Ordinary South Africans knew him as "the Great Crocodile". He once famously remarked: "When I am angry, I can be a Thunderbird."

Mr Botha was born into an Afrikaner farmer family in the Orange Free State. He first worked for the National Party at the age of 19 as a party organiser.

As Defence Minister from 1966 to 1979, he worked to increase the military budget by 20 times, thereby countering the effects of an international arms embargo against South Africa.

On becoming Prime Minister he said: " We must adapt or die" and, from 1981, embarked on a number of constitutional reforms. These were widely attributed to his desire to maintain the power of the white population while giving limited concessions to other races.

Constitutional reforms were combined with bloody crackdowns on violent opposition, and increased military repression by the security forces.

Human rights groups have estimated that up to 30,000 people were held without trial during states of emergency imposed by Mr Botha at various times between 1986 and 1989.

He introduced reforms, limited in scope, in 1985 and 1986, relaxing some apartheid laws such as prohibitions on mixed marriages and the demand that black people carry special passes.

In June 1988 legislation was passed providing for the establishment of a multi-racial consultative body - which would include black members.

But it was left to F.W. de Klerk, who succeeded Mr Botha when he resigned due to ill-health in January 1989, to set in motion more fundamental reform which was to change the face of South Africa.

Novembre 98 :

The South African
government will not prosecute former apartheid strongman P.W.
Botha for human rights violations committed under his rule due
to lack of evidence, South African radio reported on Friday.
     ``We have no evidence needed to bring him before a court of
law. We have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,'' it quoted Jan
D'Oliviera, the deputy director of national prosecutions, as
saying.
     In its final report handed to President Nelson Mandela in
October, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC) said Botha, 82, was accountable for gross violations of
human rights committed on a wide scale during the period he was
president.
     Botha, who was ousted by his reformist successor F.W. de
Klerk in 1989, was not immediately available for comment on
D'Oliviera's remarks.
     He is currently on bail after his August conviction of
contempt for the TRC which he has repeatedly refused to work
with, calling it a witchhunt against his Afrikaner people.
     The TRC, which was established after the end of apartheid to
examine the human rights record of the war over white rule,
recommended in its 3,500-page chronicle of its probe that human
rights abusers from both sides of the struggle be prosecuted
unless they applied for amnesty.
     But justice officials said on Friday apartheid-era
politicians could get off the hook after Justice Minister Dullah
Omar said prosecutions arising from the truth probe would be
done in the national interest.
     Omar told a media briefing that he expected cases against
alleged human rights abusers would take up to a decade to settle
in the wake of the two-year investigation by the TRC of
apartheid atrocities committed by all sides.
     He said that prosecutions were not aimed at hurting efforts
at reconciling a country still divided by decades of racial
oppression, but rather at establishing the rule of law.
     ``We must establish accountability...for the future. We must
establish the rule of law,'' he said.
     But Omar also said decisions to prosecute alleged offenders
would be taken ``in the interest of the country.''
     He did not elaborate but officials in his department said
this offered a way for high-profile politicians from both sides
of the apartheid struggle to avoid a court date.

Décembre 98 :

South African Justice Minister
Dullah Omar said on Friday prosecutions arising from the truth
probe would be done in the national interest, a move officials
said could let apartheid-era politicians off the hook.
     Omar told a media briefing that he foresaw that cases
against alleged human rights abusers would take up to a decade
to settle in the wake of the two-year investigation by the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of apartheid atrocities
committed by all sides.
     ``The TRC has recommended that prosecutions be completed in
two years. I think that is wishful thinking...it is
unattainable,'' Omar said.
     He said that prosecutions were not aimed at hurting efforts
at reconciling a country still divided by decades of racial
oppression, but rather at establishing the rule of law.
     ``We must establish accountability...for the future. We must
establish the rule of law,'' he said.
     But Omar also said decisions to prosecute alleged offenders
would be taken ``in the interest of the country.''
     He did not elaborate but officials in his department said
this offered a way for high-profile politicians from both sides
of the apartheid struggle to avoid a court date.
     Several leading politicians have been accused of human
rights violations, but have not sought amnesty from prosecution
from the TRC, which has the power to grant legal absolution in
exchange for what it accepts as truthful testimony.
     Among those who have not applied for amnesty are former
President P.W. Botha, accused of complicity in bombings of
anti-apartheid activists, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the
former wife of President Nelson Mandela, who has been accused of
murdering and kidnapping opponents in the late 1980s.
     It is also possible that several other cabinet ministers
from the last white government as well as some top leaders of
the ruling African National Congress could also face prosecution
for having ordered incidents that led to human rights abuses.
     ``There has been no firm decision about the high-profile
cases, but I would guess it's unlikely the likes of P.W. (Botha)
will be prosecuted,'' a justice department official told
Reuters.
     A special prosecuting unit set up to deal with cases arising
from the apartheid era has several prosecutions ready for trial,
but not of top current or former politicians.
     Jan D'Oliviera, who heads the unit, said recently that cases
against two former generals in the apartheid security forces
were ready for court, but that he was awaiting the outcome of
their amnesty applications.
     He also said the case against Madikizela-Mandela was being
prepared but he was not prepared to say when, or if, the
populist ANC leader would be prosecuted.
     The TRC report, compiled after two years of often emotional
testimony from victims and perpetrators, branded apartheid a
crime against humanity, but also said the ANC was guilty of
gross human rights violations in its fight against the system of
legalised racial discrimination.

Afrique : histoire, economie, politique

Contenant et contenus conçus et réalisés par Olivier Bain; tirés de l'oubli, toilettés et remis en ligne par Jean-Marc Liotier