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Sep 15, 2006
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  • Beira port Customs under suspicion - contraband seized

  • Alliance with business sector crucial for success - Mbeki

  • Maputo increases port capacity with new sugar silo

  • Mlambo-Ngcuka concludes visit to India

  • SOMALIA: African Union endorses regional peace plan

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    Beira port Customs under suspicion - contraband seized

    A quantity of contraband seized in Beira entered the country through the port of Beira, according to the Mozambique Customs services.

    Half of the 32 containers found in a warehouse in the city contained cooking oil with the balance packed with electrical appliances including air conditioners, freezers, and over 1,800 television sets, in addition to a variety of other household appliances, according to a report in the Maputo newspaper Noticias.

    As a result of the discovery fines of approximately US $ 580,000 are expected to be levied against the owners of the cargo, which have been described in the report as being the Chacha Centre Group. Meanwhile the authorities are reported to have shut all shops in Beira belonging to this company pending an investigation.

    The containers were imported from Mumbai in India and retrieved from the port between January and September this year allegedly without any customs duty being paid.

    This has led to suspicions of collusion by people and customs officials working in the port but so far no arrests have been made while police and customs continue their investigation. The Customs public relations officer told Noticias that he had received death threats if he didn’t ‘keep his mouth shut’ and had alerted local police and Customs of this.

    - source AIM/Noticias

    Alliance with business sector crucial for success - Mbeki

    by David Masango, BuaNews

    President Thabo Mbeki has highlighted the importance of cooperation between India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) and the business sector to achieve success in identified areas.

    President Mbeki was speaking in Brasilia, Brazil, on Wednesday where he together with his counterparts from India and Brazil participated in the inaugural IBSA Heads of State and Government Summit.

    The one-day Summit was aimed at among others, promoting closer cooperation between the three nations, particularly in stimulating economic growth; and promoting coordination on global issues.

    It has been generally hailed as a success and resulted with the signing of a number of agreements.

    President Mbeki and his Brazilian and Indian counterparts - President Lula da Silva and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh respectively - met for the first time at summit level within the context of the IBSA Forum.

    Addressing the meeting, Mr Mbeki emphasised the relevance of IBSA in the context of global trade.

    "IBSA is an idea whose time has arrived. It is a necessary response to the current state of play in the global economy and its purpose and objectives are even more relevant in the context of the collapsed Doha development round of talks.

    "One of the messages communicated by the collapse of Doha talks is that, for countries of the south to realise rapid development including fair trade, economic development, job creation and poverty eradication; these developing countries should first and foremost, form strong partnerships and strategic alliances that would unlock the vast resources and economic opportunities within and between their countries and regions," said Mr Mbeki.

    He said, while also interacting with developed nations, that it was important that there were greater possibilities for developing countries to accelerate the processes of their own development by harnessing common strengths.

    These include business partnerships and cooperation; exchange of expertise and collaboration in related industries as well as exchange programmes between institutions of higher learning.

    "Fortunately, India, Brazil and South Africa, share a coincidence of interests in so far as we have common hopes, aspirations and challenges and through IBSA have created a platform from which we can attend to these many and varied challenges," said Mr Mbeki.

    He pointed out that IBSA working groups had been active since its inception in 2003 and they sketched an optimistic outlook for the trio's common trade interests, resulting in the signing of a number of agreements and with more still to be signed.

    "But these agreements can only mean something if and when they are implemented. In this regard, the role of business is very critical," he emphasised.

    President Mbeki said in the past the areas of energy, transport and climate change were identified as the three key areas of trilateral cooperation.

    He however told the meeting that as it reviewed progress in those areas, it was important to also assess the role of business, academia and other structures of civil society in helping countries to develop safe, renewable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy sources.

    "We have to examine whether we are able to work together with all sectors of our societies to ensure that the poor in our countries, both in the rural and urban areas, are able to access affordable energy," he said.

    Other areas of cooperation among the IBSA nations include maritime and aviation; agriculture; use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in development; mining; beneficiation; energy; biotechnology and tourism.

    The meeting also discussed the reform of the United Nations (UN) and its organs, particularly the UN Security Council.

    President Mbeki was scheduled to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Havana, Cuba on Thursday and Friday.

    Issues on the agenda of the NAM are likely to include among others poverty and under-development; peace and security, the restructuring of the global use of power as well as the situation in the Middle East.

    Maputo increases port capacity with new sugar silo

    The port of Maputo’s new sugar silo, capable of storing 50,000 tonnes of sugar for export, was officially opened this week, bringing the sugar terminal’s storage capacity for this commodity to 175,000 tonnes.

    As a result Maputo will be able to handle exports in excess of 400,000 tonnes annually.

    The new terminal for the Maputo Sugar Terminal Company was built at a cost of about R65 million and was financed jointly by the Mozambique Sugar Producers Association (AMAPA), the South African Sugar Association (SASA), Swaziland Sugar Association (SSA) and Zimbabwe Sugar Society (ZSS).

    The new terminal is the latest improvement in the port of Maputo. Since the UK-led Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) took on the concession to operate the port, numerous enhancements to port infrastructure have been completed, including dredging the channels and port to handle larger ships and enable Maputo to compete on an equal footing with Durban.

