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Aug 31, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Africa opposed to US command base - Lekota

  • Green light for Kei Rail

  • SAECS further adjusts port omissions

  • SADC’s radical measures to develop regional infrastructure

  • Pic of the day – NRP ALVARAS CABAL

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    Africa opposed to US command base - Lekota

    By Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town - There is broad consensus among African countries that foreign forces - specifically in the form of the United States' new African Command - would not be welcomed to establish themselves on the continent.

    Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota expressed this sentiment Wednesday, during a briefing on the implementation of government's programme of action by Cabinet's International Relations, Peace and Security cluster.

    The minister indicated a hesitance on the part of African countries to host the US's new dedicated command for the continent.

    "The Africom [the US Africa Command] initiative has raised a lot of interest and attracted a lot of attention because ... Africa has to avoid the presence of foreign forces on her soil," Mr Lekota told reporters on Wednesday.

    "If there was to be an influx of armed forces into one or other of the African countries, that might effect the relations between the sister countries and [would] not encourage an atmosphere and a sense of security," he added.

    As a start, the 14-country Southern African Development Community had taken a decision that none of its members would be willing to host US forces, he said.

    Mr Lekota said that the SADC had adopted the position that it would be better for the US not "to come and make a presence and create uncertainty here", the Defence Minister added.

    "At the interstate defence and security committee meeting held in Dar es Salaam, the SADC defence and security ministers took the position and recommended that sister countries of the region should not agree to host Africom - in particular, to host [US] armed forces," he said.

    That recommendation went to the heads of state of the region, who met recently at a summit held in the Zambia capital, Lusaka.

    "And that's the position of SADC," he said, adding that the question may arise that a country in another region may differ.

    "But as far as we aware the majority of the regions of our continent have taken that position," Mr Lekota added.

    In reply to a question as to whether this decision had been communicated to the United States, he indicated that a decision made by the continental body, the African Union (AU), would likely be communicated by the Addis Ababa administration through the relevant channels.

    The defence minister added, however, that "it is not unnatural" that one or two countries on the continent may differ from this position, but indicated that a decision not host US armed forces would likely be upheld by the AU's 53 members in the interest of unity.

    "The interests of unity of African nations supersedes any individual view [of a constituent member]," he added.

    Should a particular country choose to break ranks with this decision, he said: "I would imagine that any country that wants to go against the decision of the Africa Union would consider what the implications might be - where other sister countries may refuse to cooperate with it in other areas other than that particular area."

    Whether or not South Africa itself takes a different view, he said, is irrelevant in that it would abide by the position of the continent as a whole because this would be in South Africa's "medium- to long-term interest".

    Meanwhile, Mr Lekota said that the recent SADC summit progressed towards launching the SADC armed brigade, which he described as "an important step towards constituting a regional force that will complement the strengthening of the African Union peace force".

    Green light for Kei Rail

    The Kei Rail project received a green light from the Rail Safety Regulator this week when it was granted a testing and commissioning permit – the first step towards becoming a fully operational railway.

    Although the permit only allows for a single train made up of ten coaches to be used for training and familiarising drivers and crew with the railroad, it does also mark the first step towards commissioning a full rail service between East London and Mthatha.

    The 281km Kei railway fell into disuse when Spoornet (now rebranded as Transnet Freight Rail) abandoned operations due, it was said, to low traffic volumes. The Eastern Cape provincial government saw the project in a different light as an important cog in diverting traffic, both passenger and freight, off the road and back onto rail and consequently set up a programme to rehabilitate the line as the first step towards its reopening.

    The official reopening was in fact due to have been held earlier this year but to the embarrassment of those involved Spoornet declined to provide a driver and crew for the inaugural ceremonial train trip from Amabele to the Kei River on account of not having anyone still certified for the particular section.

    The provincial government’s plans for the Kei Railway may appear overly ambitious to some, but the real significance of the issuing of a permit by the regulator is that this becomes one of the first branch or secondary lines to be effectively reopened by someone other than Transnet.

    Government and Transnet has spoken for years of releasing branch and secondary lines to authorised bodies to operate outside of the national railway carrier, but has proved extremely slow to put this talk into action. Whether the Kei Railway can now be made into a commercial success is a moot point and will be watched with great interest, but at last a start has been made.

    A passenger service is expected to come into operation within the next few weeks, followed by freight rail operations sometime next year.

    In other rail news the Times of Zambia reported this week that construction of the long awaited railway line between Chipata and Mchinji, connecting Zambia with Malawi, is now underway.

    First conceived in 1962, successive governments have spoken of building the relatively short section of railway, but due to financial constraints and a lack of political will the venture made little progress. Finally in 1992 it was suspended for financial reasons.

    The railway will connect Zambia with the port of Nacala in northern Mozambique, thus providing an alternative and much shorter route to the coast compared with using the Tazara railway to Dar es Salaam or the even longer railway to South Africa or to Maputo in southern Mozambique.

    SAECS further adjusts port omissions

    An additional adjustment has been made to the voyage of container ship SAFMARINE NOMAZWE for voyage 707A, southbound from Europe to South Africa.

    Safmarine Nomazwe sails as part of the weekly SAECS service. In a communiqué from SAECS member MOL, the following is reported:

    SAF Nomazwe 707A – Las Palmas South Bound Omission

    ‘Referring to our previous Newsflash regarding the delays to the SAF Nomazwe 706B’s schedule, it has been decided to omit the Port of Las Palmas Southbound as well as the Port of Cape Town (Import and Export).

