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Published 14th April 2000

Vol 41 No 8

South Africa

Military manoeuvres

Pretoria's once powerful armed forces need fast reform and a new strategy if they are to help regional security

One of the country's sharpest and most popular politicians Defence Minister Mosiuoa (Patrick) Lekota has a daunting task ahead of him if he is to reform the military and give it a credible role in promoting security in the region, let alone the continent. His job is the third most important in the cabinet, after President Thabo Mbeki and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, if one accepts that foreign policy is still largely run from the presidency. Six years after the country's first non-racial elections, military reform and restructuring have been sluggish and little of the corruption that thrived in the services and in arms buying during the apartheid years has been rooted out. The main difference now, thanks to a freer press, is that we hear more about it. The picture isn't all gloom. Lekota is justifiably proud of the South African National Defence Force's heroic assistance to flood-stricken neighbours in Mozambique. It showed what good the South African military could do - all the more poignantly when rich Western governments were arguing over which of their ministries' budgets would be allocated to rescue drowning people.

King Oil, again

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Ambitious plans for a competitive oil industry still have to beat graft and political infighting

Near the top of the list for President Bill Clinton's trip to Nigeria in June are the Abuja government's plans for a huge expansion of the oil industry, which could make the countr...

Post-KK traumas

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The old leader has gone and the new ones have not yet arrived

So strong was the personality cult around the Independence leader and Father of the Nation, former President Kenneth Kaunda, that his United National Independence Party has been th...


General Gueï is looking more like a presidential candidate

The postponement of a critical cabinet meeting of 13 April to decide the dates of a constitutional referendum and subsequent national elections has sent some ominous signals about ...

Guns and butter

The tragic return of famine may just help efforts to end the war with Eritrea

The international reaction to the famine in Ethiopia and the Greater Horn is putting new pressure on Addis Ababa and Asmara to make progress in the next round of peace talks schedu...


Conquests in Cairo

Style rather than substance dominated the two-day meeting in Cairo on 3-4 April of leaders from Africa and the European Union. The main commitment achieved by the illustrious gathe...

Students shot

Gambians are shocked by the killing of 14 people, mainly students, when security forces quelled demonstrations in Banjul on 10-11 April. It could be a turning point for President Y...

L'effet Wade

After intense and delicate bargaining to form the new government, Dakar politics became a shambles this week when Education Minister Marie-Lucienne Tissa Mbengue was dismissed afte...