UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE
Edition #16 8 June 1998
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1. BEYE SEEKS ADVICE FROM AFRICAN LEADERS FOR PROBLEM SOLVING
Puzzled with lingering deadlocks in the tricky Angolan peace process, UN mediator Alioune Beye recently took a trip to some Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member countries to hear their views on more suitable strategies to advance the process.
Ahead of his flying to New York for a new Security Council on Angola, Beye went to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana for talks with the respective leaders. According to diplomats in Luanda, the leaders were briefed on events in Angola and asked for advice on future steps towards a successful outcome of the ongoing peace process.
On his way back to Luanda, mediator Beye made a stop-over at the UNITA headquarters of Andulo in central Bie province to inform UNITA chief Jonas Savimbi of the results of the trip. No details leaked out to the press on the results of the talks held both with Dr Savimbi and with the southern Africa leaders. Beye expected the results from these talks to help him prepare his report to the upcoming Security Council session.
2. PENAL LEGISLATION TO BE FINALLY REFORMULATED
After mounting criticism from the civil society at the poor justice service in Angola, president JosÈ Eduardo dos Santos has recommended urgent reforms of the national legal system "to make it more efficient and regular".
Such reforms, he said, should pave the way for "the ordinary citizens to trust in the institutions in charge of administering justice and make them feel confident that when resorting to the justice bodies they will have their preoccupations resolved regardless of their being rich or poor, powerful or weak".
Addressing the swearing-in of new incumbents for the Angolan supreme court recently, the president told the justice ministry to speed up work on a new penal legislation to replace the current one which, he said, is commonly labelled by magistrates and lawyers as "outdated". He added that "it shall become sacred and intangible the elementary principle that all citizens are equal before the law, not allowing the existence of bodies or entities intending to make justice by their own hands".
In reaction to the bad conditions in prisons, Dos Santos maintained that "it is, for human and justice reasons, imperative to improve the living conditions in our prisons so as to contribute to the recovery of the human being and not for the destruction. Our prison system must have as its objective to recover the citizens so they can be integrated in society upon serving their term".
The justice ministry has already announced plans to soon set up work groups to reformulate the penal legislation and which would enter legislators with the Luanda Faculty of Law, Lawyers Association, Supreme court and the general attorneyship. It has also announced the creation of a permanent post to deal with informing citizens on the legal procedures taken into account in a judicial conflict.
3. ANGOLA DIAMONDS TO BE TRADED AT HOME
Angola's diamonds will no longer have to be flown to Europe for classification when the world's diamond trade leader De Beers completes works for a 12-floor building in Luanda designed for the task and other facilities, sources in Luanda said.
The building will house De Beers headquarters in the country and, according to a press release issued recently in Luanda, the US$30 million complex will be started soon by the Portuguese construction company "Teixeira Duarte" and is expected to take about 24 months.
In a recent interview given to the Luanda-based daily "Jornal de Angola," De Beers' Angola director Mr Charles Skinner says that the idea to put up the building is "proof of interest in the country and our investment in the future...".
Although he said there was much work still to be done in terms of geological findings, Skinner expressed belief in a successful business in Angola. "We believe in Angola and have a very strong commitment to the country which is the project of our future", he said. With projects in almost all countries of the world, De Beers controls about 70 percent of the sale of diamond in gross stones, and about 50-60 pc of the world production.
According to Mr Skinner, the company's most important mines in southern Africa are at present those in Botswana and South Africa, because in the spite of having plenty of diamonds, "Angola has not made any considerable progress in terms of finds". However, in terms of value comparison, he said, Angola's diamonds rate high. For instance, he said, Australia produces 40 million carats per year but the average price is US$8 per carat which is very low when compared to Angola's luminaries which go for about US$350 per carat.
4. RARE ANIMAL SPECIES SMUGGLED ABROAD
Media reports in Luanda say many rare animal species from Angola are being systematically smuggled out of the country especially to South Africa and Brazil. Officially, there has not been any evidence to support the reports but some nationals who have toured the two countries were recently quoted in the independent "Angolense" weekly giving confirmation of having seen the giant "Palanca Negra," an antelope known worldwide as exclusive to Angola, outside the country.
It is believed that the poor control on the part of authorities, lack of food, and the permanent noise of explosions from cannons could be some of the factors making the trafficking easier. It is also believed that there has been some complicity on the part of the customs and border authorities.
According to the ministry of the environment, there were also rumours that a group of South African nationals recently attempted to illegally remove species of the Luanda-based Angolan chimpanzees. Mr Joao Serodio, vice environment minister, was quoted in the state media as saying that South Africa did not have any chimpanzees adding that apart from Angola, they could only be found in Congo, Rwanda and Zambia.
"If someone wants to protect Angola's chimpanzees, this should be done in their habitat,which is Cabinda,and not in South Africa," he said.
5. MILITARY INDUSTRY TO BE DEVELOPED
A spokesman for the defence ministry announced recently in Luanda that Angola planned to develop a military industry in the coming years "to adapt its military capacity to the wants of the southern Africa region".
