Thursday, 29 May 2008

'Govt to blame for attacks'

29/05/2008 15:48  - (SA)

Johannesburg - The government must accept blame for the crisis of violent xenophobic attacks experienced in the country recently, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said on Wednesday.

"Had the government decisively intervened some ten years ago when it became clear that the Zimbabwe situation was deteriorating, the Zimbabweans would not find it necessary to leave their country.

"Cosatu and others warned a long time ago that the political and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe...(would) eventually force everyone to leave the country and be economic refugees (to) everyone in South Africa," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a press briefing following a Cosatu central executive committee meeting.

"Our government did the usual denialism and refused to act."

However, the main reason for the unrest was the "appalling levels of unemployment in the country" and this was blamed on government economic policies.

"It is a failure of our country to restructure the economy and have an industrial strategy as well as genuine and agrarian reform that has brought us to this point. That is the issue."

Cosatu also discussed Eskom's proposed tariff hike and rising food prices at its meeting.

Vavi said the union federation remains adamantly opposed to Eskom's 53% tariff hike.

The union federation said it would resort to industrial action should the proposed hike be approved.

"Our section 77 process however remains in place and we have yet to see any movement from Eskom and government to persuade us to abandon our campaign to defend jobs and prevent the poor consumers to pay the price for the mistakes and mismanagement by government and Eskom," Vavi said.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

Foreign shores lure South Africans

May 21 2008 at 05:51PM

Twenty percent of South Africans are planning to emigrate or are seriously considering it, according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday by global market research company Synovate.

Spokesperson Jake Orpen said 600 respondents were interviewed in all nine provinces of South Africa, using face-to-face interviews.

The results were weighted to ensure representation across province, age, gender and race.

"South Africans are not in the best frame of mind lately, due to the obvious political uncertainty, economic instability and electricity problems," Orpen said.

The option to emigrate was most popular amongst young and middle-aged South Africans (18 to 44 years).

This was of concern because this age group represented South Africa's current and future skills set.

Rand Merchant Bank Senior Economist, Ettienne le Roux, said: "The obvious negative for any country experiencing high levels of emigration is the loss of skills and the future income these skills would have generated.

"If emigration is not matched by immigration of people of at least the same skill, the country will no doubt be worse off.

"In this regard, it is encouraging that the South African government is showing preliminary signs of making it easier for skilled foreigners to come and work in our country."

Some 27 percent of respondents believed that they would be able to successfully emigrate, would have the required funds and that they were well qualified.

On the other hand, 51 percent of respondents said they would not be able to afford emigration and the remainder were unsure.

According to a recent FNB survey, emigration has been cited as the biggest single reason for selling upper-end properties.

The USA emerged as the most popular choice of destination, followed by the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The main pull factor for immigrating to a country was business and employment opportunities in other countries, 88 percent of respondents stated.

Itchy feet, the desire to explore a new country and experience different cultures, were cited by more than a third of those considering emigration, the survey reported.

The main push factor for emigrating from South Africa was violence, crime and corruption, 55 percent of respondents said.

Other push factors were South Africa's volatile economy and the cost of living (19 percent), governmental problems (13 percent) and infrastructure concerns (6 percent).

Family reasons (14 percent), such as joining extended families abroad and better education for children, were also mentioned.

South Africans (4 percent) admitted to having encouraged their children (of university-going age) to leave South Africa and a further 3 percent said they would encourage their children when the children were old enough.

Some 85 percent of respondents said that they had not been encouraged by anyone to leave South Africa. Fifteen percent said they had been encouraged by others to emigrate, of which 8 percent said that when considering emigration, friends were the main influences.

A third of the respondents surveyed said they knew someone who had emigrated from South Africa in the past five years.

Those who had emigrated were perceived to have left for work or crime related reasons.

However, 47 percent of respondents had no intention of leaving South Africa and a further 17 percent had not thought about it.

When quizzed on the things they loved about South Africa, 46 percent said the climate and nature were the main attractions.

Eighteen percent of respondents loved the South African people. Fifteen percent pointed to the freedom South Africans had been granted and 14 percent pointed to the diverse cultures that existed in South Africa.

Just over a tenth loved South Africa because it was home to family and friends. - Sapa


Turning a murderer into a martyr?

May 21 2008 at 12:09PM

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The daughter of a woman who was killed in a bomb blast set off by ANC activist Andrew Zondo in 1985 is packing her bags and emigrating to New Zealand.