    According to the director of Mozambique’s Agriculture Promotion Centre 265,000 tonnes of sugar was produced in Mozambique last year, with 150,000 tonnes being consumed locally and the remainder exported. He said there had been a 9 percent increase in production so far this year.

    Mozambique currently has four sugar mills in operation – at Mafambisse and Marromeu, in Sofala province, and at Maragra and Xinavane, in Maputo province.

    - source AIM

    Mlambo-Ngcuka concludes visit to India

    Pretoria (BuaNews) - Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ncguka on Wednesday concluded her four-day visit to India, having met senior government officials and businesses in an effort to boost relations between India and South Africa.

    The Deputy President paid courtesy calls to President Abdul Kalam; Vice President Bharon Singh Shekhewat; the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi and addressed heads of mission posted in New Delhi.

    She interacted with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka was told of the South African VISA administration challenges and the need to increase flights between the two countries.

    "We cannot perpetuate binding constraints that we have identified in Asgisa (Accelerated and Shared Growth initiative of South Africa).

    "We want to encourage tourism and business transaction, however, we must make sure we do that while making sure that our security and all other matters are taken care of properly," said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.

    The two countries also discussed cooperation in the mining, training, tourism and textiles industries.

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka also invited more investment in the textile industry by Indian businesses, in a bid to revive the sector.

    "I think retailers should have a global view about this restriction. We are hoping to create more South African jobs, which in turn will ensure that more South Africans have spending power.

    "When they do, they will be able to spend the money in the very retail stores who are voicing concerns about this decision," Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

    She also visited the country's information and communication technology hub, to gain insight into how the two countries could cooperate in the sector.

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said India and South Africa shared a great deal as the largest community of Indians outside India was found in South Africa.

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka's delegation comprised Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulama Xingwana, Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela, and Deputy Ministers of Science and Technology and Trade and industry Derrick Hannekom and Elizabeth Thabethe.

    Minister Xingwana met with small business and cooperation groups to discuss new approaches in dealing with funding and cooperatives.

    The visit coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Satygraha, the non-violent approach to redressing injustices first advocated by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa in 1906.

    South Africa will host the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Durban next month to mark the centennial celebration of the Satyagraha.

    SOMALIA: African Union endorses regional peace plan

    Addis Ababa, 14 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - The African Union has adopted a plan to deploy a regional peace-support mission in Somalia, despite strong opposition from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls the capital, Mogadishu, and much of south and central Somalia.

    The endorsement follows a closed-door meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The 15-member council approved a proposal by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - incorporating seven East African states - to have peacekeepers in place by the end of this month.

    "The council decided to adopt the deployment plan of a peace force in Somalia as proposed by IGAD," AU peace and security commissioner, Saïd Djinnit said after the meeting.

    Speaking from Mogadishu, the Islamic courts Vice-Chairman, Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Umar, told IRIN the AU decision was "a mistake".

    "This is a wrong-headed decision, which is against the interests of the Somali people," Umar said. "There is no need for troops and the UIC is categorically opposed to the deployment of foreign forces in our country."

    But financing for the project is not yet secured. "The provisionary budget is estimated at US $ 335 million for one year," Djinnit said, adding that only $ 18.5 million was available from a European Union peace facility. "The problem now is how to mobilise the resources for the budget," he acknowledged.

    Umar said the money to be spent on the mission "could be better spent to help the suffering Somali people".

    According to IGAD, about 8,000 troops will form the peace-support mission, to be known as IGASOM. It will be deployed to support the weak Somali interim government and help to stabilise the country by implementing disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes. Uganda and Sudan were requested to provide the troops. So far, Uganda has confirmed that it would send about 3,000 soldiers.

    "IGASOM will provide security to the transitional federal institutions, contribute to institutional capacity building and create conditions for promoting dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia," Djinnit added.

    The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet on Monday and the AU once again appealed to the body to ease an arms embargo on Somalia applied in 1992.

    "The PSC reiterated its appeal to the Security Council to review its position and provide exemptions on the arms embargo, to allow the mission to move in," Djinnit said.

    The Security Council has rejected previous calls to lift the embargo but has said it would consider easing it to help the IGAD mission if conditions were appropriate.

    Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since 1991 and the current government, the latest in more than a dozen internationally backed attempts to restore stability, has been crippled by infighting.

    It has been further challenged by the UIC, which seized Mogadishu from warlords in June, and rapidly expanded their territory to much of southern Somalia.

    Asked about the UIC position, the Kenyan ambassador in Addis Ababa, Franklin Esipila, whose country is chairing IGAD, said: "We are looking at it as a small group of people opposed to [the AU mission]. But we also feel that the more we delay, the more the situation will deteriorate. IGASOM is not an enemy of Somalia, it is there to help to stabilise the country."

    But Umar said the decision was not supported by the majority of IGAD countries, but rather by countries "who have their agenda".

    He also denied reports that UIC forces were advancing on the southern port city of Kismayo, 500 km south of Mogadishu. "We have no forces anywhere near Kismayo," said Umar. The Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdikarim Farah, had said on the eve of the AU vote that the UIC were moving to capture Kismayo.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

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