Colonel Armindo Bravo told journalists without elaborating that the project would involve two main components with one being "war-oriented and another of military interest". He said that this also included other aspects namely those of energetic character, metallurgic, metallo-mechanical and those of national defence interest.
6. MPs SPLIT OVER LIVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONS Angolan members of parliament are at present divided by the ruling MPLA party's abrupt decision ordering the state television and radio stations to stop their live and full coverage of the parliament's plenary sessions. This coverage had been a regular occurence since the legislative body took office five years ago.
A number of opposition parties, with Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in the forefront, have warned that they will boycott the parliamentary debates from now on if president Jose Eduardo dos Santos' MPLA remains reluctant in their stance on the issue.
The controversy peaked on May 27 when UNITA and three other (small) political parties (FNLA, PRS and PLD) walked out of a plenary session after MPLA MPs voted for the withdrawal from the agenda of an item proposed by the former for discussions on the reasons for the ban imposed on live transmissions.
The social communications minister, Mr Hendrick Vaal Neto said at an earlier session that the decision had been prompted by high costs involved in the coverage of the parliamentary debates which he put at an estimated US$15,000 per day. But opposition MPs rejected this argument as "unconvincing" and accused the majority MPLA of clamping down on the rights of the population to be informed. They said they wanted the issue to be taken back to parliament for a thorough discussion.
Apart from the funds related excuse, the governing MPLA party claims that under the law on the press in force, the state media is free to decide on whether to go or not for live coverage of whatsoever they wish, unless a new specific bill on the issue is passed. The reaction to this from the ordinary citizen has been quiet indifference with many even seeming not to be aware of what is happening.
A local journalist wrote that "it is a right acquired by the constituents, so it does not seem fair to cut it so abruptly. However, one should also honestly realize that most of those protesting are just pushing so that their folk at home can see them speaking. I don't think the ordinary person bothers about live or recorded debates".
"(...) It is also true that constituents are not to be found only in the areas controlled by the government. Access to parliamentary debates is also a right of those voters scattered through Jamba, Andulo, Bailundo and so many other UNITA-held locations."
As another journalist wrote, in a clear reference to the total black-out and ban normally imposed by UNITA on other parties in the areas under the movement's control: "It is also a right of the MPs for FNLA, PRS, PLD and other opposition parties to conduct political activities throughout the national territory to which no political party has ever reacted."
7.GOVERNMENT, UNITA DIVERGE ON MEDIATOR'S NEW PLAN
A new plan recently announced by Angola's peace mediator Alioune Beye aimed at putting the peace process back on track, has earned totally diverging reactions from the two belligerents, the MPLA-dominated president JosÈ Eduardo dos Santos government and the UNITA guerrilla movement of Dr Jonas Savimbi.
In a 4-page document labelled "plan to restore trust," which was formally submitted last month in Luanda, mediator Beye complained of setbacks and lethargy in the peace process allegedly stemming from lack of political will on the two sides.
For immediate actions to bring the process back on track, Beye told UNITA to urgently surrender all locations still held under military occupation whereas the government was asked to stop releasing to the media reports of military actions unless they were first confirmed by the United Nations. Beye then warned that if the two parties offered no cooperation on the above items, he would eventually resign and ask the UN Secretary General to find a new mediator for Angola.
In reaction to this, UNITA accused the UN mission in Angola and particularly mediator Beye of lacking neutrality by "excessively worrying about the normalizing of state administration and blaming attacks, ambushes and other military attacks on UNITA". To advance the peace process, "the government should come up with a credible, transparent, and vertical plan for disarming civilians in cities particularly in Luanda," it said in a communique.
In the view of the government, Beye's plan, although basically acceptable, failed to set concrete dates for the extension of the government authority in areas still held by UNITA. Moreover, they said, the plan should also have recommended that UNITA
scrupulously respect the existing authorities.
Beye's threat to quit was strongly criticized by the government authorities who described it as blackmail.
8. MISS UNIVERSE CANDIDATE PLAYS DOWM RACIST CLAIMS
22-year-old Emilia Guardo, Angola's unsuccessful candidate at the newly celebrated "Miss Universe" competition, recently played down as irrelevant earlier criticisms raised in Luanda against her being elected "Miss Angola" because of her "coloured" complexion.
Guardado won a February show for Miss Angola in Luanda but this was immediately followed by widespread speculation around her being a genuine Angolan or not and, consequently, about how fair the jury verdict had been.
Many people unsuccessfully tried to dig up details connected with her allegedly being a daughter of a Cape Verdean couple but this could not be documented with evidence. Asked to comment on this Guardado said: "I am an Angolan and proud of being so. I don't see any problem in winning the Miss Angola. The issue of colour is quite irrelevant when it comes to a competition of beauties".
On her arrival back in Angola after attending the show in Honolulu, Hawaii, Guardado told reporters that despite not having won she was quite happy with what she described as a good experience.
"It is a tough job for a jury to select 10 finalists from 81 candidates," she said. ********************************
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 13:54:03 +0200 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #16 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
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