Elaine Shearer, 24, is incensed that the eThekwini Municipality is deciding to rename Kingsway, the street in which her father still lives, Andrew Zondo Street.

She believes that the explosion that killed five people, including her mother, Anna, was motivated by crime and not politics.

"For me it was cold-blooded, and had nothing to do with politics. Now they want to turn a murderer into a martyr."

Shearer says she grew up without her mother because of crime, and does not want to become another murder statistic, forcing her 3-year-old daughter, Amy, to relive the experience. That is her reason for leaving South Africa.

Shearer, who was a toddler when her mother died, said her life would have been different if she had grown up with her mother, especially since her father had been in "permanent mourning" for the past 23 years.

She said all she wanted was to "spend one day with my mom" to find out who she was.

Instead, she has had to feed off her father's memories and meet her mother through a medium.

Anna Shearer and her best friend of almost 20 years, Lyn Lott, went to the Sanlam Shopping Centre in Amanzimtoti two days before Christmas in 1985.

They were just metres away from the bin where Zondo, an Umkhonto weSizwe member, had planted a limpet mine.

Shearer says her mother died instantly in the explosion, but Lott suffered multiple shrapnel wounds and suffered from severe pain to this day.

Five people were killed in the explosion, including three children, while about 40 others were wounded.

Zondo, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced to death by hanging.

"It hasn't affected the way I think about black people," said Shearer.

She still harbours a deep anger at the apartheid government for its policies that led to the bombing, and with the current government for wanting to honour Zondo and for being insensitive to people who live in the area.

"What's the point of renaming the street anyway, because no one will ever refer to it by the new name?" she said.

Zondo's father, Pastor Aiken Zondo, is also opposed to the use of his son's name, saying it would "open old wounds".


Durban-based sociologist Mary de Haas said the renaming proposal was "very divisive" and the worst possible move for reconciliation.

She said the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo held out an olive branch after the Zondo blast, saying the intention had not been to hurt or kill innocent people.

"They couldn't have done a better job at driving wedges between people," said De Haas.

She said Pietermaritzburg's and Johannesburg's approach to renaming had been sensitive, whereas Durban had failed.

"If they want to honour someone (Zondo), they can do it somewhere else," she said.

De Haas also questioned why "leading lights" of the struggle who were from the province, including Johnny Makhatini and Judson Khuzwayo, had been left off the list of people being honoured.

She also believed that there was no good reason for changing the name of Mangosuthu Highway in Umlazi to Griffiths Mxenge.

Troops called in as SA burns

May 21 2008 at 06:56PM

President Thabo Mbeki has given the nod for the military to help the police curb xenophobic violence that has claimed at least 42 lives by Wednesday.

Police reported in the afternoon that attacks on foreigners, which erupted in Gauteng last week, had spread to more provinces.

"President Thabo Mbeki has approved a request from the South African Police Service for the involvement of the South African National Defence Force in stopping ongoing attacks on foreign nationals in Gauteng Province," a statement from the president's office said.

Police spokesperson director Sally de Beer said they had asked for equipment and personnel.

Police said that 16 000 people had been displaced since the violence began in Alexandra and 400 people had been arrested

Mpumalanga police said the shack-burning and looting targeted at foreigners began there on Tuesday, and in KwaZulu-Natal, police were monitoring Durban's Dalton Road area after an attack on a Nigerian-owned tavern.

Constable Sibusiso Mbuli said that about 200 foreigners sought refuge at Leslie police station on Tuesday night after tuckshops were looted there and in Embalenhle.

"Even now the situation has not stabilised. We see people moving about and when they see police bakkies they run away," said Mbuli.

A Nigerian-owned tavern came under attack in Durban's Umbilo on Tuesday night, and while police were treating it as an act of "criminality", KwaZulu-Natal safety MEC Bheki Cele blamed the IFP.

"There was a meeting of the IFP branch in Dalton yesterday (Tuesday) and...I know it was them who went straight from there to the tavern and raided the place and smashed the cars," Cele said.

Durban's Dalton Road is the site of a number of hostels.

However, the IFP denied responsibility, with IFP KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Mntomuhle Khawula saying he was disturbed by Cele's statement.

He said that if any IFP members were involved in the xenophobic attacks they would face disciplinary action.

"The IFP is all about ubuntu...In the African lifestyle, you never chase away people, you comfort and give protection, so xenophobia is against our policy," he said.

IFP head Mangosuthu Buthelezi said his earlier predictions that xenophobia was brewing were ignored.

As a former home affairs minister he had suggested a more open controlled immigration policy but this was ignored, and abandoned when he left the ministry.

