Africa Brief: Africa aviation potential, SADC summit, Mozambique voter registration and more

African aviation potential ‘enormous’

Although Africa’s aviation industry, which supported $67 billion (R662.6bn) in eco­nomic activity and 57 million jobs, was small by global stan­dards, its potential to grow was “enormous”, with a billion peo­ple spread across 20 percent of the earth’s land mass. Interna­tional Air Transport Association chief executive Tony Tyler said yesterday. He pointed out that hopes for African unity and integra­tion depended on connectivity provided by air transport. Tyler said international pas­senger demand continued to grow in April, extending the positive trend that had been developing since late last year.

The increase, however, is concentrated in emerging, mar­kets. Airlines in Europe and North America reported a mod­est expansion when compared with strong growth in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”

African airlines’ passenger numbers rose 4.7 percent com­pared with last April, the sec­ond-highest growth among the regions after the Middle East. Thin margins were character­istic for the airline industry but achieving profits with the con­tinued weakness in the global economy was a major achieve­ment.

And if you add the im­pact of oil prices at over $100 a barrel the achievement grows. Fuel accounted for about a third of industry costs.”

Airlines were focused on managing their impact on climate change with improve­ments in technology, infrastruc­ture and operations. They would need market-based measures as a temporary gap-filler until they had achieved long-term solutions. Their three targets were a 1.5 percent average annual improvement in fuel efficiency until 2050, capping net emis­sions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and cutting net emissions in half by 2050, compared with 2005. Market-based measures were a temporary necessity and top of the political agenda.

For the full story, read African aviation potential ‘enormous’ by Audrey D’Angelo, published by The Star, Business Report on 31/05/2013

Renewed talks bid slows Congo deployment

Moves to deploy a 3,000-strong force of South African, Tanzanian and Malawian troops to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to “neutralise” M23 rebels and smaller armed factions appear to be slowing because of 11th-hour efforts to restart negotiations between antagonists in the Great Lakes. Foreign policy experts of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said they still supported the planned intervention brigade, but hard questions about the operation needed to be answered. The new brigade’s composi­tion, its unprecedented “peace-enforcement” mandate for 12 months and its funding, were all ironed out long ago. The UN Security Council approved them on March 28. Two months later, there is still no firm date for when the troops and military hardware will be ready for action. The headquarters will be in Goma, the eastern Congo’s lake­side capital which was overrun by battle-hardened M23 men last year without resistance from UN peacekeepers.

After this humiliation, SA and other African countries insisted on a new and hard-nosed force to take the fight to the rebels. Now, besides the onerous logistics of deploying the force, some funda­mental rationales appear to be back under discussion. Security council experts last year that M23 was strongly backed by both Rwanda and Uganda. Both governments denied they were supporting the armed enemies of President Joseph Kabila of the Congo. Ms Zulu said there were still questions about the Congo government’s ability to govern the entire country and whether agreements in the region are implemented. The interrogation implied SA is unsure if Mr Kabila, who is considered one of its close regional allies, is sincerely trying to win hearts and minds in the war-weary east, an area far from his political heartland. Such questions go to the heart of the long conflict in the Great Lakes. They may also indicate misgivings within ANC ranks about the Congo intervention because of the intense public and parliamentary debates since 14 South African troops were killed in the Central African Republic. Analysts agree that the polit­ical cost of more body bags returning to Pretoria, this time from Congo, would be high.

For the full story, read Renewed talks bid slows Congo deployment by Nicholas Kotch, published by Business Day on 31/05/2013

SADC summit to discuss Zimbabwe election, Madagascar crisis

Southern African Develop­ment Community (SADC) special summit to discuss Zimbabwe‘s upcoming elections and the Madagascar political crisis will take place in Maputo, Mozam­bique on June 9. Ms Mbete, who was speaking at an ANC foreign policy briefing in Johannesburg, said the Move­ment for Democratic Change leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, expected to face off against President Robert Mugabe in elections later this year, would also be attending the summit.

Due to the fact that Zim­babwe was represented at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa by Mr Mugabe, where Mr Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara (leader of the other MDC faction) were not present, we decided in Addis that we need a special SADC summit that will focus on Zimbabwe,” Ms Mbete said.

Mr Tsvangirai insists the political landscape has to be levelled first before an election date is announced. While the briefing was meant to clear the air about SA’s foreign policy in Africa, a lot of questions regarding SA’s insincerity on the Zimbabwean crisis remained unanswered. Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) has used its liberation ties with the ANC and other liberation movements in the Sadc to curry favour. Mr Tsvangirai, on the other hand, is viewed suspiciously over his Western links. At a 2011 party conference, Gwede Mantashe, ANC secretary-general pledged to “help” Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF to win the election against the MDC a position Ms Mbete seemed to reiterate yesterday. But Ms Zulu, who also heads the ANC’s communications department denied that her facili­tation work in Zimbabwe was biased in favour of Zanu (PF), given the historical ties between the two liberation movements.

Ms Zulu pointed out that from the outset of their mediation, Mr Zuma had instructed his aides to be mindful that there were three partners, signatory to the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008. Zimbabwe’s political leaders are looking to the Sadc summit to avail funding for the elections, which are in need of $123m. Ms Zulu said the loan request to SA by Zimbabwe was still being assessed and calculated. Political commentator Rash-weat Mukundu said the Sadc sum­mit was a huge political statement and message to Zimbabwe’s political players that Sadc expected the elections to meet the basic minimum conditions of fair­ness and integrity.

For the full story, read SADC summit to discuss Zimbabwe election, Madagascar crisis by Ray Ndlovu, published by Business Day on 31/05/2013

Maputo begins registration for polls

Mozambique has begun register­ing voters for coming elections amid heightened political tension, with the main opposition Renamo threatening a boycott after its feud with the Frelimo-led government descended into violence. The country will hold local elections in November and use the same voters’ roll in general elections next year. Technical glitches such as broken computers and ink shortages marked the start of registration last weekend. But Renamo’s almost complete withdrawal from the political pro­cess has raised concerns as its eight-month spat with Frelimo led to deadly clashes with police.

While would-be voters trickled into registration stations, the former rebel movement launched another blistering verbal attack on its civil war foe, Frelimo. The opposition party — which won 16.5% of the vote in 2009 – has demanded more representation in election bodies and the armed forces before the next elections. It also wants a cut of coal and natural gas revenue as Mozambique gears up to become a continental natural resource giant.  Its call to renegotiate 1992 peace terms that ended a 16-year-long civil war has heightened already-tense relations with the government.

Last month, tensions over the issue spilled into violent conflict in central Sofala province, which left five policemen and three civilians dead. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama set up a training base in the province’s Gorongosa moun­tains last year. Many recruits were aged civil war veterans, and mostly from the anti-Frelimo northern parts of the vast country. Agriculture Minis­ter Jose Pacheco, has a difficult task to orchestrate a positive outcome. Renamo’s demand for greater participation in the elec­toral process was almost impossible to achieve, he said. The party’s boycott tactics are not new. Renamo refused to nominate members to the election commission and also did not run in municipal by-elections in 2011. Its legislators leave parliament whenever President Armando Guebuza speaks there. Despite the tensions, ordinary Mozambicans brush off Renamo’s threats to dis­rupt the vote as political tactics.

For the full story, read Maputo begins registration for polls by Jinty Jackson, published by Business Day on 31/05/2013

David Okwara

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