Archive for June 14th, 2007
source: Herald Tribune
Reuters, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE: After an 18-year ban, four African countries will put their ivory stocks on the market in a one-time sale as part of a hard-fought compromise reached Thursday with other African nations that tried to block the move.
The 171-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or Cites, reached the compromise after days of disputes about how to halt poaching while letting local communities benefit from ivory sales in regions where elephant numbers are rising.
The arrangement allows South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to empty government inventories in a single sale to Japan. But future sales will be frozen for nine years after that sale goes through.
“This is really a great day for the elephants,” said the chief German delegate, Jochen Flasbarth. “When I came here I never expected such a super response.”
Critics of the sale came to the conference demanding a 20-year moratorium before even re-opening the discussion on the ivory ban.
The dispute over the ivory sale consumed the energies of the two-week conference by Cites, which was created under a 1975 treaty. The organization lists more than 7,000 animals and 32,000 plants that are subject to trade regulations and require export permits. Trade in about 800 of them is banned.
Conservationists gave the agreement a cautious welcome, saying it provided a nine-year reprieve for elephants but could stimulate poaching and an already lively illegal market.
“It will excite a demand that can never be supplied by legal sources,” said Michael Wamithi, the Kenya-based elephant expert for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It will encourage the illegal market, and that’s [continue reading]
Financial Gazette (Harare)
13 June 2007
Posted to the web 14 June 2007
A GROUP of former military officials has been arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to oust President Robert Mugabe from power in a closely guarded development that could embroil an unnamed senior ZANU PF official who is said to be the mastermind of the failed rebellion.
The group’s defence counsel, Charles Warara, of Warara and Associates, confirmed in an interview with The Financial Gazette yesterday that he was representing the alleged plotters although he could not say how many they are.
“Yes, we can confirm that we are handling that matter,” said Warara. “We are making every effort to secure their freedom,” he added.
In a sensational case shrouded in secrecy, the alleged coup plotters have appeared in court twice and have been denied bail on each occasion.
Their legal counsel revealed yesterday that they have denied planning to overthrow the government, saying they only intended to form a political party that would take power through the ballot.
The court hearings are being held in camera.
Warara said he was in the process of investigating claims by his clients that they had been tortured in police cells.
“We are trying to verify these claims that they have made in court. As you know, it may either be true or not. We are in the process of trying to protect their interests,” Warara said.
When asked if the accused persons were soldiers, as widely speculated, Warara said: “No, but some of them have a background in the army.” He declined to comment further.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said he was not aware of the alleged plot when contacted for comment yesterday, referring questions to Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi, who was said to be out of the country.
Godwin Matanga, the deputy police commissioner, also professed ignorance of [continue reading]
Business Day (Johannesburg)
14 June 2007
Posted to the web 14 June 2007
THE past two years have seen a gradual acceptance at all levels of government, as well as the private sector, of the idea that Botswana is now not only the world’s biggest diamond supplier, but also the key decision maker in the industry.
Certainly it now controls its own destiny in what is a key industry for the country.
Government officials say foreign investors have been knocking on the door since the changes began more than 18 months ago, with money pouring into Botswana’s undeveloped but fast-growing diamond manufacturing sector, as well as other sectors of the economy, such as electricity, construction and telecommunications.
Local residents in the capital, Gaborone, say real estate prices have shot up .
And it’s visible, too. Apart from the simple brick airport that typifies the tranquillity entrenched in Botswana’s culture, where time has a different meaning, Gaborone’s face is changing rapidly with new shopping malls, restaurants, taxi services as well as a less attractive feature, crime.
Many of Gaborone’s roads are being upgraded or extended, while shimmering office buildings are rising alongside the modest residences and acacia trees.
Meanwhile, the government is seeking to consolidate its leading position in the global diamond industry with manufacturing as well as trading facilities. It is also encouraging foreign investment in research and development to help advance diamond cutting and polishing.
The renewal in 2004 of two 25-year mining leases for the Jwaneng and Orapa mines with De Beers saw Botswana insist on a greater share of the profits.
The margin of profit in the 50:50 joint venture with De Beers was increased from about 75% to 85% after tax on the mining side.
In addition, the government has insisted that London’s Diamond Trading Company (DTC) effectively move to Gaborone next year .
Now that Botswana has its own DTC, it has also reduced the marketing margin to De Beers.
Although De Beers’ London-based DTC, which for decades controlled the international diamond market, still appears to be fighting tooth and nail to keep at least some supplies coming through London, De Beers is now an active supporter of Botswana’s new vision.