    ’Las Palmas cargo (Imports) will be shipped on the MOL Cullinan 707A.’

    The updated schedule now looks like this:

    Safmarine Nomazwe 707A

    Arr. Arr. Site Dep.. Dep.
    Date Voy Name Voy Date

    070802 706A Port Eliza 706B 070803
    070808 706A Durban 706B 070811
    070813 706A Cape Town 706B 070815

    070824 706B Las Palmas 706B 070824
    070829 706B Tilbury 707A 070830
    070830 706B Rotterdam 707A 070831
    070901 706B Bremerhaven 707A 070902
    Omit 707A Las Palmas 707A Omit

    Omit 707A Cape Town 707A Omit
    070914 707A Port Elizab 707B 070915
    Omit 707A Cape Town 707B Omit
    070917 707A Durban 707B 070919

    The following changes have been made to the Port Rotation (South African Coastal) for the container vessel MAERSK VIGO, Voyage 703A/B

    Arr. Arr. Site Dep. Dep.
    Date Voy Name Voy Date

    070725 702A Cape Town 702A 070726
    070727 702A East London 702B 070729
    070805 702A Durban 702B 070807
    070808 702A Port Elizabet702B 070809
    070810 702B Cape Town 702B 070810

    070822 702B Lisbon 702B 070823
    070825 702B Thamesport 703A 070826
    070826 702B Antwerp 703A 070827
    070827 702B Bremerhaven 703A 070828
    070829 702B Le Havre 703A 070830
    070831 703A Lisbon 703A 070901

    070911 703A Cape Town 703A 070912
    070914 703A East London 703B 070915
    070916 703A Port Elizabet703B 070916
    070917 703A East London 703B 070918
    070918 703A Durban 703B 070920
    070922 703B Cape Town 703B 070923

    SADC’s radical measures to develop regional infrastructure

    SADC has committed to embark on radical measures to strengthen infrastructure development and speed up the process of implementing its regional integration programme.

    At the 27th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Lusaka, Zambia from 16-17 August, southern African leaders expressed concern at the slow pace of implementing goals and targets to achieve regional integration and eradicate poverty.

    Outgoing chairperson of SADC, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho said the region must accelerate implementation of its commitments so that the 240 million SADC citizens can begin to enjoy the benefits of regional integration.

    The Summit directed relevant officials at the national level to concretize and harmonise efforts in their activities to revamp infrastructure development and speed up implementation of regional integration.

    SADC's goals and targets for regional integration are outlined in its blueprints, the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (SIPO).

    Launched in March 2004, the RISDP is a 15-year regional integration development framework, with priorities, policies and strategies for achieving the long-term goals of SADC.

    The RISDP is intended to guide member states, SADC institutions, regional stakeholders and international cooperating partners in the process of deepening integration to turn the SADC's vision into reality. It is designed to address the challenges and opportunities facing the cooperation and integration prospects of SADC.

    Among others, the RISDP targets to attain annual economic growth rates of at least seven percent, necessary to halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015.
    According to SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomão, the region's annual economic growth is currently averaging five percent.

    Incoming SADC chairperson president Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia said regional integration is hampered by inadequate infrastructure in the key sectors of energy, transport, communication, water and tourism.

    SADC is currently facing a crippling energy shortage. Electricity generation capacity in SADC at present is only 52,743 MW of which 41,000 MW is secured capacity available for distribution to consumers against demand of 42,000 MW.

    The mismatch between demand and supply is a result of a number of factors including lack of investment over the last 10 years and growing population as well as expanding industries.

    The existing road and rail transport infrastructure in SADC needs rehabilitation to meet the region's current objectives of deeper regional integration. This includes increased intra-regional trade in line with the economic targets of a Free Trade Area by 2008, Customs Union in 2010 and Common Market by 2015.

    In response to the acknowledged urgent need for suitable infrastructure and services as the region moves closer to deeper regional integration levels, the southern African leaders held a brainstorming session on Regional Economic Integration and Accelerating Implementation of Infrastructure Development during the Summit.
    This was in line with the summit theme, "Infrastructure Development in Support of Regional Integration".

    According to Mosisili, SADC lacks financial capacity to rehabilitate regional infrastructure and fund new projects, despite the regional body being well placed to receive long term investment necessary for infrastructure development given the peaceful environment that it is currently enjoying.

    "With the Democratic Republic of Congo moving towards sustained stability, the African Union, for example, singles out SADC as the most peaceful region in Africa," Mosisili said.

    "We have deliberated on measures to enhance financing of regional infrastructure to support Free Trade Area, Customs Union and Common Market," Mwanawasa told at a post Summit media briefing.

    The Summit called for financial support from the private sector and the international community to complement regional efforts.

    On the implementation of SIPO, outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation President Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania reported that the human resources requirements are now in place to facilitate a faster pace in implementation.

    The Summit elected president José Eduado dos Santos of Angola and King Mswati III of Swaziland as chairperson and deputy of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation respectively.

    President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is the new deputy chairperson of SADC and his country will host the 2008 Summit.

    source - REDI http://www.sardc.net/redi/index.htm

    Pic of the day – NRP ALVARAS CABAL

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Portuguese Navy frigate NRP ALVARAS CABAL, which is a part of the NATO task force of six ships currently in Cape Town harbour, where the ship was photographed by Ian Shiffman. The NATO ships will exercise with three ships of the South African Navy south of Cape Point on Monday and Tuesday

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