No "serious" incidents were reported in Gauteng on Wednesday, which the provincial government has attributed to co-ordinated efforts by communities and the police.

Spokesperson Thabo Masebe said a number of community organisations had been working "on the ground" telling people that whatever problems they had, it did not justify the violence, and giving police information on pending attacks, as well as handing over people they suspected of the attacks.

"We can attribute it to some work that has been going on and the police. The police couldn't do it without the support of their communities," said Masebe.

Police spokesperson director Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said that a councillor and three community leaders were among those arrested.

Meanwhile, the centres and police stations housing people fleeing from the violence urgently needed food, baby food, nappies and blankets for the thousands seeking shelter.

Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Mkhize appealed for such donations to be taken to the metro's service centres and arrangements to collect bulk donations could be made by phoning 011-874-5025.

The crowded conditions led the police to contract the "Red Ants" usually associated with forced removals, to help control people at the Cleveland police station, especially at meal times.

"Images of 'necklacings', violent beatings and the sight of frightened children caught between marauding mobs and police firing rubber bullets belong to a troubled period in our traumatic history; it has no place in our present democracy," the Helen Suzman Foundation said.

"It is a spectre that great men and women from all walks of life fought against - with great sacrifice - to eradicate from our country's soul forever."

The Coalition Against Water Privatisation said it had held a community meeting in Sebokeng to convince people to help prevent the attacks.

"We sent the message that the reason why there is no delivery of the houses that we are fighting for as South Africans is not because of people from other countries, but it is because of the failure of our own government to deliver services," he said.

"There is no foreigner in Africa. There is no way my brother from Zimbabwe can be seen as a foreigner. These people have done nothing wrong, they want a better life."

The coalition had organised a group of volunteers who had agreed to protect people who felt under threat because of their nationality, after a taxi load of foreigners were confronted as they sought refuge at the KwaMasiza hostel in the area.

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) said the government had not done enough to "arrest the anarchy".

Its president Julius Malema said: "We call on government to unleash every resource at its disposal to nip this anarchy in the bud, including deployment of the military if the need arises."

He called on youth to rise against the "thuggery and hooliganism" and to bring order to their communities.

"Killing others and burning their homes do nothing for our society, and may cloud genuine concerns they may have," he said.

A "necklace" is a word coined during apartheid used when a person was doused in petrol with a tyre around their neck, and a match was thrown at them. - Sapa


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A simple recipe for xenophobia

Justice Malala: Monday Morning Matters

Published:May 19, 2008

Cocktail’s main ingredients are ANC’s failed policies

President Thabo Mbeki and his ANC successor Jacob Zuma were refugees in London, Zambia, Nigeria, Swaziland and Mozambique, among other places, between 1962 and 1990.

I mention this for those of my countrymen and women who have short memories. We should be ashamed that it is us who are today raping, looting and killing foreigners apparently because they “steal” our houses and “our women”.

What caused the terrible scenes unfolding in our country today: children beaten and displaced, women raped and men left with pieces of flesh hanging from their faces, homeless and hungry and desperate?

What led to a situation where young men were unashamed to stand in front of television cameras and say they will kill foreigners?

We should not be surprised. For the ANC, led by Zuma and Mbeki, the chickens are coming home to roost.

A cocktail of factors, mixed by the ANC over the past 10 years, is responsible for the barbarism.

These people are behaving like barbarians because the ANC has failed — despite numerous warnings — to act on burning issues that are well known for having sparked similar eruptions across the globe.

This cocktail is made up of stubborn denialism on Zimbabwe, an increasingly incompetent and corrupt police service, poor service delivery and corruption in government departments.

The crime-does-pay culture fostered by the ANC — criminals such as the Travelgate fraudsters walk away scot-free — is a central ingredient of the cocktail.

But the bulk of the cocktail comprises the failed state that is Zimbabwe. The country’s economy has collapsed. Its political leaders, security services and agents are looting the treasury. Zimbabweans are fleeing.

When a state fails, crime goes through the roof. Corruption, characterised by bribery at every turn, becomes the norm. Crucially, crime is exported across the borders of the failed state to neighbouring states.

The Mbeki government’s refusal to even acknowledge the crisis in Zimbabwe has resulted in as many as 3-million Zimbabweans walking the streets of South Africa.

If Mbeki and his deputy president, Zuma, had acted decisively on Zimbabwe nine years ago, when they were told repeatedly by fellow leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban to do so, these Zimbabweans would not be here today.

