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Published 31st May 2002

Vol 43 No 11


Hungry for change

The famine sweeping Southern Africa threatens several governments – of which Robert Mugabe's is the most vulnerable

Some 20 million people in Southern Africa are at risk from mounting crop failures and food shortages. Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique are the worst hit by a mixture of political and natural disaster. Despite peace hopes in Angola after last month's ceasefire, many in former rebel-held areas now face malnutrition and starvation. This crisis is much worse than that of 1991-92, when the same combination of drought and floods washed the crops away. Then, early warning systems proved effective and a well-organised relief effort swung into action; this year, aid agencies and regional efforts were hindered by several political rows. The crisis threatens several incumbent rulers, notably Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, whose government has been deliberately cutting off food aid to pro-opposition areas. In Malawi, the World Bank encouraged President Bakili Muluzi's government to sell 28,000 tonnes of stored maize ­ just three months before the food crisis hit ­ to repay a commercial bank loan. At the same time, Muluzi's government has been accused of misusing aid funds by the British government, which has frozen development but not emergency assistance this year. The medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières estimates at least 100,000 people are suffering from acute malnutrition in Angola as a row continues between the government and the United Nations over who should be responsible for supplying food to disarmament camps. Zambia faces a chronic foreign exchange shortage; after its disputed election many donors are witholding development funds and Anglo American's attempted pull-out from the Konkola Deep project signals a new crisis of confidence in its copper sector.

Kabbah's cabal

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After an easy election win, the President must tackle corruption and placate the north

The elections on 14 May were justifiably hailed as a victory for peace. Veterans said they were the least violent in the country's post-independence history (AC Vol 43 Nos 7 & ...

Cabinet making

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President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has kept his supporters close about him in a new 22-member cabinet that shuffles posts but makes no real changes. Past efforts to include the Revolutio...

Holding their noses

More aid before the elections looks unlikely – even with the World Bank's help

Western governments, especially that of the United States, regard Kenya's stability as vital to their own interests and to the 'war on terrorism'. US, British and German military a...

A war unwon

Prime Minister Meles is more admired abroad than in his own country

Premier Meles Zenawi looks distinctly fragile. Things were going pretty well after he last year successfully faced down his critics in his own Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPL...

Rightist regime

Africa will be a low priority for the new team at the Elysée and Quai d'Orsay

Africa will lose even more of its special status under France's new conservative government, appointed by President Jacques Chirac after his 82 per cent re-election victory over Je...

Friends and neighbours

Up to 200 people reportedly died in April, when fighting broke out in eastern Ethiopia along the road to Djibouti, causing fears that fuel might run short in Addis Ababa. Lorry dri...

He's back

The interest groups that helped Touré into the presidency want their reward

The man who once said 'only an idiot' would want to be Mali's head of state was confirmed as President on 23 May after two rounds of voting (AC Vol 42 No 19 & Vol 43 No 9). The...


Bank accountability

The United States Congress may compel US banks to disclose accounts held by foreign politicians, when state funds may have been stolen. On 9 May, the House of Representatives Finan...

Fixing it up

The Islamist vote at the legislative elections on 30 May will show whether President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has really transformed Algerian politics. Until the last minute, many elec...

Steal community

Europe's vested interests could block the anti-corruption reforms pushed by, among others, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europ...

Caught out

The easy re-election of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy in the 25 May general elections handed a new mandate to a government determined to pursue those suspected of corru...