The man with the most important and potentially difficult task in Botswana’s diamond industry is Brian McDonald, who was recently appointed to transform DTC into a genuine Botswana-based joint venture between the government and De Beers.
His main tasks will be reviewing the [continue reading]
source: Reuters Africa
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent THE HAGUE, June 14 (Reuters Life!) – African nations agreed on Thursday to extend a 1989 ivory export ban for nine years after a one-off sale of southern African stockpiles in a plan to help endangered elephants.
The accord, reached overnight on the sidelines of a U.N. wildlife trade conference in The Hague, was a compromise between countries led by Kenya and Mali who wanted a ban, and Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa who favour limited sales.
Julius Kipng’etich, head of the Kenya Wildlife Service who led his country’s delegation, said in a statement the deal was a “proud moment for the continent” after days of wrangling among African nations.
A Kenyan statement said the deal would allow one-off sales of government ivory stockpiles by the four southern African nations, registered as of Jan. 31, 2007, and then bar proposals to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to export ivory for nine years.
Countries led by Kenya and Mali had argued that more sales would spur illegal killings that would further endanger elephants. Others say regulated trade can help by ploughing cash into conservation and into building schools or hospitals.
The deal will have to be voted on by all 171 nations later on Thursday at the June 3-15 CITES talks.
Delegates have said that any deal among Africans about elephants would probably win support even [continue reading]
source: BBC news
South African miner
Africa’s economy is growing but could do better, says the report
Africa’s continent-wide economy will grow faster this year, but structural changes are still needed if it is to catch up with the rest of the world.
The continent is expected to achieve economic growth of 6.2% in 2007, an expansion on last year’s 5.5%, said a report from the World Economic Forum.
Despite this growth, the study said Africa was still being held back by factors such as poor infrastructure.
It added that corruption and poor access to finance were other concerns.
The Africa Competitiveness Report further said that much of the continent’s current growth was being fuelled by external factors such as high commodity prices, debt relief and a upbeat international economic environment.
“Truly sustainable growth, however, must be based on solid domestic foundations rather than a cyclical or [continue reading]
13 June, 2007
MAUN – The Mababe Zukutshawa Community Trust has been issued with a new hunting quota even though it has not met all the stipulated requirements because it is in the best interests of everybody involved, said an official of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Mr Chilule Mlazie told residents of Sankoyo during a kgotla meeting addressed by their MP, Mr Duncan Mlazie, that the community trust has a binding contract with their joint-venture partners and was in the best interests of tourists and the partners.
Mr Mlazie said if his office had withheld the hunting quota for the purposes of punishing the trust, they would have also inadvertently punished the joint-venture partners and tourists who had nothing to do with the problems of the trust.
He said the joint-venture partner had already arranged with its oversees clients to come and hunt and it would have caused problems if a hunting quota was not issued.
Community trusts are expected to produce audited reports every year and to employ a manager and an accountant if they are to continue receiving hunting quotas.
Mr Mlazie, however, said his department had issued the trust with a hunting quota under strict conditions. Some of the conditions are that the funds derived from the sale of hunting quotas are kept in a separate account so that the money is not used until all the requirements are met.
He was responding to a comment by Mr Keitiretse Zana who had said the [continue reading]
13 June, 2007
BOBONONG – Member of Parliament for Bobirwa Mr. Shaw Kgathi has called for career fairs to be made part and parcel of the education process.
Officiating at Matshekge Hill school career fair, he said the move will enable students to choose subjects that are in line with careers they want to pursue.
He said holding career fairs towards the end of the school leaving year might bring confusion among some students when they realize that they chose subjects not in line with their envisaged jobs.
Mr. Kgathi said there are some notable challenges in the education system and that students in rural areas do not enjoy the same resources as those in urban areas.
However he urged teachers to carry on and overcomne the challenge. He said teachers should endeavor to get the best out of students regardless of the circumstances.
Mr. Kgathi expressed concern at the rate at which teachers are leaving the profession and pleaded with them to be patient as their conditions of service might improve.
Focusing on students, Mr. Kgathi urged them to look at both colleges and the university .He said there are some colleges around the country which offer good courses.
The fact that education continues to receive a [continue reading]
June 12 2007 at 01:45PM
Harare – The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) severed power supplies to Zimbabwe over an unpaid debt of $5-million (about R36-million), it emerged on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe, which is already experiencing chronic shortages of power, was importing 100 megawatts of electricity from DRC’s Snel power company.
The DRC power utility has suspended its power exports to Zimbabwe, an official from Zimbabwe’s ZESA power company told the official Herald newspaper.
“ZESA has failed to pay about $5-million to the DRC and the company has since cut off supplies,” the source said.