Mbeki’s resolute refusal to address the crisis in Zimbabwe — and his friendship with President Robert Mugabe — has brought them here. His block-headedness is directly responsible for the eruption of xenophobia.

Add to the cocktail the fact that the SA Police Service has become so incompetent and overstretched there is no way that any of the perpetrators of the past week’s atrocities will be brought to book.

Ordinary citizens predicted last week that these riots would spread to the Joburg CBD. When violence erupted downtown on Saturday night, the police were unprepared.

The police have no intelligence- gathering capacity and can hardly explain what is happening today, let alone contain it.

Their failure is rooted in the fact that many of them are taking bribes from foreign refugees anxious to avoid being deported.

Their incompetence is also responsible for the culture — entrenched during the Mbeki-Zuma regime — that crime goes unpunished. After all, these marauding hordes know that Mbeki protected his crony, Jackie Selebi, for years.

There is no respect for the law. These hordes can rape and loot without fear of arrest, let alone prosecution.

The endemic corruption among government officials is an integral part of the cocktail. There is so much corruption in the construction and allocation of government housing that resentment, misplaced or not, is inevitable.

There are no quick fixes to this mess. The removal of Mbeki, as suggested by Mathews Phosa, is not a solution. The problem is that the ANC’s policies have failed.

In the short term it would be an idea for the incompetent minister of safety and security, Charles Nqakula, to get his charges to come down harder on perpetrators. Better intelligence-gathering, including the early identification of potential trouble-makers, would help.

Government leaders such as Mbeki should visit the communities afflicted by this xenophobia, instead of issuing condemnations from Mozambique.

In the long term, some cool heads, efficiency and moral fibre would help. But asking that of the ANC today is asking a little bit too much. These are the same people who are disbanding the Scorpions. Asking them to act in the interests of the country, and not their own narrow interests, is useless.



ANC rebuffs Phosa's call

Christelle Terreblanche
May 19 2008 at 07:59AM

The ANC has rebuffed a call by treasurer-general Mathews Phosa for an early election to replace President Thabo Mbeki's government with the ANC's new guard under Jacob Zuma.

On Sunday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe described Phosa's appeal as "an individual position".

Phosa's call follows Zuma's rise to power at the Polokwane conference, where Mbeki lost the party presidency.

Mbeki's term as president of the country ends in 2009.

Addressing the SA National Editors Forum during the weekend, Phosa said an early election was the best solution to deal with the frictions within the party.

"We are a year away from an election, and the bringing forward of the date for such an election would make for a speedier, less painful and more productive solution to a number of challenges facing us," he said, stressing that it was not about personalities, but service delivery.


Mantashe said an early exit for Mbeki would not be discussed at today's meeting of the ANC's national working committee (NWC).

"It is an individual view," he said.

"The ANC has a clear position on the matter."

At their recent summit, the ANC and its alliance partners decided Mbeki's rule should not be terminated prematurely.

However, the SA Communist Party brought forward a motion that Mbeki should go.

At the end of the summit, Mantashe told the media that the partners had opted not to blame anyone for the country's problems, but to address them.

Mbeki would not be required to "take an instruction" from the alliance on how to solve the problems, he said.

But the ANC, the alliance and the government would put mechanisms in place to allow consultation on key issues.

It is understood that Tokyo Sexwale, a member of the ANC national executive committee (NEC), expressed concern that as long as Mbeki was the head of state, tensions would remain.

Former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi is apparently also in favour of Mbeki being released early.

On Saturday night, Phosa - who, along with Sexwale and ANC stalwart-turned-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, was accused of plotting to overthrow Mbeki in 2001 - made clear his desire for Mbeki to leave as soon as possible.

Phosa stressed that the country was crying out for "strong leadership and for leaders to set aside all issues, personal and egotistical, and move forward".

"The leader of the executive has lost the confidence of his party, partly because of the view that he seems to have lost touch with the aspirations of the majority of that part of the electorate who supports the ANC," he said.

"Remedies" to resolve the unhealthy stalemate, said Phosa, included that Mbeki resign, that he is removed "through any number of means" or through the calling of an early election.

"Such a solution will create improved opportunities for delivery following the urgent priorities set at the Polokwane conference," he said.

"It would also speed up institutional transformation and give the voters an earlier opportunity to express their views about alternative political agendas presented to them."

One of the signs of tension was Mbeki's apparent stalling on the appointment of party deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to his cabinet, as requested by the ANC.

Motlanthe was due to be sworn in as an MP tomorrow, paving his way to the executive.

Motlanthe risked his political reputation by publicly defending Zuma after he was sacked as the country's deputy president following allegations of corruption.

Motlanthe is a former trade unionist who has support across the alliance.

Many in the ANC describe him as an independent thinker who is not afraid to speak his mind.

On Sunday, Mantashe said Motlanthe's deployment was, however, not linked to the current calls on Mbeki to step down.

The issue of his deployment was also not on the agenda for today's NWC meeting, which he said was a regular meeting to prepare for next weekend's NEC meeting.

It is, however, understood that the issue of Motlanthe's position has raised considerable concern among the party leadership and will be brought up at the NEC meeting.


Thursday, 15 May 2008

Attacks on foreigners dent SA's image

May 12 2008 at 06:14PM

By Paul Simao

A mob attacked a group of immigrants with stones, whips and guns in Alexandra, Johannesburg, killing two people and injuring about 40, police said on Monday.

Twelve people were arrested in connection with the violence late on Sunday, which police said was motivated by a belief that illegal immigrants were responsible for a series of robberies.

"From what we were told it is because of the criminal activity that has been taking place," said Constable Neria Malefetse, a spokesperson for the Johannesburg police.

The rampage rekindled fears that xenophobia was rising in a country known as one of the most welcoming to immigrants and asylum seekers, especially from Africa.

Some of those who were attacked were Zimbabweans, the largest immigrant group in South Africa who are often accused by residents of contributing to the country's high crime rate.

Last month, shacks belonging to Zimbabwean families in another township were looted and set on fire and there have been other attacks on foreigners throughout the country.

For decades Africans have flocked to South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse, lured by abundant work in its mines, farms and homes and by one of the world's most liberal immigration and refugee policies.

Growing hostility towards this group threatens to damage South Africa's relations with other African countries and handicap its buoyant economy, under strain from rising inflation, a shortage of skills and a power crisis.

Cold shoulder

Many newcomers are being met with a cold shoulder and, in some cases, a clenched fist, according to relief workers and rights activists who have noted an rise in violence against foreign-born residents in the "Rainbow Nation".

"It's clearly something that has got worse this year. These are general attacks on foreigners," said Jack Redden, regional representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Pretoria.

"What has been really worrying is the violence that is attached to them."

It is unclear whether the rising cost of living and other economic jitters directly contribute to the violence.

Fear of crime is generally given as the cause of attacks on foreigners, who are often blamed for murders, rapes and carjackings.

Immigrants say they are frequently the victims of crimes and their complaints are beginning to get attention.

Nigeria's Senate last month considered a motion condemning attacks on its citizens in South Africa.

Zimbabwean rights activists accuse police of harassing immigrants and turning a blind eye when criminals prey on them.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa as a result of the economic crisis back home.

South Africa has acknowledged its concern about rising xenophobia within its borders and says it is taking steps to tackle the problem.


Land bill faces legal challenge

May 15 2008 8:10AM

Michael Hamlyn

Cape Town - AfriForum, a pressure group allied to the right wing Freedom Front Plus, is threatening to take the expropriation bill to the constitutional court, because, they say, it breaches rights to property, the right to access to the courts, and to just administrative action.

Kallie Kriel its chief executive said on Wednesday: "The fact that in terms of the bill, the state will have the right to expropriate any property, at an amount which the state will determine itself, while the courts will only have the right to review the expropriation process followed, in effect amounts to the legalised theft of property by the state."

The bill will also undermine the authority and independence of the courts, he said.

In a letter to the portfolio committee on public works, which is shepherding the bill through parliament, Kriel said that the bill's attempt to take away the courts' authority to rule on the expropriation amount, contravenes article 25(2)(b) of the constitution.

He said that in his opinion, it is even more absurd to note that the bill would empower the state to expropriate any item or property (such as a house or car) in order to give it to someone who does not have such an item or property already, and on top of that will also be able to determine the price paid for it itself, as long as the "correct procedures" are followed.

- I-Net Bridge



Wednesday, 07 May 2008

Religion versus politics...

May 06 2008 at 07:17AM

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

ANC President Jacob Zuma has earned the wrath of the DA and ACDP and offended a cardinal for claiming that his party enjoyed the full support of God.

Previously slated for claiming the ANC would rule "until Jesus comes back", Zuma went even further this weekend, saying that God expected the ANC to rule and that the party had God's blessing.

Speaking about the divisions in the ANC in the Western Cape, Zuma told people in Khayelitsha: "We shall build this organisation. We are not going to fail.