“Despite the imports, we had a (power) deficit and now its worse because of the (DRC) debt,” the unidentified source said.
Zimbabwe’s towns and cities have been experiencing daily power cuts of up to 14 hours. Last week, [continue reading]
13 June 2007
African businesses can become far more competitive, but African governments and their international partners will need to improve access to finance, rebuild infrastructure and strengthen institutions.
This is according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2007, which was released this week at the 17th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which takes place in Cape Town between 13 and 15 June.
The report, jointly compiled by the WEF, the African Development Bank and the World Bank, analyses many aspects of Africa’s business environment and highlights the key issues that hinder improvements in Africa’s competitiveness and job growth.
According to a statement issued by the WEF this week, the report includes the rankings of 29 African countries in the Global Competitiveness Index, detailed competitiveness and investment climate profiles, the effect of gender disparities on employment and competitiveness and the role of new technologies in fostering a more dynamic business environment.
“Africa has the potential to become a far more competitive player in the global economy,” said the World Bank’s Africa region Vice President, Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili.
“The study finds that, while a number of governments have significantly improved the business climate in their countries, the region as a whole has [continue reading]
Business Day (Johannesburg)
13 June 2007
Posted to the web 13 June 2007
TOP South African envoys in Harare yesterday held a meeting with local civil society leaders to discuss how to broaden President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis.
SA’s ambassador Mlungisi Makhalima and senior staff at the embassy met leaders of pressure groups focusing on the political and economic crisis, constitutional reform, as well as labour and humanitarian issues.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), now divided into two factions, has submitted to Mbeki a joint report on preliminary issues that need to be tabled for discussion.
Sources said the MDC negotiating team of Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti had submitted its position paper to Mbeki’s team in April.
The Zanu (PF) delegation, which includes Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche, delivered their response to the MDC submissions to Mbeki’s team last Monday.
The two failed twice in the past two weeks to travel to SA for talks with the MDC, stalling the start of direct talks.
President Robert Mugabe’s government last week gazetted a constitutional amendment bill to entrench his power, throwing new hurdles in Mbeki’s mediation path.
SA’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad expressed concern last week about “the lack of urgency from Zimbabweans to advance the facilitation process”.
The MDC paper includes demands for an end to political violence and intimidation to create favourable conditions for negotiations and elections; a new constitution before next year’s elections; the need for all citizens above 18 to vote; an impartial and transparent electoral process; speedy and impartial resolution of electoral disputes; freedom for parties to campaign; and access to the public media.
However, repression is [continue reading]
13 June, 2007
KANYE – The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp at Rakhuna is being expanded to a Battalion size operation. In an interview with BOPA the BDF Public Affairs Officer Capt. Bern Ragalase said the camp was being funded by the government and it is estimated to cost P50 million . Capt. Ragalase said the expansion would enable the BDF to respond promptly and decisively to security challenges in general throughout the country.
He said the BDF needed to have a far and wide distribution of its deployments and as such, Rakhuna was seen as an ideal location for another base to cater for the southern part of Botswana.
The Rakhuna Camp, which was acquired from the Botswana Railways in 2002, would have a permanent and full-fledged unit as soon as developments have been completed.
Capt. Ragalase said at the moment the army did not have any problems with that part of the country but he added that it must be ready for any challenges that might arise.
The camp would assist other civil authorities in the area like the Botswana Police Service in combating crime and other related issues.
Capt. Ragalase said the BDF would continue to assist the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in anti-poaching operations.
He noted that it should be known that the primary occupational specialty for soldiers is to defend the country against external or internal aggression as per its vision and mission. BOPA
Racing series SAORC
The Toyota 1000 Desert Race will not only form the third round of the SA national off-road quad championship, but will be a marathon event for the four-wheelers who will have to complete approximately 610 kilometres on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 June, in Botswana.
Quad competitors participated for the last time officially in Botswana in 2001 before the desert race for quad and motorcycle competitors was moved to South Africa. They do not have a long racing Toyota 1000 Desert Race history and records show that Vicus van Deventer won this event for the first time in 1993. He kept on winning from 1994 to 1996 and scored his last victory in 1999.
Marc Breckle won consecutively in 1997 and 1998 and Jacques “Boesman” Struwig added another Yamaha victory to the list when he won in 2000. Four- time off-road quad champion, Cornel de Villiers, broke the Yamaha chain of victories when he won the 2001 Toyota 1000 Desert Race with the trusted Bombardier 650 Desert Storm. This was also the year that the chain was completely shattered when the first five competitors finished with DS650 quads.
Recently, the smaller 450cc-powered four-stroke quads proved to be race winners and [continue reading]