"Even God expects us to rule this country, because we are the only organisation which was blessed by pastors when it was formed. It is even blessed in heaven.

"That is why we will rule until Jesus comes back. We should not allow anyone to govern our city (Cape Town) when we are ruling the country."

DA CEO Ryan Coetzee was first to react, saying Zuma "consciously and repeatedly" invoked God to justify eternal ANC rule, and to demonise political opponents.

Ironically, it is the prospect of losing the province to a DA-led coalition which prompted Zuma's remarks.

"As tempting as it is to dismiss this kind of statement as eccentric or amusing, it is actually very dangerous, because to oppose a government backed by God is to oppose God; to oppose governments that rule by divine right is to be a traitor; to attempt to dislodge them, even through the ballot box, is a declaration of war. In short, opposition to the ANC is rendered utterly illegitimate," Coetzee said on Monday.

He was not the only one fuming at Zuma's apparent "God complex".

ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe said Zuma's remarks were "blasphemous", and called on him to apologise.

"The unity he is calling for in the ANC will not materialise. It's a sign of God's displeasure (because) of their rebellion and the immorality they are promoting in the country."

Referring to the legalisation of abortion and same-sex marriages, Meshoe said Zuma was effectively saying that God "blesses" the killing of innocent babies and homosexual relations. He said the ANC would sink like the Titanic.

It was also following the route of "Zanu-PF, which had lost Zimbabwe's recent elections after they thought they would rule forever".

Durban-based Cardinal Wilfred Napier, of the Roman Catholic Church, said on Monday: "I am offended that people use God in a way that has nothing to do with religion."

Napier said he had reminded Zuma of The Beatles - who caused much controversy when they announced they were "more popular than Jesus Christ" - when he had first passed such remarks.

He said people felt offended that the Beatles had trivialised religion and the value they placed on it.


Monday, 05 May 2008

'Mbeki not a credible mediator'

04/05/2008 21:05  - (SA)

Johannesburg - President Thabo Mbeki can no longer be considered a credible mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis, the Democratic Alliance's parliamentary leader, Sandra Botha, said on Sunday.

When Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, Botha said, she intended moving a motion calling for a debate on the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, and more specifically, probing Mbeki and the SA government's "distinct lack of action" on the matter.

Botha last month gave a representative of Foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma a letter detailing proposed demands to the Mugabe government to help bring about an end to the post-election violence and political stalemate in Zimbabwe.

If the Zimbabwean government failed to meet these demands, the DA proposed that SA pursue more stringent measures, such as imposing targeted travel and financial sanctions on Zanu-PF's ruling elite, and calling for an international arms embargo on the country.

Despite having received these proposals, government had yet to respond to the crisis in any significant way, Botha said.

"To add insult to injury, we now know from reports in the media that President Mbeki not only endorsed the effort by Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF to procure a massive cache of arms and ammunition from China, but that Mbeki instructed the Ministry of Defence and the National Conventional Arms Control Committee to allow the arms transfer to continue unhindered."

This morally bankrupt move would have contributed to the violent suppression of the Zimbabwean people by the military and the police there.

This was "further evidence that President Mbeki can no longer be considered a credible mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis".

'Crime not the only reason'

25/04/2008 20:22  - (SA) 

Pretoria - Heightened security is one of the many reasons the US Embassy is terminating household leases, a spokesperson said on Friday.

US Embassy spokesperson in Pretoria, Sharon Hudson-Dean said the embassy terminated at least 20 household leases for its staff annually.

"The Embassy reviews the inventory of housing for its staff annually and adjusts the type and number of leased residences according to the needs of the mission.

"Every year, the Embassy terminates approximately twenty leases, and this year is no different," said Hudson-Dean.

This follows reports that the embassy was terminating the leases because of high crime rates.

"A heightened security profile is just one of many reasons that leases are reassessed," she said.

She said that the demographics of embassy staff had changed from large families to married couples with no children and single people.

"Smaller families require smaller houses. Several recent lease terminations have been due to the fact that the embassy no longer requires as many large houses," said Hudson-Dean.

She said that security was a "serious" concern to ambassador Eric Bost and carried a heavy weight in the reassessment process.

"As new Embassy personnel arrive, we try to place them in multi-unit secure compounds, replacing the stand-alone houses of the departing families," she said.

She added that when the embassy terminated a lease, it was done in accordance with all requirements of the lease signed by the owner of the property, as well as the Embassy.

Residential leases in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were terminated annually.